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.

3 Painful Lessons Palestine Can Teach Chicago

3 Painful Lessons Palestine Can Teach Chicago

Photo courtesy of understandingsociety.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.understandingsociety.blogspot.com

The moral crust of a society is the responsibility of its government. Right? I mean take any country, city or township and you will clearly see there are laws enacted by those in charge in hopes of maintaining a peaceful civilization. Every country has a duty to protect its people and should immediately kill (shoot, bomb or blowup) all people that don’t behave in accordance to their standards! Off with their heads! Well, this is true, according to Israeli blogger Yochanan Gordon, genocide is not only permissible it is advantageous to maintaining a harmonious society. In a blog post entitled, “When Genocide is Permissible”, printed on August 1, 2014 in the Times of Israel , Gordon states “Judging by the numbers of casualties on both side in this almost one-month old war one would be led to the conclusion that Israel has resorted to disproportionate means in fighting a far less-capable enemy.” I read this statement over, and over, and over again. The thought that continued to repeat itself was that the struggles of ethnic Palestinian people who occupy the Gaza Strip and West Bank are eerily similar to the struggles of my ethnic people of Chicago; and that if we don’t change the behavior and dynamics of all parties involved Chicago could very well end up in a military state like the Israeli/Palestinian country. I know its a lot, don’t worry, I’ll explain.

That seems like a heavy statement, the people of Chicago and Palestine are kin in their struggle of the right to live without police/military/government forces killing the people, poisoning their food sources and not allowing them access to proper education and medical services. To adequately explain my point I will briefly provide a breakdown of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This is a short synopsis just touching on major events in the conflict, please do more detailed research if you would like to be fully informed.

  • In the late 1800’s Jewish Europeans were looking to leave Europe and  find a “homeland”, a place to lay claim and call their own. They settled on Palestine (Despite the many Palestinians who already inhabited the land. Hello Thanksgiving, Pilgrims and the Native Americans.) At first the Jewish settlers came in quietly but over the next 50 years due to the rise of Hitler in Germany, Jewish settlers came in droves of 100’s of thousands to Palestine, depleting natural resources and violently taking land from ethnic Palestinians. Hatred and conflict erupted.
  • In 1947 the United Nations (the gov’t body that kind of rules the world and sets the laws for how countries relate to each other) stepped in and divided up the land.The UN decided to give away 55% of the land to Jews whom only made up 30% of the population while giving the Palestinians only 45% of the land in which they represented 70% of the population. This is where the country goes from being Palestine to being Israel and Palestine. (Please note this is not the Quranic or Biblical land referred to as Israel…….. well because its Palestine.)
  • 1947-1949 all out war broke loose. It is to be noted that Israel invaded Palestine 16 times and the organization of a Palestinian military force did not come together until after the 16th massacre of Palestinians that slaughtered over 100 people. By the end of the war in 1949 Israel had conquered 78% of Palestine.  For several years after this Israel denied the existence of the ENTIRE Palestinian nation and subsequently denied the existence and lives of the Palestinian people.
  • Conflicts waged on and there was no peace for Arabs or Israeli’s. Once again conflicts came to a head and resulted in the 6 day War of 1967, Israel feared the Arab countries of Syria, Egypt and Jordan would unify and attack them so Israel struck first under the leadership of Israeli Defense Minister General Moshe Dayan. Troops invaded the last 22% of land occupied by Palestinians, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since International Law forbids acquiring land by war these are “occupied” territories and do not legally belong to Israel. Israel also “occupied” land in Egypt but has since given it back. How thoughtful 🙂
  • This brings us to the current day conditions. Palestine was traditionally about 89% Muslim and 7% Christian before Israeli invasion. Ethnic Arabs, whether Muslim or Christian, are systematically discriminated against, being barricaded by concrete blocks into Gaza and the West Bank. Here is a picture of the entire land of Palestine/Israel, those areas highlighted in a royal doo-doo green represent present day “Palestine” and the orange areas are referred to as Israel (though the whole country is technically Palestine).
    Photo courtesy of State Information Services.
    Photo courtesy of State Information Services.

    According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics in 2013 there were 4.42 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. The Gaza strip occupies 179 sq miles of land. To give you an ideal of the dense amount of people crammed into that small space competing for clean water, food and other resources, Google Maps has taken the land mass of Gaza and laid it on top of New York. The Gaza Strip may be at most 1/4 of the land area of New York. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the subway in New York but I’ve had the privilege of being almost strangled by a mass of bodies in the thick New York heat that were too dense to all fit on the rail cars nor all on the platform.

    Photo Courtesy of Google Maps
    Photo Courtesy of Google Maps

     

But how is this Chi and what can we learn? Let’s first define the sides; for all intents and purposes the ethnic races of Chicago (African Americans, Indigenous Africans and Caribbean peoples and the many diverse groups of Hispanic peoples) of Chicago represent the ethnic Arab Palestinian people, the city government and CPD represent the Israeli Military Force and the gangs and criminal element in the city represent Hamas.

According to Alon Ben-Meir, International Relations Professor at the Center for Global  Affairs NYU, “A critical impediment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the complete distrust between the two sides. What makes the conflict even more intractable is that neither side is convinced that distrusting the other can be mitigated given the history of the conflict.” The deeply rooted distrust of Chicago Politicians and Police Force by ethnic groups in Chicago began in the early to mid 1900’s when the Jewish and Polish underworld leaders moved into politics as Sicilian and other Italian mob bosses took control over prostitution rings and gambling houses. Added to the great migration of Blacks from the south to northern cities to escape Jim Crow Laws and the beginning of a multi-decade wave of Mexican and South American immigration created competition for power, space and resources . The outlaw of alcohol during prohibition graciously handed the newly elected City Council members, Aldermen and Mayor’s Office a cash cow in bribes, kick backs and payoffs.  The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 began when an African-American teenager crossed the invisible boundary in Lake Michigan and swam into the Whites only territory. He was stoned by many of the White beach goers and drowned. The Riots of 1968 saw racial tensions swell to a boiling point after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Whether Eugene Williams’ was too tired to swim to shore and just gave up or the White beach goers stoned him to death for leaving the Blacks only section, it is clear that the subsequent police and Mayoral cover up gives just a slight glimpse at the history of distrust between elected officials/police force and the people…..just like Palestine/Israel.

A man gathers his belongings that survived after an Israeli bomb was dropped on his home. Photo courtesy of rinf.com.
A man gathers his belongings that survived after an Israeli bomb was dropped on his home. Photo courtesy of rinf.com.

A major source of anger for humanitarian groups is that the Israeli Military are bringing guns to a knife fight, they’re painting Picasso’s in an art competition for kindergartner’s. The Palestinian people are NOT equipped with rockets in their bedrooms nor do they house drone bombs that can be detonated at the push of a button nor do they posses DIME weapons like the Israeli military. DIME’s are Dense Inert Metal Explosives that rip human flesh to shreds just like a paper shredder does to last month’s bills. The Israeli defense is that Hamas is killing Israeli citizens and military personnel therefore these aggressive attacks on the people are necessary. Hold UP. Insert the City of Chicago HERE. Does it sound familiar that the unified government/police force are targeting innocent citizens based off of the actions of a small and very dangerous terrorist faction. Could this scenario represent the gangs menacing the city and riddling our streets with gun violence so police harass everyday citizens, snatch young men out of cars and brutally beat them for driving while ethnic? Could this represent how the CPD has stopped responding to residential burglaries, street muggings and other crimes enacted by thugs?  Doesn’t the Israeli Military force notice that Hamas harasses Palestinian citizens as well and makes their dwellings unsafe and potential bomb targets? Doesn’t CPD recognize that the same people shooting at them are the same people breaking in our garages, robbing us and sending the gunfire through OUR neighborhoods, often times hitting the wrong targets and killing our beautiful children? The ethnic Palestinians and ethnic Chicagoan’s are both fighting a battle against the powers that be and sadly fighting for survival among people of our own group who have decided that chaos and murder are easier to spread than butter.

The structural makeup of the land in Palestine and Chicago may look obviously different but the mental and psychological effects of their living conditions are the same.

Photo Courtesy of Times of Israel print edition.
Photo Courtesy of Times of Israel print edition.

Above is a picture of a Palestinian man sitting on top of the Israeli settlement, Ofra, in Gaza. Study this picture. First to note, Jewish Settlements are groups of Israeli civilian citizens who independently decide that they want to live in Palestinian designated space and any Palestinians who currently live there have to move. Not only do Israeli civilian citizens move into Palestinian neighborhoods, they then require protection from the Israeli Military who then decides that concrete boulders need to be put up to protect the Israeli citizens, creating sub standard “ghetto’s” and dense populations who cannot move in or out of their homes due to barricades they are not allowed to cross for the seeming “protection” of Israeli’s. This process of settlement building remind me of gentrification. Affluent groups (98% of these people are of Caucasian descent) deem an area of Chicago desirable, so they begin the process of buying up properties in that neighborhood which in return raises the property value to levels not affordable by the current demographic of people who live in the area. Increased number of police are now designated to patrol the area to “protect” the newly gentrified people in the area, of course this policing is biased, racists and causes way more problems for the original occupant of this area. To further “protect” the new gentrified population, speed humps, dead end streets and concrete blockades are put up to control the movement of the people.

Photo courtesy of chi.streetsblog.org
Photo courtesy of chi.streetsblog.org

Notice how this neighborhood block was cut in two and made into a no access street. Can we imagine how we could dictate what goods and services even down to what grocery stores and what foods are accessible to certain people by opening and closing roads and buildings. Busses cannot travel down dead end streets. If the population of a community has a low employment and educational rate, it is logical that most citizens will probably not have access to personal vehicles or very reliable ones at least, so public transportation is necessary to transport them to areas of the city that conduct business and provide goods. What happens when the new population develops businesses in the area that are totally unrelated and not affordable to the people who already live there? The buildings may be different; some may be brick and others may be concrete. We may rock gym shoes and jeans while they rock cottons and flowy fabrics but the systematic repression of a people bear the same results; intolerance, hatred, retaliation and death.

We Chicagoans can look to the Plestinian/Israeli conflict to see what a truly militarized city would be like. Would that be what we wanted? When there are 22 shootings and 10 murders over the weekends people cry for Martial Law, we need the military! I don’t think individuals realize what living in a city completely free of local government and ran by the United States Military would be like. Life would suck. There will be 8 pm curfews and those who stay outside pass them would risk being shot. There would be no free flow of information, where you live would become like a fortress with no one allowed to move freely in and out of neighborhoods. The military would decide what medical treatment people received, when and how soon. So do you agree that Chicago and Israel/Palestine share some similarities? What are you going to do to regain some control over our city?

When people ask why you are concerned about foreign relations and the crisis in the Middle East this is why; There but for the grace of God go I. -RD

6 Reasons Sole Survivor Was The Ultimate for Sneaker Heads

6 Reasons Sole Survivor Was The Ultimate for Sneaker Heads


Sole Expo Logo

It’s a beautiful morning in the land of the Chi. Today strangely feels like its the beginning of summer, like a fresh new day. 82 degrees, clear skies and a breeze that is certainly sent from Heaven. The weekend was a beautiful prelude to this type of Monday. Royal Diva spent a fabulous weekend hoping from event to event in the city’s West Loop and Pilsen neighborhoods. On Saturday Whitney Young High School hosted the Nike Chi League basketball tournaments; this tournament features the most prominent H.S basketball players with talents able to propel them to the NBA. This 10 game tournament and additional free weekly basketball clinics offer so much to the city that I will dedicate a future post and include lots of pictures! Across the city in the southwest Pilsen neighborhood I attended the Sole Survivor Custom Contest for shoe design at the 2014 Sole Expo Convention. The Sole Expo was strictly for my gym shoe heads and custom sneaker collectors! (In the Chi we always say Gym Shoes!)

There were shoe aficionados from as far west as L.A and as far east as the D.C/Maryland area known as the DMV. Alot of people came to buy and trade custom shoes but I came to watch the process of custom shoes being created. Six dope street shoe designers, creating their art live in the lab, all different designs, same shoe, everyone competing for a cash prize and a full scholarship by Angelus Direct plus bragging rights as their final shoe design gets auctioned off to raise money for Kicks for Creators, a non-profit group which specializes in helping young entrepreneurs launch businesses in the shoe industry.

2014 Sole Expo Convention at the Lacuna Artists Lofts
2014 Sole Expo Convention at the Lacuna Artists Lofts

The venue was a cool artsy loft space with deep wood paneling and an industrial feel. I blended right in with the wood walls as we dripped a few beads of sweat together. It was hot in there! I really enjoyed the mix of the loft vibe with some splashes of modern art. The bathrooms were cool, they were lowered into the ground and featured some nice black and white abstract work on the outsides. Too bad they weren’t labeled, I turned the corner to the urinal area to some very surprised men…sorry guys. Power 92 was in the building along with Chance the Rapper, Stunt Taylor and Twista. Here’s where I have to pause for the cause. You know Royal Diva only gives you the real when I’m out and about. Everyone at the event was super chill. Every artist from the live designers, the sneaker buyers and traders and the promotions and events staff were all pleasant and excited about their craft. However I witnessed one too many people being pushed out of the way and stepped on by the super obnoxious security had by one artist. I watched this sweet lady selling home made cookies physically pushed because said artist wanted to move 2 steps to the left.

My attention was redirected when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, an artist spray painting a shoe that seemed to be referring back to one of the greatest shows of all time, Breaking Bad! Now THIS is the artistry I came for. I walked around the tables and was amazed by the air brushes, pastel and acrylic paints these artists blended together in what can only be a scientific way. Day 1 of the Sole Expo wrapped. I arrived for Day 2 and the judging of the Sole Survivor Custom Contest. Below are the final 6 shoe designs:

 

Winner of the 2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Mauricio. IG- Mauriciopaints
Winner of the 2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Mauricio.
IG- Mauriciopaints
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest contestant Kreative Customs.
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest contestant Kreative Customs.

 

2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Dejesus Customs. IG- dejesuscustoms
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Dejesus Customs.
IG- dejesuscustoms
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Vinny. IG- V.A.B.
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Vinny.
IG- V.A.B.
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Astrotorf. IG- Astrotorfcustoms
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Astrotorf.
IG- Astrotorfcustoms
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Kickstradomis. IG- kickstradomis
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Kickstradomis.
IG- kickstradomis

Congratulations @mauriciopaints for the 2014 win! Sneaker heads and gym shoe lovers what do you think about the designs? Who’s your favorite? Until next time. -RD

P.S.

This post was originally written on Monday July 21, 2014. In the middle of writing this article I received a phone call that my grandmother had left this side of life. My thoughts traveled back to an hour ago where I was entrenched in a breeze that I felt was delivered from the Heavens and the feelings of renewal and beginnings I’d just possessed. Perhaps that was my grandmothers soft whispers letting me know in her always subtle way, that everything is ok. As always thank you for reading and yes grandma, everything is ok 🙂

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.

The Time My Grandmother Lived Through Me

The Time My Grandmother Lived Through Me

Chicago is the 3rd most populated metropolitan city in the United States, right behind New York and L.A. With 3 million residents in the Greater Chicago land area there is always competition for space and resources.This Sunday morning I decided to put my yard space to use and replant my garden! I will get a little personal with you all today, y’all love me right :), and share with you that this was one of the hardest flower beds to plant. Growing up my grandparents took care of me like I was their child. Being an only child I spent lots of time with my grandparents going shopping, preparing meals and watching the dreadful FOX News channel with my grandfather. On July 11 of 2013 my grandfather passed away. In March 2014 my grandmother entered the hospital due to complications with her lungs and she still remains. One of the best memories with my grandparents is watching them grow fresh tomatoes, bell peppers and hot peppers in our back yard. When I was little we even had a pear tree! In the footsteps of 2 of the best people ever, I decided that my son and I would revamp our backyard for my grandmother. It started like this:

 

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Weeds, weeds, weeds! It has rained consistently for the past 2 weeks here in Chicago and my backyard was ready for full on Lion King action, so we began to dig. And dig. And dig. We made good head way and was able to clear the entire patch of weeds out. It was no small feat for the Diva, I’m such a city girl. Once we cleared the weeds and dug up old tulip bulbs from gardens past we were able to start the beautification process. A word to the wise, if you are planting in soil previously used place down a layer of plastic and cut holes in the spaces you want to plant in. It will eliminate roots and weeds popping up throughout your garden.

Image Usually my son leaves me hanging in the middle of mommy’s projects but he stuck this one out with me. He hoed, pulled and snatched weeds, he lugged gigantic bags of mulch around the yards and he even laid down one of our cement patios with the mulch. He’s such the little helper….when I bribe him with riding his bike on the trail later that day.

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After the concrete slabs were filed with mulch its now time to plant the flowers. First we laid all the flowers out and arranged them to our liking. I had to remember that the flowers would spread and to not be worried that they weren’t so plentiful to begin with. My feelings were hurt when I didn’t see an instant garden like I’d envisioned in my mind. At that moment I just wanted my grandma to make it better….then I looked up at my son in this hat and had the laugh of my life. Thanks grandma for making it better.

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Its super important in a huge city like Chicago that children are taught to grow and work the land. I mean come on, my ideal husband is a farmer! Yes chicken, cows and tomato plants are sexy to me and the stuff real men are made of! After another hour in our garden it was complete. I arranged the flowers, cut the holes in the plastic, dug up the spots for each plant and filled with mulch on top once everything was laid. And the final results…….

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Not so bad from start to finish! We have an entire other side of our garden that we will be planting tomatoes, green peppers and bell peppers on. Royal Diva needs a few days of rest so I think I will begin that project next Saturday morning. I’ll update this post with our yummy, organically grown vegetables. I’m tired all over again after writing this. If you have any cool urban farming solutions or suggestions please comment below and share or e-mail pics of your super cool garden to royaldiva.tv@gmail.com. Healthy eating and happy living! Until next time.- RD

P.S.

Just as I was sitting back looking at my flowers and feeling my grandparents in my heart, a beautiful butterfly landed in my garden. How amazing it is in a city of 3 million people that she could feel me as if we were sitting right next to each other. 🙂

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