Saturday, December 20, 2014

Street Jimmy In A Bad Mood

            Street Jimmy has an inability to judge wisely. He found a set of keys on the floor yesterday and instead of turning them in to the bartender immediately he kept them in his pocket for several hours before he said to me: "I thinks I found Danny's lost keys."
           "When?"
           "This afternoon."
            "Where?"
            "Right there, " pointing on the floor by the railing.
             "And where are they?"
             "In my pocket."
              After explaining to Jimmy for the hundredth time that he's supposed to turn in  lost items and not put them in his pocket he resolved not to repeat such follies in the future. The keys in question look like keys for a bike lock and are clearly not Fancypants'.  There's absolutely no basis for his ill-founded self-confidence. (He's a lot like W Bush the war criminal, he lacks even a semblance of self doubt.) Because Jimmy is much given to the pursuit of illegal drugs his judgement is impaired. Understanding that much of his life was  shaped by circumstances over which he had very little control I make allowances, however, this morning his behavior was intolerable. 
            Even when he hears you clearly he says "huh". After every question he asks he says, "you hear me?" And when he doesn't get enough sleep he becomes petulant. This is exacerbated by his general disenchantment with life. When he once again demanded hot sauce both Fancypants and I let him have it.
          "You useless little shit ball," I screamed, "get your own fucking hot sauce. I told you I don't ever want to hear the words hot sauce from your lips for the rest of my life. Can't you see we're busy."
          Fancypants drew Jimmy's ire when he pointed out that if Jimmy wasn't such a lazy good for nothing crack-head he'd go down and get his Link Card.
           Jimmy had an expression on his face of one who had been wrongly accused of a horrible crime.
           "What'd I do."
            "Mother fucker, we're trying to work and Danny's nice enough to feed you and now you want hot sauce and lemonade and look at the mess you made." I was pointing at the chips on the floor by his feet. 
            "I didn' do it on purpose, they jus' fell." 
            Jimmy was now shouting. We were all shouting. I told him to get his ass out the door. When he wanted to know  why I told him it was because I was sick of his nasty attitude.
            "I don' have no bad attitude. Danny the one yellin' at me."
           "Go."
           "Fuck you."
           "And fuck you right out the door."
           As he walked out he gave me the finger.j
            Fancypants was giggling, " can you believe him, what a sour puss."
            "I'm not letting him in anymore unless he keeps a smile on his face at all times; I'm going to insist on a cheerful Street Jimmy in the future."
              "I can't believe the mess he made."
              "Jimmy has a  very simple philosophy: he believes that what suits him, others must put up with. Fuck the little parasitic dick-wad."
             

              

Friday, December 19, 2014

Boys Will Be Boys

         Ruben Four Toes was a no show yesterday. Rubens vanity is no longer his strongest passion - what to do about his chronic poop problems is. I blush to think about the youthful man about town I used to know; Ruben was not only a gentleman of the world but a raconteur extraordinaire. As a child he was as brave a delinquent as ever packed a switchblade.  Those days when Men Were Men and Ruben Ten Toes was cock of the walk are but distant memories. The humiliation of having your once proud penis disappear into an ever expanding tsunami of blubber and balked desire has to smart. And yet Ruben's life has not been a total failure. A gambler, a profligate, and a debauchee - when it came to  the game of life Ruben  placed all of his chips on gluttony, avarice and fraud and hit the jackpot. Hopefully the big fatso is feeling better today; he's certainly in my prayers. 
             I woke up around two in the morning and so I turned on the TV. There was a program on AMC about the Western Movie Genre. It was narrated by Eli Wallach and it captured my interest. John Ford seems to get the most credit for creating the so called modern western. He was very old and had a patch over his eye during his interviews. I had seen most of the movies they showed clips from at the Tivoli Theater in Uppers Grove when I was a kid. I think the most underrated western (it wasn't mentioned) was "One Eyed Jacks.) It was Brando's only foray into directing and I thought it was excellent. It's hard to get past John Wayne's fatuous politics when you watch him amble about in cowboy boots. I don't know if its true but I've read in several different publications that he had tiny feet and that's why he has such a distinctive walk. 
          It was grudgingly acknowledged that  American westerns were overtly racist. The "Searchers" was John Wayne at his racist best. I don't suppose there was a scenario where Wayne would have actually killed Natalie Wood because she'd been soiled by Indian sperm, but it would have been interesting had he done so.

          *

         This morning I overslept yet again. It was cold out and Street Jimmy was standing in front of the bar smoking a cigarette. Buzz Kill was in his toasty car. Buzz Kill is not the kind of guy to take mercy on a  homeless crack addict and let him sit in his car. Jimmy was already high as a kite. He kept singing over and over the first couple of lines about going to work. After a couple of minutes Buzz Kill exploded.
            "Jimmy, shut the fuck up with that singing!"
             When Jimmy made no attempt to shut the fuck up I interceded.
             "Jimmy, if you can't sing the whole song, cease and desist."
              "Okay."
              When I asked Buzz Kill how his job was going he said in a lowered voice, "it's killing me."
              I could not let this go, " Jesus Christ, man up."
              His problem is that after doing physical labor most of his life he sat on his ass for the last five-years and now he's out of shape. 
            Fancypants has been cheerful lately. This, however, does not prevent him from being annoying. While Buzz Kill and I were discussing N. Korea and what to do with the round little jerk-off with the bad haircut Fancypants suggested blowing him up.
           "Danny, he has nukes. It would be a mess and afterwards there might not be a S. Korea ..."
             Buzz Kill pointed out that sanctions were working against Russia and the ruble was collapsing. 
             When I added that the Russian economy was dependent on oil Buzz Kill said, "yeah, they don't make anything."
             This caused Fancypants to go into a hysterical tirade. He used to be a tool designer and said that they used all kinds of Russian products. After five-minutes of his ranting I urged him to shut up.
             Street Jimmy seems to have resigned himself that he is no longer free to take one hour naps in the morning. It simply takes to long to get him awake and dressed. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Nation Of Hypocrites And Buffoons

            Before you crawl too far up Sony's ass for pulling the movie about the freakazoid N. Korean ruler with the bad haircut, just ask yourself when was the last time you saw a cartoon having a bit of sport with Mohammed? Never. Why? because if a paper did this the defenders of the faith would blow up the building and kill the cartoonist and his family. When you have nut boys like Putin and Kim Jong un armed with nukes you have a problem.
I have a feeling this is just the beginning and soon the whack job religious and political loony tunes will again be deciding what movies we watch and books we read. This won't be unprecedented;  for most of our history the Catholic Church along with the even more primitive Evangelical snake handlers have been imposing censorship on us, not to mention the fat-assed rat bastard political hacks that run things in the land of the free and the home of the depraved.
           Barack made the right call on Cuba. Finally! Of course the slime ball Republican flag wavers will scream and holler about human rights violations in Cuba (last I checked we are pals with China) and when they do I'd like to point out the CIA report on torture. Hell, we are guilty of horrific human rights violations in Cuba. What we do to the prisoners at Gitmo must make working in a sugar cane field seem like Club Med. 
         This morning when discussing recent world events with Fancypants and Street Jimmy, Fancypants made a remarkable statement: "After World War Two we should have just made Cuba and Puerto Rico states."
           "Really, we should have just snatched a few little sovereign countries whether they liked it or not?"
          "They would have been happy to be Americans."
          "Just for the sake of argument, what if they didn't want to be Americans. What if they wanted to be Cubans, should we have done it anyway."
            "It's no big whoop, once they saw how great we were they would have loved it."
             I had to check my anger by a supreme force of will.
           "You sound just like retarded-shit-for-brains-dumb-fucking-know-nothing-scum-sucking-Republican."
            Despite finding himself the victim of my lacerating wit he  smiled. It was a  gentle, serene smile. Resting his chin thoughtfully against the end of his mop handle he said: "Jimmy, what do you think?"
            "I think this sandwich your mamma made for me is damn good."
             "I mean about having relations with Cuba?"
              Rubbing bread crumbs from his mouth with the back of his hand Jimmy said: "They jus' like Mexicans. We gots too many Mexicans an' they takin' all our jobs." As he said this his voice gradually sunk very low and you could hear his stertorous breathing.
             "You two are a microcosm of everything wrong with the so called average American. We are a nation of misguided, know nothing buffoons and you two illustrate this to perfection."
             "Hey Danny, " Jimmy said raising his voice, "tell your mamma thanks for the sandwich."
              After Fancypants assured Jimmy he'd relay his message he leaned over to me and said in a lowered voice, "my mom said, the poor dear is homeless, let me make him a nice sandwich."

           *

           Last night Buzz Kill and Hawkeye had words. Buzz Kill was ripped which was not surprising for someone who starts knocking down rum and cokes at noon and doesn't go home until eight.
           Mrs. Clown has become a regular again. She wants to do something with the Baby Ruben T-shirts. She said Clown could sell them if I made them with brighter colors. Although I listened to her carefully I have no idea what she was talking about. Doubtless, the Baby Ruben T-shirts would be great stocking stuffers for any precocious child on your gift list.
          South Side Tony stopped by. A few minutes later the Turk ambled in. When I told the Turk that Tony drove for Uber he told Tony that he drove for Lift. The Turk is very defensive, especially after getting shit canned from Uber and so he attacked Uber. Tony just shrugged it off.
            
             
           

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

To Rat Or Not To Rat, That Is The Question

              Yesterday morning the cleaning ladies forgot their keys and I had an eleven-thirty date with the Actress. I wanted to be at my scintillating, witty best for the actress so I grabbed my first nap on the wooden bench at the Ale House while Fancypants was cleaning. This is the bench that Street Jimmy usually sleeps on and so Fancypants offered to spray it before I arranged my makeshift bedding. In order to take possession of the bench I had to shoo Jimmy out of the bar after he finished dining. This displeased him. I used my vest as a pillow and my coat as a blanket. In spite of the banging and clanging going on around me (Fancypants is a very noisy porter) I managed to catch a couple of winks before I rang the Actresses' doorbell. 
           She has a lovely town house directly across the street from me. Its bigger and has a more comfy design than the condo I am presently residing in. She had never been inside the condo so I gave her a  tour. This was a perfect time because it had just been cleaned. I'm not a pig, but I'm not Mr. tidy-boy, either. She seemed to like the layout (probably because of the abundance of great art work) but refused to swap residences. The Actress has a feisty border terrier who likes to scratch my leg with her paws. Her dog is much friendlier that the border terriers-from-hell that live down the driveway at the Dunes house.
          The first order of business was lunch. We had planned on going to a Japanese restaurant on Lincoln Avenue but it was closed. Given that we were close to Lincoln Square we thought we'd go there. She suggested a joint called Daley's. As I was parking my car Eddy Holstein walked by. I hadn't seen Eddy since his major health scare a couple of years ago. Eddy is a Chicago folk singer. His late brother Fred was also a prominent folk singer and they had a folk music joint on Lincoln years ago. Alas Eddy has porked-up again and was not moving very efficaciously. 
           Daley's was okay for bar food. I liked the waitress. I wasn't able to finish my macaroni or my beer. The Actress said she enjoyed her white fish. She is never boring; I was particularly struck by her description of  several of her previous love objects. She has very fixed opinions on the subject of relationships and fidelity. We disagreed about ratting out friends and associates that we know are cheating on their mates. I would never do this while the Actress considers it a moral obligation. I will have to leave this to her conscience. Being a trained actress she can speak in a number of dramatic tones, and her facial expressions can be equally dramatic; during our fidelity argument she compressed her well shaped, too proud lips into a serious pout that I found irresistible.  
          Our destination was Architectural Artifacts. It is a huge warehouse in Ravenswood filled with treasures from all over the world culled from about to be demolished buildings. The Ale House bought several church pews from them five-years ago. I was sure she'd  enjoy seeing the collection of bizarre items and she was. Among the many things we have in common is a similar preoccupation with non-utilitarian forms of knowledge. We spent a good hour perusing the entire three floors. 
          
          At seven o'clock we walked down to the Ale House. Gracie wanted me to bring her some food. Ruben Four Toes was there. It was a gastro- intestinal ailment free day for the cherubic slab of blubber.  He seemed in good spirits for a  change.  When they wheeled him out to the Pace van his unwieldily body jiggled in the wheel chair like a barrel of spilled axle grease. 
           The icy needles had stopped falling by the time we walked  home.

              *

            This morning Jimmy was waiting for me. He said he'd slept most of the night on the El. "I slept good. A young buck say he wanted to be like me so I showed him the ropes of sleepin' on the El an he say he slept damn good too."
           Jimmy thinks I've crossed the line. "You can't be goin' with other women in front of Grace. She  gonna tell her mamma on you."
            "She better not if she knows what's good for her."
            "If you was my daddy and you was cheatin' on my mamma I'd tell on you."
              "You'd snitch on me if I was your daddy?"
              Jimmy pondered this question briefly. "Well, maybe not. I'm leaving tha' shit alone...Tha' ain't nothin' to play with."
             Fancypants lost his bar keys.
            "Fancypants, that's because your pants are too tight. Can't you wear a  key ring around your belt?"
            Fancypants stared at me as if I was speaking Cantonese. 
            "It's no big whoop, I'll pay for a new set. I would never  have one of those janitor key rings, they look awful."
              When Jimmy asked him how his mom was he said, "she was crazy today. She said she was going to sell the house and throw my stuff down the sewer. Yesterday she told me she didn't know what she'd do without me. " 
             Both Fancypants and Jimmy thought this was extremely funny.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Street Jimmy Gets A Geography Lesson From Fancypants

            Street Jimmy told me the reason he missed work on Sunday was because he had to go to the hospital. "The lady doctor who look after me wasn' there an' they made me wait a long time an' then the dude gave me an attitude an' wouldn' let me take a shower so I couldn' get here on time."
           "That is so unfair, Jimmy."
           Jimmy's continues to resist my endearments. He hates it when I call him sweety, poopsy, darling or honey bunch. He insists real men don't talk to each other like that. I told him that only real men, secure in their manhood, can talk to each other like that.
          After I handed him his sweeping money and called him sweetie there was an expression on his face that could only be described as a scowl..
           "Jimmy, you seem to have no qualms about hurting my feelings. Can't you see that I'm desperate for love? Fancypants, you love me, don't you?"
           Fancypants looked up from his mopping and said with a giggle, "of course I love you."
           "Jimmy, you are a very cruel man. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that our entire relationship is based on money."
           Jimmy did nothing to dispel this notion.
           Watching Jimmy devour the soup Fancypants prepares for him is nothing short of remarkable. He prefers a fork to a spoon when eating soup. When I asked him why he shrugged and said it was just something he's been doing since he was a kid.
            Jimmy never tires of listening to Fancypants talk about his two parakeets and Fancypants never tires of telling us about their latest antics.
            Jimmy said that he had to check the Indian at Dunkin' Donutes.
            Fancypants was confused, " what do you mean check?"
            "Danny," I explained, "check is street for straighten out. So Jimmy, what did you have to check him for?"
             "He tellin' me what to do. He the son, his mamma is the boss."
             "No Jimmy, the kids the boss . Indian's always let the boys run things."
              When Jimmy seemed to confuse East Indians with American Indians Fancypants tried to explain the difference to him. "Jimmy, the Dunkin' Donuts Indian's are not the same as the kind you see in cowboy movies, they're from India."
             "We took their land."
             "Do you know where India is?"
              It soon became clear that Jimmy's knowledge of geography was sketchy. No, he had never heard of India and thought China was in Africa. Unfortunately we didn't have a map of the world handy.
            After Fancypants tried to explain how Columbus thought he could reach India by sailing around the world and then stumbled upon our continent instead and declared the natives Indians Jimmy was totally lost.
           "I didn' go to school much when I was a kid."
            Pridmore dropped off a bag of  gifts. He gave me a very nice book of vintage posters along with the "Fetish Art Of John Shuster." I loved the drawings in "Fetish Art." We'll have to get Pridmore something.
             I am confused by several strange bird sightings. Two days ago I saw a pair of Robin's pecking the ground in front of the condo.  And today I saw an interesting brown bird in the very same spot. It was a bit smaller than the Robins and had a white breast with brown spots. I find this odd.
          I think I might have acid reflux. I'm going to attempt to self diagnose on the internet. I'm also going to try and get Gracie to post my radio interview on my blog. Its well worth listening to.

http://wgnradio.com/2014/12/15/tavern-tales/

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Genius On WGN

              I had a busy morning. Had to get up earlier than usual, make sure the bar was set up and then walk down to the Tribune Building. Rick Kogan was subbing for WGN's regular ten o' clock radio host and he invited the Genius, Jeff from the Billy Goat, and Colin from The Red Lion to be his guests. The subject was saloons; this is a subject that the three of us are all experts on. The radio studio faces the street and so people watching is always interesting. I was on another show on WGN a few years; it was right after I did my Blago painting , "Cavity Search." I've been friends with Jeff and Rick a long time but it was the first time I've met Colin. He's got a million one-liners and Jeff dubbed him "Rodney Dangerfield." 
           Rick is no stranger to bars and so the interview never lagged. The Red Lion was designed in the classic English pub style. I haven't been there since the extensive remodeling was completed but am looking forward to doing so. Colin, who is the owner-bartender said his dad was an authentic Limey. 
           Jeff has been bar tending at the Goat for as long as I can remember. He is a man of learning and experience, and being myself a man of the world it is easy to see why the two of us get along so well. If you were writing a history of Chicago journalism Jeff McGill and Rick Kogan would be two men you'd have to interview. Rick's dad, Herm, is my favorite Chicago historian and Rick obviously shares his dads passion for the city. Jeff has seen all the great journalist (as well as the not so great) up close and personal and he's got the stories to prove it.
            Rick gave me the okay to give my pal Liz Garabay (aka Pub Crawl Liz) a plug. She does historical Chicago pub crawls and her company is : History On Tap, www.Tavern History.Com  . We discussed real saloons and phony saloons (the twenty flat top TV screens bars that are spreading through the city like an electronic ebola are the phony saloons.) It was a fun hour and Rick seemed pleased after we finished. 
             I walked to Rush and Division with Colin before we parted. He wanted to stop by Barnes and Noble and I had to keep going because Fancypants had locked himself out of the Ale House. He'd gone to the hardware store and gotten Jose to call Tobin. Unfortunately for Fancypants, Tobin is in Florida. This was news to me but then again she never tells me either where she's going or for how long. I've never had a business partner before but I expect this is unusual behavior for most business partners. Apparently she didn't  bother to tell Gracie either. Jose didn't have my number so he called Gracie who called me. I had planned on stopping for lunch but had to abort my plans in order to rescue Fancypants. He was standing in front of the bar with a sheepish grin on his face. I gave the dear fellow a consolatory pat on the back before I unlocked the gate. 
          He is a man of imperfect judgment, but then again who among us is not. He said because his pants are so tight it's uncomfortable to carry  keys in his  pocket.
          "As soon as I closed the door I realized I locked myself out. I'm such an idiot." He seemed to greatly enjoy his self deprecating comment. 
            When I invited him to join me at Topo Gigio for lunch he said that he'd be delighted. When we sat down at our table I noticed Sleepy John sitting in the corner. I almost never see either him or his special gal, The Artist, anymore. He is a fashionista and never appears on the street unless he is stylishly dressed and well-groomed. He must take hours at his toilet. 
            Fancypants said I was outstanding on the radio show. 
           "The show was not only entertaining but informative. You guys were all real funny. "
             "Yes," I nodded, "I could sense how great we were. We could've gone on for a couple more hours."
            "Can if be downloaded?"
            "Yeah."
              I had the salmon and he had a  mushroom dish which he said was to die for. My pea soup and my salmon were both excellent. Fancypants decided to take half of his mushroom dish home for his mother. 
             "She loves mushrooms."
               I'm going to need a nap right now.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Unexpected Visitors

            Street Jimmy is increasingly difficult to understand. His mumbling and lack of articulation  are certainly a factor, but not the only cause of his inability to convey basic information. He's always been given to circumlocution, and his range of conversation is certainly limited, but as recently as a  year ago he was capable of occasionally describing an event in a lively, entertaining manner. His senses are clearly dulled and he reminds me of a sick pigeon with ruffled plumage. Could it be the large amounts of crack he smokes on a daily basis? One wonders. 
           It was painful listening to him attempting to explain why he was so tired. The gist of it seemed to be that an employee of Starbucks woke him up three separate times. 
          "How ya gonna get any rest?"
          Another unhappy occurrence took place when a fellow bum swiped Jimmy's bag of coffee during one of his brief naps. This affront  he could not forgive. "I catch the muthafucka I fuck him up good." After Jimmy described the depraved street person that purloined his coffee it was clear that he was the most unwholesome, disgusting,  nasty assed rapscallion that it had ever been Jimmy's ill fortune to meet. I didn't ask Jimmy how the bag of Starbucks coffee had to come into his possession in the first place. 
        Moments later, after searching his duffel bag, Jimmy realized that not only had the evil bum stolen his coffee, but his can of soup as well.
            His tirade concluded,  I cautioned him against murdering the culprit.
           "Jimmy, murdering a guy over soup is risky. Does the punishment really fit the crime?"
           "You right, I won't murder him but I probably bash his head with a  brick."
             "That's a much more appropriate, even keeled response."
            Mrs. Clown continues to have phone problems. The cause of her difficulties is getting drunk and leaving her phone at various bars. She's left her phone at the Ale House two out of the last three nights. When people called her yesterday morning I answered her phone in my Mrs. Clown voice: "Hi, this is Mrs. Clown, whoever this is I'm horny as hell and if you can over here right now I'll suck your dick."
             Whoever was calling hung up each time without making a reply.      
            When Anya showed pictures of her recent trip to Costa Rica to Street Jimmy he was quite impressed. He felt she had placed her life in extreme danger by taking  photos of alligators and snakes. 
              "Tha' scary shit."
             Fireman Rick and his girlfriend Bridget have come in the bar the last two nights. It's been almost a year since he last stopped by. He showed us the pictures of his mangled knee. After pulling two people from a burning building  he went back in to see if there was anyone else and a brick wall collapsed on his leg. The pictures of his leg were gruesome  and he is still having a tough time walking. His radio had not worked (the city knows these radios are lousy) and his men barely got him out before the stairway became engulfed in fire. He could retire but he loves being a fireman and so will continue with his therapy regimen.
             Ruben Four Toes once again had to make an unscheduled exit. His capricious bowels continue to play havoc on the frustrated, beer guzzling one-legged Mexican. The intestinal problems have had a profound effect on his disposition; his brightness is diminished, and he is no longer the cheerful, gay caballero we all have learned to love so well. 
           We are running out of Sara Palin naked neckties and if anyone knows a silk screener that does ties please let me know.

              Last night Danny Kerwin, the famous New Orleans poet dropped by the bar. Grasshopper told me he was coming to town.  "Airline Highway," which is opening tonight at the Stepenwolf Theater has a character based on him. The playwright, Lisa D'Amour, is a good friend of Danny's and she even used a few of his lines in the manuscript. She wrote the play "Detroit" last year, and it received good reviews and went on to New York. Danny's going to be in town for a week. If I ever get to New Orleans I'll be sure to look him up because he seems to know the town better than anyone I've ever met. Ida also lives there and I'm sure she'd  be thrilled to see me.

          Vastina, the bartender from Bartlett's, which is a bar in Beverley Shores Indiana, also dropped by with some friends. I haven't seen her in over a year. She used to be a Dunes neighbor of mine. She was looking especially good and says she's been talking to the Greek at long last. The Greek was her boyfriend and we had a fun Dunes summer a couple of years ago. She said she occasionally talks  to her friend, the Big Blond. The Big Blond got married and kind of disappeared to Frankfort Illinois. She was certainly a  fun companion and I miss her. Our little gang dissolved almost overnight at the end of that memorable summer. 
          Vastina's acquaintances  consisted of two Romanian women, a middle-aged Irishman, and a sultry, husky voiced fellow Indianian.  
         The Irishman was a character. He said his  father, who was quite elderly, still ran his own pub back in Ireland. The husky voiced gal was the cuddly, friendly type; she seemed to secrete sex from her every pore.
          Less than a minute after they left some ditzy broad broke the  East window. She tried to open it with one of the locks still fastened. So it's going to be another two-fifty and a months wait to replace it. Marshal Field helped me put cardboard over it. Butkovich , who was in Wisconsin picking up his butchered venison, said he'd board it up Monday. Lemar said the asshole broad didn't even say she was sorry when she left. It's lucky that one member of the ownership makes it his business to be present nightly.

         A reliable informant told me he walked by a pastry shop on Wells St. yesterday and saw Hawkeye talking to Pub Crawl Liz through the window. This is indeed good news. Perhaps there will be another trip to Scotland this coming August, after all.