Saturday I went to Constellation to listen to the Tomeka Reid Quartet. It was beautiful stuff. Especially the work of Mary Halvorson on guitar. I’ve been playing a solo recording of hers called “Meltframe” a lot lately. It’s her take on a bunch of standards, but she completely transforms them into her own thing. It’s rare to hear a guitar player doing something different at this point but she’s definitely doing that. 

Afterwards, I walked out into the construction site which that part of Western Avenue has become. The demolition of the Belmont-Western Overpass has begun and it is a thing to behold. 

Squeezing past the chainlink fence toward the Marathon gas station to get to Belmont, I joined a small crowd of spectators taking in the work of the heavy equipment. Rebar, wiring, and concrete hung ragged overhead, being jabbed and prodded by big machines. There’s something transfixing about watching destruction like this. A fat guy had climbed up the base of a lamppost and was snapping pictures furiously. 

I have some history at this intersection. The Marathon is where American United Taxis used to be based; the first company I rented cabs from in Chicago. That was thirteen years ago. A couple years before that, I bartended at a horrible place called the Blue Light a block north, where the overpass being disappeared now ends. In a few months when this corner is paved over and car traffic resumes, it will be transformed into a new place. Just as it was some forty years ago when the Riverview Amusement Park was demolished to make way for a police station and shopping mall. For my part, this is not a spot I’d ever lobby to preserve as it was, but its current changing will make my memories of it that much more alien and remote. Still, it was something to watch those heaving, poking machines mashing that pockmarked, miserable bridge into dust.


I wrote about Zach Galifianakis’ great TV show, “Baskets” for the Chicago Reader and reviewed Boris Fishman’s second book for the Trib.