The Road Less Traveled led me straight to Old Town, corporate America, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was the summer of 1966, after my first year of college. I tried to talk my mother into letting me work at the neighborhood drive-in bringing people their hot dogs, but that wasn’t going well. So I took the other path. I took the YMCA up on their offer to join an internship program... Read more »

A better world through Facebook Rationing: Imagine if nobody was allowed to post on Facebook more than once a week

When I go to see a play in Chicago, I don’t read Chris Jones’ reviews in the Tribune all the way through before seeing the play. I play a game with him to see if I notice the same points of discomfort that he does. If I do, I feel smart. If I don’t, as... Read more »

Andrew Shaw: The gay slur and why he said it

Good day, Andrew Shaw, and welcome to your reprieve from being named the Steve Bartman of 2016. Last night, your Blackhawk teammates saved you by coming up with a double-overtime victory while you served your suspension. Now, all of you can go forward equally responsible for what happens next in this post-championship season. In this... Read more »
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Prince and Bowie meet in heaven

The first thing I thought of when I heard of Prince’s death was David Bowie, also recently gone. What they have in common is obvious – their atypical attire, their androgyny, bold and pioneering music, passionate fans who can tell you the moment they first heard the artist, creativity that outstrips others’, vision far beyond... Read more »

My cabbie taught me a lesson: A chance encounter with America

My big question, before I climbed into cab #923, was what has America turned into lately – with the hatred and mockery and economic and racial divisions? The cabbie was a young man, eager to talk, from somewhere else, maybe the Middle East. We started with the weather. “This city,” he said, “I’ve lived here three... Read more »

Do you have cooking in your blood? A chance encounter with genetics

Here’s what I learned today while having my blood drawn. My phlebotomist wasn’t planning to talk to me I don’t think. All business. Getting out vials and needles and such. No eye contact. “Spell your last name for me.” I did. “What is your birthdate?” Done. That’s what I thought until I looked at her... Read more »
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Brussels: Our old fears and our children's new ones

When baby-boomers like me were growing up, we knew that there was danger in the world, kind of. We knew about the Russians, our sworn enemies. We knew about fallout shelters. We knew that they’d won the space race and that we’d better get good at math and science so we could catch up. We... Read more »

St. Patrick’s Day: A day to ponder where we came from and why

I’ve got bigger ideas in mind this St. Patrick’s Day than green beer and Irish dancers. It’s got me thinking about how we all got here into this grand but troubled country, and how the rifts between us continue. I guess I’m Irish, but not in a South-Side-Irish way of clans that live in the... Read more »

What I learned at the estate sale: Some endings come at the right time

The signs went up overnight: ESTATE SALE. By the time I went out for my morning walk, cars were everywhere down the street and around the block, surrounding the severe Mid-century modern house, all concrete and corners. It was sidewalk-colored, and looked like it should have a loading dock. From the outside, it looked like... Read more »
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My trips with my lifetime friends: what I hope will never end

I’m never going to give this up. Every other year, I go on a trip with the friends I’ve known the longest and the best. We started being something on my fifteenth birthday when they threw a surprise birthday party for me after a humiliating social defeat – not getting invited into a high school... Read more »