Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chicago Overdoses

Part of my job involves visiting high schools, and the particular type of work I do often takes me to Chicago public schools in very tenuous neighborhoods. A couple of years ago the assistant principal of one such school pointed out that while he appreciated my company's services, he wondered how valuable they would be for his students, given that a gang war was taking place in his area.

Since then, I've wanted to keep track of the culture around the places I visit. It hasn't been a driving ambition, but one of the goals of this blog is to provide me with a place to report on what I observe here in Chicago and to develop a better sense of what really goes on in this city.

With that in mind, I read with interest the rcent reports of overdoses from a supercharged batch of heroin that made it's appearance recently on the city's west side: Overdose deaths may be linked to bad drugs and Police warn residents of deadly drug being passed as heroin.

One of the deaths mentioned occurred in an area that I suppose to be considered the west side: south of I290, a mile or two southwest of the United Center. Google map here showing the location of the fatality. This particular overdose occurred within a mile of two high schools that I have visited multiple times.

Between one of the schools and the location of the death is a large, open park. Despite how lovely the park looks, I have never seen it occupied. No joggers, no kids, no picnics, no one. Thus it has a decrepit aura, despite the green fields. How does this come to pass, that a park that is clearly well maintained lends its neighborhood only a cemeterial aura?

Back to my original point: it's only through glimpses that I have a chance to see what happens in these areas. Though I link to their reports, it's useless to rely on newspapers and tv news: those writers are too superficial to contemplate the city at large. The only way to understand this city is patient observation, which I hope to help provide, at least for those areas I know.