Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Hawkeye Handshake

                Kirstin and Mierka were sitting in the window engaged in a serious discussion last night. Something must be going on at the A Red Orchid Theater. I know their new play about the gay bar has gotten good reviews. My mouth hurts or I'd try and see it tonight. The pain is intermittent which puzzles me. Mierka had the flu last week but insisted that she's feeling much better. I nodded understandingly. Apparently this years flu vaccine was defective? I've never gotten the flu after receiving a flu shot. There is a nasty measles outbreak raging across the land. When I was a first grader I had the measles, mumps and whooping cough. I missed so much school that I should have repeated first grade but because my brother was going into first grade it was decided that for sibling rivalry purposes it was better for me to  have a tutor and proceed into second grade. In retrospect this was a bad idea. The tutors name was Mrs. Dollner and I hated her. (I still do, she was an evil harridan.) I learned virtually nothing from her. However, even if she had been competent I would have done infinitely better in sports had I repeated first grade. It seemed all through school I was competing against kids a year older than myself.
              There seems to be an entrenched group of know nothing parents that don't want their kids vaccinated. I'm sure most of these troglodytes belong to their local "Flat Earth Society " chapters. I am old enough to remember the scourge of polio. Every summer there'd be a horrific epidemic and millions of kids would die or become crippled. And then along came the Salk Vaccine and almost over night the horror of polio was eradicated. To those flaming assholes that don't believe in vaccinations I would like them explain to victims of polio why they are lucky they weren't vaccinated. I loathe stupid people. 
             PP and her libertarian boyfriend, Andy, were sitting next to me. They couldn't decide where to eat. Price seemed to be an important factor in coming to a decision. They are a peculiar couple. Although Andy strikes me as a serious man of few words PP says he has a light hearted humorous side.
             Deeming it a matter of extreme importance Ruben Four Toes asked Andy if he ate pussy?
             No one but a complete dildo brain could have  failed to grasp the sarcastic tone in which these words were spoken.
             Andy nodded and smiled before pausing irresolutely. 
            Gracie was grouchy. She needs a compliant audience at all times or she becomes bored. She said that Buzz Kill doesn't like Hawkeye's handshake. The handshake she is referring to consists of Hawkeye , after assuming the traditional handshake grip, rubbing his middle finger on the other persons unsuspecting palm. It has an unwholesome feel to it but does succeed in evoking a degree of  familiarity which he no doubt intends to convey. I'm sure he means it to be a flattering compliment, however, I can see how  some people might recoil in disgust.

               The pain from my oral surgery woke me up last night. I've had this procedure done before but I don't remember this much pain. It eventually subsided and I was able to go back to sleep. Fancypants and I both had to get up early this  morning because Tobin had some business to conduct in the bar at nine. I have to hand it to Fancypants, he arrived with bells on at six-thirty. Erica the Nurse and Jaeger knocked on the door just as we were finishing. I had run into her on the street the day before and asked her if she'd give me my vitamin B-12 shot? Jaeger is still messed up from his losing fight with a malamute at the dog park. 
             When Street Jimmy showed up he was chagrined to find out that all of the work had been completed. Tobin had left some food for him so I heated it up. Jaeger puts his nose inches from Jimmy's food while Jimmy eats. This in no way displeases Jimmy. What did displease him was that he didn't get his regular wages.
              "Can I at least borrow five dollar?"
              "Jimmy, remember what Polonius said."
              "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."
               "I ain't no borrower, all I wants is five dollar."
               After having offered him this worldly advice I said straight to the point, "okay, but I'm going to take it out of your tomorrows sweep money."
                  "Say, agreed."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Street Jimmy And Nietzsche

              I had oral surgery Tuesday and it still hurts. It is not a good idea to get into a political argument with your dentist while he is sticking needles into your gums and ratcheting some device for an implant into a bone, but I did. The fact that he would bring up his right-wing political views while pounding and twisting objects into my jaw  surprised and displeased me. It is probably just as well that I couldn't talk much with my mouth open wide. I could have done without this. The only thing I usually take for pain is aspirin and it generally works.
             Coach made a delicious vegetable soup. This was lucky because I was in no mood for much chewing. He made it just the way I like it - teeming with vegetables. Most people don't put enough stuff in their soup. He left a tupperware of soup for Street Jimmy but I pilfered it. There was plenty of other stuff in the cooler for him. 
              Ruben Four Toes said that he filled out his doctors report card in the morning.
              "They sent you an evaluation form?"
             Nodding his big fat head, "yes. And I was not happy. I gave him mostly D's and F's, and maybe one C. He doesn't listen, I told him - pay attention, I'm a lot older than you."
           "Ruben, that's a good point, just because a guy spent nine or ten years studying medicine at Johns Hopkins doesn't trump the fact that you are twenty years older than him."
           "You are  correct."
           Ruben said his sister called. "I told her not to bitch to me about family shit. She spoiled her kids, the hillbilly she married is a total loser, I said, Ali, I've got the covenant."
             Coach got a laugh out of Ruben's "covenant" remark.
            Everyone in the bar seems to be watching Wheel Of Fortune these days. Gracie is still harboring a grudge because she wasn't picked to play two years ago after her second audition. Pat Sajak reminds me of an insect in a tiny a suit. He's from a Northern suburb and he's a Republican. You never see closeups of Vana White's face anymore. She's still got a nice body but some of her dresses seem like stuff you come across in second hand stores. I'm lousy at board games and cards. Frankly, they bore me. If there is not a ball involved I don't like games of any sort.
           Grace said that Walter the Lithuanian finally made an appearance earlier in the day. He hadn't been seen for almost a year. According to Gracie and a number of other witnesses Walter ran into the bar one afternoon and went straight to the mens room. After he came out he made a hasty exit. The first person in the mens room after Walter exited said that he had shit all over the place. Gracie had to clean it up and after excoriating Walter he stopped coming in. He's a repellently ugly man, but I find him amusing at times.
            Street Jimmy was a no show Tuesday morning. His excuse was that he woke up at the Kimble Station which is the last stop on the Brown Line. They tossed him off the train and he had to beg, borrow and steal his way back to Old Town. 
              Mitt left the bar for an hour to check out Burton Place. When he came back he said that BOC is still not drinking. He's had some heart issues so perhaps BOC has seen the light. Mitt also said that Humpty and Dumpty have been hanging around Burton Place.
             "Will anyone talk to them?"
               Although Mitt is usually tactful, he said, "nobody I know talks to them. They are the worst."
               They are remarkably similar in appearance. Double-chins, pot bellies, pigs eyes, unattractive laughs and extremely unintelligent. 

               This morning Jimmy was watching for me from the window at Starbucks. He thought today was Tuesday. Even after I showed him the date on todays newspaper he doubted me.
             "Jimmy, this is serious. You have an advanced case of brain rot."
              "My brian fine."
              Fancypants said his chin feels better. "They're going to take the stitches out Monday."
                Because Jimmy doesn't sweep the sidewalk on Wednesdays he only makes five bucks. When I realized that I'd accidentally given him seven bucks I took my two bucks back. This angered Jimmy.
            "You the one tha' made the mistake. I should get to keep the money. It ain't fair."
              "Jimmy, I recommend that you  read Nietzsche. He said: 'to close the open hand out of love, and keep modest as a giver." 
             "And he goes on to ask, ' What is it: is man only a blunder of God, or God only a blunder of man?"
             "Who you talkin' 'bout?"
              "Nietzsche was a German. He didn't believe in God. He wrote the  Superman comics."
               "I likes Superman."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Voices Grow Louder

         Have to make it short. I have a dental appointment at one. As if that isn't bad enough the cleaning ladies still haven't shown up. I was on a roll and now everything has again come to a screeching halt. I could put up with the gloomy weather if it wasn't for the constant disruptions that interfere with my creativity. It would seem that society will not be satisfied until it has successfully stifled the peculiarities of my genius. I have developed a strong metaphysical interest in the nature of pure evil.  Attempting to be agreeable has become difficult for me. I rarely sleep for more than four hours a night. Naps have become increasingly important. Sneering detractors are a lamentable fact of my life. And yet I persevere bravely. The Old Town Ale House is my refuge and sanctuary. The invoking of benedictions, the indiscreet remarks and the dread allusions to physical labor are mothers milk to me. The well directed slur, a hearty laugh, a lack of self restraint, innuendo and baseless rumors are the very essence of camaraderie and conviviality. Peace and love, peace and love.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Gracie The Dream Stealer

              I've been flirting with a cold. It doesn't seem like a legit cold because it comes and goes. I'm going to have to resume pounding down vitamin C pills. I used to take them religiously but since I've been taking other pills I've been reluctant to ingest anything more than I absolutely have to.
            Last night at the Ale House I sat down next to my fat Mexican friend, Ruben Four Toes. There was no blood running from any noticeable orifice; I found this comforting. It's an awful lot to ask of him, but I seriously think he should visit his doctor and discuss his recent hemorrhaging. I'm happy to report that Ruben seems his old self. I enjoy his company much more when he is a figure of fun. 
           While I was chatting with Ruben Street Jimmy appeared out of the darkness like a vampire bat. Gracie, who seemed to be in a relatively okay mood,  gave Jimmy a beer. After draping himself over the bar stool next to Ruben Jimmy said, "Ruben, you need to go out an' piss?"
            Ruben ignored Jimmy and continued to meditate on one of his favorite topics - love. 
             "I only love my cat. The bitches all call me up but what am I supposed to do? They all want my love but I deny them." He said this dispassionately. "Love is an illusion, it doesn't last," and then he added with a clownish smile, "no one deserves my love?"
             I nodded, "certainly no one I can think of."
            Jimmy said: "I gonna make me a couple million dollars an' get off the street."
            "A couple of million what, " Ruben said mockingly, "a couple of million lice?"
            "You see," Jimmy said ignoring Ruben, "I be rich as hell." 
              After Jimmy described what  his life as a millionaire would be like, Gracie was compelled to say, "Jimmy, I suppose its none of my business, but how are you going to acquire the millions of dollars?"
              "You see." Stretching his neck, "I gots some ideas."
              If Jimmy was anticipating words of encouragement, none were forthcoming. 
               "Jimmy, have you asked Jesus for a couple of million. He answers prayers for football players all the time? Although," I added, "he doesn't like to answer prayers for sick kids too often."
             Jimmy stared at me with blank eyes, "God is good."
             "Then," Ruben said, "how come God doesn't take better car of you?"
             "He take care of me."
             After Jimmy finished his beer and sauntered back out into the gloomy shadows Gracie said, "I guess I'm a dream stealer. "
             Ruben said his cat, Gracie, is spoiled. "She has her own room." Because Ruben can't sleep on a bed and has to be elevated at all times so he can breathe he sleeps on his lazy boy in the front room. From what he says it appears that Gracie has taken over his bedroom. Ruben is increasingly defensive about not using his brand new ultra-modern electric wheel chair. "I need someone to come over and put  some bars on the wall so I can get in and out of it. You dumb motherfuckers don't seem to realize what the fuck I'm trying to tell you."
           Whatever the truth of the matter may be, what we do know for sure is that Ruben has a never used the artificial leg languishing in his closet, or the  fifteen-thousand dollar electric wheel chair in his living room. It's clear by now that  Ruben considers these costly items mere trinkets and of little importance. 
            After Ruben left I had an interesting conversation with Dado and her Texas stud muffin, Brady. I had never discussed politics with Brady before and it was fascinating listening to him defend fracking.  
            Dado stared wide eyed as he made one preposterous assertion after another. Brady is a genial, well scrubbed young man  and listening to him was dismaying and perplexing. It was an eye opener. When I pronounced Waco Texas, "whacko" he suggested I accompany him to Texas and make a movie. 
         "We'll go to Waco and other places and I'll show you how great Texas is."
          I thought there was some merit to his idea and suggested that our theme song could  be:
                You say Waco, I say whacko...
                 Brady thought this was an excellent idea. I told him I knew Daniel Vaughn, who wrote "The Prophets Of Smoked Meat," and we could do a scene eating BBQ with him, and we could also visit our radio pals at The Ticket.
             "The only problem I envision is my personal safety. Some Texans might not like me, Brady."
              Brady assured me that he knew enough gun toting Texans to  ensure  no harm would come to me. I guess the only thing we have to work out now is the best time for our "You say Waco, I say Whacko " movie. Stay tuned.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hawkeye's Robert Burns Party

              Last night while I was waiting for the Actress at the Ale House I noticed J.Z. sitting at a table. He is  professor emeritus at the Art Institute and I always enjoy chatting with him. He spends most of his time in Wisconsin these days. We are about the same age and so we naturally had to discuss our various health issues. The Actress arrived a few minutes after J.Z. left. We had been invited to Hawkeye's annual Robert Burns birthday dinner party.  She had come from another party at Lake Point Towers. 
          Hawkeye's apartment is just a short walk from the Ale House. Al, the Playwright, and his wife Norma were there, as was the Inventor and the Defense Attorney. The young couple living upstairs brought their baby girl down. She was wearing a cute plaid outfit. I think you can get a pretty good indication of temperament and personality when babies are under two and this baby seemed   delightfully cute.  Hawkeye's daughter Heather was also there with her husband. 
         Having spent most of their adult lives participating in  Chicago theater, Al and the actress naturally knew each other. Hawkeye was not wearing a kilt, he was, however, wearing a plaid apron. He is a stickler for ceremony, and Norma and Mrs. Hawkeye had to stand at attention while he read the haggis poem. The food was excellent and before and during dinner poems were read as well as comments about Burns. The highlight of the evening came when Heather, who has a marvelous voice, sang "Sweet Afton." She sounded exactly like the late, great Jean Redpath.
            The Actress had to get home and walk her dog so we left shortly after the singing of Old Lang Syne. She said she had a lovely time.

            This morning the wind was blowing and frozen rain was pelting from the East. It was hard keeping my hood on and the rain felt like tiny darts hitting my face. Street Jimmy knocked on the door a few minutes after I turned the lights on. He said Don had just gotten out of prison and wanted to go in halves on a rock.
          "I tol' him I the Lone Ranger."
           "What a scum bag. He's in prison for three years and the first thing he does is get back on crack?"
            The head preacher  at Moody Bible Church had tried to help Don. He got him a job and an apartment and how did Don repay him? He robbed his office. There was a video of the robbery so it was easy nailing him. This is why he did the three years in Stateville. 
            Fancypants jaw continues to bother him. It didn't help matters when the dumpster  lid fell and hit him on the head. He was hopping around yowling for about five minutes rubbing his jaw.
          "Do you think it's broken?"
          "No, if it was broken you'd know it. It's just sore. Hell, you had twenty stitches, it's going to be sore for a while. Just try and be a little more careful."

             I had been home for about  half an hour when I ran across Carmella on a mutual Berkeley friends Facebook page. She'd unfriended me three or four years ago and I hadn't heard from her since. This is not unusual, we have gone for as long as five-years without speaking. We ended up talking on the phone for a good hour. She seemed cheerful. When she's in a good mood she has a jolly, ringing laugh. She usually has an excellent sense of humor and at times can still manage to laugh when the joke is on her. Of course she's also subject to black moods.
            Her son still writes for Rolling Stone. He's married, has two kids, one of whom is named Poet. She says her son is a chip off the old block and has a band. It was accordingly agreed upon that we would both try and be less abrasive in the future. We have always had  a deep seated personality conflict which seems to stem from a mutual disregard for the more practical sides of life. She wants me to realize that her family follows her on Facebook and therefore I should moderate my behavior. I'll try.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mr. Cub Strikes Out One Last Time

            When I was a kid I was a huge baseball fan. In the summer I played pick up games in the park every day. I followed both the Cubs and the Sox, knew all the important batting averages as well as the history of the game. I hated the Cubs because as a kid I witnessed a horrific series of crimes one afternoon  in Wrigley Field. My Uncle Jerry had taken me to see a Cubs game and to my everlasting amazement the first time a foul ball landed in the grandstands a red-faced, loutish Andy Frain usher took the ball away from a teenager. (And not without a struggle.) The miserly owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley, had instituted a rule that year preventing the fans from keeping  foul balls. This crime against nature took place a couple of dozen more times that memorable afternoon. A kid does not soon forget something this sordid.
           The Cubs were the third to last team to sign a black player - only the racist Red Sox, and the even more racist Yankees were more socially insensitive than the Cubs. In the autumn of 1953 the Cubs first black player, Ernie Banks, appeared in the Cubs lineup.  Wrigley got lucky because not only was Ernie a  good player, but he was more than happy to Tom it up whenever the occasion demanded it. Ernie was a rare bird; a sure handed (albeit slow) shortstop that could hit for power. He was skinny in those days, but had powerful wrists. Wrigley Field was the perfect venue for him and I'm sure over the years I saw at least half of his five-hundred plus home runs.
          The Cub fans loved Ernie. They didn't mind losing, nor did Ernie. Ernie didn't like pressure nor did his lovable loser teammates and losing became a way of life for them. When Ernie retired the Cubs gave him a PR job. Because he was incapable of stringing two sentences together his job was simply to attend events. The Cubs would announce that Ernie was coming to a high school sports banquet and people would get excited and then he wouldn't show up. This was a reoccurring problem. Shortly before the Tribune bought the Cubs from the Wrigley family, they fired Ernie. 
           Ernie was a better than average golfer. Just good enough to come out to the South Side and gamble at Jackson Park and Pipe O' Peace. I played him three times. I readily admit that it was fun playing with a Hall of Fame baseball player. He prided himself on how annoying he could be. "Bruce, pro sports are all about annoying the other guys. " And he was annoying. He jingled change in his pocket when you were putting, moved around when you were addressing your ball and never shut up. The first time we pushed, the second time I lost ten bucks. He had a partner named Dewey Louis who was a good hustler and Dewey carried him that day. The third time I beat him for 65 bucks at Jackson Park. Not only did he lose to me, but he lost to two other guys. 
           He was laughing and yucking it up as he put his clubs in the trunk of his car. Before I had a chance to block his car he was in it and gone. Not only did he stiff me but he stiffed his caddy. The Jackson Park caddies were penniless street kids and the kid was stunned. I  gave him ten bucks and Leonard Jones gave the kid a fin. I saw Ernie a couple of times after that and whenever I brought up the 65 dollars he'd shuck and jive and shuffle off. Ernie was a god on the North Side with the white country club boys, however, on the black South Side we had no illusions about him.
           So now Mr. Cub has gone off to the big stadium in the sky at the age of 83. Predictably the Chicago media and the internet lemmings are gushing about Mr. Cub. I don't know if he ever had much money, but people in the bar and restaurant business are unanimous - Ernie was a cheap skate. 

           Last night Ruben Four was still bleeding from his nose. "I'm gonna need to go to the hospital and get some more blood, I think I lost a couple of units. The trouble with going to the hospital is that once I'm in there they start fucking around with my kidneys and liver. I tell them, 'hey assholes, stick to the fucking plan, don't improvise'!"
          Gracie is still talking about the previous afternoon when Ruben ate an entire bag of Oreo Cookies. When I mentioned this to him he said: "They were delicious. I ate a bag this morning with my coffee."
             "Amigo, perhaps that's not the best thing for a diabetic?"
             "I told you, after they cut off my leg off all my diabetes was gone. It must've all been in my leg."
              We should probably invoke a cover charge because how often do you get to see a four-hundred pound Mexican eat a bag of Oreo's while bleeding from the nose?
             The Actress and I are going to Hawkeyes  for his annual Robert Burns birthday celebration dinner. This is the first year I've been invited. If I didn't have such a  trusting nature I might be inclined to think it's because Mrs. Hawkeye wanted me to bring the Actress.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fancypants Shows Up, Ruben Four Toes Doesn't

              The prolonged lack of sun is having a profound effect on my delicate, very complex central nervous system. I think its time to let you all in on a little secret - the Genius is afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Though it is merely conjecture, I think the bleakness is causing me to become lackluster and out of sorts. To a less sensitive man than myself the weather is not that big a deal, in fact I know people who claim to love the winter. These people tend to be less intellectually gifted than your Einstein's and Picasso's. My views on the weather are not exactly avant garde and I know that I must summon the courage to go forth each day, if not fearlessly, at least with a stiff upper lip. These days I search the sky for a glimpse of the sun much like a performing seal eyeing  a fish.

           Last night my oldest pal, Spike, called me from Florida. His estranged wife, Verge, died of a sudden heart attack. This was a shocker! Not only was Verge only 51, but she seemed to be in perfect health. 
            "We'd been getting along better and I saw her the day before she died and we had agreed on selling the house. We even kissed each other..."
             Verge was from Dominica. She was a beautiful, dark skinned woman with a remarkable body. Spike said she had very high blood pressure and that her mother  died at 48. What makes her death doubly sad is that at Verge's insistence they adopted her niece, C.  Gracie and I visited Spike and Verge when they were living in a resort city on the New Jersey coast when C was just a little girl. Actually she wasn't that little, she was very tall for her age. From what Spike told me it appears that Verge became jealous of C and the attention she was getting from Spike. Once they moved to Florida things deteriorated to the point that Verge moved out of their house. C is now 18 and Spike is worried about how Verge's death will effect her. It was a very sad call and I had  trouble falling back asleep. 

           Ruben Four Toes was a no show last night. I wonder if his constant bleeding was the reason. Street Jimmy finds Ruben's bleeding disgusting. 
            "He be leavin' his nasty assed kleenex's all over an' I gots to sweep 'em up." 
            Jimmy said that the girl "who always be diggin' in her nose," has reappeared on the scene. "She say, Jimmy, I share a rock with you, she jus' tryin' to get in good with me. I tol' her, I gets my own rock. They lettin' all the crazy peoples out of the hospitals an' they all comin' down here. See," Jimmy's face was unmistakably serious, "if people's wouldn' be given' them money they wouldn' come aroun', I tell peoples, don' give money to peoples you don' know but they don' listen to me..."
           After Jimmy's cajoling I told Anya to give him a beer. 

                This morning a stiff and bruised Fancypants reported for duty. His chin was heavily bandaged.
              "I had been to the Planetarium and watched this phenomenal movie. I was going to stop by Brando's for a beer before I went home. While I was walking down the steps from the El a lady fell and knocked me over and I knocked over the lady in front of me. We all had to go to the hospital in ambulances. I had sixteen stitches. I had to wait for four hours before they sewed me up. The lady that fell into me was the least injured. Luckily they had a plastic surgeon sew me up. He said the scar will go away in a year..."
           "Well, the lady that fell into you must've used you as a cushion."
           Fancypants seemed to treat the incident as just another unforeseen act of god. "It could have been worse..."
            "Yeah, your nose or your cheek. I don't know if I could continue to love you if your face had an unsightly scar on it."
             Street Jimmy arrived after the work was almost concluded. 
            "You are extremely unreliable, Jimmy."
             "I overslept."
              Jimmy was barley able to sweep. I wonder how much longer he can continue like this?