#985: Packy & Cracky’s Super Funtastic Go-Go-Wow Illinois Political Gamesmanship Kids Activity Book

September 26th, 2018 § permalink

The following is a selection from a planned-then-discarded kids activity book about Illinois politics I briefly toyed with writing in 2017.

While I have no desire to actually write the adventures of Packy and Cracky the Gerrymander Twins, Their Friend TIFany, Layoffo the News Clown and House Speaker Mike Madigan, it is super-late in the day and I have to run to an interview for an actual story about life in modern Chicago.

So with your indulgence and forgiveness I give you Gubernatorial Corruption Charge Limericks. Answers will be posted on the @1001chicago Twitter account at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28. Thank you for making it to 985 stories and may God have mercy on my soul. » Read the rest of this entry «

#984: Life and Death for $15

September 24th, 2018 § permalink

Below the bowels of the Daley Center courthouse, in an office where the website lists one address next to a photo of the building across the street, a man in a uniform sits behind a desk shuttling incomers by their business.

Marriage, go this way. Birth and death, go this way. He shunts people to lines marked with barricades connected by ribbons made of seatbelt fabric and, when people complain about the $15 fee, reminds them how much worse it could be. » Read the rest of this entry «

#981: Yakko’s Race

September 17th, 2018 § permalink

On Sept. 4, 2018, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would not be seeking re-election, throwing the political landscape into turmoil.

In honor of Mayor Emanuel, who has provided poetic inspiration before and upon whose missing finger I have waxed philosophic, I offer a farewell in the form most befitting his mayorality: A song listing his potential successors in the style of a 1990s cartoon.

If you are Rahm Emanuel, I wish you and your inevitable consulting agency nothing but the best as we try to fix what you left us. Think of us when you’re smoothing some deal for Ticketmaster, Sterling Bay or Elon Musk’s underground network of rocket cars. » Read the rest of this entry «

#980: This Is

September 14th, 2018 § permalink

This is a section of Sumerian tablet Istanbul #2461, sometimes called “The Love Song for Shu-Sin.”

Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
Lion, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

It was found carved on a small hunk of stone in 1889. It wasn’t translated until 1951, when a researcher poking around the Istanbul Museum looking for his next project opened a drawer and picked it out at random from the other pieces.

It’s believed to be the world’s oldest surviving love poem.

This is what happens when you toss sodium in a lake. » Read the rest of this entry «

#979: Brian. Little Girl.

September 12th, 2018 § permalink

When your first impression is of youth, it’s hard to start that story.

What does it mean when you remember someone as young? How young? Younger than me? Younger than the composite age of my aggregate readership? Younger than my prejudices of someone too damn fool to listen to good music and respect their my-aged elders?

Sometimes, it’s easy to describe someone as young. Brian was young, too young to need the quad cane at least. » Read the rest of this entry «

#977: Under the Bridge

September 7th, 2018 § permalink

There’s a culling by commitment in a light rain. A downpour removes all comers, but when the raindrops patter the ground like first kisses — clumsy wet smacks some teenager should apologize for — you can be out-slash-about, but only if you really mean it. » Read the rest of this entry «

#973: The Vanishing Chicago Sewer Clown

August 29th, 2018 § permalink

Chicago has a sewer clown problem, but it’s not what It looks like. » Read the rest of this entry «

#972: The Barber Battle Book

August 27th, 2018 § permalink

My barbershop plays rock ‘n’ roll.

They have biker and shave-culture memorabilia on the walls and stacks of Hells Angels zines next to vintage ’70s Playboys. They have a “pint club” where you can pay $20 for a year of free beer, plus smiling, tattooed men who take as much time as it takes to make sure you’re perfectly happy.

No appointments, cash only. When you walk in, you sign your name on a chalkboard and they call you in turn.

This is how we get haircuts in 21st century America. And I wonder if the smiling man with the thick blonde ponytail, the man calling my name and brushing off my chair, knows we live in the city that shaped how the nation cuts hair. » Read the rest of this entry «

#970: Fed Shreds

August 22nd, 2018 § permalink

“In the six months since the aliens landed, demands for goods and services has dropped sharply,” said the video of a man whose eyes move along with the cue card.

Around me, children ran and squealed.

“Most consumers are either hiding at home or toiling beneath the cruel yoke of their new alien overlords,” the video continued. “This has brought the economy to a virtual standstill, despite many stores aggressively slashing prices to bring in customers. While the invaders have assured world leaders that they will soon be leaving, lenders are reluctant to issue loans to business customers, whose profits keep dropping.”

The world is in crisis. There is life beyond the stars and it is malevolent. The fate of the planet is in one set of hands — mine. Now do I raise, lower or retain current interest rates?

Welcome to the Money Museum. » Read the rest of this entry «

#962: In Praise of Alleys

August 3rd, 2018 § permalink

Sometimes they’re ugly.

Sometimes they’re dirty.

Sometimes they’re actually streets and once in a while they’re made of wood.

But I sing the alley electric. » Read the rest of this entry «

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