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Long Reads Roundup

Boredom in Peoria from Kyle Beachy; a profile of Oak Park/River Forest’s wrestling coach; Seven Doe; why the carp must die; and more

* Novelist and Roosevelt English/creative writing teacher Kyle Beachy (author of The Slide) on boredom and skateboarding in Peoria; the piece is an excerpt from the new Chicagoan magazine:

I know more surely who I am when pushing along a city street, finding lines to pursue. I feel, at these moments, miles removed from a persona. When there is a sewer cap, I pop over it—my board’s tail scrapes and I lift and when we land on the cap’s other side we are going faster. If you would like to know a skateboarder, study his elbows, examine her shins.

Our cities were built with functionality in mind, a process of closure. These three steps outside of a Chase Bank with their uses clearly defined—climbing and descent. It is indeed a challenge to this order when I skate the second of these steps, which someone has waxed. It becomes a ledge. Grinding or sliding, per Derrida, is play that disrupts the system’s boundaries. Call it the reinterpretation of spaces of economic production. The self as creator of movement. The self as a small human body maneuvering among soaring architectural bodies.

* In Sports Illustrated, Chris Ballard profiles Oak Park/River Forest wrestling coach Mike Powell (via longform.org):

Powell tries to rest as much as he can and not dwell on what-ifs, but it is hard. “One of my regrets is that I was just on the verge of actually doing something, of becoming the man I believed I could become,” he says. “I don’t know that there was a happier or more grateful 33-year-old man on earth. I don’t care about these guys who are making a million by the time they’re 25. That’s not what I wanted to do. My goal was to win the state championship and do it the right way: with hard work and humble men who learn the great gifts of wrestling, and love from people who are not their relatives and who understand what it means to give yourself over wholly to someone or something.” He pauses. “Wrestling teaches these really powerful lessons about delayed gratification, and I was finally giving [the boys] that. I was finally harvesting it in myself. I’m probably a better coach in some ways [now], but there’s no way to replicate that spirit.”

* Bloomberg Businessweek on why “The Carp Must Die”:

The carp are scaring people away. According to a University of Illinois survey, 47 percent of recreational boaters from Havana and the nearby towns of Pekin and Beardstown were hit by an Asian carp in 2010 and 2011; one-third of those suffered watercraft damage. “It’s cut down on our business considerably,” says Betty DeFord, manager of the Boat Tavern, a bar made out of an old riverboat on cinder blocks that sits alongside a boat ramp in the nearby town of Bath. “People who used to go out on the water won’t anymore because they are sick and tired of getting beat to death by the damn things.”

* The Tribune’s Becky Schlikerman on Seven Doe and four other wards of the state whose identities are unknown:

She says she’s 71 years old and a lifelong Cubs fan. She has fleeting childhood memories of visiting the Indiana Dunes but can recall little else and suffers from dementia. Her fingerprints are deformed and unreadable, according to Chicago police, who issued a found person report in 2003. Nobody has come for her.

[snip]

“If it’s possible for a person to be nobody, I think this is it,” said David Stein, a longtime resident at St. Francis Catholic Worker House in Chicago, where Seven lived for nearly three decades before landing in state care.

* At Design Observer, MIT prof Lawrence Vale gives a long history of Cabrini-Green as architecture, neighborhood, and public policy

Looking across a century of the housing that occupied this same benighted acreage, we can see striking parallels between Cabrini-Green’s slum-clearance origins in the 1930s and ’40s and the more recent fate of this site under the Chicago Housing Authority’s ongoing Plan for Transformation. The successive efforts to reform the Near North Side, and to do so via the mechanism of public housing, reveal much about our national attitudes toward housing — and about our attitudes toward which people should be housed.

 

Photograph: doug.siefken (CC by 2.0)

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