Photo by Patty Michels
In 2006 I moved from Los Angeles to Chicago to attend graduate school and right away the city seemed a perfect fit. Sure, I spent nine months out of the year shivering at bus stops or worse, wearing a down vest in my own freaking apartment, but have you seen the glazed expression that passes for affability in LA?
I don’t do fake, I don’t do easygoing and I certainly don’t do Sasquatch boots with shorts. So while LA does have its benefits (warm weather, content-less conversation, the possibility of running into Liz Phair at ArcLight (which totally happened to me—double parenthesis!--)), Chicago feels like home.
Yet since moving here, I’ve lost countless friends to the West Coast. This is not ironic, merely irritating. What with winter’s encroachment, I’m making it my mission to fight for our fair city. In that spirit, I’ve compiled the following list.
Things to Do in Chicago this December That Won’t Make you Decide to Move to LA:
1. Attend Nickel History: The Nation of Heat, New Etchings by Tony Fitzpatrick at Firecat Projects.
Possibly my favorite aspect of living in Chicago, Fitzpatrick seems the ultimate Renaissance Man. A poet, writer, artist and actor, Fitzpatrick is the kind of prolific which usually requires methamphetamines, but as far as I can tell, Fitzpatrick is fueled by nicotine, dirty jokes and the sheer necessity of realizing his artistic vision.
In lieu of electing him mayor (which is actually my goal—the man has more intelligent things to say about politics (and zombies) than any “politician” out there), go see his gorgeous new work on display through Christmas. More information here.
2. Read the brilliant Sara Levine’s highly anticipated novel, Treasure Island!!!
Okay, technically you could read this sardonic jewel in any location, but Levine is a growing presence in the Chicago literary scene; she belongs to the Windy City man. [Editor’s Note: The author meant to leave out that comma. She is in fact referring to a single entity known as The Windy City Man who she believes nests beneath one of her floorboards. Let’s not disabuse her, shall we?] Having crafted a protagonist as fascinating as she is morally questionable, Levine says, “The literature of malcontents is not without pedigree. Achilles brooded. Odysseus was a selfish jerk. And Dostoevsky's underground man—who'd pick his profile on Match.com? Bernhard, Beckett, Nabokov... obviously my heart belongs to the misfits and misanthropes and criminals.”
And my heart belongs to Sara Levine. Learn more about Treasure Island!!! here.
3. See "Let it Ho!"
This burlesque-inspired revue features five of the funniest Broadz in Chicago showcasing an unaccountably rare combination of sex appeal and smarts. This year’s holiday show offers two new songs, fresh scenes and the same raunchy hilarity you’ve come to expect. I asked Broadz member Ricky Dickuless (Amanda Whitenack) what she likes about the holidays and she had this to say: “My favorite part is the Ham seasoning. Ham is a versatile and underrated dish. Ham can be served cold on bread or hot in a stew or at room temperature on my thighs to a single man looking for a free meal with benefits. I'm single. I'm lonely. And I have a freezer full of ham. My real number is (773) 484-5623.”
I’m totally setting her up with the Windy City Man. He likes Ham. For tickets to "Let it Ho!" go here.
4. Or how about "That’s Weird, Grandma?"
Less raunch, more whimsy, this ongoing show is appropriate for all ages. Barrel of Monkeys, an arts education theater ensemble that teaches writing workshops to kids has been performing shows inspired by the writings of Chicago Public School children for almost a decade. This year’s holiday show will feature themes from the season including Winter Activities, Gift Giving, and Scrooges. BOM Artistic Director Molly Brennen says “kids love to write about Santa Claus in non-traditional situations. "Santa and Taco Bell" from David, a 4th Grader at Avondale [is a] good example of this. Other featured pieces include problem solving on the part of 100 elves who have to share one restroom, the adventures of Plutonian snowmen, and the consequences of being a reindeer who does not act professionally at work.”
I’ve so been there. It’s hard to hold down a job when your nose won’t stop blinking. Buy tickets here.
5. Participate in the first ever Chicago Santa Speedo Run (Because you're completely insane.).
Originating in Boston in 2001, this event raises money for children in need. On December 10th at noon, the scantily clad Santas will hit Andersonville. If you’re interested in taking part, The Sofo Tap will provide a place to check your clothes (or maybe this is just an elaborate rouse to provide free uniforms for their servers), and there’s a $20 donation. I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this except that the whole concept terrifies me and I’m totally going to watch.
Click to attend here.
This blog has been approved by the holiday werewolf.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," is forthcoming from Soft Skull, an imprint of Counterpoint Press. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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