I love the 22 Clark.

This much-reviled bus route is one I used to ride on a regular basis. Despite the frustratingly-common occurrence of two late buses arriving just before one early bus, it’s actually a convenient way to navigate Clark Street, which is often fraught with drunken pedestrians. It is also a 24/7 bus route, so it can and will help you get home at 3 AM just as handily as it does during rush hour.

Completely aside from its utility, this bus route also inspired the song, “Get On The Bus,” a catchy little tune by the late, great Wesley Willis.

Brace yourself for some poetry. Here is an excerpt from the song’s lyrics:

The 22 Clark bus passed me up

I picked up a rock and threw it at the bus

Then I called the bus driver a fucking jerk

I told him to suck a camel’s ass and fuck off

Get on the bus

Get on the bus

Get on the bus

Get on the bus


I love bascule bridges.

Chicago has more movable bridges than any other city. There is even a subtype of bascule bridge (the fixed-trunnion bascule bridge) called a “Chicago bridge.” Watching the bridges lift is always fun, but many of Chicago’s bridges are also quite lovely in their stationary state.

Some of my favorites:

–Marshall Suloway Bridge, where I was occasionally made late for work at the Reid Murdoch Building (on the left, with the clock tower).

Source: historicbridges.org

–The Irv Kupcinet Bridge, which is shockingly beautiful at night.

Source: hyatt.com

–The Ashland Avenue Bridge, which features distinctive art deco reliefs.

–The Cherry Avenue Bridge, although it doesn’t actually move anymore, has an unusual asymmetry.

Source: bridgehunter.com

To learn more about the mechanics of the well-known Du Sable Bridge at 376 N. Michigan Avenue, visit the Chicago Bridgehouse Museum (or read this page from their web site).

As far as I’m concerned, love smells like popcorn.

A friend and I were having a conversation about bad dates recently, and we started recalling good dates as well. It occurred to me then that I fall in love at the movies. There are some excellent places to see them in and around Chicago, too.

Dates aside, I also have a few very fuzzy wuzzy memories of seeing movies with my grandma (including my first visit to the Catlow). My sister and I, ten years apart in age, have always bonded over movies. At one difficult point in my childhood, my dad took me to see a movie, just the two of us, so I’d feel better. (This was at the Elk Grove Theater before it was remodeled, so the lobby actually smelled like years and years of the gross, burnt popcorn at the bottom of the machine, but I didn’t care.) I never really fit into my family, and watching movies was one of the few areas of common ground we all shared. Going to the movies meant two hours or so where I didn’t feel like I came from the island of misfit toys, and we could laugh together or rehash favorite lines over dinner afterwards.

In high school, as for many people, the default date was seeing a movie at the mall. I started saving my movie ticket stubs during my sophomore year, so I can say with absolute certainty that almost all the dates I went on in high school involved a movie, and while the boys who would take me sometimes got sick of going to the same places again and again, I never did. Even when I would go home and write up a scathing review for the school paper (I think I compared Rush Hour 2 to a dessicated corpse picked at by vultures), I was happy to have gone to the theater to watch a movie.

The best of all these, though, was a date with my first serious boyfriend that happened my senior year. I had never heard of or been to the Pickwick in Park Ridge, and since I was (and am) “obsessed with old shit,” to quote his sister, he knew that had to change. I remember what  we ate for dinner before the movie, what I wore, where we parked, and of course what movie we saw (Amelie), and it was all completely amazing to me. Even now, when I think of that theater, I think of the giddy rush of first love.

I later went on to fall in love with Mr. Wrong at the Gene Siskel Film Center, stand in line at the Lake Theater with Ms. Wrong for what felt like eons only to have the movie sell out before we got tickets, and nervously jabber like an idiot about rack focus while waiting for a film to start with the man who is now my husband at Century Centre Cinema.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the Des Plaines Theater, even though I’ve never eaten popcorn there; if I didn’t recall Piper’s Alley, even though you can’t see movies there anymore; or if I didn’t talk about the special kind of love that happens between a drunk guy in a bathrobe and a drunk woman in a bathrobe when The Music Box has a midnight showing of The Big Lebowski.

I love the Oxford comma.

Do you know who else loves it? The Chicago Manual of Style. That’s style as in writing, not style as in gladiator sandals.


The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (University of Chicago Press, 2003), paragraph 6.19

When a conjunction joins the last two elements in a series, a comma should appear before the conjunction. Chicago strongly recommends this widely practiced usage.

  • “She took a photograph of her parents, the president, and the vice president.”
  • “I want no ifs, ands, or buts.”
  • “The meal consisted of soup, salad, and macaroni and cheese.”

I love Drunk History.

This TV show combines two things I enjoy–learning about history and laughing at drunk people. Here is the episode about Chicago.

With so much fascinating history here, I was a little disappointed that one of the segments was about Al Capone. Had I been on the show, I would have chosen to drunkenly ramble about the first open heart surgery (performed in Chicago by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams in 1893. one of the first African-Americans to graduate from an American medical school), the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction (at the University of Chicago on December 2, 1942), or the tale of the smoke-filled room (in the Blackstone Hotel, where Warren G. Harding was allegedly rigged to be the Republican candidate for president in 1920). Still, it’s a good episode with some beautiful shots of the city.

I love Ganz Grosse Geister.

While I prefer to call them the macaroni and cheese men, the three figures in Thomas Schutte’s 1954 artwork Ganz Grosse Geister represent spirits. These 16 foot high figures are both solid and nebulous; otherworldly and temporal. I like to imagine a narrative for them involving an evil corporate executive from Kraft, perhaps melting his creations with a giant magnifying glass. This is not the art world’s sanctioned interpretation, mind you, so if you show up at the Museum of Contemporary Art (where they rise above the entrance steps) babbling about yellow noodles, you will get the crazy eye.

Dance, puppets, dance! MUAHAHAHA!

I love “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

It’s not because I think it’s the best movie ever. It’s not because I have some fuzzy memory of watching it as a kid (I didn’t see it until I was in junior high school). It isn’t because of the soundtrack, or Matthew Broderick, or any of the usual reasons.

I love watching “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” because it’s a Chicago movie, and moreover, it depicts the Chicago of my childhood. Although I moved around a lot as a kid, bouncing between neighborhoods and suburbs, going downtown was always an amazing experience. The parade scene alone is packed with the things I remember seeing with my grandma when we went downtown right before the first time she took me to see Lake Michigan–the seemingly-dizzying heights of the elevated tracks, ever-present celebrations, and Calder’s Flamingo in Federal Plaza. The faces in the crowd are also faces I might have seen on the city streets as a child, because the extras weren’t cast from Hollywood head shots but are actual locals recruited with radio ads.

Then there’s the Art Institute scene, featuring great works including Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, The Child’s Bath by Mary Cassat, Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz by Amedeo Modigliani, and Marc Chagall’s America Windows. Making this scene even closer to my art nerd heart, it contains an instrumental version of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.”

The vast majority of this movie was filmed in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, including many extant locations you can visit today. For a closer look and information about how to find them, visit this page on movie-locations.com.

There’s so much to love about this film, even if you’re not a big John Hughes fan. This week, Comedy Central is airing one of the less bowdlerized versions I can remember seeing on basic cable  if you’d like to watch it yourself.