Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend At The Ale House

                    Tobin has always had a fondness for dogs. This dog attraction was inherited by her daughter, Grace Littlefeather. The last dog Tobin owned was a terrier mix named Patches. Patches was extremely self absorbed and eccentric, even for a terrier. When we lived in Michigan we had a black lab named Milly. Milly was not only smart, but perfectly behaved. Patches was not well behaved and it took me months to get her to walk on a leash with out acting the fool. Patches had a remarkable talent for killing rats. She was extremely fast, and could easily catch a rat she saw on the street or in the park, shake it violently, snap its neck, drop it and wag her tale. Unfortunately, she didn't bother with mice, only rats.  I was a stay at home dad in those days so it wasn't that much of a burden walking Patches when I took Gracie to school and picked her up. It wasn't as though Patches hated me,  there was simply a notable lack of enthusiasm for me.When Patches became ill I had the unpleasant task of driving her to the vets where I met Tobin. Patches knew something bad was going to happen and it was a dreadful experience. 
            Because of the death of a friend's daughter, Tobin has been taking care of a small dog that reminds me of the kind of dogs you see performing tricks at circuses. After Patches had to be put to sleep Tobin swore she'd never own another dog. The only reason I took this pronouncement seriously was because she tends to travel a lot these days. Therefore I was ill prepared when Tobin walked into the bar Thursday with a puppy on a leash. At first glance I thought it was the little circus dog, however, after she lifted it up I realized she was holding what appeared to be a German Shepherd puppy.
           After I got over my initial shock I asked her what kind of dog it was? 
            "A Belgian malinois."It was a very serious looking puppy. Tobin said that female malinois' are not used for attack dogs. "Only the males, who grow larger, are used by the police and military. Malinois' are one person dogs. "She won't leave my side after she'd bonded with me." Patches was also a one person dog.
            According to Tobin her sister Libby will take care of Fargo when she (Tobin) has to leave town. When I asked her what Gracie thought of her having a new dog she said, "Gracie is fine with it. Gracie says when her dogs go to the big kennel in the sky she's going to travel the world."

         Street Jimmy was in a chatty mood Friday morning. "You lucky you growed up in a house. I woulda like to have grown up in a house." Jimmy said that his uncle T-Bow held strong views on the subject of hygiene and grooming: "He tol' me, Jimmy, keep yourself clean. I was real dirty 'cause' I be on the street for a coupla days. He say, 'you ain't no boy, clean yourself up.' I don' know if my uncle T-Bow is still alive. He smoked crack, too. My brother tol' me the las' time I saw him cocaine make your skin blacker, he say, 'you're not the Jimmy I knows, you're skin be all black.' My uncle was my dads brother."
            Fancypants said that the previous day he went to Whole Foods to eat. "I was standing in the express line and the lady in front of me had a cart  and they told the lady you can't be in the express line with a cart so she spun the cart around and knocked over all of my food. It was a big mess. The manager told me I could have a container of food free." 
           Friday was Lemar's birthday. 
           Ruben Four Toes said there was a lot of excitement in his senior building Thursday. The cops raided Little Gandhi's apartment which is just down the hallway from him. "Somebody tricked on him. The cops tore his place apart looking for guns. He sometimes pisses people off because he's a Muslim and says shit about terrorism. I told the dumb fuck not to talk crazy, you know, about buying guns, shit like that."
           "I liked Little Gandhi when I met him in front of your building. There was nothing petty or grudging about the way he reacted to your insults. There are times when the best of us lose our heads. I doubt very much that Little Gandhi's into terrorism. He doesn't look the type."
              Whatever Ruben's other moral defects are, when it comes to the guardian's of the law he is unable to conceal his distrust and hostility. "Little Gandhi may have spouted some shit but his pad is not filled with guns. He's worried they'll kick him out now. The cops really messed the hell out of his apartment." That said he leaned back limply in his wheelchair and took a large swig of beer.

           Saturday afternoon I took a walk around the lagoon. I was going to meet several of my cousins at the Ale House at five. Steve and Jean were taking my second cousin Jamie to see "A Red Handed Otter" at the A Red Orchid Theater. I'd strongly recommended their seeing it. Jamie is moving to Portland soon and so it was a sort of a goodbye get together. The play is about how people relate to their pets. At Stevie's urging I described to Jamie and Jean some of the various Elliott pets we've had since the time I was a child.
           When Street Jimmy came in he was a mess. Smoking crack all day will do that to a brother.
           After I said goodbye to my cousins I grabbed a six-pack of Miller Highlife and walked over to the Inventor and the Defense Attorneys pad on Hudson Street. The Defense Attorney said there'd be a lot of hot, left wing lawyers present. She did not exaggerate. I sat in the kitchen because the living room was crowded. This was fortuitous because I was able to nibble the food before any of the other guests got to it. I was thus employed when Hawkeye joined me. He said Mrs. Hawkeye's back was hurting her so she stayed home.
             A busty broad from Highland Park was also sitting at the kitchen table. She tried to psychoanalyze me. While I was being psychoanalyzed The Defense Attorney walked in the kitchen; she thinks I have relationship issues with women because I possess some innate character flaws. If this is true, and I don't deny that it might be, I couldn't correct these character flaws even if I wanted to (which I don't.) Being a gentleman of commanding presence I pride myself on not paying attention to the pettiness and shortcomings of my fellow human beings. The busty broad was very sexy. She had come hither eyes and when she looked at the Inventor there was a lot of sexual tension in the air. This prompted me to ask her if she'd ever done the nasty with the Inventor? She sighed as if she was waking from a sex-laced dream, "no, I never did."
            The Inventor smiled. It was his semi-lewd smile. "We probably should have."
            The busty broad nodded in agreement.

           When dinner was served the people in the living room made their way into the kitchen. The food was excellent. I probably ate half the asparagus before the other guests got to it. I was especially impressed with the Japanese sweet potatoes. Unlike US sweet potatoes the insides are white and not orange. They are so sweet they don't require butter. After I finished eating I gave my chair to one of the hot chicks.
            I sat in the living room with the Inventor and Hawkeye. Eventually after they finished eating some of the hot young chicks joined us. Soon the conversation turned to politics. It was a disturbing conversation. One of the women was a young civil-rights attorney. She had a  smug, patronizing style of speaking. There is nothing easier than attacking the US and it's system of  government, I do it often, and I do it well. What is difficult is to come up with strategies and solutions to correct the pathetic state of affairs taking place in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The civil-rights attorney had a girlfriend who did something in healthcare for poor people.
            I've concluded over the years the only hope for the US is for old white men to die off quickly, and be replaced by a diverse  younger, better educated generation. Unfortunately, after talking to these two women I found myself profoundly depressed. The lawyer actually stated that she really didn't think it made any difference who appointed Supreme Court justices. Nor did she think voting was that big a deal. She lives in a fantasy world of third parties and dramatic social upheavals. She felt that there was absolutely no difference between Republicans and Democrats and just shrugged off the Civil Rights movement, Social Security and Medicare. It was my intention to deliver her from the powers of darkness, however, I failed miserably. Whenever I asked the two women what their solutions were they asked me what mine was. 
            "Early education is where we have to start. There is a  tendency among poor people to be anti-intellectual. Especially among the black underclass where doing well in school is considered acting white…"
           The lawyer snickered, "underclass?"
           "Yes, read William Julius William's book on the aftermath of the Civil Rights and Fair Housing Acts and the development of the so called underclass."
            The lawyer was unusually fond of hearing the sound of her own voice. When she said she saw no difference between Hilary Clinton and the Republican clown car challengers it was hard to argue with her, especially if she didn't think Supreme Court appointees were important, or environmental issues or  helping poor people. On her worst day Hillary - who I profoundly hate - is better than all the Republicans put together. These girls were not parlor pinkies, they were mindless utopians. 
            The shit really hit the fan when I attacked Jesus Garcia, the mope who was just trounced in the Chicago mayoral election by Rahm Emanuel. 
           "You voted for Rahm!" The contempt on her face was unmistakable. Her girlfriend said she was offended by my calling Jesus - Jesus, "his name is hey-zus."
            "I don't speak Spanish." I then went on a short rant about what a numb-nuts, half-assed campaign Jesus ran. She proceeded to babble mindlessly as she tried to put a positive spin on all of Jesus' non-accomplishments. If the lawyer thinks Jesus is a progressive, then using that logic, Hillary, compared to Jesus, is Eugene Debbs. (I doubt if the lawyer would know who Eugene Debbs was as she didn't seem much into history.) My attack on the witless Jesus Garcia was the final straw and she got up and went into the kitchen. When Hawkeye rejoined me in the living room he said she was in a dither about old white men who think they know it all.
             Hawkeye smiled, "I told told her she was being an agist."
              The Defense Attorney packed me a bag of ribs and chicken to take home. She said the young women didn't understand me.

               I got back to the bar in time to watch the Blackhawks win in overtime. Just watching hockey exhausts me. 

                When I arrived at the bar Sunday evening it was crowded. When I asked Gracie about Tobin's new puppy she breathed as if she had suddenly contracted asthma. "It's an interesting breed. They've taken over for German shepherds. When I checked its teeth it growled at me - "
                "Really, it's just a puppy."
                 "It barked at Street Jimmy. It's a very intelligent dog and needs a lot of exercise."
                 Sundays matinee was the last performance of Red Handed Otter and the entire cast came in the Ale House after the play. Although Mierka was stoic, I could tell at a glance that she was disappointed the play hadn't been extended. To make matters worse the stage manger suffered the tragic loss of a  child recently.
After Mierka joined the other actors in the window, Dado, the plays director, sat down next to me. She said she was inebriated and she wasn't lying. Dado fascinates me. We had an intimate conversation about the vagaries of romantic love. Dado is very conflicted about her young stud muffin. She seems resigned to an unhappy conclusion to their torrid romance. When I suggested she try to develop an interest in older men she sighed wearily, "Bruce, I can't. I like hot young  guys. " Although Dado is 42 she doesn't look it. 
                I told Dado that I realized actors are all narcissists, "if they weren't they wouldn't be good, and to me that's not a deal breaker."
              Dado muttered a few sentences that sounded like passages from the "Divine Comedy." She agreed that generally speaking thespians make risky love objects.
               Julie Funke interrupted our conversation. Julie used to be madly in love with Irish Chris. She said she still loves him, "but we're just friends now." She says she likes Chris' new girlfriend, Kate, but begged me not to paint Kate.
             I've been drinking beer for the last week. Tobin took the bathroom scale so I don't know if I'm putting on weight. I think I might be.          

Friday, May 22, 2015

Esquire TV Does A Show Involving The Ale House


                On my way to the bar Monday night I ran into Street Jimmy. He was on his way to his crack dealers. Jimmy blinked several times before speaking: "How come you fire me an' won't let me in the lounge?"
             "Jimmy, despite the aching void within me, I refuse to take any more of your nasty attitude bullshit."
              Jimmy frowned. It was his "the whole world's against me" frown. "I didn' have no attitude. I jus' wasn' hungry."
             "This is what really pisses me off - when you lie to my face." That said,  I continued on my way.
              A half hour later I was sitting at the front of the bar between Lee and Ruben Four Toes when Jimmy stuck his head inside the door. "Bruce, it's cold  out, can I at least have my warm hoody?"
              Acting from the kindliest of motives I went in the back room and retrieved the warm hoody that Jimmy had given Fancypants for safe keeping. As he was putting the hoody on he said, "can I works tomorrow?"
             "I fired  you for being a surly rat-fuck."
              "I would suggest instead of saying you weren't being an asshole, that you would apologize for being an asshole… But that's just me."
               Jimmy was now giving me his "my innocence is being shockingly exploited look."
             "Well, okay, I 'poligize."
              "That was not from your heart. That apology was from your ass."
               Jimmy has been sufficiently schooled by adversity to realize that he'd painted himself in another corner. Placing his hand firmly on his heart he said softly, "I sorry I fucked up…from my heart!"

           Tuesday morning as I approached the bar Street Jimmy was crossing North Avenue. It was chilly out and he'd been watching for me from inside Starbucks. As I unlocked the front gate I said, "Jimmy, I'm hoping against hope that you have learned a valuable life lesson and that peace and harmony will reign within your tortured, crack addicted soul -" I would have continued with my admonition had it not been for the approaching city garbage truck. 
          "Jimmy, you better make sure they don't throw your easy chair in the garbage truck."
           The facts were plain, Jimmy's faux leather easy chair was in danger. It took but an instant for Jimmy to spring into action. As soon as the truck stopped and one of the garbage men jumped onto the sidewalk Jimmy made it clear that his easy chair was not to be tossed in the garbage truck.
          I told Jimmy that if I was mayor, the city garbage crews would be the first place I would save taxpayers money: Private scavengers usually only have one man crews. The city has three man crews. They used to have four. The fat assed drivers just sit in the truck and whack off while the other two garbage men do all the work. There is no reason why the drivers can't help.You could then pull one garbageman off each truck and use the money saved to put more cops on the street. Yeah, the union would bitch, but fuck them.
          When Fancypants reported for duty he was sporting a nifty cap I hadn't seen him wear before. He called it his "young Godfather" cap. Jimmy wanted to know how much he wanted for it?
          "If you would have saved the Blackhawks jersey for me I'd have given it to you."
           This amused me enormously, "see Jimmy, this is what you get for being a stingy-ass."
           Jimmy stared at Fancypants' hat enviously - it was as if he was trying to overcome a powerful emotion and was coming up short. Because I am so well acquainted with Jimmy's less lovable side I took tremendous pleasure in observing Jimmy's unhappiness. When Jimmy repeated that he'd buy the cap Fancypants said, "this cap is worth a hundred dollars." 
          After Jimmy went outside to sweep the cigarette butts off the sidewalk Fancypants giggled, "I found the hat in the lost and found last year."
           "You look like something out of a 40's gangster film. A gay gangster film."
            This observation made Fancypants giggle.

           Because I've been so absorbed in editing "Last Night At The Old Town Ale House" I haven't been able to get to the Dunes to work on my arboretum. Gracie assured me that Son In Law would water my newly planted trees. This is very important because in spite of the weatherman's assurances of precipitation, it hasn't been  raining much. I still can't believe Ecco was going to publish the book in its previous raggedy form. I dodged a bullet thanks to the rat bastard lawyers at Harper Collins. Gracie insists that self-publishing will be prohibitively expensive. Nonsense. I don't need an editor; yes, it would be nice if I could have one of my editorially skilled friends give it a final punctuation and spelling look over, but thus far I've been able to manage. I'm designing my own cover (Sara Palin) and my agents insist they can walk me  through the process. The book is going to be significantly better after I'm finished with it.


          Juke Box Joe stopped by the bar Tuesday morning. He said, contrary to what I posted the other day, the night herons are back  in the park. "They're over by the statue of Lincoln. I seen them there the other day."
           For reasons known only to the night herons they make their nests in very public, unguarded places. Why they don't nest in the tiny island in the middle of the lagoon puzzles me. A lot of people don't have leashes on their dogs and between the unleashed dogs and coyotes the night herons don't have much of a chance hatching their eggs.


       Wednesday morning Fancypants arrived in a state of jubilation. He said he stayed up until one-thirty watching the Blackhawks hockey game. "It was so exciting I stood up practically the entire last overtime. It was the longest game in Hawks history."
           Street Jimmy was very groggy when he walked in. He said he slept behind the garbage cans in spite of the cold. "It wasn' too bad 'cause now that the' the restaurant be closed there ain't so many rats."
         About five minutes into his sweeping Jimmy looked up and said, "don' put nothin' 'bout where I be layin' my head on your log 'cause I don' wan' peoples knowin' my bidness. Peoples might try an' kill me."
          "Everybody who walks by the garbage cans knows your business."
            "People don' watch their dogs good. They be pissin' on the garbage cans an' they can see I be sleepin' there."
            Dogs pissing on garbage cans was not all Jimmy was displeased with, "peoples been telling  me, 'hey Jimmy, why you let Bruce an' Gracie treat you so bad?"
            "What do you tell these people?"
            For a quarter of a minute there was silence. "Well, when Gracie wouldn' give me a  beer las' night - "
            "She didn't  give you a free beer because you had a pocketful of money. Why should she give you a free beer? I have a suggestion, the next time someone tells you how bad we're treating you, ask them if they'll give you a job and feed you every morning. In fact, why don't you stay away from here for a week and see how much better it is down the street. "
            "You sayin' peoples be jealous?"
            "That's exactly what I'm saying. You're famous, they're not.  They're jealous of you. Wake the fuck up."

              Tuesday night somebody moving out of the building across the street tossed a bunch of household items and clothes on the sidewalk and in the dumpster. Some kids in the building hauled a lot of the furniture back up to their apartment. Then Marshall Field came along and picked through some clothes. When he brought them in and tried to sell them I said, "Marshall Field, we could've walked over to the dumpster and gotten that shit free."
             After  two  more bums went through the leftover stuff Jimmy came along. When Ruben Four Toes pointed at the dumpster and said that there was still a lot of good stuff in it Jimmy hurried over. When he came back he had an antique electric heater he wanted to sell.
            Ruben told him that the heater was a  piece of shit, "it's old, asshole, and nobody's going to buy used electronics from a street bum."
             When I saw Jimmy pull a blanket out of the dumpster I told everyone that I was sure Jimmy would be sleeping outside tonight, and as it turned out, I was  right.     


         The Ale House was on Esquire TV Wednesday night. Grace refused to post the promotional clip on my blog. Thanks Grace.Tobin, unbeknownst to me, brought in a lot of food. The program was "Best Bars In America." Two comics host the show. Gracie and I represented the Ale House. It was rather mundane. I drew portraits of the comics on camera. Street Jimmy watched the show with me. He was on camera two times. This surprised him.
          "Jimmy, the camera loves you, you're a natural."
            With a notable lack of enthusiasm he nodded.
            Earlier in the day one of Ruben's front teeth fell out. Over the years he's pulled out a couple of molars with his fingers. Mexican dentistry. Lucas, the baker, brought in some delicious bread he'd just baked. Had I known Tobin was bringing in a lot of food for the TV show I wouldn't have eaten so much of Lucas's bread.
            Gracie has decided to be as unpleasant as possible. I think this is unfortunate. 
           Buzz Kill and Street Jimmy had a heated confrontation. Jimmy had been drinking a beer Gracie gave him at a table. When people started coming in the bar she told him to sit next to me. In the meantime Buzz Kill, who was on his way out the door stopped to talk to me. When Jimmy, following Grace's instructions, tried to sit next to me Buzz Kill, his voice hard and threatening, told Jimmy to quit crowding him. Jimmy told Buzz Kill to go fuck himself. Threats were exchanged before cooler heads prevailed.


          Thursday Morning Jimmy changed his tune about his TV appearance on Best Bars In America.  "You was choking me an' peoples is gonna think I'm a punk."
           "Interesting, two nice looking ladies came in last night after the TV show and were asking about you. They wanted to know if it was Street Jimmy on the TV show. Now that I know you don't want to be on TV anymore the next time a TV show comes in here I'm not going to allow them to film you. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, right after the show Beyonce called for you. She wouldn't leave her number. "
            "I didn' say I didn' wanna be on TV nomore, I jus' didn' like you choking me."
             "I wasn't choking you,  numb nuts, we were horsing around. But fuck it, I'm tired of your bitching. No more Street Jimmy on TV. "
             My remarks accomplished little in the raising of Street Jimmy's spirits.

        Thursday night I walked over to the Tonic Room on Halsted Street. My second cousin Jessie was performing with her trio. She's from the musical side of the Cameron family. Jessie's Gracie's age and has been living in Oakland for the last five or six years. She not only sings, but accompanies herself on the guitar. I had no idea she could sing or play the guitar so well. Not only does she sing, but she writes her own songs. I guess you'd describe her style of singing as contemporary folk. I enjoyed it very much. She had a real hotty backing her up vocally. The male guitarist didn't bring much to the party. He looked like a burned out Tom Waits and I thought he was going to doze off a few times.
         A number of my cousins showed up. Julia and Jamie are Jessie's sisters. My cousin Nancy and her daughter Meredith sat down with me. Meredith just had her second child. This one is dark skinned like her, the older one is the whitest kid I've ever seen.
          The Tonic Room is a true dump. It's not very big and most of the seats are not viewer friendly. The cover charge was eight bucks and the doorman drew an elaborate design on my left wrist to prove that I paid. 

           After Jessie finished her set I walked back to the bar. Other than the Red Lion the bars on Lincoln Avenue are shit-holes. The Blackhawks had just lost the hockey game and there was a lot of drunken shouting going on.
           When I reached the Ale House Jimmy greeted me on the corner. "Buzz Kill turned my chair over. He do it jus' to be fuckin' with me."
           Buzz Kill is a very tormented man. Apparently he's decided to take out his frustrations on Street Jimmy. Buzz Kill needs to pull himself together. 
           When Lynn heard about the shouting match between Buzz Kill and Jimmy she said, "Buzz Kill is just hiding behind his cane."  Certainly this is a harsh assessment.
            Mitt is trying to sell his boat. The other day on Howard Stern I was amused when Rapper Pitt Bull said, "if it flies, floats or fucks, rent it." The older I get the more I think renting trumps owning. People continue to disappoint me. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Street Jimmy And The Genius Quarrel.

                       Gracie says she likes the blood red walls as well as the mosaic design around the urinal in the newly decorated  Ale House mens room. Grasshopper is the only person that's been outspoken on the subject, although even he has toned down his criticism of the rather jarring color combinations.

            Ruben Four Toes does not like Mothers Day activities. It's been over a week since Mothers Day and he's still a bit out of sorts. "The worst thing I ever saw in my life was when I was thirty and I came home and found my mother fucking some guy. I screamed at her, 'mom, this asshole's only fucking you so he can get his Green Card! Tramps and whores, all of them. She said it was none of my business who she fucked. I told her I paid for the house even if it's in your name. You marry some wetback you're fucking with my security. " 
            It's ironic that Ruben was bitching about Green Card marriages to his mother when he took five-grand years ago and married an older Mexican women. 
           "Ruben, aren't you being just a little hypocritical given your past history?"
           It was a question he was prepared to  answer: "Mothers need to adhere to higher standards of conduct than sons. And this guy was just conning her."
           "It's not like your motives were altruistic."
            "This is true."
             Ruben turned his head away from me and lapsed off into thoughtful silence.

             Buzz Kill said he wished that Bowler Frank would come in the bar more often. "The guy always livens things up."
             "After talking to him last week it sounds like his health is pretty messed up. The guys got to be over three-hundred pounds and not only does he have a bad heart, but his diabetes seems to be getting worse. He has to be really fucked up if he isn't able to bowl. He said he still see's Lulu every week or so.

            Mary Ann, the former Ale House bartender, came in with a couple of young guys. I hadn't seen her in at least five years. She's still pining over Sergio. Apparently Sergio threw a big party a couple of weeks ago which I was not invited to. Mary Ann insists that the women Sergio married was his cousin. I doubt this is true.

           Street Jimmy said when he was at the AA meeting at the Mustard Seed earlier everyone was talking about the serial rapist the cops just caught. "Dude used to come to meetings. I seen him there all the time.  He did time for shooting a cop. He seemed cool. He wasn' killin' the ladies, jus' rapin' 'em."
          I told Jimmy that when I was walking past Stop and Rob the other Jimmy panhandler was hustling with some old white guy. "The other Jimmy guy never says anything , he just holds out his hand looking really pathetic. So I said, 'get down on your knees and pray to Jesus and he'll help you out', and then the old white guy laughs and says, 'Jesus sent you along, didn't he?' and I said 'yeah, to give you guys the word.' The other Jimmy bum is about your size, Jimmy, he's got to be bad for your business. He's not light-hearted and cheerful like you."
          Jimmy nodded, "I tol'  him to stay away from my territory or I fuck his ass up."

          Friday afternoon I walked over to REI with the Inventor and the Defense Attorney. They encouraged me to go with them and check out what kind of Scotland trip attire was on sale. The Defense Attorney insisted that I needed a lightweight down jacket, "you can roll them up in a tiny ball and it won't take up any room in your suitcase." (The last time we were in Scotland I had to buy a heavy sweater in a used clothes store.) I had never heard of REI before. Nor was I aware of all the new construction going on along Halsted and Clybourn. All of the stores being built are in easy walking distance from my condo.
         The Defense Attorney enlisted the help of a husky, fresh faced young clerk. Fortunately he was a  resilient young man and was for the most part able to handle her imperiousness. She made him demonstrate how the jackets were folded up into their pockets. I was quite impressed. I travel light and Scotland can get nippy. She tried to get the Inventor to buy a bright red jacket even though he wanted the blue one. The poor clerk nodded his head sympathetically as she questioned him about prices and sizes. When he attempted to explain the difference between synthetic and real down the Defense Attorney frowned.
          A peculiar looking old man drew my attention. He was in another isle shopping and he was laughing at the Defense Attorney's pushy behavior. I winked at him and said, "she's something, isn't she. Have you ever seen a  bossier women in your life?"
        The old man continued to laugh, "they're all bossy, it's just that some are bossier than others."
        "You're right," I said advancing my theory, " you have bossy women, really bossy women and finally so bossy you want to blow your brains out."
          This tickled the old man.
           It became apparent that the mental outlook of the clerk had changed significantly. When the Defense Attorney asked him to roll up yet another jacket he said in exasperation, "I guess I could go to Scotland with you and handle your luggage and your packing, how  would that be?"
           These words had a sobering effect on the Defense Attorney and there was a rather stiff silence. 
            Hoping to restore an atmosphere of conviviality, I tried to put everyone at ease with a few clever remarks about the Defense Attorneys remarkable shopping skills.

          R.J. Simac's daughter, Michelle, just called me. She was sobbing. I knew R.J. had brain cancer and so I wasn't surprised to hear that he'd finally cashed in his chips. I've known R.J. since the early sixties. A bunch of us hung around the Ale House together in those long gone days and then we all moved to the Bay Area at approximately the same time. During the time we were in Chicago most of us lived in an area around Armitage and Cleveland. I'm still in touch with R.J.'s first wife, Angie. Although R.J. had his flaws, I will be forever grateful to him for how he stood by our friend Harry when he was in San Francisco dying of pancreatic cancer.

           Friday night Ruben was sitting with PP. Crocodile Dundee, PP's latest squeeze, had just gone back to Australia. The Aussie seemed like a nice chap and I commended PP for finally exercising good judgement. She tends to have poor taste in men (actually, in just about everything now that I think about it). Ruben thinks her man problem is because she's not generous enough with her pussy. Ruben may be correct.

           Chief came in Friday afternoon. Since he's started wearing hearing aids he's bearable to be around. He showed me some of his most recent tattoos. One of the tats depicts Cortez getting it up the ass from the Aztecs. He pointed at Cortez's face and said, "I used Mike the bartenders face for Cortez." It did look like Mike. Chief patronizes a South Side tattoo parlor called "Sick Life Tattoo."

         Late Saturday afternoon I took a walk with The Actress. As we walked by St. Michael's Church there was a crowd of people either going in or coming out of a wedding. I pointed to the figure of a black man sleeping on the front steps of the church. Upon closer inspection it was our very own Street Jimmy. He was curled up in the shade using one of the cement steps as a pillow. The dozens of wedding goers milling about him did nothing to disturb his slumber. 
          As we walked around the lagoon next to the zoo The Actress spoke in a clear resonant tone: "It's really hot out."
          "Surely you jest, I dream about these days all winter."
          "Yes, in the winter I complain about the cold, in the summer about the heat. There are only about a  dozen perfect days a year. I wonder what climate would suit me the best?"
            "Probably San Diego or Santa Barbara. It gets too cool at night for me at in California. I love hot Chicago summer nights."
            The night herons have not yet come back to the lagoon. If they're not here by now I doubt if they'll be coming back this year. I'll miss them."
              As  we were walking down Wells Street I saw Clown unlocking Mrs. Clown's front door. He had a bag of groceries in his hand. After I introduced him to The Actress he pointed to his T-shirt. It advertised the computer company he now works for. The company is based in Finland. Clown is looking  exceptionally well. So far he is winning his epic battle with booze. I have a hunch that Mrs. Clown is currently abstaining from hard liquor, herself. This is a very positive turn of events.
              I told The Actress that Clown has a  significant role in  my soon to be self-published, "Last Night At The Old Town Ale House." I'm presently giving a lot of thought to using my Sara Palin paintings for the cover of my novel. Hell, why not, I'm the fucking publisher."
           I continue to re-edit "Last Night At The Old Town Ale House." I still can't believe Echo was willing to publish it in the condition it was in.

               I had dinner with Actress. She used the morel mushrooms Butcovich picked for the sauce. (Gracie was nice enough to share some of hers.) I would have made the morel's a side dish because they are so yummy-good all by themselves. I have a tendency to overeat at The Actresses house. Yes, I want to be polite but the chicken was quite tasty. In the future I'm going to recommend having sex on an empty stomach. It's difficult for me to display my legendary sexual athleticism on a full stomach.

              Street Jimmy's been sleeping on an abandoned easy chair next to the bar. Instead of moving the chair away from the corner he proceeded to sleep on one of the busiest corners in Old Town. He became an instant curiosity and people started taking pictures of the sleeping crack head and posting them on the internet.

              This morning Jimmy was in a foul mood when I arrived at the bar. He said he didn't like people taking pictures of him, "I'm gonna sue their asses, they can't take pictures of me an put 'em on their computers."
              "Yes they can."
               "They treatin' me like I'm a joke or somethin'".
               I was no mood to listen to Jimmy's hard luck stories. "Jimmy, get off crack and get a job. End of story."
               Jimmy was not about to put up with my unreasonable suggestions,  constructive criticism, perhaps, crass abuse, no. "I only be out here for a minute, you see, I gonna be rich."
             "If you define a minute as fifteen years I guess you're right."
              When Fancypants told Jimmy that the mats didn't need cleaning Jimmy became petulant. "They does too."
              Jimmy gets an extra ten bucks for cleaning the mats. He made no attempt at concealing his anger and after Fancypants heated up his food he said he wasn't hungry. This angered me, "okay, cocksucker, get the fuck out of here. You're fired and you're not allowed to come in the bar. Fuck you."
              Marshaling his forces: "fuck you!"
              I stepped forward, "triple fuck you."
              "Fuck you an' Danny both."
               The purity of his enunciation surprised me. I felt Jimmy needed a lesson in humility. "You are history, mother fucker."
               "I don' need your shitty job."
                There was nothing to be gained by arguing the point so I opened the door and after one more parting fuck you, bid Jimmy adieu. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

As Chance Would Have It

             The rat-bastard-shit-head lawyers at Harper Collins may have inadvertently done the Genius a favor when they proclaimed  Last Night At The Old Town Ale House legally too hot to handle. Now that I've decided to self-publish and have started re-editing the manuscript I am shocked and appalled by the quality of  the writing that almost made it to that book store near you. The writing is shoddy, replete with poorly constructed sentences! I hadn't read the book in over two years and thankfully my writing has improved significantly since then. I'm puzzled as to why the editors at Ecco Press didn't demand more from me? If I was reading the book now in a published form I would be extremely embarrassed. I have made significant alterations in the soon to be self-published edition. My agent will walk me through the self-publishing process. Anthony wanted one of my paintings placed at the beginning of each chapter. Hopefully I can talk a computer savvy acquaintance into helping me with the cover and the art work. Ecco Press had the graphics all set up before their hysterical cunt lawyer deemed my book public enemy number one.

            Last night at the Old Town Ale House I watched the Bulls lose another game to the Cavaliers. It was a frustrating to watch. The nicest thing I can say about the Bulls is they don't quit. They could've beaten the Cavs in spite of the lousy refereeing. Veteran referee Joey Crawford looks like an antique caricature of his former smug self. The guy has been around forever.  He's never had the right temperament to be an NBA ref. I thought we were done with him when he was fired for faking his expense account (it had something to do with plane tickets) but after he was out of basketball for five years they reinstated him. I've always hated him. His father, Shag Crawford, was a better than average Major League Baseball umpire. He also had a brother who was a Major League umpire. He wears a petulant frown on his washed out face at all times and interacts with players and coaches in a thin-skinned lawyer-like style… there is more than a touch of superiority in his manner. When he calls a technical foul on a player Joey acts like he's performing a profound religious miracle.
          Lebron James is an amazing physical specimen. It's hard to believe a man that tall and muscular can move with such grace and skill. There's no question that he's as physically talented as any player that's ever dribbled a basketball, however, when it comes to the mental (will to win) part of the game there's no comparison between Lebron and Michael Jordan - or Magic, Bird or Bill Russell for that matter. 
          And then we have Tom Brady and the deflated footballs. What a farce. Athletes have been fucking around with bats and balls for as long as there's been organized sports. Pitchers are forever spitting and scuffing baseballs. Batters use pine tar. Coaches and players steal signals. They throw at heads. In football receivers use stickum, lineman smear vaseline on their jerseys to keep the defensive players from holding them. In soccer the players are constantly flopping around the field like wounded ducks trying to draw fouls. So now the limp-wristed NFL commissioner, Roger Goodel, has been forced to make Brady the poster boy for NFL cheating. In a burst of girlish anger Goodell slapped a four-game suspension on Brady. What happens to the next player that gets caught using illegal spikes, or the team that has goal posts two inches too high? Pro sports have become an open-sewer of greed and corruption. The number-one NFL draft pick, Winston, is an off-his-rocker rapist. It will be fun watching Tampa Bay try and socialize their new ferrel QB.
          After the Bulls game I moved to the other end of the bar. Two middle-aged men came in and sat down by the beer taps. One of the men, who was stocky and had a flat top haircut, started taking pictures of some of my political porn paintings. After the bartender pointed me out as the artist he came down and shook my hand. "I love your paintings, especially the General Petraeus one. We served under him in Afghanistan. There were about twenty of us and I've just emailed each of them the picture you did of Petraeus. One of the guys just emailed me back and said the FBI agent looks like the guy that was nailing Jill Kelly."
            "He's right, that's who he is."
             "We all hated Broadwell, she'd actually come around and try and tell us what to do. I told her I only take orders from the general." Smiling, "I'm almost tempted to send the picture to the general."
              "What do you think they would have done to you if you leaked classified secrets to your girlfriend?"
              "Ten years in Leavenworth."
              "Giving Petraeus probation is a joke."
               "Sure is."

             I had dinner with the Actress at Marge's last night. We sat at the table next to the window. The Actress told me about the short play she performed in the previous night. She's a busy girl. I refuse to eat tilapia. I know it's supposed to be some kind of fish but you could fool me. The Actress had the salmon and I had the crab cakes. Lisa was working and it's always fun seeing her. The Actress has a fascinating voice. We never seem to run out of things to talk about.
            After we finished dining we walked over to the Ale House. Grace seemed less petulant and was singing directly into Ruben Four Toes face. Ruben remained stoic throughout the ordeal. Gracie inherited her singing talent from me. Other than the Coates side of the family, the Cameron's are not known for their singing talent. Gracie is on a  diet and usually when she's on a diet she becomes extra irritable.

            I'm still editing "Last Night at the Old Town Ale House." It was an absolute fucking mess. I'm glad I have one more crack at it. Unfortunately the internet is once again fucked up at the condo. The guy was supposed to have run a new cable in a week ago. This is frustrating. 

            Street Jimmy came into the bar tonight with a Blackhawks jersey, A Bulls jersey and a Bears jersey. He said "some lady " gave them to him. I suggested that he leave the Blackhawks jersey for Fancypants, " he loves the Hawks and it would be a nice gesture given that he feeds you every morning. " 
            Jimmy packed up the jerseys and left without saying another word. Crack rules everything he does. I do not pretend to be a saint, however, even I know that occasionally it is helpful to express gratitude for services rendered. Ruben Four Toes is of the opinion that we should consider crack an affliction and be sorry for Jimmy.
          "But Ruben, he seems to enjoy it. How can we feel sorry for him?"
         "Let it go, he's dumb fuck, he's got shit for brains, fuck him."
          Ruben's vocabulary seldom lends itself to subtle meanings.
          "Ruben, my dear, a more observant man than you  might conclude otherwise. Jimmy knows right from wrong."
          "Genius, you are also a dumb fuck. Who is a better judge of  character than a former drug dealer? Jimmy is a hopeless addict. Don't apply your bourgeois bullshit on Jimmy."
           "My dear fellow, I can't help applying my bourgeois bullshit to both you and Jimmy. Your body is ecological disaster of historic proportions, their should be a sign around your blubbery necks with the words Illegal Dumping Sight. I find your moral pronouncements disagreeable. You are a  cantankerous, unsavory brute, however, I can hardly blame you for being jealous of me and my superior intellect. You are just barely smart enough to understand how brilliant I am. You should be grateful just knowing me."
            Ruben stared at me with envious eyes. "Genius, you are an acquired taste. Unfortunately for you nobody has acquired it. Even your own family hates you!"
            "Hate might be overstating it just a bit, however, there's no denying that my genius has largely gone unrecognized."
            "Show me how smart you are and buy me a beer, jerk-off."

           Nurse Kate came in looking good. Brian the Piano Player is her boyfriend and he came in earlier with an old friend. Kate said she reads my blog. 

          On my way home I ran into Jimmy on his way back from the crack dealer. "Jimmy, you ought to be ashamed of yourself." He remained silent as he walked by me with a loose-jointed side-step.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers Day 2015

                Friday morning I drove to the Dunes again. It was a sunny, eighty-degree morning and I had to turn on the air conditioner so I could listen to Howard Stern. When the windows open it's hard to hear the  radio. Other than some weeding and pruning I hadn't done any yard work or landscaping for the last couple of years. Digging holes is a lot more labor intensive than weeding and pruning. I hit a large piece of limestone a few minutes after I started digging the first hole. I love uncovering these heavy pieces of limestone because they are great for building paths on the hillside. The piece I dug up had to weigh almost fifty pounds. Extricating it from the thick patch of weeds and dirt was not easy. 
            On my way to the Dunes I'd stopped off at the Ace hardware store in Portage and picked up fifteen bags of peat soil. Peat is much better than top soil for planting trees because it doesn't harden and break up into clumps. These bags are not light. Something happened to the good wheel barrel. One of the braces has rotted and so it doesn't handle heavy loads well. It was tough hauling the bags around the yard. After I planted the first white pine I made a decision to transplant a spruce tree to one of the bern's I'd created. This was not easy as the root ball had to weigh close to two-hundred pounds. Luckily Son in Law drove up in his pickup truck in the nick of time and suggested that we use the hand truck. This worked perfectly and in short order I had the spruce tree planted in it's new home. I then planted the second white pine in the hole I'd just removed the spruce from. Son in Law dug the hole for third white pine. 
            Although I'd worked for less than four-hours I was exhausted from my labors.  To say that I am out of shape is to put it much too mildly.
           Although Gracie suggested I take a nap before going back to Chicago I didn't want to get caught in Friday traffic. Fortunately, I  left the Dunes early enough that I only caught heavy traffic around McCormick Place. As soon as I got home I jumped in the shower. While showering I searched my aching body for deer ticks. I've been paranoid about the tiny little black ticks ever since my bout with Lyme disease a few years ago. I was too tired to fall asleep and satisfied myself with simply stretching out on the bed. At six-o'clock I put on my raincoat, rain hat and walked down to the bar. I had a craving for beer and so I had two Miller Highlife's and they hit the spot.
           When I pointed out to Ruben Four Toes the physical toll my tree planting had taken on my soon to be 75 year old body his normally cheerful face developed a smirk which he made  no attempt to conceal. 
             "So Son in Law can lift heavy trees but his back hurts too much to hold down a job?"
              When I described what a messy house Gracie keeps Ruben nodded knowingly, "like father , like daughter." 
             "But I mean it's really a ridiculous mess. It's chaos. And she's taken over  both my art studio and my bedroom. There's other bedrooms she could use."
           One thing on my to-do list is to sell or  give away some of my paintings. A bunch of them are just rotting in the garage.

           I received an e-mail from my agents acknowledging receipt of my latest book. They said at this point self-publishing my first book might be the way to go. Because "Last Night At The Old Town Ale House,"  is such a legal hot potato I  think its time to begin the process.  If I assume legal liability I won't have to censor it, either. Book two and book three are not going to have the legal problems "Last Night At The Old Town Ale House," presented.
I wouldn't self-publish if "Last Night" wasn't already professionally edited.  Because I'm just starting book four I can easily switch gears and devote all of  my attention to getting the desperately awaited "Last Night At The Old Town Ale House," out to my adoring public.

             Street Jimmy continues to be enamored by a young lady we met in the bar earlier in the week. Every time I see him he asks me about her.  She was sitting in the corner talking to Coach and when Jimmy and I sat down in the window behind her she turned around and said to me, "if you'd like you can sit down on my stool. I know this is  where the artist sits."
            "Why thank you, " I said, "but Jimmy and I are fine where we are."
             "I love your paintings, by the way."
             "You are  obviously a very discerning young lady."
             Street Jimmy stared at her with lust-filled eyes. From the look on his face it seemed like it was all he could do to keep from flinging himself at her feet and kissing her shoes. 
         After a little coaching from me he said, "young lady, I find you very attractive and you is very pretty."
            This made her smile. After turning to me she added, "you did a painting in here of my former brother in law that isn't very flattering."
            Wishing to move the conversation along I said, "And who might that be?"
             "Jesse Jackson Junior."
              I do have a pastel of Jesse Jr.  embracing a nude blonde (the blonde he gave the forty-thousand dollar Rolex diamond encrusted watch to). In the background, wearing a turban, is the Indian gentleman that was trying to grease the way for Junior to buy Barack's vacated senate seat from Blago. Also in the picture holding a  camera is former U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald. 
            "Were you married to Yusef?"
            She nodded, "we have a daughter together."
              I didn't know that any of Jesse Jackson's sons had been married to a white women. Had this been common knowledge it would not have helped Jesse with his constituents - Jesse Jr. and the blonde was bad enough for Jesse senior, but for another son to be married to a hot white women - not good for Jesse's image?
             She was extremely nice and had a wonderful sense of humor. When she left Jimmy sighed, "damn, she was fine."
             A couple hours later I looked out the window and saw Jimmy walking the street like a character in The Night of The Living Dead. While he was counting his money in front of the hardware store several bills blew out of his hand and into the middle of North Avenue. Jimmy didn't even notice!

            Jose appears to be gearing up for another bender. Everyone, including Jose knows he can't drink. What a naughty boy he is.
              Ruben Four Toes was in one of his philosophical moods. Among the wisdom he shared with was: "Always be a fucker and not a fuckee."
              Buzz Kill nodded in agreement: "Ruben, that's pure poetry." 
             Street Jimmy said the Sissy Boy came in the bar and snatched a beer off a table the previous night. Jimmy wasn't present but Johnny Ale told him about it. The Sissy Boy knows he's not allowed in the bar and I've punched him several times but he still persists in coming in when I'm not around. He's now missing an eye so it would appear that someone really did a number on him. After I punched him in the nose two years ago and it was  bleeding profusely he told me I was going to get AIDS. Jimmy promised to keep an eye out for him (no pun intended.)

             The Bulls Cavaliers game Thursday was quite exciting. I watched it at the end of the bar with a couple of the guys from the hardware store. Derrick Rose made an amazing shot to win the game. Rose is a very talented, injury prone, mentally fucked up guy.

            I had a romantic dinner with the Actress Saturday night at her lovely townhouse. Her bedroom faces Cleveland Street. Although I was comfortable with the window closed (I'm extremely delicate) she wanted both the fan on and the window open. Being a light sleeper I could hear the construction going on at the El tracks down the block. I ended up fighting for the covers with her dog Hatty. At about four in the morning I summoned the courage to get out of her warm bed into the cold and scurry across the street and leap into my own bed. As a  result of  my late hours I overslept. 
          When I arrived at the bar a half an hour late this morning Street Jimmy blasted me for being late. "You always get pissed when I be late, it a quarter to eight an you shoulda been here at seven."
            "At the risk of sounding callous  or even pompous, I really don't give a flying fuck what you think about my being late, Jimmy." 
           As Jimmy swept the floor he described the chaos that was presently taking place in the neighborhood: "a bunch of strange niggers been comin' 'round again. The police be stupid an' ain't doin' shit. I say , 'why you be hasslin' me, these new niggers got no business here. It would stop a lotta crime if they chased their asses outa here. I tol the nigger in front of McDonald's, 'nobody knows you, you don' belong here.' The police fuck with me an'  they knows me. These new niggers come aroun' looking at people so they can break into their cars an' houses. I tell them, if you here to buy drugs, cool, buy 'em an' then go backs to where you come from."
           When Jimmy asked me  if my mother was still alive I said no: "She died a while ago. She was 92. She was a great mom. I inherited my love of literature from her along with my talent for larceny."
              Fancypants gave his mom an orchid plant and a talking Mothers Day card. "She loved both presents. "
             When Street Jimmy found a rose on the floor I told him to give it to Tobin for Mother Day. He thought this was a  great  idea. When Tobin arrived she seemed appreciative of Jimmy's gift.                  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Blood Red Ale House Mens Room.

                 After working non-stop for nine-months I completed "California Jail Break"  Tuesday afternoon. At some point you have to say enough is enough with the editing. I sent it to my agent in New York. Since I parted company with Anthony my agent seems to have lost interest in me. 
           I immediately started chapter one of my fourth and hopefully final book. Now that the weather is warming up I plan to cut back on my writing hours and spend more time enjoying myself. When the weather turns ugly I'll start grinding it out again. I have no idea how long book four will take. Probably at least a year?

                 Saturday Fancypants wanted to bet the Kentucky Derby. "The trouble is that it will be too crowded at the off-track betting parlors. I should have gone yesterday and placed my bet."
          "What horse do you want to bet on?"
            "It has something to do with being cold. Frosty or something like that."
             "I'll book your bet. How much do you want to bet?"
            "Okay, give me your five-dollars."
            "But what if I win?"
             "Then I'll have to pay you what the paper says the payoff is."
             "I think it's fifteen to one."
               "That's why it's called gambling you silly twit. However I'm going to need a name a little more specific than something to do with the cold."
              After a great deal of searching through the sports page Fancypants exclaimed, "my horse's name is Frosted."
              After giving me the five-dollars I said, "okay, you're fated."

              Word has it that one of the girl day bartenders served Jose a martini. This is a  no-no. Jose is the youngest patron to ever be placed on the no-shot list.

              I had dinner at The Actresses Tuesday night. She prepared a chicken dish and it had a tasty avocado and onion garnish. I saved some of my rice for her border terrier, Hatty. The Actress says feeding Hatty will make her like me better. Hatty already seems to like me just fine.

               Wednesday morning Jimmy's ass was dragging when he reported for work. "I saw Clown an' Mrs. Clown yesterday. They must be back together 'cause he had a key to her house. They both sober an' Clown be walkin' Mrs. Clown's dog."
              "Clown loves that dog. He's got a real good job now."
              "He gave  me twenty-dollars."

             There was a message on the icebox that Tobin had conscripted my car. When I saw her at the bar and I asked what she needed my car for she was typically evasive. Thursday is supposed to be eighty so I'd like to either go hit balls with Fancypants or drive to Indiana to check on my arboretum. 
              When Erica the Nurse came in with Jaeger she said that Jaeger doesn't like his new harness and it took her twenty-minutes to get it on him. Although Street Jimmy's eye is still runny Erica said it looked like it was getting better.
              "But Jimmy, it's nothing to fool around with. When Jaeger got into a fight at the dog park and his eye was hurt I took him to the vet three times."

              Dax is having a  hard time finding the tile he needs to complete the newly decorated mens room. The mens room has taken on a life of its own since Grasshopper called Tobin. Grasshopper demanded that something be  done to spruce up the beleaguered toilet. I was all for putting tile around the urinal but I personally didn't think much else needed to be done. When I queried Grasshopper about his mens room obsession he said that it occasionally smells of urine and there have been complaints on Yelp. (I pay very little attention to the meager number of complaints about the Ale House on Yelp. Occasionally we get criticized for the food we serve even though we've never had a kitchen or served food.)  Well, Tobin took over the restroom re-do and either Tobin or Dax picked out  blood red to paint the walls. This shocked Grasshopper to the core and he thought putting a dimmer light bulb in the mens room would lessen the visual impact of the garish red paint. The bulb was so dim that Fancypants couldn't see what he was doing and so I had him put the old bulbs back in. Bobby, from the hardware store was the first graffiti miscreant. He's an adult and I hope Hardware Nick will have a chat with him. 

              Buzz Kill continues to be out of sorts. It takes very little to upset him these days. As he stared wild eyed out the window his nostrils widened to such a point I thought his nose was going to explode. "Look," he said pointing at a women pushing a stroller down the sidewalk, "look, she's got three compartments, she's blocking the whole fucking sidewalk with that goddamned baby stroller!"
             After Buzzkill left Fancypants giggled, "what does he expect the women to do, put the kids on top of each other?" 
              "He strikes me as very unhappy, I haven't seen him smile in  at least two-months."

             Wednesday night I sat down at the TV end of the bar so I could watch the Bulls, Cavaliers playoff game. Buzz Kill almost always sits at the TV end and was predictably shit-faced. He looked even more pale and out of sorts than usual. Since I've known him Buzz Kill has transformed himself into a stern, uncompromising young pessimist to an even more stern uncompromising middle-aged pessimist. When he's plastered he tends to say absurd things. My favorite absurd thing that he said  last night was that home court in sports is not an advantage. Amazing!
            The Bulls got their asses kicked. LeBron James is an amazing player, however, he lacks the mental toughness of Jordan, Magic, Bird or Bill Russell. 

            Thursday morning was balmy. Street Jimmy was waiting for me in front of the bar. As I opened the gate he said, "guy who works for Butcovich is in there."
             Dax showed up last night just before the bar was closing to work on the tile job. This is really going to freak out Grasshopper. Dax broke up a bunch of different color tiles in order to create a mosaic effect around the urinal. Fancypants and Tobin loved it. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that I had nothing to do with this truly remarkable choice of colors. I don't spend much time in the mens room as a rule and so it won't effect my life  much, but it's certainly going to be a future conversation piece. I think Grasshopper would probably be wise to come to me with his next decorating ideas.

           After the bar was cleaned I drove to the Dunes. I hadn't been there all year and it was a perfect day to check out my wondrous arboretum. I lost some more Japanese Maples over the winter. Son in Law said he took down some dead trees so I couldn't really tell what happened. Because I'm an absentee gardner I have to accept that certain things are beyond my control. Son in Law has enticed a flock of migrating Baltimore Orioles to take up residence in our yard. They love orange slices. There are dozens of unusual birds taking advantage of the bird feeders he has hanging from the trees.
           After lunch I drove to Lowe's to see if they had any deals on white pines. They did and I muscled three of them into the back of my Honda. After I dropped them off at the house I told Gracie I'd return tomorrow to plant them.



Monday, May 4, 2015

May Day

            Friday I hopped the El, got off at the Merchandise Mart, walked over to Randolph Street and headed toward Union Park for the May Day rally. Randolph St. is no longer the produce and meat packing area it was famous for. There are now a number of high end restaurants along the way, and it is in the process of becoming completely yuppified. I'd started out at the Merchandise Mart wearing my pea coat, however, by the time I crossed the river the temperature had increased by at least ten degrees. Harpo Studios has been abandoned by Oprah Winfrey. I wonder how many jobs were lost when the billionaire blubber ball abandoned Chicago? Some old time commies were selling Haymarket Riot T shirts on Des Plaines. There is a rather pedestrian statue commemorating the Haymarket Riot there. It will be the hundred and twenty-ninth anniversary of the riot on the 4th of May. Had Werner Herzog showed up for Rogers funeral I was going to pitch him with an idea I have for a screenplay vis a vis the Haymarket Riot. Herzog would be the perfect director for the movie. Alas, he was a no show.
           It was a long hike to Union Park. There were about thirty or forty cops assembled at the north end of the park when I arrived. As I approached the crowd of people assembling at the south end of the park it was clear that it was the end of an era. Only a few years ago the May Day rally's were made up of mostly old time commies, union activists and peaceniks. Of the approximately two-hundred people assembled around the baseball diamond there couldn't have been twenty-people, myself included, with grey or white hair. The only person I knew was Dwight and the only reason he was there was because he read about the rally on my Facebook page.
            The young anarchists have taken over the May Day celebration and it soon became clear the rally was going to be more vaudevillian than political. The anarchists are very much into costumes,  masks and bandannas. They were passing out red and black bandannas and peculiar looking white plastic masks. A man with a protrusive belly, an extremely large, malformed head and stroboscopic eyes was staring at me. His brain cells seemed to be disturbed and so when he spoke to me I felt the exercise of tact was in order. 
           "Do you know where we're marching to?" There was only a hint of human intelligence lurking in the corner of his eyes.
           "No, in fact I thought there was going to be a rally, I didn't know there was going to be a march."
            Dwight and I sat on a bench next to a large speaker which was playing some type of music that I am not familiar with (nor would I ever want to be). The kids seemed to be really getting off playing with their goofy masks and bandannas and there was a lot of posing for pictures. I really miss the old time commies. They were serious men and women. True, they were misguided optimists; before the collapse of the Soviet Union the world had danced before their eyes and then cold reality set in. These anarchist kids are frivolous buffoons. I'm not sure what the hell they stand for nor do I particularly care. 
          A wan faced, rather fragile looking girl grabbed the microphone and announced that the march would be commencing shortly. By now the cops had walked over to where we were congregated and were staring at us much the way people at the zoo stare into the sealion pit. I asked the girl with the mic where the march was going? Her face had a strained, anguished look: "We're marching to the Mexican Consulate, and then to the Cook County Jail and then to  Blue Island Avenue."
          I didn't bother to ask her why we were marching to the Mexican Consulate. Several of the anarchists had signs in Spanish so perhaps it had something to do with that.
           Dwight said he was going home.
           A girl in a gingham dress and braids told me that she didn't think she could walk that far. A pale young boy with horned rimmed glasses told her that the Mexican Consulate wasn't that far.
          "I know," she nodded, "but the jail is at 26th and California. That's a long way."
           The anarchists seemed very disorganized. I guess that's why they're anarchists. The old time commies used to march down the streets like Lipizzaner Stallion's on parade, while anarchists sort of shuffle and mince, although one of the Mexicans marched in a swashbuckling, nautical manner. 
         An unhappy creature with buck teeth asked me for a cigarette. I caught a pungent whiff emanating from her nether regions. After a brief coughing spell she asked the old man with neatly pressed trousers next to me if he had a cigarette?
       I'm getting better at picking out the plane clothes cops - they tend to over-act. There couldn't have been more than five black demonstrators. An older guy with a half smoked cigar in his mouth smiled at me, "good afternoon, comrade." He said this in a cheery voice.
         "Good afternoon, comrade. How goes it?"
         "My friend and I came down to celebrate May Day."
         His friend had a scruffy white beard, and spoke with a heavy accent. He was displeased with the antics of the anarchists. I told them that it was clearly the end of an era. While I explained what knuckle dragging buffoons the anarchists were the man scratched his beard and nodded.
             I was hungry. I would have sat down at one of the outdoor patios along Randolph Street but I can't be around horrible music so instead I grabbed a Subways tuna sandwich.

          Saturday was the nicest day of the year. The Actress and I took a long walk at ten-thirty in the morning to the Lily Pond and then doubled back to the conifer garden outside the Conservatory. By then we'd worked up an appetite and so we decided to have lunch at Topo Gigio. We got the last table in the shade. I had the red snapper and she had the white fish. They were both delicious.
          My cousins Stevie and Jean wanted to meet the Actress and had invited us to their house in East Dundee that night so I went home and took a nap. I picked The Actress up at a quarter to five. I have never been to East Dundee and was unsure about how long the trip would take. It's fortunate that I allowed an hour and fifteen minutes because it was a traffic nightmare just getting over to the expressway. Women in bizarre bonnets were heading for places to  watch the Kentucky Derby. The Actress hoped I wasn't  prone to acts of road rage. I'm not, although I tend to honk a lot. Once we got on the expressway it wasn't too bad. 
           East Dundee is a quiet town, and my cousins live on a quiet little street. Their house reminds me of the houses you see Nineteen-Fifties movies. It was  quaint in an unassuming way. My cousins and I  used to live in the same co-op building in Rogers Park. Stevie is not only a talented watercolorist, but a skilled carpenter and has really spruced up the house. It had a surprisingly large interior. One of the reasons they moved to East Dundee was because of Jean's passion for horseback riding. 
          My cousin Billy and his wife Nancy also joined us. I used to see my cousins a lot when our parents lived in Benton Harbor Michigan, however, since they've died we rarely see each other. Stevie and Jean have a lot of paintings on their walls. I'd forgotten a couple that I'd done. I saw some new ones of Stevie's that were really good. 
          Dinner was excellent. Of  course we regaled The Actress with some of our favorite family stories and then she described her  life in the theater. It was a lovely evening. When I got home the minute I closed my eyes I fell asleep.

            Sunday afternoon I stopped by the bar while on my walk. Gracie is on a diet and she said when she asked Street Jimmy if he noticed all the weight she's lost he took off his newest pair of sunglasses and stared at her for a moment and then said, "you still real big."
          Gracie then told him that he could forget running errands for her. Jimmy is now pouting and denies calling Grace fat.