Cheat You Fair

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Bo Diddley in Cheat You Fair

  • Bo Diddley in "Cheat You Fair"

Just before demolition began in 1994 on the neighborhood around the century-old open air Maxwell Street Market, birthplace of electric blues, Phil Ranstrom began documenting the neighborhood's legacy and its final days.

The title of Ranstrom's film Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street refers not only to a vendors' mantra and the name of a venerable Maxwell Street shop, but also the process by which the city erased a historic and cultural landmark to make way for the upscale redevelopment of University Village. "In the end, we were all 'cheated fair,'" Ranstrom says, "by the loss of the beloved Maxwell Street—an incubator of enterprise, a microcosm of humanity."

A 140-minute version of Cheat You Fair premiered at the 2007 Chicago International Documentary Festival. Now Ranstrom has cut it down to 90 minutes and since August he's been selling it at 29 Best Buys throughout the Chicago area. He screens highlights from the film and holds a Q&A at a release party, featuring a guitar giveaway and a blues performance by Fernando Jones, Wednesday at 7 p.m., blocks from the site of the story at Best Buy, 555 W. Roosevelt Road.

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