Monday, May 23, 2016

Was I a Headline This Morning? My Adventure on Chicago's Dan Ryan Expressway ( 9-9:46 AM on May 23, 2016)

 "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no." Ian Betteridge's Law of Journalism

" A Semi driver was shot and seriously wounded as he drove north on the Dan Ryan Expressway near 95th Street on Thursday night, the second shooting on a Chicago expressway in five days and among more than a dozen this year, state police said." - Chicago Tribune

Taking a friend to the airport is a task that most of us view as a simple obligation to family and friends.  Taking a friend to the airport in Chicago is another matter. For a resident of the Morgan Park neighborhood, the choice of route depends upon the airport - Midway Airport, or O'Hare. Midway is a breeze - head north on Cicero Ave to 63rd street and get in the right lane.  Going to O'Hare should be determined by the Tolls, or the Chicago traffic. One can easily go directly to O'Hare on Interstate 294 and pay a couple of tolls, if one is going directly to O'Hare. My task required a trip to River Forest; thus, the Dan Ryan and the Ike.

Recently the stretch of the Dan Ryan between 127th Street and 95th Street has been the site of a number of lethal thug killings and woundings.  These incidents that the media and political social justice charlatans call 'gun violence' have boosted Chicago's reputation as the nation's number one Thug Comfort Zone and will only increase the municipal exeunt omnes brought on by such law makers and loud mouths.

I left the barn for my good deed a few minutes before 9 AM.  As my friend's flight on United was scheduled for 1:45 PM and required a three hour pre-TSA Mugging arrival and the one hour and change it takes to get to Division and Harlem, I did not wish to shoot craps with Jane Byrne Interchange Cluster Hug.

Driving 111th Street east to Ryan is a breeze.  People from Beverly, Morgan Park, Roseland, Mount Greenwood, Washington Heights and Fernwood are generally traffic observant and friendly.  There is also the neighborhood's bastion of Service and Protection - the 22nd District of Chicago Police Department at Monteray - just before the Dan Ryan entrance ramp on Hamlet Street.

There was a red light before the ramp and I was enjoying WCDB 90.5 jazz,when my car jarred.

The driver of a red, late-model Nissan Altima had bumped me. As it was slight bump, I turned in my seat and waved off any concern for the driver's inattention, or technical problem.  Seconds passed and the light changed.  I took my foot off the brake and checked my rear view mirror - the driver, a thirty-something African American man, was screaming at me and laying on the horn - He was saying that I am a Caucasian Fornicator of Oedipal Inclinations.

I recalled the recent spat of Dan Ryan shootings.  Though they took place during wee small hours of the mornings, perhaps the huge thick portion day-break was not out of the question: 1. the man hit me. 2. I was sure that he was not infuriated because I had not given him the opportunity to make a clean breast of things concerning his violation Secretary of State Jesse White's Rules of the Illinois Roads. The driver was going apeshit and now was trying to run me off the road.

I am a very good driver and I did not want to allow my nemesis to pull up even with me.  After checking on-coming traffic in the rear views, I hit the brakes and swerved in behind the red Nissan and we engaged what can only be described as an expressway dogfight - doing vehicular Immalmans, and two dimensional barrelrolls from 111th Street all the was to 87th Street when I managed to secure my place behind this person who intended no good for me.

On several occasions my enemy in this duel of American ( I drive a Chevy) and Japanese cars managed to pull up next to and began lowering his window. With my peripheral vision I gauged traffic and looked for a firearm and hit the brakes whenever he was close to giving me a more robust burst from his arsenal of epithets concerning my race, or a sound hosing of 9mm pills.

Just past 87th Street, I made a call to 911 and asked for Illinois State Police - I gave the make, model and Illinois license plate numbers and hung up.  I was not going to pull over and test Dame Fortune with this gent. All the time I managed to stay behind this guy.

No State Troopers anywhere, Not at 63rd.  Not at 47th Canaryville.  Not at Sox Park.  Not at Chinatown and the guy was staying with me - though just ahead me.  He kept turning his head to shout at me.   I called again and was told that ' we are covering an accident.'

I followed him to the Ike at the Jane Byrne Interchange onto 290 and west side.  The guy pulled as far to the right as he could and I remained on his tail.  He faked an exit at Racine. Another at Western Ave. and gave no indication that he was going to allow me top avoid a confrontation with him.

Finally, he gave up at Homan Ave. and I continued on to pick up my friend and take her to O'Hare.  we arrived in plenty of time.

After fulfilling my simple task on that particular Holy Trinity Sunday, I headed back to 111th Street and went into 22nd. District Headquarters and made a hit and run complaint, as that was my only means of getting on the record - he hit me on Hamlet Street and that was not on the Dan Ryan.  I did not pull over and 'wait' for the Illinois State Police show up.

Mostly, I did not wish to be headline - 63 year old shot in yet another expressway incident - no suspects.

As it is, I was blessed by God.

I have no idea what the other guy is all about.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

6:30 AM at St. John Fisher Parish: An Existential Moment in Stained Glass

"Why I so much prefer autumn to spring is that in the autumn one looks at heaven--in the spring at the earth."--Søren Kierkegaard

These May mornings are fall like.  For the last two weeks you would believe that it was time to rake leaves.

God wakes me up and the least I can do say some small thanks.  After prayers, the morning ablutions and whisker landscaping it is time to pound the pavement to 6:30 AM services at my neighboring parish St. John Fisher.  Located in what is called West Beverly ( the area north of my Morgan Park neighborhood) the walk is a splendid mile and change that takes me up Talman Avenue and some of the most beautiful homes in the 19th Ward on south side of Chicago.  Unlike the tony mansion and massive bungalow phalanxes crowding the Ward east of Western Avenue and the blue collar raised ranches and Cape Cods and frames of Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood, West Beverly aka St. John Fisher Parish, or just Fisher, features streets where every home sports a unique architectural jacket.  The photo above is an example.

St. John Fisher Grammar School is the most desired placement in the neighborhood for the children of cops, firemen, CPS teachers, nurses and Cook County and City Hall Government mandarins of every rank.  The school run by Sister Jean McGrath is one of most successfully enrolled schools in the Chicago Archdiocese.
 A forty foot high cross marks St. John Fisher parish campus of Church, school, rectory and convent.
 The church represents the post-World War II architecture found in parishes on the far southwest side - departures from the huge granite, marble Gothic, Lombardy, and Romansque churches found in the older south side parishes.  It is a large open and comfortable place of worship.

 The parish is named in honor of a martyr to Henry the Eighth's glandular theology of the Anglican and Episopal denominations. St. John Fisher was a bishop who went to King Henry's chopping block before St. Thomas More who seemed to have had a better public relations appeal in history.
 Our Lady was crowned by the kids of the parish a few weeks ago.
 Early morning services are attended by a baker's dozen of regulars.
 My daily perch is in the last pew on the south side of the church which features this stained glass representation of Abraham's interrupted sacrifice of his lad Issac in the most existential episode of the Bible. The knife is up!  Will Abe really bring it down on his kid?  God's Hand Shows Up!
 Since the beginning of Lent and right up to this morning, I have studied this window.
I realized that the young man depicted as ISSAC in the stained glass went to Mount Carmel.  He is wearing the 19th Ward requisite tonsorial headwear - a brown MC baseball cap with brim turned around to keep the sun off the kid with see-through Irish skin on his neck.(click on the photo for a better look)