Exavier Pope’s story continues

Exavier Pope of the Pope Law Firm tells his DWB police abuse story in support of St. Louis boy Mike Brown, shot and killed by police. (Ben Speckman for Chicago Daily Law Bulletin)

Exavier Pope of the Pope Law Firm tells his DWB police abuse story in support of St. Louis boy Mike Brown, shot and killed by police. (Ben Speckman for Chicago Daily Law Bulletin)

If you follow my work at the Law Bulletin, you probably read about Exavier Pope, the sports and entertainment lawyer whose harrowing & uplifting backstory was our front page story for Law Day 2014.

Ex and I spent a day together — it started with him talking to students at Hyde Park Academy High School and continued as we visited his childhood home where he lived with his foster mother, toured parks where he played ball, was attacked by gangs and later slept, went to the projects where he nearly sold crack and finally to one of his two law offices, this one at Lacuna Lofts.

While the story was packed with episodes from Exavier’s life — it included a sidebar strictly on his Twitter game — there were a few anecdotes from later in Exavier’s life that we had to leave out of the story. One of them was the story of how Exavier and friends were pulled over in Kentucky when they were in college, leading to Ex spending nearly two weeks in prison for a traffic stop.

In light of the Mike Brown murder, Ex decided to share that story on Twitter. Here it is, tweet by tweet: Continue reading

People With Passion: Jonathan Eig

A People with Passion series

Chicago journalism

January 30, 2012: Jonathan Eig

Jonathan Eig.

We are meeting at Eig’s Lakeview home on a sunny January afternoon. A tall man, heroically bald, Eig is a gracious host and a loquacious subject, and stories and opinions spill from him with a child’s energy. He seemed equally comfortable speaking with me as he did speaking with Jon Stewart when promoting his book “Get Capone” on the Daily Show in May 2010.

Here, in the 25th installment of my Chicago journalism interview series, Jonathan Eig tells me about Red Smith ledes, the influence of Watergate, and the birth of his new sports site ChicagoSide, which he hopes will become Chicago’s own Grantland.com. Continue reading

People With Passion: David Drake, music writer

A People with Passion series

Chicago journalism

January 18, 2012: David Drake

David Drake, during his DJ days.

We are meeting at Filter Coffee Shop on Milwaukee Ave. in the late afternoon. David is quiet yet loquacious, with a deep knowledge and passion for music, particularly hip-hop. It is that passion for the music mixed with a love of writing, an authority of opinion, and relentless networking that has allowed him to leave his day job and make, as he puts it, ‘a run’ at writing.

Here, in the 23rd installment of my Chicago journalism interview series, David Drake of Pitchfork, Fader, the Tribune, and his blog somanyshrimp.com discusses his life as a working freelance writer, and describes the process of how he created the connections required for such a career. Continue reading

People With Passion: Tran Ha, RedEye

A People with Passion series

Chicago journalism

December 29, 2011: Tran Ha

Tran Ha, RedEye.

We are meeting in the RedEye’s conference room. Covering the walls are old RedEye issues, and I am surprised by how familiar they are — I remember many of them, even though most were only on newsstands for a day.

Tran is enthusiastic and energetic in her soft-spoken way. Later, when I watch a newsroom meeting, she leads the RedEye staff in a manner both self-assured and receptive; she directs the course of the meeting while giving everyone an opportunity to be heard.

Here, in the 22nd installment of my Chicago journalism interview series, RedEye managing editor Tran Ha discusses her introduction to journalism, her move to RedEye in 2003, her transition to editor, and why the paper matters to its readers. Continue reading

People With Passion, Sam Smith — EXCERPTS

For the 21st installment of my Chicago journalism People With Passion series, I sat down with legendary Bulls basketball writer Sam Smith for a Skype conversation that lasted more than two hours. We covered Smith’s entire career — his childhood in Brooklyn, his introduction to journalism, his political writing in Fort Wayne and then D.C., his arrival at the Tribune, the writing of The Jordan Rules, his departure from the Tribune, and his tenure at Bulls.com.

Since this is such a long, rich interview, I have split it into three parts, running Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week, all at our Eye On Chi blog on ChicagoNow. Here, now, are excerpts from all three parts: Continue reading

People With Passion: Ben Joravsky

A People with Passion series

Chicago journalism

December 20, 2011: Ben Joravsky

Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader, with Mayor Daley. (photo by Hunter Clauss)

We are seated at a window table at Starbucks at the Irving Park/Lincoln/Damen intersection. Ben holds the tape recorder like a microphone as he speaks, as if he is dictating his autobiography. He speaks in person with the passion, knowledge, authority, and irreverence displayed in his work.

In the 20th installment of my Chicago journalism People With Passion interview series — and a return for 2012 — Chicago Reader political writer Ben Joravsky discusses the challenges in writing about Chicago’s tax increment financing program, the cluelessness of Chicagoans, the trouble with aldermen, and the beating down of the journalism profession. Continue reading

People With Passion: Corey Graham

People with Passion

Corey Graham, Chicago Bears

October 16, 2011

Corey Graham. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)

Drafted by the Bears in 2007, Corey Graham began his career as a cornerback. But it wasn’t until he revealed his talents as a special teams player that his value soared. Now in his fifth season, the special teams ace has earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Here, in an interview after a mid-season game against the Minnesota Vikings, Graham breaks down the art of “gunning” — the act of covering punts — and explains why special teams are much more special in Chicago.

Continue reading