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Chicagoing Straight to Hell! The Unofficial Secret Insider Guide to Nonexistent Chicago Tours

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By Dan Kelly

Once a tool-making, wheat-stacking, hog-butchering powerhouse, Chicago ditched its filthy work gloves and bloody apron long ago to become a buttoned-down, tie-wearing purveyor of finance, publishing, and tourist delights. Regarding the latter—and despite being regularly stripped for parts by the political and business elite—Chicago maintains sights and sites that continue to dazzle tourists from across the globe through gimmicky tours led by chipper guides infused with a perfervid passion for the Windy City most often found in End Times cult members—but with more Ferris Bueller references.

Unrelentingly proud of the architecture developers have yet to obliterate; splendid diversity of cultures, long kept separate but not always equal; and dark, violent criminal history made adorable by time’s distance—Chicago’s main tourist draws can be easily enjoyed on foot, by bicycle, via boat, or by becoming as one with a majestic flock of Segways. But truthfully, it’s all getting a bit predictable, isn’t it? After all, you can only point out the deep-dish pizza joint where Frank Lloyd Wright shot down Elwood Blues so many times before it becomes meaningless, can’t you?

With the segment of tourists drawn to secret menus and off-the-beaten-track* experiences in mind, here are some little-known tours for those seeking the actual authentically really genuine secret Chicago.

*  Outside the borders of the area occupying the space between the Lake, State Street, Navy Pier and the Bean—also known as Rahmsylvania.

 

The Sadly Complete Architecture of Louie Sullenman

Architecture buffs flock to Chicago like moths to the flames of neglect, greed, and actual fire that consumed most of the city’s former grandeur in the last century. Be aware that this tour is not devoted to the 19th century prima-donna genius Louis Sullivan, whose vision transformed modern architecture. We’re talking about 20th Century building planner/mercenary idiot Louie Sullenman, fountainhead of an embarrassment of grotesque apartment complexes, industrial parks, skyscrapers, public housing, and double-decker outhouses that have scarred eyeballs with unimaginative design, lack of ornamentation, and a vicious disregard for the humans that live and work in them. Come see why even the most brutal of Brutalists uttered a tearful, howling “What hath God wrought!?!” after seeing Sullenman’s concrete and steel horrorshows. Unlike city darlings Sullivan, Burnham, Wright, and others, Sullenman’s entire catalog remains intact, arrogantly standing beside and astride the work of greater artists than himself, contemptuously flicking bits of air conditioning sweat and pigeon excrement onto them all year round. This is an interactive tour in which participants are given sledgehammers and torches and ordered to try and destroy the architectural beasts, quickly learning that Sullenman’s scabrous eyesores cannot be destroyed, and will exist long after the last of us perishes from the earth.

 

Chicago River Slog

Get ready to pull on your waders, slip into your wet suit, strap on your goggles, and seal every orifice with industrial strength filtration devices. You’ve seen the city from the Chicago River boat and kayak tours; now get your hands, legs, abdomen, neck, and that little grooved space just below your nose dirty as you explore the river’s wet, bubbling, viscid history. Wade through the mighty backwards-excreting waterway’s two centuries of garbage, filth, cattle bones, and human waste. Become one with history as the muddy (you hope, you pray) river bottom sucks you down deeper with each step, down to dwell amidst the trash, algae, and undead swamp-mobsters.

 

Walk the 666

After the successful conversion of the old Bloomingdale Line railroad track into the 606 greenway, doodad-loving Chicagoans and equally thrilled alderman begged for another elevated human cattle chute. Easily entered on the Lincoln Park lakefront and various notches along the boulevard system’s hipster belt, the 666 is a self-contained walkway that rises 100 feet above the rubble and rabble of Chicago’s most neglected neighborhoods. Power walkers, militant bike riders, hover board goofballs, and attention-hungry powered unicycle dumbasses can glide safely through a leafy green comfort zone, blithely unbothered by less politically connected Chicagoans gazing up at them, wondering why funding can’t be found for their schools and local infrastructure.

 

Just the Touristy Crap

Ready to take a selfie in front of the Bean while stuffing your deep dish pie hole? Itching to hear genuine Chicago Blooze™ music without leaving the safe confines of the Navy Pier Ferris wheel? Get it over with quick in this special enclosed area so we don’t have to look at you. Please.

 

Cthonic Cthicago

The next step for participants in the city’s celebrated underground pedway tour. Go deeper, beyond the network of tunnels that enable Chicago downtown workers and vampires to purchase coffee and donuts beneath the sidewalks, avoiding precipitation and the accursed purity of the sun’s rays. Discover a blighted honeycomb of caverns, crevasses, and crypts three miles below City Hall, where the city fathers once wove unspeakable pacts with the  terrifying Lake Michigan lizardfish race (several of whom continue to hold aldermanic positions, ruling their wards with an iron flipper, decade after hellish decade).

 

The Running of the Schools

Hola, mi amigos. ‘Tis the Feast of St. Swerski. Garb yourself in the traditional white shirt and trousers, tie red scarves about your waist and neck, and test your mettle in the annual Running of the Schools. Several thousand teachers, parents, and students will be released into the city streets and driven toward Soldier Field, in hopes of finding placement in a charter school, continued employment…or a glorious death. When the second rocket goes off, you and your fellow runners will race before a thundering herd of confused children, incensed parents, and striking educators driven to a mad frenzy by mounted politicos and CPS officials, jabbing them with brightly festooned lances, banderilla, and assessment tests. Beware of goring from their #2 pencils, and take heart that this is the best possible way to educate children. Isn’t it pretty to think so?

 

Virtual Lucas Museum

Our mayor has had a vexing time selling the city on the Lucas Museum of Narrative Whatever the Hell. His biggest obstacle? Disgruntled sane people who see little benefit in selling off a chunk of the lakefront so upper-class elites can build a structure that resembles the haloed remains of a melted snowman. Now everyone can see what George and Rahm see when they close their eyes with this virtual tour helmet! Walk the Soldier Field parking lot and enjoy a 360° view of the lumpy looking museum. Enter it and be dazzled by Lucas’ collection of Norman Rockwell paintings, abundant kitsch, and maybe…some droids or film props? It’s not real clear at this point, but it’ll inspire local school kids to dream great big future dreams, or something. Look, George has his heart set on the lakefront. Give it to him. Now.

 

Sansmelanin Park

A truly untouched Chicago curiosity, the neighborhood of Sansmelanin Park was founded in 1888 by paint magnate Mr. Chalkworth H. Sansmelanin to keep, you know, “them” out. Right? (Wink) “THEM”.

Wanting as colorless a neighborhood as inhumanly possible, Mr. Sansmelanin and his fellow Sansmelaninidiots first built the Northeast Side village, then whitewashed it from top to bottom. Houses, churches, stores, schools, chicken coops, gardens, lawns, pets, citizens…the whole kit and kaboodle—white as a white supremacist polar bear in a bigoted blizzard. Sansmelanin whitewash, of course, was later discovered to contain large chunks of lead, arsenic, mercury, cobalt, barium, and a bit of radium, because it looked so damned cool in the dark. Eventually the village population turned so white as to become transparent before expiring en masse. Sansmelanin got his wish though, in that no human life, dark-skinned or otherwise, can live there. Tours last 20 seconds. Visitors are asked to bring their own Level A hazmat suits and, for God’s sake, not to touch anything.

 

Tomorrow’s Crimes of Yesterday Today Tours

Inspired by popular tours highlighting the city’s colorful gangster past and corrupt near-past, tour-goers will behold the city’s neglected and pockmarked backside up close. Participants can look forward to viewing actual drug deals, armed robberies, and general bloodshed. Watch the flower of Chicago’s youth cut down in their prime from the safety of our armored bus. Participants will enjoy all the blight and neglect they can stomach while nervously hoping to reach Lincoln Park intact. Cap off the tour by enjoying ironically named cocktails and appetizers while viewing locally produced, hand-tooled interrogation techniques at Homan Square before you are never seen again.

 

Why the Hell Is Nothing Happening Tour

Glide through Chicago’s most untouched neighborhoods, notable for their utter lack of theme bars, restaurants, shopping centers, and identifiable features. From Mayfair to Jefferson Park to Bowmanville to Edison Park to Hegewisch (which is totally not made-up) explore the City That Works through the Neighborhoods Where Fuck-All Happens. Visit completely cachet-free diners and tap rooms and sample local delicacies like Bud Light, uninspired BLTs, overcooked burgers, and the soggiest italian beef sandwiches you’ve ever slid your teeth through. See juxtaposed bungalow after bungalow until your brain screams at you to stop. Watch authentic Chicagoans gape at you from their porches and windows, wondering why you’re driving the wrong way down their street before they call the cops, pound out terrified posts on Everyblock, or approach your car with a softball bat.

AWESOME TRAGIC! 86% OF AMERICAN MOMS CRIED LIKE VETERAN PUPPY-BABIES AT THESE VIRAL VIDEOS!

HEARTWRENCHING—Racist grandpa gets new glasses, sees people of color as human for first time.

DAWWWWWWW! See adorable baby’s first taste of chocolate, bacon grease, and gamma rays.

POW! HILARIOUS! Daredevil show-off graduate gets PUNKED as his ass becomes stuck in dead-end job for 10 years!

BOOM! WHOOPSY-DOODLE! Bikini-clad car-washing cheerleader had no idea why the crowd was CHEERING until the judges awarded her the John Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature.

PANDA-MONIUM! Adorable panda sneezes, sparking hilariously decimating worldwide panda-emic.

I KNOW, I KNOW, JESUS CHRIST GET OFF MY BACK ALREADY, MA Adorable goat’s baas and brays sound EXACTLY like your parents criticizing your life choices.

HAVE A TISSUE READY because for some reason this video of a hippo eating a watermelon causes your laptop to spew unidentifiable fluids.

CUH-YOOOOOOOOT! See unsettling toothless baby’s first gummy ingestion of an entire 28 ounce porterhouse steak.

WHOMP! KABLOOEY! BUH-BONNNNNGGGG!!! Patriot hero cop shuts down protesting quarterback by telling him he raises valid points about institutionalized racism and, based on his own experience, agrees that many police officers operate with flagrant disregard for the law and should be dismissed and arrested.

GOOD LUCK TRYING NOT TO SMILE!!! Series of flashing lights, high-pitched bat screeches, and mind-warping scenes from the Afterlife induce a state of rigor mortis in the viewer. Death is only a beginning. Death is waiting. Share this (and DEATH) with your friends!

OH NO HE DIN’T! OH YES HE DIN! AT LEAST I THINK HE DIN. DIN’T HE? Republican OWNS liberal female senator with shattering put-down while throwing rocks at her because that’s how he shows he likes her.

OOBA-DOOBA! FLOOBITY-WOOBITY! Hummina hummina hummina p-KOW! p-KOW! p-KOW! GLUNGGGGGGGG!!!! Oh thank God, the attack is over. Hey, do you MIND? I have a medical condition. I can’t help it. Show some consideration, you insensitive shits.

THE VIDEO TRUMP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE because he didn’t get it. What? Is that loser jellyfish doing something besides just floating there? And what’s with the huge pile of shoelaces? Is this supposed to be funny? He doesn’t get it and wants his fellow Americans to forget clicking on this garbage.

SMART-ALECK TEENS THOUGHT HE WAS A HELPLESS OLD MAN!!! Gelatinous inseminoid oozes from geriatric cocoon to absorb screaming teenagers on subway car.

REAL GHOST CAUGHT ON CAMERA but refused to sign the waiver so we had to blur his face, which kind of defeats the purpose since he’s pretty amorphous already.

WAIT TILL YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT I mean, you won’t be SURPRISED, per se. The idiot juggles blasting caps while wearing a team mascot costume and gargling ghost peppers and grain alcohol at the same time. You know what? We all get a little stupider every time someone clicks this monstrosity. Just…just move on, and pray for humanity.

ZOMG BABY WON’T STOP EATING! OH GOD, THE DOOR IS LOCKED! HE’S CRAWLING THIS WAY! HELP US! (BANG BANG BANG!) HELP US! See repellently insatiable crocodilian infant’s first taste of human flesh.

Childhood Movie Trauma Mystery Solved

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Some time back I asked for help from the Kindertrauma folks in remembering the name of a creepy live action movie where a St. Bernard dreams of being chased by a man dressed as a terrifying skiing cat. Here’s my original blog write-up. Just today a fellow named Dan Salmon, who had a similar childhood memory of having his shit freaked out by the film, sent me a link to the actual film. I am in awe and ecstasy over the power of the internet sometimes.

Turns out it was called Fantasy on Skis, a 1962 film that later showed up on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color TV show. After a little research, I figure I saw it in at Bremen Theaters in Tinley Park in 1975, when they rereleased Snow White (that’s what we did before cable, DVDs, and even VHS, kids…we waited years for movies to come back to the big screen). I believe it served as a short subject before the main film.

Watching the rest of the film provides PLENTY of nightmare fuel…on skis! A scarecrow chases a pair of crows; cowboys (skiers wearing horse costumes around their waists) have a gunfight; Captain Hook chases Peter Pan…it’s amazing. Really, watch it NOW, but feel free to skip ahead to the “ski fantasies”.

The cat part IS especially terrifying, and starts at about the 24:50  mark.

Watch it here.

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Punching Nazis Is What Americans Do Best

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Just an update for those who might have missed it:
 
Nazis are bad. Very bad. Historically, they enjoyed imprisoning and/or killing people—sometimes they even experimented on them. America and several other countries organized their armed forces to curb-stomp the Nazis in the 1940s. Anyone who empathizes with or promotes Nazism, white supremacy, or announces their intent to discriminate against if not liquidate whole segments of the population is a bad person. It’s true!
 
Of course, the current blabbing American breed of goosesteppers are mostly lunk-headed sociopaths and Objectivist daffodils who enjoy putting their collection of swastika-laden doohickeys alongside their XBoxes and GI Joe collections, dressing up, sloganeering, and whinging about their rights when people tell them they’re full of crap/clock them. They need to be helpfully disabused of their notions. At the least, they should honor real, down-home American values by joining the Klan and wrapping themselves in Mommy’s bedsheets. But then people would more readily identify them and their batshit values, wouldn’t they? One might think they’re trying to be circumspect about it by dressing in suits and claiming they’re just trying to protect REAL Americans by “joking” about stuffing Jewish reporters in ovens, hanging African Americans, raping women, shooting undocumented immigrants, and so forth.
 
Should they be randomly sucker-punched? Perhaps not. Then again…perhaps. But a periodic reminder that the rats better stay in their fucking holes is nice.
 
Glad to clear this up.

Protected: Earthly Things, Chapter 2

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AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

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Us: Whew! Maintaining democracy is hard work! But it’s a good feeling indeed! Let’s keep working, so we can… Hey, what’s Pee Otis doing over there?

Pee Otis: GAZE AT ME! BEHOLD ME! HEAR ME BABBLE INCOMPREHENSIBLY! SEE ME SOIL MYSELF AT BOTH ENDS! I AM YOUR RULER! ALL MUST QUIVER AND WEEP BEFORE PEE OTIS!

Us: Yikes, we better get back to work or else he might…

Freakout Expert: FOOLS! CANNOT YOU FOOLS SEE THAT HE IS DISTRACTING YOU FROM THAT WHEN YOU SHOULD BE OBSERVING THIS…OR THAT!?! POSSIBLY THIS!?! FOOLS!

Us: Look, thanks for the warning, but we really need to get back to…

Pee Otis: SEE HOW I SMEAR MYSELF WITH MY EXCREMENT! VERY PRETTY, YES? I AM SETTING MYSELF AFIRE AND POURING GASOLINE EVERYWHERE!!!  I WISH TO KNOW MY DAUGHTER CARNALLY!  I SHALL NOW HIRE RACIST BOB THE CHILD-EATER AS MY SERGEANT-AT-ARMS! ALL WILL BEHOLD PEE OTIS! ALL SHALL OBEY HIM AND NOT LOOK INTO HIS FINANCES!

Us: Jesus Christ, that guy. Everyone, listen up! You and you! Call Congress! You and you, send money to organizations that will defend us! You and you, help me register voters so…

Freakout Expert: [Slapping people] OH MY GOD, IT’S WORSE THAN EVER! HOW CAN WE STOP HIM! WE CAN DO NOTHING TO STOP HIM! IT IS NOT TOO LATE! WHEN WILL YOU WAKE UP! WAIT, IT IS TOO LATE! I WISH HANNAH ARENDT WERE HERE TO SAY SOMETHING CLEVER!

Us: Hey! Back off, we’re trying to organize a resistance!

Pee Otis: UNDER MY ADMINISTRATION, PEOPLE WHO BURN THE AMERICAN FLAG WILL BE BURNED ALIVE AND ASKED, “HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?” THEY WILL NOT LIKE IT! MAGA! MAGA! MAGA! HO HO HEE!

Freakout Expert: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Pee Otis: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

[Pee Otis and Freakout Expert merge to form a vast screaming mouth connected to a gigantic unstoppered sphincter.]

Pee Freakout Otis Expert: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[The giant mouth and anus excrete all over the Constitution, demolish the stock market, and scar the nation’s children. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin strolls about, leaving Post-It notes that say “MINE” everywhere. The new creature stops and realizes this will cause long-term damage to itself as well as the rest of the country. It looks over its shoulder at Us.]

Pee Freakout Otis Expert: This is your fault. You MADE me do this.

Us: [Rubbing face] Oh dear GOD, this isn’t going to be easy, is it?

My Edmund Fitzgerald Article from about 20 Years Ago

Probably should have titled it “Between Folk Rock and a Hard Place.” Gord won’t be mad, I’m sure.

 

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