On Stage at The Frunchroom – South Side Style

The Frunchroom
The Frunchroom

A strange thing happens when you visit The Frunchroom. You learn all kinda stuff you never knew that you didn’t know.

Allow me to explain.

I’ve lived near Mother McCauley – a Catholic girls high school in Chicago – all my life and had no idea that MM was a feminist well before the word became a trendy word to embrace. I’ve lived near Hardboiled coffee for some time and had never quite managed to stop in, despite the fact that the signage is ultra cool, and I know the owner plays records all day long. I also learned that I’ve lived in a food dessert, and that income has little to do with access to good, whole, fresh foods when it comes to living in a black neighborhood. Then there was the guy from Bridgeport who bikes all the time, even to Rainbow Beach on the South Shore – a place that I love but have never, ever considered riding a bike to.

That was The Frunchroom, a place where a few fine folks gathered to read a story or two – most of it true. It’s a Chicago tradition, and I’m glad to have been a part of it. I read an essay about the ghetto gold of Evergreen Plaza and how I coveted that stuff. The Plaza of my youth is long gone, but the memories are fresh, and it seemed that everyone nodded in agreement when I brought up the now-closed movie theatre, the cookie shop, the Jesus store and the arcade that was in front of that Orange Julius. (Frunchroom is a Chicago thing, in case you were wondering. It’s all in how we pronounce it…)

My Frunchroom compadres were assembled by Scott Smith, aka “@ourmaninChicago” on Twitter. You should follow him. He’s a thinker and has a blog worth reading. (And I’m not saying that just because he invited me to read.) Who else was there? Natalie Moore, a WBEZ reporter and author who read a chapter from her upcoming book about contemporary segregation on the South Side; Dmitry Samarov, a writer and artist whose sketches adorn the walls of Hardboiled; Jen Sabella, a McCauley grad and the director of social media and engagement over at DNAinfo.com; and Chuck Sudo, the former Editor-in-Chief of Chicagoist and the before mentioned  biker.

You can actually read a write-up of the series here, at DNAinfo.com. Howard Ludwig wrote it. You should follow him too.

Beverly is on the far South Side. I stress FAR. Most people don’t even know that this is Chicago. And that’s a shame. But with the new Frunchroom series, the upcoming Beverly Art Walk and the revamped Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour, I bet a lot of North Siders – and others – might come to see the far Southwest Side in a new light.

I’ll be posting that Evergreen Plaza essay soonish. Stay tuned for more.

City Stories: Blizzard aftermath

Everyone agrees that this is not the worst.  We knew it was coming. We prepared for it. And, for the most part, very few people were hurt.

However, three days after the “event,” I’m still surrounded by snow while other city streets are free and clear. Cars still can’t drive down my block. But, the city spent late Friday night removing yet more snow from downtown corners  where no one lives. While I understand the need to tighten up the corners, I’m left wondering why not one snow removal truck has come down my South Side block while trucks have nearly wiped other city streets completely clean.

To be sure, there are blocks in my own neighborhood that are actually free and clear of snow.  But my block? It’s still sitting on a foot of snow in the middle of the road.

For that reason, I’m taking the bus to work. Normally I take a train, but I can’t get to my train because of the snow in the streets. This morning, the bus took three hours. That’s because it had a tough time navigating the traffic left behind by unplowed arterial streets. I would love if the city would go ahead and plow all bus routes and some important arterials before “tidying up” downtown street corners.

And I hear Mayor Daley on telling folks to stop walking in the  street, but there’s nowhere else to walk. Either you walk in four feet of snow or you slog through the streets and try to avoid getting swiped by a Ford Explorer.  Neither option is much fun.

I struck an informal experiment with a lady on Twitter. She said that her north side (read: white) neighborhood would be serviced at the same time as my south side (read: black) ‘hood. Well, she got plowed out Thursday at 5:31 p.m.

As I write this post it’s 12:32 a.m. on Saturday Feb. 5. My street is still unplowed. I just got home from work, and had to park a block away because I can’t park anywhere near my home. (My husband managed to dig a path for my car, so I went home and got it. Then I returned to work because I don’t like taking the bus after 8 p.m. or so.) I have a garage, but the alleys are never plowed (no worries here, this is standard SOP,) so I didn’t park in the alley to begin with. If I did, my car would surely be stuck in the garage until July.

I called 311, the city’s non-emergency number. I know we’re having a crises, but if the city has time to dig out bus stops in downtown Chicago, then surely they can come and shovel my street for the FIRST time.

As I said earlier this week, let’s see how long it takes.