What No One Tells You About Spring In Chicago

What No One Tells You About Spring In Chicago

Heey Spring! Yep this is spring. I took this picture from my window yesterday March 23, 2015
Heey Spring! Yep this is spring. I took this picture from my window yesterday March 23, 2015

It’s Spring time baby! Birds chirping, baseball season and……snow! Yes today March 23, the 4th day of Spring, Chicago was hit with up to 6 inches of snow in some areas. I know what all you out of towners are saying, why don’t we get snow until April Chicago is so lucky…..said no one ever!

You know the funniest shit I saw today? People were actually putting their lawn chairs and house furniture back out in the street holding parking spaces. If you’ve never rode through a Chicago neighborhood after a fresh snow you have missed the pleasure of seeing 1981 kitchen chair sets and old baby strollers hold parking spaces after a hard day of shoveling. It gets so real in Chicago that someone cut a woman’s brake lines on her car after they had returned home and found she’d move their lawn chair and parked her car in their space in the Ukranian Village neighborhood.

Jesus cures the blind, walks on water and holds it down on the parking side in the Chi!  Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
Jesus cures the blind, walks on water and apparently holds it down on the parking side in the Chi!
Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
But if Jesus is busy ya know being Jesus grab that old t.v. off of the back porch and stake your claim!  Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
But if Jesus is busy ya know, being Jesus and all,  grab that old t.v. off of the back porch and stake your claim!
Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com

It’s not all bad though Chicago! When the tides do change and the temp hits 70 we have to enjoy one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world.

I took this photo standing on top of the Halsted street bridge looking into downtown.
I took this photo standing on top of the Halsted street bridge looking South East into downtown.

Navy Pier. Shopping that will tire out the flyest of Housewives. Home of America’s 1st Black President. We have an amazing city and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Throw on that winter coat for a few more days Chi city and get ready for some beauty. It’s almost April, it can’t snow forever! Until next time.-RD

Photo Courtesy of billboard.com
Photo Courtesy of billboard.com

The Chicago music scene has been continuously seeing its star get brighter and brighter. With Emcee’s Common, Kanye West, Lupe and Shawna paving the way, 2015 is seeing the underground Chicago music scene boil over into mainstream label ready artistry. Chicago is home to one of THE hottest up and coming lyrical beasts. Rather singing or rapping this femcee sets the bar high for the competition. Signed to Mosley Music Group through Epic Records Chicago artist Tink has taken her underground following and out of the box lyrics to a soon to be international platform.

Photo courtesy textbooktimbo.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy textbooktimbo.blogspot.com

Before being signed to a major label Tink was already a force in the Chicago music scene. Her first mixtape Winter’s Diary dropped in 2012 to a good reception but it was her A Zae Production, Chief Keef-3 Hunna freestyle that caught the attention of the world. Don’t you just love YouTube? Gotta give it to the platform for allowing such creative minds to upload their craft. What can seem like over night, Tink was scooped up by music mogul Timbaland and since he took her under his wing she’s been making major moves with the heavy hitters of the industry.

In an ode, a dedication, to America’s Babies Tink released the Timbaland produced track “Tell the Children”; in wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. “Boys being gunned down, your boys is havin’ fun now. With our blood and our sons, disturbing the peace. He’s more afraid of him and he’s the one with the piece?” Going where most of today’s artists are scared to go, or let’s be honest just really don’t give a f@$% about going, she is filling a wide void that’s been left open since…….Lauryn HIll. Yes I said it and that’a huge statement. With flows, verses and vocal ability she covers the versatility in style and delivery, couple that with the honest and necessary for the times lyrics I think we may have someone for the kids to listen to, maybe it’s Tink if it isn’t you? The big homie Yeezy said it best in his 3rd studio release summer anthem Champion, “When it feels like living’s harder than dying, For me giving up’s way harder than trying. Lauryn Hill said her heart was in Zion, I wish her heart still was in rhyming. Cause who the kids gone listen to? I guess it’s me if it isn’t you.”  Not stopping there Tink already has 2015 going crazy with her newest hit Ratchet Commandments. Although a bit vulgar for the first few minutes she does hit dead on the lifestyles of some of our most precious queens and kings. “I told Tim like, I’m irritated, devastated. I thought, I thought we had some young queens what you mean? We act beligerent, generation of ignorance. Chicks live for ‘the Gram so they life ain’t got no significance. And guys is ratchet too, just in another way. You fake fathers never held your daughters, never had a conversation. You too f@#$ng immature to get an occupation.”

Photo courtesy of Lauryn Hill's twitter @misslaurynhill
Photo courtesy of Lauryn Hill’s twitter @misslaurynhill

I’m excited! Music is representative of the people. It’s been a while since we’ve had someone rep the Queen. No disrespect to any current artists but we all know lyrical conversations for the soul of the queen have been on pause for a while. Could Tink be apart of the answer, its too soon to tell but she is certainly on her way. All Chicago love, until next time. -RD

The Secret Way Geeks Are Leading Luxury Fashion In Chicago

The Secret Way Geeks Are Leading Luxury Fashion In Chicago

Royal Diva Pop Art in Fashion Geek head to toe.
Royal Diva Pop Art in Fashion Geek head to toe.

When you think of Chicago what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Barney’s or the House of Chanel on Michigan Avenue? If you only think of Michael Jordan and snow storms when you picture the Windy City you are missing out on some of the dopest fashions! One of today’s hottest luxury fashion brands has been in the city for over 10 years and travels all over the country giving a little piece of Chicago to the world. Ever seen one cool as hell illustrated duck with the blue specs?

FG Duck Coat
Signature Fashion Geek Duck Mascot. Men’s waist length leather coat. Photo courtesy of chicagofashionincubator.com

Or the super cool geek logo in bright blocked colors?

Fat shouts to my late night #geek #fleek from Fashion Geek 69 East 16th Street Chicago, Il.
Fat shouts to my late night #geek #fleek from Fashion Geek 69 East 16th Street Chicago, Il.

If you walk the circles of Chicago’s trendy wear then I’m certain you’ve peeped these Fashion Geeks! I stopped by the Store today at 69 East 16th Street and found a cool welcoming environment. They even offered to laugh if I would have hit the electric slide across the floor in my boots…..just like family! 🙂 As I tried a few of the pieces on one thing I noticed was the quality of the materials they use. I was really feeling the deigns on the clothes so I asked store owner and designer Alonzo ‘Zoe’ Jackson a few questions about the pieces and his inspiration.

Born and raised on the South side of Chicago Fashion Geek began when Zoe was a just a teen sketching the now famous duck mascot. The brand started out with handmade pieces created by the founders but as clientele and demand grew, the process did too and the clothes began to be manufactured, although the patches are still hand sewn to this day.

FG Table of Clothes

FG Jesus Piese Sweatshirt

Fashion Geek is one of the most recognizable brands out of Chicago. Celebrities often rock FG including D. Rose,Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. I asked Zoe what makes his brand stand out from the rest, he said its quality. “I’m ready for a hater to say something, its at the top of everything.” Most pieces range from $40-$600 and you can stop this South Loop treasure at 69 East 16th Street daily from 12-7, 312-465-2664. I had a good laugh or two this afternoon when I stopped by and everyone in there was really nice. Go check out Fashion Geek on IG @fashiongeekzo and Twitter @fashiongeekzo

The 1 Minute Guide to Shit You’ll See Around Chicago

The 1 Minute Guide to Shit You’ll See Around Chicago

America Flag Platform Heels

 American Flag. East Bound. Wacker Drive. I risk getting punched in the face everyday to bring you closeups of shit like this. #GodBlessAmerica #nolikeforreal

Tired CatLiving in Chicago is stressful shit. Sometimes a cat needs a nap or two.

Aborted Fetus

 Photos of dead fetuses on Michigan Avenue to scare people from having an abortion…..or mating with aliens and shit.

CPD Build A New ChicagoSome Rahm Emanuel shit. I’d like to discuss this New Chicago…..

Worst Description Ever of a Play

“Green Whales” Some shit hopefully nobody in Chicago can relate to.

Wing Hoe Restaraunt SignHey, hoes like wings n’ shit too.

Fish on CrateThis catfish was chilling at the Citgo. I don’t have any words for this shit.

Free Bed No Breakfast at Cook County Jail!

Free Bed No Breakfast at Cook County Jail!

Front View of Cook County Jail. Photo courtesy of jchmarketingchicago.com
Front View of Cook County Jail. Photo courtesy of jchmarketingchicago.com

Who likes jails? I mean, maybe except for proponents of the prison industry complex. Outside of the regular everyday dislike of jails, I have a special disdain for Cook County Jail on the west side at 26th and California. I was born and raised on the west side of the city so “the county” has always been in my view. Tales of christmas tree bologna sandwiches, you know when the fury mold grows in clusters on top of the meat, intense population lock downs and down right being an eye sore, “the county” has given me many reasons to stay away.

However over this July 4th weekend the Cook County Jail house has probably sealed the deal on my desire to visit inmates and read them poetry. A middle aged Chicago man was locked inside of an under-construction holding cell after he arrived to visit his son. For over 30 hours he was stuck behind locked partitions where he banged and yelled to get some ones attention. After more than a day of being stuck in jail he decided to break the sprinkler system which alerted the CFD, Chicago Fire Department, who arrived on the scene to check the sprinkler system and found the tired and hungry man.

County and jail officials all are bewildered as to how the man was led to the construction area as he was en route to the visitation area. Who knows? ?But on the brink of Chicago making national headlines in regards to violence in the city, we have got to do better than accidentally locking up innocent citizens. To check this crazy story out in full click here and Here’s some survival tips on how to survive if you find yourself in a new 9×7 condo, voluntarily or involuntarily. Until next time, stay out of jail and see you around. -RD

 

 

 

The Secrets of Chicago Gang History

The Secrets of Chicago Gang History

fox weekend violence
Photo courtesy of foxnews.com

It has to be said. This has to be addressed. I know you’ve heard the news stories this week and read the headlines about Chicago’s deadliest weekend in murders and shootings. Well as always there’s his story, her story and the Chi By Design story. Let me first tell you as a resident of Chicago for 24 out of the 28 years of my life I do not now nor have I ever walked through my neighborhood in fear. I do not have the impending dread that as I open my car door to drop my daughter off at daycare that I will be riddled by bullets. Please. Drop the paranoia. Let the sensationalism go and we can begin to have a real conversation, a dialogue of sorts about the situation facing my city. It’s not JUST the thugs. It’s not JUST the CPD. It’s not JUST the politics and politricks or the failing public education system. Its not JUST the lack of community and family involvement. It is definitely NOT the millions of gun laws and gun bans and increased fines for citizens carrying guns. There is a combination of human fallacy on every end of the spectrum that has brought us to today. This post will unfold several times over the next few weeks. I mean seriously, how can you address a problem whose solutions are so deep and multi-faceted, in one article or blog post? News sources that blasts headlines like, Chicago the New Murder Capitol; and then spend four paragraphs addressing and solving the issue as if it were as simple as saying, please don’t shoot, it hurts, is irresponsible.

The most common cure I hear for curbing the gun violence in Chicago is to create tougher gun laws. Ha! Let me laugh one more time, Ha! Ooh wait as a matter of fact let me get my 7 chuckles in like Katt Williams says. In the first post of this series we will explore the history of Chicago in terms of organized crimes and gangs and Chicago law enforcement. The history of gangs and organized crimes in Chicago have an origination date almost as old as the city. Chicago became incorporated on March 4, 1837 and according to an 1855 Chicago Tribune news article the entire city of Chicago was lifted between 4-14 feet to make way for a new citywide sewage system to combat the mud and water effects of being built right next to Lake Michigan. Not only did this process raise the standards of living for Chicagoan’s it opened the door for the illegal underworld of prostitution, gambling money laundering alcohol and later drug sales. If you’ve ever driven down Lower Wacker Drive, before the renovations, you got to see first hand the underground entrances and exists of mob bosses like Alphonse “Scarface” Capone and Giacomo “Big Jim” Colosimo.

Night view of a north bound entrance down to Lower Wacker Drive. Photo courtesy of www.autonueroticfixation.com
Night view of a north bound entrance down to Lower Wacker Drive. Photo courtesy of http://www.autonueroticfixation.com
An underground entrance and exit below Michigan Avenue. Photo courtesy of www.autonueroticfixation.com.
An underground entrance and exit below Michigan Avenue. Photo courtesy of http://www.autonueroticfixation.com.

 

This photo is before the 2 year multi-million dollar renovation to Lower Wacker. In the crevices, where the bridge met the concrete, housed many of Chicago's homeless population. I remember very vividly as a child being amazed by the make shift shelters of sheets and personal possessions set up right up under Michigan Avenue where people were easily spending tens of thousands of dollars on one nights entertainment. Photo courtesy of www.autonueroticfixation.com.
This photo is before the 2 year multi-million dollar renovation to Lower Wacker. In the crevices, where the bridge met the concrete, housed many of Chicago’s homeless population. I remember very vividly as a child being amazed by the make shift shelters of sheets and personal possessions set up right up under Michigan Avenue where people were easily spending tens of thousands of dollars on one nights entertainment. Photo courtesy of http://www.autonueroticfixation.com.

It is said that there are hundreds of covert underground rooms and sewage systems that connect all over the city that were used to house brothels and during prohibition used to smuggle hooch throughout the city. In 1919, the first year of prohibition, Chicago laid its groundwork to become what has been touted today as the murder capital of the US.

Famously known as “The Beer Wars”, Chicago’s biggest gangs divided up the city into territories and began an all out war against each other. The Torrio Mob controlled the South and South-West sides of the city. The mob included 8 different and independent gangs under their flag. Vying for the south side territories were also the South Side O’Donnel Brothers, the Saltis McErlane mob and the Ralph Sheldon gang. With the Sicilians out vying the Irish for power in the black market, the Irish transitioned to politics and began a very profitable relationship. The Race Riots of 1919 began after an African-American boy was drowned in Lake Michigan after accidentally crossing the barrier for the blacks only section at the beach and police refused to charge the white man several eye witnesses identified as the murderer. This week of non stop fighting and all out war between black and white gangs on the city’s south side sparked the beginning of what will soon become the rise of the political black gangs for safety and protection of the black citizen.

 

Front page of the August 2, 1919 Chicago Defender. Photo courtesy of cameronmcwherter.com
Front page of the August 2, 1919 Chicago Defender. Photo courtesy of cameronmcwherter.com

During the next 30 years the Italian Outfit moved its underhanded dealings from the streets to the political arena. Employing hundreds of former mobsters and murders as police officers and higher up city officials in the Aldermanic, Mayoral and Gubernatorial offices through the Democratic Machine, nicknamed in Chicago, The Machine. By the 1960’s black gangs began to form in political response to the gang and mob mentality of the government, committeemen and elected officials. The Vice Lord gang was created in St. Charles Juvenile Correction Center by young men from the North Lawndale neighborhood. Upon their release they went back to the west side neighborhood and recruited hundreds of black youth into their gang. Originally the Vice Lords were bad news for the community and brought much terror to the residents. In the mid 1960’s several of the Vice Lord groups met and decided that they no longer wanted to be associated with being a street gang and the new Conservative Vice Lords were about economic empowerment of their community. Bobby Gore, spokesman of the new CVL, along with David Dawley, the first White Vice Lord, proposed grants and received government funding to open Teen Town, two Tastee Freeze parlors, a slew of after school programs and GED training courses along with other educational programs. around the same time on the south side of the city, present day Englewood, a young man by the name of  Larry Hoover was kicked out of school and joined the Supreme Gangsters and quickly rose as the leader. During its early stages the Supreme Gangsters were terrors to their communities introducing prostitution and gambling into the neighborhoods; sounds a lot like the Irish and Sicilian mobs of the early 1920’s. As with the Vice Lord Nation on the west side, during the mid 1960’s the Black Gangster Disciples turned courses and began to open gas stations, fund community programs, restaurants and even served as truancy officers to enforce black students to attend school. Prevalent in Chicago as well was the Black Panther Party who set up a free lunch program to feed THOUSANDS of hungry children before school and during the summer months.

Photos inside of a cafeteria of the BPP feeding school children with their free lunch food program. Photo courtesy of rortybomb.wordpress.com.
Photos inside of a cafeteria of the BPP feeding school children with their free lunch food program. Photo courtesy of rortybomb.wordpress.com.

Black gangs were uniting and developing a social consciousness and a political awareness that had not been seen since the Great Black Migration from the south right after WW1. Unfortunately the gangs in political office did not like the unification of black citizens in Chicago. The 40-50,000 gang members politically unified scared the living shits out of Mayor Richard J. Daley and here lies the birth of the War on Gangs. On May 9, 1969 State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, in a press conference, announced the official Daley administration’s War on Gangs. This war created a task force to spy on and break down the black political gangs from an internal prospective. During the mid 1970’s you see a decline in the economic, political and social state of the black community infiltrated by the, totally surprise and random introduction, of crack cocaine into the community. The once strong male leaders of the gangs and therefore the community were reduced to zombied out shells of their former selves. With the wrongful conviction of Bobby Moore and the retirement of several other prominent leaders, the black gangs were being dragged back in to the underworld of crime. The Chicago Police had more support now than ever to establish discord and abuse in the black neighborhoods under the guise of the ‘War on Gangs’, sound a little like Bush’s War on Terror? The introduction of crack, the rampant ruling of the Machine and the continuous downfall of our educational system pretty much brings us up to date on gang life and history in Chicago.

Please remember that all discussions in this series are related to the cause and cure of the “gun violence” in Chicago. You’ll never know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re coming from, If you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it and all of those other sayings describe why its important to look at today in the context of yesterday. I’ m tired, this is tiring. Research for this post made mad and sad at the same time but it was necessary. Please share your thoughts below. We have a long way to go. Check back in the next few days for the next installment of this series on Gun Violence in Chicago. Until next time- RD

 

 

 

 

 

My Train’s Better Than Yours!

My Train’s Better Than Yours!

Map of all the CTA Branch lines. Lines include the Purple, Pink, Brown, Blue, Yellow, Green and Orange Lines.
Map of all the CTA Branch lines. Lines include the Purple, Pink, Brown, Blue, Yellow, Green and Orange Lines.

I have traveled all over the country, I’ve even been Blessed to travel beyond our borders and experience the lifestyles of our Jamaican, Mexican and Canadian friends! I cannot tell you how happy I am when I touch down at Midway International, exhausted from traveling, and board the clean, shiny Orange Line. Orange Line? You don’t know about the Orange Line, well what about the Green line? No. Blue Line? No. Pink, Purple, Yellow or Brown Lines? Whhhaaaaaatttt? Well welcome to the worlds best transit system! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

If you have never had the pleasure of riding our city’s “L”, a nick name for elevated rail cars, then you have been missing out. Let me preface this shout out to the “L” by saying that any form of transportation outside of the comforts of a personal vehicle will have some elements that suck. I just happen to think that we in Chicago, riding our fancy smancy “L” tracks, suck….less. You know, a lot less. And please understand that my love for riding the “L” has nothing to do with my disdain love for CTA. Oh just keep reading to see what the difference is!

The history of the “L” lines are kind of cool. Operating as one unified system now, each rail line began as its own company! Can you imagine different fare amounts and different time schedules for all the trains that we take today? That would be a nightmare!

Mass craziness waiting for train. Photo courtesy of businessinsider.com.au
Mass craziness waiting for train. Photo courtesy of businessinsider.com.au

Although accolades for the first elevated railway system goes to the city of London with its London and Greenwich Railroad (1836) Chicago was not far behind when it championed, in 1892, the Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Railroad. To give you a scope of its service, the rail line was only 3.6 miles long, I currently walk 3.5 miles everyday on my lunch break, so you know in 1892 people weren’t getting very far, very fast. One of the coolest features of the “L” that so many tourists and even Chicagoan’s enjoy today is the fact that the “L” runs adjacent to most city alleyways. In the late 19th century, in Chicago, it would have required a private business to get consent through a petition signed by the community homeowners to allow a transit line to run on the streets. Therefore the rail lines were commissioned to only run through city owned alley ways, earning it its first nick name of “Alleyway L”. How gangster. Fast forward 12 decades and 18 mayors later and we still get that one of a kind city glimpse whether we are going north for a Cubs game or headed out west to the ‘burbs, the “L” is still a great way to see the city!

My beautiful New Jersey homie Carla riding the CTA for the first time!
My beautiful friend, Carla, from New Jersey riding the CTA for the first time! Notice the alley ways.

In 1924 all of the various “L” lines were consolidated. The demand to get people from one side of the city to the other was growing by the minute. Despite the enormous personal gains of rail owners the system got too big for its britches and could not continue to successfully operate under private ownership. In 1947 all private railways were seized and the city owned and operated CTA, Chicago Transit Authority, was born.

In 2012 my son and I ventured to New York City, all of my local friends yelled at me and told me I did not want to take the MTA into downtown. Who really listens to people anyway right? It was the WORST! Everything was so crowded and packed, and this was a Tuesday night! There were 3 people sitting on my lap in addition to the homeless guy nestled snugly into my neck while I was being serenaded by some rendition of a Michael Jackson and Dionne Warwick mash up. This. Can’t. Be. Life. I thought that nothing could top my first experience on Atlanta’s MARTA. Here I was a fresh eyed 17 year old college freshman set to explore the city with my new roommates as I boarded the train and encountered…….carpet. Orange shag carpet on the floors, on the seats, on the walls. Wow. The stench of decades old carpet was more than my northern nose could bear. I stepped off the train at the Lenox Station and threw up. Although the MARTA began to upgrade itself in 2005 it still boasts a whopping 38 stops on its entire rail system. Meanwhile across the country, my Bay Area compadres riding BART are dealing with this. Wow.

And just for fun....a young Royal Diva's CTA Student's Riding Permit.
And just for fun….a young Royal Diva’s CTA Student’s Riding Permit.

What different cities transit systems have you taken? Which ones were the best to you? comment below or shoot me an e-mail at royaldiva.tv@gmail.com and tell me some of your craziest public transportation moments! Let me wrap this post up so I can catch my train. Until next time.