Tag Archives: lakeview

Guest Post: Reflections – Part 2

Hello dear readers. This week I am out of town on a road trip with the gentlemen of Long Pork for Sketchfest NYC. I will return with a new post on Wednesday 6/16. In my absence my good friend James Vest has submitted two amazing entries for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!


Recently, I became a finalist for what I consider to be my dream job. I have been working two jobs almost continuously since moving to Chicago in 2005. One job pays the bills, and the other is what I love to do. This opportunity would be for the company I currently work for, but by moving to California, I would be doing exactly what I was born to do. There are really few drawbacks. Sure, it’d be hard work, but hard work to me is as satisfying and rewarding as a farmer standing in their field.

If there is one thing I would miss, that would be living in Chicago. I have spent the majority of my time residing in Lakeview. I haven’t had a car in so long, I would expect insurance companies to run a special background check to confirm I’m not under some kind of DUI lifetime driving ban. Admittedly, I am afraid of the unknown. What if there’s no good places to eat? What if there are no places to walk to? What if the buses don’t run?

I bought a camera a few months back. It’s the first really good camera I’ve ever owned. I took it on vacation and took a bunch of pictures of blue sky, purple flowers and white sand. When I came back to Chicago, I continued to take similar pictures, except these natural shots were of red brick, gritty cement and marooned bicycles. The city is beautiful. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some pictures.

I have always fantasized about taking pictures of strangers, but I am a coward. I am fascinated by the expressions on people’s faces and the subtleties of character that reveal what’s inside one’s heart. I try to memorize everyone I see on the street. I can close my eyes and see young women grinning from behind large sunglasses. People wearing matching baseball caps, walking their optimistic and grateful animals. I see thirsty homeless men sitting with empty cups, casting long stares.

What I photograph are pictures of objects that look back at me, that speak with the same, subtle character. All I have to do is think of the streets for the people reappear in my mind. Maybe it’s because my father is an architect. Whatever the reason, for people like me, a picture of a building is all that is needed to remember what’s inside.

Chicago will be here forever. No matter where life beckons me to go, I don’t think that I will ever live in a place with so much character that it can be seen stacked in the bricks and paved into every street. Wherever I live, these pictures will place me back on the sidewalk in the heat of the afternoon, or next to the rainwater pools of the morning.

I take very few pictures of myself. All I need is to remember my surroundings for all the memories of these years spent in Chicago to captivate my mind, and retrace, step by step, the path back home. Whatever happens with my work, I will always remember my time in Lakeview fondly.


James Vest is a writer and video editor living in Chicago’s lakeview neighborhood. To see more from his life, visit his website, jamesvest.com.

Guest Post: Reflections – Part 1

Hello dear readers. This week I am out of town on a road trip with the gentlemen of Long Pork for Sketchfest NYC. I will return with a new post on Wednesday 6/16. In my absence my good friend James Vest has submitted two amazing entries for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!


In 2005, I moved to Chicago for work. I lived alone in a 175 square-foot apartment in the Gold Coast without air conditioning and walked down Rush Street every morning to get to my job. In the spring, there were little baby roaches and by winter there were older, wiser roaches. I had a fantastic view of the Sears Tower and made up for not having a counter top by preparing all my meals on a wooden board laid on my bed.

In 2007, I reluctantly moved to Lakeview so my girlfriend could afford a parking space. I wasn’t sure what to make of Wrigleyville back then, considering  the only experience leading up to that point was the nostalgia of walking down Clark Street as a fresh-faced 15-year-old on vacation, witnessing for the first time a woman urinate on the sidewalk. Still today, there is an anything-goes spirit on Clark, but it’s one I still embrace as a local. I mean, what else does a neighborhood need? A mall? No thank you.

We moved into a place on Addison the first week of November. I remember spending the first two months mostly indoors, eventually braving the frigid tunnel under Lake Shore Drive so my girlfriend could take my picture holding up one ice-blue finger to commemorate our first walk to the lake front. I know for a fact it was New Year’s Day. To prove our shut-in nature, the previous image on the camera roll was of a half-eaten Lou Malnati’s deep dish next to a half-empty bottle of champagne.

The following spring came and though I can’t recall the first walk that we went on, afterwards I must have made a pledge to be outside as often as possible. Over that summer, Lakeview changed me. I bought some running shoes and ran along the trails until they ended, and then deep footsteps through sand and back again, across the tops of stoney walls.

Everything had to be explored. As a couple, we walked in every direction from home; down Broadway, over to Halsted, across Clark and up  Southport. We walked mostly in search of the three universal truths: breakfast, lunch and dinner. And though my food expenses take the form of Pacman on Mint.com, I am proud of being able to recommend almost any kind of food in a two mile radius with enthusiastic pride.

Yet it was the walks themselves that are held close in my memories. It’s always the first thing I think about doing when I am too tired to be entertained and too bothered by work to stay inside. Lakeview has been a womb I have expanded within, a home where I have grown, in relative peace. So it was quite a shock when I found out that I might be leaving soon.


James Vest is a writer and video editor living in Chicago’s lakeview neighborhood. To see more from his life, visit his website, JamesVest.com.

Wrigleyville: The Training Wheels of Chicago

So, if you caught me on ChicagoNow Radio on Saturday you may have heard me mention I live in Wrigleyville. You may have even heard me refer to it as “the training wheels of Chicago.”

As much as I love to trash on my Lakeview-community-by-the-field I have to confess: I do love it here.

I moved to Chicago in May of 2007 after an epic hunt for apartments that had me flying out from New York three out of four weekends in March. When I finally settled down in a place, I had found one I loved.

The truth of the matter is the neighborhood isn’t that bad. The truth is I am a baseball fan so there is a certain magic and energy to me in living so close to the field, but at the same time I’m just far enough away that I don’t have to put up with the majority of the craziness.

If you can get past the craziness on Clark Street, Wrigleyville has a lot of hidden charm and I plan to showcase more of this as time goes on. What follows are some of my favorite shots I’ve taken of Wrigleyville, most of them have never been published before.