#875: The Secret of the Marquette

January 12th, 2018 § permalink

“To follow those waters … which will henceforth lead us into strange lands.”

The “…” isn’t mine. It belongs to the four bronze plates of French voyageurs endlessly exploring the Dearborn Street entryway to the Marquette Building downtown. The reddish, soot-stained terra cotta office building is a dwarf among the glass giants of the Loop. It’s outshone. Purely and plainly, passersby’s eyes either draw to the modernist glass-and-steel and whorling cherry-red steel sculptures of Federal Plaza to the south or to the distant Art Institute to the east, the latter a sign that their tourist trek from Union Station is almost at an end.

It’s nice. It’s cool and fine, sort of an “Oh, that’s charming!” from the outside.

But there’s a secret. » Read the rest of this entry «

#874: Unidentified Failing Object

January 10th, 2018 § permalink

Every so often, when the wind blows oblique angles and I decide I should actually spend a night in rather than tracking down the last artisanal radish farmer in Schorsch Village, I run draft sections of a book I’m working on (and still looking for a publisher for… hint hint). 

The book will be a companion piece to the Chicago Corruption Walking Tour, my delightful summertime side hustle that NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report called “one new walking tour that some local politicians wish would just go away.”

I’ve run sections on the treatment of the Potawatomi and what the Justice Department corruption stats actually say about Illinois, but with this little blurb, I channel my inner Blair Kamin and get into some architecture. Enjoy! (And tell your friends in publishing that this hot word-typing is available.) » Read the rest of this entry «

#871: Caesura

January 3rd, 2018 § permalink

It’s a tired city smeared white with road salt.

The cold always takes a lot out of the town. It’s an effort to move, to pack yourself thick with swaddle. Coats that go to the knees, scarves, gloves, hats we’d all agree were hideous in a better world than ours.

Breathing is sharp, noses drip, backs ache, and it feels a workout for legs just going up and down road-salt stairs down to the subway hub to head elsewhere.

Everything’s been slow in the cold. People aren’t going out when they don’t have to. “When they don’t have to” is becoming a larger category each dropped degree.

So down empty white-smeared streets, down huddled penguin hallways even the smiling Jehovah’s Witnesses have abandoned, down into the city’s railway belly, we have a rest. We have a caesura. » Read the rest of this entry «

#869: The Shooter

December 29th, 2017 § permalink

“You know my human brain story?” I asked my wife.


“That was him.”

“Ah.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#867: You Can Just Walk In

December 25th, 2017 § permalink

If you’re stuck downtown with a rolling suitcase and an hours-long gap between work’s Christmas-early quitting time and the flight that will take you to the non-Midwest family that scored a bid to host this year, there are places you can just walk in. » Read the rest of this entry «

#858: To Miss F—

December 4th, 2017 § permalink

Lady! I’ve gazed upon thy face;
     ’Tis [something something something]”
Mantled with smiles, what witching grace
      Has there built up as throue! [sic.]
Thy pearly teeth!  dear heart, don’t flutter
They must be death on bread and butter!

A man’s love for Miss F— only exists on crackling microfilm no one can quite read. » Read the rest of this entry «

#857: Is Illinois the Most Corrupt State? A Look at the Numbers

December 1st, 2017 § permalink

“The governor is guilty.”

“How do you know that?”

“He’s the governor of Illinois.”

– Fictional TV drama “The Good Wife,” 2014

Illinois’ reputation for political corruption is legendary, and well-earned. I have no problem with being the butt of jokes about shady politicos — we’ve put in centuries of work toward that rep — but it does raise an idle question.

Is Illinois the worst? » Read the rest of this entry «

#855: Glass and Rust

November 27th, 2017 § permalink

Dawn is odd to colorblind eyes. It’s a mixture of orange and green, a color pairing that makes perfect sense to my particular visual defects but earns blinks and confusion when described.

It’s OK. My version of reality is prettier than yours. Even when seen from a 6 a.m. train rumbling toward a city of glass. » Read the rest of this entry «

#854: 1,001 Chicago Afternoons’ Updated Privacy Policy

November 24th, 2017 § permalink

As Chicago is as quiet as a tryptophan slumber, I’m stuck at work and I’d rather gouge an eye than cover Black Friday shopping, I will be using this post to announce new and exciting changes to the privacy policy for 1,001 Chicago Afternoons and its multinational corporate holding shell, thouagoftnernoo Inc., a Delaware Corporation.

We’re as open with our policies as we are with your data. That’s the 1,001 Chicago Afternoons Way.® » Read the rest of this entry «

#848: The Last War Dance

November 10th, 2017 § permalink

Chicago’s last war dance started by the Wrigley Building, then headed west along the riverbank past Trump Tower, Marina City, and The 3D Printer Experience. » Read the rest of this entry «

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