#917: Along the Water

April 20th, 2018 § permalink

I shuffled along, hands in pockets of a dark three-quarter length coat and hat pulled Andy Cappishly over my eyes. My pace was in between, slowly catching up to the white white-haired couple holding hands as they sauntered along but getting lapped by two Latino high school students in their charter sweatshirts jogging and gossiping about some guy who “makes me feel, like, a certain way, I don’t know” before bursting into nervous, happy laughter. » Read the rest of this entry «

#916: The Order

April 18th, 2018 § permalink

She likes punk, industrial, new wave, goth, the macabre. Long black streams of mesh trail from the ceiling in her Pilsen artists loft. She has a framed photo of designer Alexander McQueen posing with a skull on the desk and a pair of brass knuckles suspended over the kitchenette sink.

She’s done seven clothing lines of entirely black. She works in vinyl and lace, mesh and satin, safety pins and fishnet — all black, down to the thread used on inside stitching. The eighth line branched out from all black all the time. Three of the new pieces are as white as a desert-bleached rib cage.

She smiles and laughs all the time.

“Why do I have to be this angry person covered in skull tattoos to wear black?” she said. » Read the rest of this entry «

#915: Wind and the Lovely

April 16th, 2018 § permalink

The beautiful were out in the cold.

Rooftop bar along Michigan Avenue. Friends from out of town justified the expense of small-plate food that was actually filling and craft cocktails that needed a bank loan to pay off. Reservations at 9, seat by a window looking out over parks and museums and a lapping lake that extends so far it weaves into the starless night sky.

Or would have, if we could see a damn thing. » Read the rest of this entry «

#914: Change and the Pilsen Night

April 13th, 2018 § permalink

There still aren’t stars.

I know they exist, that they’re out there burning away in a deep black eternity, the smallest still on a scale grander than I have capacity to comprehend. But on a street corner in Pilsen, they’re drowned out, washed away by overhead lamps, security lights and the glow of a late-night gym full of sweaty people in activewear.

But that’s OK. » Read the rest of this entry «

#913: The Piñata Quiz – Know Your Not-Quite-Intellectual-Property-Violating Candy Monsters

April 11th, 2018 § permalink

The candy was sweet and delightful — wads of tamarind wrapped in corn husks, bars of nothing but sweetened toasted coconut, spiced fruit fluids the consistency of cold butter scooped into a plastic spoon then tied off in Saran wrap and tossed, spoon and all, in the bin. Crumbly sugar-and-peanut marzipan, lollypops spiced piping hot, bins of chocolate more familiar to my Anglo eyes.

And rows and rows of piñatas that, while not quite crossing the line into full-on copyright infringement, definitely broke the spirit of the law with “Mouse Boy” and “Bat Hero.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#912: The Raw Stuff of History

April 9th, 2018 § permalink

The Civics Room at Lane Tech High School was filling on Saturday morning, but it was filling from the back.

The weekend schoolers were shuffling in with notepads and folders, looking around and, one by one, heading toward the farthest spot from the woman who was about to step up to the mic to say “There are spaces up by the front” to the room full of professional educators, historians and me.

Even teachers don’t like to sit in the front row. » Read the rest of this entry «

#911: That Question

April 6th, 2018 § permalink

If you’re reading the title to this little schmear of words, mentally stress the word “that.”

It’s not that question, it’s that question. The one we all know. The one we’ve asked and been asked and we winced with discomfort both times.

This that question came from behind me as the train trundled me north from work.

“Can we still be friends?” a woman said into her phone. » Read the rest of this entry «

#910: The Thrilla That’s Municipal-ah

April 4th, 2018 § permalink

Shortly before 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 5, down a thin flight of stairs lit by a security bulb, you’re going to knock on a door.

A hatch on the door will slide open. A pair of eyes will glare through.

“Password,” the eyes will say, or maybe they’ll just keep glaring, waiting for you to say what’s next.

You’ll say it. If you get it right, the door will open. Then the history begins. » Read the rest of this entry «

#909: Dancing Among Ghosts

April 2nd, 2018 § permalink

The sunlit morning invited. It was cool and sharp, crisp and wonderful. It asked the city to dance. So we did.

A springtime dance with a city isn’t your normal nightclub shimmy. It’s a complex, choreographed number set to the tune of car horns, train rattles and the few chirping birds giving this whole “spring” thing a tentative go.

We dance among each other, bowing and curtsying out of the way. We stand and sit to give others seats on trains. We hustle up the tempo to sashay just a touch faster past the ones whose role in the dance is to beg for change. We stop and pirouette when encountering an old friend on the sidewalk, a momentary pas de deux before rejoining the grand ballet.

And we dance among ghosts, if we know enough. » Read the rest of this entry «

#908: The Colloquium

March 30th, 2018 § permalink

“Sal’s late,” the fry cook said.

“He was late yesterday too,” the man on the end of the linoleum counter said as the waitress topped off his coffee.

“It’s always quiet ‘til Sal gets here,” the waitress said, rushing back to refill the pot. » Read the rest of this entry «

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