#930: The Ways and Means of Dan Rostenkowski

May 21st, 2018 § permalink

Dan Rostenkowski owned “Chess” by Murray Head.

A concept album and later musical by lyricist Tim Rice and the B’s from ABBA, it’s mostly known for cheesy ’80s chart-flare “One Night in Bangkok,” an ode to the sexy, seamy world of Southeast Asian underground chess tournaments.

And it was one of the possessions up for grabs at the estate sale of late, disgraced U.S. Rep. Daniel “Rosty” Rostenkowski, D-Illinois. » Read the rest of this entry «

#829: We Sang Chicago

August 14th, 2017 § permalink

We sang Chicago to each other.

We sang its highs and lows. We sang its long, straight streets perfect for getting lost when you’re in the mood to do so. We sang the communities that made us young black girls and the bars that made us wild and wanton gentrifiers.

And I even got a free pin. » Read the rest of this entry «

#792: M-I-Z-

May 19th, 2017 § permalink

He was one of the people paid, for whatever reason, to sit on a folding chair outside of a car wash.

He was old and middle-age fat. Not obese, just a spare tire that wouldn’t go anywhere even if he tried to do anything about it, which he hadn’t.

But it wasn’t his girth that attracted me, nor his close-cropped buzz, nor the fact I was a few seconds from finding out he was one of the last holders of a North Side Chicago accent.

It was the fact he was decked head to toe in my college colors did. » Read the rest of this entry «

#759: Soup and Bread

March 3rd, 2017 § permalink

Text message. 5:39 p.m. Wednesday, March 1.

I’m here. It smells amazing. You’re both lucky I’m a nice man and will wait for you.

Response. 5:43 p.m. Wednesday, March 1.

I’m on the bus. It smells like the bus. » Read the rest of this entry «

#604: Haunted

March 7th, 2016 § permalink

“Do you want to see a ghost?” he said, leaning forward in his wheelchair to me, his new friend.

He was long-haired and unkempt, with dirt dug deep under lengthening nails. He had the typical homeless earthy smell, coupled with that wet dog odor only white people seem to get.

I liked him a great deal. » Read the rest of this entry «

#557: The Hechties

November 18th, 2015 § permalink

I pushed past the milling lobby crowd on Tuesday, past the early onslaught of Christmassy decorations in prep for the theater’s upcoming Nutcracker deconstruction, looking for the stocky man in jeans and a black shirt.

I caught up with him by the bar. I smiled nervously and introduced myself, extending my hand for him to shake.

What do you say to a stranger who changed your life? » Read the rest of this entry «

#500: Return of the 499

July 8th, 2015 § permalink

500. Half a thou. D, to the ancient Romans. As close to the halfway point of the project as an odd-numbered goal allows.

So what should I write this milestone story about?

I decided to toss that question to the folks who made up the first 499, asking the people who got me this far how I should kick off the second half. » Read the rest of this entry «

#498: How I Learned to Love the Bahn

July 3rd, 2015 § permalink

I would now like to review the headcheese bahn mi from Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwiches in West Town, Chicago.

It’s not entirely headcheese, which is a cold cut made from the meat parts of the head of a pig. There was also Vietnamese ham, pâté, something called “pork roll” and the regular bahn mi fixins — carrot/daikon slaw, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeños and mayo on a baguette (the latter a product of French colonialism).

It’s a damn tasty sandwich, and my friend Tommy and I decided to get the one made of pig head. » Read the rest of this entry «

#473: Autophagy, or Why Progressives Lose

May 6th, 2015 § permalink

The progressives came to the industrial park.

They came on bikes, on foot, in aging, limping, soot-chuffing hatchbacks slathered in anti-oil bumper stickers. They came with buttons and reason.

They came to see the journalists. » Read the rest of this entry «

#448: Pompon Circumstance

March 9th, 2015 § permalink

The bus pulled up and I got on, my little skirt waving in the wind. » Read the rest of this entry «

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