#727: The Heart of the Book

December 19th, 2016 § permalink

“Books are…”

He trailed off, glanced around a bit, swirled his mug of coffee, sucked some air in through his teeth and let out a frustrated ah as he tried to find the end to the sentence.

“They’re living things.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#719: Help Nonprofits Survive Trump – Call for Submissions

November 30th, 2016 § permalink

On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office and become the 45th president of the United States of America. The world will be worse.

So let’s spend the night before making it just a bit better. » Read the rest of this entry «

#713: In Praise of the Tamale Guy

November 16th, 2016 § permalink

“Tamale!” he yelled, lifting the small red cooler to demonstrate his wares. “Tamale!”

Marc from the office got a strange, quirked look on his face. He turned to the others clustered around the table.

“Who would buy a tamale from a-”

“Tamale!” I yelled, walking up from the ATM.

The Cubs won the World Series and, electorally, orange is the new black, so I should be through the looking glass on surprises this month. But somehow it managed to shock me that none of my coworkers had ever bought a tamale off a tamale guy. » Read the rest of this entry «

#709: Vote Like a Champ in Just Six Steps

November 7th, 2016 § permalink

Voting is like improv comedy: The fact you’re unprepared is only amusing to you.

For the rest of us, those who take more than one stab at existence and who tire of any activity with a cover and two-drink minimum to watch state school theater majors laugh harder at their own jokes than the audience ever will, we like to be a little more prepared.

So in the vein of my Bare Minimum Voting Guide from the primary, a six-step plan that will get you voting like a champ in no time. * » Read the rest of this entry «

#634: Streetlight Manifesto

May 16th, 2016 § permalink

The line of punk rockers snaked back and forth along the barricade of candy Walgreens uses to file the customers.

Past the gamut of Snickers and other impulse buys, the line of punks continued back through half the Walgreens, petering out by the premade turkey sandwiches.

“Did a show just let out?” I asked four sweaty white teens whose brand-new Streetlight Manifesto T-shirts hung limply over their scrawn. » Read the rest of this entry «

#625: The Chimes of Logan Square

April 25th, 2016 § permalink

We walked down the street, the three of us, east past California where the bars and grills and oh-so-on-trend little boozeries stopped and into the construction-clad dead zone separating the hip enclaves of Logan Square and Wicker Park.

It was dark, and I had my worries when sidewalk construction on two massive condo blocks dipped the pathway into the street. On our way out for the night, I had seen confused bikers use the walking path to ride. Under the dark, I was concerned they wouldn’t see us in time.

Over the dark air, the sound of wind chimes filled an otherwise empty road. » Read the rest of this entry «

#618: A Reading in Logan

April 8th, 2016 § permalink

The promised wine was a single bottle of grocery store white for the whole room.

The lights were overly bright and killed all mood, all illusion we were anywhere other than a well-lit storefront during regular shopping hours.

It didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter the promised wine evaporated between a roomful, it didn’t matter the bookstore was as bright and moodful as a 1990s Toys ‘R’ Us. It didn’t matter that the door gave a loud electronic ding whenever real shoppers came in, making a meerkat moment of a dozen heads swiveling at once to scout the new intruder.

None of that mattered because we were there to rule the world. » Read the rest of this entry «

#596: The Human Web

February 17th, 2016 § permalink

On Western Avenue, one of the spots where the highway crosses, just south of the movie theater where $15.08 on a Fandango gift card will get you a widescreen superhero flick with assigned stadium seating and surround sound, a human web was plastered to an underpass.

It was a web of tarps, of cloth. Of mattresses and bed sheets and blankets and shirts and any other bit of fabric the homeless men who lived there could cement, glue, shove or staple into the slight corner made by the underpass supports.

Filling every corner and crevice of the underpass edge, it looked like nothing but a trapdoor spider’s web. » Read the rest of this entry «

#531: Paul Dailing’s “City on the Make”

September 18th, 2015 § permalink

The song of summer 2015 was the theme from “The Munsters.”

I mean, not literally of course. It was actually Chicago-area band Fall Out Boy’s hit “Uma Thurman,” which has been following me around in stores, over radios, online, in the Logan Square arcade where a friend and I played video games as retro and backward-looking as the pop track itself.

Thirteen seconds of Pete Wentz yelling and then, there you go, the theme to “The Munsters”

The 1960s monster sitcom’s inclusion in this 2015 pop song is called sampling. That’s when musicians include pieces of other people’s works in their works, or as I once wrote, “Call me Ishmael.” » 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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