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 «
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 «
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 «
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 «
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 «
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 «
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 «
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 «
May 24th, 2013 § permalink
It came together.
It came together with the modern orchestral pieces by Seth Boustead and Amos Gillespie of Access Contemporary Music. It came together with the scripts by Anderson Lawfer, Mike Dailey, Aly Greaves Amidei, Anita Deely and Sean Mallary. It came together with the sound effects by Starr Hardgrove and Jack Rubin. And it came together with the narrations by the Strawdog Theatre troupe, too many to name here.
What came together was the 1001 Afternoons in Chicago stories of old Ben Hecht. » Read the rest of this entry «
March 8th, 2013 § permalink
A middle-aged man in the waiting room leafed through sheet music, reading it like a book.
Along the far wall, a mother diddled with her iPhone waiting for her son’s piano lessons to finish.
A song describable as only “da da da da da dum dum” repeated interminably overhead as an unseen instructor in another room bade his pupil practice and practice.
And a grand piano by the storefront window was topped with stacks of fliers and posters for upcoming shows, books of sheet music, a clock and a bottle of Purell, the last of which I availed myself of when I was sure no one was looking.
Here’s where Ben Hecht’s legacy lives. » Read the rest of this entry «