Twenty Years on Spaulding Avenue

Just a few days ago marked my 20th year in my apartment building on Spaulding Ave. in Chicago. When I moved in back in 1997, the neighborhood was pretty rough. On the day my landlord Joe let me in, spray-painted across the door were the words “You’re gonna die, Joe!”. He looked at the graffiti, nodded nonchalantly, and said “Don’t worry about it. That’s for me.”

Joe had just bought the building and the former landlord had been intimidated into letting a few of the old tenants stay there rent-free, so it’s safe to assume kicking them out gained him some enemies who may have been handy with a can of spray-paint, but not with following through on violent threats.

From 97-2000 I lived on the first floor in a 1-bedroom where I recorded almost all of my album Roadstar. In 2000, I moved into a different unit in the building that has 2 bedrooms, sunroom, and a huge kitchen. And that’s where I still live today.


I’m a proud citizen of Albany Park, which (according to Wiki) is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the nation. While it’s true that there has been some gentrification over the past decade, the majority of families are from Mexico (mostly from the state of Michoacan), Guatemala, Ecuador, the Philippines, India, Korea, Cambodia, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon. It’s as if the whole world is here and I love it!