Scoop Jackson’s Personal Best
My Best Life in Chi: An autobiographical journey
From being the firstborn son of the first Black newspaper reporter in the city from growing up under the storied stories of my Mom once getting arrested for driving Huey P. And Fred Hampton during her BP days from being one grade ahead of Michelle Obama at Bryn Mawr grammar school when she was in kindergarten and I was in first grade from getting suspended at Harvard St. George in sixth grade for raising my fist during the National Anthem from taking Ransom’s bus to Markham Roller Rink from the days of becoming a mild sauce sommelier from watching Isiah Thomas’ older brother break someone’s leg by punching him in the jaw during a basketball game at a park across the street by Austin YMCA when I was fourteen years old from spending summers on the West Side as a kid being around Bishop Don Juan only to grow up having him tell me I was the one he wanted to ghostwrite his memoir from the seven-year experience that was S’s Lounge on 71st and MLK when it literally was the Black version of “Cheers” from being featured in Chicago magazine in 2001 and claiming (because I’m from Chi) the world “ain’t never met a nigga like me” and spending the next twenty years working (often failing) to make that fact from having the No. 1 Sunday sports show on radio in the city and never having it picked up by any other radio station or outlet once—and since—it ended from starting FlyPaper with Raymond O’Neal and the legendary Mic Shane from helping save Common’s music career after The Source tried to low-key cancel it with a two-and-a-half star review of his classic “Resurrection” album from hearing the very beginnings of Ang13, Ten Tray, Judgemental, Lupe, Twilight Tone, Inf1, NoID and Malik Yusef careers from listening to Pink House on WHPK and Lou Divito and Peter Lewicky mixes on WDAI from having both Sauer’s and Double Door experiences from drinking at the Godfather II with Congressman Gus Savage and him religiously forgetting his wallet so that anyone besides him would have to foot the tab from cutting cocaine for one of the biggest drug dealers on the South Side while he helped give rise to The Charlie Club from hearing Steve Hurley and Jessie Sanders spin in basements before they ever spun in clubs or produced a record from watching Michael Jordan hoop for team Schlitz Malt Liquor at Chicago State’s Summer League from hooping at Navy Pier in the eighties trying to play around that big-ass St. Bernard who would sometimes lay in the middle of the courts from hanging out at “Arnold’s” (McDonald’s on 87th) from getting chased for being the wrong skin color in Bridgeport and in Marquette Park from working for the city during both Jane Byrne’s and Harold Washington’s reigns from having a crush on Jackie Grimshaw’s daughter from Mark Aguirre being my coach at basketball camp before he went to DePaul from getting gallon “refills” at Gil’s and Stroh’s six-packs at Al Par’s from making “package” runs with The Noog Man to the Best Motel parking lot on King Drive from learning to pitch pennies in front of Twin’s Grocery store on “the 9” from watching women claim “sugar daddies” upstairs at Poor Woods on 35th on Wednesdays to learning “the game” from those same OGs during “club meetings” at the 50-Yard Line on Saturday afternoons from getting humiliated in strikeout by Marvin Freeman in high school in the parking lot of St. Albie’s from being sent to Operation Breadbasket at Operation P.U.S.H. for breakfast from seeing Stevie Wonder and the Jackson Five (with Michael) at the Amphitheatre on 43rd and Ashland during Black Expo from hugging and consoling Father Pfleger before he presided over Tyshawn Lee’s funeral from coming to my mother’s house one evening to see her vetting a then-young potential state senator named Barack from Silas Purnell and Lou Palmer and Dr. Conrad Worrill taking interest in me from spending hours upon hours with Bernie Mac at Milt Trenier’s before “Def Comedy Jam” and “Kings of Comedy” and “The Bernie Mac Show” from the Bimp and Day-Day days from getting the nickname “City Hall” while working in City Hall from being on the set of “Soul Food” from seeing “Cooley High” at the McVickers from never buying an R.Kelly record but still knowing every word to every song he ever recorded from knowing the steppin’ power of “Was Dog A Donut?” and “Pathway To Glory” from Mary Mitchell choosing me as a “Neighborhood Hero” in the Sun-Times in 1993 from being a 2am regular at LaPasadita and a 4am regular at the original Ms. Biscuit from sneaking (sometimes breaking) into University of Chicago’s Regenstein and Harper Libraries to use their computer labs to start my business from teaching classes at City Colleges from having Frontline Books publish my first book from going to the Mosque on Sundays as a kid to hear Min. Elijah Muhammad speak from knowing that Marché was once just as amazing as Charlie Trotter’s from knowing who Rich Gamble is and knowing one of the greatest cocktails in this city’s history was named after him from still calling it “Comiskey” and still calling the other “Sears Tower” from knowing the difference between a real Harold’s and a fake-ass, the “grease is too young” one before you order from “voting early and voting often” often from lying on the application to say I was sixteen years old when I was only fourteen years old to get a job at McDonald’s on 79th and Yates because my family needed the money from growing up on 79th & Luella knowing that the woman I’d marry and spend the rest of my life with lived on 80th & Luella from knowing that Chicago concrete has its own color and is in my DNA.
Best of Chicago 2021