Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tests, Tests, And More Tests

          I just got home from spending the better part of the day in the hospital. My brain being understandably addled I'll just give a brief sketch of my day in the hospital and fill in the details tomorrow. My neurologist is the same doctor that treated me for my stroke. I like him, he seems exceedingly bright. The good news is that contrary to what the throat doctor thought, my neurologist doesn't think I have Parkinson's Disease. The bad news is it could be a bunch of other maladies. Nothings been ruled out, hence the hours of testing. 

          *

       Hawkeye thinks I should only do one blog a week, "that way you could research it and then submit it to the various op-ed pages." 
         I can't think of any idea that Hawkeye ever had that was a good one with the exception of last years trip to Scotland. I've often wondered how he's gotten though life with such truly horrendous judgement.
         Gracie reported last night that somebody gave Street Jimmy a bottle of codeine cough syrup and that he's been drinking it non-stop.
         Ruben Four Toes claims to have done some exercising. After some further probing he said that his exercising consisted of getting in and out of his wheelchair while holding on to his walker. He said he did this ten-times and seemed extremely proud of himself. He also said that he only ate five tortillas for breakfast, "usually I eat six, and I had twenty-five less refried beans."
          I complimented his commitment to good health. "And I really think your wise not to overextend yourself."
          "Yes, I agree."
           Gracie claims that she's running in a 5 K race this weekend. I found this announcement shocking, especially given that she doesn't like walking let alone running.
         A gimpy Officer Bill came in yesterday afternoon with his lovely wife , Lisa. 
              I went home early and watched a panel discussion on C Span about Malcolm X's assassination. All the panelists were into conspiracies involving the FBI , CIA and the Nation of Islam. I have no doubt that Jay Edger Hoover wanted ML King and Malcolm dead, and I think it's likely that the FBI looked the other way when they suspected something was coming down, but some of the conspiracy theories  were really off the wall nuts.

          

         

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Geeks And Freaks

           I walked over to the used bookstore on Franklin and Institute Place called Open Books, and picked up a couple of books to read. I've got a great library but I need books with large print now which has rendered most of my personal library obsolete. ( I find this extremely frustrating.) It's a great bookstore to have nearby, and all the proceeds go to literacy programs so it's money well spent. While walking down Wells Street on my way back to Old Town the kids from Walter Payton High school were getting out of school. According to Coach there are no longer any racial quotas (isn't that progressive?) and so the kids were mostly white with a few blacks, and Asian kids mixed in. It's lucky for a lot of these kids that they are smart because  a number of  serious geeks and nerds were passing me by. I had a professor at Berkeley that insisted the smartest kids were the best looking kids. I've never found that to be true, especially with chicks. 
           Let's face it, in the cruel superficial world we live in these butt ugly kids would normally be discriminated against. Perhaps this is why when brainy-geeks gain positions of power they tend to be such pricks. Silicon Valley seems to be overrun with these overachieving freakazoids. 
           When I stopped by the bar on my way home I chatted for awhile with Gracie, Buzz Kill and Ruben Four Toes. As far as I can determine Buzz Kill must have a secret plan for gaining employment because he doesn't seem to be at all worried about his current plight. He said he had a "decent" time with his family Easter Sunday. I think the day will come sooner rather than later when Buzz Kill will be spending all of his family holidays with Ruben and me at the Ale House.
            After I went home and took a nap I came back to the bar. My timing was perfect, I just missed the rain going and coming. Street Jimmy and Gracie both described their versions of Jimmy's pushing Ruben outside next to the dumpster when Ruben had to relieve himself. 
          "It was hilarious," Gracie said , unable to suppress her laughter, "as soon as Jimmy got Ruben outside it started to pour. Ruben was screaming at Jimmy and Jimmy was laughing and when they came back in Ruben forgot to pull up his shorts - "
            "Yeah," Jimmy interrupted. Now he was also laughing, "Ruben's little tee-tee be showin'. He was madder than a muthafucka." 
              Ruben displayed virtually no emotion as Gracie and Jimmy continued to describe his travails with a great deal of levity. 

           *

          This morning I was the early bird. When Jimmy finally got to the bar he was muttering about how cold it had gotten over night, "it the end of the world 'cause it April an' it still be cold;"  he said this while rubbing his hands together. When he heard the garbage truck pull up outside he rushed out the door. When he came back in the bar he had a large blue plastic bag in his hand. "Damn, they almost got all my stuff again." Jimmy once again insisted on describing Ruben's  forgetting to pull his short pants up. "I laughed my ass off. Damn , it was funny. It be like Laurel and Hardy. You shoulda heard Grace, she tickle me sometimes. Ruben be funnier than hell."
            I told Jimmy that the nasty looking lady-crack-addict that he hates hit me up for money again on my way to the bar. "Usually when she walks down the street she pretends to be crying. Today she wasn't crying and so I said, 'it's more fun when you cry."
          "What she say?"
           "She just gave me a nasty look."
             "Bitch always be diggin' in her nose. Her nose blacker than hell."
           "What really disgusts me is when she uses the kid. She starts that crying act and she points at the kid and you can tell the kid is embarrassed."
             "Yeah, tha' bad the way she take care of tha' little girl is a damn shame. I think I'm gonna turn her ass in to the Department that takes care of fucked up kids."
           Jimmy said , "the sissy-boy  outa  jail, you know the one who jump out of cabs an' run away."
          "Yeah, the guy with fried hair. Every time he comes in here I give him a kick or a punch but he still tries to steal money or get a drink and not pay for it. When I punched him in the nose and he started bleeding he told me I was going to get AIDS."
           Jimmy nodded, "yeah, well now he gots a big patch over his eye."
           Hawkeye stopped by even though he's working tonight. We had another political discussion. Before he left he mentioned that Jimmy had asked to rub his bald head the other night.
           "Is that true, Jimmy?"
            Jimmy, who was eating the food Faggpants had prepared for him answered, "what wrong with rubbin'  a bald head? When I was in school an' you see a kid with his head bald you always slap it."
            "Jimmy , " I said in a raised voice, "rubbing another guys bald head is gay."
               "No it ain't," Jimmy said defensively.
               Jimmy's response caused Faggypants to laugh .
             After Jimmy finished his food and I said that he couldn't sleep on the bench because I was heading for the Dunes he said, "well then, I guess I jus' ease on down the road."

             *

          Tomorrow I have an appointment with the neurologist. Here are some of my symptoms: extreme tiredness; difficulty chewing food and talking for extended periods of time; slightly blurred vision; trouble sleeping at night; occasional trouble keeping my balance; my sense of smell is close to nonexistent and my hearing is not that great. Of course some of these symptoms are probably simply due to old age, but after I asked the throat doctor to give me the worst case scenario I'm not feeling particularly confident. I'm sure that the neurologist will send me for more tests, and not only am I going to have to see a cardiologist, but I'm having some patch-up surgery at the end of the month. All in all since I got home from Scotland last August, things have not been going my way. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Famous Sex Crimes

         There was a fun rumor going around town that Irv Kupcinet's statue was missing from it's pedestal on Wacker Drive. For those of you who are out of towners, Kup (as he was  called in Chicago) had been a local gossip columnist for most of my lifetime. He was a grotesquely ugly man, partial to cigars, and had a very unpleasant voice. Although you would never believe it from looking at him, he apparently played some pro football for the Philadelphia Eagles. In his prime he was very powerful in Chicago; well connected  both politically and with the Outfit. He was constantly sought after by  B-list celebrities for plugs and knew a lot of important people. Rumor had it that the best way to get your name in his column was by greasing his greasy  palm. The last decade  of his column his black secretary Stella did all of the heavy lifting. Oddly , after Kup died and Stella took over the column, the column quickly became unreadable. Perhaps Kup was actually more involved in the column than he was reputed to be by his fellow scribes. 
             In spite of the fact that he talked like he had a large rat lodged in his throat, Kup actually was the color commentator for Bear football games back in the Fifties and early Sixties; his partner was legendary cheapskate Jack Brickhouse. Their broadcasts were mostly incoherent, and gradually became the fodder for parody and endless ridicule. Kup, like his pal Brickhouse,  was also a cheapskate - just not as bad as Brickhouse. I caddied a couple of times for Brickhouse and was stiffed both times. I did get some revenge by carving cheap fuck on his kangaroo golf bag the second time I caddied for him. 
         I had Kup in my cab once and he tipped me a  lousy quarter.
             Kup had a daughter named Cookie. She was almost as ugly as her father until her eighteenth birthday when she had a nose job that transformed her into a very hot babe. She was supposed to be an actress, and Kup made sure she received plenty of PR while doing summer theater in the Chicago area;  eventually she moved to LA.,  but even her dad couldn't help overcome her lack of discernible talent and nothing seemed to happen to her career wise. 
           When she was murdered in a very sordid sex-case  Kup showed his impressive clout by sending Outfit lawyer Sidney Korshak to LA to shut down the case. According to reliable sources everyone knew who murdered her but Kup didn't want the tawdry sex-details made public and so it was swept under the rug  LA fashion. The Percy family managed to do the same thing when Illinois  Republican Senator Chuck Percy's daughter was murdered. The Percy girls murderer was also well known but the family wanted to keep the lid on the murder because of some embarrassing sex-details. The murdered Percy girl's  sister married a Rockefeller and is on the MOMA board of directors in NY. where she is a cheerleader for the monster that has turned MOMA into an art-themed Disneyland. 
           Disgusting family, the Percy's.
            Kup's wife Essie was a real hard-ass. She liked the theater and used to drag Kup with her to whatever theatrical events were going on in town. Every time I saw him at a play he was sleeping , often with his head resting on Essie's shoulder.
          Unfortunately it turns out that Kup's statue was just removed for restoration. Hopefully somebody will soon vandalize the statue of Brickhouse which is located next to the Tribune building. In a city known for it's sleaze and scum, Brickhouse and Kup represent the most sleazy, scummy side of Chicago society.
           Kup had a very interesting late night TV show called At Random back in the Fifties. He'd have guests as varied as Lenny Bruce, Julian Huxley, Adlai Stevenson, and Eartha Kitt all on the same panel. It was bizarre and the subjects would go directly from what is a sick comedian to is God necessary?  The original program would often run on for hours with the inarticulate Kup presiding as the ringmaster extraodinaire . It probably helped that Kup was so uninformed and inarticulate because he seldom gave an opinion. Sammy Davis Jr. would argue music with Leonard Bernstein, and racist Happy Chandler, the former commissioner of baseball,  would argue politics with Gus Hall, who was the former head of the American Communist Party. It was live TV at it's best.
        
          *

          This morning the most recent pen that Goo Goo gave me ran out of ink. They are not only elegantly crafted, but are marvelous instruments to write with. Normally I would have just asked Goo Goo to give me another one, but since he told Hawkeye he's done with me forever, and no longer reads my blog that avenue appears closed.  I love these pens - they have a flashlight on one end (to shine a light on government) and so in desperation I asked Faggypants if he knew how to replace the ink cartridge? Of course he said he did. Gracie was watching intently as Faggypants took my pen apart. He doesn't like being watched , especially with the way his hands tend to shake. Eventually he removed the empty cartridge; Gracie said that Walgreens wouldn't have that particular cartridge and that she'd go online and order one for me. I told her to order two because my other Good Government pen was also empty. When Faggypants tried to reassemble the pen he couldn't figure out where the parts went. Finally, after much consternation, he managed to reassembled the pen  -  only to discover that he hadn't replaced the the spring. At this point I intervened. He had put everything in backwards. It took him almost thirty-minutes to figure out where all the parts went (there were only about five part), and all the while he had to deal with a giggling (sometimes cackling) Gracie. 
             Whenever he points out that I can't do any better, my rejoinder is always the same , "I'm not the one with an engineering degree, you are."
           Although I hadn't had a nap, because the temperature was in the seventies,  I took a long walk. I stayed away from the lake for the most part because it was a little cooler near the still frigid water. When I was passing through Oz Park a gung-ho dad was fast pitching to a kid around ten. The kid was clearly terrified and when the dad  eventually hit the kid in the hand with the ball, the kid started crying. The dad tried kindness at first, then, when that didn't work and the kid kept crying, he used ridicule;  nothing he did could stop the kids wailing. This portends a lovely future life for the sissified kid and the bully dad.
           When I walked by the John Barleycorn tavern I was reminded of an article I'd read in the paper a few days before about the Barleycorn  closing. The guy who built the original Ale House, E.J. Vangelder, built the Barleycorn after he sold the Ale House. Both bars were modeled after Vesuvios , which is a San Francisco institution. Whoever bought the bar from Vangelder years ago eventually turned it into a flat screen TV bar. Originally both the Ale House and the Barleycorn only played classical music. At the Barleycorn Vangelder ripped-off Vesuvio's idea of showing slides of the great artists on a projector. I won over a hundred-bucks one night at Vesuvios betting with two guys on who the artists were that painted the slide pictures.
             I wonder if Vangelder is still alive?

          *

       Tobin somehow managed to not only go fishing (it's some kind of menopausal carryover), but also cook Easter dinner yesterday. All the food was excellent. The menu consisted of barbecued pork, delicious ham, potatoes au gratin, collared greens, cookies and candy. The day time crowd barely made a dent in the enormous amount of food she put out,  but the night time customers wiped it out completely except for some rolls.  I gave Ruben Four Toes a nice supply of ham to take home with him for his Monday breakfast. He seemed very pleased as he stashed the ham in the back pocket of his wheel chair.

         *

          This morning Street Jimmy was leaning against the bar  when I arrived. Because the weather remains mild Jimmy was wearing a white T-shirt. After his recent stay the County Jail  provided Jimmy with a completely fresh wardrobe which I thought was damn decent of them. After we were inside the bar Jimmy said that he had thoroughly enjoyed Tobin's Easter meal yesterday. "I come back at night an' Grasshopper fix me another plate. I ate my ass off." Jimmy said that two black pickpockets that he knew came in the bar after I'd left. "Hawkeye was good, he spotted them quick before I could tell him who they was. Grasshopper knew 'em to. They give me the evil eye when Grasshopper put 'em out an' say I tricked on 'em but I say, hey, this is my territory, I don' wan' no jive-ass niggers fuckin' 'round my territory."
            Faggypants said he had a great time with Josh and his dad at Easter dinner. "We went to a great Tapas restaurant on Halsted Street. They had another young couple join us. They were real nice. I bet it cost Josh's dad five-hunderd dollars. At four o' clock I just jumped on the Halsted Street bus and I was home before five. I sat in the garage with my parquets and smoked a cigar because it was so nice out. My birds love the outside air.  My mom didn't get home until eight." He's pretty sure he's going to a movie when he finishes cleaning.
                 
         

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Near Crisis Is Averted

            Although I've barely seen D-Train this weekend, I've received numerous reports of unusually erratic behavior on his part. Usually when he's acting strangely it tends to be of a passive nature; according to the reports I've been hearing lately , his behavior has been anything but passive. I have no idea what could be the cause of all this anger; he sent Tobin a series of hostile messages in the middle of the night. It will be interesting to hear his explanation.
          Officer Bill was in last night after the disastrous Blackhawk hockey game. He was quite a sight: his Hawk jersey (best sports jersey in sports) his neck brace, a walker and a drug induced glint in his eyes. When Street Jimmy came in he immediately inquired about Officers Bills neck brace. We told him that Officer Bill had been shot in the neck and the hip by bank robbers. At first Jimmy didn't believe us.
          "It's true," I said, "it was on all the news shows."
          "I didn' see it."
          "You were in jail."
           "We seen the news in jail. They catch the guys who shot him?"
           "Yeah, Officer Bill shot one of them and then the other guy surrendered."
             "They black or white?"
             "Mexican."
              "Damn, I'd like to have seen tha'."
            "Yeah, Officer Bill is lucky, the bullet just missed his aorta. And the one that got him in the hip is still in there."
             Jimmy walked over to Officer Bill and stared at his throat, "damn, you looks fucked up."
             Officer Bill nodded, "I am fucked up."
              The bar has taken on the appearance of a mash unit with Ruben Four Toes in his wheel chair and Officer Bill with his walker and neck brace. Ruben gave Officer Bill a tip of the hat for showing up in his fucked-up condition and drinking while on meds, "when men were men."
               Later in the evening I had to chase Street Jimmy out of the neighbors doorway. 
             "Jimmy, how many times do you have to be told to stay out that doorway? The next time she calls the cops you're out of here. Man, you are a  dumb-fuck."
            Jimmy's defense was that he was in the other neighbors doorway.
           "You can't be there, either. Jesus, wait until Frank catches you."
           "Frank say this is my territory."
            "Bullshit. However, I'll let Frank grab your ass and toss you in the wagon. You're starting to look bad again so maybe some more jail time will be good for you."
            "I ain't lying?"
             "Yes you are."
             Ruben Four Toes had a busy travel day. "I had to have Pace pick me up at nine-thirty and take me to the hospital, then take me home. I missed breakfast in the morning so I had bacon and eggs, refried beans and a tortilla when I got home. Then I had Pace pick me up and bring me to the bar."
             "What time are they picking you up?"
              "Nine something."

                *

           This morning I was a little late getting to the bar. Street Jimmy, who was waiting for me, seemed slightly confused. "I thought tha' was you only you looks differn' comin' down the street."
           Jimmy's right,  I've been walking slower than I used to, and I'm developing a bit of a shuffle.
             While Jimmy was sweeping inside the bar he struck up a conversation with the Chamber of Commerce sidewalk sweeper. After their conversation was concluded Jimmy said, "the dude agreed with me, you can get rich off a white-man's garbage. He find money all the time. Ooh-Eee found eighteen-thousand dollar. Big assed roll with a rubber band around it. Eighteen-thousand dollars on the sidewalk."
            "Who the fuck is Ooh-Eee?"
            "One-eyed dude. Flash Gordon took the money away from him. I tell him, why you let people knows you got all that money."
              "Who's Flash Gordon?"
               "Gangster dude, you seen him around. He drive a  big black car with them funny wheels."
                 "Well, what would you do if you knew Ooh-Eee had eighteen grand on him?"
                Jimmy smiled, "I'd become his best friend."
               I told Jimmy about John the Garbageman, who was a neighborhood character back in the Sixties and Seventies. " He used to do street and sidewalk cleaning in Wicker Park and he was always finding rings and watches and money." Unfortunately John the Garbageman took himself way to seriously and was constantly making what he thought were profound statements, while in actuality everything he said was  profoundly boring.
             Jimmy once again announced that he was close to getting off of crack. "Mango tol' me he jus' gots tired an' quit his habit. He say I'll get tired too."
                "Who's Mango?"
                "Guy at Mustard Seed. He works there. He speak the truth an' I listens to him.
               Faggypants was wearing a very colorful outfit. He's going to have Easter lunch with his friend Josh, and Josh's dad. Ruben called and asked Faggypants to go to Walgreens and pick up his prescription. This worked out well as Fagggypants needed to go there to buy his new bus pass. When he asked if he could wash the windows because not only did they need it, but it was warm out, I gave him the okay. 
               There was a minor crisis which could easily have blown up into a major crisis had I not immediately rushed to the scene. After Faggypants fixed Street Jimmy his food he dropped it on the floor. Faggypants let out a shrill screech while Jimmy just stared at the food on the floor in disbelief. Had Jimmy said one word all hell would have broken loose and so I said, "gentleman, this is not the end of the world. Everyone calm down."
              It took everything Jimmy could muster  not say anything while Faggypants scraped the food off of the floor and back onto the paper plate he was serving it on. After arranging the food as best he could Faggypants placed the plate on the table in front of Jimmy and said, "there, that's not so bad. I just cleaned the floor."
          I cautioned Jimmy with my forefinger to remain silent. Reluctantly Jimmy poked at his food suspiciously while Faggypants stared at him. I have to give Jimmy credit, he did eat his meat, but drew the line at the vegetable ," 'cause they gots hairs an' shit in 'em." Crisis averted. 
                Hawkeye appeared with his Sunday NY Times. He immediately unloaded on me, "Bruce, people like you who are unable to do anything for themselves and depend on people like me to do everything for you are always the first to criticize. " He was pissed off because I let it be known that he had been unable to put two and two together when he checked the roster at County Jail, and couldn't figure out that James C......., was the same as Jimmy C........ Even after I assured Hawkeye that I forgave him for his incompetence he still appeared angry.
               Hawkeye is cooking a ham for his families dinner, "I was really hoping to cook lamb, but Mrs. Hawkeye bought a ham."
            Street Jimmy told Hawkeye that he liked Hawkeye Juniors new haircut. The name for the style of haircut is Nazi Youth and both Hawkeye and I said the haircut disgusted us.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Return Of Street Jimmy

        Grace Littlefeather called me around noon yesterday and told me that she'd just seen Street Jimmy. "He was in jail and he wants to see you."
        "But Hawkeye checked the jail roster and he wasn't listed ?"
         "Anyway, he's back home."
         I had been walking to Subway Sandwich when she called me. I was hungry and decided a tuna fish sandwich would be reasonably easy to eat. While I was paying for my sandwich I saw Street Jimmy's face peering through the window. When he saw me he smiled with a degree of familiarity which he no doubt intended to be highly flattering. As soon as he walked in the door I smiled with equal courtesy and said, "welcome home my precious angel from heaven. Where the hell have you been?"
         Jimmy, who had a nicely shaped haircut, grinned; it was a sheepish, uncharacteristic grin. "Well, I was in jail."
         "Interesting because Hawkeye checked and you weren't listed at County."
          "Tha's 'cause I didn' give 'em my right name. A dude I met tol' me how to do it."
             "Why didn't you want them to have your right name? As soon as they fingerprint you they're going to get it?"
           "I didn' want folks to know I was in jail." Jimmy was being evasive for some reason. 
            "Why? What do you care if people know you're in jail?"
             "'Cause it ain't nobody's business."
            "Well," I said shaking my head resolutely, "it's a shame because the Defense Attorney said if you were in jail she would have gotten you out."
            "For real?"
             "For real," I lied. Desirous of leading the conversation back to the point from which it had strayed I said, "why were you busted?"
            Jimmy was not in the mood to be candid, "jus' some shit."
             In situations like this I've discovered that sometimes it's best to let a little time lapse before probing Jimmy too hard and so I said, "well, it's truly a blessing having you back home safely."
           Before I left Jimmy said, "Bruce, can you help me out?"
           "Financially?"
            "Yeah."
             "Do you mean will I help out your crack dealer?"
             "I jus' need two-dollar."
              "Yeah, and I just need Uma Thurman to do sit-ups on my face."
             "Can you give me five singles for a five dollar bill?"
             As soon as I gave him the five singles for the five-dollar bill  we parted company.
              
             *

          Around seven in the evening as I was walking to the  bar guess who I saw trying to bum a cigarette from the pedestrians heading west on North Avenue? Yes, Street Jimmy. 
         As I passed by him while he was getting a mean looking black guy to light his newly acquired cigarette we exchanged hellos. No sooner had I sat down in the bar than Jimmy walked up to me. Ruben Four Toes  and I grilled him some more on the circumstances of his arrest. His story went something like this: he met a girl that he knew when he was a kid; she had a car and she wanted him to go to Chicago Heights with her to see some old friends. Somewhere along the way Jimmy talked her into trying to smoke some crack. "She didn' like it too much an' I was drivin' her car an' we gots stopped an' the cops say, somebody gots to get arrested an' so they arrested me."
            "For smoking crack?"
             "Uh, uh, for drivin' without a license."
             "So you're driving along smoking crack and the cops stop you - ."
              "For goin' down a one-way street."
               "Where?"
               "Chicago Heights."
                "And so they don't bust you for crack, they bust you for going down a one-way street?"
                "Not havin' my license. I tol' the cops it was her car."
                 Both Ruben and I agreed that Jimmy was not being forthright. Our interrogation ended when Ruben told Jimmy to push him outside so he could piss by the dumpster. As soon as they came back in Jimmy took the dollar Ruben gave him and skadaddled. 
             Ruben said, "I thought Hawkeye checked to see if he was in jail?"
          "Yeah, but for reasons only known to Jimmy he gave the name James. This is what threw Hawkeye off - "
          "The dumb fuck couldn't have figured that Jimmy and James was the same guy?"
          "I guess not."
          "This is why we call him Hawkeye."
           Ruben and I exchanged health woes for a while. Ruben said he's not so sure he wants to see the kidney doctor, "because tomorrow at nine-thirty I have to go to the hospital and get my blood tested again. Motherfuckers keep testing me for all kinds of shit."
             "If they want to test your kidneys what's your objection?"
            "They bitch and moan about my life-style."
             Ruben then went on to tell me that he received a late night call from Sergio, "the motherfucker said he was having a heart attack and he needed some coumadin. I told him, asshole, I don't take that blood-thinner bullshit."
            "Did you ask Sergio why he tossed Howie out?"
              "He said he didn't exactly toss him out."
             "How dare the kidney people criticize your life style."
              "Precisely my thoughts on the matter." Ruben was now grinning proudly.
             Mierka stopped by on her way to the theater. Kirsten and her received rave reviews for the play they're currently in. It's a comedy about stewardesses and I assured her I'd see it next week.
              Juke Box Joe showed me a picture of Officer Bill in a wheel chair. He was wearing a neck brace and I had Juke Box show Ruben the picture. Juke Box said that the neck surgery was trickier than we had been led to believe, "they had to go in from the throat because of all the muscles in the back of the neck. And then they had to take a  bone from his hip."
          Seeing Officer Bill with his neck brace in a wheel chair I said, "he looks just like Ruben except he's not as fat and has two legs." The picture struck us all as comical and we couldn't suppress a few giggles. Ruben  was clearly jealous of Officer Bills invalid status. I told Joe that neck surgery sounds very scary  and wondered how long he'd be convalescing?
          "He can take the neck brace off for an hour here and an hour there but it's going to take a while." 
            A half an hour later Ruben nudged me with his puny elbow and nodded toward Juke Box Joe and Marge. They were open mouth kissing. Ruben felt that that was a good sign, "at least the spark is not gone."
             "Amazing."
             I felt extremely tired and went home before eight. Before I left Ruben reminded me that Anya's birthday is Wednesday. 
              Although I was tired I got hooked watching C Span again. The Brookings Institute had a fascinating forum on Obama's upcoming Asian trip and they had assembled some leading Asian experts and Russian experts to discuss the so called "Asian Pivot", which is the name for Barack's foreign policy strategy in Asia. These guys were extremely smart and even though my eyes were barely able to focus I watched the entire program.

      *

        This morning, although sunny, was chilly. Every Spring it's the same bullshit: it's in the sixties on the other side of Western Avenue, but in the forties along the lake. Tobin had gotten to the bar early and Street Jimmy was busy sweeping. Before I started counting I grilled Jimmy some more about his recent incarceration. Once again he said he'd been busted in Chicago Heights. The Chicago Heights cops transported him to County Jail. "It was just a misdemeanor so's Friday they took me to Belmont an' Western, an' the judge  knowed me an' so he say Jimmy, it's Easter so I'm cuttin' you loose."
      It was soft time because he was in a dorm with older guys and so there wasn't any tension. "I played a lotta cards, watched a lotta TV had me some good showers an' 'cause I knowed the guys in the kitchen they let me pick whatever I wanted on my tray."
          "Well, you look twenty-years younger."
           "I do?"
           "Yeah."
            "I feel good."
            "Shame you're right back on crack."
            "Dingo tol' me someday I'll get tired like he did and quit."
             "Who's Dingo?"
           "Guy at Mustard Seed. He don' use nomore 'cause he got tired of livin' on the streets." 
             Jimmy is concerned that his brothers will find out he got busted for drugs because the lady he was with when he got busted knows his brothers. "I hope she don' say nothin'."
           When Faggypants arrived he didn't seem as excited to see Jimmy as I thought he would be. Fortunately there was still some scraps of food in the cooler and so Faggypants was able to heat up enough food to make Jimmy happy.
          "It's a blessing," Jimmy said pouring a generous amount of hot sauce on his food.             

Friday, April 18, 2014

Where Is Street Jimmy?

            The mystery of Street Jimmy's disappearance grows; he's not in jail, nor does his name come up at the morgue; it's unlikely that the local hospitals will tell us who's in their respective  psyche wards, and so until the crack-happy scamp shows up, we'll just have to guess as to what might have happened to him.

           *

        Yesterday afternoon after I got back from the hospital I took not one, but two naps. Hawkeye is concerned about the number of naps I take. I'm sure that one of the reasons for my continuing fatigue is my inability to sleep through the night. 
          I got to the bar around six-thirty. Ruben Four Toes, Mitt and Coach were all chatting. Ruben says he's quite pleased with his new cleaning  lady, "bitch does a nice job. Another cleaning lady - who knows my cleaning lady - and was working on somebody else's apartment, stopped by my place. She says she loves cock-fighting. She says it's legal in Chicago and I told her , you're full of shit, it's illegal, you can't even own a fucking chicken in Chicago..."
          Anya and I disagreed. Anya said, "I think you can own three chickens, but not roosters - "
            "Yeah," Ruben nodded, "and then she says she likes dog-fighting and so I told her she was nuts."
           I found this love of blood sports odd given that the two cleaning ladies are black and not Mexican. I know cock-fighting is legal in Mexico and in 1960 when I went to visit a high school friend named Butch, who was going to the American University in Mexico City , he took me to the cock-fights. It was an unpleasant experience and as if it wasn't bad enough to see the roosters pecking each others eyes out, they were equipped with sharp spurs which enabled them to reek havoc on the other cock. I was particularly struck by the way the owners of the fighting cocks would suck the blood out of their cocks beaks with their own lips between rounds.
           Ruben appears to be devoting the remaining years of his life to eating food in large quantities and drinking beer. He said he had ham, six-eggs, refried beans and some sausages. That was at  five-thirty this morning. At around ten, after his first nap, he had a box of peanut butter and cheese crackers, which he washed down with a large bottle of  grape pop. Before he left for the ale house he had some more refried beans.  Once he arrives at the Ale House he orders out unless somebody brings food in.
             Touhy and his daughter , Little Michaela, came in around seven-thirty. I rarely see Michaela much these days. She's a cop and she seems to be very busy. Her best friend is named Jennifer. I always wanted to bang Jennifer but just when I thought I had sealed the deal, Pauly moved in while I was in the mens room and when I came out they were gone. I've never forgiven either Pauly or Jennifer for this cruel prank. Michaela was very sympathetic when I described the pain and suffering this betrayal has caused me over the years. It's hard to imagine that Jennifer has just turned fifty. Her alcoholic stepfather, was a high school friend of my youngest brother, Douglas'. His name was Dave, and he owned a series of bars on the North Side over the years. I remember driving behind him one Saturday afternoon; as we were passing Loyola University I noticed how erratic he was driving. A half-block later his head slumped and he drove over the sidewalk narrowly missing a bunch of students. He ended up on the grass surrounded by a group of irate people.
             Dave eventually drank himself to death.
           Little Michaela is very philosophical about growing up in the Touhy household. She seems to bear no resentment toward her father for his inability to hold a job. In fact she laughs often about all the times Touhy was fired. As Touhy listened to his daughter describe her childhood memories his face was curiously twisted as by a spasm; it was hard to determine if these contortions were caused by guilt, or inward laughter. Touhy has always gesticulated wildly with his hands, but in the last few years his facial expressions have become equally flamboyant. 

          *

          This morning I got to the bar early. I was alone for about an hour until Hawkeye showed up. He was in an argumentative mood; he knows how to get me going and this time he cited another David Brooks column in the NY Times. I abhor Brooks and Hawkeye knows this. Brooks has a system whereby he'll skim somebody else book or essay, regurgitates it, and then evaluates it in the final paragraph. The evaluation almost always consists of the false equivalency argument, e.g.  both side are equally bad.
         While Hawkeye was attempting to diagnose my health problems Faggypants arrived. He was tired because he'd been up very late watching the Black Hawks hockey game. The Hawks lost and so Faggypants was a little down in the dumps. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Radiology

           There's something about the word radiology that makes me nervous. And then when you combine radiology with department, it seems even more sinister. So right off the bat you tend to be nervous, especially when you are told to report to the Radiology Department for a "swallow test." I always try to be early for my doctors appointments because a lot of times they get you in and out faster. Not so today; I was there plenty early but they were running late because one of the radiation rooms was "down." To make matters worse the waiting room was filled with a lot of very unhealthy looking people. Wheel chairs, walkers and canes were surrounding me. I could have endured all of this had it not been for the fucking TV blaring away. I had my NY Times with me and so I had something to occupy myself with while I waited, but  a TV! Man I hate daytime TV. At one point it got so bad I asked the receptionist if she couldn't please turn down the sound? She simply shrugged and said she lacked the authorization. The final straw was looking up and seeing piss-ant Richard Roeper expounding on movies. Had Ebert not died this simpleton stood to make gazillions of bucks. I remember arguing with Roger  about his choice of Roeper to replace Siskel at the time. Roger put up a very half-hearted defense of Roeper and rationalized picking him by saying, "he'll grow into it." I think Chaz was behind the choice, at least that's what I heard from a semi-reliable source.
           When I finally got into the room where the test was to be performed a nice, pleasant looking lady explained to me  what was going to happen. After they placed a bib-like gown on me I was told to sit a certain way and then , with an older male doctor also observing, I was fed barium in both liquid and solid forms. I swallowed and chewed for the doctors on que. After the test, which was no more than fifteen-minutes, they showed me an Xray of my aorta and my esophagus. According to the older male doctor years of untreated high-blood-pressure had inflamed my aorta and as a  result it was pushing against my esophagus; this had created a curve that my food now has to traverse. There's not much that can be done about it other than I eat softer food and drink plenty of water while eating. Unfortunately this only explains my problem chewing. 
         I'm seeing the neurologist on the 23 (he's the same guy I saw for my stroke and I liked him) and so I'll be given more tests I imagine. My problem enunciating is not linked to the enlarged aorta; and if that is not enough to worry about, the doctors said I should definitely see a cardiologist. Any thoughts of feeling sorry for my medical travails were quickly dashed upon reentering the waiting room and glancing around at all of the half-dead people sitting in the chairs. I may have problems, but relatively speaking, they are of a trivial nature . 
          The sun was out and it would have been quite pleasant had the wind not been quite so frisky. There were roving bands of high school students being led by guides swarming about the campus as I made my way back to my car. University of Chicago students are rather unique. Unlike the snobby Ivy League schools where  you need to not only excel academically, but you better have a  sport and ideally a musical instrument, at the U of C all you need to be is real smart. I'm always amazed at the number of good-looking chicks that attend the U of C. , especially since most of the boys are extremely nerdy looking. 
          I enjoyed driving Gracie around the country her senior year of high school as she checked out the various colleges. We would have seen a lot more schools but we became waylaid in New Jersey when we stopped by Wildwood to see my old pal Spike and his family. Spike had a thrill ride on the boardwalk,  and not only that, his hot wife, who was from Dominica, had a bunch of her hot cousins working on the ride. Gracie loved hanging out with the girls and so our college visits ended abruptly.