My name's Adam.
I'm twenty-eight years
old and from Chicago
I stole this shirt while Fidel was under.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
It didn't rain here yesterday for the first time in days but from the faces of the crowd gathered around a wireless in the back of the store, a biblical thunderstorm may as well have dumped its entire soaky load all over the Windy City. The announcer, some faceless member of the blue-shirted masses, paused briefly before pronouncing the word in perfect, been practicing for days timbre that sounded emptier than the feigned fist-pumping of the few happy latte-sippers too sheepish to cheer aloud. "Chicago." The rest of us stood defeated as minds raced ahead towards unimaginable new hours of traffic and a level of taxation we may have never known before. Daley and his fanboys in the suburbs may have their triumph with this possible Olympic spot, but, apart from a few perfunctorily gleeful editorials in the paper, this win won't do much for anyone who doesn't have an academic or masochistic obsession with the worst kind of fashion-over-function inanity.
The Mayor assumes we'll thank him for the opportunity of showing the international community that we are, in fact, a "world-class city"; that we'll shrug off the myriad inconveniences so that German tourists can gawk at "the bean" or the Cezanne's at the Art Institute. But we Midwesteners have a typically passive-aggressive relationship with our supposed attractions. We accept at face-value the notion that while others may want to see we have to offer, they never will. We accept it and we like it. There's something reassuring about our coast-less isolation that keeps things settled--from tilting too far towards to foo-foo-la-la.. Even the capital of "fly-over country" must resign itself to being the capital of flyover country. The Mayor may love this city, love Chicago culture, love its people, but how can we accept a love that expresses itself trhough mass ingestion of international sleaze? Because lets face it, the level of treacle that comes with most Olympic fables is outweighed only by degrees of corresponding corruption. And we create enough of that on our own. We don't need the world's sleaze in Chicago.
And besides, I know if I were a sprinter in Slovenia, I'd much rather go to L.A. Might even see a movie a star!
Oh hell. We haven't gotten anything yet. Now we have to compete against the likes of Madrid and Tokyo.
Posted at 05:26 pm by: Selfindulgence
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Ain't you a peach? With all those websites out there, don't think for a moment I'm not mighty grateful you decided to rest here a minute. Like the white background? Looks clean huh? Simple. There's a magazine called 'Real Simple." They devote a lot of time to finding your "inner." Your inner artist, your inner musician, your inner pastry chef. Not that you're anything less than an astounding chef. Seriously. Fab lemon bars. They'd have been better had he not brought home the wrong sugar, but we all know you tried and at the end of the day that's all that matters. Because it's not easy, all you must endure. You certainly don't have to convince me. Hey, preaching to the converted over here. Of course I'm one of the rare few who understand. No use crying over spilled milk, right? Not that you spilled it. Not that you cleaned it either. Can't moan about it all the time? Lots milk left spell. Lots of flies to swat. Lots of snaggs. Snafus. Whys to make life difficult. Stress. Someone said that stress is actually good for you. I don't know, something with the circulatory system. Who knows? It's not your job to keep up on all that stuff. I don't expect you too. Too much to do, you know. Too much to see. Like my blog. Welcome. Isn't it clean?
Posted at 10:55 pm by: Selfindulgence
Sunday, April 08, 2007
It's been years since anyone hid the Afikomen at our house so the other night instead of reviewing the words of Rabbi Akeebah, I made an unexpected; though not entirely unwelcome go of it. The Afikomen, is a half chunk of matzah required to complete the Passover Sedar children hide from their parents in exchange for a bribe. Usually, these prizes are something along the lines of a candy bar—once I got a Rubic's Cube—offered approvingly with varying degrees of fanfare. Since my sister, the youngest member of my immediate family, is now twenty-five, the days of cubes and candy had long given way to a more philosophical approach to the ceremony and its correlations to today's society. (The next night, at my Orthodox cousins', someone threw some kind of post-structuralist discourse to the pot. Don't mix matzah with Derrida, folks. It doesn't work.) I don't pretend we broke any major ontological ground, but there's something about Passover that begs us to touch upon who we are as people and the reasons we behave as we do: to take stock of ourselves as members of community rather than as independent units. Nothing Borg-like per se, but it's undeniably communal.
My mother' side of the family is almost unspeakably small: just my grandma, uncle and two cousins. And as only my grandmother lives in the area she was the soul lucky enough to join my parents, my sister and I for a Sedar last week. Truth be told, the notion that everyone have a Sedar to attend almost overrides the ceremony itself, so we invited others but each secured a spot prior to our invite, leaving our meal somewhat more streamlined in the process.
I went to my mom's directly after work, chatted a bit with my grandmother and waited for my sister to arrive from her job as a Kindergarten teacher. We spoke in a fashion outsiders might think little of, but there's underlying sense of immediacy that belies pre-Sedar tete-a-tetes. Even then the mind is fat with thoughts of community and inter-dependence and conversations keep falling back to places we need to be as Jews, Americans and members of a vast global dialogue. (Not in so many words, of course.)
Despite clarion calls declaring "next year in Jerusalem", a feeling of finite space weighs heavily on the Sedar and we wring from it whatever sense of inter-personal touch we possibly can. The table, the plates, everything seems to run out. We talk about the Exodus as if went through it ourselves, that's part of the mitzvah, yet visions of a greater exodus, a deeper Diaspora pervade. It's been said that we Jews have a messianic complex and that may be true. Sometimes, however, the need to save things stems from the tacit understanding that we ourselves our beyond saving. It's not good to always feel the prey. Yet when we ask "why on this night?" its worth noting that we don't speak entirely of a single night of existence. Why on this night? Because its all we have and soon it will be gone.
And so I hid the Afikomen. I hid it above a bookshelf in my mom's room. It was amusing for a while. It made us forget the gravity of the situation and too look at each other as members of family, duty bound to love, forgive and forge ahead. We didn't search for it though. After a brief interlude I grabbed it and we completed the ceremony. We finished with due seriousness. We were safe for another year. We had someplace to go. We had a community to support. On NPR that night a commentator made the argument that it was more important to "belong" than to "engage." He argued that if one was the former, than the later would come in time. Mutually inclusive terms, I suppose. Part of me hopes that's not true, it would weaken the impact of both. Last week I was both. Two separate methods of being me. Being a Jew. I'm not sure which is the better fit but for one night at least, they both felt right.
Posted at 03:36 pm by: Selfindulgence
Saturday, March 03, 2007
I bought a t-shirt the other day with a picture of Elvis on it.
Is that lame?
Posted at 09:29 am by: Selfindulgence
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
They'll Never Touch my Coffee!
The City of Chicago is divided into fifty disjointed, non-sequential wards. That's the way it has always been, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to give it much real thought. The 1st ward, for example is not followed, as one might expect, by 2nd, but instead it's surrounded by the 35th, 32nd and 26th. Reasons for this are as old and nonsensical as most Chicago sports legends, and, as mentioned, residents have long since stopped trying to figure it out and have just sort of rolled with it.
Each ward is divided, somewhat less officially, into smaller individual neighborhoods. The 39th ward, the ward in which I live, is truncated by the Albany Park, North Park, Peterson Park, Hollywood Park and Sauganash neighborhoods. Boundaries tend to be more fluid and usually work in ways members of the Chicago Association of Realtors want them to. For example, homes in Sauganash tend to sell for more than those in Albany Park, so it's not unusual to hear someone say they're from East-Sauganash—which really means Albany Park. I grew up in the slightly less truncated (name-wise) 50th ward, which essentially, housed just East Rogers Park and West Rogers Park. Still, as any resident of the 50th will tell you, that ward is probably the most visibly divided in the city.
I mention all this because yesterday was Chicago's mayoral and aldermanic elections. Nothing brings a metropolis as divided as this one together better than citywide elections. They ring as hallow and superficial as votes for school secretary in some nameless, 6th-grade classroom. Everyone knows who's going to win, people just like wasting class time making posters. Our mayor, the brutish and indomitable Richard M. Daley, won the election from the moment he was elected last time. Some say that the 64-year old South-Sider will retire after this election cycle, but I don't see it happening. He's long spoken as if the city was his personal commodity, and, as we all know; it's extremely difficult letting go of power like that. I know the "independent" press out there at the Chicago Reader plays its best Cassandra card and warns how bad it will be for the city if "King Richard" weren't disposed of. I'm willing to give them credit for pointing out Daley's colossal errors, (tearing up an airport in the middle of the night, spending money that should have gone into improving the Chicago Transit Authority punctuality on a new Bears Stadium) but they didn't say anything the Tribune didn't at one point or another. Look, they had to come out against Daley, otherwise they'd lose their "independent" street cred and have to start charging people for their weekly wares.
Personally, I admire Daley for not letting big labor push him around on the "big box" ordinance. It's nice to know the triumph of economics over populism can still work in this (kinda) blue-collar town.
When Daley finally does retire, by the way, we will see a power vacuum likes of which this city has never seen. I am DREADING it.
Most Chicagoans have already put the playtime politics of yesterday's elections to bed. Still, as I walked up Kedzie yesterday, glancing furtively at the cinnamon-hued buildings, I couldn't help but shudder at the pretentiousness of it all. As if these elections and these elected officials had even the slightest affect on the things that touch me. No one, no matter what their politics will let garbage pile up, leave snow unplowed or will dramatically raise taxes. That's constant. Everything else is all posters and ticker tape.
Here's a map of Chicago's wards.
Posted at 04:25 pm by: Selfindulgence
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Patterns! My life is enitrely made up of patterns! Despite repeated attempts to extricate myself, I am perpetually dogged by shades and patterns and designs of the most opaque and ambient. They shape everything, I suppose, but these days all I seem to recognize are the arabesques composed against a universal cityscape. I should make clear that when I say patterns I am referring to designs in couture, culture and architecture, not any Illuminate, Dan Brown-lite, psycho-ward shit. Leave that stuff for the U-Tube cranks and the rest of the well, blogosphere. Which isn't to say that I'm any less crazy, just less hopeless to Ana Wintour's unyielding eyes.
And I don't try to decipher the argyles, cabal and corrugation. That stuff's beyond me. I do try to recognize it, though. Keep pace with the whorls and the lines. For some reason these things have taken on a greater meaning as of late. Matching shades and cadences, prints and paisleys--these are no longer feckless matters. They smack of a enlightenment now, when they once rung of pretense. Not that I've become a fashionista of any sort--I still go the safe route with a predominately black wardrobe. Yet as lines of late 20's time-lapse denial begin to form around the corners of my eyes, the curvature of a Sheridan Rd. apartment complex speaks louder to the authority of structure over facade. It's not about how you look. And it's not about the movement of the stitching across seam. These things are important and beyond cliche and far beyond trite to repeat it here. We measure ourselves against the backdrop of the patterns we inhabit and whether we like it or not, they tell us more than we want to know. I see myself in the brickwork of the building across the street, it reminds where I am and reveals, to no one else but me, where I stand in the universe.
Lofty, huh? Fair enough. But I can watch my life move from one pattern to another and see, physically see, the progression or regression. I am the black. The argyle. The earth tone. The roof. I am the voice on the answering machine, speaking to a room of unknown dimensions to men I've never seen. I am a pattern to them. Lines, curves, foibles and confusion.
Imperfection is a pattern.
Posted at 09:34 pm by: Selfindulgence
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Blogs may seem conspiratorial but if nothing else, at least they’re organic. Poor things crest on the same kind of silly human nervosa anonymous notes on college corkboards do; although at least blogs do us the courtesy of shouldering history along with them. This gives them something we might consider “real” although it’s far more likely this past ends up the same place our “real life” past goes—nowhere. And what could be less real than that? Writing a blog does not create a connection any more than a TV flashing in an empty room delivers a message. Hitting the “publish” key only charges the circuit, the rub is in completing it. And don’t be fooled: completing it doesn’t mean reading said text. It doesn’t mean responding to it, either. It doesn’t mean tossing it in your favorites list for word-mind intimacy on demand. Connection is completed when we become partners in crime. When I, as a writer (not author, by the way,) and you as reader, make a pact that for at least a few brief moments we are all there is to each other. We turn off the rest of the world confirming our antipathy towards it by embracing, enduring, liking who we are now. That’s criminal. That’s wrong. But it’s so fucking human. There is no blog conspiracy. They’re just reflexes: spasms of mental variety incapable of being anything more than that.
Where have I been, lo these few months? Simply: busy. I was recently promoted (although my paychecks might indicate otherwise) and have quite literally not had the opportunity to sit down and type an entry. I really should be working on an essay now. But I’m not. I miss you. I miss my partners in crime.
In exactly fifteen minutes the Chicago Bears will take to the field in the something-something Super Bowl. In exactly an hour and fifteen minutes I will make my way to my friend Pete’s house to watch the game with a room of people and a house full of Heinekens. As I may have mentioned, there are so few things about me that would strike one as particularly “manly” so I like to delude myself into thinking that watching football and drinking beer will make up for the fact the I’m indifferent towards football and don’t like beer.
The computer tells me it’s a whopping three degrees Fahrenheit in the Windy City right now (that’s 16.1 degrees Celsius). Ya’ know…But on a sweater on you’re fine. Come on people, visit the City by the Lake. We'e got piiiiiiizaaaa…..
Posted at 04:56 pm by: Selfindulgence
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I live almost directly behind a football field.
I think about football as I eat breakfast and gaze into the billowy mist of an early morning downpour. At one point, the college I live by was strictly a seminar school. Now they have their own football stadium.
I imagine priests doing the "Hail Mary" as they streak, sharp and determined across the slippery field. Blitzing.
I live near a football field. I hear the sounds of ghosts in the huddle.
Posted at 09:34 pm by: Selfindulgence
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Once every two to three months, I stop by Larry's apartment to make sure his car is still there. Sometimes I spot quickly on an easy dash down Seeley Ave. Squatting, primate-like beneath chipped parking signs that read something about snowfalls and tow aways zones. I live for the ten-second dash through Prat and sharp right onto Western—it's the proof of life that sends me home. What's more often the case, however, is a long and hyperkinetic scavenger hunt over the cement hills of East Rogers Park. Most of the time I drive—the neighborhood not quite as safe as it once was—but today I parked and started patrol at his front door. They're predicting eight inches of snow so the neighborhood took on a sort of a New Orleans before Mardi Gras kind of shape, with vestiges of great and emotional happening poking obliquely from beneath the hats, scarves and downy coats that jogged down the avenue. It was tempting to let myself get swept up with the AccuWeather fever, but every now and again I'll surprise myself with the stickwithitness necessary to complete a task. Still, it's a shame that no one asked me for change today. Today of all days I would have given every cent.
Larry's car, a decaying Pontiac Parisienne, rested between two equally luckless looking vehicles a block west of where he lives. I wanted to touch the hood, feel if it was warm, but the thought that it might not, and that it probably wasn't, was too much to bear so I just stood, hands in pockets, teeth chattering, scanning for clues. I thought of Larry and the office where we used to work; he was holding a large cardboard box, his feet in tight, his torso curved away like someone attempting a yoga pose. Inside the box was a single picture of him from the early 70's. "Why such a big box for a single picture?" I remember thinking at the time. He was laughing. Usually, when he laughed it was only a brief "heh, heh," like disposable henchman from a James Cagney film, but this time it was sustained. He had a mustache in the picture. "Can you imagine?" he asked. "Me. With a mustache? Ha Ha!" This is always the first thing I picture when I see Larry's car. Sometimes it's what I see when I scan for his number on my cell phone. I couldn't tell you the last time I called, though. He stopped picking up his phone years ago.
Oh shit. Wait a minute. Never mind. I can tell you the last time I called. It was right now.
Even though I really wanted to I didn't leave a note on his windshield. The last time I did that he yelled at me because at a distance it looked like a ticket and he's not sure how well his heart could handle a parking ticket. He's had two cardiac arrests. Instead, I kicked his front, driver-side tire. Once. Then I turned and walked back to my car. It was six-thirty then and the black was already two hours old. I imagined myself disappearing into it like they do at the end of plays. The cars and apartments and fire hydrants around me would swim away and I would keep walking until the only thing left of me would be the sound of my shoes as they beat mercilessly on the asphalt.
"George Reeves, didn't commit suicide, Adam. Anyone who tells you that is just covering." "I'm just a bachelor,. I'm fine with soup." "Maybe I'll see my aunt for Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll give her a call." "I look much younger than I am." "I AM SICK OF BEING POOR!" "I was almost married once." "If anyone calls, I'm in my car."
His voice rings shrill in the death-like silence of pre-blizzard Chicago. These storms, they have egos, don't they? But this one feels slightly less self-aware. It flirts with existence without fully embracing it. "It's coming," they say. Get your shovels ready. Get your booties ready. Get ready. Get ready. Get ready. Get ready.
On your mark. Get set. Go.
When I got home I re-read an old birthday card he gave me. It didn't say much, just his name and "happy birthday." I miss him. Larry was my friend. And he's not well. And he's old. And he has no one. And I'm deathly afraid that one day I'll become him. Beneath the card, maybe, he was trying to get my attention. Maybe. I read it over and over again, hanging on every word.
Posted at 10:28 pm by: Selfindulgence
Saturday, November 25, 2006
It must be a new kind of loneliness, this blogging thing. In some ways I feel as if I'm giving a speech to an empty room or dissertation to bored fiber optics on a casual acquaintance's answering machine. It's banal and it's futile and it's woefully solipsistic and I know this, but stuck inside me somewhere lurks the dimmest notion that perhaps it's not so self indulgent after all. I nurse this feeling with all the will I can muster at 2:00am on a Saturday. Yes, it may be loneliness (is there really any "new" kind?) but it's real and it's us and there's a lot to be thankful for in these almost invisible rooms.
Time has robbed me of this special pixilated visibility. But I can't disappear for long. Isolation propels me forward. Keeps me writing bad, fourteen year-old posts, makes me want to connect. Keeps me up at night. Sets me loose.
Posted at 02:05 am by: Selfindulgence