Logan Square resident Nelson Carvajal is a filmmaker with deep roots in the neighborhood.
How long have you lived in Logan Square?
Why did you pick Logan Square?
I am the oldest of four kids to a single mother. I was a Goethe student. Logan was cheaper back then, so after moving around a bit, we settled here.
Eighteen years is a long time, so Logan is clearly your home. What do you think of the recent “white flight” to Logan Square, gentrification and the reputation of the neighborhood becoming hipster central?
I am Logan Square. They’re just passing through.
What are your favorite neighborhood spots?
Logan Theatre (@TheLoganTheatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.) both old when the rats would run under your feet, the fan didn’t work and primetime movie tickets were $3, and now with digital and no rats. I work a minimum 14 hours every day, so I don’t really have time to cook. I’ve been a regular at Madison Public House (2200 N. Milwaukee Ave.) since it opened because it’s close to where I live.
I’ve been walking by the Congress Theater (2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.) for 18 years. The marquee had its own personality. I walked by so often it became a game—is snow or drops of rain going to fall on me? Billy Idol performed there when Congress had a broken air conditioning, but played so long he ran out of his own songs to sing so he did a cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.”
I don’t drink craft beer, or at least not first; I like Old Style sign type bars like Bob Inn (2609 W. Fullerton Ave.). It’s a White Sox bar and I’m a die hard Cubs fan, but that’s okay because it’s an old, traditional Chicago bar.
Another thing that speaks to me: Graffiti wall space outside the Mega Mall. Some of those artists are dead, but it’s like they are always a part of here.
Let’s talk movies. When did you know you wanted to be involved in filmmaking?
Age eight I knew I wanted to make movies. Movies were my time. I watched films like Platoon and Goodfellas to counter the drama of real life, while appreciating the entertainment of it.
What is your favorite movie genre?
Cine-Essay. It’s a fusion of cinematic elements; makes art mean something.
Favorite movie of 2014 so far?
Under the Skin. Probably Scarlett Johansson’s best work.
Favorite “filmed in Chicago” movie?
Medium Cool by Haskell Wexler. You can almost smell Chicago. The movie was filmed in 1968 during the Democratic Convention and was risk taking. There are some really interesting shots, camera angles used. So much of this movie is so Chicago.
Favorite movie of all time?
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. I was curious to see how Anderson would follow up his other films. In Magnolia, the camera pushes, editing, writing and acting are really good. It was the first script I bought and read and it is so different from most scripts. Something to look for in this movie: 82.
To see Nelson’s video work, visit vimeo.com/nelsoncarvajal.
“Socializing the neighborhood” is at the core of the LoganSquarist mission, so we introduce readers to interesting and unique residents throughout Logan Square in our Know Your Neighbor column. If you know someone who would be ideal for to feature, let us know.