At the Stoneybrook Neighborhood Association meeting in December, I met someone who used to live in the building next door to me and through our conversation discovered a bit more about the history of both buildings. Fifteen years ago when he bought the place, it had reputation as a drug house and had been condemned by the city. Just as Frank began to rehab it, a local film-maker asked if he could use it to shoot a scene film he was making. Frank had already begin cleaning up the place when they asked if they could add some the graffiti to portray the blight of the main character’s neighborhood of Dorchester.
In 1997, the file Squeeze came out and in one of the first scenes, the three friends walk past my place and onto the porch of the building next door, where they stand talking with my porch in the background. The porch was remodeled recently, so looks a bit different, but the tan shingles are very recognizable.
For a low-budget film, it’s quite well done, though difficult to watch with it’s gritty portrayal of gang violence and urban social decay. Finding out how my place became the backdrop to the film also helps me appreciate how much work my neighbors put into the street before I arrived.
This morning Andrew sent me an email with no subject line or content except a link to following Chicago Sun Times report:
Man fatally struck by Metra train identified
April 11, 2008
FROM STNG WIRE REPORTS
WHEATON — A male pedestrian who was fatally struck by a Metra train in west suburban Wheaton Thursday afternoon has been identified.
Killed was Kurt Hanson, an adult of an unidentified address, according to a spokesman for the DuPage County Coroner’s office. Hanson was pronounced dead on the scene at 1:01 p.m. Thursday at the Union Pacific railroad tracks near Chase Avenue in Wheaton, according to the spokesman.
The man identified by the coroner’s office as Hanson was struck by a train about 12:30 p.m. at Chase Street on the Union Pacific Railroad, according to Wheaton Police Deputy Chief Tom Meloni.
“At this point, it remains under investigation whether or not his death was accidental,” Meloni said Thursday.
A westbound Metra train struck the man, according to a Wheaton police release.
Two westbound Metra trains were delayed after a body was found on the tracks near west suburban Wheaton, according to Metra spokesman Tom Miller.
The Metra is the commuter train that we used to ride into Chicago from Wheaton College when we were students there, and Kurt was Andrew’s high school friend who hang out with us fairly often because he lived in the area. He became a fixture in our group, the guys who lived together our senior year, even after we went our separate ways and only gathered for the occasional reunion.
Kurt had a way of floating in and out of our lives, showing up unexpectedly to just hang out, whether in our dorm rooms, in my apartment in Chicago after graduating, at Andrew’s 30th birthday in New Haven. Last time I hung out was in Chicago about a year and a half ago when we went to Moody’s for dinner and Heartland Cafe, near where I used to live in Roger’s park.
Though I didn’t know Kurt well, it seemed that his life often was difficult, burdened as he was with mental illness. We feared we might hear news like this someday, but he had a remarkable resliency that gave us hope that he would always reappear. I’m haunted by seeing his name and his cause of death stated in such a distanced, impersonal tone, and I now realize that I’ve gotten used to wondering, however subconsiously, when Kurt would drift in to my life again. Tragically, this time he floated too far from us, and now that he won’t be able to show up again, I am diminished,
Yesterday I was rode to my regular dissertation coffee shop, Sweet Finnish, on Centre St., only to see that it wasn’t opened yet. In the interest of time, I decided to continue down to JP Licks, my other writing spot. Just I was leaving, one of the Sweet Finnish regulars came in and informed me that it had suddenly gone out of business.
It’s always sad to see a good coffee shop go down, especially when it had become part of my writing routine. I liked the quiet, Scandinavian feel to it, with the smells of the bakery in background. JP LIcks is a great place as well, but I’ll miss having the chance to enjoy both.
The other day this sign appeared just a few houses down the street in response to the cars that regularly barrel down Rossmore as they cut through to Washington. This has been a source of concern and complaint for several neighbors, and someone apparently was driven to take matters into his or her own hands. It’s not uncommon to see the “Slow Down Boston” signs provided by the city in yards, but I like the defiance and righteous indignation in this hand-made sign. Hard to say if it wil have any effect, but I’d like to think that it will cause a few drivers to pause a least a few moments before hitting the accelerator.