Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Crime Against Humanity

              I just watched the two most inept coaches in the history of pro football go head to head. The Tampa Bay Bucs - Chicago Bears game was a fiasco. It was a crime against humanity. Everyone involved, from the coaches, to the players, to the refs, to the announcers should have to do at a minimum - community service. As for the head coaches - the firing squad. Lovie Smith reminds me of a matronly lady; a really bored, tired matronly lady. Mark Trestman, the Bears coach, seems to share Lovie's aversion to excessive displays of feeling. There is a piousness to their ineptness which borders on the repulsive. Both men seem to take grim pleasure in losing. They must be heavily medicated - my guess is thorazine .
           The Bears brain-dead QB, Jay Cutler,  symbolizes todays modern athlete prima donna. What he grasps in one hand he fumbles with the other. He has the personality of a strange, repulsive rodent, or a slithering reptile. Except when it suits his own inclination he is a churlish bore. He appears to get-off inciting the fans aversion and contempt. He's a peevish underachiever of the first order. 

             *

           Last night Ruben Four Toes and I exchanged what has now become a series of routine, perfunctory insults. One of our favorite insult games is what we would have done to each other in prison. I told Ruben that I'd have assigned him laundry, shoe shining and errands: "I couldn't do anything with you of a sexual nature because you're much too fat and have no discernible dick."
          Ruben, who seemed in flighty spirits, described in great details what my life would be like being his bitch. When he finished  explaining the horrors of being his cellmate he added, "and I would have made a man out of you!"
           Anya, who happened to be walking by said "Ruben, I think you meant woman, not man."
          Perceiving himself in a blunder Ruben gave her a saucy look and said, "thank you very much, Anya, yes - woman. "
          "No, I think he got it right the first time. Ruben was born to be my bitch."
             Our sociable conversation having concluded I thought I'd take advantage of the fifty-degree temperature outside and go for a walk. As I was strolling along the lake I noticed a huge crowd gathered at Oak St. It was the Festival of Lights. The unseasonable weather had encouraged the vast crowds to come out and watch the marching bands and floats go down Michigan Ave. Wanting nothing to do with the throngs of people I walked west on Division Street. I had overdressed and at one point even entertained taking my heavy coat off.
            When I got back to the bar an old-timer from the neighborhood came in with her sister. I hadn't seen her in quite a while. She was very friendly and fun loving chick: pretty much everyone banged her at one time or another. I think she was one of Pauly's regulars for a few months. The sister was a real character. When she insisted on buying Ruben a beer I warned her that it was unlikely that he'd "put out for just one beer." She assured me that she could live with that. 
             Blue Velvet called. He sounded much better. His debilitating stroke played havoc with his speaking for a long time. He's excited about participating in the upcoming Ale House Talent Show and wanted the details. All I know is that it's the Sunday before the Super Bowl so I told him to call Gracie for more information. 
            I stayed out late and was  very tired when I got home.
           

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Street Jimmy's Sordid Confession

              Last night when I asked Street Jimmy why he missed work he said, "'cause Turk took me to his house an' he fixed me some food an' he let me take a shower and wash my clothes." Removing his cap, "an' he tooks me to a dude he know an gots me a haircut. The haircut cost twenty-five dollar. I tol' him tha' I knows a place on the South Side where we can get haircuts for ten-dollar. Twenty-five dollar for a haircut, " shaking his head, "damn, twenty-five dollar."
            "Jimmy, I in no way wish to be critical, however, the guy  gave you a buzz cut and given that you have an unusually small head, you look like a  microcephalic."
             "Wha's a micro-alcoholic?"
             "It's someone with a tiny head. You used to see them a lot in freak shows. In fact there was a classic movie called Freaks and they had a lot of microcephalic's in the movie. Apparently they're very affectionate and some rich people were adopting them for pets..."
            "I wanted my hair short."
              "Well, it was awfully nice of the Turk to let you use his facilities."
            "He cool, we be partners. He gots a real nice car..."
            "Yeah, he drives Uber."
             "Huh?"
              "Did you spend the night?"
              "Yeah, slept on the couch. Slept good. He gots a nice pad. He gots a rooomate. He don' like his roommate bringing his lady there."
            "Maybe that's why he brought you over."
              "What you mean?"
              "To get even with the roommate bringing his lady over."              

              A couple of hours later Street Jimmy came back with a large bottle of orange juice and a can of chicken noodle soup. He said a nice lady had just given them to him. "I thought you'd wanna buy 'em."
            "You don't want the soup for yourself!"
             "Yeah, I wants the soup. Fancypants can fix it up for me tomorrow."
             "Forgive me if I seem confused: You want me to buy the soup the nice lady gave you so that you can eat it tomorrow?"
              "An' don' forget the orange juice."
              "Jimmy, at times like this it seems to me that you delight more in exciting the enmity of your fellow citizens than gaining the esteem of your very limited number of friends. Even a wild and crazy reprobate such as yourself should be able to grasp that my paying you for the soup and juice someone gave you for free for the sole purpose of then giving it back to you is a bit odd."
            Jimmy, deeming it strategically wise to moderate his demands said, "okay, jus' put the soup away for me until' Fancypants get here tomorrow. You wanna buy the juice?"
            Jimmy had insinuated himself between me and a couple of civilians sitting at the bar. After Anya gave him a beer,  making sure to first scoop up the dollar I always make him put down for the bartender (Jimmy had tried to pull a fast one on her the previous night by grabbing his dollar back after she turned around) Jimmy brought up the subject of Bill Cosby. His views caught the attention of the two civilians as well as Lee. Jimmy is of the opinion that the "bitches" are just after Cosby's money. "It don' make no sense for him to be rapin' no women's 'cause he can buy all the women's he wants."
         His remarkable eloquence concluded I asked: "Jimmy, have you ever raped a bitch?"
         His underlip pushed out slightly, he nodded, "hell yeah. Bitch fuck with my money, I rape her ass..." 
         This statement struck Lee as bordering on the obscene. The two civilians also seemed a bit shocked by Jimmy's candor.
           "You know Jimmy, with your hair cut so short, your profile looks a lot like Bill Cosby's."
            The downside to his extreme haircut is that his cap is now much too big. 
        "I'm gonna need a new hat", he said trying to keep his cap from falling over his ears.
          When Ruben Four Toes Pace car pulled up in front of the bar I went out and explained to the old man who was driving that Ruben had to make another emergency trip home. "Every time he eats a greasy hamburger he gets the shits."
             "Glad he didn' get no shits in my car."
               I gave the guy three bucks because I didn't want him reporting Ruben for being a no show.
               When I came back in Street Jimmy gave me some props. "I saw you pay the dude. Tha' cool, you takin' care of Ruben 'cause you be a  businessman."
               "Make sure you tell that to Ruben." 

           Earlier in the afternoon Pub Crawl Liz came in with a fellow who has an online show called Midwestern Diners. He does in-depth pieces on bars and this month he was featuring Ale Syndicate Beer. Before the interview Gracie ordered some and it wasn't bad. Liz's pub crawl tour business is called History On Tap. She is definitely the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to North Side saloons. The cameraman came a few minutes late, however, over the years both Liz and I agreed that we had honed the necessary skills to kill time in a bar. The fellow that did the interview was extremely prepared. We discussed old school bars, what a real dive bar is and why most TV shows about restaurants and bars are worthless. Our interviewer was a big fan of Anthony Bourdain's as well as Roger Ebert. He seemed to be particularly intrigued by Roger and confessed that he was deeply moved when Roger died. "It had been my dream for him to review my first movie..." After about an hour I left him alone with Liz. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pets

            Tobin showed up again with the little dog. This got the gang in the corner talking about pets. When I was asked why I didn't like pets I said, "I don't mind pets, I just don't like taking care of them."
           "How about Ruben," Mitt said, "isn't he your pet?"
            "True, and just look at how much trouble he is to take care of."
            Mitt nodded, "he needs to go out a lot more than a dog does."
             Mitt is right, taking care of Ruben is considerably more difficult  than taking care of the most unruly dogs. He needs frequent toilet runs - which is like struggling with a full grown elephant while at the same time reasoning with a petulant goldfish.
            Ruben is extremely proud of comic Hannibal Buress. As many of you already know, early in his career Hannibal was a regular at our Ale House talent shows. The last time Hannibal appeared - which I'm guessing was about two years ago - in a fit of ungovernable spleen, a drunken Ruben heckled him.  The muscles on Hannibal's face contracted into an angry sneer as he stared down at the oozing pile of blubber swishing around aimlessly in the wheel chair below.  Hannibal retaliated by directing a series of heckler-handgrenades at the four-hundred pound misery-maker. Undeterred, Ruben continued to disrupt his act. I found Ruben's behavior disgraceful - even by his standards - because we can catch Ruben's act every night, but we only rarely get to see Hannibal. 
            It was impossible for Hannibal to ignore the Mexican mudslide because of their proximity. After a prolonged gaze at the blubbery bandido Hannibal's breast heaved, and a fierce, savage glint appeared in his eyes. The audience was struck dumb by the gnashed, foaming, howls that ensued as the two squared off; it looked like a fight to the death between a karate master and a  thousand pound one-legged sumo wrestler. 
            I'm happy to report that the two have since patched things up. I'm sure this accounts for Ruben's delight in Hannibal's successful assault on Bill Cosby's legacy. 
           In the early Sixties Cosby visited the Ale House several times while appearing at Mr. Kelly's nightclub. He was in the company of a  married women who had just opened up a popular bookstore down the street. The women had a very wealthy, very nice husband. Rumor had it that some rough stuff took place in one of the aisles of the bookstore after it was closed. 
           I used to watch The Cosby show with Gracie when she was a little girl and it was one of the few shows of hers that I liked. What I didn't like about Cosby was his gratuitous attacks on fellow comics like Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison, Chris Rock and Howard Stern for "working blue." There's nothing I hate more than self-righteous hypocrites (which is why I despise Republicans) and until Cosby explains why he paid off one of his rape accusers he will continue to be the gold standard for hypocrites. 
           The interesting thing about the rape allegations against Cosby is the technique he used. I've banged enough completely drunk chicks in my day to know that it is similar to indulging in necrophilia. So the question is: Why would Cosby, a guy that could get all the young white pussy he could possibly ask for, go to such lengths to drug girls who resisted him? What's the kick? 
  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hawkeye Attacks Barney Fife

             This morning Fancypants arrived shivering like a wind-whipped maple leaf. As he jiggled and danced out of his thin coat he confirmed that he was cold.
            "Why didn't you wear your nice warm coat?"
             "Because I didn't think it was cold."
              "Based on what information did you not think it was cold out?"
               He was now balanced on the balls of his feet, which were spread wide, his arms bent at the elbows, wearing only a short sleeved T-shirt.
               "Danny, this is madness. It's eighteen out and you're only wearing a fucking T-shirt!"
                His eyes looked like a pair of marbles dropped in the middle of a bowl of vanilla pudding. "Maybe there's something in lost and found I can wear?"
               Fortunately I had a hoody in my personal emergency clothes cache. He seemed grateful as he snuggled into it.
               Street Jimmy stared at Fancypants with the lidless intensity of a caged mouse. "Damn, I coulda used that hoody."
               As he began working Fancypants  again complained about the absence of a string on one of  the back room lights.
               "Damnit, Danny," I said leaving my chores, "tie another string on the fucking thing."
               After puttering around on the short ladder for a few minutes Fancypants announced that the string wasn't missing but had simply become tangled. Alas, the tangled light cord was not the end of his problems. "Both my work aprons are missing."
              Having never been known for my patience I said: "Asshole, nobody threw out your fucking aprons. They must be somewhere." 
              After a thorough search the two missing aprons were found behind some beer cartons. The reason he was so determined to find his aprons was because he had worn impractical white pants and didn't want to soil them. 
                Street Jimmy delights when I yell at Fancypants and so it was not surprising that he was giggling happily as he swept the floor. This was not the case when he first arrived, however. The previous night I had coached him on how to approach the doctors at Northwestern: "Jimmy, you've got to get some medicine for your respiratory problems, your lungs sound like cement truck motors."
          Jimmy had readily agreed that he needed to go to the hospital. "I been hackin' an' wheezin' like a mutha fucka."
          "Yeah , but you need to sell it. Tell them you can't breathe, that your lungs hurt, and then make sure  you tell them that you have bugs and need a shower..."
            "Tha's  good thinkin'."
             Well, it would appear that Jimmy did not do a good enough selling job because he said that after examining him they said he was okay and sent him on his way.
             "After they took an Xray of my chest the lady stuck an IV  kinda needle in my arm an' she fucked the hell outa it and it hurt like a mutha fucka an' I cussed her ass out an' then the security dude pulls the curtain an' tells me to quiet down an' I tol' him the dumb bitch don' know how to do no IV."
             "So you got no medicine and no shower?"
            Jimmy shook his weather gnawed face dejectedly, "no, only I ain't goin' back to tha' hospital, I'm goin' to County or Rush next time 'cause they better."
            "By the way, how did you get to the hospital?"
             "The nice lady we be  talkin' to drove me with her ol' man."
              "The Defense Attorney and the Inventor drove you?"
               "Right to the front door. He really loves her, I can tell."

              There was some good news this morning - Buzz Kill finally landed a job. The nice thing about the job is that it's less than a block from his house.

              *

              Last night at the Ale House Hawkeye continued lashing out at the world in general - and yours truly in particular. Living among clowns, freaks, drug addicts, ghouls, and vampires have taken their toll on the lonely bag piper. Ordinarily the most mild   mannered of men, when roused to anger he reveals the savage feelings that he keeps pent up inside his tightly wound bosom. Had Hawkeye inhabited a society were the laws regarding mayhem were less strict, and attitudes toward cruelty less refined, there's no doubt that he would inflict unimagined torture on his perceived enemies. 
            Last nights perceived enemies were once again me, as well as Mitt. Hawkeye has become overwhelmed with self-justification. How dare Mitt inform him that a dangerous man had just entered the bar. "And what could I do about it?"
          "Ask for his ID for starters."
          "I couldn't."
           He was considerably irritated. I could see by the way he was glaring at me that he was on the verge of once again telling me what an odious being I am. I worry about Hawkeye and his self-absorbed, self-indulgent moroseness. It's not healthy. And when I try and hug him and whisper sweet nothings in his ear he invariably rebuffs me. The mildness of my nature prevents me from scolding him when he lashes out like this and I dared hardly look him in the eye.
            "Mitt's a regular Barney Fife."
            Hawkeye was making no sense. When he gets like this you can tell that all the joy has vanished from his tiny world. Calling Mitt Barney Fife was just code for "a man of treachery and violence." I found this appraisal of Mitt harsh. 
             "He was just trying to help, Hawkeye."
             Fortunately Touhy stopped by and interrupted our conversation. He said that his good friend Bob Smerch had just died. This was not unexpected because Smerch had an inoperable brain tumor.
              Smerch had owned a famous Lincoln Ave. bar called Sterch's. I first met Smerch back in the early sixties. He lived in the town house behind the apartment building I was living in on Cleveland Street. He was a fun guy and a total sports nut. The bar was filled with zany whack jobs , Touhy being the most prominent among them. Smerch, for reasons known only to him, let the place deteriorate to the point he had to sell it. It's a shame because it was a great old school joint.
              Peace and love.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hawkeye Continues To Disparage The Genius

            Not only was yesterday bitterly cold, it was unusually hectic. Just as I was about to take a badly needed nap at one-thirty Grace Littlefeather called and said that she had forgotten her bar keys and was standing in front of the bar with a waiting delivery truck. These are the kind of disruptions I'm sure Shakespeare and Dickens never had to put up with. So I had to jump back into my clothes, start my cold car and rush down and unlock the bar for the scatter-brained bartender.  
            At three o'clock, after bundling up, I walked across the street and rang the actresses doorbell. We had arranged to go to the Historical Society to see the 1968 exhibition. By the time we finished walking the six-blocks to the museum we were both sniffling from the windy-cold. It's a very nice museum, but for reasons known only to the bean counters in charge , it's overpriced. This is too bad because not many people take advantage of seeing its eclectic displays of Chicago history. I recommend anyone interested in this tumultuous year to check out the exhibition. I'm currently writing about this era in my upcoming tour d' force , California Jail Break. 
           The actress, who's not only a sentimental idealist, but a guarded optimist was very much moved by some archival film clips of Martin Luther King speaking just before his assassination. As we moved from exhibition to exhibition my memory was continually jarred. I have a much more cynical take on mankind than the Actress and I think some of my observations disturbed her a bit. I have enough self-awareness to understand that even open-minded people find some of the things I say disturbing, but as I pointed out to the Actress, "if I behaved any other way I'd be a phony, and at my age why pretend to be something I'm not." 
           Although it hadn't seemed like we had been there that long a guard informed us that the museum was closing. Neither of us had been to the new Kamahachi and so we walked over to Wells Street. It's much bigger than the old one; fortunately you couldn't hear the awful music being played in the bar area in the back room where we were sitting. The food was mediocre. The Ale House was not crowded when we stopped off. This happens every year when the first arctic blast hits the city; people stay home until they become acclimated to it.
            Street Jimmy seems fascinated by the Actress. The last time she was in the bar he couldn't take his eyes of her and the following day he questioned me at great length about her. Of course I told him she was very famous and had done a lot of movies and TV. This seemed to impress Jimmy. 
           Unfortunately the Actress had to go home and walk her border terrier.
            Hawkeye continues to impugn the Genius' character. With his narrow, slate colored lips curled in a  contemptuous sneer, he said that I was a bad writer. When I asked him to elaborate on this statement he said, "you make one egregious blunder after another."
            "Why not give me some examples?"
              "What's the point?"
             "Hawkeye, how would it hurt you to take a few minutes out of your mundane days to send me a critique of my egregious blunders? You treat me more like a benevolent patron than a friend and comrade."
            It is my private opinion that Hawkeye, knowing how sensitive I am to criticism, just tries to upset me for the sport of it. 
           When I asked him about the incident the previous night when a known vagabond was allowed in the bar and some money was stolen off the bar he moved his head from side to side and said emphatically, "that's a total lie. And I know it was Mitt who told you -  "
            It was true that had Mitt told me that he'd warned Hawkeye about the guy.
           When Mike, who was bar tending, confirmed the money off the bar accusation, Hawkeye's response to this information was defensive, yet civil. Exerting his reasoning powers to their fullest he said, "what was I supposed to do?"
             Ninety-nine out of a hundred times these street people don't have ID's so all you have to do is ask for an ID. It's simple."
              Hawkeye is an impractical dreamer. He's been back from a trip to Boston for a day and he forgot to change his iPhone and so after consulting the temperature on his phone and seeing it was 44 degrees out he decided to go for a bike ride. Well, it might have been 44 in Boston but it was only around 14 in Chicago. Now a more pragmatic chap might have aborted the bike ride after being assaulted by the Arctic chill, but not our Hawkeye.
              Morgan P. called from Tampa earlier in the evening. It's a  shame she called before Hawkeye arrived because I'm sure she would have loved chatting with him. Hawkeye still harbors fond memories of the times many years ago when Morgan would come over to the horny bachelors digs wearing only a fur coat. Morgan said it was a chilly 37 in Tampa. For years  Morgan was involved with  journalist James Warren. Warren, being an unchivalrous  cad, took advantage of her devotion to him in an unconscionable, unscrupulous manner. When Warren finally was driven from Chicago ignominiously, he was friendless and his career was in free fall. Karma.
           Before I left for home Hawkeye made yet another pathetic attempt to defend repulsive, petty, corrupt Jayne Byrne. When I once again pointed out that the not very bright first women mayor of Chicago had embraced the "Evil Cabal," immediately upon assuming office he said with great passion: "she had no choice, Daley had control over all the Machine people and so none of them dared work for her."
           "So she has to suck Fast Eddy's dick?"
           "Who else was she going to get?"
            "She could have kept Rose."
            "She hated Rose."
             "He was as close to a reformer as there was and he got her elected. "
             Hawkeye, being an incurable egotist, continues to project his limitations and failures as well as his lack of talent and creativity on yours truly. It is simply a cross I must learn to bear.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hawkeye Says The Genius Has No Credibilty

             I hate cold weather, however, I love Chicago and so I continue to tough the cruel winters out. The secret to survival is dressing warm and so I do a lot of layering. I was shocked last night  to hear Mitt boasting that he had not yet turned his heat on. 
           "How is that possible?"
           "A little heats comes in from the garage and Lynn is going through menopause..."
           "What's the temperature in your condo?"
          "Sixty, maybe..."
          Mitt is a large man and rarely sits, instead he sort of hovers. Generally he stations himself at the corner of the bar nearest the door. He seldom wears a hat no matter how harsh the weather. Mitts stoicism  reminds me of the time the late John Fox confessed to having lived without heat for three years. The famous (infamous) comic often complained about how cold his apartment was. One day while the glib funny man  was doing his laundry in his buildings laundromat he was complaining to a neighbor about how cold the building was. When the neighbor asked him if he knew how to turn the heat on Fox said that he thought it was supplied by the building. The neighbor went up to his apartment and turned the heat on and presto, Fox had heat. To live for three winters in Chicago without heat was remarkable even for Fox. He had used the coldness in his apartment as the reason he never showered.
            Fatal Attraction was staying with Fox for two of those heatless winters. When I confronted her about lacking the basic intelligence to know how to turn the heat on in freezing cold apartment she stared at me with her trademark blank eyed gaze and said: "is that why it was so cold?" Her face immediately contorted in an unhappy, bitter expression. Exploding in a torrent of invective she castigated poor Fox without mercy. The gist of her bitter attack seemed to be that she was a victim that Fox had imprisoned her with his all-encompassing stupidity. "And to think I actually cared about him."
            "But Fatal, in fairness to Fox, did it ever occur to you to turn the heat on?"
              Laughing wickedly, "no. No, it didn't." She then essentially conceded that she was not the most brilliant companion in the world.
            Because I have an overdeveloped central nervous system I'm much more sensitive to the cold than normal homo sapiens. 
            The cold weather is also rough on Street Jimmy. Living on the streets is ten times tougher in the winter. 
             Gracie had taken pity on Jimmy and was letting him sit down at a table to keep warm. With all of his winter clothes on he had a rather shrunken appearance. Gracie roused him from his lethargy and wanted him to get her some food from Thai Aroma restaurant. Jimmy calls it the "Chinese place." When I told him it was Thai Gracie corrected me. 
          "Don't confuse him." 
           Jimmy returned without the food fifteen minutes later. "The dumb fucks want a phone number."
           Gracie sheepishly admitted that she forgot to give them either a name or a number when she placed her order. When Jimmy came back with the food he had the change in his rough, grimy hand.
            "Fuck them, I ain't tippin' 'em 'cause I had to make two trips."
             Gracie tipped Jimmy five bucks even though he didn't tip the Thai cashier. 
             Jimmy was not disinclined to take the money. His face seemed to have aged twenty years in just the preceding twenty-four hours. 
              "Jimmy, maybe it's time to go to rehab for a while and get out of the cold."
             With an air of confidence Jimmy said, "I be off the street soon as I'm ready."
              "Jimmy, I don't think so. I think you're going to die on the street a cap-in-hand-beggar."
               "No I ain't."  He said this with infantine simplicity.
              Hawkeye continues to heap ridicule on the Genius. He is a creature of exotic, impractical longings, chiefly a love of bag pipe music and a thirst for adventure. Carrying himself with martial erectness he stood before me and asserted with formal politeness , "you have no credibility."
               His need for self-justication has reached an almost pathological stage. Knowing that he can never measure up to the Genius' greatness he must constantly dispute my words and oppose my wishes; his haughtiness often hides his otherwise affectionate disposition. I don't wish to suggest that Hawkeye is a harsh-tempered, unkind man - quite the contrary. It's just that anger and jealousy at times overwhelm him. 
           Standing before him, arms folded I said, "Hawkeye, you poor dear, your intelligence is insufficiently keen to foresee the consequences of your accusation, but because I love you I will forgive you."
             When Tobin came in Street Jimmy wanted to know what she was cooking for Thanksgiving?
              "Turkey."
              "Tha's good."
                When Gracie asked him what else he'd like Jimmy said, "I'd like chitlins an' hot sauce."
               Nobody else thought this was a good idea.
            
              
                         

Monday, November 17, 2014

Being A Genius In A World Of Mere Mortals Is Not Easy

          Although not normally known for his erudition, Street Jimmy, being a man of considerable repute as well as an authority on local street culture, was unusually loquacious this morning. Buzz Kill, Fancypants and I paid the most respectful attention to his every word as he described several significant events: 
          "The cops was askin' me if I was the one tha' shot Killer - "
          "Who's Killer, " I asked?
          "He the dude who gots killed yesterday - "
           "Killer got killed?"
           Jimmy nodded, "yeah, on Sedgwick Street. I heard pow, pow, pow an' so the cops say Jimmy wha' you doin' here, you shoot Killer? An I say, he a Snake an' I a Snake, you crazy, a Snake wouldn' shoot another Snake,  an' so the cops say wha' you doin' hear an' he know damn well wha' I be doin'... I be lookin' to buy a rock so I say ' I jus' hear to buy cigarettes 'cause I'm not gonna say I be tryin' to buy a rock . They know damn well I didn' kill Killer. I don' even have a gun. The po-leece caught the dudes. They was on camera an' the po-leece catch them on the expressway. All the dudes in the car is gonna get charged with murder...They followed Killer from a party and shot him over here. Killer's family be dangerous an' so now there gonna be a big fight for sure..."
             Killers murder wasn't the only news Jimmy had for us. "Sam, you know, the dude who be sellin'  Street Wise in front of Starbucks? He buy a bottle of whiskey from Chris who always be hangin' out  at Burton Place. So Chris steals the bottle he jus' sold to Sam outa Sam's bag when Sam go to the washroom. So somebody tells Sam and he say 'I gonna kicks Chris' ass', so Chris runs an' tell the cops Sam gonna beat his ass and so the cops tell Sam don' beat him up when we be aroun'. Sam is madder than hell, an' he knows tha' Chris be the one to steal his Street Wise's when they gots dropped off in front of the newsstand the other day.  I was inside talkin' to Marshall Field an' we both think Sam gonna fuck up Chris real good 'cause Chris deserve it."
          Buzz Kill told Jimmy that he knew Jimmy'd never rip-off somebody like Chris did to Sam.
           "Hell no I wouldn' , I ain't stupid, 'specially if somebody see me do it. Chris is a coward runnin' and gettin' the po-leece. He was afraid to come outa Starbucks. Marshall Field an' I seen him in there scareder than a muthafucka.
              "Jimmy, " I said after listening to him with rapt attention, "these tales of betrayal and murder are certainly unspeakable crimes, but do you know what shocks me the most? What I, the Genius,  consider to be the  most egregious example of high treason...of pure treachery?"
              Jimmy was unable to conceal the confused expression on his face. "Wha' you be sayin'?"
              "Here's what I'm saying: That you have just confessed that you've been smoking crack prior to coming to work in the morning. This is shocking, and I think it goes a long way to explaining your zombie like condition when you arrive here in the morning. " By way of illustration I shuffled around the bar with a broom in a dazed manner, my tongue hanging out of the side of my mouth and my eyes half closed. Fancypants erupted in laughter at my mimicry. Even Street Jimmy couldn't help smiling.
           "I don' looks like tha'," he said trying to suppress a giggle.
           Fancypants assured him that he did look like that.
           "Jimmy," I said placing my hand firmly on his shoulder, "we mere mortals, lads and lassies alike, must wage a battle each day just to fight back the tears of adversity. Yes, our love for each other helps sustain us through the roughest seas, but it is impossible to conceal the pain of living in the cold-cruel-world we find ourselves cast adrift in without so much as a life boat. Do I make myself clear?"
            "Tha's fucked up."
             "No, what's fucked up is you blasting your brains out on a crack pipe before you report for duty in the morning."
             "I does a good job. Better than Fancypants an' Buzz Kill."
              "You may be a better sweeper than Fancypants, but Buzz Kill is every bit as good a you are with a broom in his hand."
              Fancypants and his mom remind me of an old married couple. They argue almost daily about the most mundane matters. Today it was where the portable phone was. Fancypants assured his mother that he hadn't taken it with him, "mom, I'll find it when I get home."
               Yesterday it was the light in the refrigerator. "My mom was going to call the handyman and I said, 'mom, I can change the light, you don't need to call the handyman' and so I took it out and said, 'see.'"

             *

             Last night Hawkeye expressed his displeasure with my recent Jayne Byrne tribute. This was predictable. He still harbors fond memories of his time with the dim-witted shrew. He even went so far as to accuse me of "character assassination." 
            "Why don't you write something positive once in a while?"
             I tried in vain to impress upon Hawkeye that we poets have an obligation to speak the truth, and it is for the crass, vulgar, profane journalists to pander to the masses with their meretricious tributes and hokey-nonsense. Hawkeye's problem is that he lacks a strong moral ideology. As far as I can determine he simply pokes around aimlessly looking for some easy answer to the meaning  of life. It would be pointless for me to attempt to explain to him why I am so passionately dedicated to fighting injustice and evil. (Yes, it is my curse, but it is also my reason for existence.) He could learn from me: loser though he is from a moral point of view, he could, if motivated,  receive a great practical lesson from the Genius in citizenry and humanity - and in so doing eventually reap the rewards which follow such a commitment to a life well lived.  But the truth is that Hawkeye holds society too cheap - and will sadly continue down the maudlin path he has chosen in pursuit of his own narrow ends. What ultimately saves him from the abyss is that, although prone to anger,  he is an amiable companion and its impossible not to love him.