Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

             Yesterday afternoon I walked down to the Billy Goat. I was dressed perfectly for a walk in forty-degree weather. I'm sad to say the rumor of Jeff's retirement is true, he's leaving the Goat on Xmas Eve. (Of course I'll be there. When my old drinking friend Mike Touhy was alive I used to start off every Xmas Eve with her at the Billy Goat. Eventually we'd head to O'Rourke's and then finish our night at the Ale House. I really miss Mike.) I sat down at what was formerly known as the Wise Guys corner with a few of the still remaining old-timers. Several of them were despondent at the thought of Jeff leaving. Jeff's son John sat in the corner with us briefly. He lives in Rogers Park. Jeff has another son who lives in Texas. Jeff is a very youthful sixty-five. I can understand why he's tired of his commute. He lives in Downers Grove (Uppers Grove) where I grew up. I think if Sam, the owner of the Billy Goat, was a little more with it, he'd make a deal to keep Jeff. There were several cutie pies in the bar. Someone observed that girls with small tits are better in the sack than girls with big tits. His reasoning was as follows: girls think guys like big tits, therefore, to compensate for this deficiency, they make more of an effort to please guys. I've been fortunate enough to bang girls with big tits and small tits, and I honestly can't say I detected any type of pattern that would confirm this theory. All the girls that were nice enough to have sex with me were unique and special. Some more special than others, but it had nothing to do with breast size. 
             Another observation that caught my attention was when someone suggested that you could tell how tight a woman's vagina was by the size of her mouth. A gentleman who'd just joined us observed, "women with big mouths tend to have large vagina's." 
             I confessed that I never noticed a correlation between vaginas and mouths. I was not the least bored with our conversation. When you have middle-aged, and post middle-aged men discussing anatomical absolutes vis a vis the female anatomy, there is definitely a lack of poetry. Nodding with the air of an expert I confessed to being an ass-man. "That is not to say that I don't appreciate the full spectrum of female pulchritude."
          Before I left I had a double cheeseburger. 
          I decided to walk down Michigan Avenue on my way back to the Ale House. They were predicting demonstrations thanks to the release of the video of the cop killing the seventeen-year-old black kid. According to the papers the kids childhood was one catastrophe after another. A horrible mother, abandoned by his father, time in and out of foster homes and then living with various relatives; it's a wonder he was still going to school when he was murdered.
            I didn't see that many cops on the street which surprised me. A number of threats had been made to close down Michigan Avenue. Later, I learned that some demonstrators were already blocking State Street. Spike Lee, who's in town promoting his movie Chi-Raq, asked rhetorically when blacks were going to start addressing black on black killings. That is an excellent question. The reviews of Spikes movie about Chicago continue to be negative.
           As I was waiting for the light at Clark and Division,  I noticed Rick Kogan standing next to me. Rick wrote the piece about me in the Tribune. He said the article would be printed in Thursdays paper. Once again I thanked him for the plug. He said it was not an easy story to write. I told him that I would have been okay with more negative stuff about me, because, let's face it, I have a lot of negative character issues.
          The Ale House wasn't very crowded when I walked in.  Although Thanksgiving eve is supposed to be a huge day for bars, it has never been much more than the equivalent of a  mediocre Saturday for us. We do get our share of college kids coming home from school, but that's about it. After enjoying a couple of beers I went home for a nap. After my nap I took a hot shower and went back to the bar. Pub Crawl Liz was sitting by the door. She pointed at the window table and said, "look who's here."
           It was the Irish Milk Maid. What a pleasant surprise. She introduced me to her boyfriend. They were going with another couple to see a comedy show at the new improv comedy club  on Clybourn. She assured me she'd be at Dave and Rita's Scotland reunion party in a couple of weeks. Liz wants to invite Hawkeye's cousin, the colonel. I think that would be a great idea. She lives in Texas but Liz thinks she might be induced to fly in for the reunion party. I'm sure Hawkeye would love to see her. Liz has volunteered to help me with my computer problems. She has an idea for a web site. This is indeed great news.
          Street Jimmy came in the bar while I was talking to Liz. He had a paper plate filled with turkey and stuffing. He said the lady he calls mom, who works at the UPS store next to Stop and Rob, gave him the food. He asked Kim to heat it up. "Mom always takes good care of me." I urged him not to make a mess. 
           When I got home I read Boswell's Life of Johnson for an hour or so. Boswell was a strange fellow. Prone to melancholy, although a brilliant scholar he never got his degree from Oxford. He had bad eyes and was not the most prepossessing of men. He married a widow who had a child. Not only was the woman he married repellently ugly, she was not the least bit charming. The story line of the biography can be tedious at times, but what keeps me going is Boswell's unique prose style. 


           Fancypants beat me to the bar this morning. Street Jimmy was outside sweeping (he's not supposed to be in the bar when I'm not present.) Fancypants was going to have Thanksgiving dinner with a friend and his friends father. Although unseasonably mild, it's going to be a rainy Thanksgiving. 
           Lois just called. She just finished reading the article about me in the Tribune. She is still displeased with the way I portrayed her in my marvelous book, Last Night At The Old Town Ale House.  I told her an artist needed to brave, and you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.
           I always enjoy Thanksgiving at the Ale House.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Killer Cop Tape

           The Tribune story about my book Last Night At The Old Town Ale House is posted below. Unfortunately you have to go through an annoying rigamarole to log in to it. It's a very nice piece. Rick Kogan, the author of the article, is an excellent writer. His father, Herm, wrote some wonderful books on the history of Chicago. I read most of them when I was a student at Cal for a course I was taking on Urban History. Mierka still has a few of my books which she's going to bring to the bar today. Unfortunately you won't be able to buy one on Amazon for a couple of weeks.


         I was sorry to read on Facebook yesterday that Jeff from the Billy Goat is retiring at the end of the year. This is indeed sad news. He's the only reason us old-timers go there. I can't believe Sam doesn't make him an offer he can't refuse. It's a nice day so I think I'll wander down to the Billy Goat and find out if the rumor is true.


         The tape was finally released last night of the cop shooting the kid on the South Side. Its cold-blooded and sickening. Yes, the kid was an asshole. He vandalized some cars and flattened two police car tires, and unbeknownst to the cops at the time, he was high on PCP. However, the kid was a threat to no one at the time he was shot. He was walking away from the cops when one crazy cop shot him sixteen times. It turns out that some other cops went to a nearby MacDonald's and removed some video tape of the kid. Nobody seems to know why the cops did that, or what happened to the tape. After the cop pumped the kid sixteen times  - he was sprawled on the ground for most of the shots -  the cop actually started to reload his weapon. The other cops look stunned.
           To me the bigger story is why it took Superintendent  McCarthy a year to remove the killer cop from duty, or an even bigger question -- why Anita Alvarez, the DA, waited to press charges until the day before a judge ruled the tapes had to be released to the public? I don't think the mayor can afford McCarthy after this. And there is no way Alvarez should be reelected. It took her a year to charge the killer cop murder one. Had there been no dash cam video there would be no charges. The killer cop has eighteen previous complaints of excessive force. The city had to pay the dead kids family five-million. It's just a few cops that cost the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars each year for misconduct. Most of these out of control cops stay on the job. Superintendent McCarthy promoted to Chief of Detectives one of the dicks that was involved in the coverup of former Mayor Daley's psycho nephew, when he killed a kid. 
           Mayor Emanuel is going to have to start throwing people under the bus quickly if he's going to weather this storm. During the last election most of the black politicians were loyal to him. I'm not so sure they're going to be allowed to Uncle Tom it next time. Their constituents seem pretty pissed off, and well they should be. For a smart guy, Mayor Emanuel makes a lot of really stupid mistakes. He's politically tone deaf.
         There are a few of the usual suspects trying to defend the cop, although their hearts are clearly not into it. As I said earlier, yes, the kid was an asshole, but if you can kill a kid for being an asshole, there wouldn't be anymore kids. Elvis, who was bar tending yesterday, made a brilliant suggestion: "Maybe if the money for police misconduct lawsuits had to be taken out of the police pension fund, the police union would be less tolerant of bad cops."


        Last night the Cougars son, Riley, and her ex-husband John came in the Ale House. Riley is going to Michigan State and was home for Thanksgiving. The Cougar joined them a short time later. They are like all the other families I know, very unusual. The ex-husband is in sales. He seems like an affable, friendly fellow. Riley is a tall, thin lad of 21 or 22. He is one of those boys who seems all legs. He has a fair complexion, and his eyes have a hungry, almost desperate look. The Cougar seems quite proud of her son. Although she tolerates her ex, it is plain that there is no love lost between the two of them. The Cougar is a complicated woman. She has a forced sweetness which she uses to conceal the heart of a serial killer. You might like or dislike her (according to Hawkeye most women don't like her) but you can't ignore her. Whenever I chat with her she projects the appearance of a general formulating a strategy on the eve of a great battle.
           According to Riley his father is the liberal in the family. The Cougar, who is a knuckle-dragging right-winger,  made it clear that she thinks Trump is the man best suited to lead the country. John, the ex, the man who Riley claims is the liberal in the family, said he wished he could vote for Romney. When I asked Riley who he was going to vote for he said he couldn't even consider voting for Hillary. "Okay, so who will you vote for?" It may have been the instinct of self-preservation that kept him silent, or it may have been his mothers cautioning him not to engage me  in a political argument, but Riley, whatever his reason, remained mute. I always find it sad when a young person makes no effort to become informed and knowledgeable about politics. Yes, I understand the racist old white people who vote against their own self-interests, but not young college kids. Shame on Riley.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chi-Raq, Attack Dogs, Broken Feets, And A Sulky Fancypants

               Perhaps it's the nasty weather that's making everyone grumpy and out of sorts. Yesterday morning Fancypants showed up slightly impaired. As long as he was functional I decided to get the bar done and address his behavior issues the following morning. Apparently he goes to bed around eight and then wakes up in the middle of the night and watches TV or listens to the radio. Since I've cracked down on his drinking he rarely comes to the bar half-in-the-bag anymore -- He must've indulged in some wine the previous night so he could fall back asleep -- Everything was going along okay until he started trying to mop around Tobin's Belgian attack dog. The dog has an unusually stern expression at all times. I've noticed a lot of these dogs are being used in Belgium by the police right now during the terrorist crack-down. Most of the dogs on TV have muzzles. I would describe these dogs as German Shepherds on steroids. Fargo, Tobin's dog, seemed to be doing okay in the behavior department until a month ago. It had been going to puppy boot camp and according to the drill sergeant, was an outstanding recruit. Alas, Tobin said Fargo is now going though her rebellious teen stage. So far I get along with her, but not Fancypants. It's been confirmed that Fargo recently ate Tobins best friend in the whole worlds very expensive hearing aids. And followed that up be devouring the Hyde Park TV channel changer. 
           Fancypants is a dedicated dog lover, however, he seems to get bitten at least once a year. Perhaps Fargo is threatened by the mop; whatever the reason, she does not like him coming near her. I told him to keep away from Fargo three times. When he's slightly buzzed he acts stupid. Apparently, after I left he pissed off Fargo and aroused Tobin's ire. Tobin said she had to scream at him.  This is so unnecessary -- when he called me this morning and told me he was sick and was not reporting for work I told him to get control of his drinking or else. I don't think he's missed a day of work in over six-months.
           Lucky for me Street Jimmy showed up early. The previous night he was a complete mess. When its cold he rides the El and often misses work, so I thought I'd have to clean the bar myself. Kim said somebody had given Jimmy a bottle of wine yesterday. When he sidled up to me last night I said, "how come you didn't show up for work this morning?"
            "I broked my feets an' I gots to go to the hospital." He said this with a dramatic grimace.
          "Really, you broke both your feet?"
           "Not both feets, jus' the one I hurt when I kicked the guy."
            "That's your big toe. What puzzles me is this: you busted your toe over a week ago, you've been walking around fine, and suddenly you need to go to the hospital."
              "I needs to soak it or somethin' ."
               This morning he seemed completely recovered from his broken feets. No limping and he appeared to be reasonably alert. The bar wasn't especially dirty and the two of us did what I think was an acceptable job of cleaning. When Tobin asked him what he did with the new bag of sweat socks someone had given him he said, "I gave 'em to Kim yesterday to put away for me. " (Rumor had it that Jimmy sold his new socks.)
            I confirmed Jimmy's story. I'd told Kim that if the socks were gone Jimmy would never get another pair of my socks. (Tobin gives Jimmy my socks when he asks her for fresh socks.) 
          "I needs dry socks in the winter," Jimmy said sitting down to the two ham and cheese sandwiches I heated up for him. Jimmy made a strange gurgling sound when he drank his lemonade. When he asked for two more sandwiches I told him to ask Tobin. While Tobin went to the back cooler to get Jimmy two more sandwiches I said, "does it ever occur to you to say please."
            "Not to me, dumb fuck, Tobin's getting you the sandwiches."
            After a great deal of thought I've concluded Jimmy is not what you would call a rapid thinker.


              When I got home this morning I tried to fix my latest Amazon book problem. I've been trying to figure out how to send them twenty-five bucks, but so far have had no luck. Fortunately a still chagrined Tobin stopped by and solved my problem in less than five-minutes. Unfortunately, not only did she forget her phone at the condo when she left, but when I helped her carry some stuff to her car she discovered that someone had ripped off her cooler with the Ale House's Thanksgiving turkey in it. This did nothing to enhance her already dour mood. I'm sure she'll have another turkey within the hour.

           (Speaking of $25 bucks, I want to let the Frogman of Schiller Woods to know I haven't forgotten him, and will soon get around to sending him his money.)


          It now seems the review of my book is coming out tomorrow in the Chicago Tribune. Todays Tribune Features Section was filled with stuff about Spike Lee's new movie, Chi-Raq. The title caused a lot of childish outrage from a couple of irate black alderman and the mayor. The term Chi-Raq is rapper code for Chicago. Their point is Chicago is just as violent as Iraq. Spike Lee has made some good movies. He's also made some bad ones. If the trailer for this movie is any indication, this is an atrocious movie. It wasn't enough just to show how violent some of the black sections of Chicago have become, but Spike needed to add music and use the plot of the Aristophanes comedy, Lysistrata. After I saw the inane trailer for the movie I told the guys from the hardware store that it would have been more effective simply showing a nine-year-old kid getting executed in an alley at the beginning of the movie.
         I saw a performance of Lysistrata in London years ago and it was over the top funny. The plot consists of ancient Greek women getting tired of their men being constantly at war and decide to join together and withhold sex from the manly warriors until they stopped fighting. Applying this plot to gang wars on the South Side of Chicago is beyond farcical. There's an activist white priest in Chicago named Father Pflegaer. He's kind of a white Jesse Jackson, He's never met a camera he didn't want to pose for. John Cusac plays Pflegaer in the movie. Maybe I'll take Street Jimmy to see it, he says he wants to go.


          Charles explained to me that I misrepresented the "Needy Bruce " designation on a recent email he was attached to. "Tobi called you Needy Bruce, not me, and when I sent the document that's what it said."
            So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Romantic Interlude

              The nightmare continues with my Amazon account. I thought after Charles sent them the corrected ISBN number last week that they'd be moving along with the reformatting by now. Silly me. When I called this morning they said that I owed them twenty-five bucks because I had more than ten images. I told the lady that I was losing patience. "You guys could have corrected the ISBN number yourselves, so now I have to figure out how to access my account and find something called a "shopping cart."
         I try to not be impolite to innocent functionaries, but it's exasperating. She seemed shocked that I couldn't immediately log into my account. I told her I have to follow detailed written instructions. I don't hate computers, I just hate that I'm dependent on them. So after I finally figured out how to log into my account and locate the shopping cart I had no idea  how to send them the twenty-five bucks. I ended up sending them an email asking for instructions. I'm sure someone with limited computer skills could have figured this out within seconds. So unless Tobin stops by unexpectedly today I'll have to wait one more business day. 
           My marvelous book, Last Night At The Old Town Ale House, which is the cause of all my present frustrations, is not going to be reviewed in Tuesdays Chicago Tribune. It has been changed to Thursdays edition. This is just fine given that no one will be able to order a book for at least two weeks. 
          Knowing that yesterday was going to be a long day at the Ale House I tried to catch a nap before I went back to the bar for the Bear game and Pat Colanders book signing. The best I could do was fifteen minutes of rest. When I walked into the bar at noon Kim, who was bar tending, and Buzz Kill were the only two people present. A few minutes after the kickoff Pat came in with a large box of her books. Her publishers, Rick Kaempfer, and David Stern came in a few minutes later. The two men founded the boutique publishing house, Eckhartz Press several years ago. It's located on the North Side of Chicago. I wish I'd known about them before I attempted to self-publish. 
          I was dubious about how many people would show up for the book signing given the inclement weather. Although our neighborhood didn't get much snow, the sidewalks were perilous because of the ice. Fortunately a few people made it. While Pat entertained her friends I watched the game with Buzz Kill. The Bears had a golden opportunity to beat the Bronco's.  Bronco QB, Peyton Manning has not only been showing his age of late, but was unable to play because of an injury. The tallest QB I have ever seen, who'd never started an NFL game before, was his replacement. It was disheartening for Bear fans see the six-eight novice outplay the veteran Jay Cutler. I say disheartening, but not surprising. Cutler never plays well against good defenses. He wasn't awful, just mediocre. He turned the ball over twice, and made a number of poor decisions. He shows absolutely no leadership and when not playing sits on the bench with cold, unresponsive indifference.
          The Bear coach, John Fox, was fired by the Bronco's even though he led them to two Super Bowls. I now understand why. He chokes under pressure. He made some terrible decisions which directly led to the Bears defeat. 
         After the game I sat down with Pat and her publishers. Some friends from Indiana also showed up. The publishers were quite interesting. They seemed amused as I described some of my publishing adventures. They gave me their card and told me to call them anytime I needed advice. Lois also made an appearance. I talked to Lois and Pat for an hour before Pat packed up her books and headed back to Indiana. Although she's had some serious health issues, Pat looked good. She said she's on a very restricted diet because of her radiation treatments.
         After Pat and Lois said goodbye I sat back down at the bar and watched the Green Bay game with Lee and Buzz Kill. By seven I'd had it and went home before the night boys came on. On my way home my phone rang. It was a former girlfriend. She was stuck at O'hare Airport and wondered if she could stay at my place for the night. An hour later she pulled up to the condo in a cab. I hadn't seen her in twenty-years. When I told her how great she looked  she punched me on the shoulder and said "thanks." A veteran of four divorces, she said she's moved back to the Bay Area. I'd lost track of her when she moved to Boston. She'd gotten my phone number from a mutual friend. She had always had her own unique sense of style; in costume, she insisted, "it is always best to make a definite statement, and stick to it. I'm almost sixty-five, but my daughter said I can still get away with it, so why change now."
           Being a man of action as well as words I decided to make my move immediately. If I was going to be rejected, there was no use wasting time. I could always take her back to the Ale House for a cocktail. I can't remember when I had more fun. Spontaneous sex is the best sex -- you can over intellectualize sex. Sentimental by nature, after we were done rolling around my bed, she filled me in on her various marriages and romantic entanglements before my eyes closed. It's the best nights sleep I've had in at least a year. 
        The best I could offer her in the morning was a cup of tea. If we had coffee, I had no idea where it would be. When I told her I wanted to drive out to California next summer for one last trip down memory lane she sighed, "well, I'd love to see you, but…we'd have to do it on the QT because Raymond is the jealous type."
           "Whose Raymond?"
           "My husband."
           I was very sorry to see her go.


          My cousin who lives in Des Moines sent me a peace offering message. He said when he sobered up and read the interchange I had with his ex-girlfriend's Tea Bagger friends he thought I'd treated them with the scorn and ridicule they deserved. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Peculiar Snow Storm Hits Parts Of Chicago

             It was cold and icy when I went to the bar last night. My eyes are definitely not what they used to be. I'd been reading Boswell's Life of Johnson for a couple of hours and everything became blurry. I assume it's from the myasthenia gravis. It's definitely annoying. There were no stools open at the bar so I stood next to Bob E. Bob's an old-timer and so our conversations tend to dwell on what happened to so and so. Several people wanted details about Pat Colanders book signing tomorrow. I told them to stop by and check it out. It starts at noon.  I'll be at the bar watching the Bears game.
             Pats son Charles, who I put in charge of getting my book out in a hurry, sent me a petulant email. In it he refers to me as "Needy Bruce." Yes, I am needy, especially when I need him to perform simple tasks. Hopefully reason reasserts itself and he manages to do what he's supposed to do. As I grow older I believe sincerely that there are times when silence is the best policy and so I will say no more.
           Eventually I ended up in the corner with the gang. I had a long, detailed conversation with Mitt about the ISIS (Daesh) crisis. He is of the opinion that a small contingent of highly trained forces could take out most of their leadership. I agree with the scholars and experts that believe until Assad is removed it will be impossible to achieve anything long lasting and meaningful. While we were chatting a couple that had just moved into the neighborhood struck up a conversation with us. Anthony, from the hardware store, was gracious enough to give the woman his seat. The husband, who hails from Arkansas, just graduated from Nortre Dame's grad school. He was wearing a Nortre Dame sweater under his coat. He seemed like a nice fellow so I was somewhat respectful.
          Street Jimmy peeped cautiously in the door. He approached the corner where I was sitting and stared at me. He looked cold and wet.  Languidly he sank down on the ledge next to the window. He had a subdued and deflated look on his badly bruised face. When he said he was cold I nodded.  " Yes it is cold and it's going to get much colder. "When he pleaded with me for a beer I said, "Jimmy, beer only makes you colder."
          Sitting limply on the ledge he said, "how about whiskey."
           While we were discussing the pros and cons of his having an alcoholic beverage he pulled a bus card from his pocket. "This is what Martha give me yesterday."
            When somebody asked him if he'd take five bucks for the bus card he nodded enthusiastically. "Hell yeah."
            Johnny Ale, who's Martha's boyfriend, and who was bar tending, snatched the bus card out of Jimmy's hand. Jimmy muttered what sounded like an aria from a tragic Italian opera and pleaded for the return of his bus pass.
             "Jimmy," I said, "why should you have the bus pass if you're just going to sell it?"
              "I ain't goin' to sell it, you guys tricked me."
              I told Johnny to give him back the pass given that because of the cold he was going to have to sleep on the El tonight. 
              After Jimmy had his bus pass back Lee said, "Jimmy, I'll give you ten bucks for the bus pass."
               "Ten bucks, okay."
              "Jimmy," I said as everyone laughed, "you idiot, you just agreed to sell your bus pass again. 
              A troubled look came into his dark brown eyes as he checked a yawn, "I ain't gonna sell it."
             "You just said you would sell it for ten dollars."
             In spite of  overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Jimmy bridled at the suggestion that he'd sell his bus pass.


            This morning I actually woke up on time in spite of having gone to bed after one in the morning. My ear continues to be plugged up in spite of taking the ear drops I bought at Walgreens. My mother had problems with her ears when she became old. According to the news on the radio, Chicago had been hit with its worst November snow storm in 120 years. You could have fooled me. When I stepped out the front door all I observed was ice. So much ice had accumulated on my Japanese maple tree in our tiny front yard that one of the big branches appeared ready to break off. I shook as much ice off as I could. Because there was very little traffic I walked on the street rather than taking a chance on the icy sidewalks.
          Fancypants had called me the previous night and told me that he would be late. "My mom won't drive on the snow and the bus doesn't come until seven-twenty."
        Street Jimmy was on time. He said he'd been sleeping at Starbucks. When he asked me to tell Tobin to bring him a clean pair of socks I called her and gave the phone to Jimmy. Jimmy, without uttering the word please once, demanded that she bring him a pair of socks.
         Fancypants arrived on time. "There was so little snow that I was able to talk my mom into driving me to the El. It's crazy, we only had a couple of inches and O'Hare Airport had almost a foot."
         Jimmy couldn't understand the disparity of snowfall throughout the city. Fancypants tried to explain it to him, but threw up his hands in frustration after a couple of minutes.
         Because it takes so long to get Jimmy out the door, the minute he finishes eating I start the process of getting dressed and organized. Finally, after about twenty minutes he left. Ten minutes later he was back. 
          "I lost somethin'."
          "Jus' somethin', " he said looking around the bar.
          After five-minutes I told him it was time to leave. After he was gone Fancypants giggled, "he was looking for his crack pipe. He left it on the table so I threw it out. It was one of those expensive glass ones."
          "I wish you would have told me. I would have let him have it good. Technically we could get busted for having it on the premises."
          Fancypants assured me the next time he found one of Jimmy's crack pipes he'd let me know.
         When I got home I had a nasty message on my computer from one of my Iowa relatives. It appears I insulted some of his ex-girlfriends friends on Facebook. I always insult ignorant Tea Baggers regardless of who's friends they are. All his ex-girlfriend has to do is unfriend me. She actually wanted me to apologize to her Tea Bagger friends. Fat chance.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Back And Forth To The Bar Day

               My book, Last Night At The Old Town Ale House is being reviewed in Tuesdays Chicago Tribune. The Tribune was sending a photographer to the Ale House at two to take a picture of me for the article. The photographer was a hulking man with a face set in a cloud of black hair. Alternating between two cameras and changing lens' often, he snapped a remarkable number of pictures.  An atmosphere of good fellowship prevailed as he we discussed the current state of journalism in Chicago. (The Sun Times only has one photographer left at their paper.) He admitted frankly that my inability to smile was problematic. 
           "I don't want contrived smiles, in fact I tell people to smile with their eyes, but that seems to confuse them."
           I explained to him that smiling was an unnatural facial movement for me. I also described the effects of myasthenia gravis  (which I am afflicted with) on one's facial muscles. Anya, who was getting the bar ready, confirmed that I was not known to smile.  I have at best what might be described as a proprietary smile. This does not mean I don't laugh. I laugh a lot, although since Ruben Four Toes death, I laugh a lot less than I did when he was alive. The photographer was clearly a stickler for accuracy and he moved me around the bar several times. He said he studied art in college and became a photographer by accident. I told him that Chris Jones, the drama critic at the Tribune, was coming to the bar at four to interview Kirstin Fitzgerald and Michael Shannon about their current play, Pilgrims Progress. Chris Jones gave the play a rave review a couple of weeks ago. 
            After we finished the photo session I went home for a nap. Pub Crawl Liz was bringing fifty college kids in the bar with their instructor at five-thirty and she wanted me to be there so I could give them a little history of the bar. 
           I had a solid nap. 
         Before I went back to the bar I wrote my blog.

           Fortunately the bar was not crowded when the college kids filed in. I found it strange that about twenty of them made a mad dash for the restrooms. They'd just been to two other bars and one would think they'd have taken care of their toilet needs prior to arriving at the Ale House and having to stand in a long line. Liz just shrugged when I pointed to the line of kids.
          They were from Heidelberg University in Ohio. Their instructor was an amiable man about sixfty. He taught urban history. He told me he thought it was important for his students, many of whom were from small towns in Ohio, to have urban experiences. Apparently he'd neglected to tell the kids it was a walking tour and most of them had failed to bring coats. Nor did they seem to have cash; only about ten or fifteen of them bought a beer. Anya was a bit exasperated; had we been crowded, this would have been a problem. Because the kids were spread out I talked briefly to two groups about the bars history. There were only a few questions, most of them having to do with my amazing artwork. 
           When I sat back down at the bar a couple of the more inquisitive students came up to me and asked specific questions. The professor had shown the Ebert documentary, Life Itself, to the class before the trip and they wanted to know about Roger. After the gang from Heidelberg University got on their bus and went off to dinner I chatted with Liz. She said she was going to the Goodman Theater to see A Christmas Story. "It's a family thing, we do it every year." She said the Irish Milk Maid had come in the Ale House unexpectedly last week. I was sorry I missed her.
           Just before Liz left Sen Dolo came in. (He changed his name since he moved back to New York.) He played Blago in my play Cavity Search. In the three years since he left Chicago he obtained his law degree. He was in town for a job interview. Although he loves New York, which is where he's from, he said he'd love to move back to Chicago. Sen is an interesting guy, and we chatted for a couple of hours before he had to meet an old friend for dinner. 
            I'd been drinking beer for about five-hours and was thinking about going home when Ranalli and Lindy came in. They'd just been to see Pilgrims Progress at A Red Orchid Theater. They said they loved it. While we were discussing the play Michael Shannon walked in the door. I introduced him to Ranalli and Lindy and invited him to join us at the table in the window. He had a couple of friends with him. The guy, whose first name was Shannon, was also an actor. He had a smoking hot wife.  I think she said she was from Peru. When you're able to get Michael talking, he's always got some great stories. I was particularly interested about his impressions of Kevin Spacey. I told him again how terrific the Elvis and Nixon scene was in his Elvis movie. I got Ranalli to do his Walter Huston imitation from the Treasure of The Sierra Madre. When Ranalli and I talk the words dago and grease ball get tossed around a great deal. 
             Lindy just listens to us with a bemused smile. I refer to her as Ranalli's rich girlfriend. I'm extremely jealous of Ranalli. Every time I see Lindy I describe the depths of my jealously to her. "Lindy, why couldn't I have met you before Ranalli did?" Lindy is very hot and she knows it. I really like her. She insists she's going to fix me up with one of her girlfriends.
           I didn't get home until after midnight.