» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

December 1, 2001

Topic--ungrateful winsomeness. Into work I take the train, blue-line full run from Logan Square and rising up from a dark tunnel full into a gray dawn. It's nearly always packed, some large lady's bum inevitably crammed into the backs of my knees. The herky-jerk of the light-rail sends her wobbling toward eternity--and my legs hurtle toward that frightful moment when the ground falls out from under me, and then comes toppling my full six feet onto her maybe 4'6". Though the Indian guy--who likes to purse his lips empathically to my daily plight--might catch me before I land and squeeze out every bit of wind that short woman's ever taken in. She's the kind of lady who will catch you in the nuts with a wayward, waddling fist when you're trying to maneuver around her in a crowded hall. Let's hope the Indian man does catch me; it'll be a good day. He's done it before.

I think about this more and more frequently. Calamity. Daily. Hourly.

Every five minutes or so.

Ungratefully Winsome in Chicago: I am horny for calamity. I drink a festive many on a Friday, take the train home and pass out in the middle of happenings that should be things of beauty. I wake up, tap my temples with the middle fingers of each hand, struggling to remember what has exactly happened. Though all is as it should be: a few extra empties atop my desk, maybe, some foreign-brown cigarette butts scattered in the tray among my white ones. The absence of memory rips through my brain like a tornado. I laugh quite hyena-like for a while, grateful for coffee.

At work on Monday, placed on hold, I fantasize about a thin man deliberately kicking my feet out from under me between the Chicago and Grand stops. His leg sweeps the backs of my knees and ankles like a corner kicker's. A riotous karate brawl between myself and he, the only folks riding this car--unbelievably, I'd have the necessary skills. I'd win, though not after my blood being spilt, a gash above my right eye to match the thin man's two broken legs.

I wish I could tell you I was from Chicago. I am from Chicago. Sound beautiful, no? Truth is I'm not from around here. My talk is naturally slow and slurred--women dressed smartly for CPA or web-design jobs don't take me too seriously, I'm afraid. I might ask them for a buck or a cigarette. Thin souls scraping the pavement underfoot, their thin lips will crease tenfold, they'll smile serious and then nod hard down at my face (they're actually shorter than me, so maybe more like my stomach) in decline, and I'll wake up the next day with bile rising in my throat, yet again. Another calamitous rail-ride, another eight-and-some-odd hours raising a telephone to catch my breath--bring on the dogs to chase me through the subway tunnels. Bring on policemen wearing dick shades, terrorists. Precious few of us have ever really had a chance to make men and women and great bellowing apes of ourselves. We are ungrateful, ungrateful for our precious (substitute name of State, i.e. South Carolina, Wyoming, etc.) upbringings. We have watched too much television of late, too many quick-burning cigarette-stick buildings to leave us bawling, panting for more.

Addicted to calamity. As I write, the remnants of a jet plane blaze and scream on the ground just miles from the home of a great friend. The television flickers at my right. The radio blares in stereo, rattling my apartment's shoddy-tenement windows... the fact that they've lost the city and are now in retreat would make them even more vulnerable... dead bodies pile up hundreds of miles from where another great friend is working her beautiful heart out for something she believes is necessary. The outrageous paper-mess in here remains uncleaned.

On another note, work on THE STUPIDIST MANIFESTO is close at hand. Compatriots, send your recommendations. Declaration 1: we have no doubt that living is something of a luxury, therefore we proceed with little risk of shame; accusations of false pride, impropriety, or hucksterism; likewise stupid guilt. We are stupidist, therefore alive. Bring on the nightmares.

Todd Dills
THE2NDHAND publishes short fiction and nonfiction. Todd Dills edits the broadsheet and recently relocated to Birmingham, Alabama, after eight years of publishing from Chicago.

See other articles by Todd Dills.



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