#414: The Baby Pigeon Conspiracy

December 19th, 2014 § permalink

Text exchange between subjects Paul D. (left) and Nathan I. (right), 8:13 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014:

A trillion pigeons in this city and I’ve never seen a pigeon egg.

Or a baby pigeon.

Or a nest. What the hell, pigeons? » Read the rest of this entry «

#413: The Firebird Suite, Part 2: City of Lights, Fields of Corn

December 17th, 2014 § permalink

On Monday, we met trapeze artist Camille Swift. Once you read that illustrated tale, here’s part two of her story.

Don’t wrap your hands, the small woman said as we sipped coffee at a shop beneath the rumbling Blue Line.

The woman, Camille Swift, has only known two trapeze artists who wrap their hands — one had eczema, one was a Parisian flight attendant whose bosses wanted silky-smooth femininity whilst handing out drinks. That slight separation dulls your sense of touch and body awareness; even a fraction might be dangerous.

“Even if it involves a crazy amount of pain, you want your skin to be in contact with the apparatus because that way your body knows you’re in contact with the apparatus,” she said. » Read the rest of this entry «

#412: The Firebird Suite, Part 1: Feminism and the Trapeze

December 15th, 2014 § permalink

She’s small. That’s what you notice when she sidles into the coffeehouse where you said you would meet.

You expected the cockatiel shock of henna-red hair shunted dramatically to the side. You expected the arched eyebrows and even the tinkling, slightly sarcastic-sounding voice to an extent.

But you didn’t expect someone who could flip and twist and lock her feet and dangle, kink her back and swirl through the air, raising herself slowly toward the sky by the tension of her wrists — you didn’t expect her to be so small.

Aerialist Camille Swift of Old Irving Park is five feet, five inches of the most powerful physical presence you’ve come across.

She’s the firebird. » Read the rest of this entry «

#411: The Podcast

December 12th, 2014 § permalink

There is a type of story you can’t help tell without sounding old.

It’s the type that starts in a comedy club with a curtain over the door so the comic doesn’t get a blast of light in the face every time someone has to go to the bathroom.

It’s the type of story that starts with wait staff filing and shuffling people into seats, taking drink orders, bringing up napkins and plates of fries for table to split, gliding around with pitchers and smiles as others file more hungry, thirsty faces in.

It’s the type of story where a man you’ve only seen on TV comes up wearing cloth reindeer antlers, casually shakes your hand and says, “Hi, I’m Greg” before moving on to do the same at the next table. » Read the rest of this entry «

#410: The Ride Up

December 10th, 2014 § permalink

The elevator’s mirrored doors were a cruel touch; the riders couldn’t even lock eyes ahead.

Instead, the 10 in the metal box had to go to different ruses to avoid looking at each other. They looked up, down, to the left, to the right. They pretended to be interested into the inset screens spewing outside weather temperatures and snippets of the news. » Read the rest of this entry «

#409: The Words

December 8th, 2014 § permalink

He said the piece of paper had always protected him, but now he was stepping out from behind it. He read about Wrigleyville.

She said she would read her piece off the phone, as the kids do. She read about Austin.

Another he read from his book about Pilsen and Heart of Chicago. » Read the rest of this entry «

#408: The Stories I Cannot Tell

December 5th, 2014 § permalink

By the beat-down storefront of an Avondale dive, under the glowing, dancing figures of a light-up Żywiec beer sign, I held an elderly woman in my arms as she wept.

And I can’t tell you why. » Read the rest of this entry «

#407: Vengeance of the Friendly Algorithms

December 3rd, 2014 § permalink

At the Newberry Library, the staid old temple to history located in an 1890s Spanish Romanesque manor north of Bughouse Square, two journalists talked about how Facebook and Google algorithms give different people different news. » Read the rest of this entry «

#406: The Comedy Machine

December 1st, 2014 § permalink

The line started outside.

It was wrapped around, as lines should be. The perfect length to show that, yes, what’s happening in this small storefront in Old Town is worth seeing, worth waiting for, worth wrapping around a building for.

“I don’t know how clear your conscience needs to be, but the line starts back there,” a man in line snipped as I walked in the doors.

I shot him a look somewhere between obsequious smile and a 14-year-old girl’s interpretation of withering.

“We’re heading up to will-call on the second floor,” I said. “My conscience is fine.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#405: A Few Stray Ones

November 28th, 2014 § permalink

In 2009, I was driving by Cermak and Ogden and saw a license plate that said GOLDIGR. It was on a Dodge Neon.

Someone’s not doing their job. » Read the rest of this entry «

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