No matter what part of the city you’re coming from, getting to University Village/Little Italy isn’t difficult. Aside from the Pink and Blue line stops at UIC and the Medical District, more than eight bus routes snake through the neighborhood. While taking the 8 north up Halsted is the easiest way to bisect the neighborhood, you get an impromptu lesson in Chicago history if you take an east-west route. Driving west brings passengers near the Jane Addams Hull House, the site of the former ABLA homes, and the Original Al’s Italian Beef.
Both “University Village” and “Little Italy” could be considered misnomers—titles that describe the neighborhood by certain identities as others have been successively carved away. In fact, the story of this neighborhood contains many of the processes of change that mark the history of Chicago at large: the rise and fall of public housing, shifts in demographics, and urban renewal. Continue reading
Eppel’s is the kind of place that’s rarely written about by food critics. It’s simple diner food done quickly and well for working people. It’s been open since Maxwell Street was on Maxwell Street, and it carries on even though few early patrons would recognize its surroundings as their city anymore. I’ve only ever ordered two or three things here, but it’s one of my favorite places to eat. Continue reading
The precocious seven-year-old Buddy eats dirt. Playground tormenter Odd Henderson straddles his squirming body and pins his flailing limbs. “You’re a sissy, and I’m just straightenin’ you out.” Buddy nevertheless continues to snake his spine and wriggle vigorously in futile defiance. He later inveighs against Odd’s evilness: “And I’m speaking of a twelve-year-old boy who hasn’t even had time to ripen!” Continue reading
This past Friday, the back room of the Powell’s Bookstore at UIC campus served as the new home for Bad Grammar Theater, a monthly event described on its website as a “reading series featuring Chicago’s rising and established authors.” It used to take place a good deal further south, in the Chicago Arts District, but just changed locations earlier this year, and may be suffering from some attendance problems as a result. On this particular night, Brendan Detzner, the organizer, makes it clear that readings must proceed apace, since each writer only has fifteen minutes in which to perform. Continue reading