The official user’s manual for sunshine

The Gentlemen of Washington Park: Sledging in the Pitch at the South Side’s Cricket Mecca

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imageBy Josh Kovensky

Cricket is a gentlemen’s sport. Requiring patience, skill, and knowledge of sporting minutiae, the British propagated it across their empire, infusing the local cultures with an athletic outpost of the British “stiff-upper-lip” mentality.

And then there’s real cricket. The brutal bat-and-ball sport that you find in the alleys of Bombay, along the beaches of the Caribbean, on Australian news channels and in the South Side’s very own Washington Park. Yes, each weekend, from May to September, Washington Park hosts the Midwest’s largest cricket league.

Although the Washington Park cricketeers are almost entirely South Asian, they, as one player told me, “come from all walks of life.” And, despite the incongruity of the University of Chicago’s ivory towers on one side and the grit of Englewood on the other, the teams are driven to their cause. Shankar, a bowler for the Chicago Mavericks, told me that players arrive at 8am to set up and often leave at 6pm once all the games are over. To play on both days of the weekend: “you have to be committed…or single.” Read the rest of this entry »

Fishing Hooked: Have You Entered Chicago’s Sport Fishing Derby Yet?

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Daley Fishing 1By Charlie Puckett

In 1970, Mayor Richard J. Daley told the Chicago Tribune that he wished to see the day when Loop workers fished in the Chicago River during their lunch breaks. During his twenty-one-year tenure as mayor, Daley adored rigging fishing tackle as much as his detractors relished in his gaffes as they tried for years to catch him for a different kind of rigging.

Today, a smaller city may have fewer potential anglers that could be tucking their ties into their shirts for a lunch-time cast, Daley’s dream is still a dream and the Chicago River water is probably the cleanest when it’s shocked green on St. Patrick’s Day, but the surrounding Lake Michigan waters have fared well due to years of politics that aim to give Chicago a healthy urban fishing culture and anyone interested in access to the classic arcadian hobby.

Many are surprised to hear that we have salmon, that they are big, and that they fight like mermen when on the line. You don’t need a boat—they run right off of the shore beginning each spring and you can catch them, eat them, or throw them back and then lie to an entire El car about how big it was because your phone was dead and you couldn’t take a photo. Every year, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources stocks approximately 865,000 salmonids in Lake Michigan—species that most will associate with Alaska, British Columbia, expensive grocery receipts, waxy taxidermy decor or your grandfather’s only story: Chinook “King” salmon, Coho salmon, lake trout, rainbow trout and brown trout. Read the rest of this entry »

Cruel Summer: Against Estival Romanticism

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cruel-summerBy B. David Zarley

Droplets of water, glistening, tiny misshapen jewelers’ loupes clinging desperately to and summarily highlighting rebellious curls of hair darkened and weighted by moisture, falling from eyelashes, caressing clavicles and iliac crests, running along lines, be they bust, thigh, abdominal or other; nights as warm as the days, trees aflame with the phosphorescent backsides of fireflies; ice cubes and ceiling fans sweeping across naked bodies; hideously pink baseball gloves and grotesquely crude cartoon characters with gum-ball accoutrements; opaque delicacies the flavor of citrus and the shape of a shark, with the color of electricity, and the blooming of a powdered and pinwheel shaped delicacy known as the sugar waffle; these estival pleasures aside, summer is the most acerbic of all months. Read the rest of this entry »

Kneecaps: The Summer I Went Home

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MuncieBy Naomi Huffman

Last summer I began a long-distance relationship with a man from my hometown, Muncie, Indiana. I don’t know exactly why, not yet, but I think I just really wanted to be in love. We had grown up together but had very few actual memories together—he’s a few years older than me, and we’d attended different high schools, and I moved to Chicago and didn’t think about him for a decade. But then we reconnected when I was home for my sister’s wedding in July. We began talking every day, and then I was booking round-trip Megabus tickets to Indianapolis twice a month: for my mother’s birthday, for Labor Day, for occasions I’d missed or otherwise ignored the past five years, enamored as I was with Chicago and my own oh-so-busy life, but which now seemed as good an excuse as any to come home and sleep in an almost stranger’s bed and pretend I knew how it was all going to turn out.

That my frequent trips home would set off a summer that changed my relationship with my mother should have seemed inevitable, but it didn’t at the time. I never seem to see that sort of thing coming. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Sonnets

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By Anthony Opal

Sonnet

the scaffolding of a butterfly boat
above ten darkly schooling syllables
as the body launches from its farthest shore
experiencing all as one layer
among others among the darkness of
the many-splendored objects that fell
from our hands as we took off our pants
and hung them lightly from the birch branches
entering the water without looking
(an airplane passing overhead) it took us
an hour to remember who we were
or how water always appears clearest
from above even though light angles in

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Weathering Psychic Storms: Summer Makes Me Un-SAD

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LurieGardenBy Rachel Helene Swift

Millennium Park. Evening rush hour, just before sunset. Grumpy commuters dodge meandering tourists in a rush from Here to There; tourists chug water from plastic bottles, fumble with cameras, bob their heads like pigeons to take in the sights. They gape up at their reflections in the silver “Bean,” shuffling heedlessly backwards to distort their reflections.

I’ve found a shady spot on the grass between tidy rows of flowering trees. Nearby, colorful beds of tulips ripple in the cooling breeze, the flowers bobbing their heavy heads. Summer has arrived and Chicago is awake again, collectively elated as the memory of a drab, harsh and erratic winter fades. I am awake, too. A bit dazed, perhaps, from months of psychic colorlessness and chaos, but clear-headed and content, at the helm of a well-ordered mind, calm in the aftermath of a wretched depression brought on (I am told) by winter’s thinner light and shorter days. Read the rest of this entry »

Sun-Drenched Sentences: The Season for Outdoor Writing

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McKinlock-Court at the Art Institute

McKinlock-Court at the Art Institute

I’ve heard Hemingway wrote in bars and that Twain wrote in bed. Dickinson sometimes wrote in the cool, dark confines of the pantry inside her home, and Kerouac claims that he wrote “at the desk in the room, near my bed, with a good light, midnight ‘til dawn, a drink when you get tired, preferably at home, but if you have no home, make a home….”

When it’s summer in Chicago, I want to do everything outside, including my writing. Fortunately, this city is filled with numerous patios, cafes and parks that are perfect for doing just that, and if I’m lucky, getting a sun tan, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Short and Sweet

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A sample of last year’s hottest (and tiniest) pieces of fabric, with photos and captions by Isa Giallorenzo. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Why? Hot pink. Scalloped hem. It's as cute as it gets.

Why? Hot pink. Scalloped hem. It’s as cute as it gets.

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Snapshots of a State Fair: An Account of Carnies and Pig Shows

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Photo: Jenny Yoon

By Jenny Yoon

Saturday, August 18. Day One.

The Fair
The day is impossibly nice: a boundless blue sky, warm in that skin-shivering way, and a breeze with a cool bite to waft the smell of fried dough blows through the air.

It’s Park District Conservation Day at the Illinois State Fair, and my friends and I have yet to see a tent dedicated to the cause. We’re greeted, instead, by a massive wooden statue of a young Abe Lincoln brandishing an axe, flanked by a bed of flowers. From somewhere in the distance, we hear the buzz of racecar drivers circling in front of a rapt audience in the grandstand.

We wander, bug-eyed and slack-jawed at the sight: hordes of people (some of whom are airborne on a ski lift), food carts that line the pavement, the tram led by a John Deere tractor that parts the crowd as it makes its sputtering way through the fairgrounds. A man dressed as Honest Abe saunters past. We stop in shrill indignation at a gate emblazoned with the label “Ethnic Village.” In the village, one can find authentic fare such as “Dracula’s Feast” in Romania, gummy falafel from Persia and turkey legs from “Cajun.” Read the rest of this entry »

On Saying Yes to Michigan: A Story of a Vacation, Redefined

Memoirs & Miscellany, Road Trips No Comments »

By Jenny Yoon

Family vacations in the Yoon household ceased shortly before I started high school. Now, I’m about to enter my last year of college, and my parents and I haven’t crossed state lines together since. My father was never one to warm to the idea of travel. I think emigrating from Korea was about as much as he could handle. Whenever I brought up a destination to my mother, she just smiled and said, “maybe,” in that frustratingly flippant way of hers.
I learned not to miss our annual vacations, not that they were anything extravagant: they were road trips to New York City, to visit my grandmother. Those trips consisted of the same fare every year: eating out at Korean restaurants, my father and uncles’ cigarette smoke billowing in the wind and boldly jaywalking across busy intersections in Midtown to my parent’s dismay. Read the rest of this entry »