Tag Archives: chicago

Thoughts on Barack Obama

I’m watching my president, Barack Obama, give his final speech tonight.

All the while, I’m thinking back to my first impression of the man I met in Missoula in April, 14, 2008.

I’m re-reading my first impressions. The way he captured the University of Montana crowd. The way my kids were completely jazzed up to wait in a line for two hours to hear him speak.  Continue reading Thoughts on Barack Obama

The Tin Man seeks a heart

Tin Man
Tin Man

I read a story this week about a woman who moved to Portland, Oregon from New York city and found herself incredibly lonely. Like dangerously lonely.

The better part of my life has been spent pursuing the opposite of loneliness. One of the reasons I moved to Chicago was because I believed that a city with eight million people would be the antidote to loneliness.

At first it is.

You’re surrounded by the cacophony of this human hive. It fairly roars with the constant sound of movement. You can’t look around and not see humans walking somewhere quickly. Nobody meanders in Chicago.

Continue reading The Tin Man seeks a heart

Live storytelling in Chicago

Somewhere between my pre-school preacher years and high school, I came down with a bad case of stage fright.

I remember taking my first speech classes in college and being simply terrified of the crowd. I tried every trick in the book, and I even took an acting class to try to learn to be more comfortable with it.

My father is a preacher.

I am most certainly not.

So when CHIRP’s Julie Mueller approached me about doing the CHIRP’s live storytelling and music series called The First Time, I tried to think of every excuse why I shouldn’t do it.

Chicago is, perhaps, the world center for live storytelling right now. There is not a night of the week where you can’t find a themed storytelling event in any part of this city.

Continue reading Live storytelling in Chicago

Is This Seat Taken?

Metra

The commuter trains in Chicago run like radial arms from the city’s center out to the suburbs.

They pass through the rich mosaic of neighborhoods and suburbs that make Chicago everything it is or seems to be.

They pass by quiet neighborhoods, gridlocked freeways and sports stadiums that rise out of flat expanses of concrete like dark steel fortresses.

They pass by white neighborhoods and non-white neighborhoods and black neighborhoods and mixed neighborhoods.

Polish, Irish, Italian, Croatian, German, English, South Asian, Goral, Czech, Ukrainian, Swedish, Bulgarian, Puerto Rican, Palestinian, Korean, Cuban, Chinese, Indian, African and many other neighborhoods and communities too numerous to count.

If you look out the window, you won’t be able to tell that you’re passing through all of this. You’ll see tree-lined avenues and streets with the houses all boarded up.

You’ll see Dunkin’ Donuts, mom and pop stores, tire stores, playgrounds, high schools and empty lots. ]

There are so many stories that come from riding the trains every day. So many little facets of life that come bubbling up to the surface in that claustrophobic little world between our home life and our work life. But this one has been weighing on my mind for awhile.

Continue reading Is This Seat Taken?

The First Hot Day in Chicago

Sun

There was no spring, apparently. I was wearing a jacket on Tuesday, and by Thursday, it was 91 degrees.

The first hot day in Chicago is uncomfortable, for sure, but it holds so much promise.

In the working districts, men forego their coats for button-down shirts and no ties. Women lose the pantsuits or tights and boots for dresses that billow in the lake breezes.

In the douchebag district, where I happened to find myself this afternoon, the tourist bros flock to the rooftop bars in starched Cubs jerseys and t-shirts with inappropriate, misogynistic sayings that make me wonder if actual shops sell them.

We have a meeting in the air-conditioned comfort of a corporate brewery, complete with mini tacos and chicken strips, and then I head out into the jungle.

Chicago is awesome. Remember that as I write these words.

Continue reading The First Hot Day in Chicago

The longest way home

The long ride, cycle, train, walk home

chicago

It starts with a seven-minute walk from my desk to the bike rack at the entrance to Navy Pier.

There’s an elevator ride in there too.

For most of Chicago’s bitterly cold and blustery winter that walk is fairly benign if not altogether banal.

You wave to bored shopkeepers walking down the middle concourse of the pier or get out in the brisk wind and chill air to enliven yourself after a long day of work. Usually the former.

But in late spring, on nice days by our standards, they begin to show up to the pier like zombie hoards.

Continue reading The longest way home

The cold is all in our head

Macro of frost on glass

It’s cold in Chicago for the second time this January. A stark contrast from last Juneuary, our first (mild) winter in the Windy City.

By cold, I mean all that air that normally oscillates around the North Pole and makes it particularly uninhabitable, has wobbled out of its usual orbit and is swinging, seemingly at random, into latitudes not quite used to these temperatures.

Meanwhile, our old comrades in Alaska are reporting green lawns, buds on trees and spring-like temperatures during a particularly balmy winter.

Continue reading The cold is all in our head

Brown Line

Brown Line
This is a brown line train to the Loop

Slow crawl through brackish
brick and mortar

North Side dissonance, so
poorly named

You should run to warmer
neighborhoods

White train, brown line
better off with green

Salt-stained floors gray out
your browns & beiges

Even your graffiti is
too soft core

Glass-free parking
spaces

And pristine platforms, condos
winter boots

Bros & wool jackets
Merino scarves

This is a brown line train
to the Loop

where else? what else?
what more? what’s left?

Take me some place special
somewhere nice

Break the mold and tease
the status quo

I’m just standing here
waiting on the train

Take me across the river
toward my dreams

This is a brown line train
to the Loop

Union Station Fridays

Late September heat, and they look uncomfortable in Fall fashions
At the train stop in the suburbs of Chicago with the first leaves fallen
The kids are hyped and the confrontations hot in the quiet car
We move from the white suburbs to the black neighborhoods to the Circle and Union Station on Friday morning
We shuffle off the train onto the narrow platform
The girls with their yoga mats and city bags, the guys in suits and ties
Old guys who’ve done this for longer than I’ve been alive
and ladies of a different class trading lies and anecdotes like recipes
The diesel fumes ravage the colognes and perfumes worn
And the roar of the “Screaming Thunderbox,” the F40PH2
fills the cavernous bowels of the station’s south side
We run headlong into a people jam trying to get through double glass doors
For the city and the towers and the coffee shops
We emerge like summer’s cicadas into broad daylight
Up escalators and stairs to the world above
Union Station on Fridays, Thursdays, Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Mondays

A poem
By
Tim Akimoff