Time travelers take on Chicago

By Sophia Coleman

In Chicago’s future, Michelle Obama will be mayor in 2023 and the world-renowned street artist known as Banksy will reveal his most ambitious piece: a painting of a giant vagina on the diamond-shaped Smurfit-Stone Building at 150 N. Michigan Ave. Oh, and there will be a man-made Mount Kaminski in Lake Michigan.

Listeners can learn all this and more from the satirical news reports of Jon Nelson and Dave Michaels on their Tumblr page, “Time Travel Chicago.”

“The premise is that we are time travelers with the restriction of being stuck in Chicago,” Nelson said.  “We travel around and tell the news of whatever we have seen in the past week or however long we claim we have been traveling since the last episode.”

With the help of their friend Alfredo Castil, a Web developer and creator of the podcast “Film Yarn,” the time traveling team has been posting stories from both the future and the past since early March. Nelson said they will be doing two podcasts every Tuesday.

“A lot of the ideas that we end up using are based on things of what we see is going on in today’s society, such as the parking meter conundrum or efforts to create jobs for the middle to lower classes,” said Nelson, who is a social media consultant at CareerBuilder.com. “We thought this was going to fail. But we aren’t running out of ideas and we have a bunch for the future.”

Some clips are based on both real and alleged historic events, such as the probably apocryphal 19th century cholera outbreak, when hundreds of people died and a city alderman said he would “raise the whole damn city out of the water that is causing this mess.” Michaels said one of his favorite historical pieces was about Al Capone, who reportedly lobbied for expiration dates on milk bottles to ensure the safety of the city’s children.

For the most part, Michaels said each segment is an entertaining commentary on today’s society and what could be the comedic results if the city continues on its current path. One segment discusses the “Parking Meter Riots of 2049,” which will happen when hourly parking rates exceed median household incomes.

“Some of [our podcasts are] entirely tongue-in-cheek, and others are observations on economics and current trends,” Michaels said. “My prediction is that Chicago will be more or less the same with ongoing corruption, but the future will be less cynical.”

Castil said he was on board with helping the two because he had yet to see a well done narrative podcast.

“I like the idea of a narrative being built and having the ability to go back to the episodes to see where the seeds were being planted,” Castil said. “I also like the rough aesthetic to it all. It really sounds like two dudes recording in a closet.”

Nelson said they are always willing to consider submissions and are looking to interview people who want to act as future celebrities. Michaels hopes to include field reports and more theatrical stories.

“We have plans for where Chicago is going to go, but I don’t want to say exactly where it’s going to go yet,” Nelson said.  “On our Facebook, we have a Chicago flag displayed that has three extra stars and one extra blue line. To see why those ended up, stay tuned.”

To submit a segment email Jon@alt42.net. Visit TimeTravelChicago.tumblr.com to see podcasts from the past and future.