#943: The S.E.P. Field

June 20th, 2018 § permalink

I don’t know how many times I’ve ridden the ‘L’ around the Loop studying things.

It’s not a deep study nor a particularly insightful one. It’s a simple joy of trundling down the tracks and looking at buildings, staring at passersby and wondering where they’re off to, the delightful daydreaming and examination created by a cityworth of visual stimuli splayed around you at a time you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car.

But in all these views where I’ve ogled pretty architecture and daydreamed about what would happen if I, like, totally stole that guy’s briefcase and ran off giggling, I had never noticed the blank-faced building. » Read the rest of this entry «

#942: The Thick Red Line

June 18th, 2018 § permalink

D41. Hazardous. “Mexicans are scattered thruout, as well as other foreign elements.”

It’s Tri-Taylor.

B67. Still Desirable. “Jewish infiltration has started along the edges and may be expected to continue because of favorable reputation and location.”

It’s Ravenswood Manor.

D74. Hazardous. “[The then-upcoming Ida B. Wells federal housing project] has the realtors guessing as to what the ultimate result will be when so many of this race are drawn into this section from the already negro-blighted district… Already Washington Park at the south, a very fine park, has been almost completely monopolized by the colored race… Washington Park is doomed.”

I’m reading about the history of America. I’m reading about redlining. » Read the rest of this entry «

#941: The Romance of the Rickety (Or Elon Musk is the Simpsons Monorail Salesman and You Can’t Convince Me Otherwise)

June 15th, 2018 § permalink

I don’t like how the train shrieks when it goes around even the slightest of bends.

It shrieks and croaks and I think if one could actually hear metal fatiguing in real time, that’s what going around the Loop in 2018 would sound like.

I don’t like how the corners all smell like pee, how if you do find a quiet nook where you can prop up against a window, sip coffee and watch the tops of trees meander by, you’re forced to wonder what dried where you’re sitting.

I don’t like when the homeless people scream or when I feel like a horrible person for wishing someone away when they just want to find a place to sleep without freezing to death.

But I’d take all the smell, noise and moral ambiguity a thousand times over Elon Musk. » Read the rest of this entry «

#940: The Sleepy Magician

June 13th, 2018 § permalink

“People ask why I bring my bag,” the magician said, gently tapping the toiletry kit he had set on the stage’s lone chair. “It’s just some personal possessions in case I get deported.”

The joke was, of course, found in the color of the magician’s skin and the sing-song Tapatío accent with which he charmed the crowd. It was a dark joke told lightly. It was masterful.

It wouldn’t be the last time the sleepy magician amazed. » Read the rest of this entry «

#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 «

#938: On the Move

June 8th, 2018 § permalink

I was 23, out in the suburbs listening to a village official give a lackluster breakdown of an official’s sudden and slightly suspicious departure.

It was me and two other fledglings covering it, a man and a woman. I remember them as kids and I was a kid at the time, so they must have been absolute infants. They stumbled politely over questions, careful not to offend since they had to see, work with and get access from these people day after day, week after week. They pussyfooted over questions, but I could say something they couldn’t.

“Paul Dailing, Chicago Tribune,” I said. Everyone turned to watch me ask the question everyone had been dancing around.

And that’s it. That’s as close as I got. » Read the rest of this entry «

#937: The Boy / The Worker

June 6th, 2018 § permalink

A boy of maybe 12 or 13 grabbed a handful of penis-shaped salt and pepper shakers and set them by the Virgin Mary. » Read the rest of this entry «

#936: Shameless Self-Promotion Theatre, Part 4

June 4th, 2018 § permalink

It’s summer. The birds are singing, the grass is green, the president is floating a potential Blagojevich pardon either as a form of political distraction or as the word salad that erupts when someone wakes up the commander in chief too early from nap-naps and the Chicago Corruption Walking Tour is ready to go for 2018.

Buy your tickets now at Dabble.co. » Read the rest of this entry «

#935: Hairy Tales

June 1st, 2018 § permalink

Matted hair, kinky hair, long hair, hairballs. Irish boys’ shaved heads so pale the scalps had “a bluish tinge.” A group of 9 year olds scanning stolen Playboys to find if women had hair “down there.” A religious mother convinced her son’s long hair turned him hippie. A bald man mouthing off to a famed ’80s comedian about what exposed scalps really connote.

They gathered in the theater to talk about hair. » Read the rest of this entry «

#934: The Stuff of Literature

May 30th, 2018 § permalink

Picture two men who still see themselves in their 20s, but who aren’t.

See their greying temples, the early cobwebs of laugh lines around their eyes not yet spidered across their faces. Hear their small groans and grunts as they scale the hill overlooking lake on one side, bike path on the other.

Visualize them standing in silence for a moment at a lonely spot on the grassy outlook. Then they plop to the ground and hoist out the beers. » Read the rest of this entry «

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.