Capital D

Some friends and I took a little trip to Detroit not too long ago, and if you’ve never been I highly recommend you go. Not that it’s an especially fun place, nor a consistently entertaining one, but definitely among the most interesting destinations in the world. A lot of people talk about what they personally are losing these days, but to actually see first-hand how an entire city (and, to some extent, an entire state) has been disintegrating for decades is nothing short of amazing.

Imagine a building, left for dead by its owner because no one will ever move into it again. Now imagine an entire city block made up of such buildings. Now imagine that instead of being mere houses, these are industrial complexes and 30-story high-rises. People will ask what the world will look like after civilization has all gone away; the answer, sadly, sits in near-ruin on the western shores of Lake St. Clair.

Meanwhile, some news and light reading for you:

  • The 35th Street Review has gone daily. Because you need need NEED blowhard sportswriting seven times a week.
  • A music site I’ve been writing for is (slowly) going live. They’re still working some things out, but you can check out some of my work for them here, here, here, here, and here .
  • A lingering question was finally answered.
  • And the good folks at 2nd Story have invited me to join their fall storytelling cycle. You’ll know about appearances as soon as I do.

The more observant of you have probably noticed some changes to the site’s appearance and layout. A few tweaks and ideas are still in progress, but hopefully the whole thing works better now; too much of the original design ended up as clutter, and as a result you now get what you see here. Which, if you think about it, is probably pretty symbolic of something; I’m just not sure what.

As always, thank you for reading.
AMR
Chicago, IL / August 30, 2008

Heat Vision

A local writer I know asked me why I don’t change my approach to this site. When asked to explain, she said rather than bombard readers (that’s you!) with every mundane story my name is attached to, why not simply harvest the best works and include links in these update posts/emails and use the site for everything else?

I thought for a second and replied that I didn’t know if I was the best person to make that decision, nor do I have some scale of what’s the “best” of what I do these days. She responded that if I wasn’t willing to make editorial choices even among my own work, maybe I should just pack it in and call it a day.

L., these two are for you:.

. . . At least a few of you made it out to see me at this month’s Reading Under the Influence; those that didn’t missed me shouting about a Thanksgiving spent abroad. This is a true story. [“Turkey Kolkata,” from Ghost Factory issue #2]

. . . Donovan Hall publishes an excellent magazine called The Angler, for which he has decided to publish a story of mine about dogs and barfly romance. This is a not a true story. Yet. [“Where Water Flows,” from The Angler issue F]

And you, reader, may be asking yourself “Is that all?” I assure you it’s not, but we are all busy people and you know where to find the rest should you need it. I promise to keep filling the space as well and as often as I can. Thank you as always for reading.

– AMR

Yard Work

The lot at the corner of Montrose and Broadway, more commonly known as Wilson Yard, is slated to become the future home of a Target, a full retail complex, and a whole lot of condos. Ten years and $52 million dollars worth of specially-allocated property taxes later, ground was set to break this past Sunday.

Following suit in the spirit of municipal improvement, you’ve probably noticed a few aesthetic changes to the site. The tweaked layout should work better in Internet Explorer, the “popular” list on the right is more selectively updated, the front page fits on one screen, and if you look closely you’ll see the header and lower right-hand images change each time you visit or refresh. Pretty neat.

Speaking of pictures, I finally got around to putting some up online, which you can view in tiny form here and larger, more glorious form here. I’ll be adding more as time permits; there are some good ones just dying to get out there.

Walking back from the Red Line this evening, I went past Wilson Yard and wouldn’t you know they haven’t started anything. Nothing. The same busted parking lot surrounded by the same cheap fencing, although tagged with some new graffiti. Perhaps that’s what they mean by the changing face of Uptown.

Elsewhere:

. . . I recently became one of the two new mayors of Archer Avenue

. . . the Sox were never worse than they were one rainy night this past May

. . . Megan Gibson is awesome

. . . Dream Theater is also awesome

Finally, for those of you planning to be in or near the Belmont/Sheffield area Wednesday July 2nd, I’ll be helping the launch of issue #2 of Ghost Factory by hitting the stage as part of the mighty Reading Under the Influence series. RUI is hosted monthly by the good folks at Sheffields, 3258 N. Sheffield Avenue, and festivities kick off at 7pm. I look forward to seeing some of you there, and thank you as always for reading.

– AMR

Take-Offs and Landings

I ran into a friend who the other night I haven’t seen for some time. We were catching up on things, trading notes on each other’s lives and whatnot, and he asked me why I wasn’t writing anymore.

“Just haven’t seen anything on your site lately,” he explained. “Figured maybe you gave it up.”

Eu contraire mon frere, quite the opposite, and a whole lot more. Anyone checking in here regularly may have seen mention of the Birdland story I wrote, and with that please allow me to announce the sooner-than-expected grand opening of The 35th Street Review, with yours truly at the helm and a great roster of contributors lined up in the near future. It’s like a baseball blog with extra ambition, or a magazine with less quality control, depending on your point of view.

Is that all? No, of course not. The Chicago Tribune asked me some very important questions about my work over at South Side Baseball, the new Secret and Whisper album rocks harder than it should, and we can be poets. . . just for one day.

On top of all that, at least one more big news item should rear its high word-count head soon, but I’ll save mention of that until it happens. Until then, thank you as usual for reading.

– AMR

E-6

One of the best parts of a career in freelance writing is the constant exposure to new places, ideas, and people. Every assignment presents a new opportunity to learn and a new world to explore, and every day is a new story waiting to be told.

Then again, one of the other best parts of said career is the opportunity to revisit some old favorites with a newfound critical eye and a wider audience. And a bigger mouth.

SSB was named one of “Chicago’s Best Blogs” (White Sox category, naturally) by the Chicago Tribune.

– The 2008 baseball season is underway, and it’s going to be a rough one for Sox players and fans alike.

– But it could be worse: at least we’re not rooting for the Royals.

– The new Counting Crows album is pretty good, as is the new Nine Inch Nails instrumental quasi-album.

– If you’ve ever wondered exactly how a person can inflict temporary psychosis upon themselves, the answer may lie in a box of records somewhere.

Finally, a story about perseverance. In 2004, when I was slightly less of a nobody than I am now, I sent a submission in to one of my favorite magazines in the world. They very quietly rejected it, but I held on and earlier this year found a new outlet that may have had a use for it. And lo and behold, I will become a published poet for the first and possibly last time in the spring issue of the Seattle-based Commonline Project. Far out, man. Far out indeed.

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