HEART ABOUNDS IN UPTOWN

QUEEN, STYX, SIMPLE MINDS, TODD RUNDGREND, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, R.EM., REO SPEEDWAGON … NOW THAT’S QUITE AN ECLECTIC TWO ROWS AT SHAKE, RATTLE & READ. WHY DO I LOVE THIS TINY UPTOWN ESTABLISHMENT? WELL, IT’S NO RECKLESS RECORDS, BUT SOME OF MY GREATEST USED VINYL TREASURES HAVE BEEN FOUND HERE. (INCLUDING ORNETTE COLEMAN’S “VIRGIN BEAUTY” FOR $8 YESTERDAY.)

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways … I love thee with a passion put to use, in my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I think I’ve started a bit of a trend here, so this will be the last time I apologize for using someone else’s poetry. But know I only ever do it with the highest amount of respect and because sometimes it takes another’s words to explain what I am exactly trying to say … or trigger it, anyway.

How Browning felt about the person/animal/sidewalk/roasted lamb/quill pen … (I wasn’t in her head and I can only presume what any artist may be writing about, so I try to refrain.) is how I am feeling about Chicago today. Well, Uptown specifically. My 2010 Valentine of sorts. And a pure one.

Following a time of ultimate grief, I have been startled at how I look at things now. It IS more child-like in a way. After four years (and almost two living on the same block) I feel such a love, such an ownership of my neighborhood … yet I continue to view it each day as new.

I made a comment to a friend about feeling like a tourist now that I constantly have my camera out. But she was right in her response that it was different because I am just documenting what I see. I’ll be honest and say I started doing this blog for my life-long Valentine, Mom, who begged me forever to begin doing one, if only for her. And now that she tells me how much closer it makes her feel to me, hundreds of miles away, I wish I would have sooner.

But I think it would have only been possible now.

I regained many loves I seemed to lose.

THE NUMBER OF BOOKS AND VINYL CRAMMED INTO SHAKE, RATTLE & READ ON BROADWAY IS QUITE AN IMPRESSIVE FEAT. BUT BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THERE IS TRULY SOMETHING HERE FOR EVERYONE. “PLATO’S ETHICS,” “JEMIMA J,” “THE HOTTEST STATE” (SORRY, ONLY IN PAPERBACK CHIP) AND “LISTENING TO PROZAC” ALL JUMPED OUT AT ME YESTERDAY. BUT IS WAS A COPY OF “HIGH FIDELITY” (WHERE DID MINE GET TO?) THAT CAME HOME WITH ME, AS I WAS IN THE MOOD TO READ IT AGAIN.

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT SEEING THESE LITTLE CARTS UP AND DOWN THE STREETS THAT WARMS MY HEART. (EVEN THOUGH I KNOW I COULD NEVER STAND OUTSIDE ALL DAY IN THIS WEATHER.) MORE PREVALENT IN THE WARMER MONTHS, YOU CAN FIND CORN, SNACKS AND EVEN SNOWCONES ON VIRTUALLY EVERY CORNER.

YEAH, YEAH … SO IN ADDITION TO THE THING I HAVE FOR MEN AND THEIR BEARDS, THERE’S ALSO EXTRA BONUS POINTS FOR PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT. SO IF YOU’RE CARRYING A GUITAR CASE ON THE CTA, YOU WILL AT LEAST GET MY FLEETING ATTENTION. UNFORTUNATELY, IT WOULD TAKE A FULL DRUM KIT TO REALLY IMPRESS ME, AND WELL, THAT’S JUST SILLY. I DON’T EXPECT TO EVER SEE GLENN KOTCHE TOTING HIS WARES ON MY 81 LAWRENCE BUS … EVEN IF IT DOES GO RIGHT TO HIS NEIGHBORHOOD.

SOMETIMES I DO FEEL LIKE A BIT OF A VOYEUR AT GOLDEN HOUSE RESTAURANT BECAUSE I ALWAYS HAVE MY CAMERA OUT WHEN WE’RE THERE. (AND MY FRIEND, JOSH, KEPT TELLING ME I WAS TODAY … SO MAYBE I AM.) BUT THERE IS JUST SOMETHING ABOUT THIS DINER THAT HAS SIMPLY ADHERED ITSELF TO ME AND MOST EVERYONE I KNOW. WHEN I CAME TO LOOK AT MY APARTMENT IN MARCH 2008, MY LANDLORD, TIFFANI, SAID IT WAS THE ONE PLACE SHE WOULD MISS THE MOST. IT TOOK ME ALMOST A YEAR BEFORE I VENTURED IN, BUT SOMEONE WILL DRAG ME THERE (NOT HARD TO DO) AT LEAST ONCE OR TWICE A MONTH NOW. IT’S THE KIND OF PLACE YOU EITHER LOVE OR HATE, I GUESS … AND THE KIND OF PLACE YOU ALWAYS ORDER THE SAME THING. (ME? EGGS, HASHBROWNS, PANCAKES … JOEL? EGGS, CORN-BEEF HASH, PANCAKES … JOSH? EGGS, BACON, FRENCH TOAST … DAVID? BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES … YOU GET THE IDEA.) THE PEOPLE THAT WORK THERE ARE WHAT MAINLY BRINGS ME BACK, AS THEY ARE SOME OF THE WARMEST YOU WILL EVER MEET. AND THE FACT THE ELDERLY HISPANIC MAN KISSES ME ON MY CHEEK AND TALKS TO ME IN SPANISH EVERY TIME HE SEES ME IS JUST ICING ON THE (PAN)CAKE. SINCE JOSH CALLS HIM “MY BOYFRIEND,” TODAY I WILL CONCUR … IF ONLY TO VENTURE THE THOUGHT THAT THANKFULLY VALENTINES COME IN MANY HEART-WARMING FORMS.

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