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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Puzzle of Picasso

So this is the graffiti masterpiece Picasso sprayed up over at 36th and Kedzie back in the summer. I'm the one who persuaded his mother that all graffiti is not gangbanging, that it can be art, and that he wouldn't get busted for doing it there. (Picasso told me it was a permission wall and looking around on line at some graffiti message boards, that seemed to be true.) I think it's pretty good, for what little I know. And I don't even know what it says, but I know enough about gang graffiti to know this doesn't say anything obviously representing. (Of course, if I'm wrong, tell me.)

That level of uncertainty should tell you how things stand between me and Picasso of late. This afternoon, a woman on the block I'll refer to as La Chismosa collared me to talk about Joey and Picasso. "They're up to no good," she said. She's most worried about Joey. "I think he's a good kid at heart, but he's the youngest and he wants to be accepted," she observed, probably accurately. She told me she overheard Picasso tell him he almost kicked somebody's ass in a fight, then asked why he held back. "Next time, I want to see you leave a mark," she quoted him saying. This is not the Picasso I know. But I'm sure she didn't make it up.

I was thinking about this tonight while grocery shopping and picking up a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond for Ines. She and her cousin and I went to the library this afternoon to find it--Ines needs to read it for school and write a two-page report, due Friday--but they didn't have it. Today was Ines' 13th birthday, so I told her I would go get it and that would be her birthday present. By the time I got back from the shopping trip it was about 9 p.m., pretty late for their house.

I went down the block to see if anyone was still up there, and Ines's cousin was sitting on the front stoop talking with Picasso. Ines's cousin is a junior at Rauner and is a very good girl. So I was happy to see her talking with him. My nosy neighbor side kicked in, too, because her younger sister was supposedly Picasso's "girlfriend" when they were both at Chavez last spring, but now they go to different high schools--she's at Rauner with her sister; he's at Curie--so I don't know how much they see of each other. Cousin said she would get the book to Ines and I let them get back to talking with each other.

Anyway, so I can't figure out where Picasso is at. He and Joey and another guy on our block and one or two guys from up the street hang out together. Are they their own crew or are they hooked up with one of the bigger gangs in the area? Who are they getting into it with; what was this about fighting? Picasso is smart; is he letting it show at school? I must get his schedule and see if I know any of his teachers at Curie.

Some jerk is blasting annoying rap music across the street from my house. I can hear it clear as day in here. Yuck. Guess I should go see if I know who they are. I looked, I do know who they are. I didn't say anything, but they saw me walk in and out. It's still playing, but it's quieter now.

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