Culture Vultures: Wilson Yards Skateboard Shop, Lucky Peach, and Mount Bridgeport | Culture Vultures | Chicago Reader

Culture Vultures: Wilson Yards Skateboard Shop, Lucky Peach, and Mount Bridgeport 

In-the-know Chicagoans tell the Reader what they're watching, reading, and seeing

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Fred Sasaki, associate editor, Poetry magazine, has fallen for:

Wilson Yards Skateboard Shop

click to enlarge OSCAR ARRIOLA
  • Oscar Arriola

This basement storefront is home to an independent pit stop for skaters, several blocks from the Wilson skate park at Lake Shore Drive. The owner, Gabriel, offers affordable boards and gear, plus friendly advice. The community is strong, with kids hanging out in a positive environment. Gabriel started Wilson Yards to give kids good trouble to get into after being saved himself by skating. "It's a family thing," he says.

I live in Uptown and recently bought my seven-year-old son a board at Wilson Yards—and one for myself. We've loved skating around and meeting neighboring skaters. This past weekend I rolled down Wilson with him in tow and a man asked, "Do you want to buy an ice pop for your brother?" He paused. "This is your brother, no?" Happy and somewhat embarrassed I told him that the boy is my son. "Ay Dios mio!" he exclaimed, exasperated. My skateboard will keep me young if it kills me.

Michael Slaboch, talent buyer at the Hideout, goes fuzzy for:

Lucky Peach Issue #1

click to enlarge luckypeach_magnum.jpg

To describe the inaugural issue of Lucky Peach—a quarterly food journal put out by McSweeneys and Momofuku's David Chang—in one word, it would have to be definitive. As in: 176 pages of everything you ever wanted to know about ramen. It features eye-catching cartographic explanations of the soup's transformations throughout Japan over the centuries; a weeklong travelogue with Chang and friends slurping down bowl after bowl as they stumble around Tokyo; a deep history lesson on instant ramen; a complete breakdown of Seventh Ward Ramen in New Orleans ("Ghetto Pho" as the locals call it); a drunken roundtable with Anthony Bourdain, Wylie Dufresne, and Chang discussing mediocre food culture in America; and a dozen or so recipes to try out at home in one stunning page layout after another—which makes this quarterly food porn at its finest. Soup's on!

Chuck Sudo, editor of, can't get over:

"Mount Bridgeport"

click to enlarge CHARLIE VINZ
  • Charlie Vinz

The Henry C. Palmisano Nature Park in Bridgeport is 27 acres of land whose history can be traced back to the early days of Chicago's incorporation. Originally a quarry owned by Marcus Cicero Stearns, the dolomitic limestone from here was used in the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and continued to be mined for another century. In 1969 the quarry, now at a depth of 387 feet below street level, became a landfill for clean construction debris.

The Park District began turning it into a nature park in 2004; the park opened two years ago. A retention pond sits 40 feet below street level with a cascading water system. The hill that serves as the park's centerpiece rises 33 feet above street level and provides one of the most stunning views of the Chicago skyline, set one of Chicago's classic neighborhoods.

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