Friday, October 9, 2015

Anthony And The Genius - Part Two

              The reason I didn't have time to write my blog for the last couple of days is because I was busy hosting Anthony Bourdain and his Parts Unknown crew at the Ale House. A word of explanation: A little over a month ago I was contacted by Lucien, one of Anthony's producers, and informed that Anthony had not only decided to bring his popular TV show to Chicago, but wanted to make the Ale House and the Geriatric Genius its focal point. Although this news surprised me, it did not shock me. Anthony is not only a talented writer and a popular TV personality, he is also a very shrewd business man. Having discovered the Genius on his Layover show several years ago, he wisely reasoned that his new show would give him sufficient time  to delve more deeply into just what makes the Genius tick. One of the key elements of his TV show is the pursuit of novelty, and if there is a more novel bar in the US than the Ale House, I'm not aware of it.
            I hadn't talked to Anthony since our ill-fated book deal. The book had been completed, edited, the graphics arranged, and a publication date set. All I had to do was get a final approval from the lawyers at Harper Collins. Anthony and I share the same agent, and she assured me that although the lawyer I was going to be dealing with was a bit on the brusque side, she was fair and I could be frank with her. With ill-founded self-confidence I listened patiently to the lawyers harsh assessment of what she had just read. At least for awhile. She used the words libelous and defamatory frequently. It soon became clear that she hated not only me, but my amusing, take no prisoners account of the Ale House and its madcap, zany customers. Being a man of limited patience, I responded to her poorly thought-out, humorless criticisms in a rather brutish manner. Some might accuse me of an inability to judge wisely when my dander is up and I won't argue the point…I admitted to Anthony that in retrospect I could have used a  touch more finesse with the shrewish harridan lawyer. I did, however, suggest that perhaps I could have been prepped a little more thoroughly by our agent. 
            If Anthony was disappointed in my behavior during my  conversation with the Harper Collins lawyer and the ensuing collapse of our book deal, he has clearly forgiven me. Anthony is a man who holds grudges, so I couldn't have pissed him off too much. As luck would have it he has shown up in Chicago just a few days after my eagerly awaited Last Night At The Old Town Ale House is FINALLY being sold on Amazon. This was indeed fortuitous. 
              Tuesday some of the TV crew came in the bar after their plane landed to check out the bar and my basement art studio. Michael, the head producer, after looking around the bar and my magnificent paintings, smiled and said, "this bar is so Tony I can't  believe it."
              I will give a detailed report on what transpired at the Ale House earlier in the week as soon as I have sufficient time. Because he's finished with the Ale House I am now free to mention  he's in town. I'm going to do three more segments with Anthony away from the Ale House. This is certainly going to be fun, as I've already had some fascinating conversations with him. 
             Street Jimmy seemed pleased to be the first person to shake Anthony's hand Wednesday. Fancypants had a bloody nose and couldn't hang around to say hi. He said yesterday his nose started bleeding so badly after he left the bar a police car picked him up and drove him to Northwestern Hospital. "The cop was super nice. The nurse immediately took me in a room and shot a needle in my nose and it stopped the bleeding instantly. She also gave me some allergy pills and a prescription. Oh, and she gave me some anti-anxiety pills and told me not to take them until I got home. After I took them I felt great and I slept real good."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

            I will not be writing a blog until Saturday. I have a good reason. Peace and love.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Tense Morning At The Old Town Ale House

              Fancypants and I engaged in a heated argument about the changing of a lightbulb. Although he's terrified of heights, and won't go more than a couple of feet up a ladder, he insisted that I was wrong, and the fixture wasn't broken on a track light, and it was simply a matter of changing a burned out bulb. I explained to him in the simplest, most direct manner I could that Butcovich and I had determined it was broken. The idiot than climbed up on the window ledge precariously and tried to remove the light bulb. After removing it he unscrewed a lighted bulb. Of course it was hot and after  an incommodious, shrill yelp he tossed the hot bulb to me. This displeased me because it burned my delicate hands. The reason he unscrewed the working bulb was to show me that when he put it in the malfunctioning tract light, it would work. I told him I would not allow him to put it in the tract light without a ladder. More harsh words were exchanged. Tobin, who was cleaning shelves, and who was already in an odious mood, glared at the two of us with unforgiving, contemptuous eyes.
          Earlier I had falsely accused her Belgian attack dog of cracking a window. I thought I detected  a crack in the middle of some dog paw prints on the window. Tobin said in a dry hard voice, "there is no way my dog broke a window." This was not the young girl I met over thirty years ago with the frank and winning manners I had become so enamored of. Alas, her beauty, gaiety, and the delightful ring of her laughter are now but distant memories. It turned out that what I perceived to be a crack was from crinkled scotch tape.  It is impossible not to be aware of the general disenchantment she harbors for her ex-husband. There had not been an explosive quarrel, and yet it was clear that there was yet another mark made against me, and that one way or another some where down the line I was going to be made to pay.
            Fancypants conceded that the tract light fixture was indeed broken after I screwed the live bulb in. Fancypants' vanity is his strongest passion. When he's proven wrong he shrinks away like a chastened child. His eyes looked melancholy, although his lips wore a smile. It was a sickly smile.
          While this was transpiring Ravel was vomiting out of my radio. My hatred for Ravel grows weekly. Whenever I hear his music I am reminded of a dentists drill. 
          After Street Jimmy had been fed and Fancypants finished cleaning, I  curled up on the padded bench and took a much needed nap. The cleaning ladies come to the condo  the first Tuesday of every month and so I didn't want to go home. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Deceptive Concealment

               Irrational people are difficult to deal with. Their poverty of knowledge seems to make them impulsive and resistant to discussing the simplest problems. Worst of all they tend to surround themselves with ignorant, simple minded people. This is very depressing.


           When the doomsayers were predicting the talent challenged Chicago Bears football team would probably not win a game this year, I disagreed. True, the Bears are a very bad team, with a terrible organization, and overseen by a horrific owner, nevertheless, there are plenty of other teams in the NFL that are just as awful. The Oakland Raiders proved my point yesterday in Soldier Field. Ever since their late owner Al Davis became senile, they have floundered even worse than the Bears. Their coach, Jack Del Rio, who was a better than average NFL football player, pretty much lost the game for the once proud Raiders. All he had to do was pick up a third and two with a few minutes to go, and his team would have won. Both Del Rio, and the Bears Coach John Fox are timid coaches. Neither coach is a competent game coach. The previous Bear coaches all did an abysmal job of stratagizing and clock management. Lovie Smith was the worst I've ever seen, and being a Bear fan I've seen plenty of reprehensible decisions made over the years. 
             When the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985, it was because of Defensive coach, Buddy Ryan. Ditka was just a cheerleader and stayed out of Ryan's way. Coach Fox at least has a discernible pulse which makes him a huge improvement over Trestman, Lovie and Jauron. QB Cutler played his normal game even with his hamstring injury. Some good plays, and a couple of horrible plays. Because the backup QB, Clauson, is not fit to QB a Division Two college team, the Bears are stuck with the lackluster, overpaid Cutler. Cutler, by the way, is being paid more than both Green Bays Aaron Rogers, and New England's Tom Brady. 
              Buzz Kill used to be one of the most focused Bear game viewers in the Ale House. He hated idle chatter or distracting noises while the games were on. This is no longer the case. He babbled incessantly throughout the game about boring unrelated matters. There were only five of us watching the game, and his chatter was extremely annoying. Hopefully this well meaning rebuke will jar his conscience. 


           Street Jimmy looked up at me from under his eyelids this morning. Leaning against his broom he said, "Sergio was in  las' night."
             "Oh yeah, what did he have to say?"
             "He say Al Capone fucked his grandaddy up. His grandaddy had a bootleggin' business an' Capone muscled him outa it. He hate Capone. I tol' him that Capone only steal from the rich an' give to the poor."
              "Not quite Jimmy, he stole from everyone. He did have soup kitchens in Cicero during the Depression, but I think that was just for show."
             Jimmy shook his head, "uh, uh. He was cool as hell. They call him scarface. 


          I went to Walgreens to have the nurse give me my vitamin B-12 shot this morning. You have to arrange to see the nurse with a touch screen TV thing. After a couple of minutes of trying to figure it out I said fuck it and left. I'm going to have to learn how to load up the hypodermic needle myself.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I Made A Valiant Effort To See Ten Cent Whore

               Yesterday at five I walked from my place to Damen, Milwaukee and North Avenue to see Ten Cent Whore. Kim, our new bartender, lives on the corner and she said it was about a forty or fifty minute walk. The wind was whipping off of the lake so it was at my back. Had it been coming from the West I would have hopped the North Avenue Bus. Wicker Park is definitely a happening place these days. When I was a kid it was a dreary dangerous place. There were crowds of young people scurrying in and out of the myriad bars and restaurants. The play was being performed in a well known arts building at 1579 Milwaukee. The poster for the play at the Ale House said there were  going to be six-thirty and eight thirty performances. I had no idea how difficult it would be to get tickets so before I found a bar to kill time I thought I'd buy my ticket. This proved difficult for several reasons: Reason number one -- because the building is a maze of studios and there were no signs pointing out which floor the play was being performed. After walking around the building for a while I asked a few of the young people I ran into if they knew where the play was being performed. A light skinned black guy said he vaguely remembered seeing a poster on the first floor giving the details. As I was walking back down the stairs I ran into Aislinn Kerchaert, the writer and star of the play. She asked me why I was so early. 
           "The plays at six-thirty, so I thought I'd make sure I got a ticket."
            She smiled. She has a marvelous smile. Not only does she have a marvelous smile, she has an amazing face. This chick is drop dead gorgeous. Selma Hyak gorgeous.  The reason she was smiling was because they only have six-thirty and eight-thirty performances on Friday, not Saturday. "There's only one eight o'clock show on Saturdays." 
          Once again I had fallen victim to imperfect judgment. I apologized to Aislinn for fucking up. "At least I made an effort," I said meekly. 
         Rather than walk back to Old Town against the wind I hopped the 72 North Avenue Bus. By the time I got to Wells Street I was hungry. I decided to give the new restaurant on the corner a try. The only complaint I'd heard about the place was the prices were too high. There were only a few people in there when I sat down. I like the decor, and they were playing classical music. This is a huge plus for me, and makes paying a buck or two more well worth it. I hate unpleasant noise while I'm eating. I had a shrimp, avocado and spicy corn tartine on toast. It was quite tasty, however, the overly attentive waiter served it to me on a white ceramic platter. A small platter. It was difficult keep my food on the small platter. The next time I'm going to ask for a fucking plate. 
           The Notre Dame, Clemson game was on the Ale House TV. When Clemson took the lead I was afraid to watch the game. It kills me when Notre Dame stages a come from behind victory. Fortunately, Notre Dame, after almost tying the game up with seven seconds to go, ran a stupid running play for the two-point conversion, and lost. 


           This morning Gracie called. She says she came out unscathed during the hurricane threat rampaging along the East Coast. After she purchased her survivalist gear and assumed a fetal position on her living room couch, her husband grabbed his surf board and headed for the Chesapeake Bay to catch the great waves. She said the two of them are enjoying the DINK lifestyle. When I asked her what the DINK lifestyle was she said, "double income, no kids." She said Son In Law was going to be in Chicago in a couple of weeks on business. She said she likes her new job selling women's clothes, and she's up for a promotion next week. She wanted me to say hi to everyone for her.
          Fancypants said he saw Transalvanian Hotel 2 yesterday. "It was really great. It was about a vampire who runs a hotel where monsters go. One of the vampires had a baby with a human and he was worried it wasn't going to be a vampire, but it was and so he was happy. It was in Three-D , and it was the best I ever saw. The only bad thing was the man sitting behind me, he had a really annoying laugh and he kept laughing the whole movie."
          I'm going back to the bar now to watch the inept Bears play Oakland.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Baby Steps

               I know people are buying my soon to be best seller, Last Night At The Old Town Ale, I just don't know how many people because I still can't develop an author page. The Author Page gives you hourly information about sales, as well as where they're geographically coming from. It's also a way to promote my book. I did talk to a lawyer at Harper Collins yesterday; as soon as he realized I only wanted to resolve the issue of the ISBN number, and not pursue legal action, he became very helpful. I also heard from my agent last night that he is on the case. I am an instant gratification lad and so you can imagine how all these delays, as well as all the facile conjecture surrounding these delays, have caused me to feel ill-appreciated, and profoundly despondent. The important thing is that my book is finally available to my adoring public. I've had to light a series of fires under Charles extremely busy ass; because of the way he set things up it is only he that can do certain things like order the books at cost. I'm sure all this can be rectified soon. Charles is training for the Marathon next Sunday for reasons known only to Charles. He attempted to run the Marathon a few years ago and only made it to the eighteen mile mark. Apparently his attractive wife, On-A-Leash, runs marathons all the time. Hence, communicating with Charles can be very frustrating.
        I hadn't given much thought to a formal book signing, however, D-Train thinks it would be an excellent idea, and wants to video tape it if I decide to have one. Perhaps D-Train is right. I'll give it some thought.
            I've been reading my book for the last several days. (Which I why I haven't finned Angie Duran's book.) I wince every thirty or forty pages when I come across a minor typo. There's nothing I can do about typos at this stage of the game. The next time  I publish a book, I will insist on reading a hard copy before it is released to the public. It's much easier to spot typos on paper than a  computer screen. Charles still hasn't explained to me how the text style was chosen. Even with it's tiny text flaws, I am in awe of the amazing world I have brought to life on the printed page, as well as my brilliant, at times breath taking, prose. I take unique delight in the people I've already offended, and look forward to all the countless people I have yet to offend. I admit I have a prurient interest in the mindless conjecture of ignorant onlookers. I have always taken great pride in the type of enemies I've engendered over the years. To my loyal friends I am a man of pleasure and a gay companion. To my legions of enemies and detractors, I am considered an unwholesome, disgusting, guttersnipe. By the way, I don't consider this  necessarily a bad thing. 
            When I was talking to the lawyer at Harper Collins, I mentioned the previous problems that I'd encountered with one of his colleagues in the law department. Three years ago, the women lawyer in question, made it clear that she hated me, my book, and all the characters in my book. She said it was the most libelous, slanderous book that had ever crossed her desk. It was impossible not to take notice of these rather harsh words -- they clearly were meant to contain a troubling innuendo. She had prefaced her attack  by saying: "Mr. Elliott, in a perfect world you would have releases from all your characters or else they'd be dead…"  Well in two weeks that perfect world came into existence. Unfortunately by then they'd already pulled the plug on my book, hence the rogue ISBN number still floating about the internet. I have learned a lot over the last three years, and continue to become more educated about the wonderful world of book publishing on a weekly basis. Charles is having fifty books sent to the Ale House. They should arrive at the end of the week. Hopefully by then my problems with Harper Collins and Amazon will be resolved. Baby steps.
          Oh, when I asked Charles if he wanted me to hand him the money for the books when he ran by the Ale House during the Marathon, he said he thought that would be "funny."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Cold Weather

           I still haven't resolved my problems with my Amazon author page. As I haven't heard from my agent, who should be handling my problem with Harper Collins, I will attempt to contact Harper Collins myself. It is they, Harper Collins, who fucked up, not I. (I think that's grammatically correct.)

           Street Jimmy's been sleeping outside in the cold. When he came in this morning he had a new blanket still in its plastic wrapper. "Somebody left it next to where I be sleepin' las' night."
           "Wasn't that nice…"
           "They left one for all the other guys sleepin' behind the church."
            "As long as it's still in the plastic, you can leave it here."
             Jimmy continues to insist that he's going to get his life together. "I'm tired of livin' like this. It's gettin' cold…"
             "You say this every year at this time."
            Jimmy looked vexed, "see, you always gotta be negative, tha's why I keep takin' drugs."
            "You keep taking drugs because I'm negative? Okay, how about this, Jimmy, I have complete confidence in your ability to quit taking drugs after twenty years on the street and never having stayed in rehab for more than two days. I can see the determination in your eyes that you have finally decided to quit crack once and for all, and that from this moment on I'll never see you heading over to the crack dealer…"
            He paused and looked meditative, "I didn' say I was gonna quit right now, I jus' said I was gettin' close to quitin'."
           "Of course, and I have complete confidence in your ability to pick the proper time to stop going to the crack dealer on Hudson Street ten times a day."
            Jimmy divined an attempt at sarcasm at his expense, but did not seem to understand exactly what it was. 
           When Jimmy said a white bitch mouthed off to him on Wells Street, and he had to set her straight, I made a suggestion: "Jimmy, every time you tell somebody in the neighborhood to go fuck themselves, you make them mad. And then they tell the cops and then the cops come down on you. The next time somebody berates you,  smile your sweetest smile and say, 'I'm sorry madam, I had no intention of offending you, and wish to apologize from the bottom of my heart."
          Jimmy smiled, "yeah, tha'  be funny as hell."
          "Or you could say, I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive a poor homeless beggar for his rudeness…"
           "Yeah, tha' good too."
            "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar."
             "Wha' you mean about flies an' vinegar?"
             "I withdraw my metaphor."


           Somebody tossed out some nice clothes and two perfectly good blankets and so Fancypants picked out a nice pair of pants and two shirts for himself, and said he'd save the blankets for Jimmy. "How can people toss out perfectly good clothes. Why not donate them to the Salvation Army."
          "People are thoughtless."
           Last week Fancypants discovered another cache of clothing and lugged them over to Catholic Charities.


           Last night Touhy, Frenchy and Barry Marks came in. Frenchy said he flew in from Paris to say good bye to Vince C. Unfortunately Vince died a few hours before he arrived. Vince had been ill with throat cancer for a number of years. Frenchy, Touhy and Barry were all friends of Vince's. 
         When Frenchy inherited his mothers apartment in Paris he moved back to France. He stopped by the Ale House last year to bid me adieu but I wasn't present at the time. Back in the late 70's Frenchy had a marvelous little restaurant on Armitage west of Halsted called the Gare St. Lazaar. At the time the neighborhood was plagued by Puerto Rican gangs, and eventually he had to move out. Unfortunately he never managed to find a suitable place to recreate what he had at the Gare.
            The three of them had obviously had a few drinks before they got to the Ale House. Frenchy seemed to be taking Vince's death especially hard. When I said that I thought Vince and I had eventually patched up our well documented differences, Frenchy shook his head, "Bruce, I don't think so. I think he hated you to the day he died."
            Touhy said he was present the night Vince and I had our epic fight in the Ale house thirty years ago. 
          "Nobody would break the fight up, " I said, "and Vince was a big guy."
            "Yeah, " Frenchy nodded, "and he was fast on his  feet."
            "He started the fight. Somebody at O'rourke's put him up to going after me. I was sitting in the window with Tobi when he came up and started shit. I told him to at least have the common courtesy to take it outside, that Be a and Art were friends of mine, but he grabbed me and it took all I had to get him out the door. I knew if he ever got on top of me I was toast. He had to be almost a hundred pounds heavier than I was."
           Touhy seemed confused, " I thought you guys were fighting on the Weiland Street side of the bar…"
            "That was the second fight. That fight got broken up fast. The first fight lasted for at least twenty minutes. While I was on top of him pulling his hair and beating his head on the sidewalk I must've done something to his back."
          "Yeah," Frenchy nodded, "he was cooking for me at the time and he couldn't work for a couple of weeks."
            "I wrecked a nice pair of Gucci loafers Tobi got me at a resale shop. The next day I tried to play golf and I could hardly get the club back.
            Frenchy said Jack C., Vinces brother, said the funeral was only going to be for family, but Jack said it was okay for Frenchy to come. Frenchy said he was taking Touhy because "Touhy is practically family."
           I was actually surprised to hear that Vince held a grudge that long.