Little Village | Music | Music Issue 2017 | Pilsen

No Rules

A thrash metal scene gives marginalized voices an outlet in Pilsen and Little Village

Denise Naim

Ruben L. Garza, Jr. is the vocalist for Through N Through, a four-person band of Little Village natives who write music about their experiences growing up young and Latinx on the South Side. They are not the first to do so: punk bands like Los Crudos have become synonymous with the local music scene in Little Village and Pilsen by wearing their heritage on their sleeves. But Through N Through is different. Although Garza says he prefers the label “hardcore” for Through N Through’s music, the thick guitar tones, crushing palm-muted riffs, and cutting kick drum all show the band’s heavy metal roots bursting through to the surface, with Garza’s hardcore punk vocals adding a defiant and satisfying finish.

Best of the South Side 2015 | Little Village

Best of Little Village & Lawndale 2015

Eric Kirkes

Little Village, bordering Pilsen, North Lawndale, and Cicero, is a neighborhood that comes with many a mythology, from the first port of call for many immigrants from Mexico and Central America to the oft-mentioned economic powerhouse that is 26th Street, with its blocks and blocks of quinceañera dress stores and botanicos. We interviewed some Chicagoans who call Little Village home about what makes the neighborhood tick.

Activism | Environment | Little Village

Citizens for an Unpolluted La Villita

Little Village’s fight for environmental justice

Ellie Mejia

On December 14, Mayor Rahm Emanuel spent the day in Little Village. He was the center of a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly completed Park 553, dubbed “La Villita” by residents and journalists, where he touted the twenty-two-acre site as one of several new green spaces opened during his time in office and a major victory for the park-starved neighborhood.

Faith | Little Village

Father Nevins of Santa Inés de Bohemia

The Little Village pastor on his experiences with the Latino community

The identity of Little Village has undergone periods of subtle transformation, as the neighborhood has shifted from being defined by Irish, Eastern-European, Polish, to Mexican immigrants. The richness of the history is not obvious, as with each wave of immigrants the facade of the area has evolved to accommodate a new culture. It is for this reason that the European-style church on Central Avenue—a side street off of hectic 26th Street—is so magnificent and unexpected. With an ornate bell tower and luminous stained glass windows, the church evokes another era entirely. St. Agnes of Bohemia, now more commonly called Santa Inés de Bohemia, was built in 1904 by Czech immigrants. Lined with pews, the inside of the church is richly decorated with various statues and gold detailing. As Catholicism is such a vital part of Latin American culture, the church has become a center of the community, and its priests, com- munity leaders. The pastor of St. Inés de Bohemia is Father Don Nevins, an Irish American and Chicagoan with perfect Spanish. Sitting in a bare conference room with images of saints and other religious symbols hung neatly on the walls, Father Don Nevins tells me about his experiences as a priest and as a leader within the Little Village and Pilsen communities.

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Best of the South Side 2014 | Little Village

Best Bilingual Refuge: Librería Girón

On 26th Street—where the eye is attacked with displays of quinceañera dresses so incredibly pink that they melt your eyeballs—it is easy to miss the understated black awning announcing the presence of Librería Girón.  Were it not for an intriguing (and misleading) subtitle that caught my eye—“Discoteca International”—I would have passed right by the Librería’s unassuming storefront. Continue reading