Writing this here so I’ll hold myself to it.
Halsted bus north to UIC-Halsted. Blue line west to Western. Walk to Kedzie-Homan. Blue line west to Pulaski. Pulaski bus north to green line. Green line west to Cicero. Walk to Laramie. Green line west to Central. Walk to Austin. Green line east to Ashland. Pink line west to Kostner. Walk to Cicero. Pink line east to 18th. Walk home.
7 new stations. West side completed.
My name is [redacted] and I was asking if you could read my story
So you can publish it. I hope you really like my story. I think its really good
For you guys and when you read it it will be a good story. I really hope you
Like it’s a good story wants you start to read it. When you read my story you
Could kind of feel the action. This my first story I have sent to someone
And I really hope you like my story. Sorry if I keep repeating things I am just so really
Saturday night, Megabus from Iowa City to Chicago. Driver arrives late, picks fight with customers whose ticket #s didn’t make it on his printout. I understand that’s his job, but he all but accuses them of counterfeiting until they call for confirmation. After an hour he pulls to the shoulder and we sit until cops pull up. Apparently some passengers were trash-talking the driver for making us late and generally being a dick. As far as I can tell no one’s arrested. Two hours later we make a rest stop in Utica. Driver claims he needs gas, goes inside and tells cashier to call the police. “Some of them aren’t making it back to Chicago.” Another long wait. Four cop cars pull up, observe a bus’s worth of people standing around like WTF, cops ask driver a couple questions then stand around like WTF until finally driver pulls bus around and gets us on the freeway. Cops aren’t amused. We are 150 minutes late to Chicago. We aren’t amused. Come on, guy, we’re all on the same side. We just want to get home.
I’m trying to visit all 145 CTA stops. I’ve covered the whole system several times, passing through every station, but this goal involves boarding or departing at each stop and exploring the neighborhoods and businesses around them.
Bold=station/bus I hadn’t boarded/departed at before.
- Walk to Halsted/Roosevelt.
- Halsted bus (#8) to UIC-Halsted.
- Blue line to Harlem (Blue-Forest Park). Ferrara Pan Candy Factory—makers of Atomic Fireballs, Lemonheads, Boston Baked Beans, etc. Can’t smell it from here. Maybe it doesn’t smell.
- Walk to Oak Park (Blue).
- Blue line to Austin (Blue). Watery Americano, peanut butter bagel @ Buzz Cafe, laid-back place in sleepy “Harrison Arts District.” I sit out Isaac’s rain. An old woman browses the cafe’s art, tells the man she’s with “This is what’s goin on in the world. Modern art. No flowers or anything.”
- Walk to Cicero (Blue). Did not plan this route well—I have to walk up to Jackson, around a golf course in Columbus Park, back down Central, down Harrison, past Laramie, to Cicero. A crack dealer follows me on his bike from Central to Laramie (a whole city block), pitching me his rocks. We pass his house. He “shops for lots of white boys.” The suburbs fade out fast when you cross Austin Blvd. from south Oak Park to South Austin. The city is rough around the edges.
- Blue line to Illinois Medical District.
- Walk to Racine.
- Blue line to Irving Park (Blue). Huge rats hang out here.
- Irving Park bus (#80) to Irving Park (Brown).
- Brown line to Sedgwick.
- Walk to Clark/Division. Tourist couple picking out which big brownstone they’ll live in someday.
- Red line to Cermak-Chinatown.
- Walk home.
- Walk to 18th/Paulina. For the first time, see huge gory rat mural east of 16th/Ashland. Check it out; walk east for freaky perspective shift.
- Pink line to California (Pink).
- South California bus (#94) to California (Green).
- Green line to Indiana. When I step off the train here I realize that the west side (where I was @ California) always feels tenser than the south side. I breathe easier here.
- Walk to 43rd.
- Green line to 47th (Green). The business district around this station is hoppin. Tons of locally-owned clothing stores, restaurants, etc. Two girls, maybe prostitutes, definitely dressed to stand out, can’t be older than 17. They walk slow, impervious to a million catcalls.
- 47th bus (#47) to 47th (Red).
- Red line to 87th. I had a friend who grew up near this station; I think of her as little girl, strolling around these stripmalls, shopping for ice cream, sandals, whatever. I am possibly the only white person in the huge 87th St. Jewel-Osco. I buy Magnolia Autumn Nectar Spiced Tea, a Chicago-based company’s “southern style” beverage. Sweet as any I’ve had in the Carolinas.
- Red line from 87th to Jarvis. Americano at Charmers Cafe. Stroll to Jarvis beach. Waves lap a mound of off-limits rocks.
- Walk to South Blvd. I walk North past Howard straight up out of the city. It’s rough even on its northern edge. I pass a cluster of young men. “Them people are comin. Them people,” one guy yells as the cops drive up and everyone scatters. Clark St. changes to Chicago Ave. as a huge Catholic cemetery gives way to a fancier Evanston.
- Purple line to Howard.
- Red line to Roosevelt. O God Cubs fans.
- Roosevelt bus (#12) to Ashland.
- Walk to Polk.
- Pink line to 18th.
- Walk home.
20 stations left: 9 northside, 8 westside, 3 southside.
- Vida Blue - This child will win both the MVP and Cy Young awards in the same year, a feat accomplished only seven other times, by men with names like Clemens, Gibson, and Verlander. However, he will never again equal 1971’s success, and his cocaine-fueled star will burn out slowly over the next fifteen years.
- Blue Moon Odom - Named for its moonlike face, this child will share little of that celestial body’s serenity. It will brawl frequently with the others, mostly over who gets to start in the playoffs from 1972-1974. Unfortunately, little Blue Moon will end up on the losing end of most of those sibling-rival tiffs.
- Rollie Fingers - This child will revolutionize the art of relief pitching and grow miles of stupendous mustache.
- Catfish Hunter - Despite pitching a perfect game, winning a Cy Young award, and being inducted to the Hall of Fame, this child will never overcome the deliciousness of its namesake, especially when blackened or stirred into a spicy gumbo.
- Mudcat Grant - Use this one if Catfish is already taken. If someone did Mudcat, too, go for the synonyms Chucklehead or Polliwog. Note: the further you move down this list, the earlier the child will realize its whole life is built on a bad joke.
- Jim Panther - After five middling years in the minors, little Jim will finally get the call-up. You will be so proud. His first four major league games, the only action he will see in 1971, will be disastrous. His next two years in Texas and Atlanta won’t go much better. After that, he will leave baseball to fulfill the true promise of his name, don a taxidermied jaguar head, and bound off into the boundless night.
Sometimes your plans fall through and you let your stop go by. Then you have to decide when to get off, or they make you get off at the end. After volunteering Saturday, I stay seated as the doors close on the blue line Grand station (which connects to the Halsted bus, which connects to my house). Jackson feels right. I switch to red at Jackson. To switch to red at Jackson you walk through a tile tunnel. The buskers’ music changes from steel drums to barky hip hop. I ride red south. Boy, the train does crawl through those miles of slow zones. (This line’ll go out of service for months next year so that CTA can patch up these zones. Shuttles will run south siders north to work, shop. Nobody’s entirely happy about this.) I almost get off at 69th and 87th, because they’re two of the four red line stations I haven’t been in (Loyola and Jarvis the others). I almost get off at 79th to eat vegan soul food at Soul Vegetarian East. But no stop feels right until 95th, the last one, from which I know the 95W bus can take me to Sistah’s Vegan, since when else do I have the chance to get barbecue seitan in the homely far southwest-side neighborhood of Beverly? The whole evening, which seemed lost after my plans fell through, takes shape.
Sistah’s has no bathroom. They serve everything in styrofoam and with plastic utensils. You have to interrupt a high-school-aged kid’s homework to place an order. And the first time I went here, they brought my entree first, my appetizer second, and my drink about fifteen minutes later. Masochistic restaurant-goer that I am, I love it. This time I skip the special ($1 tacos) and go for that seitan, with sides of chili, salad, greens, potato salad, and corn on the cob. A guy steps in and waits for his “fish wish” sandwich. He tells me he just turned 41 and has been vegan for ten years. Why? Didn’t like the way meat made his body feel. I must go to untrendy veg-friendly restaurants at strange times, or random veg-friendly restaurants must not do too well in Chicago, because I end up in this conversation a lot: me and one middle-aged dude, the only ones in the place, talking about why we don’t eat animal products. We fall into this topic so naturally. We’re almost eager for it. An old Korean man at The Loving Hut once lectured me for 45 minutes on the spiritual superiority of the diet, for example. He said that I must be very close to Enlightenment if I started eating this way so young.
This is a very intimate conversation, in a way, because the decision to quit dairy, meat, honey, eggs, and everything else is so big, and it affects us several times a day every day. But after revealing the cosmic guilts and the spiritual underpinnings that drive us into places like Sistah’s, we never ask each other about family or women or books, or anything else of similar weight. We talk about the weather if the weather’s worth talking about, or we shut up, same as any two people sharing a bus seat. Fish wish is the only other customer the whole time I’m there. When I leave, I throw away my heap of styrofoam and plastic. The family’s all the in the kitchen. I could carry the register home.
I don’t need money, though. I step back onto the street to an early dusk. A proper soul food joint next door radiates the thick sauce of wings. A teenage couple lingers outside for a whiff. “Who has money for wing tips?” they ask themselves and keep walking. I’m at 9500S. I’m at 2200W. Ashland Ave. is 1600W. The Ashland bus starts and ends at 9500S. I get to see the southern half of the Ashland bus! An hour-long straight-as-arrow bus ride past mostly unnamed streets (80th… 81st… 82nd…) might not sound exclamation-point-worthy, but I’m a person who rode the El for almost 16 hours solid, to see what could be seen. The prospect of a long Ashland bus ride through new parts of the Gresham, Englewood, and Back of the Yards neighborhoods lights me up. I wish I could tell you something I see changes the way I think about the city. Mostly I make uncomfortable eye contact as I try to look past the heads of two body shop workers who block my view of the street. A family holds a cookout on the Garfield Blvd. median. I wonder which of the dozens of shabby storefront churches we pass actually hold a congregation Sundays and Wednesdays. Prince of Peace, Saint Mark, Mount Helm, Anointed by God—any one of these could already be abandoned.
Sunday I skip the storefronts and fill in another blank stretch on my map of the city. I take the Halsted bus south to 63rd. Check it out if you need a few dusty, forgotten strip malls. From there I take the 63rd St. bus east to Woodlawn Ave. (in the neighborhood of Woodlawn), to take in the Robust Coffee Lounge. It’s closer to the U of C than the 53rd and even the 55th St. Starbucks and cafes, always crammed with students, but I see far less textbooks and crimson at Robust. It’s better than any Hyde Park coffee shop, but the wrong direction from campus for some. Over a watery Americano I agonize over what shirt I will wear three weeks from now to a black metal festival. I’m no aficionado, but I know that your stock Darkthrone/Burzum/Emperor shirts are so canonical they’re invisible. Reppin’ one of those bands at this fest would be like showing for the Pritchard Park drum circle in a Led Zeppelin shirt. Safe bets say nothing about you.
But when I look up shirts for the (few) other BM bands on my computer, I find a lot of obscure acts don’t sell merch. Too misanthropic for that. But I find an eBay bootlegger who sells unofficial shirts of the primitive Novato, California black metal band Bone Awl. I love them because 1) their songs all pretty much sound the same and avoid all possible syncopation, 2) their stage names are “He Who Gnashes Teeth” and “He Who Crushes Teeth,” and 3) they have an EP about bog bodies. This bootleg T has no pentagrams or inverted crosses, so I could wear it to a work function. And it’s beige instead of black, so I won’t look like everyone else in the pit. Nonetheless it takes me three hours to decide to buy this shirt. I give in only because the auction will end in 20 minutes. In conclusion, who wants to go to the black metal festival with me?
From The Paris Review, “The Art of Theater No. 12”
SAM SHEPARD: You don’t want to create boredom, and it becomes an easy trap for a writer to fall into. You have to keep the audience awake in very simple terms. It’s easy in the theater to create boredom—easier than it is in movies. You put something in motion and it has to have momentum. If you don’t do that right away, there isn’t any attention.
PARIS REVIEW: Do you have a secret for doing that?
SS: You begin to learn an underlying rhythmic sense in which things are shifting all the time. These shifts create the possibility for the audience to attach their attention. That sounds like a mechanical process, but in a way it’s inherent in dialogue. There’s a kind of dialogue that’s continually shifting and moving, and each time it moves it creates something new. There’s also a kind of dialogue that puts you to sleep. One is alive and the other’s deadly. It could be just the shifts of attitudes, the shifts of ideas, where one line is sent out and another one comes back. Shifts are something Joe Chaikin taught me. He had a knack for marking the spot where something shifted. An actor would be going along, full of focus and concern, and then Joe would say, No! Shift! Different! Not the same. Sun, moon—different! And the actors would say to themselves, Of course it’s different. Why didn’t I see that before?
PR: Is an ear for dialogue important?
SS: I think an ear for stage dialogue is different from an ear for language that’s heard in life. You can hear things in life that don’t work at all when you try to reproduce them onstage. It’s not the same; something changes.
PR: What changes?
SS: It’s being listened to in a direct way, like something overheard. It’s not voyeuristic, not like I’m in the other room. I’m confronted by it, and the confrontational part of theater is the dialogue. We hear all kinds of fascinating things every day, but dialogue has to create a life. It has to be self-sustaining. Conversation is definitely not dialogue.
abridged from a huge .txt i just found on a floppy disc.
do you do you
there is still leporacy
free seafood for fish
quand le anniversaire?
yesterday was thursday
permission to spew?
why must you be so must?
does this look like a friken band name
does your camel spit
obviously not a cow
jahovahs witness was here
pk the cops
when i was born i was wet
i dance to u
suction cuped my dog
do people really live in boxes
rubbing alchohal can be inhaled through molecules
has anyone fallen like a turtle?
im not convinced that xmen are fake
why do they make brocolli
when i came into the room everyone left