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Maxwell Street Update (cribbed from chi.eats)

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Vital Information Nov 2, 2001 02:34 PM

For immediate release 11/01/01
Contact: Steve Balkin, Maxwell Street Coalition, 312-341-3696; Email: mar@topicbox.com
Maxwell Street Hot Dog Stands Reopen and Blues Returns
Two historic hot dog stands from the old Maxwell Street area,
Original Jim’s and Maxwell Street Express, are reopening formally on Friday,
November 2, 2001 at noon. The new stands are on S. Union Street, just south
of Roosevelt Rd, between Roosevelt Rd and O’Brien. Union Street is one block
east of Halsted. Legendary Maxwell Street Blues musicians, Jimmie Lee
Robinson, Frank ‘Little Sonny’ Scott Jr., Mr. H., Clarence Lill Scotty, and
Bobbi Davis will be on hand for the event.
These two hot stands, formerly at the corner of Maxwell Street and Halsted,
about six blocks away, are owned by the original families that founded them,
the Stefanovic and Lazerevski families (cousins). These families invented the
Maxwell Street Polish sausage, a Chicago signature food and were at the center
of the old Maxwell Street Market.
Says Frank Scott Jr., "This is so sad but also sweet. We weep for the
neighborhood -- the people, businesses, and buildings -- needlessly destroyed.
And we celebrate that these businesses were able to hang on and relocate.
These are the only two allowed to relocate. There is just a hangnail left of
old Maxwell Street, like a sliver from the Cross of Jesus. It is so rare and
precious. I hope people will come out and support us. There should be room
for everyone."
Says Bluesman Jimmie Lee Robinson, "I see too much destruction in this world.
Here in Chicago we are losing our precious old neighborhoods from insider
political tricks. And in New York and Afghanistan people are losing their
lives from outsider violence. Morality is the issue, the cure for our
problems. I would like to see and hope that peace all over comes soon. To
bring that on, I am starting a fast for world peace. I wish I could go to
Afghanistan to play for our troops and all our Muslim, Christian, Jewish,
Buddhist, and Hindu brothers and sisters."
Steve Balkin, Professor of Economics at Roosevelt University and Vice
President of the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition, comments,
"UIC, with its political deals, broken promises, and billion dollar budget,
was able to beat up, bully, and destroy Maxwell Street. I know they were and
still are proud of what they did. The original landmark hot dog stands were
destroyed and these two new replacement stands were outcast but allowed to
operate only because they were ordered as the settlement of a court case.
There are two more businesses fighting to be allowed to stay in the
neighborhood, Paul and Bill’s Tailor shop at 719 W. Maxwell and Reverend
Johnson’s Blues Bus music store. And the artists and activists at 716 W.
Maxwell Street are fighting in court for survival. We also hope UIC does not
destroy the old Romanian synagogue (now Gethemene Baptist Church) on Union by
Liberty. UIC got everything it wanted. Can’t it finally stop this purge and
let these last remnants stay?"
Balkin says further, "The Maxwell Street hot dog stands and the Blues
on the street are important Chicago traditions. The fate of this tradition now
lies with the people of Chicago. They have to vote with their dollars and feet
to come regularly to buy food at these hot dog stands, and put money in the
hands of the old timer Blues street musicians who still perform there. We
welcome all: the old neighborhood people, the students in the UIC dorms, as
well as the new residents of University Village and folks from all over
Chicago. People complain about the McDonaldization of America, a loss of a
sense of place. Eating at these remnant places is a responsible way to show
you care about keeping some semblance of the past of what made Chicago great;
and to ward off the sameness that makes our built environments increasingly
anonymous, cold, segregated, and sterile."