As I mentioned back when I launched this thing, one of my intentions with Jagged Time Lapse is to to share chapters from my musical-memoir-in-progress with paid subscribers as I kick them into shape.
I don’t yet have a working title for the book, but the concept is similar to what my friend and colleague Josh Wilker did with his wonderful Cardboard Gods. Except where Josh used baseball cards from the 1970s as a means to make sense of his past, I’m using 45 rpm singles as a series of windows into my turbulent adolescence — a period of my life which coincided with some of the greatest music ever heard on AM (and FM) radio, and some of the absolute worst. Here is the latest chapter I’ve been playing with; please let me know whatcha think…
It was only a four-block walk down Walton Place from our new apartment to our new school, but those four blocks served as a kaleidoscopic introduction to daily Chicago life circa early 1980.
That ten-minute amble from Lake Shore Drive to Ogden Elementary — the school where I would be finishing eighth grade and my sister sixth — took us from the luxury apartment buildings of the city’s “Gold Coast” to the neon- (and bodily fluids-) encrusted adult playground of the Rush Street district. It took us past the Drake and the Knickerbocker, two of Chicago’s poshest old hotels, whose buildings seemed to cast disapproving glances at each other from across Walton. It took us past the massive limestone edifice of the Playboy Building, which simultaneously absorbed and disgorged a constant stream of well-groomed older men in expensive trench coats. It took us past swinging singles exiting and returning to their upscale high-rises in velour jogging suits, and wasted winos passed out in garbage-strewn doorways; past fancy restaurants, greasy-spoon diners, deep-dish pizza joints, fortune-telling parlors, glittery discos and the area’s last-remaining strip clubs and adult bookstores, all of which lay the infernal shade of the gigantic black pylon known as the John Hancock Building.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Jagged Time Lapse to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.