#677: My Immortal Morning

August 24th, 2016 § permalink

The button on my phone that snoozes the alarm.

The button again. And again.

The switch on a rotary fan. A window pane. Light switches, hangers, a plasticized book cover I brush against when reaching for a shirt. A plasticized business card that flutters out from the pocket.

Here’s everything I touched that was made of plastic one lazy August morning: » Read the rest of this entry «

#676: Boink

August 22nd, 2016 § permalink

“I’ll fuck you up, don’t think I won’t. I will fuck. You. Up,” he said, inches from my face, his breath tasting of sweet liquor and decay. » Read the rest of this entry «

#675: Notes from the Commute

August 19th, 2016 § permalink

For the last several months, I’ve been going to baseball practice.

Each Tuesday night, I would hop in the closest available Enterprise Car Share car and take off for the suburbs, where a friend who coaches Little League prepped me for throwing out the first pitch at a Kane County Cougars game.

The coaching was needed, as most of my childhood was spent talking about dinosaurs and trying to convince my parents that reading a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel in my room was a perfectly acceptable way to spend a summer day.

The pitch was last night. Quick verdict: Passable enough to be ignored by the crowd on dollar beer night.

But now the commute is done. No more hopping in rush hour traffic. No more subjecting myself to the vocal onanism of self-amused local radio DJs.

No more light curses when startled by a guy in a T-shirt zaggling through traffic on a crotch rocket motorcycle.

My commuter summer is over. Here are a few things I learned: » Read the rest of this entry «

#674: The Greatest Speech Never Given, Kane County Cougars Edition

August 17th, 2016 § permalink

In 1969, a speech was written that, thankfully, no one ever heard.

It was a contingency speech written by White House staffer William Safire, to be read by President Richard Nixon in case Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were stranded to die on the surface of the moon.

Tomorrow night, Aug. 18, 2016, I will be throwing out the first pitch at the Kane County Cougars Political Corruption Night in my role as arch-dictator and creator of the Chicago Corruption Walking Tour.

What follows are my own contingency speeches for when a pudgy writer with spindly little scarecrow arms tries to do something physical before a large crowd of people. » Read the rest of this entry «

#673: A Book at Sunset on the 606

August 15th, 2016 § permalink

The 606 is a biking/walking/jogging/strollering/cute puppying/sitting/reading/teen flirting/old couple laughing/sunset meandering path along a converted train line through Chicago’s Near West Side.

I had a book. And an empty spot of bench. And a summer night where the weather was so perfect air conditioning felt like sin.

So I combined the three. » Read the rest of this entry «

#672: A Rowdy Punk Club and the Unstoppable March

August 12th, 2016 § permalink

There’s a ritzy stretch of a ritzy stretch.

There’s a high-end Irish restaurant there, something bordering cuisine and pub. It’s lovely, golden lettering on the side and tasteful sidewalk patio area. Even among River North, the swath of condos, hotels, hot bars and beggars, it glitzes.

In 1978, this was skid row. Lines of liquor stores passing the hooch through bulletproof glass. Drunks and junkies slept it off in the alleys.

And the site where this lovely Irish restaurant now sits was the home of one of the most raucous, rowdy and seminal punk clubs in town — O’Banion’s. » Read the rest of this entry «

#671: The Bolshoi Ballet

August 10th, 2016 § permalink

I was too young to be a father.

I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle the pressure knowing she was out there, living in this world. How could I care for her? How could I care for a child when I was just a child myself?

I was 10. And she was a 74-ton finback whale I adopted through Bubblicious. » Read the rest of this entry «

#670: A Sadness of Cicadas

August 8th, 2016 § permalink

I wrote last year about nouns of assemblage, the packs of wolves, prides of lions, parliaments of owls or smacks of jellyfish that give our language the zest we enjoy.

I made some Chicago ones up. A haggle of bocce players arguing in Croatian. A bindle of cotton candy sellers hoisting their wares on shoulder. A whisper of old Polish women riding the bus to church on a gray and misty Sunday morning.

I have a new one today. A sadness of cicadas. » Read the rest of this entry «

#669: The Tour Guide

August 5th, 2016 § permalink

“The top floors are offices but the first two floors are just stores. Just office after office because there’s a lot of space. And some floors you go to and it’s just construction, like empty,” he said.

We’re walking down a hall. I’m 10 paces ahead. He’s telling his friend about a building he knows nothing about. » Read the rest of this entry «

#668: Four Methods to See the Problem

August 3rd, 2016 § permalink

Method 1: Stand on the southwest corner of Adams and Dearborn. » Read the rest of this entry «

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