Here’s a route. Take Kedzie south to Chicago and turn left. That’ll take you all the way to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents and has music in the summer and worth dressing up kinda nice, if that’s not your usual sorta thing.
Or go down Logan Boulevard, past the skatepark on the left and the bowling alley on the right, up and over the Diversey Bridge for a dicey turn onto Damen and a quickstart north to New Delhi on Devon.
Meet a person you like, and walk around. Leave the neighborhood, and then come back.
Whether or not we want to admit it, summer is coming to a close. Instead of being bummed about it, let’s live up the last two weeks to the best Chicago can do.
You could take Milwaukee northwest to Milwaukee or southeast to Cole’s, where there’s a next-door grocery store and a gentleman named Beto, who’s been here for such a real long while you don’t even know. He’s got a carniceria in the back, and on weekends what they’re cooking is a choice.
The other night I found out that Bill Bullock, along with some other dude on the piano, kicks off each week’s open-mic at Cole’s with a musical performance. Did you know this? I had no idea (and I guess I’d never been there for the start). All the Wednesdays I’d seen Bullock cracking me up on stage, they’d been playing the sax just a little while before; every time at Uncharted or wherever else, there was this whole other reality outside of my consciousness.
And then the next night I was eating a sandwich on Armitage when the piano player walked by. I didn’t say hello and still don’t know their name, but there I was knowing this thing about this other human being, and I gotta say, that was a cool web to connect.
It’s like in Age of Empires, when your little explorer person starts off with nothing but a walking stick, and you’re moving around a barren map with rocks and tiny-looking elephants and everywhere outside your map of traversed experience is black. You don’t know what’s out there. Until you do.
Livng in Chicago without a bicycle is like living in Hawaii without a surfboard.A friend of mine
Last night I had some friends who didn’t know each other over for dinner, and one of ’em had stopped for drinks at another’s restaurant the Saturday before. What a small world, huh? No! That’s not what I’m saying at all. There are 7.7 billion of us, and 2.7 million live in Chicago. This place is huge. And yet, even so, you can make it yours. You can allow yourself to continuously fill in the blanks with the color and detail of your lived experience.
In this town, and especially this part of Chicago, having a bike helps.
I wasn’t always a city rider. I lived for four years in Rogers Park with a Loyola-provided CTA pass and a worldview limited to the Red Line. Then I had a roommate who biked and sometimes that’s all it takes. Now it’s like I can go anywhere. I’ve been hit by a car. I’ve had a soda thrown at me. I lost my balance once and punched the concrete with my face. But still.
“Living in Chicago without a bicycle is like living in Hawaii without a surfboard,” and though I doubt every Hawaiian surfs I can’t imagine I’d be one to stay dry. For me, for my friend who said this thing, riding the city is just the way to live it. The land is flat, and we make it small. Tell us where to meet you, and we’ll be there.I’m sure now at this point your maps already quite filled in. You got your grocery store, your barista crush. Your gym. Maybe you’re engaged in the local hoo-ha. Maybe you’re Coleman Brice. Maybe you even own your home. But regardless of how set you are, how deep your routes are, or established your sources of energy replenishment, I am sure you can find something you don’t know, and learn to know it.
The decade’s almost through like summer, and you can get just about anywhere from here.
Featured photo: Clint Warber (Go ahead and follow @goodbiketour for occasional local rides…if you want)