The Side Hustle: How every street can be Commercial Avenue

March 30, 2010

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey)

The light at 87th and Lafayette caught me yesterday evening while I was out scouting architecture shots.

Within an instant of the light turning red, a handful of teenagers--both boys and girls--in costume and carrying a donation bucket, dashed onto the roadway and broke into a sick synchronized hip-hop dance.

The performance lasted a few seconds. Then the group disbursed like water droplets and began walking the lanes to ask the momentarily stopped drivers for cash.

Commerce happens in 45-second increments on many streets, especially those on the South Side.‚  Alms for the automobile age; drive-up and curbside. The homeless. The out of work. For those who want to drive off with more than good will, there are towels, newspapers, chewy candy, socks, cloth laundry bags, the Final Call newspaper, Michael Jackson R.I.P. T-shirts, inflatable toy animals, fledgling hip-hop artists selling their own CDs, flowers, bottled water, Obama T-shirts, baseball caps, belts,‚  Pimp Oil, newspapers--all for sale, all there if you want it...and if the light stays red long enough.

Vendor @ 95th and Stony, 2006 (photo by Lee Bey)
Street Merchant on Cottage Grove, 2006 (photo by Lee Bey)


Looking for help @ 95th and the Ryan, 2006 (photo by Lee Bey)


Sales pitch on east 87th, 2005 (photo by Lee Bey)


Selling of a President 2008 (photo by Lee Bey)


Movable Feast, 2008 (photo by Lee Bey)


(photo by Lee Bey)

The young dancers? From what I could gather, they seeking donations for their dance team. I gave them $2 and asked two members to pose for the shot at the top of this post. Then the light turned green.