#522: Reflections on the Water

August 28th, 2015 § permalink

The water lapped a few feet away. It felt strange.

It was the same river I had walked over and around a thousand times. The same river snaking underfoot, the one that acts as a marker for the beggars who work the bridges and that once claimed a cellphone that fell out of my jacket pocket.

But here it was, two feet away, glinting reflections in the dark of the neon and fluorescent from the nearby office buildings, the soundtrack the lapping of water and the laughing of people drinking Belgian beer at the tables behind. » Read the rest of this entry «

#521: Share Something… Here

August 26th, 2015 § permalink

I don’t like it when people set out to create something beautiful. It reeks false to me, calculating and deliberate like a business card that says “Poet.”

So I didn’t expect much of the book tucked in the back of the twee coffeehouse gallery with the twee wall decorations, twee staff, tweely named arthouse sandwiches and overhead music that sounds like it should be playing in the elevator of a modern design collective in Brussels.

It was a light green bound notebook tucked amid the thumbed-over comics and abandoned paperbacks stuck in a corner for those who ambled into the shop with nothing to read.

“SHARE SOMETHING — thoughts, doodle, haiku, ideas, song, philosophy… HERE.” the notebook’s cover read. » Read the rest of this entry «

#520: Morning Shift

August 24th, 2015 § permalink

It’s going to be hot later, for a bit. A few hours’ furnace will heat-blast the town before melting into a blissfully perfect night.

But the Sunday morning fog was cool and sharp as the first tourists trickled from hotel to street along Michigan Avenue.

It’s going to be crowded later, for a while. The few to make their way from hotel breakfasts at the ungodly vacation hour of 10 a.m. would be joined in their wander by scores of their compatriots.

Selfies on the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Bits of laughter as they reach to touch the bits of the Pyramids, the Great Wall, Taj Mahal and Monticello ripped from buildings around the world to dapple the side of Trib Tower. A few canoeists slide through the river below, the water still a peaceful, enticing calm. » Read the rest of this entry «

#519: Chizbooger 2015

August 21st, 2015 § permalink

In 1983, newspaper columnist Mike Royko, then at the Sun-Times, measured sanity in hamburgers.

It was a column that ran July 20 of that year, entitled — at least in my world-weary used bookstore copy of the Royko collection “Like I Was Sayin’” — “’California Burger’ Can Drive You Nuts.”

In the column, Royko and an unnamed friend stopped in a fern-laden early ‘80s California cuisine restaurant for lunch. » Read the rest of this entry «

#518: A Disaster Editorial

August 19th, 2015 § permalink

His voice got angry a bit as he related the story. Sad and distant too somehow.

“There was this old lady in the house, and her puppy too. They both drowned.”

“And you saw that?”

The barber nodded and ran a comb through my hair. I had brought up Hurricane Katrina. He brought up the editorial. » Read the rest of this entry «

#517: Zouaves

August 17th, 2015 § permalink

Past the pimped-out muscle car in the foyer and the flash and neon of a man-sized “Gas For Less” sign, up the stairs and past four interactive windows of Lincoln assassination relics, past a stately, chandeliered room of arches, columns and Civil War portraits is the Chicago History Museum’s Chicago Room, where an old janitor and a young security guard watched out the window and narrated each other the death machines. » Read the rest of this entry «

#516: Leaving Wrigley

August 14th, 2015 § permalink

The hot dogs had been eaten, the seventh inning stretched.

We had finished our beers, sang our “Take Me Outs” and, after a 10-inning nail biter saved when Montero cracked a walk-off homer to left field, had screamed and cheered and sang “Go Cubs Go.” The Brewers fan who had heckled and flicked off the field the whole game slunk off with two beautiful friends. » Read the rest of this entry «

#515: Nicknames

August 12th, 2015 § permalink

“The Second City” was a slam by a New Yorker magazine writer stuck here for a few years he hated.

“The Windy City” was a Wisconsonite dis calling us blowhards. » Read the rest of this entry «

#514: The Pier

August 10th, 2015 § permalink

Her parents relented to her squirms and wiggles, and let the little girl run back and forth in the bus aisle.

The scattered riders looked on the girl with approving, sad smiles and a bit of envy. The bus hadn’t moved in minutes, lodged in a gum wad of red brake lights in the dark. We were about 200 feet from our final destination.

We wanted to run free too, to scamper and skitter in a place promising to be as well-lit and safe as the aisle of a traffic-locked city bus.

So we went to Navy Pier. » Read the rest of this entry «

#513: White People Are Ugly and Other Revelations of a No-Longer-Colorblind Man

August 7th, 2015 § permalink

I recently realized my writing is a lot like Malcolm Gladwell’s. More of my friends claim to read it than actually do and I can pretty much get whatever gibberish I want to a global audience at a moment’s notice.

So a break from tales of little old ladies, steelworkers and fetishists to talk about my eyes.

Some of you might know I’m colorblind and, for those just learning this now, I do not have any idea what color your shirt is and if I could describe what green looks like to me I wouldn’t be colorblind. » Read the rest of this entry «

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