YUNG Issue 1

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issue 01 | Hanging Out | YUNG Magazine Even though it was just a couple months ago, I can’t really remember why YUNG Magazine started. I think we just realized that we all were doing writing and art and wanted to get it out in the world. We wanted to do it ourselves. So we started a magazine. The name comes from how rappers spell “young” (creds to our head photographer, Diego) All of the writers and artists are under 20. Our graphic designer is 22. We hope you enjoy this. We’re learning. This one is for Josh and Marcia.

Check us out online at yungmagazine.com and facebook.com/yungquarterly

Copyright © 2013 Yung Magazine Printed & Made in Chicago, Illinois. All rights reserved. This publication or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.


art by Phoebe Randall

This first issue was supposed to have a theme. We were planning on having all the articles focus on “hanging out”, each piece expanding upon the temporal honey sweet notion that time spent with friends, growing up, forging blessed foggy memories of greater past pastures and the love of one another and the love of youth and mistakes and learning and that jazz etc. had made each of us into the beautiful very different individuals we all are today (please feel free to hate me for this sentence). Instead, we have one article about hanging out. One discusses it briefly. This is my fault. I know very little about running a magazine and was so excited that people were submitting work, that I forgot to remind our writers that there was a theme. As a result, this issue does not clearly have one. Which is alright, I have decided. As editor-in-chief of this publication, I have decided that this is alright. By not having a theme, we are “hanging out” as writers and artists. Stay with me. It is our first time hanging out and the conversation is a bit awkward. Our interests are voiced and stories are shared, but it doesn’t seem like we have much in common. We have not settled upon our mode of group discourse and are unsure of how to act around each other. There are lulls in our talk, pauses for understanding and clarification. This is alright too. I hope we get to know each other, but more than that I hope we remain only and unabashedly ourselves. I hope we never forego our own interests for the sake of easy chatter. Every time we hang out I hope to be like this time. Confusing and brimming with a promise of cogence, but never quite reaching it. I hope we laugh nervously and drink too much soda. Morley Musick, Editor in Chief

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SETLIST

MORLEY MUSICK - editor in chief SOPHIE STEIN - managing editor PHOEBE RANDALL - art director EINXEL REYES - graphic designer DIEGO RODRIGUEZ - head photographer TIFFANY WONG - writer INDIA ARMSTRONG - artist EVY NOYES - writer ELEANOR MUSICK - artist GABRIELLE BURNS - writer JACK WANBERG - writer CHLOE YANNY-TILLAR - writer, artist NINA POSNER - writer MARTA MURRAY - artist HARLIE RUSH - artist AMELIA CUEVAS - writer BELLA MANOBIANCO - artist

not pictured 2

- NASAEERAH HUTCHERSON - writer


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PIZZA PURSE CHLOE YANNY-TILLAR

PARADIGM TIFFANY WONG

SPEAKING SWAGHILI MORLEY MUSICK

TAIPEI REVIEW SOPHIE STEIN

REDLINING NINA POSNER

FUNERALS ARE FUN AMELIA CUEVAS

TOO YOUNG TO BE OLD ENOUGH JACK WANBERG

THE NORTHERN BORDER DIEGO RODRIGUEZ

CUTTING

NASAEERAH HUTCHERSON

FEATURE - HANGOUTS MULTIPLE AUTHORS

FRIEND THE FISH NASAEERAH HUTCHERSON

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06 10 12 16 20 24 27 30 38 41 48 photo: Diego Rodriguez


photo by Diego Rodriguez

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PIZZA PURSE By Chloe Yanny-Tillar

You will need: • 1 extra-large pan-crust cheese pizza without sauce • 1 20 cm zipper • Durable thread • A large sewing needle • A serrated knife • A ruler • Glue • Pizza toppings for decoration (optional) You’ve just picked up a pizza from the seedy pizza joint near your house. As you carry it to the car you can feel oil seeping through the cardboard, and by the time you’re halfway home, you’re worried that your car will permanently smell like musty parmesan. The pizza is cold, an opaque grease layer sits clouding out the cheese, and suddenly you’re not even very hungry anymore. Even the best of us have found ourselves in this situation. But instead of resigning to the couch, settling into a bleak hour of mediocre pizza and “Duck Dynasty” reruns, why not make the most of a bad situation.

1 GET PIZZA

Get your hands on an extra large pizza that you won’t feel pained to deconstruct. I bought a sauceless, extra-cheese, pan-crust pizza from Pizza Hut.1 This was very convenient because it meant I didn’t have to deal with the pizza sauce, which I’d otherwise have had to spend a long time removing, ruining the cheese in the process. 1. Fun facts about Pizza Hut: You’re not a custom-

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er, you’re a “Hut Lover.” It’s not a calzone, it’s a “P’zone.” And it’s not chicken, it’s “Wingstreet Wings.” And don’t even think about adopting these terms, cause they’re all trademarked.

2 REMOVE CRUSTS

Remove the crust with a short, serrated knife. Make the cut as clean as possible, so that you can use the crust for other aspects of the purse. (Because the zipper I used was longer than I originally expected, I did not use the crust as a handle as I originally planned to. Feel free to add a crust handle to your purse by making a slight incision into the ends of the crust, and sewing it to the top corners of your bag.)


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3 HALF-SIES

Cut the crust in half (thus doubling the amount of crust available) while rotating the pizza slowly to ensure a uniform thickness.

4 SIZE IT UP

Figure out the proportions of your bag. I constructed my bag in the shape of a triangular prism, so I cut my pizza into five pieces, the proportions of which are shown in the photo. Use an unobtrusive marker on the pizza to outline the different pieces, and, using a short serrated knife, cut them out. Set the leftover scraps aside.2 (I chose to use the more interesting cheese surface for the front and sides of the bag, and the bottom crust half for the back and bottom pieces.) 2. You can feel free to nibble at these scraps while you’re working, but you’ll probably just end up regretting it like I did.

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pizza purse

5 SEW IT

Now it’s time to sew the pieces together. You can assemble the different parts in whichever order you’d like, but here are a few tips from my experience: • Start by sewing the front and back pieces to the bottom strip, and then sew the triangular sides to the other three pieces in one continuous seam. • Given the fragility of cheese as a fabric, be very careful not to rip through the pizza when pulling your stitches taut. • Although you don’t want to weaken the pizza with too many holes from your needle, it’s important to have as many stitches as possible to evenly distribute the tension. • Use large, simple stitches; with any other material my stitches would look messy and rough, however the integrity of the pizza pieces is more important than the neatness of the seams. I suggest using a light, neutral colored thread to make the stitches less noticeable. • If possible, put a small box underneath your pizza pieces as you sew; the weight of the pieces can make it easy to rip them, especially near the beginning of each seam.

6 ZIPPER TIME At this point, you have assembled what can only be called a purse. (A pouch at the very least.) Now it’s time to take things up a notch. To make my bag more functional, I inserted a zipper along the top opening of the bag. (The zipper is optional, and could also be replaced with buckles or snaps if you’re daring.) Before you begin sewing it in, make sure your zipper fits neatly into your bag. If you want to add a pizza-crust handle, use a shorter zipper than the width of your bag, and add the handle before you sew in the zipper. Otherwise, use a zipper that is just longer than your bag, in my case a 20-cm zipper in a 19-cm opening. Sew the zipper to the inside edges of the opening, including the sides of the bag. This step will also help prevent the other seams from pulling apart when you’re using your bag around the town.

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3. I say red pepper flakes, but that’s kind of a lie. I was looking for red pepper and I found an unmarked container of red flakes. They smell weirdly sugary and no one in my house knows what they are or where they’re from. So I’ll just stick with calling them “red pepper flakes”.


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7 DECORATE!

The final step to this bag is to decorate! You can use practically anything for decoration, but I chose to use red pepper flakes.3 Using glue, I drew a design on the front of the bag and then sprinkled the pepper flakes until it was completely covered. However, I made the mistake of using Elmer’s Glue, forgetting how terrible it was at everything except peeling off the palms of your hands. The glue was runny and took a very long time to dry, meaning my design ended up much messier than I originally drew it. I suggest something stronger, such as gorilla glue, crazy glue, or epoxy if you’re confident. I also chose to color the exposed edges of the different sides; I put a few drops of food coloring into a small bowl of water and using a paint brush, brushed it onto the seams. 4. I should warn anyone about to try this project that you, your table, your clothes, and anything you touch will be totally covered in pizza grease by the end of it. I don’t understand how so much oil can be in one pizza, but you can forget about this being tidy.

NEXT TIME... I hope you enjoyed this little DIY tutorial as much as I did, and make sure to keep an eye out for my next walkthrough: How to Turn a Pizza Pocket into a Cute, Functional Wallet!

GO OUT IN STYLE

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And there you have it! A fun, easy way to turn an otherwise mediocre pizza4 into a stylish permanent addition to your wardrobe!5 This pizza purse makes a perfect gift for birthdays and holidays provided that it is gifted within three days of its construction.

5. What’s in my bag? This pizza purse can hold 5-6 pizza puffs and upwards of 30 pizza pockets! Talk about practical!

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PARADIGM

By Tiffany Wong Artwork by Phoebe Randall

“Paradigm,” a noun chosen by Sam Sifton, dining editor of The New York Times, to describe Eddie Huang’s “General PokeHer-Face Prawns” applies likewise to Huang’s character. Known foremost as proprietor of BaoHaus, a Taiwanese street food stand located in New York’s LES, Huang also holds his own as wayfaring host to epithetical VICE web series, “Fresh off the Boat”. And the release of his decade-away-from-midlife memoir Fresh off the Boat has awarded the self-declared “writer, chef, human panda” his due platform. Amid irreverent quips of pop and Asian culture, Huang carves out a rare paradigm of Asian-American upbringing, turning the construct of tiger-mothering on its head. If anything, Huang perfects his swagger. He lies remote of the expectation to pursue a doctorate or a professional degree, swerving straight into an occupation that many first generation parents reject. A variation of “I moved here for you to have a better future” reverberates in most, if not all, immigrant families. However, the plain adage twists the hearts of children to acclimate to reaching far beyond the steamy kitchen line of their parents. But this is where Eddie Huang grounds his passion. From just viewing several VICE videos of Huang, most truthfully described as ghetto-risible narration of food and culture, the image of him studying hard for his law degree raises pity because of how

stylistically “playful” he regards food and life. Playful, and fully representative of our generation’s crutch irony, he jokes as an intermediary between high and low, skilled and unskilled, cultured and uncultured. Despite an aura of subversive absurdity, Eddie Huang is no fool. Chronically reclaiming FOB, Huang pithily slices in pretense, food, rappers, race, the HBO series Girls, basketball, and politics on his symbolically titled blog, “Fresh off the Boat”. <http:// thepopchef.blogspot.com>. Moreover, he fashions a bridge between western and eastern that connects not by assimilation, but by accommodation. This shows in his defense of other cultures as well as his native Taiwan. In a pan of Marcus Samuelsson and his lionized Red Rooster, a Harlem restaurant that pays homage to a misinterpreted Harlem, Huang likens Samuelsson’s up-branding: “It’s like buying your Chinese grandmother an apartment marked No. 4; the fact that you don’t accept her superstitions says more about your environment and upbringing than anything else.” Huang’s particularity with cultural indiscretion immediately draws from a notion of filial piety: typically respect for one’s parents and ancestors. His interpretation, however, derived from Taiwanese heritage and salad bowl interpretation of New York, emulsifies: together, yet apart like the separation that occurs in Chinese chili oil. Just tolerant of blending, he prefers the veritable roots of authenticity. An Asian born in Chicago, for instance, can assume any outward identity, but Huang will argue that his or her

net possible sum can only amount to Asian born in Chicago. With idolization and breaching of identity, one disrespects multiple representative groups and fails at it. Our local Great Seas which brands itself as a Chinese restaurant finds most of its success selling Korean style chicken wings; is it any surprise that everyone there speaks Korean? While these statements about minorities, subversion, and representation may appear rampant with incongruities, one way to unpack Huang’s iceberg contentions is by acknowledging our readiness to conflate race and culture. The aforementioned beliefs speak purely of the latter. A single glimpse at Eddie Huang may gain tacit reception that scrutinizes his race and the ‘race’ that he seems to be ‘embodying’, but this fails to acknowledge his culture, his context. Too often does race suggest everything about someone and culture nothing. Therefore, only authenticity of culture allows for transparency of race. Eddie Huang stands for redemption of the FOBs. He represents vindication in his actions without comparison to the broader spectrum of race, but the narrower stripe of culture.

“Too often does race suggest everything about someone and culture nothing.” 11


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G N I K A E I P L S GHI A W S By Morley Musick Artwork by Marta Murray

I listened alone to Kanye West’s new album and later drove my parents’ car to a northern beach for a high-school graduation party. The entire ride, I thought about the album. “I be speaking Swaghili” was the only line I had memorized and I puzzled over its meaning upon entering the alcove of a rented municipal hut outfitted with one shining congratulatory sign. Inside, Yeezus was discussed over cake squares. One of my classmates drank a diet coke and spoke of his dislike for this album. He missed Graduation and Kanye apologizing in his lyrics. While conversing with a moderate supporter of Yeezus, he acknowledged,“Yes, it sure has an interesting sound” and,“Yes, it is cool that there was a producer who just eliminated sounds”. These hints failed to register on my side and I leaned into him and said, “This is not hip hop. This is a new Kanye. This is not the old one. This is much better.” My angered comment left a hole in the conversation. We looked toward the shining sign as if in silent prayer: “Please let us stop,” we said silently. I retreated into an empty corner housing paper hats. Was it okay that I had been this affected by Yeezus?

That I had shouted at my fairly nice classmate? It is a tremendous and original album, but it is insulting and misogynistic and worse. It is an album by a man who named his child North West. It is an album by a man who lived through middle school and through the terrible things that happen to people in middle school who named his child North West. My attraction to this probable asshole and his soaring achievement probable asshole album, is cause for concern. For me. Getting acclimated to Yeezus is not hard. It is annoying and glitchy and loud but is more than anything pop. There are synths and auto-tune. Much of the album sounds something like a dark ringtone (a dark ringtone belonging to a cellphone that breaks down often and without ceremony for interludes of screaming and other audible shrieks) and industrial rap.

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speaking swaghili

It is built on a library of sampled sounds including in its holdings: A pitched up gospel, a pitched up siren, a pitched up Nina Simone, dogs barking, Kanye West making the sound of a female orgasm, a man screaming and running down a hallway (repeated six times), a possibly real female orgasm, and over and over the unintelligible shouting of throngs of Rasta men. It does not feel like hip-hop. The post-rap-emotional-reponse-set was absent from every listening I had of Yeezus. After listening, I never felt uplifted or gangster-ish or strong, never wanted to dance, never like I could “touch the sky”, never like I could start from the bottom and be here (somewhere indeterminately higher, surrounded by shining white cars and Drake’s racially balanced friend group).

Instead, I thought of War of the Worlds. I thought about drowning and seeing a ship overhead. Listening to the album feels religious, but in the old scary sense. More like a cowering at the sight of Zeus kind of religious. It is a frightening album sometimes. On this new album, Kanye creates a new Kanye. This new persona, Yeezus, is a furious and compelling celebhuman who likes sex but few of the human interactions that lead up to it. He is angry about the treatment of blacks, but more often is angry at some larger group of people (who may or may not exist) that is angry at Kanye West. In a very good horrible line from the album, he welcomes the unblousing of a woman’s breasts with Martin Luther King’s “Free at last! Thank God Almighty, they free at

last!”. In another he compares putting “his fist into (a woman)” to making “a civil rights sign”. It is hard to say that this is a celebration of passionate love or of racial equality. This is a hard argument to make when, in another line, Yeezus says “Eating Asian pussy, all I need is sweet and sour sauce.” At the briefest of times this new Kanye is vulnerable. He expresses fears in a few measurable blips of negative introspection in a small portion of a small number songs. Yeezus says he “can’t escape his demons” and “sleeps with a nightlight” and still goes clubbing despite his family obligations. These displays of weakness are interesting and sad and are blotted out every time by episodes of megaphone self-reassurance. (See: “Y’all niggas can’t fuck with Ye! Y’all niggas can’t fuck with

“ Whatever

the

YEEZUS RULES

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Ye!”.) He mentions his child a total of one time. He is demanding, sometimes cruel. He claims to be a God. And despite it all, I like him. I really like Yeezus. He is sex-obsessed and a megalomaniac and is shouting obscenities at us and is downright compelling. Perhaps this new persona comes from Kanye’s insecurities about his fatherhood duties or maybe he believes that he is above the rest of us or maybe he simply feels that it is time for a new character. Whatever the reason may be, Yeezus rules his world. His draconian electric-rap world where women are objects mainly and a man can demand in a single song that someone “get his Porsche out the damn garage, hurry up with (his) damn massage”, and “hurry up with his damn croissants”. This kind of person is not someone who I want to like. Even though Yeezus is likely fabricated, I do not want to feel admiration (in the dead of night, headphones sinking anchor-like into my bedspring) for this kind of person. And for these reasons, I worry.

Rapper bravado is nothing new, and there are undoubtedly more extravagant, more misogynistic, and more violent claims being made right now somewhere in hip-hop and in the real world too. But in these places I am not enraptured by these claims. I am able to recognize them as jokes or personas or signs of insecurity or ignorance. There is something more commanding about Kanye’s most recent brand of amorality. He has that Bush-ian grasp of feeling language, words that mean almost nothing and when spoken elicit respect and attention. He is that magnetic jerk, a fake and a fighter who is hated and in equal parts worshiped. He is here now with you. Alone, in the entranceway to that party, he speaks to you. He is an asshole in your mind, and it has always seemed a wonder how someone like him could be so loved. But, in this moment, you like him. You really do. You are glad to be in this doorway, listening to his thoughtless thoughts. He exudes power, smells strong, likely has a lot of sex.

“ Listening

to the album felt religious to me, but in the old scary sense.”

Your shoulder makes contact with his hand as he walks into the party. Later that week, he won’t recognize you and it dawns on you that the earlier party exchange meant nothing to him. After scolding yourself for falling prey to his charms, you hate him once again. Later in your life, he rules a significant portion of the world and is making a speech to a mass of followers who share your mixed feelings. Here, he shares the same kind of thoughtlessness via large TV. You are swept up again, despite yourself. He exudes power, smells strong, definitely has a lot of sex. His words carry weight and no meaning. A ship comes to carry him off his pedestal and hovers above the crowd before gliding down to your spot in the throng. He whispers something on high and you are grounded. Blank mind, feet shaking, blood coarsing to here and there, you start to feel something strong. You understand his dialect. He is speaking Swaghili.

reason may be, ” HIS WORLD 15


By Sophie Stein Artwork by Marta Murray

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The blog focused on promoting the multitude of ways in which emerging writers could use the internet to create and promote their work.1 As the fledgling authors who had first frequented “AltLit Gossip” gained a wide following among their fellow web-addicted millennials, alt-lit blossomed from scattered short stories swaddled in records of tweets and G-mail chats into a thriving genre whose stories are written entirely in the language of the internet. Alt-lit offers deadpan, Hemingway-esque accounts of events that both captivate and reflect upon a generation of readers whose distress defines itself in terms of the phrase “I am.” With his newest novel, Taipei, Tao Lin has proven his mastery of the genre, which is a combination of marketing and literature in equal parts. 1

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“Alternative Literature.” Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alter native_literature>.

Lin has a knack for digital self-promotion. His “cutting-edge web stunts” and ceaseless tweets to an audience of 17,800 contribute to his “attempt to live an... anti-private existence.” 2 Like many other alt-lit authors, Lin published his early work online and marketed it through social media. His innovative advertising tactics, like auctioning off shares in the unwritten manuscript of his last novel, have won him a spot at the heart of the alt-lit movement.3 His writing, however, is lackluster, and hides behind the sheen of his online gimmicks. The cover accurately depicts the book’s contents: the title is flashy and moves like an animated GIF when it catches light, but nothing stands behind the ostentatious lettering. It is semi-autobiographical, and revolves around the months that a writer named Paul, Lin’s alter-ego, spends traveling around America on a book 2

Hinton, Frank. “Alt Lit Gossip: The Pillars of Alt Lit.” Alt Lit Gossip. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2013. <http://www.altlitgossip.com/pillars>.


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tour. Paul is also perpetually high. Lin emphasizes Paul’s constant state of inebriation and emotional detachment through the deadened monotony of Taipei’s third-person narrative. Almost everything that Paul sees is blurred into a flat line of color by his excessive drug use and depleted serotonin levels. The entire novel resembles a string of the same social media fragments that spawned all of alt-lit: a mass of unedited, tedious accounts of daily activity. The book reads like a collection of status updates, and assumes that its reader cares what its central character eats for lunch. Though its writing lags, the central focus is movement. Paul is always going somewhere other than where he is, whether he’s escaping a party by surfing the internet, leaving a city and rushing towards the next stop on his book tour, or ending a relationship. He is always lonely, if not entirely alone. He moves between a myriad of short-term girlfriends, admitting to each one that he only goes to parties when he is looking for someone new to date. Lin equates emotional travel with physical or cyber travel in terms of ease and efficiency, and his characters use both as means of running away from home.4 And why run away from home but to feel grown up? Paul and his peers feel trapped by the eternal childhood that plagues generation Y. For them, “too many years have passed since college,” and they feel entirely lost, lacking any purpose “without education’s season-backed structure.5” This sentiment stems from the fact that the teens and twenty-somethings who feature in Taipei have grown up in environments that are insulated by entitlement. 3

Cummins, Anthony. “Taipei by Tao Lin .” The Guardian. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jul/21/taipeitao-lin-review-new-york>.

Paul’s particularly egocentric mindset stems from his manipulative relationship with his mother. He starts shouting matches with her that drag on for hours and leave her in tears, and reprimands her inability to effectively punish him. Taipei’s youth have internalized the idea that the mere fact of their existence is enough to merit attention and praise, so they drift haphazardly through their daily lives and wait for other people to applaud their work. When they find their aimlessness and self-absorption unfulfilling, Tao Lin’s characters use any drug they can get their hands on in order to enhance their everyday experiences. But as Paul moves from city to city, he realizes that his manifold attempts to escape his general lack of direction are futile. Naturally, he fixes that by taking even more drugs. Characters find themselves dissatisfied and seeking new stimulation day after day, a mindset characteristic of a generation used to the constant change and ease of communication that the internet supplies. Though much of Taipei is redundant and protracted, Paul remains a compelling character because readers can see themselves in him. Reading the novel is like catching glimpses of one’s own reflection in the grainy, mirrored lettering on its cover. Paul could be any twenty-something with moderately deep pockets and access to drugs, and readers are fascinated when his thoughts echo their own. It ends as Paul observes his surroundings through new and more appreciative eyes the morning after a particularly bad trip. He is, for the first time, sincerely grateful to be alive. He might even have found love. Taipei’s audience will find comfort along with Paul when he begins to understand that he is not alone in feeling lonely. 4 5

Martin, Clancy. “Taipei, a Novel by Tao Lin.” The New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/books/ review/taipei-a-novel-by-tao-lin.html?_r=0>. Lin, Tao. Taipei. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2013. Print.

“AND WHY RUN AWAY FROM HOME TO FEEL GROWN UP?” 19


d e r g n i lin By Nina Posner Artwork by Eleanor Musick

red·lin·ing [red-lie-ning] noun the practice of discrimination against a particular group of people, usually based on race, often by geography. I hate wearing my uniform on the train. In my opinion, powder blue polo shirts are worn best by frat bros and people who have houses on Cape Cod. But I didn’t bring a change of clothes to work, so I must bravely endure the twenty-three minute commute home on the northbound Red Line, during which I will sit discreetly in the lone seat on the southwest side of the car and hope no one notices my nametag emblazoned with the Shedd Aquarium logo. I should have taken it off before I left, but I am too excited to start listening to “Yeezus”, and I forget. So here we are. At least I can people watch in my corner without being noticed. Of course, as soon as I sit down, a man in a wheelchair starts talking to me. He’s in his mid-fifties, maybe, with dark skin that shines in the harsh fluorescent lights of the train. His clothes are nondescript, a little dirty, but his eyes are lucid. There is no madness in them, not compared to some of the other passengers one typically encounters on the CTA.

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I brace myself for a loud comment about the aquarium or my uniform or whatever else that people who talk to strangers on trains ask about. I take one earbud out, half committing to the conversation. “Excuse me miss, what’s your name?” The man in the wheelchair asks me. His voice is raspy, making a sound like he needs to clear his throat, but won’t. I respond quickly, “Nina.” All the stranger danger lectures are suddenly forgotten. I console myself with the knowledge that he probably would have seen my name tag eventually. “Nina. That’s a real pretty name. Mine’s John. Now tell me, where do you go to school?” “Actually, I just graduated from high school.” Shit. Probably should not have said that. “Okay, well what are your plans for next year?” “I’m going to California…” I definitely should not have said that.


you do not really know anything about any one until they tell you their story

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red lining

“And what are you gonna do out there?” Quick, don’t be an idiot, just make something up. “ Uh… I don’t know.” “You don’t know? You have to know! What, you’re just going to go out to California and not know what to do? Good luck with that.” Two guys with dreads sitting in front of me nudge each other and crack up. “I’m not even eighteen yet! How am I supposed to know what I want to do?” Great. That was a really smart thing to blurt out in front of the entire train car. One of the dread heads turns around in his seat to glance at me, I assume, to see if I look my age.

“It’s never too early to figure out what you want to do. Now I’m gonna give you some advice, plain and simple, alright, you ready? Here it is. Take your degree and make the world a better place.” I nod and mull this over for a second. Sure. Why not? He babbles on for a little while and I make that fake smile where your lips are pulled back slightly but your eyes remain indifferent. Slowly I put the earbud back in. “Baby girl he’s a loner, baby girl he’s a loner, late night organ donor,” Kanye tells me. John starts addressing the train car at large, as I presumed he had before I got on at Roosevelt. He motions to the dreadheads, a kid holding a skateboard seated across the aisle from me, an older couple from the suburbs sitting next to him. He finally zeroes in on a woman resting her head on the thick glass window, pretending to be engrossed in her book.

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“Now you, what’s your name?” She ignores him. “Aw come on, don’t be shy, just tell me your name.” She gives in, reluctantly. “Eileen.” His face lights up. “Eileen? Eileen. That’s the prettiest name I ever heard. Eileen I’m gonna marry you.” He turns to the kid with the skateboard. “She the prettiest woman I ever saw. I’m gonna marry her. When you see someone as pretty as that, you just gotta marry them.” Eileen rolls her eyes slightly and goes back to her book. John turns to the older couple beside him. They are both blond and wearing white sneakers. The man has on a powder blue polo shirt. John starts up his stream of consciousness again. This couple is probably not used to taking public transportation or meeting people like John, train riders who’ve got nothing to lose and will share their story with the whole world. Blue polo man indulges John and starts talking to him, but there’s a mean-spirited edge in his tone. I take pity on John, because he doesn’t deserve the false attention of blue polo man. Who was this person from the suburbs to come into our city and patronize a grown man?


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But then, I suppose, who was I to judge? I am an avid fan of people watching. I frequently post up in Millenium Park or near Water Tower and sit for a few hours looking at thousands of tourists and locals pass by. Being someone who reads a lot of books and writes a lot of stories, I find myself making up lives for the strangers I see around me. Is that creativity or blatant judgment? Where do I cross the line between observing and judging, fitting someone into a box? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe I should mind my own business. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to make assumptions. It was easy to write John off as another CTA crazy or the blue polo man as an unsympathetic jerk, but you don’t really know anything about anyone until they tell you their story. And couldn’t we all benefit from sincerely listening to somebody else’s story, hearing about an experience different than our own, free from the lens of judgment or bias?

We all squinted as the Red Line emerged from its dark tunnel, whizzing past Armitage. The apartment rooftops of Lincoln Park burned with thick orange sunlight as we sped toward our various destinations. Our train began its slow crawl into the Fullerton stop. When the kid with the skateboard had gotten off earlier, John shook his hand. Would he try to shake my hand as well? I decided that was fine with me, but as I stood up from my seat, I could see that John was blissfully unaware of my movements, deeply immersed in conversation with a young man in a gray suit standing by the door. I hurried off the train to the Brown Line track and waited on the teal plastic lining the edge of the platform. “I know you’re tired of loving, of loving, with nobody to love, nobody, nobody.” The lyrics from the album’s last song echoed in my ears. Maybe, I thought, Kanye had a point. Maybe John had nobody to love, so he had no choice but to love everybody: even strangers on trains, even people who didn’t want to give him the time of day, even the unreadable blue polo-shirted men of the world. As long as the trains were running, John would love us all. The least we could do was accept it.

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Funerals are Fun By Amelia Cuevas Artwork by Chloe Yanny Tilar

I stared at him, looking at his face to know what I should be feeling. Paulin’s cheekbones held his saggy skin high. The whites of his eyes posed the impression that they were never white but a pure pinkish red. His nose bore an uncanny resemblance to bell-bottom pants (thin at the top, enormous holes at the bottom). A bone would stick out a little after the nose bridge, and at the end, the tip was forever pointing at the ground. Under his nose was an incision, or his lack of lips, and his forehead housed a family of wrinkles. I pinch skin on his hand hoping to get his attention, but the longer I pinch and pull, the more it becomes clear that I’m making matters worse. He used to have this grand smile that showcased his rotten, yellow teeth; it would appear on days he’d bring his wife on visits just to bring my family some cookies. He and Felicita stood together always, but today he put away his bright smile ‘til later days, and his wife would never stand by him again.

I was half his height and completely unaware of where I was. Nervous pen clicking, forced laughter, and whispered conversations filled the room. After a man in a white alb spoke, many people crowded around an elevated floor that held a beautiful box, a big box. They looked like bees, waiting for their mute queen to speak.This box was plated gold with figures of angels and carved vines traced along the wooden border. Golden bars stuck out which were later used as handles to take the big, beautiful box to a scary, spacious, black car, which I later found out was called a “hearse”. My dad had told me to never look into the box. The way his voice shook and his eyes puffed made me believe that if I did, my eyes

would puff too, my voice would be taken away forever, and because I was smaller, that box’s power might be stronger on mine. My hair might fall out or I might get my own family of forehead wrinkles. When I learned that people die, it wasn’t a verbal discussion. I was told we were going to a funeral, a procession, and a wake. Days before, I learned in school that “Pro = Good” while “Con = Bad”, so I wondered why my dad’s mustache drooped a little more that day when he said “procession”. He didn’t explain what a funeral was either, so as a kid, I made an assumption, many assumptions, about funerals. After looking at how the word was spelled on the orange sticker on my dad’s windshield, I thought that where we were going couldn’t be that bad since “FUN” was right before the “-ERAL”.

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funerals are fun

It was actually pretty fun. Being in a car, followed by other cars, following others, all having the same orange sticker at the front... It all felt like we were united. We were going somewhere, we were going together, and I was excited. Maybe we’ll all play a big game of Red Rover! Or maybe we’ll play Duck Duck Goose! Or we’re finally going to play that big game of paint ball I’ve been asking Papi about?! But it wasn’t a game, and I figured that much when I saw my dad cry for the first time as we turned and passed the golden gates of Mount Olive Cemetery. I held my dad’s hand as we snailed our way towards the crowded green hill. Passing stones with names on them made me jealous. Why can’t I have a pretty rock? What do I have to do get one? I make a mental note to ask my dad if I can afford it after I get my two dollar allowance. At the moment, it seemed cheaper than having my name in lights. Javier, my cousin, always listened to my pleas when I wanted chocolate-covered strawberries or a banana split. That day I pleaded for a hug because I began to feel what my dad felt, what everyone felt around me. I didn’t understand why we felt so low, so worn out and used up. Javier’s hug was loose and the smell of his cologne was strong; I felt it go up my nose, straight to my eyes, down my throat, everywhere. I wanted to tell someone I was suffocating, but I didn’t feel like I was allowed to. Over Javier’s shoulder, I saw a blown-up portrait of Felicita standing next to her husband. Paulin wouldn’t look at her. He let the ground have his attention and his tears.

After the casket dropped, I ran towards the rectangular space it was dropped in. My black dress ruffled behind me as I pushed through everyone’s legs. My dad chased me, cursing me to a later meeting with his belt if I didn’t turn back. I wanted to know how he felt, I wanted to know this secret that everyone shared, so I kept running. When I reached the ledge, a man with a shovel kept signaling with his head to step back. His expression was indecipherable, but it’s now that I realize he’d been there for too long, seen too many of the dead. I felt my dad’s big arms lift my tiny body. He carried me and kept walking ‘til we were away from the crowd. “Don’t you EVER scare me like that. Don’t you do that to me.” “Pero, Papi,” but Dad, “I wanted to see where the beautiful box was going. I wanted to know what all the tall people saw.”

I wanted to know what everyone understood that I didn’t.

“Amelia, Felicita, she’s gone. She’s in the beautiful box.” “Why would she go in the box? It’s dark in there. Isn’t she scared?” “She’s not scared anymore.” A month later when Paulin came alone, he brought cookies in the shape of flowers. They were called Florecitas. I kept waiting for Felicita to get out of the car, but she never did. That’s when I understood that she was still in the box, and suddenly, the box wasn’t as beautiful anymore.

“He and Felicita stood together always, but today he put away his bright smile ‘til later days, and his wife would never stand by him again.” 26


Armstrong

my

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The only conversations I have with adults these days consist of them asking about where I want to go to college or for my ID. Nobody ever seems to think it’s weird that we’re only ever identified by our age. The thing is, I never needed to identify myself before high school. IDs are used to forgive our sins, and I never wanted booze or strip clubs. I only wanted good movies. There’s got to be a reason Best Pictures always have an R-rating. I’ve been at odds with the MPAA ever since I developed a taste for film. Brutal vio28

lence, I can handle, but God forbid they say “fuck” more than once. And so I would try to convince the tired girl behind the counter that I was really a lot older than I looked and that I had left my ID in my other pants, but she would just shake her head and I would lower mine and pay an adult price to the Disney corporation. Because when you’re a teenager, you’re both too old to be young enough and too young to be old enough. The Davis Theater in the heart of Lincoln Square is usually where my friends and I are if we aren’t all playing video games in my

basement. It’s one of those theaters with a big sign out front running the vertical length of the building, with its name in brilliant neon. It’s the type of place where your feet stick to the floor and it floods a little if it rains a lot. It’s dingy and the seats are all half broken but admission is dirt cheap so it evens out. For five dollars, I could escape the world for two hours at a time. Some kids make trouble. We watch movies. Once, we got punched for talking through “Die Hard Five”. We’ve always been disruptions, we stopped minding


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long ago. I always drove us, the sounds of celebration masking honking horns. I always parked in the same spot on the same sidestreet, Saturday upon Saturday, a row of red lights. Weeks blur when they’re too similar. I remember the time travel movies because I envied them. I used to read a lot of articles on Wikipedia about quantum mechanics, hoping somehow there was a way I could build a cardboard box to accelerate the little particles of myself somewhere else. I forget how old we were. We’re watching some shitty time travel

She’s panting like she’s run a mile. “BREAK IT UP!”, she screams. “Just BREAK IT UP!” We’re too surprised to react. Her arms jiggle a little as she continues to try to separate us, a palm on each of our chests. Peter explains that we’re friends and we’re having a discussion and she puts her hands on her knees and tries to catch her breath.“Oh, thank God,” she says. “I thought this was a gang fight or something.” Peter and I glance at one another. We’re both wearing plaid. I’ve lived a sheltered life, a childhood of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off, but for a minute we were dangerous. The woman walks away and we laugh it off and decide to get something to eat, maybe some sandwiches or something. The thugs of Potbelly. A week, or maybe a month later, it’s night and traffic is jammed on Ashland. I pound my head on the wheel. The street is long and straight, and if I stood on the roof, I could probably see for miles, the flashing brake lights stretching off into the horizon and sprinkling back like fireflies. We miss the beginning of the movie. It doesn’t really matter. We find a seat, our faces flickering. Peter’s talking through a mouthful of popcorn about our friend who’s out with mono, the kissing disease, and he asks me exactly what that is and I tell him it’s the process by which the atomic bonds in the teenage body are weakened and movie and towards the end Peter all the neutrons are drawn to the center of tells me some dumb-ass theory the chest and clump together like a dying about the mechanics of it all and star, forming a mass so infinitely dense of course he’s wrong and I tell it absorbs the light around it and darkens him so. There are six of us and the inside of the ribcage, and the energy everyone takes a side. The lights required to fight the ever-growing gravioverhead are still dimmed and the tational force in the depths of your body credits are rolling white on the makes you exhausted for a couple weeks. screen and a kid not much older He laughs, I guess because he doesn’t than us pushes past in a worn uni- see the truth in it. That’s really what I’ve form, sweeping. been doing for years: sitting in the dark, We’re almost alone now, arguing talking about nothing. It takes a while in the darkness. Peter finishes his for traffic to get moving again, and that’s point just as a middle-aged wom- what I’ve been waiting for. We all get an, squat and graying at the tem- older eventually. At least, that’s the idea. ples, bursts from the darkness and wedges her way between us. 29


Northern Border Words and photos by Diego Rodriguez

Rogers Park was annexed to Chicago in 1893 and became a fast-growing neighborhood. The Howard train terminus and numerous liquor stores created an influx of transient residents, and the area saw an increase in poverty. The state of the neighborhood spurred urban renewal projects in 1982 that resemble the beautification projects of today. Howard Street – located in the northernmost Chicago neighborhood, Rogers Park – is currently seeing vast construction to combat the heavy crime in the area. With construction crews and police cruisers posted on almost every intersection, as well as community anti-violence groups, Rogers Park hopes to restore its reputation as a booming community.

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CUTTING By Nasaeerah Hutcherson Artwork by Bella Manobianco It is not immediately apparent that she is gravitating toward me, moving with a sway that is inspired by the shift of the train car over the tracks. I admire the bobbing red feathers adorning her big floppy hat while she shuffles closer. It takes me a little while to realize that our direct eye contact is not coincidental because I have gotten used to staring into eyes. She is trying to catch my attention with her direct smiles. There are only a few of us left in the last train car after the Halsted stop; it’s relatively empty for it to be as early in the afternoon as it is, but I’m standing because I feel like I have been sitting all day. I do not know why she stands, but I know that this woman probably has a question she’d like to ask me. “When I grow up, I want to explain myself,” I told my mother. I was ten and I wanted to wear the niqaab, face veil, regularly. She told me to wait until I could explain it to people who asked questions because, inevitably, there would be questions. Maybe not many questions, maybe they wouldn’t come often, but they would be important and I would have to answer them. I braced myself for the onslaught with a calm I have since been unable to find. These days I keep a journal of all the most memorable questions people have asked me.

ENTRY #12

“So, like, do you guys get your period?” (Asked of me by a 14-year-old after I had explained to her that I didn’t believe in dating or sex before marriage)

It doesn’t matter where the conversation happens to take place: in a washroom at Aldi, my mother’s hospital bedside, bus stops, actual buses or, quite frequently, the train. They go for the personal, the nitty gritty, that bit of tender flesh where thigh ends and wusa-wusa begins, right there in the middle of the aisle in an orange-line car rumbling along toward Midway airport. Lady-with-the-pretty-floppy-hat finally gathers all of her courage into one deep breath it seems and makes two purposeful strides in my direction. I am ready and smiling with my eyes because, of course, she cannot see my lips. “So, do you mind if I ask you a question about what you’re wearing, miss?” she asks. She tucks her folded red umbrella under her left arm and strengthens the grip on her straw tote. “No, ma’am. I don’t mind answering questions,” I say. “So why do you wear it?” she asks. Her red-lipped smile is quivering with a giddiness I am always delighted to find in people 20+ years older than my parents. “So, I’m Muslim and that means that I practice the religion of Islam. As a Muslim woman, I believe that God has ordered me to cover my body,” I say and in anticipation of the next question, I continue, “A lot of women don’t wear the face veil because it is not obligatory, not required, but it is highly recommended, and that is why I wear it.” “Oohhh,” she says simply. She is quiet for a moment, nodding her head slowly. “So...I don’t know if this is too personal or not but…” she begins. Right then I know that it will probably be too personal, but I have already decided I will answer it. It’s like someone saying “No offense” before they go on to say something offensive.

ENTRY #17

“Do you take a shower with it on?” (Asked with a straight face) 39


cutting

“I saw this documentary about women who’ve been, um, well, um, circumcised, cut, you know? And I was wondering if that was something you all did or if it was just cultural. Have you been, um, you know--” she goes on, her voice a stage whisper when she breathes the word “circumcised”. For a moment I am confused by the term, and then the word cuts through my memories like a fresh razor. I remember sitting in my mother’s room on her bed, a Sunday morning, scrolling through free movies in the “on demand” section on the TV. I choose the movie, “Desert Flower”, because I find the one visible half of a woman’s brown face to be beautiful when I select the title. She is an actress playing the role of a model of Somali origin, I learn later on. It is a biographical film, focusing on the woman’s experience as a child, being circumcised, and then married off to an older man when she is 13. The movie is based on a book about the same woman; her name is Waris Dirie.What struck me most in that moment, standing in the aisle of that train car, was that I was a little confused about some issues regarding her question, the least of which was that it had never been asked of me. I was getting flustered just trying to decide where to start. “Where were these women from?” I ask, because I’m curious. “Well, now, I don’t remember the exact country, but it was somewhere in Africa,” she responds, one index finger tapping at her chin. Okay. That’s a start. “Well, ma’am, no, I’m not circumcised because firstly, that practice is illegal here in the United States. And secondly, if by “you all”, you meant Muslims, then no; that’s not something we all do,” I said. She asks me if I know any women who have been circumcised. I tell her that I don’t, and that the most experience I had with the subject was watching a television movie. I resolved, in that moment, to do some research the moment I got home. She asks me several more questions: Was I married? How old was I (if I didn’t mind her asking)? Where did I go to school? What did my mother do for a living? What did I want to do after high school? And finally, the question I had been waiting patiently for: “So, where are you from, dear?” she asks. “Oh, I was born and raised here in Chicago,” I say, then feel the need to clarify, “I’m African-American. My grandparents have family down south but most of my family is from the Midwest.” The automatic clarification is the result of having been asked where I’m from, and upon responding with “I’m from Chicago”, I am then asked, “No, but, where are you from? Where is your family from?” Because the fact of the matter is that no matter how many times people see burqa-clad women wandering deserts in

ENTRY #1

“WHY?” 40

ENTRY #27

“How do you eat in it?”

the Middle East on TV and in newspapers, nothing compares to seeing a similarly enshrouded figure in the flesh on your way home from a shopping excursion in downtown Chicago. It’s a rare occasion when people who ask me questions about the way that I dress don’t automatically assume that I’m from some faraway land overseas. As for her other questions, they were common and yet I could sense that I was perhaps being tested. Was I as hopelessly oppressed as she might have originally assumed? No, I don’t think so. My father says that questions are the key to ignorance (ignorance here being defined as having little knowledge of a particular subject), and I believe him, mostly. But is there a point where a person is no longer obligated to be the solution to someone else’s ignorance? I wondered if the woman I met that day had ever considered why she had asked me such a personal question. I wanted to know why. Was it because I owed it to her, being a rarity of sorts and a seemingly uncommon source of information? And there’s the fear that if I don’t answer, if I say nothing, then human imagination will take over and I will have lost my chance to influence a person’s perception of me. All I really want is a chance to throw my two cents in, just to be sure I do my part to make sure people see all the parts of me that matter, instead of just the parts of me that everyone else already claims to know so well. I never even learned this woman’s name. All I knew was that when I stepped out of those doors onto the platform at 51st and Kedzie, I felt like I had sufficiently explained myself, like I had left a piece of my very self at that woman’s sandaled feet. How could I have left her wondering?


Photos by Diego Rodriguez

Hangouts

The people we grow up with change us. They add to our character, shape our viewpoints, burn a message into our brains: “That was then and I was there with you.” But there is also something to be said for the places in which we grew up: the physical locations that back-dropped our experiences, becoming with time our stories’ settings. In this article, we look at those former settings. They are devoid of us now, but hold ghostly all our old-selves, eating burritos and reading books and drying off some afternoons long ago.

The Chicago Lawn Branch Library, Naseerah Hutcherson 41


Chicago Public Library, Chicago Lawn branch -Naseerah Hutcherson My family moved so often that the only places we consistently visited were libraries. We lived the longest period of time in this neighborhood, getting to know this library. Miss Amy was our librarian; I loved her because she was smart, and she drove a candy apple red mustang. I believed she loved me more than some of her other patrons because I read so voraciously, turning up at all hours of the day to check out tons of books. Sometimes I didn’t even bother checking them out; I just settled on the floor in a secluded corner and read until my eyes were itchy and dry from lack of blinking. 6120 S. Kedzie Avenue, 60629 La Bamba -Evelyn Noyes Some places are best enjoyed during a specific period of time, and La Bamba was always the spot for the first weeks of the school year. Early September was still warm enough for my friends and I to want to do something other than take the train straight home from school, and every year, we found ourselves gravitating towards La Bamba. We’d cram into a small booth with our $2 tacos to make our IOUs and talk over the good and bad of the year thus far. Every day, the sunlight glared in through the window and warmed our faces, winding its way downwards until it was time to go home. 2557 North Halsted Chicago, IL 60614 42

The Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Tiffany Wong


Basement of Chinese Mutual Aid Association -Tiffany Wong A fragmented summer was sometimes spent sandwiched between linoleum floors and moon-stucco ceiling tiles. Here I watched my first episodes of the Star Wars saga, bored by the end of the rolling prologue. My first no-it-doesn’t-count girlhood crush on a boy of high school age developed from a Pekkle sticker on one corner of his wire-rimmed glasses; I am still unsure if he had been flirting with us under-11 girls, as my sister found him charming too. But beside him, I remember no one else. The friendship bracelets I learned to make were loosely tied to my own wrists, then lost and forgotten after the drive home. Each day I started anew, having been erased from feeble seven year old memories and unable to spell the words on today’s spelling test. For years, I remembered this summer as dreams only affirmed by the similar dreams of my sister. 1016 W Argyle St, Chicago, IL 60645

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The Rivkin’s House, Nina Posner The Rivkins’ House -Nina Posner The Rivkins were our neighbors by definition, but really they were like second cousins who we actually enjoyed spending time with. Many a rainy afternoon was passed in their basement, me and my sisters and Claire and Alex creating fantastical lives for each other: we were orphans struggling through the cobblestoned alleys of 1800s London, or weary merchants selling our wares out of caravans along the Silk Road. I experienced many firsts in the Rivkin household, most notably losing my first tooth when it was pulled out by their unfazed South African au pair. I learned how a bill gets passed and what to do when a full-grown labradoodle tries to knock you over. You’re supposed to say “Sammy, no!” but we just scrambled away and hid behind the couch. 1142 West Lill Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 44


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Fireman’s Park, Amelia Cuevas Fireman’s Park -Amelia Cuevas Benches are overlooked; people pass by them everyday, but never consider sitting down, taking in the hot, warm, nice, chilly, or nose-hair-freezing air. Josue was the type of guy to sit down. Even on frozen days, the worst days, he and I would sit on this magnificent, rusty, iced bench near The Eagle at Logan Square to talk and complain of our frozen limbs. Our teeth would chatter between words, our skin would go numb, and our struggle would last for about half an hour. Although we were kids, I knew we were smart enough to know that there were warmer options, so I never understood why we stayed. I only understood our friendship, and if it meant sitting on ice-coated benches, I was more than okay with that. Intersection of Milwaukee, Diversey, and Kimball 45


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Old Town School of Folk Music -Sophie Stein As a seven-year-old, I started spending my weekend afternoons at the Old Town School of Folk Music, where I studied violin. On Saturdays, my fellow fledgling musicians and I flocked nervously to the stage in Old Town’s dimly lit concert hall. From mid-morning until late in the afternoon, I squeaked through my beginning Suzuki repertoire alongside an army of thirty other squirmy violinists for an audience of our exceedingly patient parents. I spent those weekends wondering at the artistry of towering twelve-year-olds, consuming piles of rice crispy treats that had been salvaged from the main office, and playing hide and seek with other music enthusiasts among auditorium seats and miniature violin cases. 909 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

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Foster Park, Gabrielle Burns


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The Park Back Behind Lakeview High School -Jack Wanberg I rub my hands together like a boyscout trying to light a fire, blowing into them, watching my hot breath leak out of the spaces between my fingers in wafting clouds, and yell out that I can’t feel my nose anymore. Steve does another lap as we wait for Peter to finish up. Later he’ll tell us of the feeling of cold plastic on bare skin. Girls were always too hard to explain to any of our parents, and so we smuggled our indecencies under the jungle gym. The police came one time; shined their spotlights and we scattered like ants because I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do. These were the good times, when the most terrible crime was a stolen kiss. 4015 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago IL Wilson Skatepark

-Morley Musick

Wilson is a cement swell in the ground east of uptown and west of Lake Michigan and neither here nor there really. It’s a skatepark, to be clear. I spent seventh grade through sophomore year here growing away from school and nearer to the wood I like to ride around on. Men are boys and boys are boys still here. There is beer evaporated on the ledges and wangs painted on the cement. One time my friends and I got kicked out of a wig shop two blocks away. We’re older now but there are other kids now, lighting fires, tearing at the fences anew. 700 W Wilson Ave Chicago, IL 60640 Foster Park -Gabrielle Burns With three energetic young kids in her care, my grandmother took advantage of the large park just a few blocks from her house. I can remember numerous sweltering summer days spent walking the block to Foster park with my cousin and younger sister. Our conversations ranged from wanting ice cream to people at our schools. Upon arrival at Foster Park, my grandmother would watch us run around, sliding down the slides, attempting to do monkey bars, and swinging as high as we could without being pushed. When Foster Park installed a water park, our days were then spent inside the small area until our bodies were as wrinkled as prunes, wanting nothing more than to warm up and restore our reserves of energy. 1440 W 84th St Chicago, IL 60620 47


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Friend the Fish

By Nasaeerah Hutcherson Artwork by Harlie Rush

I recall the way heat crept over the horizon, orange sun-eye blinking bright, air smelling dark green and pregnant with summer. Baba and I stood on the hill, just a stone’s toss from the riverbank, taking in the morning fog like breathing plant life and panting insects. ‘Gonna be hot today,’ he said real slow, and I looked at him—the tip of the fishing rod dancing at his temple, bobbing head mimicking the cattails. We made our way down the hill, stepping through bushy foliage, things we wouldn’t say still sleeping on our lips and I was convinced that we would fill our bucket by noon or else the wind had told a very convincing lie. Later, I made each of our captives a friend. Everyone was given a name—Bernadette, Larry, Ben, Paul, Sam, Normal fish, and then there was just Friend. Baba used worm after worm, maggot after maggot, lots of squirming bait to reel in Friend. Friend stole the flesh of nematodes right off the hook, the fishing rod bent in a sharp round arch as he thrashed beneath the surface of the lake. ‘Here he goes!’ Baba said, braced for a tug-o-war. It was a great and epic battle, dramatic and wet. Finally, Friend was captured and we put him in the bucket. His eyes were bugged and misty, tail flipped up like a dead man’s last spasm, speckled brown-gray scales, slick. ‘Friend,’ I whispered into his invisible ear, ‘you are the greatest’. In the end we rode the train, two hobos with a proper home but no space to gut and scale our friends in the bucket. We left the bucket on the platform of 35th and Archer: Bernadette, Larry, Ben, Paul, Sam, and Normal Fish were still inside. Friend was so special that Baba put him in a plastic baggy full of lake water. He slept in our freezer for about a month and then Baba cleaned him out, scaled him, and we ate him, and he was delicious. 49