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Chicago


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I drove across the baking pavement on the way to downtown; I heard the screams of a million wearing tires, rubber turning to metal.

I saw the mess of steel and glass; buildings piled high, one story on top of another--

--The white spears on top of Sears impaling the pale blue atmosphere full of wispy clouds and chocked with a deadly haze.

The streets are wide and busy, pockmarked with the soles of black folk, Mexicans, Italians, Polish, Germans—the cross section of these people frozen in the indifferent and icy concrete.

Faux jazz cats puff pack after pack of their death sticks, illuminating the thick night air with a false glow. Their tight sheets of denim exposing all the awkward curves and bumps of their hips and knees, the stink of alcohol and youth and constructed rebellion under their breath.

And there’s more.

I saw what became of that migration so long ago—from Jackson, from Birmingham, from Selma—with only broken chords to form broken songs, I saw their bonds and faded murals, making way for gravel.

It’s no better than when we started. Broken shards from old parties scattered all over, buried underneath the tall grass, remnants of a past and present we want to forget. Chopped up beats and harsh rhymes blasting in distorted cadence out the trunk of a rusted Ford Pacer with glimmering twenty-twos. What dream?

I’ll tell you what dream, it’s these people, however forgotten and f***ed they may be. Take one walk down Michigan Avenue, ride the Green Line past Cottage Grove and tell me you can’t resist. It’s too much, it’s too American. Beyond the darkness there is the shining metropolis to see from all sides, a beacon, however alluring and sometimes deceiving. The nexus of us, old meeting new, always, our Second City, midway between everything. Just try and tell me you don’t love Chicago.




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