Hot Town, Summer In The City
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Here's a video of a riot in my old neighborhood, Uptown, whose slogan is "Chicago's Most Entertaining Neighborhood." (It's home to the Riviera and Aragon concert halls.) This bottle-throwing brouhaha took place at the corner of Sheridan and Leland, two blocks inland from the lakefront at 4700 North, on August 13, 2009 at just after 9 pm. (The audio portion of the video is Not Safe For Work.)

Nobody brought a gun, so this gang fight has a certain old-fashioned West Side Story / Beat It sense of innocence, but commenters say they heard three shots fired the next night. I used to live six blocks north and one block east. My rule was that no matter how desperately I was searching for a parking place late at night ... never park south of Lawrence (4800 North). Good rule. This part of Uptown, south of Lawrence and a little north of Wrigley Field, is in the 46th Ward, overseen since 1987 by Alderwoman Helen Shiller, who had once founded a white auxiliary wing of the Black Panthers. Aldermen have a lot of power over what kind of development happens in their wards. Shiller chose to pack as many poor and dysfunctional people as she could into her otherwise attractive lakefront ward to drive away yuppie voters. The late Mike Royko once said "Shiller's main motive was that she was building a political power base which included as many winos as she could drag to the voting booth." All through the 1990s, we hoped Mayor Daley's candidates would oust her so we could someday park south of Lawrence (it seemed a humble enough ambition), but Shiller narrowly survived multiple challenges. Finally, after we left Chicago, she and Daley struck a deal and now they are allies. (Here's Shiller's weaselly statement on the riot.)

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