Okay, so for the past six months, I’ve been living as an honorary hippie at a faith based community in Chicago’s Uptown. If you’re not familiar with the neighborhood, Uptown is where Chicago’s down and out congregate.
There are bullets and Baptists with pamphlets, flamboyant street walkers and shady street corner pharmacists, immigrants from Africa to Asia, panhandlers and skateboarders. Plus the colorful residents of JPUSA.
And if your tongue is the tastebud equivalent of Cybil, you can please all of its personalities on one Uptown block. There’s Thai noodle shops, thin crust pizza, Dunkin Donuts, Micky Ds, SONIC, a Chinese-African eatery, plus always someone selling tamales from the back of their bike.
But it’s all BYOP.
That’s Bring Your Own Pepcid.
Uptown is also the home to Chicago’s Homeless shelters, run by Cornerstone Outreach and a Tent Village underneath the Wilson viaduct.
What else is in Uptown?
Last Monday night, I was awoken at 4 am when a guy got shot in his junk, right outside my window. It was a big gun, almost sounding like a car backfiring after a potato is shoved up the tail pipe.
I saw the police put up the yellow tape from my bathroom window. The tape was yellow, as red tape is used for murders.
That shooting was followed by a Thursday night shooting, right across from Weiss Hospital and a daytime shooting at McDonald’s. I am not sure if Ronald McDonald got a bullet through his chest, but one did go through the front window.
The intersection at Sheridan and Wilson has a blue flashing cop light.
FASHION POLICE, NO.
A man wearing psychedelic tights, a sequin cape, Chicago Bulls T-shirt and a blond curly wig goes unnoticed in this neighborhood. That’s because he is competing for stares with a rotund woman pouring out of orange spandex and green turban, transforming her into a human carrot.
Lots of these fashion finds comes from Unique, which opens its doors at 6 am on Mondays. And yes, shoppers are lined up at 5:45 am.
RAT A TAT TAT
On a more serious note, Uptown is the home of lots of varmints, from rodents to rival gangs I really didn’t notice them until a friend told me to just stop and watch. Then suddenly, critters popped out of everywhere like hidden pictures in a highlight magazine.
I love the color of this boarded up building.
I also love this plastic bag tree on Wilson. I don’t know how all of the bags got there but if I ever need one, I know where to get it.
I’m working on various writing projects while I live in Uptown. And yes, the neighborhood gives me a lot of fodder.