Stevie Wiebe’s King of Kong pinball record breaking attempt and classes | Jan 15 | 2410 W Fullerton St | $12 | RSVP: info@logan-hardware.com | 773-235-5030

Celebrating the reopening of Logan Hardware, nerds from around the greater Chicagoland neighborhood are invited to share in the launch of this quaint little record shop’s complementary but no less remarkable arcade room. Lemme tell you why you gotta check out this rare event.

It was one of those down-on-your-luck days and I was aimlessly wondering the North Side, the way I used to when I was a depressed, hormonal teenager. See, I grew up on Artesian and Fullerton, just behind the very Logan Hardware in question. I went to Saint John Berchman’s (big orange-beige Catholic parish on Logan Boulevard, just next to the Kennedy) for grammar school, pre-K to 8th grade. I was a crossing guard, an altar boy, choir boy and worked in the rectory (first job at 13). The basement of that church was where I went for Boy Scout meetings and learned to juke like a little Puerto Rican girl to ’90s freestyle, hip hop, house and salsa.

So, I finally walk into Logan Square Hardware, what is now a record shop but was then the local spot for “vintage” light bulbs and “rare” masking tape. This is several years since running off to college, watching Quenchers transform from a dive bar into a yuppies delight (and, most recently, into a hipster hang out). My love of Logan Square is a pre-hipster-fication, post yuppification ode to Chicago. Let’s face it, Logan Square has been gentrifying since the ’70s—it was just at a monumentally slower rate than Bucktown/Wicker Park due to its proximity to the ominous Humboldt Park and its relative distance from the hobnob hub of the universe downtown and the likes.

I mean, I used to shop at Genesis Art Supply Store just up on Western for grade school history projects and watched my hoodlum chums swipe black, silver and gold paint markers to tag up the street. That’s to say, where there’s an art store, there’s artists, and where there’s artists there’s yuppies-in-training just around the corner. So, after several years of speculation and skepticism of the newcomers like the Spy Shop that replaced the pet store we used to buy our bird seeds for my Tia Chio’s birds — then 3, now 9 cockatoos — I finally found my way into Logan Hardware, now a homey little record shop.

Things could have gone one of two ways as I warily entered the shop, with my artsy “Am I a gentrifier?” guilt plastered on my reddish, light-taupe forehead.

Scenario No. 1: The jerk behind the counter is a total snob who doesn’t give me the time of day. I of course then burn the place down like the one time I almost caught on fire during Mass while daydreaming and holding an acolyte candles during the homily. Or wait, was that just an America’s Funniest Home Video‘s clip I co-opted into memory because I always daydreamed that could occur to me one day? Either way, all hell breaks loose. As a local native and a music editor for an emerging arts and entertainment publication, my sensibilities are more than offended. I gladly burned the place down in a misguided re-appropriation of my hood.

Scenario No. 2: The owner of the joint takes me to his back room and shows me the inner workings of one of his many rare pinball machines, eagerly preparing for the grand opening of an extravagant arcade room to relive all of our childhood delights. Along with holding an impressive array of albums with local artists and labels to boot, the owner of Logan Hardware is not only accommodating but so earnest and captivatingly nerdy I speculate a marriage proposal and a quick drive to the next state over within an hour or two of our in-depth conversation.

Fortunately the latter occurred. The owner of Logan Hardware proceeded to inform me on everything one might ever need to know about Chicago’s late great pinball manufacturing industry. See, my grandfather is an immigrant from México who lost a finger, sliced clean off in (of all things) a pinball manufacturing factory in Chicago during the late ’70s. So, as the abridged history and minutiae of dates and data streamed before me, all I could do was smile and marvel in respect and admiration. I bought some “Chi Sound,” “Eleckra” and “Tamla” vinyl reportedly dropped of from some from some local jazz legends studio collection and went on my merry way.

Since entering Logan Hardware, I vowed to visit my Tia Chio and their tired old black and white footed mutt, Sox, much more often, in order to snack on my favorite Puerto Rican empanadas at La Cocina Boriqua, or Cocina Criolla or whatever it’s called (seriously that place has ten names, every business card, menu and even the marquee has a different name). Every time I walk in for some arroz con gandules one of the old ladies smiles when she recognizes me, asks how my mom is doing and gives me some soup on the house. I vowed to return quite frequently to my old hood, to stop in and say hey to my pinball wizard friend and enjoy life a little more.

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