In 1970 I got an apartment near Diversey and Clark in Chicago. I was twenty years old, gay, and that neighborhood was America's gayest place outside of Greenwich Village and San Francisco. I loved that neighborhood and lived within a mile of that intersection for nearly twenty years. Now, twenty eight years removed, I rarely get back over there.
Last week while trying to wrangle Chandler out the front door for his walk without letting Scout slip past me, I caught my favorite suede jacket on the latch. As I was holding back Scout with my foot and trying to convince Chandler that I wasn't yelling at him to stay, I tore a nice twelve inch gash in my jacket. Now both dogs were confused and a bit scared as I let loose with a string of profanities. Funny how dogs do not like cursing. So anyway, when I got done with the dogs I checked on places that repair leather. One shop caught my eye. It was on Clark Street near Diversey and I seemed to remember it being there from many years ago. So that is where I brought my jacket. It was a good move. Leo's Leather Shop did a great job repairing that jacket and for a really good price.
As I left Leo's I realized that there were a few businesses on that street that had been there for as long back as I can remember. One of them was Gramophone Records. In 1970 I specifically remember buying three record albums there. Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, both by the Grateful Dead, and Sweet Baby James by James Taylor. I still have the Grateful Dead albums. I loved those big old vinyl records. I loved peeling off the shrink wrap, dropping the needle on the fresh vinyl for the first time, and reading all the liner notes while listening to some brand new music. I went into the Gramophone store after leaving Leo's Leather Shop. It was not the same. Back in 1970 it was all hippie with incense burning, black light posters on the walls, and bins of brand new LP's. It is now a shop that seems to specialize in hip hop, rap, and that stupid electronic crap that people listen to when spinning around while high on ecstasy. Next door to Gramophone is Le Creperie, advertised as the oldest French creperie in the United States. It might be, I remember it being there back in the 1970's. In fact I had eaten there on a couple of occasions and remembered that I liked it a lot. So when I went to pick up my jacket from Leo's Leather yesterday, I took Mark to lunch at Le Creperie. So here is what I learned from trying to relive the past. The record store where I used to purchase my great rock and roll albums, doesn't have my great old rock and roll albums anymore. The fabulous French restaurant that I went to forty five years ago isn't fabulous anymore. In fact it is just mediocre and overpriced. But all that is okay, because I also found out that the quality of work at Leo's Leather Shop has not waned in all these years.