Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My (not quite) city

I was walking back from lunch at Blackie’s in the Loop the week before last and saw this:

That’s the Madison Street Bridge temporarily devoid of homeless types.

It’s unclear whether the authorities walk through and hustle the homeless off the bridge in advance or they just let ‘em slide down on their asses – bags, crates, crap and all.
It’s what I like most about working in the city. Around every corner there are cool surprising things you just don’t see in the suburbs.
I was too late to see why the bridge was up like that; probably some die-hard sailor dude finally putting his boat to rest for the season.
I love:

Walking through Union Station in the morning past the “Nuts on Clark” stand with whiffs of pop pop popcorn wafting over everything.

The traders standing in front of the Merc in their colorful vests and numbered badges, smoking cigarettes and watching chicks walk along Wacker.

The little old homeless lady selling Streetwise on Madison who has chronic torticollis.

The city workers draping the trees along Riverside Plaza with white twinkle lights for the holidays.

The mornings when the air is thick and sweet and it seems like Blommer’s candy factory has dipped the Loop in a layer of dark chocolate.

Mary the waitress who still works at Uno’s and waited on Jim and his friends when they were in high school almost 30 years ago.

The sweet smiling old couple, holding hands and walking under the portico of the Opera house one afternoon.

Lower Wacker – the secret, speedy underground way to get across the city.

The way the El rattles under your feet every few minutes if you happen to be sitting at a table on the porch at Gibson’s steakhouse.

The big beefy bartender at Gibson’s who looks like Brian Dennehy and pours a perfect Jack and Coke.

Armando the security guard at the Opera House whose quiet smiles signal the start of my day.

Billy Goat on Washington, where Phyllis the bartender tells you who’s the better columnist – Steinberg or Kass – and why neither one of them compares to Royko.

The tourists stopped in the middle of the sidewalk snapping pictures of the Sears Tower oblivious to the crowds rushing around them.

O’Neil’s pub on Ontario with its year-round heated beer garden, eclectic jukebox, and jalapeno cheeseburgers.
Did you know that the very first Ferris wheel was built in Chicago?

Did you know that the modern skyscraper was invented by Chicago architects?

Did you know that the Chicago River is died green every year for St. Patrick’s Day?
I would like to say Chicago is my city.

But I don’t quite own it. Yet.
I am listening to: KT Tunstall – The Other Side of the World
I am reading: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
And I am: Like an iceberg


Anonymous said...

Having lived in Chicago for 7 years and now finding myslef else where i very much appreicaited your piece today. I felt as close to bing in Chicago reading that as a person can w/out standing on Wacker during the morning train rush. Thank you.