Good Bye Aaron

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“Okay Marty, again thanks. I really appreciate it.”—Aaron

That was the last thing I received from Aaron, one of my youth reps, before he was gunned down in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s Near-West side.

Aaron was a smart kid. A funny kid. A generous, kind, loving kid. He was at most 22. He leaves behind a little boy, just over a year old, friends, family, and a hole in the program I run at the Juvenile Court.

I found out about a half hour ago that today—his birthday—he was shot and killed while with another young person. I do not know what happened. I do not know why he was shot, who shot him, who the other young person was, or what happens next. All I know is that the world is a much darker place with-out Aaron.

Aaron would laugh at the dumbest, stupidest jokes. Whenever he walked into a room, he would shake everyone’s hand—everyone, I mean it—and look them in the eye to introduce himself. He was short, about 5’7 or so, but he could fill a room if he wanted to. He would call and say if he was running late, he would call when he would make it home.

He always said please and thank you.

He wanted to go into the FBI to make the world a better place for his son. But college is expensive, and he was not sure it was for him. And yet. And. Yet. He was always looking on how to learn to do more.

Aaron was eager to do more for JAC. When he took a break in June of this year, I knew it was because he was picking more hours at one of his two jobs. When I saw him last, another youth rep and I dropped off his pay check AND he was committing to applying to the court scholarship program. He had made up his mind. College, in fact, was for him.

That was the last I heard from him until August. He sent me a text message and said he missed the program, missed the staff and that he was going to be back once he handled some problems he was going through. I offered to help. That’s when he said thanks, and that he appreciated it. That was the last I heard from him.

I was lucky—or blessed if you prefer—to know Aaron. He was amazing. Proof that young people can change. His loss does not mean that he failed. It means that we failed. The city, the county, the system. We failed him.

My grief is palpable, measurable. I know from experience with grief that there will come a point where I will be able to deal with it. But that is not what I focus on. I am worried for Aaron’s son. I mourn for his parents. I mourn for his neighborhood. I mourn with the young people I work with. I mourn with the community agency that worked with him. My grief is so small by comparison, but it is still there. It connects me to all the people Aaron was connected to. And that is some small degree of comfort.

Good by Aaron. I still miss you.

Dear Mr President

Mr President–

I donated to you when you announced your candidacy at the Lincoln Memorial with Dick Durbin. Over the past eight years, you have led this country with grace, dignity, intelligence, humor, and passion. I have always supported you–even when I did not agree–and I will continue to fight for your legacy, long after you have left office

I am sorry I let you down.

I know I could only vote once, and that I could not call every undecided voter, or fund every down ballot Democrat. Where I, and every other college educated white male who voted for you in ’08 and ’12 failed you, is in our inability or unwillingness to address the structural racism that has given birth to President-Elect Trump.

I have not spoken up –to family, friends, and neighbors– about racism.

I have not fought hard enough for my fellow Americans.

I have not called out, or called in, other white people enough.

In order for the country to heal, well meaning whites like me need to, “take the gun away” from white supremacists. Not only did we literally give supremacists the gun (and the bomb), we also gutted the safety net that you tried to repair.

I am sorry. We let you down.

When you leave office, and return to civilian life, I will join you in whatever task you undertake. I will do whatever it takes to keep your legacy intact.

With love and respect,

Martin Gleason

An open letter to Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson

An Open Letter to Alderman Patrick D. Thompson​
Alderman Thompson-

I am sure by now you’ve seen the announcement by Google that Chicago is on the short list of Google Fiber, an ultra-highspeed broadband connection that would significantly disrupt current broadband providers. if not, I highly recommend this article: http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/12/google-fiber-talking-to-chicago-and-la-about-gigabit-depoyments/

I am writing to strongly encourage your support of this measure.

Comcast, WoW, RCN and AT&T have strangleholds on Chicago’s broadband, and while their service is adequate, there is not enough competition to make true change. I am not alone in this assessment. PBS agrees with this statement: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/internet-u-s-compare-globally-hint-slower-expensive/

The 11th ward needs better, cheaper, faster internet services. If google fiber can deliver these changes in other markets, the benefit they can bring to the residents of our ward are immense. Children will have better access to educational services. Entrepreneurs can access markets more efficiently (significantly cheaper and faster). Government agencies will have more flexibility in negotiating their internet contracts–which will improve service, speed and quality of service.

I am a fan of Google and their services. I also have a Masters Degree in Information Services from DePaul University, and can attest to how this new service can be a huge boon to the residents of our ward.

I would love to talk to you about this issue in person, if you have any questions or comments.

Best regards-

Marty Gleason

Episode 9: Pushing Upstream | PleasureTown

Episode 9: Pushing Upstream | PleasureTown.

 

Let’s talk Podcasts.

 

I’m a huge fan of NPR, and WBEZ is my local affiliate. As part of their ever-expanding media empire, WBEZ is hosting a number of really fantastic podcasts that cover everything from news and music, food and foodie culture and stories. Oh the stories! Right now, my favorite has to be Pleasuretown. Full disclosure: Some of my favorite people in the world have contributed to (or run) Pleasuretown.

Set in a fictional town at the turn of the 20th century, Pleasuretown is a collaborative storytelling podcast where people can learn about a town that’s entire purpose is the pursuit of pleasure. We know that bad things have happened to residents of our town, but we don’t know what. Each story reveals a little bit more of what happened and why it happened.

It’s innovative, clever and 100% free. Give it a listen–and start with this one. Episode 9 has a story by one of the most creative (and kind) minds I’ve ever known: Will Hindmarch. This is the best jumping on point for one hell of a ride.

 

She’s a Pretty Big Fucking Deal

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This is from the last issue of Kelly Sue’s first run. I’m not spoiling anything.

I’m dusting off this old blog to share my enthusiasm about the recently released news about the  Captain Marvel–Carol Danvers!–movie.

I fell in love with Carol about two years ago, when Shannon and I were talking about supporting women in comics. Not just female characters, but artists (line and colorists), writers and editors. It does not matter how far the comics community has come in welcoming women into the hobby. What matters is that there is so much more to do, and using my money to support women is the very least I can do to help bring about change.

The night Shannon and I talked about women in comics, I came across Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run of Captain Marvel. There was also a sale on ComiXology. I spent $0.99 on my first digital comic to see what the big deal was. I ended upstanding $6 to read all the digital issues, and I was immediately hooked on the character. Carol reintroduced me to all of the Marvel Universe.

Carol is a big fucking deal to me. She’s someone I can show to my goddaughter (and her sister) and say “you can be whatever you want.” She is someone I can point out to my nephew and say, “Girls rule.” She is a fictional character that punches holes in the sky. I get the appeal of Wonder Woman. I love that she’s part of DC’s Trinity. I prefer Carol. She has the more identifiable background (working class woman from Boston who goes to the Air Force because her family chooses to send their sons to college instead of her). She’s becomes an ace pilot, works in intelligence, gets super powers and becomes a reporter. She is also emblematic of the bullshit that some writers put their female characters through.

Giving Carol her own title–and working on it for so damn long–says that we’ve made just a bit more progress in one of my communities. Now all we need is for Carol to punch a whole in the sky for the next wave of women artists, writers and characters.