#764: Atom Orbitals and the Charm of Being Lost

March 15th, 2017 § permalink

I was told the TV was mine, that the long day earned me a couch and control of the remote.

I looked at the couch and blanket and said “I’m going to watch a TED Talk about atoms.”

And within three minutes, I was. » Read the rest of this entry «

#737: Bhopal

January 11th, 2017 § permalink

His name wasn’t Bhopal, couldn’t have been. That’s the name of the town in India where the pesticide gas leak killed all those people in the ’80s.

He told me his name when we first met, but his accent was so thick with West Africa that, whatever it was, I heard “Bhopal.” After that, for the month or two we knew each other, I would slightly mumble when I had to address him directly.

I met him on the street by Soi Ratchathewi near my apartment in Bangkok, Thailand. It was a sweat-hot night, as they all were. I’m built for bogs and ski resorts — I don’t know what I was thinking moving for four months to a city carved from jungle.

That’s a lie. I knew exactly what I was thinking. » Read the rest of this entry «

#733: An Idea I Want You to Steal

January 2nd, 2017 § permalink

I have an idea. I want one of you to take it from me. » 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 «

#704: Where I Was

October 26th, 2016 § permalink

I sipped from the little plastic cup as the bearded man with a skinny T-shirt that either advertised a band or a beer chattered on about ABVs and IBUs.

But I wanted RBIs. » Read the rest of this entry «

#684: Bright and Burning, Dark and Empty

September 9th, 2016 § permalink

It’s a bright sort of darkness, the type city people confuse for the real thing.

Streetlamps and buses, trains and cars, glowing store signs and homes’ motion-activated security systems mean it will never get truly dark here.

No one’s going to stumble and cry out here, lost in an endless black. At worst they’ll look slightly up and a green sign off a lamppost will tell them if they’ve made it to Damen yet. » Read the rest of this entry «

#682: Unknown

September 5th, 2016 § permalink

It was a party. Friends and loved ones and a cake so heavily candled that it looks like wildfire in the photos popping up on Facebook this morning.

It was the first part of a weekend that’s taking me away from this city, this weird addictive city that can’t decide if it wants to treat us well or shoddy hour by hour.

I don’t know where I’m going. » Read the rest of this entry «

#667: A Room Where Bozo Went Pantsless

August 1st, 2016 § permalink

Bozo’s studio is full of barbecue grills, like five of them. » Read the rest of this entry «

#643: Who I Want to Be

June 6th, 2016 § permalink

He shuffled into the train, a thin, fussy old white man wearing New Balance sneakers over brown socks.

He wore light khakis. He wore a checked button-up shirt under a cardigan under another cardigan.

He looked around, his fine mustache twitching, and found a spot. From his canvas bag advertising the Environmental Law and Policy Center, he pulled a folded-over copy of the New York Times. He pushed his thin bifocals up on his nose, twitched the ‘stache a time or two more and proceeded to read the Times, article by article, in order. » Read the rest of this entry «

#633: American Lyric

May 13th, 2016 § permalink

The white-throated sparrow is a migratory songbird that passes through Chicago in the spring and again in the fall. Its chirp sounds like “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,” according to the Chicago Botanic Garden website, so maybe that wasn’t the bird that greeted me in the morning.

But I like the bird all the same, the little tree-mice whose songs trickle from the skies, even in a city. » Read the rest of this entry «

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the North Center category at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.