#915: Wind and the Lovely

April 16th, 2018 § permalink

The beautiful were out in the cold.

Rooftop bar along Michigan Avenue. Friends from out of town justified the expense of small-plate food that was actually filling and craft cocktails that needed a bank loan to pay off. Reservations at 9, seat by a window looking out over parks and museums and a lapping lake that extends so far it weaves into the starless night sky.

Or would have, if we could see a damn thing. » Read the rest of this entry «

#902: Election Endorsements (That You Actually Need)

March 16th, 2018 § permalink

In the grand tradition of newsman-as-kingmaker and the arrogant assumption typing up public meetings and getting lied at by politicians more directly than the average citizen makes the journalist a grander herald of democracy, 1,001 Chicago Afternoons announces its endorsements for the March 20 primary election. 


1,001 Chicago Afternoons endorses voting. Because you’re a goddamn grownup.  » Read the rest of this entry «

#901: Losing the News

March 14th, 2018 § permalink

“He had a party for time travelers.”

“And nobody came.”

“And nobody came. He didn’t tell anyone about it in advance. But now it’s in all the papers so going forward more people and more people will have read it, so the paradox started today. He was a funny guy.”


“Oh! You’re not on Twitter. Yeah, Stephen Hawking died.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#898: The Library

March 7th, 2018 § permalink

They picked at the jigsaw puzzle scattered over a large table on the sixth floor.

Well, picked at the jigsaw puzzle and gossiped about boys.

A few dozen people had set up laptops around the library, taking advantage of the WiFi for cardholders in order to watch videos, scroll through tweets — I saw one guy editing a song and another watching a full-on Hollywood film shot in Oscar-bait lighting. Others read. Two women chatted in the 3D print lab on the third floor, a floor which also held the mass homeless encampment of men and women who found a brief respite from the cold by clutching a magazine from Periodicals for a few hours.

In the stately two-story open lobby, a tour group with matching shirts depicting the state of Ohio nodded as different features of the walls were pointed out. And I flipped through my phone and considered a nap in a warm, dry corner on 6 next to a man pawing through a stack of research texts.

We were all doing it right. » Read the rest of this entry «

#891: The Corner, Prequel

February 19th, 2018 § permalink

Picture an ocean of warm, shallow water.

Long, eel-like fish slip by coral reefs. On the sea floor, oval not-crabs skitter through sand, pausing to glance with crystal eyes for food, predators or just to watch the hot sun shimmer and diffract through warm waters. » Read the rest of this entry «

#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 «

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