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But nothing like Chicago…

I have seen a lot of trash in the last few years.
Copious amounts of junk even in mostly-clean Portland, OR. Litter by the curb full in New York. And of course, my daily haul in Charlotte.
But nothing compares to the West Side of Chicago.
As I walked from my son’s place on West Huron up Ashland to Division in search for a cup of coffee, the sheer volume and diversity of stuff thrown aside was beyond belief. I cannot adequately describe it.
As I exited the Starbucks a small Walgreens bag was blowing by. I sped up a few steps to retrieve it and began my chore – pick up what I could.
But it became very clear very quickly that the bag would be overwhelmed very fast. The prioritization was equally fast; plastic only. By the third block the little Walgreens bag was filled with a dozen to 15 flattened Aquafina, Dasani and Coca Cola bottles (among others).
Luckily enough, the breeze brought along a Target bag and now my pathway recycling saw a new burst of energy. I could get bottle caps and plastic wrappers. Yet a couple of blocks short of Reid’s place, the new bag was maxxed out.
I don’t know if Mayor Rahm Emanuel pays much attention to this sort of urban blight, but he should. If the route of Ashland to Division to Paulina to West Huron is any indication, he’d better start to. Yesterday’s grade is now downgraded: F+.


About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

2 Comments on But nothing like Chicago…

  1. Garbero Photography // June 25, 2013 at 1:42 am // Reply

    I noticed this too. I live in Garfield park and I am blown away by the trash! (Just moved here from Portland Oregon) I went to boystown Friday night for PRIDE and the sidewalks were COVERED with trash after just one night! The trash cans were over flowing! I just don’t get it. How can a city be so dirty? My street isn’t too bad. I have noticed neighbors hang plastic bags on their iron fences. I assume people walking by put there trash in them. Out of all the things I hate about Chicago (and there is a lot!!!) the trash everywhere is what I hate the most!

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