Thursday, January 20, 2022

Ready and waiting

     Work on a longer story that's set to run this Monday took me to various locations downtown Wednesday morning, and at one point we passed Racine, a few blocks south of the newspaper office, and I felt a passing desire to stop in, even though I had no reason to stop by and knew there would be no one there. Just to see the place, because it has been ... what? ... three months since I last visited. Quite a long time really.
     In late October, I went to the office because I happened to be downtown anyway—using the special collections room at Harold Washington Library—and I thought I'd check in to see if there was any mail.
    There was mail, some readers thanking me for a particular columns, others complaining bitterly, a few more copies of Poetry Magazine; man, they stack up quickly. Nothing urgent. I looked out at the utterly empty newsroom. It all seemed so ... wrong.  Usual life frozen in time, like a bakery in Pompeii. All that was missing was the ash.
      The paper was the subject of conversation Wednesday with the colleague I was working with, as the Sun-Times' merger with WBEZ seems as if it has gone through, and we talked about how good it'll be when COVID is behind us and everybody is back working in the same place again. If we are ever back working in the same place again. There's an energy, a life, that's has been missing, well, for years.
    Though the whole point of newspapering is seldom to be found in the office; it's usually anyplace but the office. (Except for editors and such; it's hard to copy edit a piece in a dark alley). Out and about, as we were, climbing over fences and clambering over concrete abutments. 
     As I was reminded in October, when I gazed around the newsroom, and noticed this bulletproof vest, slumped against a colleague's desk, as if exhausted, no doubt left there after some summertime disturbance. I wouldn't lump reporters in with cops and firefighters—that's closing your eyes, tilting your chin up, and asking to be socked. But we do  
run toward danger too, sometimes.
     Anyway, it was a long day, Wednesday, with more climbing and clambering than I'm used to. And very cold. So really, apologies, but all I've got at the moment to share with you are these three ph
otos. Above, the homeless encampment under the Kennedy at Belmont. The flak jacket at right. And below, the newsroom as it appeared last time I was there, on Oct. 20. Ready, and waiting. That's two of us. Well, not ready right now. But surely tomorrow. 


  1. Damn, Neil, I thought you'd be jumping up and down with glee over the merger! As for me, I am getting a Sun-Times subscription today.

    1. I am. I think I was just tired. I have a more bouncy column about it running tomorrow.

    2. Neil certainly seemed exhilarated on Twitter after the news broke Tuesday. Among other observations, there was this funny take: "Talk about good timing, with the attention of the city, if not the nation and the world turning to the Sun-Times tomorrow, I'm right there, breaking open the big story on CHICAGO PUPPETRY! Sweetheart, get me rewrite!"

      After the roller coaster ride of problematic owners, the present group evidently excepted, here's hoping the new deal with WBEZ offers a smoother course for the S - T going forward.


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