These are the places near the place where police killed a boy in Chicago.

The place where teenager Laquan McDonald was murdered by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke seems desolate in the video of his death. He walks a few steps on a wide-open street with no traffic before dropping from bullets.

He laid dead in front of a bus stop and a sign heralding the construction of a new Marshalls store.

Laquan McDonald is dead

I’ve always been interested in proximity and geography— the physical reality of place. I was able to pursue this interest the most when I was at EveryBlock, where we cared about every block in every city we worked in. The idea that every block had a story, every area mattered, was at the core of EveryBlock. I still have a desire to know about blocks, especially important ones like this.

Laquan McDonald was killed in the 3900 block of South Pulaski. According to the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Boundary Service, that is in the Archer Heights neighborhood.

A closer look of the area shows that it is full of activity. Full of old-line manufacturing and new tech companies and social services and connections to big-time philanthropy. Full of what we typically think is great about our city.

Just a block north of where this boy was killed is American Plating and Manufacturing. They make accessories for woodwind and brass instruments. That means clarinet and saxophone ligatures, lyres for marching bands, woodwind mouthpiece kits,  and silver-plated brass horn mouthpieces. Think for a moment, for a company that goes back to 1902, the physical reality of the mouths and metals across the world that can be traced back to this spot. The intense intimacy of music and breath, and what was snuffed out where those workers walk to lunch.

American Plating and Manufacturing

This kid was killed a block away from Maroon Biotech, which “has developed a new category of pharmaceuticals called surfactant chaperones. This technology has the capability to restore structure and viability to cells disrupted by physical and chemical trauma. By reversing post-traumatic molecular alterations, Maroon Biotech’s technology promises to improve recovery from vehicular, military and other types of severe traumatic injuries, electrical shock and reperfusion injury. The technology has already demonstrated effectiveness at treating experimental spinal cord injury, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and brain injury.” Notwithstanding proximity to where he lay dying, Maroon Biotech had nothing for Laquan McDonald. Maroon is a color associated with the University of Chicago.

Maroon Biotech

The adolescent Chicagoan was killed a block east of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which is located on a street named “Ann Lurie Place”, which I assume is named after Ann Lurie, who has been a significant benefactor for this place that provides an essential social service in this city. This is not an honorary street sign— this is a legit, green-colored city street sign.

Ann Lurie Street

Preferred Freezer Services is also on this block. They offer “the most modern, state-of-the-art, full service temperature-controlled warehouses in the United States”. Just like Carl Sandburg said: Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler.

This 17-year old was shot dead in front of Focal Point, a bustling and busy manufacturer of light fixtures. Sometimes people play ping-pong underneath lights made by Focal Point.

Focal Pont

Just a half-block east down 43rd lies Bagcraft Papercon. They make paper products for the restaurant industry. Their website shows so many happy people enjoying products inside their products.

Bagcraft Papercon Bagcraft Papercon Bagcraft Papercon Bagcraft Papercon

We all know about the Burger King, the one where it seems police deleted footage of their crime. That’s just north of where they shot him.


Three doors down from the Burger King, not far from where puffs of smoke rose from a dead boy, is the worldwide headquarters of Kronos Central Food. They make, among other things, gyros.



Everything on earth has a place. This is our city, all of it, for all of us. These are the places near the place where police killed a boy in Chicago.

The Chicago Sun-Times, Today, Right Now, is a Great Newspaper, So Stop Whining About It

There’s a slow-moving, but consistently rolling, train of thought that says that the Chicago Sun-Times is dying/ is poorly run/ etc. There was a post to this effect last week, but we’ve all heard these things for years now. Expressing dismay about the Chicago Sun-Times is something of fun sport for the portion of the journalism crowd that loves to cluck.

I love journalism and journalists and real newspapers. I so much appreciate the work of people who put facts together and then hit me with them.

And I love the Chicago Sun-Times. And I share the dismay about link farms and thinned pages. But I want to point out some Sunday morning facts on the ground to the hand-wringers:

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15 Years of Sobriety— All Hail Alcoholics Anonymous

Today marks 15 years of sobriety for me. I am not the most devout member of Alcoholics Anonymous, but I do try to practice these principles in all my affairs.

The “Big Book“, which is actually titled, “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Recovered from Alcoholism” is one of the most influential texts of the 20th century and was created and edited by a process we now know as “crowdsourcing”.

The 12 steps of AA are radical and simple. The meetings themselves are an odd and wonderful combination of rote conformance (the recitation of the steps, the format of the talks) and completely unpredictable local variation. The result is we can walk into a room, anywhere in the world, and have an immediate fellowship and sense of purpose with others. This centralization of mission and decentralization of operations is the basis for myriad movements.

Here’s what works for me:

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