Tag Archives: old town

I Just Couldn’t

(for Nelson Algren)

The last time I saw Nelson
He was wearing khaki trousers and an old Navy P-Coat
He had a wrinkled cigar in one hand and a silver pocket-watch in the other
One of the lenses in his glasses was cracked

He was getting into an old blue Chevy he had thumbed down in the rain
On North Avenue near Wells Street by the Wagon Wheel
He looked over his shoulder and half-waved good bye
I just kind of stood there and rocked on my feet
I sort of watched the Chevy pulled away

I turned to walk home that’s when I saw the copper flash
Lincoln looking up from the curb but I just couldn’t pick it up
I just couldn’t pick it up

Old Town: Today

Still trying to figure out why Old Town still smells of piss and Fritos
The whites with the greens tried to erase the blacks
But they couldn’t eradicate the smell of piss and Fritos
This isn’t Bucktown – where the smell is more integral to the scene
This is Old Town which hardly seems as old today as it once was
Everything relevant that once made this neighborhood sing is gone
Everything relevant has been replaced by shitty bars and golden arches

When we were kids our parents would take us to visit this exotic land
People – unlike our neighbors – strutted about like dirty peacocks
People – unlike our neighbors – crept into the littered alleys at dusk
Back then – none of us noticed the smell of piss and Fritos as much
We were kids – we were visual – we were amazed
Now a couple generations and everything amazing removed
I have to wonder why old Town still smells like piss and Fritos.