#873: Super Mall of the Midway

January 8th, 2018 § permalink

The clown standing by the front door chats in his off moments with the Comcast salesman. The security guard doesn’t seem to be his friend. » Read the rest of this entry «

#872: The Sorta-Maybe Mayor Hoyne

January 5th, 2018 § permalink

Hoyne Avenue is special to me.

Hoyne was the home of my first real apartment in Chicago, a converted storefront we called the Bodega. The floors were so warped, my significant other at the time would laugh herself to tears rolling a baseball down it and watching it return to her. The wiring was so dangerous the old Lithuanian electrician the management company finally sent after three weeks of prodding started yelling “Is stupid! Is stupid!” when he got behind the outlet to see how it had been set up.

I was 23 and it was heaven. I found out a few months later that my great-grandparents were living a few blocks south when my grandmother was born. On Hoyne.

So it seemed especially fitting when I discovered that my street of stupid joy was named after a man involved in a story that now brings me stupid joy. I now bring you the story of Thomas Hoyne, who for 28 days claimed to be the mayor of Chicago. » Read the rest of this entry «

#871: Caesura

January 3rd, 2018 § permalink

It’s a tired city smeared white with road salt.

The cold always takes a lot out of the town. It’s an effort to move, to pack yourself thick with swaddle. Coats that go to the knees, scarves, gloves, hats we’d all agree were hideous in a better world than ours.

Breathing is sharp, noses drip, backs ache, and it feels a workout for legs just going up and down road-salt stairs down to the subway hub to head elsewhere.

Everything’s been slow in the cold. People aren’t going out when they don’t have to. “When they don’t have to” is becoming a larger category each dropped degree.

So down empty white-smeared streets, down huddled penguin hallways even the smiling Jehovah’s Witnesses have abandoned, down into the city’s railway belly, we have a rest. We have a caesura. » Read the rest of this entry «

#870: The Last Year

January 1st, 2018 § permalink

I’ve spent the last few days sick, limiting my Chicago exploration to the kitchen tea kettle and my adventure to whatever’s on Netflix.

As my writing output during this period has been limited to text messages about soup and several rude limericks about members of the presidential administration, I am today, Jan. 1, 2018, turning to you the readers to make this site’s last year a great one. » Read the rest of this entry «

#869: The Shooter

December 29th, 2017 § permalink

“You know my human brain story?” I asked my wife.


“That was him.”

“Ah.” » Read the rest of this entry «

#868: I Shall Hunt and Destroy Andre Salles

December 27th, 2017 § permalink

More years ago than I care to admit, I was lost in the snow outside the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois.  » Read the rest of this entry «

#867: You Can Just Walk In

December 25th, 2017 § permalink

If you’re stuck downtown with a rolling suitcase and an hours-long gap between work’s Christmas-early quitting time and the flight that will take you to the non-Midwest family that scored a bid to host this year, there are places you can just walk in. » Read the rest of this entry «

#866: The Xylophone Solo

December 22nd, 2017 § permalink

Across the bowling alley: cheers, groans, the thick whomps of thrown balls landing to skitter down the boards, the clinking of pitchers, the cry of “Tamale! Tamale!”

Above the bowling alley: xylophone. » Read the rest of this entry «

#865: Wood-Paved Alleys

December 20th, 2017 § permalink

There’s a block where, if you have to step aside for a car slowly rolling down crackling alley pavement, the car is a Bentley.

There’s a block where even the back entryways are tastefully decorated — can’t seem unseemly even to the rats and covert urinators who seek alleys as habitat.

There’s a block where tall staircases lead to immaculate brick homes with Christmas tree fairy lights and the everyday crystal chandeliers glinting and glowing out the windows.

And I was hunting these streets for an alley made of wood. » Read the rest of this entry «

#864: The 16th Artist

December 18th, 2017 § permalink

He’s building a slave ship in the basement.

He wants noises and lights outside the faux portholes to create the sensation of a sea at motion. He wants creaks of timber and he wants the wax replicas of chained slaves to feel like human skin to the touch. He wants a fog machine to perfume the air with a light reek of feces, urine, vomit and the other human rot that brought millions of Africans to America in chains.

It’s not just any ship Sam Smith wants to build in the basement of a restored Englewood mansion. It’s the Zong, which provided one of the most horrifying stories of one of the most horrifying eras of human history. » Read the rest of this entry «

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