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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, March 2

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Andrew / November 8, 2005 3:07 PM

Also, does anyone else call the scrap-metal salvagers junqueros? That's our name for them.

NotSoHealthy / November 8, 2005 3:20 PM

2 words
mini-bike racing

Carlos / November 8, 2005 3:47 PM

Milkcrateball and we also had mini-bike races! We used to play the Chips theme song in our heads as we raced up and down the alleys of Little Village.

The mini-bike still lives, we ocassionally take it out but it doesn't feel as fast as it did when I was 15, I wonder why?!?!

Eamon / November 8, 2005 3:51 PM

When we were buying our house, I'd made idle chat with the owners about the neighborhood and how I'd been looking for a gym we could rent to play a little b-ball. There's a church with a small gym directly behind us, and she recommended we check in with them. "Be sure you mention our name: they know our family very well." She paused, then added, "Mostly because we've broken every single one of their windows at one time or another."

And yes, we call them junqueros, too. I've been wondering if they'll take the two giant plywood-and-aluminum platforms I made for our summer block party's mini-golf course.

Nick / November 8, 2005 3:55 PM

It seems like morning when I wake up I see bums going through all the dumpsters in my alley. I wouldn't mind knowing what it is that they find so attractive about my alley, but by the time I am ready to leave for work the dump truck has come by and they are gone.

A vanMoxie / November 8, 2005 3:57 PM

My alley now is pretty quiet, but the old place in Logan Square was always busy. Once there was a triple homocide a few garage doors down, but I didn't find out until weeks later.

We used to lie in bed listening to people talking and arguing out there. My favorite was an hours-long argument between a young man and woman from about two until four a.m. She was crazy with the screaming and taunting, and he was so quiet, you could practically hear his eyes rolling and shoulders shrugging. The quote of the night: "I don't drive a Navigator. So I'm not all 'phisticated like Maria (said in schoolyard mocking tone 'Mah-reee-ah')." She got quieter when she heard us laughing.

Ian / November 8, 2005 4:09 PM

I once saw a disheveled man standing on a weight scale that had been thrown out into my alley.

jen / November 8, 2005 4:29 PM

i'm pretty sure all of the fireworks in all of logan square were set off in the alley behind my building (2700 block of sacramento, odd-numbered side of the street) on the 4th of july. kind of goes with the toddler in diapers we saw holding a firecracker in front on the sidewalk, i suppose.

the rest of the days the alley has been pretty quiet.

(good question, btw. i'm fascinated with the trib's chicago alley series!!)

Moon / November 8, 2005 4:34 PM

With a little bit of work and a few shops installed, my alley could pass for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies.

/All right, a LOT of shops installed.
//There aren't actually ANY shops now.

eep / November 8, 2005 4:38 PM

My alley is fun. On one side it's all residential houses and my apartment building. On the other side is a bunch of small businesses, as well as a Mexican restaurant. The alley always smells of corn tortillas instead of garbage, which is lovely. No, honest.

Baldeesh / November 8, 2005 4:57 PM

I could go on for days...

I hate my alley. It's loud. There's the guys that like to argue late at night - actually IN the alley in polish, the lady who lets her yappy dog out at all hours and leaves him outside to bark and bark and barkandbark, all the dipshits that honk when coming around corners (and I can also clearly hear whatever the hell it is they are listening to) late at night, and of course drunk college kids wandering around drunk and yelling at/to each other.

But nothing compares to seeing a guy take a shit in broad daylight by our garbage cans, less than 20 feet away from me. After it happened a second time, I decided to not spend as much time on the balcony.

Nicole / November 8, 2005 5:10 PM

We had a fire in our alley about a year ago. It convinced us to get renters insurance, finally. My mom was so proud.

Amy / November 8, 2005 5:30 PM

My back porch looks into the alley pretty well. I live in Wrigleyville so I've seen everything from people urinating to "junqueros" to a bum taking a nap on an old mattress. I'm able to walk from my place to the back door of the laundry mat from the alley so that rocks. But the thing is I'm probably the worst one. I've been yelled at to not talk so loud on my porch (I'm not a 9-5er) and I blow off fireworks every 4th. Sometimes my roomie and I even invite fun looking people to hang out with us and drink. It's great having an alley.

jgs / November 8, 2005 5:38 PM

I think every alley should have a sign at its outlet into the street
"use your brakes, not your horn!"
seriously. who taught these weenises that you need to honk everytime you approach the mouth of or blind turn in an alley. Do they think because they honk, they have the right of way? that they can just go because their obnoxious honking gave you a heads up as to their imminent going? NO! goddamned honkeys.

Veronica / November 8, 2005 6:48 PM

Well, honking doesn't give them the right of way, but at least you have some idea a huge metal object is hurtling your way while you're trying to cross a street and maybe you should stop. I'm very careful when crossing in front of an alley, but some are really difficult to see around and I've almost been hit by cars that neither slowed down nor honked. I agree -- cars should use their brakes, but a honk every now and then can be a lifesaver, too. I'm just sayin'.

Stephen / November 8, 2005 7:38 PM

My alley is relatively non-exciting, standard mid-gentrification construction traffic and not much else.

I honk when exiting alleys because my neighborhood has a high amount of pedestrian traffic and I'd like to announce my presence when approaching an alley exit "blind." I'm not claiming a right of way, more just announcing my presence... because often pedestrians can't see me approaching, and I can't see them. But they can hear me - usually.

By the way, I also encourage all pedestrians to shreik like banshees when they cross alley exits.

Thurston / November 8, 2005 7:40 PM

At my old place in Bucktown, in the alleys there were signs to remind people that it was illegal to have sex for money back there.

dutch101 / November 8, 2005 7:50 PM

My current alley is very nice and quiet, but unexciting.

When I used to live in Wrigleyville, we had a homeless guy that we called "Laughing Man". Obviously completely off his nut, he used to wander around the alley at all hours, laughing and talking to himself in deisheveled looking clothes, occasionally with a shopping cart. I hadn't seen him in a year or two, since I moved, but today I saw him on Belmont, wearing a bicycle helmet and towing around one of those old-lady grocery carts. He wasn't laughing though.

jgs / November 8, 2005 8:28 PM

okay, but about the honking. I lived on the corner of an alley and the street, and the incessant honking was totally annoying and unnecessary. Peds can hear a car engine, especially if its bouncing off the narrow alley walls, assuming they aren't listening to their iPods so damn loud. If you're driving slow, as you should be out of an alley, everyone should have time to react and be safe.
But honking is one of the most obnoxious things cars can do, and drivers tend to do it with a frequency that suggests that they don't realize how sound carries into the buildings and lives that surround their cars. it's anti social dammit and should be curbed.

and yes, one could say that I'm honked off about it.

Leelah / November 8, 2005 8:50 PM

My alley is nice-ish... it's blind and only about four houses long. I'm on the corner, and I have a driveway, so it's like there isn't really an alley at all.

It is a party place for stray cats and raccoons though.

Shylo / November 8, 2005 9:23 PM

Sometimes, I think about moving to the suburbs, but when I do, I think about the alleys. How much cool stuff, from love letters to furniture to art, that I've found out there. The family of cats that moved from the alley to our backyard. Coming home, late at night, and seeing pristine, glittering snow.

Alleys are wonderful.

Andrew / November 8, 2005 10:30 PM

Our current alley is fairly active, but quiet. Our neighbors to the south like to fix cars, so they're back there working a lot. There are a couple of young teens across the alley who think it's funny to chuck CDs around to watch them shatter, which is less cool. But for the most part it's tame.

The alley next to our last place was a little more happening. We had a regular homeless patrol, and there was a terrible cover band that practiced in the garage across from us. They played the same couple of Doors and Led Zepplin songs over and over again, badly and loudly, always starting at around 10pm. And they never got better. We called the cops on them a couple of times when they continued till 1am.

R / November 8, 2005 11:56 PM

I hear a lot of feral cat fights; they can be terrifying to hear on a quiet night, because at first it sounds like a woman scream--okay, on second thought, maybe I hear a lot of girl fights in my alley

Bill / November 9, 2005 4:13 AM

Growing up in Chicago, the alley was our playground. We used to play lineball,* touch-football, jump ramps with our bikes and burned things, like refrigerator boxes.

Bill / November 9, 2005 4:18 AM

*Since alleys were too narrow for a softball diamond, we would divide the alley into sections and depending on where the ball would drop it would be a single, double, etc. If it were caught, an out. If it went in someone's yard (which it did, often), an out. Chicago's answer to stickball.

CHICAGOSTYLE / November 9, 2005 5:20 AM

back in the day the alley was everything. we owned that alley. crate ball all day, suicide off the wall. my alley was always tagged up. painting your garage used to be a weekly chore on my block yet my garage has never been touched in all the years my family has lived in this house 47yrs. then theres the colony of bums that used to chill on their couches under the L and drink. lol at 1 time they actually had a small battery operated TV. lol i remember the builing across the street had this drunk super from the south side "drunk joe". joe pissed his grey sweat pants while conversing with us during a crate ball game in the alley. i know of 1 murder that took place in my alley. i broke up a robbery once in a alley near belmont and sheffield. while taking my garbage out i once saw a man running from police hop the turnstyles at the brownline stop (i live next to a brown line stop), run up on the platform and jump right off of it. the guy lands in my yard, gets up and runs away. i was amazed. if that man got away id have to say he earned it. too many alley stories. wow i love this city. PS yuppification makes me ILL

ecobox / November 9, 2005 7:30 AM

My alley has the speeding drivers others have mentioned. It's a connector between the Sears Auto Center parking lot and Wolcott Ave (yes, the "ghetto" Sears on Lawrence, kids -- they need new lighting in that place!). People zing through like it's a speedway. And to add insult to injury, there's another alley behind the building that runs perpendicular to the first one. All kinds of honking going on. Best story recently, though, was the woman in a silver Civic coming out of the second alley, didn't honk, and got her bumper clipped and broken by a forest green Suburban. Poor Suburban guy -- dressed to the nines, gets out to apologize, and she tries to tear him a new one. All the while, commuters running to catch the Metra Union Pacific North line to downtown and the north suburbs, ignoring the spectacle like it was a normal occurrence.

I love my alley.

loir / November 9, 2005 8:28 AM

funny, I was just at the Sears at 6 corners and was thinking they need more light there, so it must just be a sears thing

my alley is packed with kids playing ball, most of whom I know, and they feel free to open my gate and get their ball, which often lets out the dog and the toddler, and causes me to turn into bitch neighbor. Nothing new for them though. They have all started swearing a lot this year (throw the fuckin ball you fuckin asshole!)
maybe they learned it from me.

We had an old lady living next door to us, who ended up demented and holed up in her bathroom for a few days before she was taken out by force and put in a home (where she is doing well I hear) but she came out and quavered to us about how the alley "used to be heaven, and now it's hell on earth!"

apparently our alley used to be paved with gold! and now satan has moved in and let the weeds grow up around their garages.

we have a collection of drunks who occasionally score a couch and turn part of the alley into a groovy crash pad/bathroom.

Once a hawk spent the whole day perched in a huge pine tree on the other side of the alley.

We also call the Junquero's "bottom feeders". My kids are always amazed at how many nice looking bikes those guys find "in the trash".

Staci / November 9, 2005 8:43 AM

My alley isn't so bad. On Sundays there is a lot of traffic because the church parking lot behind my building allows cars to leave through the alley, so you have to watch that the churchfolk racing to get home don't hit you. Other than that, it's fairly calm, which is good because most of the people who live in my building have to walk through the alley to get to the laundry room. One day I saw a man tacking a picture to a telephone pole in the alley, and upon closer inspection is was a pic of a naked lady sitting on a picnic table. Kinda funny.

C-Note / November 9, 2005 8:47 AM

My alley goes behind a bunch of restaurants on Damen in Bucktown, man, and there's like this dead rat, man, that's been sitting there for like two weeks, and it's all nasty and bloated and stinking, and like, other rats have been chewing on him.

bam / November 9, 2005 9:03 AM

regarding what jgs wrote: I've always been told that you're supposed to honk when coming out of your garage or an alley. I would really like to say it was part of the state driver's test, but I won't swear to that. And you can't hear all cars coming, particularly hybrids are very quiet when moving through an alley. You can go as slow as possible but if someone's jogging past, a little (and I do mean, little, not laying on the horn) beep as you approach the street is just good safety sense. I lived at the end of an alley for years, and I just considered it part of the soundtrack of the city, not a major annoyance.

never honked, never hit / November 9, 2005 9:34 AM

Almost every stupid self-centered asshole who parks in my alley honks their horn which they feel gives them the license to come screaming out of the alley at 30 mph. There is no law that says you are supposed to honk your horn - - that's ridiculous. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that if you slow your goddamn car down and are alert, you won't hit pedestrians. I've lived on alley ends before too, so it's not as if I "should've known" there'd be honking. These people LOVE to honk - - sometimes five or six times.

Pete / November 9, 2005 9:47 AM

Mine is overgrown with weeds (several of them approaching shrub or even tree status) that I really should have cleared out this summer. Maybe next year.

No good stories, unfortunately (or fortunately, based on some of the stories here).

MikeH / November 9, 2005 9:52 AM

My alley now is fairly quiet, but the best alley of any place I've ever rented was without a doubt the alley behind Wilton Ave. just north of Belmont...

"The Alley" entrance was in my alley. The alley was also cobblestone until they paved over it while I lived there (what a shame--this was the last remaining remnant of the original Clark Street, I was told)...

Also, there was a house (not a coachhouse, but a house!) smack dab in the middle of the alley behind my place, positioned at a weird angle...

And of course, due to its location, there was never a shortage of homeless people and dope-smoking punks walkin' through my alley...

Kevin / November 9, 2005 10:09 AM

Whether you like the sound of horns or not, I do appreciate when people honk. My dog has a tendency to charge into the alley entrance (actually walking him is one long charging session), and it's saved us both from being hit any number of times.

Those homeless guys that go through dumptsers can acutally turn the cans they find in for money in a recycling program. So don't give them too hard a time unless they deposit the contents of your dumpster in to the alley and don't put it back.

Our alley is mostly notable for the parade of rats that take place shortly after dark. Also some punk kids down the alley that race, and have nearly run me down half dozen times. They don't need horns to announce them, but you're taking your life into your own hands when they're out.

never honked, never hit / November 9, 2005 10:19 AM

Wow, I need to somehow find peace with my current situation or I will burn a hole in my stomach.

A positive alley story: I lived in the 5300 block of N. Wayne in Lakewood Balmoral. The alley is still brick, so people drive slower. The home lots are wide so there is a lot of space between garages. There are so many huge trees in people's back yards that the alley is prettier than many sidestreets in Chicago. The view off our back porch was almost like the Botanical Gardens. We had possums and racoons, along with tons of squirrels and unique birds. Squirrels used to try to follow me into the kitchen. It was a little unreal seeing all the Saabs and BMWs and Volvos. Lots of kids played in the alley and I saw a junquero at least daily. No fireworks ever. Baptist church bells on the hour.

Brian / November 9, 2005 10:38 AM

I remember the olde Beverly Basketball League. It was a 2 on 2 league where each team traveled to the other teams "home court". Our home court was behind my buddies house in the alley at 101st and washtenaw. Drinkin' shootin hoops, and listening to Bob Segar through the 8 track with the trunk up. Everytime I hear Hollwood Nights I think of basketball now.

mookie / November 9, 2005 10:40 AM

in regards to the whole honking issue, i too was taught to honk when coming out an alley and know a lot of other people who have been taught the same thing. honestly, i think anyone with an ounce of sense should slow down and be alert but in addition, honk as well. i don't think it has anything to do with being self centered or being an asshole. sure some people get carried away with the honking (i know b/c i live by an alley as well) but i think it's more for preventative reasons than anything else. there are worse things to be upset about than motorists who are trying to be cautious. :)

Katie / November 9, 2005 10:49 AM

bam and mookie are correct. you are supposed to honk. i can state for a fact that it is on the state driving test.

leah / November 9, 2005 10:51 AM

Re: honking--I distinctly recall in driver's ed in IL being told that you should honk when exiting an alley. I don't drive, but when I did, I'd do it.

However, when I think honk, I think more like beep, like a tap. Just a little "bip!" AND also you slow to a complete stop almost. Not laying on the sucker like a maniac.

I always crane my giraffe neck around the corner into an alley upon approach. Peeps don't be stopping--nevah. I like the screaming like a banshee approach as well.

This all being said, I am generally anti-honk in most all situations. I find it to be rude and bossy. One of the funniest jokes my boyfriend (thought) he had back when I still drove was to lean over and pretend like he was going to honk the horn because I would freak.

The honk at an alley, I think, is more courteous than confrontational.

sarah / November 9, 2005 10:55 AM

i love my alley. my neighbors constantly put stuff in it that i want. it's not like i live in a ritzy area (albany park). In my actual alley I have found: 2 large boxes of comic books in great condition, an osmonds vinyl record, a rocking chair, a tv, a folding table for laundry, a useful wheeled cart, and probably other stuff that I don't remember. Chicago alleys are fucking magnificent. or, i'm crazy. either way, it works for me.

Andrew / November 9, 2005 10:56 AM

I've got a hybrid, and I know that people can't hear me coming. I always slow down at the alley entrance, and honk about 50% of the time.

I think a good solution would be to put small speedbumps at the mouths of alleys -- not huge, but big enough to slow down speeders (with a break in the middle to let rainwater through).

Feety MacGurk / November 9, 2005 11:16 AM

My last alley was a complex place. On the east side were the porches of a lot of fairly pricey family condos and two huge houses with yards; on the west side were the porches of mid-to-cheap rent apartments inhabited by grad students and young university staff, plus the drugs building. The east-side families usually didn't even look at us on the west side, let alone remember our faces (or at least they pretended not to).

The drugs building was all studio apartments available month to month and was part of a city program guaranteeing the rents of gang members who were supposedly trying to reform but were in fact selling weed on a large scale. Once the city program became public knowledge, the music pounding out of there at 3 AM changed from hip-hop to Mexican oom-pah-pah music as the gangstas were kicked out and the place filled up with illegal kitchen workers.

There were also raccoons living in the alley --- from my porch I would watch them sneak along under the cars, never noticed by the people around, who didn't understand why their dogs were spazzing out. One July 4th a big raccoon was on the rooftop across from me, scared out of its wits by the rockets going off everywhere.

Favorite memory: my "little buddies," two tiny Mexican boys whose window faced my porch. They thought I was the funniest person in the world just sitting there reading and making faces at them. They would say "carro" and hold up their toy cars for me to see, or something like "sucre" (I don't habla, unfortunately) and open their mouths to show me the candy they were eating. They never answered when I spoke. When I moved out I gave them a heartfelt goodbye, but they just looked puzzled and giggled at me.

Now I don't have a porch or an alley, and very little community life, not coincidentally.

mookie / November 9, 2005 11:16 AM

with all this honking stuff, i didn't get to tell my alley story. when i used to live in wicker park, there were these hoodlum kids that were into stealing cars and racing them down our alley, which lead into a large parking lot at the end (division and bosworth). i was always worried that i'd hear them crash into the parked cars in the lot. that and the occasional gun shootings were always great to wake up to at 3:00 in the morning. :(

now in logan square, i have the junqueros and neighbors that decide to go on their deck at 11 pm and have debates that i can clearly hear in my bedroom. once, my boyfriend over heard two crackheads arguing over who got the bigger rock. ah well, better than the wicker park hoodlums.

Erica / November 9, 2005 11:30 AM

Alley mechanics. Lots of Corona drinkin', little bit of actual mechanical work.

I used to live one door down from a junquero and his junk yard dog. I loathed him and his crusty, pissy hound.

Some bloody mess of a woman who was being chased by a psycho boyfriend (pimp, who knows) ran frantically into our garage when we lived in Logan Square. My husband dumped a half-bottle of peroxide on her bleeding hand and gave her a few bucks to take the El the fuck away.

Come to think of it, our current alley is sort of boring.

researcher / November 9, 2005 11:33 AM

Can anyone find any legitimate link that authorizes or suggests honking when exiting an alley? I could find none here:

Here's what I did find:

Legal alley speed limit is 15 MPH in IL.

Special Stops ... you're supposed to stop before exiting an alley:

"Alleys and Driveways

In urban areas, drivers must come to a complete stop before entering the sidewalk area when moving out of an alley, building, private road or driveway. If there is no sidewalk, stop at a point nearest the street or roadway where there is a view of approaching traffic. After stopping, yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and all vehicles."

Repeatedly honking the horn is considered aggressive driving:

The only references I could find to honking were the one above (aggressive driving) and a study question with one multiple choice answer advising drivers to honk when approaching a construction area - - and it was the wrong answer.

C / November 9, 2005 11:43 AM

Once a cart pusher was orating for about 10 minutes with his arms outstreched like he was some sort of politician. My girlfriend and I started cheering and clapping. He proceeded to thank the audience and then left. It was hilarious.

whatthe / November 9, 2005 1:06 PM

I notice quite a few people find the antics of the less fortunate funny. Let us pray you will neither be less fortunate or laughed at.

miss / November 9, 2005 1:12 PM

my alley is fairly boring but my friend's alley smells like churros at night because of the churro bakery around the corner. they smell amazing but when i tried one, they were cold and stale. sad, sad, churro tragedy.

also, last weekend i was walking my bike to my friend's back door and this small red car rolled slowly past us, blasting salsa music. when they reached the end of the alley, they all clinked bottles of beer together (driver included), cheered, drank, and kept driving. amazing!

bam / November 9, 2005 1:39 PM

Who's this BAM above posting as BAM? Something fishy going on here - I thought I was BAM. Maybe I'll have to become yet another bam (YAB) like yet another jen (YAJ). would be a fine addy, though I doubt verizon will sell it to me.

As to alleys, I second what JEN said as it seems we share an alley. Nie to meet you neightbor! It was a lot louder this 4th than yrs past...but go a block or two north and it gets really insane -- interestingly it's a bunch of chicago's finest on that block with the pro-grade explosives.

FlowFeel / November 9, 2005 2:32 PM

If you need a cat hair infested sofa or some old Boys Life magazines i just threw some in the alley between Campbell and Western off Leland!

printdude / November 9, 2005 2:47 PM

My alley?
Cement slaps of goodness, with two inch slot down the middle for water to run directly into the storm drains.
The garbage men I am particularly fond of: I often forget to take my cans out to the alley proper, and when I do, they come in my yard and empty them into their truck, then replacing the cans in my yard. I love the garbage men! only once did they seems upset, and threw the cans into the yard, but then, I had filled the cans with the rocks from my recently destroyed bathroom wall, and well, i cannot blame the garbage men for my failure to abide by the law of garbage!
I do like the term "junkeros" - it seems that ever half hour or sooner, a modified late model pick-up truck cruises the alley looking for what may have been missed by the other garbage cruisers.

misty / November 9, 2005 3:01 PM

RE: honking at the end of the alley. Don't fucking do it. Use your breaks not your horn. Slow down and LOOK for pedestrians and puppies before proceding. It IS on the driver's test, it's a trick question! Infact, as researcher said, there is an implied stop sign at the end of all alleys. I'll jump on your goddamn hood if you honk at me again!

My alley is awesome. One neighbor runs a successful crack and/or meth dealership out of it, while the neighbor kids enjoy fun-filled afternoons setting rats on fire and feeding live chickens to their pit-bull. The scrappers are the most effective recycling program in Chicago. I leave my cans in a separate bag outside of the garbage bin and they are usually picked up within the hour.

Paula / November 9, 2005 3:11 PM

My alley is pretty tame - mostly two-flats and a couple of smaller apartment buildings. We get daily visits from the junqueros and there's also an older man who goes through looking for cans - some people leave them out for him in a seperate bag hooked to their fence.

Nothing too exciting except for the enormous rat problem last summer - enormous both in size and quantity. My alley T's into another alley that runs behind some sketchy restaurants and a Serbian social club. One night I was coming home and cut down the alley and there was an overstuffed and half-open dumpster behind the social club (later temporarily closed by the health department for, among other things, storing dairy products in their garage). There were about 20-25 rats merrily jumping in and around the dumpster and snaking through the openings in the abutting chain link fence - it gave me the absolute willies. Luckily someone connected to the alderman's office lives on the alley and we had the rat patrol out in full force over the next two months eradicating the problem.

annie / November 9, 2005 3:21 PM

the most interesting thing about our alley is probably due to us. since nobody in our building actually owns a car, our garage is set up clubhouse style with couches and a tv to watch sports/movies. most of the people who drive by in the summer are either very confused by the sight or wave with happiness.

and if you were lucky enough to come to our last shin-dig you would've witnessed some great shopping cart races and betting!

p / November 9, 2005 3:30 PM

refrigerator boxes aren't for burning they are for forts. alleys are for smoking buddha out of pop cans. also for set fights after school. occasionally for sleeping for some. no pooping in alleys please. most alleys are for finding things and sometimes versions of basketball. if you find a grass alley- nickname it the grassy knoll and play tackle in it forever and it's golden goodtimes ahead. also honking is acceptable even with a look both ways, especially with larger vehicles such as work trucks. oh and make out sessions for adventure but don't undress too much because the experience might turn gross because sometimes people poop and make out there. i love alleys even more than parks (which can accomidate any alley activities). i challenge anyone to offer an alley activity not translated to parklife.

libby / November 9, 2005 3:52 PM

one time these dudes crashed into this 3 foot high metal pole in my alley. the car got stuck on the pole because the front of the car was all hooked onto the pole. for about twenty minutes they attempted to dislodge the car from the pole, but to no avail. in the end they fled the scene... i think the car was stolen and stuff.

another time, i was moving into my third floor apartment via the alley and this family was roasting a pig in their backyard. they stopped the roasting to help me and my family carry some stuff. what's up nice people?

i like alleys & i honk.

sky / November 9, 2005 3:55 PM

When I lived in old town, they were doing construction across the alley, so there was a portapotty right behind our garage. ONe night we were out back and saw something sparking inside the potty every few seconds...we called the cops (because someone had been shitting in our garage, and my car had been broken into) and the cops came and knocked on the potty and were replied to by someone shouting, "who's there? what do you want?" Needless to say 2 people finally came out and were caught smokin the crack rock. Gooooood times. Usually the only crack in portapotties are leaning over the toilet. Badumdum.

Susana / November 9, 2005 3:57 PM

Walking down my alley on a Friday night this past Summer, a friend of mine and I crashed a garage party. We drank their beer, danced with their friends, ate their food, and left.

An acquaintance of mine once was extremely drunk, and he just couldn't wait, so being the trash that he is, he took a dump in the alley, planning on coming back with a plastic bag and disposing of it properly. However, when he came back, it was gone!

Seven years ago, there was a squirrel in Andersonville that had a red bow tied around its neck. Don't ask me how or why.

Those are my stories.

e_five / November 9, 2005 4:31 PM

I live near Devon Ave. and when the weather is nice, Indian and Pakistani kids come out into the alley between my building and the wall of the El to play cricket.

Matt / November 9, 2005 5:42 PM

I live in Rogers Park and a guy got beaten to death in our alley two summers ago. Yikes.

jgs / November 9, 2005 6:20 PM

when I moved down to hyde park I left behind my honkey tonk alley of uptown, and now I don't have an alley. Instead the honks comes from the traffic at the school across the street. Mornings and afternoons parents honk at their kids, honk at the other cars and it seems to me, honk at anything.
but this means that I don't feel comfortable throwing out large things, because they'll just sit on the sidewalk until garbage day, which is way too new york for my taste. Needless to say most of the things I'd like to get rid of are broken chairs and other miscellany I've found in alleys. It just breaks the cycle to put the junk out on the street when it's alley begotten, and to the alley it should return.

Virginia / November 9, 2005 10:51 PM

When I was moving out of my old building a couple months ago, I was making several trips to the dumpster in the alley to pitch all of this unnecessary stuff that I had accumulated over my stay. As I began to throw out a part of my bed frame (as it had lived for too long), I encountered this random elderly French woman in the alley. Picking up on her accent quickly (and being a Francophone myself), I began to speak with her. Apparently she lives in the building immediately to the east, and just likes to loiter in the alley in order to converse with neighbors. I thought that was sweet of her in some sort of gemeinschaft way... but a bit worrysome, seeing that it was 90 degrees outside at the time.

Mark / November 10, 2005 1:12 PM

I know this is a bit further back in the list, but Honking in Alleys is only a symptom of another f***ing problem. You shouldn't be driving in my alley anyway unless you live there. Seriously, the streets are for driving, if you live on my block and pull your car out of your garage, you don't have enough space to pick up enough speed to need to honk.

AvanMoxie / November 10, 2005 3:14 PM

There's only one garage between mine and the street. It's not about picking up speed, because I go through my alley very slowly and just about stop when I come to the end. As has been said ad nauseum, beeping is about safety. Sometimes people can't hear you coming, like hybrids as someone said above, or new cars like mine that are really quiet. Even if you stop before you get to the street (I'm assuming that you're stopping to check if a car is coming once you get to the street), you can't see around the corner unless you proceed past the sidewalk, which defeats the purpose of stopping before the street. So you let out a short beep to alert people to your presence. Like how servers in restaurants walking by with huge trays of food say "behind you" just so you're aware of them. Or is that noise pollution too?

I'd never have thought this would be such a controversy.

for sale / November 10, 2005 3:19 PM

For Sale 74 Chevrolet El Camino, perfect alley car, No muffler so everyone can hear and smell you are coming and lots of room in the back for your daily pickins. Call me at 588-2300

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