#591: Wabonsia, Illinois

February 5th, 2016 § permalink

Along Kinzie, a dog was taking a crap in Wabonsia, Illinois.

It was the gated dog park within the gated downtown community of Kinzie Park, an early 2000s ritzification of the stretch south of “Little Hell.” A few steps west of the crapping pedigrees, a jogger swiped his way past the security station meant to keep us scrubs out of the $2.2 million for a condo condo complex.

Beyond that, overhead Metra tracks dangled with icicles. Then, crackle-pavemented parking lots for the Blommer Chocolate Factory that scents the region. It’s a nothing stretch, a passby for passersby biking or driving out from work.

But this was once Wabonsia, Illinois, a separate legal entity from the town of Chicago growing to the south. » Read the rest of this entry «

#590: Office Space – The Final Frontier

February 3rd, 2016 § permalink

I’ve become one of the tucked away, the hidey-holed.

Somehow, in this world where for almost four years I’ve had to cobble together bits and pieces of work to make it past each month’s bills, someone decided to let me come in from 8:30 to 5 five days a week and they’ll even pay for some health care.

I have a little cube I might put a picture of something in.

It’s nice because of PTO and 401(k)s and health insurance (although I would not have been able to get through the freelance time without Obamacare, so thank you for that Mr. President).

But it was great because of Tuesday’s rain. » Read the rest of this entry «

#589: Beating the Path

February 1st, 2016 § permalink

All the paths have been beaten in a city.

They’ve been beaten, paved, put on a grid, numbered, named, given an honorary name recognizing someone the city council wants to flatter and digitized by a Google Street View van.

But you can try to find a path that’s new, odd or at the very least slightly less beaten than the others.

It’s a simple process. Get to a corner and say, “Left, right or straight?”

Pick one.

Go that way. » Read the rest of this entry «

#588: Rat of Astor

January 29th, 2016 § permalink

There’s a stretch of the Gold Coast where the homes are beautiful.

It’s not the most visible part, the tall condo buildings from that misguided period of American architecture known as the 1970s, when the point of a building was to crane above the others, out out out into a view you could brag about to your ground-dwelling coworkers.

Before the deluxe apartment in the sky was the ultimate in movin’ on up, luxury was low, squat and gorgeous. » Read the rest of this entry «

#587: Business Ribbons

January 27th, 2016 § permalink

Leave the fatter end hanging on the right. Cross it over the front of the thin end.

Wrap it around the back, pull it through, cross over the front again, wrap it around the other side, pull it through and that’s how to tie a perfect four-in-hand business ribbon. » Read the rest of this entry «

#586: The Big Guy’s Palace

January 25th, 2016 § permalink

The Blackhawks-clad diner came in two main parts. If you turned left when you came in the door, the Blackhawks-clad patrons had tables and booths. If you turned right, it was a long, thin walkable strip between wall and counter.

The big guy walked down this thin corridor without bumping into anyone. It was a suave, practiced feet.

As he walked, he boomed a question that I answered. Thankfully, I had enough patty melt in my mouth that he didn’t hear my response, considering he was talking to the Blackhawks-clad trio just past me. » Read the rest of this entry «

#585: The Jefferson Davis Coloring Book

January 22nd, 2016 § permalink

I own a copy of “The Jefferson Davis Coloring Book.”

Yes, that Jefferson Davis.

Yes, the Confederate president or czar or whatever the title be.

And, yes, I alluded to it a few stories ago when I plucked it from a North Center dumpster and, yes, I do plan to completely mock its belligerent racism when I do my next “Chicago Review of Terrible Books” for Third Coast Review.

And, yes, that was a plug.

But now I don’t want to talk about belligerent, mockable, historical relic (1980s) racism.

I want to talk about Chicago. About America. About white culture in 2016.

It goes like this: » Read the rest of this entry «

#584: Tuck-In Everlasting

January 20th, 2016 § permalink

I don’t remember if I called it the tuck-in at the time, but I remember it that way now thanks to a line in Roald Dahl’s “Matilda.”

“I never eat anything when I get home. I have a good old tuck-in at the school lunch and that keeps me going until the next morning.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#583: The Dojo, Part 3 – How BRAVEMONK Got His Name

January 18th, 2016 § permalink

It’s B-R-A-V-E-M-O-N-K. All capitals. One word.

“In the world that we operate in, for me, the names are very important,” the breakdancer said. “In the institutional world, your PhD is your credentials, right? When someone has their doctorate or their PhD, they take it as disrespect when you don’t address them as doctor. It’s like you devalue their training and their expertise.

“And the names in this forum are earned. If you have a wack name, it’s either going to change at some point, or you’re not just going to be relevant. People will look at you as a joke.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#582: History in the Dumpster

January 15th, 2016 § permalink

The box sat on top of the heap of garbage. It was fresh, dry and new, recently deposited in a dumpster in a streetlamp-lit winter alley in a brick-lined residential strip of North Center.

It was a history teacher’s box of history. » Read the rest of this entry «

  • Get Stories by Email