Friday, November 10, 2023

Bathing in the river of blood

Metropolitan Museum of Art

     Chicago murders spiked in August 1991, the deadliest month in city history: 120 killings. Almost four a day. The Sun-Times scrambled to cover this horrific story, crafting a wide-ranging series, “After the Shooting Stops,” trying to convey the expanding shock waves of tragedy and loss radiating outward from each death.
     Some reporters sat with grief-stricken families. Others rode ambulances or trailed police. My job was to go to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office on Harrison Street and watch a single day’s butchery being processed.
     To say it stayed with me is an understatement. I can still see the dura stripper peeling back skin to expose the yellow layer of fat underneath. Can hear the shriek of bone being cut by a Stryker saw. Smell the decay from the body that had lain undetected on a flophouse floor for two weeks.
     What I can’t still see is the autopsy of the blue-tinged baby. Because when her turn came, I tapped photographer Robert A. Davis on the shoulder and said, “union-mandated coffee break.” We hurried out.
     Cowardice? Prudence? It was defendable from a professional level — we were writing about murder, and this baby probably wasn’t murdered. At least not by street crime, which was our focus. A crib death, supposedly.
     Though the real reason was: my wife and I were trying to have kids, and I just didn’t want that baby being cut apart in my memory. Some things you can’t unsee. It is not a decision I’ve ever regretted.
     Though it came back Tuesday, when the Israeli consulate in Chicago called to say they were showing “exclusive footage” of the Oct. 7 slaughter, and I must be there.

To continue reading, click here.


  1. Of the many disheartening moments in the other night's Republican presidential debate, one of the worst was listening to the candidates try to out-bloodthirsty each other in cheering for Israel to crush Hamas as brutally as possible. Not the slightest nuance, much less concern for Palestinian civilians. Perhaps the most idiotic was Ramalamadingdong, who vowed to slaughter "the terrorists" on the USA's southern border as surely as Netanyahu will slaughter those on Israel's.

    They are of course mimicking Trump's enabling of Netanyahu, which was one of his many foreign-policy misjudgments that have stuck Biden with cleaning up the mess. You know, Trump -- the guy they're supposed to be running against.

    An absolutely pathetic spectacle from a shell of a political party.

  2. Whether it is the definition of insanity or not, doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result, is what's happening in the Middle East. If Hamas and its Iranian enablers were somehow to succeed in driving Israel into the sea, would the lives of the peoples of the Middle East become miraculously better? I rather doubt it. The who's and Sunni

  3. Fat fingers! The Shi'a and Sunni could really go at it then.

  4. That “union-mandated coffee break” was a wise move, Mr. S. And it's so true...some things you just can’t unsee. As somebody once said: "You don't need to go to hell to know what happens there."

    1. The version of that I think of is from Kierkegaard: "Happy is he who didn't have to go to hell to know what the devil looks like."

  5. In a civilized society when a crime is committed against you or a member of your family, you must turn to the authorities for justice. Though much of the time the rapist murderer is never apprehended , charged or punished and goes on to harm others. Its is not acceptable to seek vengeance on your own. You could be accused of a criminal act for harming your attacker at a later time.

    In international conflict countries that are powerful oppressors can decimate whom ever they choose - Iraq- and claim the high ground.

    The Israeli government is following the the lead of the US . The term collective punishment has been put forward.

    I dont know if I agree with this. The goal of eliminating Hamas if truly reached could result in the death of many more tens of thousands of civilians including the elderly , women , and children.

    How is any of this right? Indecipherable :(

  6. I find it ironic that Israel – especially under Netanyahu – have basically created a ghetto in Gaza.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.