#768: Rules for Not Being a Jackass Tourist (and Why Ferris Bueller is Crap)

March 24th, 2017 § permalink

The days are longer. Atypical languages like Italian are heard on trains. Selfie sticks are extended at an exacerbated rate on downtown bridges and the City Winery location on the Riverwalk has clear, plastic geodesic domes for rent so people can sip wine at sunset without freezing their jacquard knit popovers off.

The tourists are coming. » Read the rest of this entry «

#767: On Rooftops

March 22nd, 2017 § permalink

I wonder if I would think about rooftops so much if I didn’t live in Chicago. » Read the rest of this entry «

#760: On This Day in History

March 6th, 2017 § permalink

On this day in history, a woman with red earmuffs walked a French bulldog.

On this day in history, a different woman with a crisp short haircut and six-inch stiletto boots stumbled for a second on the pavement by a nail salon.

On this day in history, Bayer patented aspirin, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the Dred Scott case, Rob Reiner was born and an old man in a Union Pacific cap and Metra jacket flipped through a calendar of the muscle cars of his youth as he rode the Brown Line to work. » Read the rest of this entry «

#744: Unnoticed

January 27th, 2017 § permalink

Yes, I peer at phones.

I peer and prod, sometimes under the pretext of whatever form of journalism I imagine this site to be, sometimes just because I get bored on the train but reading makes me motion-sick.

So I peer over shoulders, watch people swipe through Pinterests of shoes or scroll past images of friends both real and Facebook. Or, in the case of the shortish woman with the dark curly hair and the tam-style winter cap, the text exchange she was having with an unnamed someone.

She was angry and sniffly, vexed look on her face as she shot perplexed, suspicious and nasty looks around the car.

I knew who she and the unnamed were texting about. » Read the rest of this entry «

#741: Isaac and Ishmael

January 20th, 2017 § permalink

It couldn’t have been the big blue purse.

It was large, made of a plastic that apes leather, and bright. Crayon-bright blue on the Green Line.

It couldn’t have been the gleaming white sneakers either, the ones bedazzled with the line of rhinestones that curled into two little hearts as it snaked across her metatarsus. She tapped one foot gently, almost nodding it as the train pulled out of the former manufacturing district that’s now the spot for the hottest of hot restaurants.

It couldn’t have been the blue jeans with the six metal buttons pulling each cuff into the perfect skinny cut either.

No, it must have been the piece of cloth on her head that makes her hated. » Read the rest of this entry «

#728: January 24, 1975 10:55 am

December 21st, 2016 § permalink

The triple beep every CTA rider knows did its business.

“Beep beep beep. Your attention please…”

It was a medical emergency this time, one that slowed us every few dozen feet it seemed. Southbound on the Red Line, in the underground subway section where the world vanishes around you.

Luckily, we’re girded for these bits of dark. We people-watch, check our machines, read our books or just stare up at the train ads and wonder if “YOU ARE NOT ALONE” is a good thing to have on a sign reaching out to paranoid schizophrenics for a research study.

My eyes flitted around, looked at faces, ads, tried to read off the screens of others’ digital devices, when I saw the heart. » Read the rest of this entry «

#726: Lullaby on Blue

December 16th, 2016 § permalink

You opened your eyes, blinked twice, then closed them again.

You stretched your jaw and nuzzled the air the way a puppy does; half yawn, half testing to see if you remember how jaws work.

Then you glance at the 40 to 50 people standing by and decide you can catch a few more winks before the transit crew rousts you. » Read the rest of this entry «

#700: If You See Something

October 17th, 2016 § permalink

Long day, night ride home, semi-full Brown Line car of muddlers and murmurers chastened and exhausted by their own long days.

And an entirely empty corner.

An empty spot on a late rush hour train is not to be trusted. It’s usually a sign of a cloud of BO from a particularly unkempt street person or a wet spot that runs the line between suspiciously disturbing and disturbingly suspicious.

But I sniffed and noticed nothing. Until I looked and saw why the car had given the entire corner a wide berth. » Read the rest of this entry «

#698: The Cubs vs. The Fightin’ TBDs

October 12th, 2016 § permalink

On Oct. 11, 2016, the Chicago Cubs clinched their second consecutive NLCS berth after a pulse-pounding comeback against the San Francisco Giants.

And due to my stupid fascination with the days of hats and suits, I’ll miss the first two games. » Read the rest of this entry «

#695: Out of Time

October 5th, 2016 § permalink

“Excuse me… ah… excuse me… ah… ah… ah…”

I waited, wondering the proper amount of time before I could tell him I had no change. It took a few moments before I realized he wasn’t asking.

“My watch… has… my watch has… my watch… has run out of time,” he said. » Read the rest of this entry «

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