Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Brand New Nut Girl

          I have to improvise today because I can't get on the internet at my condo. This is very inconvenient. Grace doesn't answer her phone and she's all I've got which isn't much. Although my manuscript isn't on the internet some new box keeps popping up stating that what I'm doing is not being saved. Hawkeye should be awake by now but he's not answering his phone either. Being a pro's pro I have walked down to the bar and have dusted off the ancient computer in the back room and so hopefully you are in store for another magical blog moment from the Genius.


        Yesterday evening as I stepped out of my house I saw Street Jimmy heading for the alley. He uses the construction sight porto-potty to smoke crack. Jimmy has never shown much interest in aesthetics. (My fucking back is killing me as I write.) I had worked on my prequel so long yesterday I didn't have enough energy to take a walk. When I entered the bar Ruben Four Toes was relaxing with a pint of beer in his chubby hand. He continues to be plagued by anxiety attacks. I told him that if every night he worries that he won't wake up the next morning, eventually he's going to be right. This did nothing to console him. He said he hopes I die before he does.
        "It's a matter of principle."
         While we were discussing which one of us was going to live the longest a kid who bartends down the street came in. He is normally a little odd, but last night he seemed especially fucked up. When he wanted me to hug him I asked him why? With a sappy smile he said , "this is the best day of my life. I got fired from my shitty job." At this point I remembered Johnny Ale telling me what happened: he'd gotten drunk at Second City, made a scene and as a result got fired from his job across the street. There was no way we were going to serve him and fortunately he left peacefully. When Johnny reported for work he said the kid had tried to start a fight in his former place of employment and ended up throwing a bunch of patio chairs out onto Wells Street. I don't think this kid is going to get a good reference.
       After the drunk ex-bartender left a very skinny, not bad looking women walked in. She went directly over to Ruben and gave him an open mouthed kiss on the lips. Of course we all assumed that she knew him. It turns out that she didn't know him and had never been in the bar before.  Ruben seemed a bit shocked. After she finished kissing our blubbery boy  she started dancing around him. When he repeatedly said he didn't want to "spin" with her she grabbed the handles of his wheel chair, pulled him away from the bar and started pushing him around in a circle. I'm sure she would have given him a couple more spins but he was much to fat for her to push and she could barely get him back to his place at the bar. She then insisted on buying him a beer. Even though Ruben protested she told Gracie that she was paying for his beer. Gracie was her next target. "You,"  pointing at Gracie, "are my doppelganger!" Turning to the rest of us she said, "doesn't she look like me." We all nodded although I didn't see much of a resemblance. If someone would have asked me how old she was I would have said around forty so I was surprised when she said she was 53. When I remarked to Officer Bill how skinny she was he said, "it's not meth amphetamine's because she's still got her teeth."
        Lee was sitting by himself in the window and when she asked him if she cold join him he shook his head decisively, "no you can't."
         This seemed to take her by surprise and she argued with him for several minutes.
         When Hawkeye came in she attacked him. He seemed understandably startled by her boldness. For awhile she stood next to him "helping" him check ID's. When she became bored doing this she latched on to the Inventor. He is not easily rattled and seemed to handle her well.
         It took D-Train a good hour before he became aware of the strange women. When he did, with a wry smile he started taking pictures of her on is phone. When she started to hide her face he took some videos of her.
         Street Jimmy got a big kick out of her. When he told her she was "very beautiful" she gave him fifteen dollars.
           When Jimmy told her I painted all the pictures she insisted that I paint her.
          "I only paint girls naked."
           "How naked?"
          "Full legs spread."
           At that point she seemed to lose interest in being painted.


            This morning I got to the bar very early. Buzz Kill was next and then Jimmy. Jimmy said that the "lady las' night take good care o me." When Faggypants arrived he wanted to go over our plan to sneak him into Lollapalooza tomorrow.
           "Danny, we'll do what we do every year. Why change now?"
           "I'm nervous."
            When he told me that I should shave the hair on my arms I said "why?"
           "They're too hairy. I shave mine twice a month."
            "Well, as long as I'm still getting plenty of dicks to suck, why should I shave my arms."
            This observation caused Faggypants to go into a paroxysm of laughter.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Dream Stealer

        Last night Street Jimmy asked me to do a new painting of him, "how about me fucking someone?"
        "Someone like Beyonce?"
        "Yeah, she cool."
        "It might be hard getting her to pose with you."
          "Ask Anthony to ask her."
          "Okay, but if she won't I suppose I could use a photo."
          Jimmy, with a cigarette behind his ear nodded his approval. He's been wearing a pair of very large-rimmed sunglasses for the last week which along with the cap I gave him and his wife beater T-shirt seems calculated to provoke mirth rather than envy. 
         D-Train spoke to me last night. He's upset about the goings on in Gaza, "the press is very one-sided in it's coverage."
        "D-Train, that shocks you?"
        "It doesn't shock me, but it's a joke."
         "The problem is there are no good guys. You have a classic case of primitive religions fighting primitive religions. Human beings just don't seem to be able to evolve. Who knows, the protestants and the Catholics finally got tired of killing each other in Northern Ireland, so maybe in a hundred years the Jews and Arabs will get tired of killing each other. The trouble is the weapons keep getting more sophisticated."
            D-Trian was particularly pissed off at CNN. 
           We got a surprise visit from Ronny Holloway. He was at a cigar party at the cigar store around the corner with Officer Bill and Juke Box Joe. Ronny's looking very well and said he'll be visiting us more often in the future. Apparently his new old lady has him on a very short leash. 
        Irish Chris and his girlfriend Kate came in; they were celebrating her birthday. Kate is far and away Chris' best girlfriend. They had been to Joe's Crab House for dinner and Kate had some left over Alaskan king crab and asparagus which she was nice enough to give me. I love king crab and it was delicious. When I lived in the Bay Area there would be a month every year when they were  practically giving away king crab and I'd gorge myself on it. My girlfriend Indy could make certain dishes quite well and king crab was one of them. 

         Juke Box Joe wanted me to sing the Jimmy song:

          Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care,
           Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care,
           Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care,
           The policeman's on his way.
            Jimmy ran 'cause he ain't no snitch,
           He threw his crack-pipe in the ditch,
            When the judge asked Street Jimmy why?
             Jimmy said, 'cause Judge, I needs to get high.
         Jimmy nodded his approval, "yeah, I like tha' song, it cool. It be real. I like keepin' it real.'' 
             An old guy I recognized (although I couldn't remember his name) came in. He asked me if I knew what had become of Johnny Van?
              "Last time I heard he was still in Florida with the psycho bitch. Trouble is if he died she'd never call anyone and tell us. He's pretty much estranged himself from all of his old friends. He's got to be in his eighties - "
          "His health can't be that good."
          Johnny Van like most self-indulgent hedonists had his failings; in truth he was a little addicted to amphetamines and grew his own weed; and yes, he was also a lush - he had several stages of intoxication: an affable drunk, the pontificator and finally the amorous lech. The amorous lech was the most troublesome as he didn't seem to have much regard for either the gender or the physical attractiveness of those he desired.  His shrewish wife often complained to me about his personal hygiene.
        The old guy was not pleasant to look at. He had thick glasses, his skin was puckered up around his nose,  a low protruding forehead  and his few remaining hairs seemed to be glued to his head. He said he had taught school with Johnny Van at Schurz.  "He got me on that Ponzi scheme - "
        "New Skin?"
          "Yeah. "
         "He called me a dream stealer because I told him it was a Ponzi scheme. For a smart guy Johnny was really stupid. It ended up costing him a lot of money. The bitch was the one that  urged him on."
          The old guy was a creep and I was glad when he left.


           This morning Street Jimmy and Tobin were already working when I got to the bar. Jimmy said he talked to a lady at Mustard Seed that said she quit smoking crack three years earlier, "I asked her how she did it an' she say if she didn' she woulda died. She say she still drink, though."
         "I knew a junkie named Lenny Lieberman who got off of smack by drinking. Unfortunately when he moved to Arizona he killed some people drunk driving and had to go to prison."
         Jimmy said that he wants a car.
          "Cars are expensive, Jimmy."
          "You can get them cheap."
           "Yeah, but you have to buy plates and insurance and registration, when I was younger all I ever bought was plates but now they have computers..."
            Jimmy seemed displeased about how complicated it was to own a car and from the frown that had suddenly overwhelmed his face it was clear that once again fortune had not favored him.
            Butkovich came in and after he sat down he offered Buzz Kill a job helping him do some work at Ebert's place in Michigan. A jobs a job and I told Buzz Kill it's worth the trip just to see the mansion.
          Faggypants filled the Palin posters I found into tubes. I need to find someone that can silk screen neck ties because we're running out of Sarah Palin neck ties which are a personal favorite of mine.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bubbie Misa

            Sunday morning I ran into Mrs. Hawkeye outside Dunkin' Donuts. Something continues to be wrong with her foot and she is still wearing a protective boot. This is going to be tough when she goes to Scotland next week.  When I got to the bar Street Jimmy was complaining about the cold. "The weather all fucked up and I had to wear a coat. I got in a fight in the park with some white boy."
           "He was in my spot."
           "A fight - fight?"
           "Yeah, he called an ambulance."
            "How'd he call an ambulance?"
             "He had a phone."
               "I don't get the logic, if you beat a guy up over a spot in the park and then you go to sleep he knows where you are and can sneak up on you and bash you in the head with a rock."
            "I didn' sleep in  my spot 'cause I knowed tha'." 


       After I finished working on my prequel I had a pleasant walk in the park and then stopped off at Topo and had some scampi, scallops and a glass of Santa Christina Sangiovese. I wrote down the wine because it's my favorite one so far. There was a man in the Ale House from California who wanted to meet me. He had seen the Ebert movie and told his hostess that he had to come to the Ale House. He was a big Roger fan and when I asked him where in California he was from he said San Anselmo. When I resided in Marin County I lived not far from San Anselmo in a little town called Forrest Knolls. It was on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and it was inhabited by hippies, drug dealers, and rock musicians. At some point during our conversation he mentioned that he was a pancreatic cancer survivor. When he said that he'd had pancreatic cancer for over five-years, but thanks to some experimental drug he is still kicking and feels pretty good my ears perked up. "Every day I wake up I appreciate it." 
           I've never met anyone that lasted much more than a year or two with pancreatic cancer and given that I'm presently sweating another CT SCAN to see if the spots on my pancreas and lung have gotten any bigger I was encouraged by what he said.
        There was another guy from South Florida that came to the bar just to see the art. Nobody told me we were out of Sarah Palin posters so when he wanted to buy one I had to go down in the basement and scrounge around; fortunately I found some. The guy seemed genuinely grateful when I gave it to him for free.
        D-Train has been coming in but has not been talking. It takes him awhile to pull himself together after one of his major league melt downs.
         Bartender Mike, Jen and their baby came in. He has a walking cast on and said he's not in too much discomfort. The baby is very cute; I've never seen him before and he inherited blonde hair from his mom. I told Mike not to rush coming back, however, we need a doorman for Sundays until Hawkeye gets back from Scotland so he said he'd give it a try. 
          Ruben said that he'd had a panic attack so bad that he had to go down to the lobby of his building at eight in the morning and didn't feel together enough until twelve to go back up to his apartment. "I can't take the medicine they gave me for my panic attacks because it makes me feel worse, but this is bullshit." He said that people talked to him all morning and it was exhausting. 


            I covered a lot of territory on my prequel yesterday. I really didn't need an editor for what I'm doing right now, all I needed was some one to help me format the manuscript. Live and learn. When I got to the bar Gracie said that Ruben had to call a cab and go home early.
           "He brought in some nasty looking beef stew and wanted me to heat it up but it wasn't in a microwave type container so I couldn't really warm it up very well and after he ate it he said he had to take a shit but he was afraid that if he went to a public restroom he wouldn't be able to get up from the toilet. He's paranoid since he couldn't get up at MacDonald's last week..."
            "He should have Victor go around and measure the hight's of all the handicapped accessible toilets in the neighborhood and find one tall enough for him."
             I told Gracie that I was convinced that my back problems are from sitting for long periods of time at my computer. I don't feel any problems in the morning when I  get up. Maybe I should get one of those chairs you see the people at Microsoft using."
             Gracie thought there could be some merit to what I was saying. She said Son In Law has a bad back and when he's on his computer he stands up. I'm going to have to check out some special chairs. Maybe I can Google special chairs?
             The Inventor and the Defense Attorney got back from their week on Washington Island which is located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It does not sound like the most interesting place to vacation and when the Defense Attorney showed me some pictures I was convinced that it's definitely a place I'd never want to go.
           Because the Defense Attorney has a one track mind we soon started discussing sex. Coach is in the anti-pubic hair camp while I am in the camp of trimmed pubic hair. The Defense Attorney said that when she was young her mantra was "the bigger the bush, the better the gal. It's the triangle of perfection. " Upon further questioning she wouldn't reveal her present feelings on the subject although knowing her as I do I would bet she waxes. 
          She was also non-comital on Israel's invasion of Gaza. When I pressed her on the subject she called me a "bubbie misa." Translated from the Yiddish it means a teller of big tales. For some reason she won't admit that she had sex with Inventor the first time she met him. He'd fixed her car and she was apparently extremely grateful.


          This morning Street Jimmy had a bit of fun with the Genius. Because I was going to the Dunes I drove to the bar. When I got out of my car he pointed at one of the bar windows which was broken and said, "some dude tossed a rock at me an' he bust the window an' we had cops comin'."
        "Did they get the guy?"
          Now I was mad and I mother fucked him for a couple of minutes, "you idiotic asshole, you get in a fight and now we've got a broken window and it goes on the police report that it was the Ale House, godddamnit , I should kick your ass out of here you stupid fuck head. " I said that and much more before he smiled and said he was just kidding, " the window jus' kinda busted an' Hawkeye asked the people sittin' up there if they did  somethin' an' they say no."
           "Jimmy, that was very funny." I said this without laughing.

           Faggypants said that he'd seen three movies yesterday: he hated Transformers and walked out; Hercules was okay, and he saw Boyhood again and loved it even more than the first time he saw it. "It's an absolute masterpiece. 

Monday, July 28, 2014


       Anya told me an old friend phoned and left a message for me at the bar. His name was Boone and he was the son of a former golfing-gambling friend of mine named Foster. Foster was a skinny black guy with a permanently bent left arm.  I resumed playing golf at Jackson Park after I got back from California in 1976 and I didn't know that many of the gamblers out there until The Frog Man of Schiller Woods arranged for a golf game with Foster. Foster was at the time parking cars on Rush Street and I guess that's how Frog met him. After taking a look at Fosters swing I would have bet my heart, liver, lungs and kidneys that I could beat him with one hand tied behind me. Alas, it was not the first time I'd been fooled by  crazy looking swings. I've been beaten by cross-handed players, guys so fat they could barely walk, guys under five-feet, and women pros with skin that had been abused by the sun to the point that they could have passed for alligators, so I wasn't shocked when Foster started knocking in one putt after another.
         In those days Jackson Park Golf Course, which is located on the City's South Side between the University of Chicago and the lake was almost exclusively black. It was poorly maintained, the greens were rarely cut (and they were as hard as concrete) but it was cheap. Even though I wasn't yet forty I easily obtained a "Senior Card" enabling me to play for three-dollars a round. Foster was a small time hustler and I'm sure he wouldn't have been able to break ninety on a longer, harder course but he could play the short Jackson Park thanks to his amazing chipping and putting skills. There are horses for courses and some guys can play lousy courses and putt lousy greens which is something I could never do. When Tiger Woods was sixteen he came through Jackson Park on his way to the Western Amateur in Benton Harbor Michigan. The reason he gave an exhibition at the Jackson Park Driving Range was because a small group of black gamblers and gangsters used to give his dad, Earl, money to finance young Tigers amateur career.  While his dad was busy schmoozing with Tigers benefactors Burglar Bar, Fat Daddy and I played six-holes with Tiger. After the first hole he refused to use his  putter because, "these are the  worst greens I've ever played on in my life." The fairways weren't watered and every drive he hit went well over three-hunded yards. He finally quit playing after hitting a nine iron onto the par three sixth hole; the ball after landing on the green bounced about fifty feet in the air and almost rolled onto Jeffrey Blvd. 
          By the time Barack started playing at Jackson Park the course was in much better shape and quite a few white people had begun taking advantage of the only eighteen hole municipal course in the entire city of Chicago.
           I have wonderful memories of playing with Foster. He was not a man of moderation and often played with a six pack of beer in his bag. Boone caddied for his dad when he was on summer vacation and their banter often made it hard to concentrate. Foster, although not much more than a hundred and twenty-five pounds, was not a man to be trifled with. One day we were crossing Jeffrey Blvd. to get to the seventh hole when a red car didn't stop at the cross walk and almost hit one of the caddies. Foster let the red car have it with his putter. The guy in the red car hit the breaks and jumped out. He was in his twenties and much bigger than Foster but when he saw Foster charging at him with his putter raised over his head he jumped back in his car and sped off. My favorite Foster confrontation story was when we were playing the eleventh hole at J.P. and a black guy dressed in a lavender pimp suit with a matching lavender fedora and a hooker in a gold lame dress sauntered  by. When Foster yelled at the guy in the pimp suit to "get the fuck out of the way," the guy in the pimp suit bent over and tossed Fosters golf ball in the small pond in front of the green. Foster reached in his back and pulled out his pistol and immediately charged the unsuspecting guy in the pimp suit. 
            "Go get my muthfucking golf ball or I will blow your motherfucking head off and I ain't playin'." Counting our caddies, the chick in the gold lame mini-dress, there were nine black people present and me. The guy in the pimp suit studied Foster for a moment and then poised himself at the edge of the pond, turned back and looked once more at Foster who was pointing the gun directly at his head and tentatively stepped into the fetid water. You could hear the sucking sound of the mud and I almost felt sorry for him as he probed around the swampy muck for Fosters golf ball. There are certain rituals and ceremonies which are necessary to observe in a civilized society, and doing what you  are asked to at gunpoint is one of them. Eventually the guy found not one but two golf balls and tossed them onto the grass about five feet from where Foster was standing. The women in the gold lame dress was crossing the foot bridge by the time the guy  managed to extricate himself from the foul smelling goo. Not only were his trousers completely covered in mud but much of his lavender coat. As we watched the guy walking toward the foot bridge leading to the twelfth tee leaving a trail of water and mud in his wake,  Fat Daddy said, "he might come back with some hardware..."
         Darryl Kennedy shook his head, "let him, I got my gun." 
          It was my opinion that we should listen to Fat Daddy. After a brief discussion it was decided that we go back to the club house and restrict ourselves to playing the inside five until things cooled off. 
         One day Foster and I were going to a charity golf outing and he needed to stop to get his "lottery." I tossed a dollar on the counter and asked for one lotto ticket. Foster looked at me with a contemptuous sneer and said , "you don't want to win, do you?" He then tossed two twenties on the counter. I'll have to get a confirmation from Boone if he stops by to see me, but rumor has it that after Foster moved to Seattle about twenty years ago he finally hit the big lottery for a couple million dollars. When I talked to Boone on the phone yesterday he said Foster died two years ago at the age of 87, "the same year Fat Daddy died."
          I knew Boone became a nurse, and he said his wife is also a nurse and they travel around the country filling in at emergency rooms. I really hope he stops by the bar while he's in town. He said he knew how to reach me because he'd seen me on Anthony Bourdain's TV show on the Travel Channel. They must have had a re-run of the show we were on because we got about ten people in the bar last night that  had just seen the show. Anthony has been very, very good to us. Not only did we get the Bourdain crowd, but we got some more people who'd seen the Ebert movie. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Words Have Meaning

         Yesterday morning I got my vitamin B-12 shot from Nurse Erica. Yeager, her very independent husky, seemed bored and restless as he prowled around the bar. Hawkeye trembled at seeing the long needle penetrate deeply into my once powerful arm. A lot has happened since I got back from my wonderful trip to Scotland last August, and very little of it good. My absence gave a group of conspirators time (and courage) to hatch their petty little plots, and then I was beset with one health problem after another, and of course I'm presently sweating out my next CAT-Scan in September. Don't get me wrong, I do grasp the humor in my situation and am not insensible to the joy and laughter my current woes are providing my intellectually challenged enemies.  If you dish it out, you gotta be able to take it. 

           I made a  great deal of progress on my prequel yesterday before I was impelled by a number of considerations - chiefly the fact that my brain was no longer functioning at it's normally remarkably high level, and so I decided to take a walk. My back didn't start to act up for almost an hour which is a good sign. Ranalli says that my back problem is nothing but old age and he himself is now slightly bent over and plagued by sciatica. It was not that long ago that I'd see Ranalli jogging through the park shirtless while working a set of dumbbells in his hands. 
          When I walked in the bar Ruben Four Toes said that D-Train had continued his irrational rant from the previous night. He does this occasionally although this time he has directed his ire at Gracie and Tobin. There's no reasoning with him when he's like this.
          I told Ruben that I saw Mrs. Clown on the street and she is not looking good. Something happened last winter when she was in Florida and since she's gotten back she's sort of thrown in the towel as far as personal appearance goes. What a shame.
           Hardware Nick was making very little sense and instigated a long debate on the meaning of the word privilege. Even when Door Man Dan provided him with a dictionary he basically insisted that a word can mean anything you want it to mean. I've encountered this type of semantic nihilism before and it never fails to puzzle me: words have meanings!
          D-Train, dressed in a black suit, black shirt and black tie came in with his earphones on and sat down and spoke to no one.

           This morning Street Jimmy was sleeping on the sidewalk next to the side door. He looked exceptionally bad. I was going to sing him my Jimmy Smokes Crack and I Don't Care song but he didn't seem sufficiently alert to appreciate it. Buzz Kill stopped by; so far he doesn't seem to be overly concerned with his lack of a steady income. If I was in his present situation I think by now I'd be reduced to the brink of despair. Faggypants said that his mother told him he looked cute before she drove him to the train. Hawkeye stopped by. I can tell he's excited about his upcoming trip to Scotland.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Zelda And Gatsby

          Hawkeye is going to Scotland next Sunday. He says he hasn't contacted any replacement doormen yet. Interesting. I guess Johnny Ale can jump on this tonight. Hawkeye will be gone for most of the month and I know I speak for everyone when I say that we are going to miss him desperately. Street Jimmy said he saw Mrs. Clown without Clown at Burton Place. "She gots that drunk look."
          "Most drunks have that drunk look."
          Jimmy shook his head, "uh, uh, not tha' kinda drunk look, she always got that look on her face." When Jimmy speaks now he speaks in an unbroken monotone and seems to care very little about whether anyone is listening. What caught my attention was when Jimmy said that "a white boy brought a bomb into the bar las' night an' I tol' Lemar and he put him out."
          "A bomb! What kind of bomb?"
           After a few minutes of questioning it turns out that Jimmy was pronouncing bum as bomb, and the bum in question was a sneak thief.
           "Jimmy, your elocution has really deteriorated over the last year. Nobody can understand what the hell you're talking about anymore."
           "I always had trouble pronouncing words."
          "Not like you are now."
            Jimmy said, "I gonna turn over a new life, I'm tired of the way I be livin' , you see."
           "I think that's a good idea, I think you're going to need a new life because your old one is going to end pretty soon."
           "Wha' you mean?"
              "They're betting on the street you'll be dead by this time next year."
             "Who's betting."
                This information pissed Jimmy off and he launched into a passionate defense of his over all strength of character and would have continued his eloquence longer had he not been interrupted by a protracted fit of coughing. 


       Yesterday afternoon I was sailing along on what I hope is final week or two of my prequel when Ranalli called me. He was  upset - his ex-wife, Julie, had just died and he wanted to know if I was at the Ale House. I told him that I wasn't but that I'd be there in half an hour. Ranalli got to the bar about fifteen minutes after I did. It was not a happy story: Julie had called him from Florida about a month ago, "I can usually tell whether she's on her meds and she was fine and she said that she just wanted to hear my voice and hoped I was okay and we talked for a while and now it turns out she called me on the day they told her that she had pancreatic cancer..."
           "Nobody told you?"
           "No. And so I hear today from her daughter that she died."
           I knew Julie before she went nuts and then after she went nuts. There was no reason to dwell on the negative and I told Ranalli that she was a beautiful women and a wonderful hostess. "I remember all the great Christmas and Thanksgiving parties you guys threw at you place on Lincoln Park West. She was a helluva interior decorator, too. Arthur loved laying in your bed propped up on those giant pillows and everyone would bring him his drinks and food..."
           For about five-years Ranalli and Julie were Chicago's F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda. (Actually Ranalli was more Gatsby than Fitzgerald.) And then things fell apart fast. When Ranalli describe how hard Julie could punch I nodded, "yeah, the night she broke out of the psyche ward at Northwestern and came here she showed me how she broke your cheekbone. Lucky for me my guard was up and it was only a glancing blow." 
           In spite of his tough dago demeanor Ranalli is really a softy and he was taking Julie's death very hard. I told him it had to be a consolation that he found Lindy, "she's a great broad and you're a lucky guy." 
          "Yeah, I am lucky."
          Like all old guys inevitably do, we  started discussing  our various health issues until Ranalli changed the subject to his hero Joe Dimaggio. I didn't have the heart to attack his premise that Dimaggio was the greatest player of our time, especially when compared to Ruth and Mays. Ranalli seemed in much better spirits by the time I finally went home.  



Friday, July 25, 2014


            Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care, 
             Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care, '        
             Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care, 
             The policeman's on his way.

            Jimmy ran 'cause he ain't no snitch,
             He threw his crack pipe in the ditch,
            When the judge asked Street Jimmy why?
             He told the judge, 'cause I gots to get high! 

              Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care,
               Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care
              Jimmy smokes crack and I don't care, 
               The policeman's on his way.


              After an extravagant afternoon with Hawkeye I decided to   treat myself to a late afternoon lunch. Because of the unseasonably cool weather I opted to sit on the sunny side of the street. As I was approaching Burton Place I ran into Tribune John. He seemed delighted to see me; his amiability was infectious and when I congratulated him on his new job he said with a smile, "they just made me full time, I work from seven to three."
           "That's practically the same hours you had at the Tribune."
           "It's not the same money or the same responsibilities, but the woman I work for is nice and there may be a future in it for me." He said this with an effusion of feeling and a tone of high moral resolution. There's no question jobs are scarce and you have to admire Trib for adjusting to the new world order in which the haves are ruthlessly ripping off the have-nots and there are fewer and fewer crumbs for the rest of us to share. 
            Bistro Margot was practically empty and so I sat next to the open window and was quite comfortable until an elderly couple sat down next to me and the man started to hiccup. After a while the lady asked the waitress if she had any hiccup cures? The instructions were a hopeless mystery and the man continued to hiccup. I was reminded of the late Pope Pius X11: in 1953 he was stricken with what turned out to be a terminal case of the hiccups. My friends and I  found this highly amusing especially when we learned that the Catholic School kids had to pray for the Pope's hiccups every morning. When I insisted that he must have done something really bad for God to punish him like that my gym teacher sent me to the principles office. The principle was a bumbling, inarticulate man with a perpetual five o' clock shadow. It soon became obvious to both of us that he was quite incapable of offering young Bruce any worldly advice which had seemed to be his initial intent, and so he went straight to the point: "Bruce, it's not nice to make fun of peoples religions or sick people. " Having made this declaration he paused irresolutely before he patted my shoulder with a degree of familiarity that I found offensive,  and added with a wink, "no more hiccup jokes."
           A sparrow flew into the restaurant and pecked around on the floor while the poor old guy tried to eat and hiccup at the same time. 
            After I finished eating (it took me a long time because of my myasthenia gravis) I took a walk. My back started to hurt by the time I reached the Viagra Triangle and so I pulled up a chair and sat down in the sun. I'm glad I did because an interesting drama began to unfold directly across from where I was sitting. A very fat  black women with black stretch pants and a soiled T-shirt was sitting on one of the long black metal benches with a divider in the middle. She was a schizophrenic and was engaged in a lively conversation with herself. On the other side of the bench was a guy about sixty, bald, very tan , blunt features and who was trying to talk on his phone. If I had to choose which one was the most annoying I would have  picked the guy with the phone. Not only was he talking loudly, but he was gesticulating wildly and he seemed to curse after every three or four words. 
             The women seemed oblivious to the asshole man and continued to talk non-stop. After about ten minutes the guy, who was rather skinny and was wearing a red polo shirt and beige shorts yelled at the black lady, "will you shut the fuck up!"
           She did not turn and face him but simply looked out of the sides of her eyes and for a few minutes lowered her voice. I was not the only one watching them and sure enough about five-minutes later he screamed at her again. The women, who had a very short natural was not the least intimidated and continued talking to herself. When the guy finally could tolerate it no more he stood up with the aid of a cane and shuffled off muttering to himself. (He must have been a stroke victim because he could barely walk.)
           As I was walking down Division Street back to Old Town I was alarmed to see a really big, mean looking black guy charging across the street with a metal baseball bat in is hand. There was a crowd of people waiting for the bus and he stopped in front of a black lady with two kids, asked her something, and then ran back across the street and into a convenience store. A few minutes later he emerged from the convenience store and ran back across the street ( I had stopped to watch from what I thought was a safe distance) and this time the guy made the women and kids follow him over to Dearborn.  I hope he didn't find the guy he was looking for because this guy hardly needed a baseball bat to do  grievous harm. While this was going on a very old bent over Ronny Woo Woo walked by wearing his full Cubs Uniform.
           When I walked in the Ale House a sheepish looking Ruben Four Toes was sitting in his wheel chair. Officer Bill, who was sitting next to Ruben said, "I guess somebody has to tell you." He then proceeded to describe Ruben's latest gastrointestinal adventure: Street Jimmy had to push Ruben to MacDonald's so he could use their handicapped accessible toilet. Fortunately he got there in time. Unfortunately Ruben was unable to get up from the toilet. At this point Ruben took over the story: "The motherfucking  toilet is too low and there aren't any bars that I could pull myself up with."
           "So what did you do?"
           "Jimmy couldn't pull me up so I had him run and get Victor."
            At this point a highly amused Jimmy walked in the door and said, "hey, Bruce, you hear about Ruben couldn' get off the toilet. He so week he couldn' get his fat ass up."
            Ruben glared at Jimmy, "hey, you aren't so strong either, you needed Victor to help you."
             I'm sure the people in MacDonald's had to love this.
            Jimmy was now laughing hard. "Victor had to pull his pants up for him."