July 29, 2017

3 Miles from Wrigley Field the Night the Cubs Won it All

Credit: Erin Hooley, Chicago Tribune
First thing I see as I pour coffee today is the Trib's front page photo: a large, color portrait of a mother in agony, kneeling over the body of her dead son. He was shot in the face during the night and she, after failed attempts by the police to keep her away, finally rushed through to touch, "My baby." Another gun death in Chicago last night.

If you've never been there, Chicago is a big place. It goes for miles in all directions once you get away from the lakefront high rises, beaches, parks. We lived and worked there a long time ago. Now our children live, work, and go to school there.

Last November, the Cubs won the World Series. Maybe you heard about it.
They clinched playing out of town, not that it mattered in Wrigleyville. Tens of thousands of fans swamped the area, especially that night. Our son had a sublet two short blocks from the park and, despite being a Sox fan, walked out his door and waded into the fun. He messaged his siblings to meet him and witness. This was a big deal. Big deal.

That day, our other son visited us in the suburbs. Driving him home after dinner, traffic was heavy but moving. As we exited I-290 at Sacramento, there were flashing lights and police tape off to the left. A body lay in the street covered by a sheet. I could make out that he had fallen prone, like a tree. Not splayed like in the movies. Police nearby were blank faced.

As they waved along our line of cars, we three fell silent. No more giddy Cubs and celebrating Chicago chit chat. Our son, trying to preempt motherly concern said, "Sorry." As if I just saw a concert-goer rip her shirt off or some guy vomit on the sidewalk. I faced forward and mumbled I was fine, that it wasn't his responsibility to apologize.

All I could think as we drove through and beyond Humboldt Park was that that guy was some mother's son. That that guy was never going home to his own bed. Did his family even know he was lying in the middle of the street? Didn't the guy who shot him care that the Cubs were about to win it all?

By the time we drove up to the apartment building, the game was over. The radio was LIT UP with history-in-the-making remote reports. All the pent up hopes and dreams of Cubs fans burst forth in joyful cheers. It seemed like the whole world was in on the party. It felt good.

And then we returned to the expressway entrance. My heart sank. The lights and tape were still there. I get it - investigations take time. But, the body was still in the street, too. All alone in the street. Same cops waved us along. No Cubs fans here that I could see. No celebration of any sort. Just another dead person in another night of gunshots.

I figured, surely, it'd be news. In fact, this murder barely made main media outlets other than a one sentence mention of an unidentified man shot in the head. I've come to realize that this short shrift has nothing to do with it happening on the same night as a World Series victory. It's pretty standard because volume. The number of shootings are such that in-depth reporting is not possible. Media consumers can't or won't process the daily bulletins. Media resources are stretched thin.

Eventually, I found this from Homicide Watch Chicago*:
A man who was shot to death Wednesday evening in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on the West Side has been identified as 51-year-old Gregory Wong. Wong was found unresponsive with a gunshot wound to the head at 7:21 p.m. in the 3000 block of West 5th Avenue, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Wong, of the 2900 block of South Emerald, was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:30 p.m. — Chicago Sun-Times Wire
Three miles from pure joy and exhilaration at Wrigley. No joy by the expressway. Might has well've been on the Moon. Or in another country. Just another day in a very different neighborhood.

* Homicide Watch Chicago is dedicated to the proposition that murder is never a run-of-the-mill story. Attention must be paid to each one, not merely a select and particularly tragic few. We understand the reality of the public’s demand for news - that some stories get more attention than others. But all murders represent a degree of human suffering - direct and indirect - that cannot be ignored. http://homicides.suntimes.com
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Makes me think of this:

Chicago Cartoons