#986: Janna’s Light

September 28th, 2018 § permalink

As a child, Janna Sobel wanted to find the moment the light shut down and you became an adult.

“I felt like my friends were more playful, goofy, spontaneous, like whole, emotional, funny, alive,” she said as we sat in the grass by the Lincoln Park Children’s Fountain, the coincidence not occurring to me until I wrote this sentence. “As a kid it seemed to me like there was a light in their eyes — that’s the way I described it when I was young — and I didn’t see that same level of fullness of being or animatedness or livingness in most adults. It looked like something had happened.”

As an adult, she found that moment.  » Read the rest of this entry «

#935: Hairy Tales

June 1st, 2018 § permalink

Matted hair, kinky hair, long hair, hairballs. Irish boys’ shaved heads so pale the scalps had “a bluish tinge.” A group of 9 year olds scanning stolen Playboys to find if women had hair “down there.” A religious mother convinced her son’s long hair turned him hippie. A bald man mouthing off to a famed ’80s comedian about what exposed scalps really connote.

They gathered in the theater to talk about hair. » Read the rest of this entry «

#907: Quiet Hunting

March 28th, 2018 § permalink

It was an overload of children on the bottom two floors. Whining, wailing, amusing, amazing children, just too damn many of them. Free day at the museum will get you that.  » Read the rest of this entry «

#865: Wood-Paved Alleys

December 20th, 2017 § permalink

There’s a block where, if you have to step aside for a car slowly rolling down crackling alley pavement, the car is a Bentley.

There’s a block where even the back entryways are tastefully decorated — can’t seem unseemly even to the rats and covert urinators who seek alleys as habitat.

There’s a block where tall staircases lead to immaculate brick homes with Christmas tree fairy lights and the everyday crystal chandeliers glinting and glowing out the windows.

And I was hunting these streets for an alley made of wood. » Read the rest of this entry «

#794: Night at the Museum

May 24th, 2017 § permalink

My ankle started to hurt, an old-man trait inherited from my dad’s side of the family, so I took a seat between the photo of the world’s first Ferris wheel and the old Chicago Times guide to the tribes you could gawk at.

The historian was still talking. » Read the rest of this entry «

#775: That Day

April 10th, 2017 § permalink

The penguins toddled a bit. I guess that’s what penguins do on land. They hop and waddle and toddle a bit.

The polar bear just slouched. It slouched back to the colder area of the enclosure; out of sight, out of warm, sunny day.

The lion laid back and let the sun warm its tummy.

It was that day. » Read the rest of this entry «

#735: He Vapes at Midnight

January 6th, 2017 § permalink

It was a mild, cold spatter of a winter rain, the type not harsh enough to keep you inside. It puts you on the streets — out, cold and miserable.

The stores were bright and fragile-looking, casting glances out the window, reverse shadows turned whirly rainbows reflected in the thin layer of oil slick city streets only show in the rain.

He held her in his arms. » Read the rest of this entry «

#617: Trains, Corpses and a $400 Million Hole – Three Things Underneath Chicago

April 6th, 2016 § permalink

My mother has been posting photos of what the privy diggers found.

I grew up in an old house which, apparently, used to have an outhouse right below the maple I used to climb. *

Outhouses in the 1800s were apparently trash dumps too, so my parents let some privy diggers — professional excavators — dig down to see what was there. They pulled out crystal wine stoppers, old bottles, cracked porcelain plates with blue-dyed townscapes, all right under my old maple.

It got me thinking about what’s beneath our feet in Chicago.

» Read the rest of this entry «

#606: A Most Difficult Chicago Trivia Quiz – The Answers

March 11th, 2016 § permalink

On Wednesday, I put out an incredibly difficult Chicago trivia quiz.

The purpose, aside from the fact I’ve been all coughing and bronchial and wanted a story I could write from my sickbed, was to get people to explore certain sites I like, including this one, Atlas Obscura, the Chicago Collections Consortium, the Chicago History Museum, Mysterious Chicago and Curious City.

So I made the quiz goldanged impossible. (And Curious City, that thing we talked about? It’s handled.)

From the Fool Killer submarine to park bats to Iroquois Theater Assistant Chief Usher Archie Guerin, here are the answers you didn’t get to the 1,001 Chicago Afternoons Really Difficult Trivia Quiz. » Read the rest of this entry «

#605: A Most Difficult Chicago Trivia Quiz

March 9th, 2016 § permalink

You might know the Iroquois Theater Fire happened in 1903, but do you know the name of the assistant chief usher called to testify after?

Sure, you know that the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction was at the U of C campus, but do you know what sport the room was originally made for? » Read the rest of this entry «

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