#741: Isaac and Ishmael

January 20th, 2017 § permalink

It couldn’t have been the big blue purse.

It was large, made of a plastic that apes leather, and bright. Crayon-bright blue on the Green Line.

It couldn’t have been the gleaming white sneakers either, the ones bedazzled with the line of rhinestones that curled into two little hearts as it snaked across her metatarsus. She tapped one foot gently, almost nodding it as the train pulled out of the former manufacturing district that’s now the spot for the hottest of hot restaurants.

It couldn’t have been the blue jeans with the six metal buttons pulling each cuff into the perfect skinny cut either.

No, it must have been the piece of cloth on her head that makes her hated. » Read the rest of this entry «

#740: Hush and Hustle

January 18th, 2017 § permalink

A damp gray morning wrapped around the city.

A puffed indigo coat wrapped around the little boy.

His light blue eyes wrapped around the workers in the middle of the street. » Read the rest of this entry «

#739: A Pause by the Church Door

January 16th, 2017 § permalink

I thought about the dab of water.

I thought about how it feels on the forehead, a bit too much and it dribbles down a bit. A perfect amount and it sort of stays there, giving the illusion of coolness as it evaporates into dry, marble-laden air.

Up, down, left shoulder, right shoulder. Sit, stand, kneel, sit, stand, shake hands and say “And also with you.”

The music curled out of the church as I walked by. » Read the rest of this entry «

#738: Your Plans for Wednesday

January 13th, 2017 § permalink

The stage is set.

I mean, it’s not a stage so much as a microphone at the back of an artsy-funky dive bar in Bucktown.

And the performers are readying.

I mean, they’re not professional performers with headshots and acting credits and feelings on “the theatre, darling” so much as men and women from the community who have stories to share.

And we’re going to take on the president-elect of the United States of America in the last few hours we get to say “-elect.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#737: Bhopal

January 11th, 2017 § permalink

His name wasn’t Bhopal, couldn’t have been. That’s the name of the town in India where the pesticide gas leak killed all those people in the ’80s.

He told me his name when we first met, but his accent was so thick with West Africa that, whatever it was, I heard “Bhopal.” After that, for the month or two we knew each other, I would slightly mumble when I had to address him directly.

I met him on the street by Soi Ratchathewi near my apartment in Bangkok, Thailand. It was a sweat-hot night, as they all were. I’m built for bogs and ski resorts — I don’t know what I was thinking moving for four months to a city carved from jungle.

That’s a lie. I knew exactly what I was thinking. » Read the rest of this entry «

#736: The Year 2022

January 9th, 2017 § permalink

Federal funding for projects will be at an all-time low after four years of a vindictive President Trump blocking infrastructure and environmental projects for the nation’s third-largest city, particular brownfield cleanup and redevelopment on the South Side. Emanuel had responded by increased TIF funding of projects, which poaches growth from the schools, leading to further exodus from the city by young families…

They asked me in a beautiful home, one four generations and going. They sat me among old photos and memories from Riverview Park and the Boxer Rebellion, put me in front of a podcast mic and asked what I predict for Chicago in the year 2022. » Read the rest of this entry «

#735: He Vapes at Midnight

January 6th, 2017 § permalink

It was a mild, cold spatter of a winter rain, the type not harsh enough to keep you inside. It puts you on the streets — out, cold and miserable.

The stores were bright and fragile-looking, casting glances out the window, reverse shadows turned whirly rainbows reflected in the thin layer of oil slick city streets only show in the rain.

He held her in his arms. » Read the rest of this entry «

#734: A Small Thing

January 4th, 2017 § permalink

“Have you ever had your life entirely changed by a small thing?” he asked, whipping around to face me. » Read the rest of this entry «

#733: An Idea I Want You to Steal

January 2nd, 2017 § permalink

I have an idea. I want one of you to take it from me. » Read the rest of this entry «

#732: Putney’s Prophecies – Did 1899 Come True?

December 30th, 2016 § permalink

Fifteen minutes to midnight on the last day of the 19th century, a real estate historian named Mark Putney climbed to the roof of a downtown Chicago skyscraper and dreamed about the future. » Read the rest of this entry «

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.