The 21st Show

‘An American Summer: Love And Death In Chicago’; The Last Video Stores In Illinois


Photo by Kathy Richland

Alex Kotlowitz has been writing about violence in Chicago for decades - in film, in print, and for This American Life. His latest book is called “An American Summer: Love And Death In Chicago,” and it follows people for whom gun violence has become a part of daily life. Plus, Oregon may have America’s last Blockbuster store, but there are still thriving video stores here in Illinois. 

In the last 12 months, 371 people have been shot to death in the city of Chicago. The total number in 2018 was down compared to the year before.

But even if you don’t live in Chicago, you’ve probably read about gun violence in Chicago in some way. Whether it’s in a news headline, on TV, or on social media.

For a long time, Alex Kotlowitz has tried to go deeper by sharing the stories of people who live with the trouble every single day. You might know his 1992 book “There Are No Children Here” or his documentary “The Interrupters.”

His most recent book is called “An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago.” It traces many different ways people’s lives can be touched by gun violence.


There’s only one remaining Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon. While people have been mourning the chain's demise, it doesn’t mean that the appetite for brick and mortar video stores has completely disappeared.

Here in Illinois there are thriving video rental shops and memories of some great ones that closed not too long ago.

Jeff Packenham is the manager of a couple Family Video locations in Springfield. Geoff Merritt is the former owner of a longtime independently owned video store in Champaign-Urbana called That’s Rentertainment. 

Story source: WILL