February 24, 2014

2003: Rainbo Club @ Ukrainian Village & Wicker Park

Above: Rainbo Club interior, candid, on February 28, 2003.
Rainbo Club
1150 N. Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL

On November 30, 1988, while a student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the author turned 21. Employed as a carpenter's laborer by John van Amerongen, who then ran SAIC's foundry, the author was treated to a tour of Damen Avenue taverns at the end of his hard, working day. Beginning at the Rainbo Club, 1150 N. Damen Avenue, and ending at Danny's, 2100 N. Damen Avenue, the author was introduced to the Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, and Bucktown neighborhoods which would define his social territory for the next decade.

Things changed. Ken, who had in the 80s been at the door of the Rainbo in a black Zildjian shirt and MA-1 flyer's jacket, moved behind the bar. And the Haggerty boys, who had been behind the bar, were gone altogether. Ernie, Eddie, Miriam, Dru: they all disappeared. Almost everything which the author had known vanished at some point in the 90s.

Time passed. Down on his luck, sleeping in his taxi, the author returned, with a camera, to the Rainbo in 2003. The building was the same; the people inside the building were different.

"I wish you guys would come back," said Ken.

"I'm not in the neighborhood much, anymore," the author replied.

"The neighborhood isn't in the neighborhood, anymore," said Ken.

Above: Alliance Bakery, 1736 W. Division Street, display window for Saint Valentine's Day, 2003.
Above: Smoke it while you shake it with a Bakelite ashtray on the urinal in the Rainbo on February 28, 2003.
Above: Under the Blue Line to O'Hare, along Milwaukee Avenue, the Winter of 2003.
Above: Random guy on crutches threatens to "kick my ass because I'm trying to make him look bad," outside Rainbo, 2003.
Above: Alliance Bakery, background, and Maria's, foreground, on Division Street in 2003.
Above: Random shot of Ken's butt in the Rainbo, 2003.
Above: The soul-crushing walk home alone, in the alley, under the Blue Line, in a heavy snow, bathed in sodium light, 2003.
Above: Rainbo bar top in 2003; they drank a lot of Stella.
Above: Sinibar, 1540 N. Milwaukee Avenue, in 2003.
Above: Rainbo Club interior, candid, February 28, 2003.
Above: The author in the Rainbo on February 28, 2003, when he still had long, dark hair and smiled.
Images (1-12) January, February, and March 2003;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.

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