A drab building complex in Chicago's West Lawn houses the offices of powerful Chicago Democrat Michael J. Madigan, aka the Velvet Hammer, speaker of the Illinois house. His office sits on the second floor of the somber edifice at 6500 S. Pulaski , its exteriors brown and gray and respectable.
This is, however, not the only thing at 6500 S. Pulaski. A Lithuanian flag at the door offers up a tantalizing hint to idle passersby. The Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, the largest Lithuanian museum outside of Lithuania, is an unlikely neighbor for Madigan's chambers.
"When you go to another country, you don't lose your background, you add to the background," says Stanley Balzekas Jr., a 95-year-old Lithuanian American who founded the museum 50 years ago.