#998: The Ride – Greater Grand Crossing to Bridgeport

October 26th, 2018 § permalink

The tree is on the corner of Harmony Boulevard and Ravinia Road — they give the streets silly names in the graveyard.

I read a few more of the names into the recorder I brought with me that ride day in July, but I couldn’t find the good recorder that morning. What tape I have is minutes of crackling and wind. I make out odd words like “pine cones,” “birds,” “Symphony Shores” and “I ask why, but HUSBAND Harry Davies (1880-1949) won’t answer.”

I’m typing this in October and I can’t remember why I found the graveyard so loving. » Read the rest of this entry «

#961: Halsted

August 1st, 2018 § permalink

By 65th and Halsted, by a tree-lined road that winds into Kennedy-King College, there’s a wooden cross about three, three-and-a-half feet tall.

It’s simple but sturdy. Screwed and nailed 2×4 but done by someone who has handled wood. The cross is freestanding, braced at the bottom by a four-way splay of board.

There’s a jigsawed heart about a foot radius screwed to the cross’ front. It was cut from particle board and spray painted the color of love and blood. The cross itself is untreated lumber. No paint, stain or other protections. The cross-top crackles from the elements.

Across the axis where spread the arms of Jesus, Spartacus and thousands of crucifixees no one cared to make movies about, someone wrote a name in as elegant a font as they could earn with Sharpie. Manuel Ramirez.

At 63rd, there’s another one. » Read the rest of this entry «

#864: The 16th Artist

December 18th, 2017 § permalink

He’s building a slave ship in the basement.

He wants noises and lights outside the faux portholes to create the sensation of a sea at motion. He wants creaks of timber and he wants the wax replicas of chained slaves to feel like human skin to the touch. He wants a fog machine to perfume the air with a light reek of feces, urine, vomit and the other human rot that brought millions of Africans to America in chains.

It’s not just any ship Sam Smith wants to build in the basement of a restored Englewood mansion. It’s the Zong, which provided one of the most horrifying stories of one of the most horrifying eras of human history. » Read the rest of this entry «

#850: Barricades

November 15th, 2017 § permalink

There is a spot where the dollar stores no longer have chain-link fences and concertina wire rounding their roofs.

There’s a place along Illinois Route 1 — Halsted Street to Chicagoans — where the dollar stores just become dollar stores, no extra security needed in metal and mesh. Then there’s a place further north where they disappear entirely. » Read the rest of this entry «

#665: Cuties and the Englewood Cartoonist

July 27th, 2016 § permalink

And here on a sunny Chicago morning, is the story of how an Englewood High School grad became the first black syndicated cartoonist in America. » Read the rest of this entry «

#569: The 1,001 Chicago Afternoons Holiday Gift Guide

December 16th, 2015 § permalink

Although Hanukkah is over, there is actually another gift-giving holiday in December.

Followers of the sect known as Christianity celebrate a special day called “Christ-mas” in which trees are slaughtered, cookies are left for fat, flying elvish deer-herders and Irishmen receive massive amounts of birds.

In case you want to purchase a gift for this regional folk festival, here are some ideas that will support a few of the people and organizations I’ve written about in the 150 stories that have appeared on this site so far in 2015. » Read the rest of this entry «

#6: A Serial Killer’s Post Office Grows in Englewood

May 11th, 2012 § permalink

I have to avoid the paternalist disease of praising a neighborhood just because I wasn’t instantly mugged, punched and carjacked the moment I parked the Chrysler in Englewood. » Read the rest of this entry «

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