Tag Archives: Pilsen

Tour Guides: Take a Tour of the Real Chicago

For six nights only, poetry meets the stage meets Chicago in this theatrical exploration of urban life. Collaboratively written by members of the Poetry Performance Incubator, this ensemble piece offers a lyrical tour of the Chicago tourists never see.

According to the Guild’s Coya Paz:

“This is a collaboration between 10 spoken word poets, 7 of whom perform. The piece offers an insider’s look at Chicago culture(s), covering things like the difference between catcalling on the Northside and the Southside, how you can tell when a funeral procession is for a youth or an elder by the rims on the cars, what do do when your white friends want to go to a rib place waaaaaay down south, and why Time Out shouldn’t be the expert on culture in Pilsen. We tell real life stories about people pooping on trains, plotting murders on trains, and falling in love on trains. We passionately detail the reasons why Mexicans and Irish people should be in solidarity, especially when it comes to beer. We talk about toxic spills in Pilsen. We talk about why Rogers Park is for hippies. And so much more!” 

This reminds me of the “Ghetto Bus” that was in the News back in 2007.  The Bus took folks on a tour of inner city Chicago… the part of the city that tourists tend not to see.

Does anyone remember this?

From MSNBC.com July 22, 2007

CHICAGO — The yellow school bus rumbles through vacant lots and past demolished buildings, full of people who have paid $20 for a tour of what was once among the most dangerous areas of this or any other city in the United States.

But for the woman with the microphone, this “Ghetto Bus Tour” isn’t just another way to make a buck from tourists. It’s the last gasp in her crusade to tell a different story about Chicago’s notorious housing projects, something other than well-known tales about gang violence so fierce that residents slept in their bathtubs to avoid bullets.

“I want you to see what I see,” says Beauty Turner, after leading the group off the bus to a weedy lot where the Robert Taylor Homes once stood. “To hear the voices of the voiceless.”

click here for the rest of the article.

Apparently, Nightlife in Chicago is Getting Eclectic.


This Thursday and Friday both have Events scheduled that both trumpet their “eclectic” nature:

“Eclectic Relaxation” at Simones in Pilsen/Bridgeport (featuring my guy Tapedek and Sotipop on the tables)

and the “Eclectic After Work Session” at Cuatro in the South Loop (a weekly Friday event featuring the legendary Vick Lavender)

I don’t know.  To me, “eclectic” is akin to “eccentric” in its sheer ambiguity and code-wordiness.  That does not mean I don’t support these events (I do).  Maybe, my real issue is that I just don’t want another situation where a word becomes over-used (remember “extreme”? Or, how many storefronts in the 80s & 90s on the South Side either had “Express” or “Factory” in their name….).  Just as long as Eclectic doesn’t become the new “grown & sexy”.

More on the events:


“Eclectic Relaxation” at Simone’s in Pilsen/Bridgeport (featuring my guy Tapedek and Sotipop on the tables)

Pilsen’s newest, freshest bar teams up with The Chicago Art Department to bring you a night of food, drinks, and eclectic music.

Simone’s Bar x Afters Cool Society x The Chicago Art Department
Start Time:
Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 10:00pm
End Time:
Friday, May 15, 2009 at 2:00am
Simone’s Bar
960 W. 18th st
Chicago, IL


the “Eclectic After Work Session” at the Latin Fusion Nightspot Cuatro

Sophisticado Recordings and Cuatro night club presents “Eclectic Fridays Afterwork Sessions” with Sophisticado Recording artist Vick Lavender playing some of the worlds best in afro cuban jazz, soul, world, and of course, house.

Sophisticado Recordings and Cuatro
Friday, May 15, 2009
6:00pm – 10:00pm
Cuatro night club
2030 S.Wabash
Chicago, IL

of pigeons, pidgins, and pop

pigeon-by-scaleagencyAbove is a photo of pigeons originally posted on local photographer scaleagency’s blog entitled “Assignment Photography”. Very interesting.  It reminded me of a shot I took in Pilsen some time ago (see below).  On both, I wonder what the birds must be thinking, and what they would utter at that moment, if given the chance.  My theory is that they are much brighter than we give them credit for (and I do not agree with the whole “rats-with-wings theory [Michael]).  For more from scaleagency (Paul Muhammad), click here.

Another thing that interests me is language (more specifically, Linguistics [the sources of languages]).  One group of anomalies I love is the band of pidgins that exists out there (see, this rant is related… kind of).  Pidgins are languages that are broken down, impure, and/or simplified versions of their parent tongue (like street style versus runway fashion).  An example is Nigerian Pidgin, which contains bits of English, Yoruba, and Portuguese among other languages.   An example of the Pidgin is:

The babe dey do nyanga or the girl is playing hard to get

…or, you could simply listen to almost any Fela Kuti track.

Ironically, according to Wikipedia, “The origin of the word pidgin is uncertain. The first time pidgin appeared in print was in 1850, [but] there are many sources from which the word may be derived. For example:

  • A Chinese mispronunciation of the English word business.
  • The Portuguese word ocupação (business).
  • The Hebrew word pidjom (barter).
  • A Yayo word pidians, which means people.
  • English pigeon, a bird sometimes used for carrying brief written messages, especially in times prior to modern telecommunications”

To me, such languages express the living quality of languages… Their ability to grow with the people who use them.  But, they also reflect the history of a community; they carry bits of language left like scars, or testaments, from every intersection of divergent cultures.

contemplating pigeon

NOTE: To explain Pidgins another way, I’ll break down what I call the Pidgin of Pop: Malta.  Malta is a dark brown malt beverage, like stout, but it tastes sort of like molasses and is non- alcoholic.   What’s compelling to me about malta is it is popular throughout the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, but is also popular in areas of Africa like Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and in the Indian Ocean (even though it started out in Germany).  Each of these seemingly divergent cultures have their own spin on the soda:

Many Latin Americans serve Malta with condensed or evaporated milk while Africans often serve it with ice (unlike beer).

Either way, it’s delicious (and a hard-core part of multiple cultures).


Coffee and Cigarettes


Café Jumping Bean on 18th Street (near Laflin) in Pilsen has a lock on deliciousness.  Both of these thumbs are up.  Last time I was there, I had a scrumptious sandwich and (my joint) cafe con leche.  Sigh.

The only other café I feel at home at is Istria café (at Hyde Park Art Center, 50th & Cornell).  They make a Latte…..Double Sigh.  Not to mention the gelato.  Got hooked on both while taking a Screenprinting class at HPAC.

I lied.  I really dig Little Black Pearl and Bronzeville Coffee House (528 E. 43rd St.), too  [ Especially Bronzeville’s book exchange, and those muffins…].

There’s a song by Otis Redding called “Cigarettes and Coffee”:

It’s early in the morning

About a quarter til Three

I’m sittin’ here talkin’ with my baby

over cigarettes and coffee….

I’ve never smoked, but that song made me believe in the common luxury of both.  Remember when, if visiting someone’s house, the cupboards may have been bare…but they’d still offer you some coffee (even instant).  That’s why Starbucks bugs me.  It’s not just the “corporate cog” issue.  It’s the “make something as basic as coffee into a status symbol” issue.  Not cool.

“Coffee and Cigarettes” is also a film directed by Jim Jarmusch.  Here’s a clip, featuring GZA, RZA, and Bill Murray:

I’ll leave you with some (disjointed) words I inadvertently memorized in high school:

It is with the bitter lives

Of bitter people
that I sweeten my coffee
on this beautiful morning
in Ipanema

–Fierreira Gullar

No Coast, Schmo Coast…

timeout_12-08a bit about No Coast….(thanks, Time Out Chicago)

NOTE: I am all about…

1. Pilsen

2. Trippy-ass bookstores