i was in cincinnati this past weekend for the 4th of july and my mom's birthday. i got to eat and drink for free, play cornhole, toss a baseball around, hang out with the posse, and watch $2,000 worth of fireworks be shot off in a backyard. all in all, it was a damn fine weekend.
one of my favorite parts, however, was the five minutes i spent in the riddle road market. if you know me well, you know all about the strong affinity i hold for the hole in the wall market on the corner of riddle and marshall. for a couple of years, i lived in a house across the street from there and frequented it daily. regrettably, i moved away in 2006 only to move back to riddle in 2007, partially just to be close to the market again. i fucking love that place. there are various reasons.
i'm a neighborhood kind of person. i love where i live in chicago because it has a neighborhood feel that areas like wicker park or wrigleyville lack in my opinion. it has a small, unimpressive, yet beautifully charming farmer's market on sundays. people smile and say hello to complete strangers in passing. the neighborhood's striving to open up a food co-op that i recently became a member of. bricks were thrown through windows when a starbucks began construction to open up a store last fall. see what i mean? neighborhood and banning together.
the market is the central nervous system of the riddle neighborhood. i walk in there and they know my name. they seem to know everyone's name. they know what i'm getting to drink and what kind of cigarettes i'm buying. this is a reassuring and comforting feeling. a gatorade costs a dollar. i don't want change and the market doesn't give it to me. they host a block party and cook out hot dogs on random occasions. they sell single cigarettes. the owner john comes to parties on the street at like 3 in the morning with alcohol, and if we run out we go get more at like 5 in the morning for free because guess what? he's got the keys. this has happened on several separate occasions. at the beginning of each quarter of school john purchases a wall of nati light that enshrouds the windows of the market and you get to slowly watch it get chipped away at by the uc frat dudes. the market was robbed three times in the span of three months and john got shot in the leg because he basically refused to give the criminals shit. when it snows outside, he snowblows the sidewalks up and down the street, not just in front of the market.
my ex-roommates and i are also slightly suspicious that john is the leader of a drug ring and the market's the hub of operations. pretty sure drugs are dealt out of there. that's as neighborhood as it gets.
given, i latch on to places and romanticize them to everyone. i know i do that. whatever. however, any place that will still cook me a pizza on a pita even though they stopped making them like two years ago is typically gonna be a fucking solid and reliable establishment.
this post is really going nowhere and i didn't really intend for it to. it's an ode. i miss cincinnati for reasons like this. places like the market make me smile. i used to go out of my way to drive there during the few rare occasions of my life when i didn't live on riddle.
and every time i visit, i still make it a point to stop by.