Friday, June 5, 2009

Still at Archer & Sacramento

Well, I got tied up posting this a few days, because, well, I couldn't find the damn photos I was taunting Rich Chwedyk--yes, THAT Rich Chwedyk!--with. But one day I do need to get decent photos from around Goose Island, particularly water shots. The previous day I didn't see a lot of comments, and I'm thinking no one watched the video because it only has political asshats on the banner. It was the only one that would load, and I'm not telling anyone to go back and watch it, but, christ, when you see the cop beating the tiny bartender, you have to wonder, well, wonder something. The bartender is healthy, thankfully, and the best quote from the trial was her saying she didn't want to look at the video they showed the jury because she had seen it too many times already. It is amazing how many times that has been played in Chicago, not just in YouTubeland.

Back to Archer. You might recall my saying how I was surprised how everything was bunched up at this intersection. Well, there it is, Rich (he thought I'd be mentioning the Brighton Theater, the vacant lot next to Watra)! I've seen Golden Heart at retro sites and neon sites and diner sites--and for some reason kept thinking it was called Around The Clock--and I'm pointing my camera down after photographing Watra, I turn, and, I was like, what the hell? Then I took an approaching bus a bit closer to Pulaski, the point where the Archer bus meets the Orange Line for the second time. In between Kedzie and St. Louis, Balzekas Chrysler Plymouth. It is officially shutting down. I knew that area of Archer when I worked with the Elvis band. The drummer lived near Ye Olde Place on 46th & St. Louis and the trumpet player's dad worked at Balazekas. We always ate pizza from a place on the south side of the street, near Balzekas, but I can't recall the name of it, even though the building--with a new name--is still there. And Rich might question my not taking a photo of Polonia Grove, but, well, it'd be a pretty dull photo. Even their sign was kinda 70s dull. Whatever that means.


Charles Gramlich said...

I can see from your posts that living in a city and working/playing in a city is very different from where I grew up. Each of the places you talk about and show has a story connected to you. Never having lived in a city neighborhoods really when I was young that just isn't true for me. It's intersting to see the difference through your eyes.

HemlockMan said...

If I ever come back to Chicago, I'm going to get you to show me around. Sans car. On foot, bus, el.

You can take me to have a good cold beer somewhere that's neat. And real local pizza.

I once got stranded in Philadelphia for ten days. Long story. I won't go into how it happened. But I learned to love the local food there. The regular-folks food. The omelets (best I've ever had), the burgers, the shakes, the dogs, etc. I couldn't wait to get home, but while I was there my stomach thought I was in High-fat Heaven.

Rich Chwedyk said...

Polonia Grove ain't much to look at anymore. Once, though, they had a high wooden fence around the land adjoining Polonia Hall. It was a thick little forest surrounding all these beer garden chairs and tables and a dance floor. Weekends, especially Saturdays, the night would start with people parking around the grove; they'd enter; you'd hear the polka music play for a couple of hours.

Around midnight a couple of squad cars and a police wagon would show up, responding to calls about noises and screaming coming from the Grove. I imagined some harried housewife, in one of her "nice" dresses (from the Archer Avenue Big Store), hanging from her husband's forearm, a simian limb resembling something drawn by Frank Frazetta, a chair leg in his volleyball-sized fist as he bares down on another dazed, bloodied brute. His wife screams, "Stanos! No! You'll KILL him!" But Stanos is unfazed until six well-practiced cops storm into the grove and — three on each arm — manage to hold Stanos down until two more cops — one with an elephant tranquilizer gun and the other with a trusty "baton" finally subdue him, fit him with custom-made cuffs and drag him off. Until next week.

That was the OLD Polonia Grove. The new place is just a parking lot. I guess the action has migrated to another location. And Stanos has taken a table — and a chair leg — in that big Polka Hall in the sky.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wayno!

> "and the trumpet player's dad worked at Balazekas."

That was only 30 years ago.
Old age setting in already?????

It was *ME* that worked at Balzekas, Gary, the keyboard player!!!!

John Wilk played the trumpet and his dad was a corporate photographer. BTW - Johnny passed away in 2004.

Later Bobby Long played the trumpet, but had nothing to do with Balzekas. This is when "Jumbo" the church organist, was on the keyboards for a little while.

I still visit Balzekas regularly. The head mechanic of 37 years is my best man and godfather to my 3 kids.

PS - practice is next Tuesday up in Lazzie's attic. Lazzie wants to work on his favorite song, "Fever", a few more times. LOL!!!