#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 «

#510: Chocolate and the Class War

July 31st, 2015 § permalink

Kate was young and politico-pretty, with a tidy, blue dress from a thrift store, a bit of armpit hair peeking out because equality and a copy of a book by bell hooks. Yes, I did capitalize that correctly.

Kate had graduated with a Ph.D. in Biology, but was readying herself to be an eighth-grade substitute teacher at a private school in NYC because she didn’t know what else to do. She was staying in Chicago with her sister for a few days before a big family camping trip in Michigan.

Kate was scared, a bit. She knew the students the school accepts. She knew her mouth. She was worried she would say something sarcastic about a child’s $500 shoes.

So Quinn and I told her about the chocolate. » Read the rest of this entry «

#486: Shantytown on the 606

June 5th, 2015 § permalink

It was a birthday party years ago, one that hadn’t gone too well.

He was a local boy turning 26, an old friend who had quit a downtown ad job where he was popular and loved to start a new, yet-to-be-defined new life. He was in the process of losing touch with his old friend workmates. His new ones were transient and weird, also filling a lifting-and-hauling job while we figured our own next steps.

None of his old friends showed up at the bar that cold, wet night in an otherwise glorious summer. Only three of his new ones came. So in the wordless way young men have, the three of us decided to make it a night the birthday boy would remember.

Oh we drank. We drank and we talked and we yelled and we bought. The sole married one of the party soon headed home, leaving three men in their 20s spilling out into the night.

I don’t remember who decided to climb up onto the Bloomingdale Trail. » Read the rest of this entry «

#478: Nouns of Assemblage

May 18th, 2015 § permalink

We’ll start simply. A group of wolves is a pack.

Pride of lions, that’s one everyone knows.

A herd of sheep.

Now let’s get more complicated, ratchet it up.

A murder of crows.

A parliament of owls.

A smack of jellyfish. » Read the rest of this entry «

#432: This Side of Freezing

January 30th, 2015 § permalink

It was one degree of freezing, the bulbs under the Walgreen’s sign organized to say.

31˚ F » Read the rest of this entry «

#414: The Baby Pigeon Conspiracy

December 19th, 2014 § permalink

Text exchange between subjects Paul D. (left) and Nathan I. (right), 8:13 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014:

A trillion pigeons in this city and I’ve never seen a pigeon egg.

Or a baby pigeon.

Or a nest. What the hell, pigeons? » Read the rest of this entry «

#385: The Cocktail Writer

October 13th, 2014 § permalink

“You can say, well ‘Fried chicken’s fried chicken’ or ‘A steak’s a steak.’ It’s not. You know. Even if you’re not a chef, you know,” she’s saying. “A steak at Gene and Georgetti’s is going to be different than your steak at Golden Nugget diner on Western and Elston.”

She’s walking through a living room, carrying a drink in a frosted glass. A giraffe-topped swizzle stick from the defunct Trans World Airlines rattles a bit as she adjusts the skipping jazz on the record player. She’s talking in a quiet, strong voice about small batch bourbon. » Read the rest of this entry «

#380: The Story of T-Shirt, Solved

October 1st, 2014 § permalink

From 2010 to 2012, my friend Nathan, a tall, thin, quiet man with a shock of red hair, was stalked through Chicago by a man named T-Shirt. » Read the rest of this entry «

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