Ortiz looks at the sinuous ripple the Shoreline Taxi leaves in the water of
Lake Michigan. His eyes are fixated on the boat until it blends in with the
jagged Chicago skyline. As the boat goes out of sight, Ortiz
starts singing his rhymes, trying to boost the dwindling number of customers --
the first hint of the ending season at the "Shoreline Sightseeing". Established in 1939, now the largest
touring fleet in the City of Chicago, "Shoreline Sightseeing" became
a family for over 300 seasonal crew members who work for the company from March
through November. "I
know one thing, we all have the same shirts on. You can see us from miles
away," says Greeter Tom Manuszak. Dressed in a radiant neon polo -- the
"Shoreline" signature uniform, he sticks out from the crowd of suit –
clad folks headed for lunch.
Here on the corner,street hustlers yell,“Loose
squares!” Othersyell, “Good Reggie,”
or “Loud,” advertising apotent brand
of marijuanathat while illegalis part of the commercial trade here.Call it the hustle.Single cigarettes at50
cents a pop andtwo-for five-dollar
marijuanabag sales. Middle-agedhustlers dominate thecorner, occasionallyfeuding over their corner turfs for
cigarette customersand marijuana
buyers. From nearly sunup untilway
past sundown hustlersstand on the
corner oralways with an eye out for
a potentialcustomer and anotherone for the Chicago police.
off the Dan Ryan expressway on the South Side, the commotion of car horns and
police sirens fills the air. A husky dark-skinned man wearing a black fitted
cap with the word “Chicago” stitched in white letters on the front and dark aviator
sunglasses over his eyes strides gracefully through the traffic selling cold
bottles of water, two for one dollar. “Ice cold,” he yells.
Here at this intersection of 47th and LaSalle Streets,
above the squeaking car breaks and the stew of sounds of the Bronzeville
neighborhood, the rhythmic resonance of drums that can be heard from at least
four blocks away rises above it all, becoming the dominant notes in the
air.And on the east side of the
intersection, in the middle of 47th street, sit two young men with
their dreads and Vic Firth drumsticks alike, whipping through the air with such
zeal and ambition.
Sid Yiddish, 51, playing outdoors
for a public performance.
Strange happenings hide in the
most normal of places. A lonely violin whines in the background, as a man
smokes a cigarette on the rusty fire escape stairs. A cracked floor and a maze
of hallways is decorated with everything from mannequins begging to be
graffitied, to an anarchist library gifted from the disheveled Occupy Chicago
movement. The back room is a vast corner filled with windows displaying the
city skyline.Here, at
1000 N. Milwaukee Ave., sits what appears to be an abandoned office
building.The weather is greyscale and
the smell of fresh sawdust and drywall fill the first floor, as contractors
have begun the long process of construction. Most who frequent the space
MuliKulti are more colorful than the next. This is
where Sid Yiddish, 51, practices music with his band The Candystore Henchmen.
On a warm
Friday afternoon in Bridgeport, Chicago, the boisterous buzzing of electric
drills and wails of car horns loom around the community. The clashing chimes of
beer mugs and excruciating laughter from a nearby sports bar and restaurant, Schaller’s
Pump, are fixated against the lively chatter and blaring guitars that creep
into the streets from an open pathway. Enter Let’s Boogie Records & Tapes
on 3321 S. Halsted St. Synthesizer plinks and booming rhythms
fill the age-old atmosphere, while magazines and artifacts lie across every
diameter of the room. Rows of vinyl sprawl around the life-size promotional
cut-outs that are placed on top of display cases full of cassettes and 8-track
tapes. A phone rings near a paper-filled desk
The swinging kitchen doors pass and
clatter against each other, allowing brief murmurs to sneak in from The Pumping
Company dining room in the Edgewater neighborhood. The kitchen’s order printer
screeches out another itemized ticket and Kevin Green rips it from the machine.
The paper crumples in his hand and he adds it to the end of a growing line. The lone
cook in the kitchen’s feet patter on the rubber mats from one end of the kitchen
to the other. Oven doors whine open and slam close, a timer goes off and
ceramic plates scrape against one another. The frialator’s oil hisses and pops
as Green cautiously navigates around its corner. “This
kitchen is too damn small, man,” Green quips.
Air brakes hiss
in the evening rush hour fray. City buses squeak and squeal. The L winds around
the track above Wabash Avenue, rumbling and roaring, steel on steel—drowning
out conversations with a deafening familiar sound. And yet, it is music, of
sorts, with a decidedly urban flavor—fluid and sometimes static, a resounding
river of humanity.
If I listen
closely, I can hear the march of feet up and down the street—some more hurried
than others. The horns of taxis are more conspicuous, even if less angry than
the darting, blaring taxicabs of Midtown Manhattan. This is Chicago.
the dim-lit corridors of the educational building of the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center, silence floats amid the hard slam of doors. It’s 8 a.m. The
gigantic front door swings open with students rushing to their classes. The patter
of feet, laughter, chatter, and even hip-hop rhythms from cell phones permeate
the large hallways, shunning out the still silence that existed moments
earlier.It’s a scene that resembles the cluttered
hallways of some public high schools.
right, let’s get to class, ladies and gents!” Brigitte Saffold shouts in her
typical commanding voice, over the escalating voices and giggles that fill the
entire hall. Saffold has been the administrative assistant for the deputy
director of the center.
Every morning, a man with the deep brown
eyes and a stack of magazines in his hands stands on the corner of Adams and
Wells Street. His deep, husky voice greets the rushing office-goers and floats
above the financial district of Chicago where he sells StreetWise magazine
every day. Carlos Marcado is one of 200 active StreetWise vendors
predominantly scattered around downtown and North Side of Chicago who sell the
magazine daily. Like most of his co-workers, Marcado used to be at risk of homelessness
and struggled to make enough money to cover the necessities but found help at
StreetWise, a social service organization that provides its vendors with
employment, housing stability and financial assistance.
The metal shutter door of the Granville L Newsstand rattles open and
echoes off the walls inside the small train station’s entrance. At 5:30 a.m.,
Feroz Sundrani’s day begins by organizing newspapers and tidying up the small
shop his uncle rents monthly. He slides open the doors to refrigerators
and quickly stocks assorted beverages before letting them slowly hiss shut.
There are a few still moments before the station comes alive. Shortly,
though, the early morning tranquility shatters as the rush hour commute begins
around 6 a.m. Soon groggy commuters approach the stand and pick up their papers
before they chime through one of the station’s three turnstiles and pack onto
the elevated platform.