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04/06/2010

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Johnny Yen

Dan-- my son and I enjoyed meeting you during your visit to the Book Cellar here in Chicago.

After reading your book, I was curious about where Kingman's restaurant was. I discovered, to my surprise, that it was right around the corner from my home-- I live at Western and Cullom, which is about 4300 N. Western, and the restaurant was on the 4000 block of Western, less than three blocks from where I live now. And it was also just a few blocks from where your appearance was!

This area was indeed really shitty in the early eighties; it was still pretty rough when I moved here after college, in 1986 (it has since gentrified). It's actually less than two miles from Wrigley; there is actually parking for Wrigley games at Lane Tech, which is at Western and Addison, about 14 blocks west of Wrigley. It seems like it would have made more sense for Kingman to have the place closer to Wrigley, but in the early eighties, the area right around Wrigley was even rougher than where he ended up putting it.

Again, enjoyed your book immensely! I'll be reviewing it on my blog soon, though I think I only have about ten readers these days-- I haven't been able to post as much since starting nursing school.

Dan Epstein

Thank you, Johnny! I remember you guys from the Book Cellar - that was a really fun event!

I'm glad you dug the book, and I'm happy to have you corroborate the fact that, yes, that was a really shitty part of town back then; I've gotten some static from other Chicagoans for portraying it as such, but come ON - I lived in Chicago from 1980 to 1993, and I vividly remember getting hassled by local gang members on the way to and from Wrigley in the pre-Sandberg days. Ditto for when I took driver's ed at Lane Tech on weekends circa '83!

Still, I have to say I miss the funkiness of pre-Daley II Chicago. Every time I go back, it feels less and less like the place I grew up...

corner wine cabinet

Impressed :)

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Dan Epstein

  • Dan Epstein is the author of Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s and Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76, both published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press. He writes about baseball, music and other cultural obsessions for a variety of outlets and publications. He lives in Southern California, and is available for speaking engagements.