#904: Kaage’s Early Edition

March 21st, 2018 § permalink

Picture two man-sized boxes on a darkened corner.

One box is almost a shed, light-toned and covered in siding, like a home in one of the suburbs just a few blocks to the north. There’s a plaque on one side honoring a familial doyenne and a banner on the streetside paying tribute to a long-gone anniversary.

The other box was propped half open, like a grade-school diorama. A chest-high stack of newspapers on a stool fronts a spread of magazines ranging from local dining to muscle car to naked lady.

Approaching the second box brought a visitor from the first. A man sauntered out of the shed with an old Chicago Tribune newsboy apron cinched around his waist.

“This the place that’s been here like a hundred years?” I asked. » Read the rest of this entry «

#903: Opening Night

March 19th, 2018 § permalink

Below a museum of genocide where paintings, photographs and relics pay tribute to the 2 million lives lost to the Khmer Rouge, in a basement with rigged-up curtains cordoning off the paperwork, canned goods and other materials for Cambodian families needing services to set up life in Chicago, a woman opened her soul. » Read the rest of this entry «

#902: Election Endorsements (That You Actually Need)

March 16th, 2018 § permalink

In the grand tradition of newsman-as-kingmaker and the arrogant assumption typing up public meetings and getting lied at by politicians more directly than the average citizen makes the journalist a grander herald of democracy, 1,001 Chicago Afternoons announces its endorsements for the March 20 primary election. 


1,001 Chicago Afternoons endorses voting. Because you’re a goddamn grownup.  » Read the rest of this entry «

#901: Losing the News

March 14th, 2018 § permalink

“He had a party for time travelers.”

“And nobody came.”

“And nobody came. He didn’t tell anyone about it in advance. But now it’s in all the papers so going forward more people and more people will have read it, so the paradox started today. He was a funny guy.”


“Oh! You’re not on Twitter. Yeah, Stephen Hawking died.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#900: A Family-Friendly South Side Irish Parade

March 12th, 2018 § permalink

“Union homes!” the dark-haired woman screamed into the megaphone. “They’re family homes is what they are! South Side Irish! And go White Sox, that’s the other thing! I see that guy in the jacket knows!”

And the children waved and tossed candy. And the candidates waved and tossed smiles. And the white-and-green poms of the floats flittered and fluttered and pamphleteers working the crowd feverishly pressed fliers advertising the dubious benefits of wads of dough you don’t actually want, but know you’ll end up getting in the end, like Krispy Kreme doughnuts or J.B. Pritzker. » Read the rest of this entry «

#899: The Battle ‘Ere Borne (Or, “How I Spent 16 Weeks in a Media Bowling League Listening to Len’s ‘Steal My Sunshine’ on Repeat in a Failed Effort to Win a Sword Named Swords Terkel”)

March 9th, 2018 § permalink

Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses,” 1842

I was lying on the bench slide
In the park across the street
L-A-T-E-R that week.
My sticky paws were into making straws
Out of big, fat Slurpee treats.
An incredible, eight-foot heap.

— Len, “Steal My Sunshine,” 1999 » Read the rest of this entry «

#898: The Library

March 7th, 2018 § permalink

They picked at the jigsaw puzzle scattered over a large table on the sixth floor.

Well, picked at the jigsaw puzzle and gossiped about boys.

A few dozen people had set up laptops around the library, taking advantage of the WiFi for cardholders in order to watch videos, scroll through tweets — I saw one guy editing a song and another watching a full-on Hollywood film shot in Oscar-bait lighting. Others read. Two women chatted in the 3D print lab on the third floor, a floor which also held the mass homeless encampment of men and women who found a brief respite from the cold by clutching a magazine from Periodicals for a few hours.

In the stately two-story open lobby, a tour group with matching shirts depicting the state of Ohio nodded as different features of the walls were pointed out. And I flipped through my phone and considered a nap in a warm, dry corner on 6 next to a man pawing through a stack of research texts.

We were all doing it right. » Read the rest of this entry «

#897: Home

March 5th, 2018 § permalink

My apartment’s radiator sounds like Snap, Crackle and Pop have a fourth elf friend named High-Pitched Whine.

There’s an empty room in the basement off from the laundry room with brick walls, no window, a dusty concrete floor and some bits of long-broken glass. It’s the single creepiest room I’ve been in. I call it the Murder Room and want to hide a clown mannequin in there. It would be just standing there, looking.

And someone spilled like a ton of cat litter in the stairwell and didn’t clean it up. Used cat litter.

I love this place.  » Read the rest of this entry «

#896: The 2018 Illinois Gubernatorial Race (Or “Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!”)

March 2nd, 2018 § permalink

Welcome dear friends and hear now the story ‘a
A far-away land known as Gubernatoria
Where the grickle-grass grows and Whos have elocution
And each problem comes with a slogan solution.

There are Grinches and Sneeches, and Loraxi aplenty,
Enough to appease the Seuss cognoscenti.
But the land has a creature foul ’nuff to make eyes well
More than the other brain-kids of Ted Geisel. » Read the rest of this entry «

#895: Quickly, the Corn

February 28th, 2018 § permalink

He was quick through practice, not intent.

There was no pressing need to dump the cheese and slather the mayo inside the cup so quickly, but after years of standing on street corners doing just that, that’s how fast he did it. He shook out the squeeze bottles of hot sauce and chili powder quickly as a matter of course. He grabbed a steaming ear of corn on the stick, carved off the kernels as per my request and tossed away the naked cob quickly because quickly is how it’s done.

And when the man with the mustache, dark baseball cap and radio slapped with a “This American Strife, From Englewood, Chicago” sticker handed me a Styrofoam cup of elotes from the cart parked on Milwaukee Avenue, he did it quickly. » Read the rest of this entry «

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