Richie Rich leans against a tree near the corner of 36th and Concordia. He wears a flat-brimmed baseball cap and long jean shorts; a keychain, gilded in gold, hangs from a belt buckle. He’s hesitant to speak and refuses to give his real name. “All these shootin’s and robberies, I see that shit e’ry day; [people] just only see it on the news — I’m out here in that shit. So, I don’t even watch the news because I see it anyway, face to face.”
Ray Williams Jr. sits on his porch on the 3200 block of North 37th Street in a white, tank-top undershirt, holding a half burnt cigarette. The 49-year-old blues guitarist lounges in a chair as he recalls his playing days in Milwaukee. “Hooligan’s, Murray’s Tap, Central Hall, Chancery Pub, Liquid Johnny’s. I done played with Billy Flynn, all them guys, you know, Eugene and the Soul Gang, Stokes and Eddie Butts, Jim Liban, Mississippi Cactus — that’s me, 38 years of it,” he says.
Corey Nash doesn’t have much faith in Milwaukee. The 17-year-old and a friend walk down a partially-snow-covered sidewalk on 16th Street in Borchert Field but they grew up on the South Side, he says. “[You] couldn’t go to sleep without hearing a gunshot,” says Nash. “They say the South Side is supposed to be safer than the North Side — it’s all the same.”
Caprice Jones crosses 27th Street, coming home from school on a Wednesday afternoon. The 13-year-old Jones has lived in the Franklin Heights neighborhood near 27th and Concordia all his life. He says he’s had a lot of great experiences, but some not-so-good ones too. “I’ve made a lot of friends,” says Jones. “The bad, I got jumped…the other day”