#1,000: The Ride Home

October 31st, 2018 § permalink

The North Side was a blur, as it should have been. I tried to play catch-up after lingering so long on the South. I was out of energy, out of sweat, felt bile rising in my stomach and my legs burned. I do OK for what I am, but I was not in shape for this weekend warrior nonsense.

And I couldn’t stop laughing.

Down some water. Laugh. Dip among traffic. Laugh. Cram an energy bar and stop by the tampon boxes, fast food wrappers and museum-pimping statuary that pool along the spot the Roosevelt Road bridge overlooks both river and the vacant Rezkoville and I laugh laugh laugh. » Read the rest of this entry «

#932: An Encounter

May 25th, 2018 § permalink

He sat at the end of the bar, smiling and talking to himself. He rocked a little, nodding along to whatever internal beat drove him.

“Man,” I thought. “That guy is drunk.

He wasn’t.

» 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 «

#889: My Local Doughnut

February 14th, 2018 § permalink

The line snaked the perimeter.

It crept along the bakery’s inner edge, past the street-facing glass cases trying to lure wanderers with wedding cakes, curling around the side room where pickup orders happen any other day of the year, almost reaching to the dining room off to the back where people eat sandwiches and drink coffee any other day of the year.

But it’s not any other day of the year.

“I should have pre-paid,” I said, eyeing a man in a tan greatcoat who hopped past it all, picked up his box of pączki and left.

“Every year I am saying to myself I should do that,” the woman behind me in line said, chuckling. » Read the rest of this entry «

#839: A “Prominent Author” Deems You Should Go To This Fundraiser

September 6th, 2017 § permalink

In the last few weeks, I have made the transition from “and many more” to “prominent author.”

The “and many more” was for “Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology,” which I wrote about in August and which conveniently ran out of pixels on the website before they could add my name to the list of contributors. While I am honored to be part of this collection of  pieces about life in 21st century Chicago, this is the writing equivalent of getting to play with your favorite band but seeing “and Guest” on the marquee when you pull up to the club.

But although I got the Professor and Mary Ann treatment in the marketing copy, it’s still a great book, mine was one of the five stories they chose to put online and you should totally buy it.

My upgrade to “prominent author” just came this evening, and you should totally put your money toward that too. » Read the rest of this entry «

#838: A Happiness of Cicadas

September 4th, 2017 § permalink

I detest stories about the wonder of childhood.

I detest the way they imply an innate happiness at the simplest of things is the sole domain of those who can’t yet drive, vote or depreciate noncurrent assets using the straight-line basis. Childhood is magic, yes, but there’s an inherent plaint in such stories that it’s the only magic there is.

“Behold the child!” the stories seem to cry. “Behold his or her wonder at the world because you have to behold it in others because you’re clearly a boring old fart who understood the ‘depreciate noncurrent assets’ line in the last paragraph.”

The wonder is out there for adults to see. Granted, having a kid around helps.

» Read the rest of this entry «

#835: Cannibals Need Free Speech Too – An ACLU Story

August 28th, 2017 § permalink

On Oct. 2, I will be participating in a reading of banned books as part of a benefit for the American Civil Liberties Union. The organizers still in the planning stage, but I will update details on my Appearances page as I learn them.

Participants will read selections from a banned or challenged book, then share original essays inspired by the work. I have chosen to read my favorite children’s poem about familial cannibalism, “Dreadful” from Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

The rough draft of my reading follows: » Read the rest of this entry «

#714: Did They Know?

November 18th, 2016 § permalink

Her mouth was full when she yelled, but I can’t speak Spanish anyway.

She yelled at him to knock it off, body language told. Head thrust forward, arms thrust out, elbows cocked inward in sort of a third shrug, third “I can’t believe you’re so stupid,” third “I might backhand you so watch out” gesture.

He laughed and laughed, so she swung her backpack at him.

They were young, and I don’t know if they figured out they’re in love. » Read the rest of this entry «

#690: Shameless Self-Promotion Theatre, Part 3

September 23rd, 2016 § permalink

In part 1, I pimped a live lit reading honoring Studs Terkel.

In part 2, I announced a podcast that I since stopped doing (I later halted the Patreon campaign too).

And now, in part 3 of Shameless Self-Promotion Theatre, I want to dress up all fancy, swill some cocktails all Gatsby and yell at you about politics. » 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 «

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