The legend of Farhad Khoiee-Abbasi goes like this: There's a man so consumed with his long-fought legal battle with his ex-wife (which has resulted in protection orders for her, custody rights lost for him) that he has gone from being an everyday Chicagoan to being a Chicagoan you can see almost every day on the street corner holding a jarring sign or two.
This supposedly started in 2006.
His two main signs read:
"FBI Agent Chris Saviano, Stop Raping My Wife!"
"Mayor Daley, the Dictator"
He won't talk to you or hand you a pamphlet. He won't respond physically to anything you say or ask him. (Trust me. I've tried.) He'll just stand there - a regular fixture on the northwest corner of Randolph and Clark - staring straight ahead with his sign pole gripped in his right hand. If it's summertime, Khoiee-Abbasi will be wearing a decent suit. In the winter he's bundled up like a snowmobiler.
I work at this intersection and I'll see Khoiee-Abbasi almost every morning for months straight. Sometimes we rub shoulders while I wait for the signal to walk. Sometimes I stand behind him and stare at the back of his head, contemplating his life.
His legend also includes a bit about how he's representing himself after his lawyer quit. And that he was spotted in DC and NYC just last year with a sign that said "Alberto Gonzales - Outlaw! Trial!" (He replaced the Daley sign but kept the raping sign, natch.)
Last February, on a morning that couldn't have been more than 10 degrees, my guilt got the best of me. I pulled out my earbuds and leaned over to Khoiee-Abbasi, offering to fetch him a cup of coffee from my office. He didn't move. Didn't shake or nod his head. I then offered to get him some hot water instead, but again he ignored me.
I recounted all that in March here.
And then everyone's routine stayed the same: His sign continued to ask Agent Chris Saviano to stop raping his wife and the people of Chicago swarmed past him on their way to work or to Dunkin Donuts or to the courthouse.
But during the week of the Democratic National Convention, and up until this morning, the stoic man on the corner has changed his tune, er sign:
"Senator Obama, Spare My Only Child, For Me Please"
An Obamamaniac now? Or just frustrated with the lack of results from his previous signs?
Whatever the reason, he sure won't be the one to tell you.