Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, July 20

Gapers Block

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It is true that living in a big city adds to your general stress level. The noise, the traffic, the busyness. The stickers, the licenses, the fees, the taxes, the increasing transit fare. Although I firmly believe that Chicagoans are among the most beautiful people in the world, still you can read a certain cragginess — a certain patina — on their faces.

Perhaps the light creases, the dust and dirt only enhances Chicagoans' general attractiveness. I'm not sure, but I do know that after a long day of work and play, when you come home, you can see a little bit of the city on your face.

And there are those moments, after a hot day downtown, returning home you can run a finger across your chin and pull off a layer of dirt. Those are some of my happiest moments — leaning over to wash the city off my face.

It is important — and here I'm making a suggestion — to break free on occasion. I don't think I have to tell you that nobody loves this city more than I do, but the adventures to be had between Howard and 129th Street demand an occasional release to be truly appreciated. But coming up with something isn't easy.

See, I'm not really outdoorsy. I'm a fish out of water most places outside of Cook County. So suggestions to go camping, or rock climbing, or spelunking, or whatever the hell it is people with too much money and/or people who drink too much Mountain Dew do don't really appeal to me.

So besides offering your flesh up to dear tics and whatnot, what is there to do outside of Cook County, something relaxing that can offer the same sort of vivacity our fair city can? I'm honestly soliciting suggestions, because I have a column, so I can do that.

The opening line of Melville's Moby Dick I always found helpful:

"...Having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation."

I always liked the idea of "driving off the spleen," because I have absolutely no idea what that means, but I imagine that once you've drove off the spleen (or would it be driven off?) you would be much more comfortable. For us, like for Ishmael, there are those weeks where your workload is less, you have only a little bit of coin and there just doesn't seem to be much to hold your interest in the city. Also, I really hate whales. No, not really.

So, Chicago, with minimal money and a paralyzing fear of forests, what is it that you do? How do you wash the city off of your face for a brief while, in anticipation of returning to get good and filthy again? Submit suggestions, stories, and ideas to rcgapersblockcom, and I'll do something with 'em. Probably something mean.

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About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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