Three Great Things: Rich Jones

The Chicago artist loves his hometown, and he’s not leaving.

1. Chicago

I’m 100 percent biased but I love where I’m from. Growing up in the ’90s and Michael Jordan and co. making us feel like champs for most of it didn’t hurt. I feel like an unofficial spokesperson for the city when I travel, gushing about all the various things I hold dear: our music/art scenes (stellar), our food (come gain a few pounds with me), the architecture (stunning), and the lake (a sea if you ask me). People have tried to convince me to move to where they are but ultimately I try to convince them to move here! It’s worked a couple times. I don’t think I’ll ever leave. I relish having a story to tell or a shop or restaurant to recommend every other intersection far too much to hit reset and start all over elsewhere. Even with all our issues, this is a city whose soul is worth fighting for and I refuse to run from that. When we’re not in a pandemic, come visit!

2. The $3.99 BLT & fries special at Little Mel’s

It’s a hot dog stand underneath the California Blue line stop by my apartment that doesn’t have the acclaim of other fast food outfits here in Chicago but is definitely worth the visit. A great Polish? Yup! A sneaky good Mexican menu? You bet! Cafeteria level pizza slices that are so meh they’re perfect? Uh huh! However, the gem of them all is the BLT & fries special for $3.99. It’s been more thin than thick this year for me, as I’m sure as has been the case for a lot of people. Lucky me to be able to grab a simple delicacy that doesn’t make me have to tighten my belt, and in fact makes me do the opposite! 

3. Long phone calls with old friends

I pride myself on having a large group of friends and family in all sorts of places near and far. The internet has obviously made it easier to stay “connected” to a lot of them but I feel like this year in particular, I’ve had a lot more time to just… talk and listen. And then talk and listen some more. Where have we been and where are we going? Who were we then and who are we now? Who’s thriving? Who’s no longer with us? Remember *insert L-I-T-E-R-A-L-LY anything*? It’s a throwback to be sure, reminiscent of headier times when we had way more road and time and possibility ahead of us with little to none of the experience or pitfalls to temper our enthusiasms. Maybe that’s what’s made it so special — reminding each other of our connections, our personal magic, that we matter to someone else even after a decade or two has passed since we may have been consistently around each other. Anyway, if we haven’t spoken in awhile and you wanna talk, call me.

(Photo Credit: Alexus McLane)

Rich Jones is a prolific Chicago artist, community figure, and veteran of the cultural scene. Known for his versatile and evolving style, his latest album How do you sleep at night? finds him returning to his hip-hop roots as he tackles class complacency and complicity under American authoritarianism and the value of human life vs. what’s profitable.

(Photo Credit: Katie Levine)