#939: The Jazz Singer

June 11th, 2018 § permalink

We’re sitting on a couch. I’m sipping tea. The walls are filled with art and the house pet is an app-controlled R2D2.

The jazz singer is talking about her clothes.  » Read the rest of this entry «

#903: Opening Night

March 19th, 2018 § permalink

Below a museum of genocide where paintings, photographs and relics pay tribute to the 2 million lives lost to the Khmer Rouge, in a basement with rigged-up curtains cordoning off the paperwork, canned goods and other materials for Cambodian families needing services to set up life in Chicago, a woman opened her soul. » Read the rest of this entry «

#860: A Virus with My Initials

December 8th, 2017 § permalink

In a few hours, my virus will glow. » Read the rest of this entry «

#646: Little-Known Facts

June 13th, 2016 § permalink

The following is an excerpt from a piece I’ll be reading tonight, June 13, 2016, at Is This a Thing?, a FREE storytelling series at O’Shaughnessy’s Public House in Ravenswood.

Tonight’s theme is Little Known Facts, so I decided to share a mishmash of some of the odd Chicagoana I’ve learned from writing this site and from running the Chicago Corruption Walking Tour. 

It’s about how I get through the day knowing all the often-depressing facts both require, plus about some of the ghosts following me around the city. » Read the rest of this entry «

#575: The Transitive Property of Buying Cinnamon at a Fancy Place

December 30th, 2015 § permalink

The boy with the intricate tattoo on his forearm rushed to the spices. He apologized, saying a coworker illness left him covering two sections.

The older white woman with the massive cat’s eye glasses, smiled and laughed at him, pushing the button on the machine that ground peanuts and almonds right there into homemade butter.

I stood with my list and looked at the world around me. » Read the rest of this entry «

#464: Kim Jong Alex

April 15th, 2015 § permalink

They call him Kim Jong Alex, sometimes the Tiny Overlord.

He takes their money and he takes their sleep. He screams at all hours and for no reason. He burbles up spit on their clothes and has made 8 p.m. a late night.

And they could not love him more.

“He is shitting himself right now,” Jake said as he bounced his son on his knee in their backyard. » Read the rest of this entry «

#425: Building Ben Hecht

January 14th, 2015 § permalink

“We’ve been dogged by sporting events,” 1001 Afternoons in Chicago director David Less said as we sat in the Irish pub he had turned into a 1920s speakeasy.

It was the same pub I had sat in almost two years before to meet with composer Seth Boustead to talk about the Ben Hecht-inspired radio play he was bringing to fruition. Now I was sipping breakfast tea and considering a faux-Gaelic lunch menu with the director of the film version. » Read the rest of this entry «

#336: The Typical American vs. Soccer

June 20th, 2014 § permalink

At the top of the bar, nearly touching the ceiling, tacked to the wall just above and slightly covering a sign blaring the establishment’s Irish surname was a soccer scarf.

“THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES 1986 2013 SIR ALEX FERGUSON THE GREATEST MANAGER EVER,” the scarf’s embroidery blared, wedged between two faces of the famed Manchester United manager woven rather skillfully into the scarf.

Below the scarf and sign was a flat screen TV, one of several peppered around the place. On the screen, Cameroon and Croatia were 40 minutes into their World Cup match. Each TV had the match. Each TV had a cadre of fans, glaring happily at each screen, cheering, yelling or going “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” as relevant. » Read the rest of this entry «

#329: The Latest Installment of “What the Fuck, North Side?”

June 4th, 2014 § permalink

Under the candelabra of wine bottles, the pianist played.

He played from a raised platform in the center of the circular bar, his shining black grand piano surrounded by a Plexiglas barrier. He played beneath that elaborate candelabra of wine bottles and glass as the 5:20 p.m. crowd straight to the piano bar from work sipped dark reds to wash away the first day of a week already sour. » Read the rest of this entry «

#324: Gucci

May 23rd, 2014 § permalink

He feeds Gucci rabbits, but keeps him away from the toy dogs he trains for work.

“Snake behavior,” the man said as the 12-foot yellow python curled heavily around his neck and explored the air. “If something’s too big for them to eat, he just won’t touch it.” » Read the rest of this entry «

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