No Exit: Two Years of CHICAGO CARLESS

(Photo: Chicago Carless has NOT left the building.)

No exit just yet, anyway. As I continue to sort through the potential to move back home to Gotham or remain here on the shores of Lake Mich. as an unexpectedly newly singleton, the best decision may be not to decide for the moment. More immediate is the fact that I missed the two-year anniversary of Chicago Carless, and a lot more than the fall of my relationship has happened in the past 12 months. So in celebration of the (belated) two-year anniversary of my life being an open blog, I give you a look at the past 12 months of Chicago Carless. And, boy, has it been a helluva time.

When we last checked in with our hero on the first aniversary of Chicago Carless in June 2006, Yours Truly was in the middle of admitting falling madly back in love with Hogtown after three grueling but glorious years here. Part and parcel of that Chicagoan happiness was beginning the second year of my relationship with my then-partner, Devyn, who had just re-launched his noted Chicago photoblog, Looper (now defunct as Devyn has moved on to New York City, himself).

But also part of the fun were the numerous local gaffes and gotchas that I managed to find myself in the middle of last year, including my August 2006 interview in Chicago Magazine’s expose of Marina City’s alleged pimp dentist, Garry Kimmel, and my scooping of Chicagoland media on erroneous signage inside the new Macy’s-cum-Marshall Field’s (earning me page one in the Chicago Tribune business section and being called a “newsmaker of the week” in the Trib’s Sunday edition).

In fact, summer 2006 brimmed full of action here at Carless. From leading the seminally cool NYC out-of-towners Adam and Vicki on a two-day tour of Hogtown (oh, the high of it), to suffering through the dismal opening ceremonies of the Gay Gaymes (oh, the low of it), to battling it out on the Chicago blogosphere during the infamous big-box living-wage debate.

In Autumn 2006, all the drama finally took me by storm–literally–as the tornado sirens in downtown Chicago were sounded for the first time in more than four decades while I stood on my 38th-floor balcony. Summer’s end also saw the return of my much-beloved Portuguese culture into my life…and the creeping suspicion that I might, one day, actually choose to return to my native New York City.

There was little time to sit and ponder that, though, as corporate public-relations silliness returned with a vengeance, first with a Macy’s advertising campaign that completely snubbed Chicago, then with the Chicago Transit Authority–never one to be outdone in the race for lowest common PR denominator–which installed 4,800 typo-laden maps in every single Chicago ‘L’ car.

In December, Carless helped highlight even more public-affairs silliness by joining forces with my ex to get the city to remove injudiciously installed security cameras from atop Millennium Park’s famous Crown Fountain, earning another Tribune page one for Carless, this time in the metro section (and an interview for Devyn in the New York Times).

But without a doubt, the biggest star of all, last year, was Jessica, the underdog mom who testified before America on the hardship of raising a family on minimum wage in a searing, heart-wrenching interview that I was lucky enough to film for the centerpiece of the AFL-CIO/ACORN-sponsored 7 Days at Minimum Wage videoblog campaign. The stories told by Jessica and her fellow wage earners helped raise the minimum wage in six states during Election 2006!

And then it was 2007, and little would I have suspected the transitions in store for downtown Chicago…or for me. For beginners, longstanding downtown residential noise battles were finally won (kind of). And, of course, at long last, the dinosaur of the Chicago City Council, Burt Natarus, was put out to pasture by far more clued-in pretender Brendan Reilly (hurray!).

But far more surprising to me was the miraculous and unexpected mass reunion, via the Internet, of 140 members of Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York, the nation’s first gay-youth peer support group (founded in 1969), that kept me out of trouble in the 1980s and brought me the closest (and as it turns out most enduring) friendships I have even known in my life. And with my entire childhood knocking on my door to come out and play again, another unexpected thing happened: after four years as an adopted Chicagoan, I decided to return to my hometown of New York City.

I know, I was shocked, too. But I was even more shocked when, shortly before Memorial Day, my dearly loved partner of more than two years, Devyn, called it quits, walked out of our relationship, and moved to New York City without me. Without ever looking back. And very conveniently (for him) allowing me to take the blame for everything.

Which I did, until common sense, the love of my friends, and a healthy daily dose of St. Johns Wort finally allowed me to see the reality of my formerly rosily interpreted relationship. With rationality returned, I resolved to continue with my move back home to Gotham. But I felt that decision needed to be made anew–this time as an individual decision made by a suddenly single Yours Truly.

And that’s a decision I felt needed to be made in New York City. Among my long-lost/newly found friends. On a job hunt. In August 2007. Which, as it turns out, catches you up on our hero right to this very minute.

More to follow…

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