Sunday, August 28, 2016



        Remember dear reader, the Genius takes the Sabbath off. 

               Come my coach! Good night, ladies; good night, sweet ladies: good night , good night.

        The Genius is off for a picnic at the botanic gardens. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Semiotics

              

          I played golf yesterday at Jackson Park. The Royal And Ancient Assholes, And the USGA Assholes - the governing bodies that continually fuck with the rules of golf - have forced me to once again change my putting style. The long putter I'd been using for the last twenty-years not only helped my yips, but it put much less strain on my back. Because I can no longer anchor the putter against my chest (the no anchoring rule) I've had to start reemploying the Sam Snead "side-saddle" technique on short puts. It worked fine yesterday  except for the added strain on my already agitated back.  I've developed a tendency of not always completing the turn during my backswing. Placing my feet closer together seemed to help correct this problem. By the fourteenth hole my back stiffened and once again I started swinging with my arms. Still, I'm guardedly optimistic about my game.
         After I finished golf I considered stopping at Valois and having the Friday white fish special, but decided that I still had time to beat the traffic if I went straight back to the North Side. I was in error, even though it was only two-thirty, the Friday afternoon Outer Drive traffic was already a mess. I was hot and tired, which did nothing to allay my peevish temper as I indulged in a series of controlled road-rages with fellow motorists. 
        Before I went home I drove to the Jewell and bought a weeks supply of groceries. If I am left to my own devices I will eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Last week I decided to test my will power and bought a box of chocolate chip cookies. I hadn't bought any cookies at the grocery store in three years. My plan was to eat a single cookie after each meal. Alas, I finished the box of cookies in less than two days. As I passed the cookie isle with my shopping cart I found myself in a state of unexpected agitation. It is evident upon reflection that I have very limited will power. Most of my life has been characterized by gross sensuality and licentiousness. Even with my vast powers of intellect I am unable to control my occasional fits of gluttony and outright sloth.

         *

         Last night at the Old Town Ale House while I was sitting at the bar, Phil the Mogul, and his boyhood pal, Andrew, walked in. I invited them to join me at the window table. Andrew doesn't drink alcohol. He is immersed in the field of semiotics, which is the study of signs and symbols and how they are used. At first I thought he said, symbiotic. During the last couple of months it has become painfully obvious that when I am in a crowded bar with a hundred people talking, and their voices bouncing off the tin-ceiling, I am practically deaf. Fortunately, my hearing still seems fine under normal circumstances. Andrew has the air of a self-taught philosopher. He said semiotics is closely related to linguistics and anthropology. During the course of the evening we were joined by a series of interesting characters. Phil, who is leaving soon for London, considers the Ale House a place of innocent recreation. He is not given to foppery, and is a man of extraordinary sense and unimpeachable virtue. 
        While we were chatting five or six people walked over to our table and complimented me on my outstanding art work. I told one fellow from New York that I understood why he was in awe of my skill and imagination, "because I am too. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I have been the humble instrument of bringing joy and pleasure to so many."
         Ukraine Mike joined us. He was once again in a state of despair. He said he'd just engaged in a argument with a Trump supporter at the end of the bar.
         "Mike, just call them names, there's no need to get yourself all in a dither when dealing with morons."
           Mikes eyes were filled with misery and helplessness. "It's so frustrating."
          "Relax."
           Goat Girl and Pub Crawl Liz came in about an hour before I went home. They'd been to the Billy Joel concert. They said it was fun. I adore Goat Girl, not only is she hot, and has a great sense of humor, she's extremely touchy-feyly-affectionate. Pub Crawl Liz seemed unusually austere and solemn. I hope she understands the high degree of affection and regard I hold her in.
         


           Below is my iconic "Cavity Search" painting. Even though former governor Blago had five-counts of his conviction overturned , sadistic Federal Judge Zagel refused to shorten his fourteen year sentence. I have very little sympathy for the ridiculous moron, but fourteen years does seem excessive for essentially being stupid. Personally, I think he'd be a lot more entertaining out of prison and back in Chicago.
            The models for the prisoners are Marky Mark, and Buzz Kill. The guards are Trib, with the billy club, Ruben Four Toes putting on the latex glove, and Howie with the telephone. 




           This photo is of Roger and Grace Littlefeather. Gracie used to call Roger and discuss whether or not she should see various films when she was a little girl. She eventually stopped calling Roger after he recommended a couple of films she didn't like.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hooting And Shrieking

      
       Hillary finally gave an excellent speech. It was long awaited. She took fat-assed Trump apart like a pathologist dissecting a cadaver. She did it in a normal, serious voice. Trump is a racist! He surrounds himself with fellow racists. The new CEO of his campaign, Bannon, is a classic racist-misogynist. Hopefully she has finally learned how to give a speech , and will quit yucking it up.

       *

       Yesterday evening I put on a sport coat and hopped the El. My new friend , The Aficionado, invited me to dinner at the Art Institute restaurant. My Caesar salad was okay, the soup, however, was barely edible. Still, it was lovely sitting on the deck, and as I wasn't paying for dinner, why complain.   The Aficionado loved the "America After The Fall: Painting In The 1930'" exhibit. The Hopper gas station at twilight painting has inspired the Genius to once again try my hand at semi-landscapes. I say semi because I prefer mixing people and buildings into my landscapes. The Aficionado has a remarkable knowledge of Asian Art. We spent over an hour in the Asian Wing. While she was explaining the importance of paper in Japanese and Chinese ink drawings, I got a call from Goo Goo. He was sitting at an outside table with Phil the Mogul at trendy Gibsons. When he invited me to join them for dinner I told him I wouldn't be able to meet them for at least an hour. Although the Aficionado had to go home and walk her poodles, I didn't want to cut short her remarkable lecture on the various techniques used in Asian ink and water color drawings. Goo Goo told me they'd stop by the Ale House after they finished dinner.
         Less than an hour after I returned to the Ale House, the Cougar walked in. She was crying. A friend had committed suicide, and she definitely needed someone to talk to. She said earlier, while she was taking her walk, she'd bumped into Goo Goo and the Mogul at Gibsons. She seemed in better spirits by the time I walked her home.       

          *
            The wounds invisible that loves keen arrows make.

                   What is love? tis not hereafter;
                   Present mirth hath present laughter.
                          What's to come is still unsure:
                   In delay there lies no plenty;
                   Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
                         Youths a stuff will not endure.

          Wednesday night, while we were chatting with Kevin the poet and Rick Kogan, the Cougar accused me of being in love with Audio Tour Stephanie. Now it is no secret that I find Stephanie not only very attractive, but extremely sexy; that said, even if I was thirty years younger, the fact she is a smoker would be a deal breaker. During her accusatory diatribe Cougars eyes were flashing. Could she be jealous of the lovely Stephanie? 

                               If ever thou shalt love,
                        In the sweet pangs of it remember me;
                        For such as I am all true lovers are:
                        Unstaid and skittish in all motions else
                        Save the constant image of the creature
                              That is beloved.  

           Fearing I had been misunderstood I proceeded to explain myself. I tried to clarify how I continue striving for a higher state of ethical perfection. "I am no mere rake, Cougar. The complexity of my character can be off putting at times, I understand this."  With an admirable display of subtlety and humor I stated my case, the gist of which was --  Because I am a man of considerable learning, I am not the least averse to partaking in a little buffoonery -- even sneering jocularity -- if the occasion calls for it.
        By now, dear reader, you probably have discerned Shakespeare is my go-to-guy when I feel the need to communicate with a fellow genius:

                        Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great,
                some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust 
                upon them.
           
            I am that rare combination  of all three. It is my cross, and I will bear it stoically because I am not unmindful of my duty to mankind.

           *

            I've crossed paths with The Actress a couple of times in the last week. Each time she seemed intensely preoccupied and I had to call out her name.
           "I'm in another world."
           "I hope its a good world."
           "Who knows."
            The second time I saw her was near the El station. This time I waved at her as she approached. Nothing. "Actress, it's me, Bruce."
            "Oh, hi Bruce."
            I'm worried about The Actress. Her lack of street awareness is dangerous. You need to know what's going on around you at all times. 

           *

           Street Jimmy said he helped a man move a dresser into the high-rise across the street from where O'Rourke's used to be. 
         "After we gets the dresser in his crib I see's a big rat runnin' across the floor, so when I goes to jump on it he say, 'hey, Jimmy, don' be stompin' my rat, he's my pet.' It blew my mind. It was a big nasty lookin' rat likes you see on the street. The dude gots a whole bunch of rats in his crib. He gots little houses for them in a cage, an' he gots food an' water, an' when one comes up to him he gives it some cheese an' he say, 'now go back in your house an' the rat go back in his cage, it freak me out. He gots 'em trained to do shit, an' the guy ain't no dumb muthafucka, his house be clean, he gots a nice car. They smart rats. He had about eight of 'em."
         "Well, rats are pretty smart. I suppose if you get them when they're babies you might be able to train them…"
        "I don' like rats. I likes killin' 'em."
        "I'm not fond of them either."
         "Why you think he like to keep rats?"
         "The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings…"
          "Huh?"
           "I think Shakespeare might have had a couple of pet rats under certain circumstances."
            "Who he?"
            "The greatest poet that ever lived."
             "Why he so great?"
             "He understood human nature: 

                       Let me have men about me that are fat;
                       Sleek headed men, and such as sleep o' nights.
                       Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
                       He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

            "Wha' you mean about fat men?"
            "They're lazy. The skinny bald guys are dangerous."
            "For real?"
             "For real."

                            
          *


                 My pastel of Jesse Jackson Junior with the hot blonde he gave the fifty-thousand dollar Rolex for pussy. The guy with the camera is former US Attorney Fitzgerald who nailed Junior. The Indian seated at the table wearing the turban was one of Junior's bag men. I thought the waiter was a nice touch. 
                Junior just got out of the joint. Junior's wife is presently doing time. Shame pop didn't get to do some time.




D-Train is presently boycotting the Ale House because we won't assist in helping him commit suicide.




One of my many Ruben Four Toes portraits. Shakespeare would have loved Ruben. Ruben was a modern day Falstaff.



Former S. Carolina Gov. Sanders diddling his "Soul Mate" while his wife looks on.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Drollery

         
       Marshall Field continues to duck me. For years he's sold people in the bar various items , some of which are deals, and others which turn out to be deeply flawed, if not useless. It's always been a subject of debate as to where he obtains the items he sells. I'm sure most are simply things people have tossed out in the more affluent neighborhoods.  For the most part he seems to have a place to live, although  occasionally he's had to share the loading dock with Street Jimmy behind the Historical Society building. He's far more personable and intelligent than most of the other street people, and he's had numerous odd jobs. Because he's a veteran, he has access to the VA hospital. His pattern is as follows: ingratiate himself, borrow a few bucks, pay it back promptly, and borrow more. Eventually he borrows ten or twenty, tells you he'll pay you back the next night, and disappear. He's pulled this stunt a half-dozen times not only on me, but Hawkeye and Grasshopper. Each time I swear I'll never loan him money again. Eventually he seems to get back on the straight-and-narrow, and each time I let him con me out of  another loan. No more, I've finally learned my lesson. Marshall Field here's what I have to say to you: Hope, not dope! Hugs, not drugs.

         * 

         Met an interesting young poet last night. Journalist and local radio host, Rick Kogan, brought Kevin Coval into the Ale house after they'd dined next door at Adobo. Although I was not familiar with Kevin, the Cougar was. Rick, after sitting down next to me, made it clear he was offended when I'd suggested on a previous blog that his capacity, as well as his appetite, for drinking hard liquor had diminished of late. He disabused me of this notion last night. Cougar did her best to interest Kevin into wooing her young daughter away from Ho Chi Minh Jr., before her lovely daughter completely succumbs to the Los Angeles lifestyle. Personally, I think it's too late. Ho Jr. seems like a nice enough lad, and although it's possible to take the girl out of the Valley, I don't think at this point you can take the Valley out of the girl. After seeing several pictures of Cougars comely daughter, Kevin seemed at least willing to give it a try. 
           When I got home last night I googled Kevin Coval. There are numerous videos of him. Not only is he a compelling poet, but he runs a charitable project that encourages inner-city kids to try their hand at poetry. I was quite impressed.
        

         *

         For the last couple of weeks Street Jimmy's been waiting for me each morning. He's much more punctual in the summer than winter. During the summer he just has to scoot a short distance from where he's camped out the previous night; when it gets cold he sleeps on the El; being a deep sleeper he habitually sleeps past his stop. When I saw him this morning he said, "I sleep good las' night, I went to sleep early."
        "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."
          "Tha' real."
           Midway through his sweeping Jimmy looked up at me and said, "James died…it blew my mind, I didn' even know he was sick or nothin'."
           "James from the Mustard Seed?"
            "Yeah."
            "I was wondering about him. I used to see him every morning pulling his suitcase to the Mustard Seed AA meetings. What did he die of?"
            "Lung cancer."
             I nodded knowingly, "I'm not surprised, all that crack he smoked over the years, not to mention the cigarettes, sealed his fate."
            Jimmy gave me his I find your argument weak and inconclusive look, "you don' know tha'."
            "Oh yes I do," I lied, "James told me the reason he went to meetings every morning was because he thought he could save some young man or woman from doing the same things he did. He told me the crack cleared the way for the cigarettes to give him cancer. He told me he saw X-rays of his lungs, and the cigarettes had turned the inside of his lungs into gooey brown mucus…"
           Jimmy's eyes were filled with horror, "he showed you those pictures?"
           "Yes," I said still lying, "he didn't want to show you because he thought you'd freak out."
            Jimmy said he didn't want to discuss James anymore.
            James, who was a black man about my age, lived in a South Side homeless shelter. Like most people in shelters, he had to drag his belonging around whenever he left the shelter. He was very loud, and very affable. We'd been on a first name basis for at least ten years.

          *



           Below is my iconic painting: "Blood Sister Funeral." The Blood Sisters were a hard drinking group of ladies that frequented the Ale House as well as O'Rourkes, the Billy Goat and Ricardo's, back in the day. Mike Touhy was their "titular" leader. She was also my all-time favorite drinking companion. In the painting below she is shown in the coffin and at the top of the painting flying off to heaven. Her angel escort is Tracy, her vicious, witty, gay pal. I used Tribune John as the priest because of all the denizens of the Ale House, he looked the most like a priest. The lady showing her tits is Barbara S. Barbara had great tits, and as luck would have it I was able to paint them from memory. Morgan P. is holding the cigarette. She's presently residing in Tampa. The woman in the suit is prominent novelist, Carol A.  Pat C is next to Carol. Pat, who is also a well known Chicago author, is Charles and Ida's mom. Janet P., a former Ale House bartender is sipping her drink from a straw. Another prominent local writer, Denise D. is holding a wine glass. Lois B. is the blonde weeping next to the coffin. The painting has been hanging in the Ale House for about ten years.              


       Below is Hawkeye playing his pipes while Nicki is getting fucked by Humphrey Bogart, with Edward G. Robinson looking on. I placed Hawkeye Jr.'s portrait next to his dads painting.




         Next is a painting of my favorite funny man, comedian John Fox, being chased down the street by Fatal Attraction. I miss Fox very much.




       
       Below is Fox hanging himself with a portrait of Fatal Attraction in the background. I'm not sure if Fatal is still pissed at me. I haven't seen her since I wouldn't let her in the Ale House door the night of Ruben Four Toes funeral. She was predictably shit-faced. Generally when we don't see her it means she's sober which, in her case, is a good thing.



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Close But No Cigar

             A friend called me yesterday and asked if I'd care to join her for a picnic at the little park in the middle of the Viagra Triangle. It was a perfect afternoon as I strode forth from my dungeon like condo into the bright sunshine. My friend had made homemade spicy tuna sushi, and little pork dumplings. They were delicious. After lunch we walked over to the Museum of Contemporary art. The Kerry James Marshall exhibition is still hanging, and although I was not overly impressed with the show the first time I saw it, I was more than happy to give it a second look. Before we walked up the stairs to see the Marshall exhibit we checked out the so called works of art on the first floor. They really should change the name of the museum to The Museum Of Wasted Wall Space. 
           Although I had a few new insights into Marshall's paintings, I still found them repetitive. My friend liked them more than I did. I told her she should check out the current show on American Art In The Thirties  at the Art Institute before it closes. I'd love to see it again. It should not be missed. After we finished looking at the paintings we sat out on the patio of the museum and enjoyed a couple of Stella beers. They have free jazz concerts on Tuesday evenings, and they were busy setting up. By the time I walked home  my back was killing me. My early evening nap acted as a restorative. I got to the Ale House a little before eight. The Cougar was wearing an eye-popping spandex outfit. She denied having said what I quoted her as saying about anal sex. With a sly grin she said, "close, but no cigar." I find the Cougars propensity for mendacity quite endearing.

                 I am falser than vows made in wine.

                  Do you not know I am a woman? when I think, I must speak.

                  Lady, you are the cruelest she alive
                  If you will lead these graces to the grave
                  And leave the world no copy.

         I have no problem with practical mendacity. In Cat On A Hat Tin Roof, Big Daddy railed against MENDACITY! I think Shakespeare was more on the money:

                  I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad.

            
          The Genius' just completed these four portraits: "O, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful, wonderful! and yet again wonderful! and after that out of all whooping." It's clear that Shakespeare anticipated the Genius. Thank you fellow genius Shakespeare for your kind words.

                                                Director
                                           Shade Murray     
                  
                                                   Chef
                                           Hawkeye Junior



                                                 Actor
                                         Stephen Walker              

                                  
                                           Ukraine Mike
                                  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Anal Sex

               

                 Away, you scullion! You rampallian! you fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.

           Falstaff is one of my favorite Shakespearean characters. I was fortunate enough to see Henry the Fifth performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. No one in history was better at the art of the insult than Shakespeare. Scullion is a menial servant; a rampallian is ruffian or scoundrel; fustilarian is a fat, slovenly person. Back in the 60's I committed to memory a number of Shakespearean insults; unfortunately, almost no one knew what I was calling them. I've thought about dusting off some of these classic put downs to use on Trump supporters , but, because of their ingrained obtuseness, I think it probably would be pointless. Still, I haven't completely given up on the idea. Shakespeare would have had fun with Trump as well as his supporters:

                 Thus we play fools with the time, and the spirits of the wisest in the clouds mock us.
             
                or: Uneasy lies he head that wears a crown.

           Henry the Fifth is loaded with many other Trumpian allusions:  
                  
                   We see which way the stream of time doth run
                   And are enforced  from our most quiet sphere
                   By the rough torrent of occasion.

          Whenever I see a picture of Trump with his sport coat off the term Fustilarian jumps out. The ever-present sport coat hides his fat ass. It was hilarious watching him do the photo op of "helping" the Louisiana flood victims a few days ago; it was in ninety degree heat and he had his sport coat on. Trumps golf swing reminds of another fatso, Jacky Gleason. The golf course is one place where the fustilarian buffoon can't hide his fat ass with his sport coat.

          Melanie Trump remains in hiding. Not only is she still reeling from the aftershocks of having gotten caught plagiarizing Michelle Obama's Democratic Convention speech, she is presently in the middle of a bigger, more fun-filled scandal.  The London's Daily Mail reported that Melanie's claim of having come to the US in 1996 to launch a modeling career has serious holes in it. First of all, she lacked the proper papers, which is ironic given her hubbies views on illegal aliens. The Daily Mail's source for its story is Paolo Zampoli (great pimp name). Paolo not only ran a modeling agency, but a high-end escort service as well. The year Melanie posed for her racy nude pictures was 1995. The Slovenian bombshell is alleged to have been a high-class call girl specializing in rich, old men. What gives this story so much credibility is her marriage to rich-old-man Trump.
        There is no scenario whereby a hot, reasonably educated chick would marry a slob-low-life like Trump, if it wasn't for his money. Let's get real, for a chick like Melanie to polish the fustilarian Trumps nob, the money had to be significant. And she's clearly earned every penny of it. Melanie reminds me of some of the women in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

               Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again?

               Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a cod of wayward marl?

        I like the image of Trump as "a cod of wayward marl."

        

               Sigh no more ladies, sigh no more,
                    Men were deceivers ever;
              One foot on sea, and one on shore;
                    To one thing constant never.

        *

        While we are  on the subject of men, I was fortunate enough to be present for a fascinating conversation between The Bibliophile, and Cougar last Saturday night. We were sitting in the window table at the Ale House when the subject of anal sex came up. The Bibliophile and her husband never start their evenings off at the Ale House, they prefer one of the mundane, singles bars that  proliferate on Wells Street. When we eventually receive the pleasure of their company, they are always shit-faced. 
        Ukraine Mike was also present. He had a charming young lady visiting him from New Jersey. Bibliophile insists she can always tell when Ukraine Mike is drunk "because he sweats a lot. In fact he goes into a full bodied sweat when he's plastered." Mike understandably took exception to this description of his capacity to drink large quantities of beer. 
         Earlier in the evening, at his insistence, I took Mike down in the basement of the bar and showed him the just completed portrait I did of him. "I won't be able to frame it until it dries." I quickly perceived by the look on his face that Ukraine Mike was displeased. 
         "I thought it was going to be bigger, and that maybe you'd have the Ukrainian flag, or something in the background."
         His unrestrained candor vexed me. "This portrait came out perfectly. It is a magnificent rendering." I suppose I should have viewed his lack of taste with pity rather than anger, but I couldn't.
         Earlier, when the discussion of anal sex came up I remained mute for the most part. Within seconds I realized that the two women I was sitting between knew what they were talking about. It was if I was sitting at a table with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig while they were discussing the art of hitting the curve ball. Bibliophile had an interesting theory about why certain men prefer anal to vaginal sex: "They've got small dicks. Pussies aren't tight enough for them. I remember one time a guy with a tiny dick stuck his dick in my ass, and he yelped really loud; it was like he could finally feel something…"
         The Cougar nodded knowingly. "I've had the same experience." 
          For a good twenty-minutes the ladies discussed their numerous anal adventures. When the Bibliophile pointed out that I was strangely silent, I shrugged, "well, I've never been a big fan of anal, I've always been a pussy man."
         Over the years I've tried to be a gentleman when it comes to sexual etiquette. If a lady asks me to perform an act that will not cause me pain, I will try to oblige if I am capable. Over the years I've only had a handful of women ask me to stick my dick up their poop holes. It seems to be a niche hangup. The same chicks that seem to enjoy anal, also tend to want to be spanked, and have their hair pulled. This does in no way enhance my sexual experience. In the unlikely event  some fair maiden should ask me to stick my 76 year old dick in their anal cavity, I think I would have to decline. The last time I entered the Hershey highway, I ended up with a devastating bladder infection. 
          

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Chicago Air And Water Show

                    

         I received a lovely letter this morning from Jayne Thomas. Jayne, who is presently living in Richmond California, grew up in nearby Skokie, and is a life long White Sox fan. She sent me some clippings from a local newspaper which I plan on reading this afternoon. I'm sure it's much easier being a Sox Fan in the Bay Area than  in Chicago. Jayne asked me if I think the Sox manager should go. Yes, Jayne, and so should the General Manager and Kenny Williams; however, most importantly, the clueless owner should either hurry up and sell, or at least have the decency to die. Not only is the lousy owner responsible for the demise of the Sox, he's also the idiot behind the Bulls disastrous basketball team.

        *

         Yesterday afternoon Cougar and I walked over to Phil the Mogul's amazing condo overlooking Lake Michigan to watch the Air and Water Show. Cougar assured me the good stuff didn't happen until around one. She called me at the Ale House at one to tell me she was going to be a few minutes late. 
         "Why?"
         "It's not my fault, I'll tell you when I meet you."
         The minor emergency which caused Cougar to be late was compelling: "I was getting my nails done, and there was mass confusion and I said, 'hey, I have to be somewhere,' and they still dilly dallied, so I'm late." 
           It was a powerful excuse. "Certainly getting your nails done is far more important than a once a year air show."
          The Cougar smiled, "look," she said displaying her harlot red finger nails, "just the way you like them."
          With awe and admiration I inspected her fingers. "They look like they've just been dipped in fresh blood.
          "And, my toes match."
           She said this with a congenial smile. 
           North Avenue was crowded with people going too and from  the beach, which is the focal point of the annual Chicago Air and Water Show. Phil The Mogul, although he presently spends most of his time in London, and has a house in a north suburb, also has a condo overlooking the beach and the park. Because he recently bought the one bedroom condo next to his three bedroom condo, and is planning on eventually gutting them and combining them into one very large condo, he generously offered to let me use his big condo for an art studio for the next couple of years. At the time Phil made this offer Gracie, who was still in town, had turned my basement art studio into a kennel. When Gracie left for Maryland precipitously I turned the basement back into an art studio. This was fortuitous because the producer of Parts Unknown, Michael Steed, wanted to do a segment on The Genius discussing  painting Vladimir Putin in a tutu with the shows host, Anthony Bourdain. After we were done taping Parts Unknown I suppose I  could have shlepped my stuff over to Phil the Moguls condo, but fully aware of the arduous nature of the undertaking, I procrastinated.  I reconciled myself with the knowledge I was devoting most of my time to writing. Therefore, I did not take advantage  of Phil's very kind offer.
           Phil had instructed me that if he wasn't at the condo when we arrived, I should  let myself in with the keys he'd provided me with almost a year ago. Luckily, Cougar was with me because I am terrible with keys and locks. After about ten minutes we figured out how to get in. Cougar was impressed. As she prowled around the  rooms a series of parachutists floated down from the heavens outside the floor to ceiling windows.  "This is the perfect place to watch the air show," she smiled. The sky was bright blue, and the stark-white clouds were a perfect background for the aerial hijinks taking place around us. 
        Phil had several comfortable chairs arranged by the windows. After about a half an hour he arrived. He'd been taking pictures with a very professional looking camera. When I asked him how he learned to use such a complicated camera he said, "I studied photography in school." It must run in the family, because his wife and he just dropped their eldest son off at the University of Southern California where he plans on studying film. 
        When the Thunderbirds roared into sight, we went from window to window watching their daredevil antics. When Cougar said she wanted to be a jet pilot I assured her she'd have made a great one, "you certainly wouldn't have a problem with massacring innocent civilians." Of course this was said in jest.
         With a polite inclination of her head, Cougar smiled. "No, I wouldn't, would I."
           Ever the good host, Phil asked permission to smoke a cigar. I accepted his kind offer of a Stella Beer. While opening a bottle of wine for Cougar he cut his finger slightly. A gentlemen in every sense of the word, Phil described his love of wine. "It's not just the taste, or the vintage, it's cultural, it has to do with history, I find it quite fascinating." This from a guy who was born in Gary Indiana. 
          Phil was speaking a language Cougar could appreciate. Although she was born in equally blue collar Elkhart Indiana, Cougar could have easily  waxed eloquent on why she preferred ermine to mink, diamond coronets to ruby necklaces, or golden slippers to open toed mauve silk ones. We were in rarefied air, and the conversation was equal to our elevated environment.
          Around four Cougar said she had work to do. After thanking Phil for his hospitality, we joined the throngs of sight seers returning from the beach. After I bid Cougar adieu I went home and took a much needed nap.