Inhuman Swill : Chicago

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September 30, 2008

Too much light and all that

One of the surprises of our new neighborhood is that we're a rather short walk from the legendary Neo-Futurarium. We rolled the die and came up winners.

chicago | moving | theater

September 20, 2008

We are trying to break your heart

The movers are here. The contents of the apartment are draining into the truck with disconcerting rapidity. There's not much about this neighborhood that we will miss, but one of our great regrets just walked past us up the sidewalk. Our neighbor John Stirratt, bassist for Wilco and before that for Uncle Tupelo, just ambled past pushing a stroller on his morning walk. Moving ... again He glanced at the open front door of our apartment, and at the hustling movers, as he passed by me and my armful of odds and ends, and it was probably just my imagination that he looked a little disappointed. We've said hello to him but never felt comfortable "bothering" him to try to strike up a conversation. We've struck up conversations with plenty of other people in the neighborhood, though none of those conversations ever led to making actual friends. But even given that dismal batting average, why did we shy away from even talking to the most obviously interesting* person on our side of the street? I feel very sad about this failure, and like a giant asshole. Maybe he and his family are lonely here too.


* I don't mean to imply that no one else on the street could possibly be interesting to talk to, just that Stirratt represents a subject I know already that I'm interested in.

chicago | friends | moving | music | neighborhoods

September 13, 2008

William Ratfriend

It's raining fairly hard here in Chicago this morning—not like in Texas, certainly, but hard enough that there's standing water a foot deep in places on our street. Ella and I just got back from an hour-long walk in that deluge. We had a famous time, chasing wet squirrels in the park and clambering on the maze of playground equipment that is forbidden to dogs.

Ella was kind enough to deposit a pile of turds near a large plastic rolling waste bin. It was the kind of bin with a hinged lid that is supposed to stay closed to keep rats out. The lid was open, though, and I swung the tied plastic bag of Ella's turds through the air and into the bin. Two points!

But the thud and swish of the bag landing in the bin was followed immediately by a harsh, raspy squeal. Startled, I moved near the bin and peered over the rim. A medium-sized rat was hunched in the sludgy foot of garbage at the bottom. I jerked back, then peered in again. The rat was soaked and looked terrified.

I drew back again. I had never seen a terrified rat before. I didn't know if it was injured, or if it had babies in there, or what, but clearly it was unable to climb the smooth, wet sides of the bin and escape.

I didn't really take much time to think it over. Really, the rat and were enemies. If it were in my basement, I would not hesitate to lay a giant trap to snap its spine. But the park was neutral ground, a human-rodent-canine DMZ. After looking around to make sure that Ella was sniffing somewhere else and not paying attention—she likes to chase rats almost as much as rabbits and squirrels—I carefully tipped the bin away from me. I heard the garbage shift and the rat squealed again. When the bin lay on its side on the ground, a gush of filthy water flooded out.

I moved around to the opening and peered in. The rat was pacing back and forth above the garbage on a sort of lip on the bottom of the bin, where the wheels on the outside were recessed. Now that I could see it better, it did not appear injured. I figured I'd done what I could and walked away to join Ella as she sniffed for rats under the playground equipment.

I looked back at the bin a minute later from a distance and saw the rat's head poke out. It scurried out and I lost sight of it almost immediately. Before we left the park, I righted the bin again, and Ella was never the wiser.

animals | chicago

September 11, 2008

The end of summer

Obsessing about politics is not all I've been up to lately. First and foremost, if you hadn't divined it from cryptic postings or from status messages on Facebook and Twitter, Laura and I are moving again this month. Not a huge move, just up to the northern end of Chicago, but we're hoping it will make all the difference for our Chicago-living experience. Humboldt Park turns out to be not the neighborhood we had hoped for, or thrive much in. (Even the fact that Wilco's John Stirratt lives a block down from us can't save it for us.) We're betting that the Andersonville/Ravenswood sorta area will be much better for us. We'll make the move just as the season changes.

We've also seen an uncommonly good deal of John and Shai Klima over the past week. On Saturday we drove to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and met up with them at the home of John's awesome parents. From there the four of us continued to Spring Green, where we saw a delightful outdoor afternoon American Players Theatre production of "The Belle's Strategem" by Hannah Cowley. We had dinner at a tapas joint called The Icon in Madison. Good times.

Then last night John and Shai braved oil-tanker accidents on I-88 to make the drive to Chicago. The four of us had an abundant Indian feast, after which we repaired to the House of Blues to see The Fratellis. Other than the slight hiccup of being barred from entering the House of Blues with a shoulder bag (what? no bag check inside?), we had a marvelous evening. I'm assuming that the Klimas made it back to Iowa in one piece after the show. (Didja?)

Meanwhile, I've been so wrapped up in packing the apartment that it didn't even register that two fellow Chicagoans are moving (in one case back) to New York! Congratulations (and no small amount of envy) to Deborah and [info]scottjanssens! We hate you. (But only a little.)

chicago | friends | music | theater | wisconsin

June 10, 2008

The Tribune uses some Imagination

For the online component of a Sunday story about unique office spaces, the Chicago Tribune used several photographs of the offices where Laura works. Check out numbers 1 through 5, from the Imagination offices.

chicago | laura | office | work

May 15, 2008

Celebrity sightings, Chicago-style

Our celebrity sightings have definitely tailed off since we moved to Chicago, but Laura and one of her colleagues had a good one the other day. At the same hot dog joint where they were grabbing lunch, they spotted Dennis DeYoung of Styx.

(I'd suggest that he had too much time on his hands, but Tommy Shaw took the lead vocal on that track.)

celebrities | chicago | music

April 17, 2008

Mystery bird

For those of you who were chiming in the other day about the new waterbirds that have recently appeared on the lagoon at our local park, Ella and I took some pictures yesterday. The photos aren't great, but can you identify this bird?

Mystery Bird

birds | birdwatching | chicago | nature | photographs

April 13, 2008

Woody

Walking the dog in the park this morning, we heard a woodpecker in the distance. We followed the sound into a grove where Laura spotted the little thing drilling away about fifteen feet the trunk of tall tree. We watched in amazement for several minutes.

There are new birds on the lagoon as well, swimming with the mallards and the Canada goose. I've been trying to identify them in waterfowl galleries on line, but with no success so far. They look like ducks but are about half the size of mallards. The bodies seem to be all black, the head is smaller and the neck shorter relative to the body, and the bill looks bright white.

The red-wing blackbirds have been ubiquitous for the past few weeks, but we didn't see very many of them this morning. Migrating away?

birds | birdwatching | chicago | nature

March 21, 2008

Chicago doesn't fuck around with bike safety!

Spotted in Chicago, and photographed by Laura's iPhone, at the corner of Diversey Parkway, Racine Avenue, and Lincoln Avenue:

Chicago doesn't fuck around with bike safety!

And then, for good measure, they break your kneecaps.

bicycling | chicago | signs

March 9, 2008

Getting the boot

Laura and I bought a 2000 Honda Accord LX early this afternoon. Less than three hours later, there was a boot on the left front tire.

Chicago.

cars | chicago

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