The REAL Magic of Christmas...

It's one of the few things I actually like about Christmas.
Fuck the caroling, sugarplums, illuminated trees, wassil (whatever the hell that is) or fruitcake.
The best thing about Christmas? The Yuppies go home.
Not just the Yuppies, but all the other Chicago transplants who move here post-college or relocate to the big city to make their break in music, acting, whatever, and just end up working at restaurants or tending bar. When the season of flying reindeer comes, they make the pilgrimage back to whatever podunk town they came from to spend the holidays with their families.
And for me and other lifelong Chicagoans, it means a few precious days of actually being able to find a parking space without circling the block for hours buring up that $3-a-gallon gas. It means walking in and out of the stores in under a half hour. It means finding a seat at the bar when you just want a quiet beer or not getting tangled up in the leash of some chocolate lab who's owner leaves it tied up outside while they stand in line for a mocha latte frappechino pino grigio whatchamacallit.
It means the street are normal again.
I had long suspected that Chicago was becoming the Midwest mecca for post-college jobseekers, not that the almost sudden influx of bars flying the flags of other state universities wasn't a tipoff. And as watering holes hoisting the banners of the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana, etc. became more prevalent, the streets got more and more crowded and parking in many of the neighborhoods I use to frequent became a like scavenger hunt.
But during this one week in December, when the young urban professionals head back to Spitdribble, Iowa or Chumbucket, Wisconsin, or Squeezebottom, Michigan, to spend the holiday with the very relatives they tried to so hard to get away from, it's like the city is all mine again. I can move with freedom, park with reckless abandon ("Wow, do I want to park on the left side of the front door of the store or the right side? Hmmm, decisions, decisions..."), fit my 6-3, 245 pound frame onto a barstool and feel hemmed in by some douche and his backwards baseball cap-wearing buddies who have never heard of personal space.
Narrow-minded and provincial? Sure. But I'm a narrowminded, provincial guy who can actually find a parking space in front of his building for a few days.
They'll be back soon, though. Who the hell wants to spend New Year's Eve in Chucklebuck, Missouri? No, migration back home will begin just about the time the last turkey drumstick is devoured. And New Year's Eve in Chicago will be a drunken yell-fest as those polite please-pass-the-potatoes voices bellow out "PARRRRRRRR-TAAAAAAAAYYY!!" in alcohol-lubricated ecstasy,

But for now, just this week, I have my city back.


I'm Late for Work, Where's My Coffee Cup?

Update No. 2:
The panhandling guy I wrote about earlier, the one who conducted a mini-survey to see if he had previously panhandled from me… he has a job!

Well, sort of. Like I said, I always see him on the bus stop while going to work and not only wondered about his panhandling style, but also where he goes, since he panhandles until his bus comes (which is the same bus I ride), gets on (not sure if he pays with his panhandling proceeds) and rides downtown. I usually get off before him, so I was never sure where he goes or how far he rides the bus.

But Thursday I rode one stop further than I usually do. There’s a Lavazza coffee shop there and, having tired of giving my coffee money to Caribou and Starbucks, I decided to give my coinage to another faceless corporate entity for a change. Panhandlin’ Dude got off there as well and I didn’t really pay attention to where he could possibly be headed, just ducked into the coffee shop.

When I came out, I walked through the light rain and across the street to the building where I work. There’s a sort of open promenade around the building that provides shelter from the drops and as I’m walking through I glance to my right and there he is. The Panhandling guy is outside of my building. And he’s not just hanging out but actually panhandling. I see him stop a young woman and jiggle his beat-up coffee cup, the same one he carries around when I see him on the bus stop in the morning.

Which leads me to the question: Does this mean he has a job? I mean, if a guy gets up at a set time each day and every day and takes a specific bus to a specific location to ply his trade, that’s pretty much a job, right? Sure, he’s just hitting people up for loose change as he meanders around the Loop, but his diligence, his routine, that’s gotta count toward something resembling a job. Sure, any old vagabond can sit upright on a park bench, yawn a couple of times, reach down to the old coffee cup at his fee and be “at work”. But to set your alarm, wait for a specific bus and get off at the same destination every work day, that takes a special kind of dedication.

It’s that sort of can-do, go-getter spirit that has made American great!


End of a Dubious Era...

The mysterious Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood gets even more mysterious.

Only a few months after I speculated about the very existence of the mysterious Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood, the one that has been there for all of the 16-plus years I’ve been in the area and where, as far as I know, I have been the only customer, I walked past it recently and received a mild shock.

It’s up for sale.

In the big picture window of the restaurant is a handmade sign with “Business for sale” and a phone number written in marker on white posterboard. There’s another sign with the same message on the front door, in case you missed the one five feet to the left.

I’m not going to pretend it’s like the passing of an era, the departure of an old friend or any of that melodramatic crap where you try to affix human qualities to an inanimate object. Hell, I get upset with people refer to pets as their “babies” and those dogs, cats and finches are living, breathing things. And like I said in the previous post, the food kinda sucked and it was a little creepy in there, not the sort of qualities you spend time reminiscing over. (“Yeah, remember that restaurant we went to where we threw up immediately afterwards? You know, the one with the club-footed waiter and the rat in the corner that stared at us the whole time we ate? Yeah, good times…”).

But I have to admit, it did make me stop for a second. I mean, the place seems like it’s been there so long that horse-drawn carriages probably brought the first shipment of wonton wrappers. So to see a “for sale” sign in the window, especially coming not too long after pondering this weird little restaurant’s place in my immediate universe, well, it’s a little strange.

Now you just have to wonder what the hell made them arrive at the decision to bail out after, oh, about five years of not having a single customer? What make that elderly Asian woman turn to that elderly Asian man one day and say, “You know, we haven’t had a single freakin’ customer in five freakin’ years. I’m 91 and you’re 100… maybe we should think about retiring.”

Could the death blow have been the brand spanking new Thai restaurant that opened up across the street, the one with the clean floors, cool Ikea-looking wooden tables and chairs and the people behind the counter who DON’T look like they spent time in a WWII internment camp in California? Yeah, yeah, I know…Thai…Chinese, two different things, but to a lot of folks, “noodles is noodles”. And in this battle of Asian food supremacy on Bryn Mawr Ave., the new place won hands down.

Then again, it could just be a case of “striking while the iron’s hot.” In the past two years there have been a flurry of new businesses opening up on the strip: Starbucks, an upscale-ish Mexican restaurant, the Thai place, a new bank, a White Hen Pantry, a small storefront theater, a new version of a famous fancy-schmancy French restaurant that has its main digs in the well-to-do area of Lakeview/Wrigleyville, condos both new and converted popping up like weeds. Maybe the owners just figured now was the time to sell, to get some of that greedy developer money and jump on a slow boat to … well.

Whatever the reason, they’re leaving and it’s going to be… well, I don’t know what it’s going to be. Different… how about that?


Coffee, tea or "Get the Fuck Out!"

My favorite coffee shop has been outed. Well, OK, it's not like no one knew it existed. But it wasn't overrun with customers. You could still go there on a Saturday morning and get a seat at a table by yourself - maybe even one of the good, big tables where you can spread all of your crap out and set up the laptop and take advantage of the free wi-fi. In fact, my last blog post was done there.

It's called Charmers, a sort-of dainty name for the converted coffeeshop in a spot that used to house a gay bar. Nice coffee, good selection, some decent food if you're hungry, big windows for people watching out on the street and a location that's not too obvious. Just the sort of place for a semi-social recluse like me.

But now they've been found out by Time Out Chicago magazine, a publication that is gaining in popularity wth the hip urban professionals around here. It was part of a cover story on the top non-chain coffee houses in Chicago by neighborhood. The top location in my Edgewater/Rogers Park area was a place called Metropolis, which is a great place for coffee (they roast it on premises) but, goddamn, that place is ALWAYS crowded. I've been there at 7 AM and it's crowded, noon and it's crowded. I've walked by at 5 p.m. and it's crowded. Sure the coffee's great, but what good is that if you can't sit down and enjoy it?

My second favorite place, Enuui Cafe in Rogers Park, has good coffee, but the wi-fi sucks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes you have to sit in the right area of the room to get a signal, meaning you're moving from table to table with all your shit.

So I happened upon Charmers. OK, confession time. I didn't "happen" upon it, I found out about it through the same medium I now blame for it's possible demise. I read about it in a publication. Although, I think I did drive past it one time previously, but didn't really consider going in. The only thing I did was notice that the gay bar I used to see from the elevated train on the way to Evanston was gone. But it was featured in the food section of a local newspaper as part of the resurgence of businesses in the Jarvis Street area so I decided to check it out. After all, who the hell reads the food section, especially among the hip urbanites who are lining up at Soundbar to check out DJ Whatshisface? And since I had been familiar with the area for a long tie, I didn't consider myself a trend follower. I already new about the spot. I was just a regular customer who hadn't become regular... yet.

That's one of my secret fears, that people will think I'm one of the trendy crowd who get their ideas on where to go and what to do from magazines and newspapers, rather than thinking for myself or being an urban pioneer who scouts out spots based on a whim. I get a secret joy from point out to people, "Oh, yeah, I started going to that place a long time ago, before anybody else went there." (I managed to somehow ignore the fact that when I first went there, there were people inside so SOMEBODY had to know about it before me.)

But now Charmers has been exposed and I'm getting all provincial, as if they were supposed to lock the doors after I got there. "Nope, sorry folks. I know you read about it and it got great reviews and all that, but sorry... HE'S here now so that's it."

God, I'm such a closet snob.


When marketing execs are down on their luck...

So I’m standing there waiting for the 136 bus again this morning and this same grizzled, scruffy old guy who I almost always see there comes hobbling around the corner. He’s wearing the same just-a-little-too-short pants, the same lint-covered gray knit cap, the same brown down coat. I don’t know if he’s homeless, though I suspect he lives in the halfway house around the corner, the one that houses all the obvious mental patients that wander the streets on Bryn Mawr back and forth. But I know he’s going to ask me for money. Hell, he asks everyone who’s standing on the bus stop for money every morning. I’m not sure if he really needs it. I mean, he gets on the same bus as I do when it finally arrives, which means he’s at least got bus fare. So maybe he’s just looking for walking-around money, or some extra coinage for a nice meal at Manny’s Deli. But whatever the reason, he’s always working the crowd at the bus stop for money.

But he did something strange today. I see lumbering around the corner, stopping in front of everyone in front of me, see his mouth moving, apparently asking for change, see their heads shaking back and forth: no. And he finally works his way over to me. And instead of flat out asking me if I have any spare change, he first asks me, “Have I asked you before?” I’m a little taken aback because A) I was expect the rote question, “Got any change?” and B) I wondered, asked me WHAT before? So I said exactly that to him, asked me WHAT before, and he responds, “Asked you for change. Have I asked you for change before?”

Now, I’ve never been asked by a panhandler to let him know if he’s previously attempted to tap my generosity. I can see the same guy on the same street corner every day for a year and he never seems to be concerned if he’s wearing out his welcome. In fact, the more familiar he becomes with me, the most likely he is to rush past everyone else to get to broke l’il ol’ me. Nope, it’s mostly just stick the hand out, ask the question and if no clink of the coinage is heard, move along.

But I’ve never been part of panhandler survey before, one that starts with “Have I asked you before?” I’m wondering is this part of some new homeless focus group effort, a street guy questionnaire designed to improve their panhandling technique.

“Now, if I have asked you for change before, would you say I was A) extremely courteous, B) very courteous, C) courteous, D) slightly courteous or D) not courteous? Now on this second part, please rank my bumming from one to five, one being “Not likely to give me money” and five being “Very likely to give me money.”

Anyway, I’m curious as to what he’s talking about, so when he ask if he’s asked me before, I say no. He follows up quickly with, “Well, do you have any spare change?” I say no again and he grunts something and moves on to the next person. And I’m left there to wonder about the panhandlers who doesn’t want to wear out his welcome.


Chinese mystery

I’m pretty sure every decent-sized urban neighborhood has one. Amidst the corner grocery store and the dry cleaners and the new coffee shop and the cell phone store there’s that one business that stands out. Not because it’s the busiest, not because it’s the newest or the cheapest.

No, it stands out because despite the fact that you never see anyone go in or out, it’s always open and always there.

You know the place. That mysterious little shop in the middle of the street. You’ve never been inside, nor seen anyone else go inside. But it’s always been there, always with the sad-looking “Open” sign in the window. It’s dark enough inside that you can’t make out if anyone is working in there. Or if you can see inside, there’s usually the same solitary person inside, the same elderly man or woman moving around slowly, performing some ritualistic, mundane task. You might have caught their eye once or twice, then looked quickly away as if you were seeing something you shouldn’t have.

But it’s always there. Everything else around it has come and gone and changed several times over. The beauty shop that was a restaurant that was a hardware store that was a Laundromat. They go out of business, thanks to the whims of the public (bye-bye stationary store, hello Starbucks). But this one place, somehow hangs on like a freakin’ cockroach after the Apocolypse.

For me it’s the China Star Chinese Restaurant. In the middle of the block, flanked by a dollar store and a hip-hop clothing store, it sits like old man waiting for a bus that's never coming. A thin tree sprouts from the sidewalk outside its main window, as if trying to hide a secret. And not to be outdone, three is a small tree INSIDE the restaurant's front window as well, its branches and leaves making it difficult to see inside (on purpose?).

But you can still peek through, in the tight corners of the window not covered by the overgrown houseplant. You can see the rows of tables and chairs, enough to accommodate at least 30 or 40 customers. And there is NEVER anyone inside. Never. Not. One. Customer. Not one person ever seated at the tables enjoying General Tso’s Chicken or egg foo yung or sweet and sour pork. Never. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for almost 15 years and cannot recall ever seeing anyone having a meal in this restaurant.

But they’re open every single day. Well, except for Mondays. The dutiful owners are apparently businesses-minded enough to flip the signed to “closed” on that traditonal closed-restaurant day. But without fail, they're open the next day. I'm going to assume they actually live in the restaurtant, somewhere in the back among the giant woks and wonton wrappers, because I've never seen them actually open or close the restaurant using keys.

But I know they exist because I once actually went inside and ordered food. A long time ago, when I first moved into the neighborhood. I think I did it more out of curiousity than a desire for good food. There were plenty of other options in the area, some that I've been to before and liked. The gyros place across the street. Franko's Pizza. El Norte Mexican restaurant. But I guess I was trying to be a good guy, throwing them some business. That's the sort of guy I am. Modest, too.

So I ventured inside and was met with depressing darkness. A dingy maroon carped covered the floor. It was too dark to determine if the markings on the floor were a pattern or dirt. Sad wallpaper. Row after row of empty tables filled the room. A televison in the far corner of the restaurant was turned to some Asian game show. In the far end, light came from the kitchen area but there were no sounds of things sizzling, frying, woks being slammed by utensils. I walked hesitantly up to the register where an elderly Asian woman sat. Despite her jet black hair, her face told me that it was quite possible she was interred in a camp in California during World War II. And not as a child.

She nodded at me, smiled a little and said hello. I took one of the menus from the register area. Already something told me this was probably not a good idea. I mean, everything about the place told me that customers here were few and far between. And no matter if the was horrible food or a changing Chinese food demographic, they could not have been getting shipments of fresh food each and every day without their storage area bulging at the seams. How long can egg rolls last in a freezer? What is the shelf life of snow peas? Is three month old shrimp safe to eat?

I decided to play it safe and order something simple, rather than the slightly more exotic stuff. (Coroner: "Well, as far as we can figure, he died from crab rangoon poisoning, complicated by a moo goo guy pan reaction.") I pointed to the combination fried rice, figuring the heat from the wok would kill any parasites. The same reasoning led me to order the egg rolls as well. After placing my order, the woman turned toward the kitchen and bellowed something in Chinese. A voice bellowed and I heard the clanking of metal and the hiss of oil. I sat at one of the tables and waited. On the television, some guy was singingand the crowd was going wild.

After about 15 minutes an old man in a white apron and t-shirt emerged from the back carrying a brown paper bag. He said nothing and walked back. The woman handed me the bag and I gave her a $10. I took my change and left.

When I got home I started eating it and the overwhelming taste of everything was grease. The combination fried rice was oily. The egg roll were oily. The fortune cookies were oily (OK, they probably weren't but I wasn't going to try them.) For the first time in my life, I couldn't finish a meal. But at least a piece of the puzzle was in place. At least part of the reason why the place was empty was a bit clearer. People had apparently wised up and kept clear of the joint.

But, still, they were open every day, rain or shine. How? How were they keeping this business afloat with bad combination fried rice and egg rolls you could give a lube job with? Did they own the building lock, stock and barrel, and thus had no landlord to pay? Did they own a Chinese restaurant supply store and had no overhead? Was there a windmill in the back somewhere generating their own electricity, a natural gas supply and a refinery in the basement? How were they operating a business for the past 10-plus years with NO customers?

I chalked this one up to an "ancient Chinese secret", like Calgon or something (obscure old TV commercial reference) and added it to the list of mysterious commercial businesses I have known with no visible means of income, yet continued to remain open. The cleaners/leather store on Belmont Ave. The pita bread store on north Clark street that is never open and never has a person inside, yet displays racks and racks of fresh pita break in the front window. The bakery near Diversey and Ashland with the ratty awning and dead plants in the window that is apparently still in business. The bar that smelled like vomit from the outside.

So look around your neighborhood and ask yourself: Why is that store still there?


Blank Morning...

At the risk of coming across like an anti-social prick, I hate saying “Good Morning.” Not because I don’t welcome the day and bless the Lord/Buddah/Allah/The Exaulted Grand Tkirta of Algon 5 for giving me one more 24 hour span on this Earth. Not because I don’t wish my fellow man/woman/transgendered person good tidings and hopes for an tragedy-free day.

I just hate saying “Good Morning.”

I don’t really know why, which makes it even more puzzling, even to myself. I’m going to chalk it up to me not being a morning person, which I’m not. I don’t really get going till around 1:30 or so, so wishing me a good morning is pretty much a wasted effort.

But more and more people are saying it, from the woman standing at the bus stop who I have never seen before in my life, to the guy driving the bus who should be less enthusiastic about the morning than I am considering all of the freaks he has to deal with on a daily basis, from the woman behind the counter at the coffee shop (though her AM perkiness might be latte-related), to the guy who sells me a newspaper from his tiny men’s room stall-sized stand, to the security guard on my floor at work, to the two (TWO!) receptionists at the front desk.

And to each one I mumble a barely audible “morning”. Not even a full “Good Morning”. Just “morning”, as if I was only acknowledging the fact that the sun was, indeed, in the sky and any further assessment of the quality of the day was not my concern.

I know they can hear it in my voice. Barely enunciating. Not looking at them. Flat monotone. With the exception of a man scheduled to face a firing squad at dawn, it’s probably the least believable “good morning” on human record.

Like I said, I don’t know why I hate saying it. I guess it could be that I don’t feel that most of the people, even the really cheery ones, don’t really give a fuck. I mean, if I were to stop and actually assess the day with them, would they really want to listen?

Them: “Good morning.”

Me: “Is it? Is it really? What, exactly is good about it? And don’t give me the ‘It’s good because you’re alive’ crap, because there’s some guy living in a mud puddle in the Sudan who probably doesn’t think it’s so great to be alive. So what’s so good about it, huh? Huh? Hey, where’re you going? Come back here…”

The other possible reason is that I don’t know what the phrase really means. Good morning. Good. Morning. Are they just generically saying the morning is good, like some Amish farmer? (“Ah, the morning is good, Jebediah.” Yes, Hezekiah, ‘tis a good morning for a barn raising.”). Is it short-hand for “Have a good morning”, as if it were an order, which no one could reliably fulfill because of all of the out-of-their control factors that go into determining whether the morning will be good or not? (“Hey, you!… Have a good morning.” “OK, I’ll try, but you need to know that it’s way outta my control, so if I can’t, hey…”). If they mean, “I hope you have a good morning”, then SAY that! That’s like walking up to a couple of newlyweds and just saying, “Very happy” instead of “I hope you two will be very happy.” I mean, what are you really telling me when you say, “Good Morning” to me?

But I guess the biggest reason I would rather not bother with saying “good morning” is I have the sneaking suspicion that most, if not all, of the people saying in really don’t mean it. The vast majority of the people saying it to me are people who pretty much HAVE to say it as a part of their job dealing with the public. Store clerks. Coffee counter personnel. Receptionists. Bus drivers. And whether they’re saying it with a twinkle in their voice or saying it as if they were programmed to do so like Robbie The Robot, I can tell. At least 90 percent of the time, it’s no more significant than a car horn on the street.

So maybe we should retire it for a while. Just reduce the morning greeting ritual to a nod or something. Just acknowledging that, yeah, you’re a person, I’m a person, we’re here on this planet together so let’s just try not to kill each other today, OK? Now, what kind of coffee did you want.

I used to take public transportation to high school. Every weekday morning for four years. And nearly every one of those days, I would get on the bus and seated right by the first seat on the bus, across from the driver, was this old guy in a dated, but clean suit. From what I could gather, he was a minister of some sort. At least he was always carrying a bible. He had white hair under his hat, a white moustache, a tiny white soul patch under his bottom lik and a big ass smile almost constantly plastered to his face. And he would say “good morning” to each and every person who got on the bus. Old women. Old men. Little kids. Their mothers. Their older brothers and sisters. Everyone. And me. Every day, for most of my four year high school career, from the dreariest rain-soaked morning to the most testicle-shrinkingly cold December AMs, he’d be there, bellowing “Good morning” to everyone who stepped inside that bus, in a baritone that belied his advanced age (60s? 70s?). He was relentless, not giving up until you responded in kind, whether you were in the mood or not. “C’mon, now, I said ‘good morning’. Put that smile on your face. It’s a blessed day. Alright, there it is. See, that wasn’t so hard.”

I’m sure he thought that saying “good morning” has some sort of spiritually uplifting qualities, that it could brighten the darkest day, lift the spirits of the most downtrodden. But it didn’t. For me, it made the already undesirable chore of spending five hours in the hormone hell that was high school even more annoying. And to start nearly every day with a smiling reminder that it, in fact, was NOT going to be good morning was soon imprinted on my soul.

Yup, I blame him.


In case anyone was interested....

OK, I haven't posted here in a LOOOOONG time... not that anyone was heartbroken over it I'm sure. I just have a hard time doing the day-to-day, this-is-what-happened-to-me stuff, making mundane events ("Man, that smelly guy was on the bus AGAIN today!") seem intesting. I could never keep a diary, and let's face it, most blogs are pretty much diaries, 'cept without the cute little lock on the cover.

But for the stuff that I HAVE been writing, check here


It's an online sort of magazine about life in Chicago. I've written a few things there, most recently about the upcoming Chicago marathon. There are some other good writers there too. It's a good way for ex-Chicagoans to keep up with what's going on here on the every-day-life level.

And if you search around, you can probaby find a picture of my big ol' head there, sad to say. Let me know if I was anything like you pictured ("Wow, his blog makes him see much more William Faulknerish...")


Things I just don't get...

OK, admittedly I don't "get" a lot of things (announcers who get excited about ice dancing, the attraction of soccer, Paris Hilton, "lite" beer), but these are the things right now I just don't "get":

1. The Whole Big Sunglasses Thing
I guess it’s been the style for a while now (sorry, I lost my most recent issue of Vogue), but I don’t know what’s up with whole big sunglasses thing. All of these tiny girls with tiny heads and big sunglasses that look like TV screens. I’m used to it on short, blue-haired old women who have owned this look for decades, but on the apparently-hip chick (and occasional guy)…? Did Edie Sedgewick make a comeback I wasn’t aware of? I can’t look at any of them without thinking of Fearless Fly.

2. Fancy Rims on Crappy Cars
Is it more sad than pathetic or more pathetic than sad? Not sure which, but I’m just trying to figure out who these guys think they’re fooling. You’ve seen them, tooling slowing down the street, wrist resting on the top of the steering wheel in a devil-may-care attitude, head invariably nodding to the beat of a bass line eminating from their car’s speakers that threatens to dislodge the rust and Bondo holding their 1978 Ford Impala together. Yet the thing that draws your attention is the wheels, as shiny and glistening as the rest of the car is dull and dented. They sometimes spin at stoplights in a mesmerizing display while the car’s engine sputters like an old man being forced to walk up five flights of stairs. Hey guys…GUYS! TURN THE STEREO DOWN… IT’S NOT WORKING!! THE RIMS!!!… THEY’RE NOT WORKING!! YOU LOOK STUPID!!! ... OKAY, NO PROBLEM!!!

3. Terrell Owens.
Immensely talented. Great speed, great hands, great sense of the field. And a complete asshole. More than half the men in the country would give at least 75 percent of their testicles to be TO for a year: the money, the fame, the talent, the money, the women, the money… you get the drift. But for Owens, wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, it’s not enough. He wants to be loved. He wants to be respected. So how does he plan to achieve this? By calling his quarterback, the guy who’s supposed to get the ball to him, a pussy, as he did with the Philadelphia Eagles last year. By sitting out practices he’s paid to attend. By drawing attention to himself in every way possible (pulling a pen out of his sock and autographing a football after a touchdown and throwing it in the stands or joining the cheerleaders for a sideline cheer after another TD). By claiming he’s been slighted, maligned, demeaned, all while making close to eleventy-bazillion dollars a year. Run, catch, run some more: that is all that is required of him out of his professional life. And he can’t seem to do that without becoming a jerk. I don’t get it. He is the asshole that assholes call an asshole.

4. Nudity in Vermont.
You may have read about it: Teens walking around nude in Brattleboro, Vermont for no apparent reason other than they have an unstated permission to do it. Um… OK. I understand the whole freedom thing, letting it all hang out (both figuratively and literally) as they used to say, we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies and blah blah blah… But, c’mon… I’ve read a few stories on this and it’s been mostly men/boys who are being quoted on this subject, defending the practice and avidly participating in it. But if there’s anyone who should NOT be naked on a city street, it’s probably a teenage boy. Unless they have complete control of their… um…response reflex, it could be an embarrassing situation for them and anyone who comes within eight… seven? ….six inches of them. If you’re a teenager in Vermont who want to be embarrassed, get caught in the car with booze or with a girl in your bedroom. Not standing on the street naked in the middle of the day with a hard-on that just won’t go away.


Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world...

Apropos of nothing, these are just some headlines that appeared in my local newspaper (Chicago Sun-Times) all on one day. You don't really need the stories behind them. Make of them what you will...

• Californian accused in death of ficus

• 79-year-old allegedly tried to rob bank

• He’s been a college senior for 24 years

• Gunmen throw 5 heads on dance floor in Mexico

• Fish that are both male and female discovered in Potomac

• Trio accused of robbing Wis. grave in hope of sex

• Colleges kick out suicidal students

• Militant waited 24 years to shoot Westerners


...and thank you for riding the CTA...

I’ve been riding public transportation for a long time. A VERY long time. Since third grade, actually, when my family moved out of walking distance from the Catholic grammar school my brothers and sisters and I were attending, on through high school and up until the downtown college I attended. I’ve ridden them to get to jobs, parties, friends’ houses, etc. Not sure exactly how many years that adds up to, but suffice to say I consider myself a pretty public transportation savvy.

Back then, riders only had to obey a couple of rules: No littering and no radio playing. That’s it. You could still smoke on the bus back then because the surgeon general hadn’t gotten all anal retentive about it. But when they finally broke down and added it, it was no big deal.

So for years it was just those three simple rules. Of course, people still littered on the bus and train: newspapers, fast food wrappers, etc. But they hired people to clean it up so it must have been expected. And sometimes late at night, when boom boxes were still en vogue, kids would get on fill the train car with the sounds of Kool Moe Dee until a cop or CTA agent showed up. And, sure, people ate on the train. If you’re zooming between jobs or running to school, you’re going to grab a chance to eat whenever you can. (Though the strangest instance of eating on the CTA I’ve ever seen involved a woman balancing a tray of sushi on her knees and trying to add wasabi and soy sauce on a crowded bus.)

After a while they added a few more: No gambling, because the practitioners of the Three Card Monte couldn’t resist the semi-captive audience; and no soliciting, which put a big dent in the tube socks industry. And so no one could claim ignorance of the rules, they turned it into a taped message played almost constantly on the bus and train and spoken in crisp, clear tones by some game-show announcer guy.

I hadn’t really paid attention to it in the past few years; it was like background noise. But the other day I heard an addition to the litany of public transportation no-nos that even made me, the hard-bitten, unflappable, the-Chicago-Fire-was-just-a-big-weenie-roast urbanite stop in my tracks:

“Please do not put your feet on the seats.”

Huh? Put your feet on the seats? Seriously?

I guess occasionally I had seen people, mostly snotty teens and a few twentysomethings, rest their high-priced Nikes on a train seat or bus seat, ignoring the growing rush hour crowd until some fed-up, lunch-pail blue collar guy would tell them to move their dogs off the seat, and they’d do so but with just enough attitude to suggest, “I’m only doing this because I want to…”.

But I hadn’t known it had grown to epidemic proportions, enough to force the CTA to give it its own special announcement on the trains AND buses. Not as part of the smoking/littering/gambling/radio playing four-play, but as a stand-alone CTA commandment. When I first heard it, I half expected to see Moses descend from Mount Prospect, view the debauchery of feet on seats, smash his stone tablet bus card in anger and part the Red Line. I mean, you have to TELL people not to put their feet on the seat? I thought it was a given, like not walking onto the train nude or defecating on the escalator. Feet on a seat? (which, by the way, is a new movie starting Samuel L. Jackson).

But I got me to thinking how many other rules the CTA could add to make the ride easier, rules to curtail activities that are just as prevalent as people putting their feet on the seats. So from now on:

Please bath before boarding the train.

Please speak a little louder on your cell phone. The people sitting at the far end of the car couldn’t hear where you’re going to dinner.

Please allow out-of-town St. Louis Cardinal fans to exit promptly. Finding themselves on any stop north of Addison or South of Adams and Wabash will result in their disappearance from the face of the earth.

Please have your money or transit card ready before boarding the bus or train. Fumbling through your purse or pocket once you finally get ON the bus will only confirm to the rest of the world that you are cholesterol in the artery of life. You’ve been at the bus stop for 20 minutes. A bus was bound to show up sooner or later. You know you had to pay. Do the math.

Please do not sit right next to the only other person on the train car. It’s just, you know, creepy. Unless you’re a criminal. Then we know what time it is.

Please allow other passengers to get off before you try to squeeze your elephantine body into a door that can barely accommodate you by yourself, let alone you and the 50 other people trying to get off.

And thank you for riding the CTA…


I am falling apart

I fucked up my shoulder the other day

I wish I had a good story behind it, like landing on it while leaping from the third-story window of a burning building with a baby under each arm, or while plowing into a purse snatcher who has just ripped off a bag containing the life savings of a generous 80-year-old widow, or while blasting through the two-hole past the left tackle, shaking off a linebacker and leaping into the end zone during a Chicago Bears open try-out for over-35 high school football has-beens and never-wases.

Even better would be some sort of tale of sexual gymnastics: ‘Well, there I was, hanging from the trapeze. We’d just gotten the llama into position and the vat of chocolate pudding had reached exactly 82 degrees when she was startled by the mariachi band and BAM! I hit the floor and busted my shoulder. Boy was I embarrassed!”

Yeah, I WISH I had a good story, but I don’t. No, I fucked up my shoulder while lying in bed. Watching television.

Go ahead and laugh and call me a pathetic loser. I would, too, if it wasn’t me I was talking about. I mean, dislocating a shoulder lying in bed? What kind of brittle-boned, out-of-shape, Krispy Kreme-scarfing, freak show edition fat bastard dislocates his shoulder just lying in bed?

Me, I guess. OK, clarification: I am not a fat, donut-eating Jerry Springer watching lazy bum, nor am I a calcium-deficient milquetoast who gets nose bleeds from playing Stratego too hard. I work out three days a week, lifts weights, can run a 5K, am faster than a speeding bullet, more power than a…, etc., etc., etc. Which makes this all the more confusing and embarrassing.

I was simply lying in bed, watching some stupid comedian on television. Actually she was fucking hilarious, which is why it happened in the first place. I was lying there, resting my head on my hand and propping myself up on my elbow, when she said something particularly funny. I can’t remember exactly what it was, either her line about “… Once you go (Puerto) Rican, your parents start freakin’” or “To get a black man to eat out a woman, you have to stick a chicken leg down there…” (To be fair, she made fun of EVERYBODY in the audience: white suburban soccer moms, black women, old white men, gays). Whatever line it was, it made me laugh out loud, and in the process, I jerked myself backward, twisting my shoulder and pulling it right out of the socket. I stopped laughing immediately and instinctively A) tried to work it back into place and B) felt extremely stupid for hurting myself in a less-than-impressive manner.

I jumped up immediately and sort of shook the arm back into place then checked it to make sure it was fully functioning I did a couple of slow windmill motions, waggled it around like an excited chicken. It hurt a little and made some crunching, grinding noises. But as long as I could move it I was relieved.

But it still kinda freaked me out a bit when it happened because it was so unexpected and so disorienting. Like, one minute you’re there with all of your joints intact and working, a fully functioning human being, with your kick-ass opposable thumb and your walking upright and all that shit. The next minute, a piece of you is out of place, your arm freakishly dislodged like a busted G.I. Joe after your sister plays “G.I. Joe and Barbie Fight Over The Barbie Dream Car and Barbie Kicks G.I. Joe’s Ass.”

Being wary of doctors and hospitals and modern medicine in general, I have relied on the tried and true “homeopathic” method of recovery, i.e. leaving it alone and hoping it will fix itself. I’ve enlisted a very specific and scientific regimen. I’ve cut down on the amount of weight I’m lifting, applied various creams and ointments and tried not to sleep on it funny. And I’ve looked up stuff on the web, which is just as good as going to a real doctor… right? My shoulder has gotten slightly better over time. I can lift my arm over my head again and actually lift things. You don’t know how much you miss lifting things until you, well, can’t lift them.

I still haven’t figured out what the fuck happened. I’ve had problems with my left shoulder since knocking it out of whack during high school football practice. Could bum shoulders be hereditary? Sickle Shoulder Anemia?

Anyway, I expect to break a hip while simply sitting in a chair any day now.


Insane Germophobic Woman

I saw Insane Germophobic Woman on the bus again today.

I’ve been trying to avoid her recently by taking a later bus. Seriously. Not because she and I have some personal battle going on. It’s just that I can’t stand seeing her go through her bus cleaning ritual every morning on the 136 Sheridan bus, which was driving me insane. Like her!

Regular riders of this particular bus run will know who this is. A lot of them purposely avoid sitting anywhere near her. Not that she would easily let them. In addition to being insanely germophobic, she’s viciously territorial when it comes to someone sitting beside her (which doesn’t play too well on a morning rush-hour bus) and she’s extremely egotistical with regards to her comfort vs. someone else’s (if SHE feels cold on a bus, she will close the window near YOU, even if it’s all the way in the back of the bus). Like I said, she’s insane.

Insane Germophobic Woman (IGW) doesn’t really look insane. Just looks like a regular, thinnish black woman, says “hi” to the bus driver and a few other regular riders. She always gets on with her special bag (this morning it was a plastic version of those little brown bags with the words “little brown bag” written on the side). Inside are an unusual assortment of cleaning supplies, unusual for someone riding a bus to work: a couple of spray bottles, Handiwipes, a batch of napkins/paper towels, hand gel and who-knows-what other ozone-destroying chemicals.

I get on the bus a few stops before her, but by now I’ve learned her routine and, in particular, which seat she prefers to use. I know her first choice (the second set of seats facing forward on the left side of the bus), her second choice (the single seats on the right side of the bus) and, if the bus is unusually crowded by the time she gets on, her third choice (the sideways facing seats in the rear). I know this is obsessive on my part, but that’s different. Because of this knowledge, I pick my bus seats carefully now, counting heads and trying to pre-determine where she’s going to sit and trying to sit as far away from her. But sometimes I forget. That’s a bad thing.

When she gets on the bus, she’ll stand there in the aisle making her choice, ignoring the twelve-car pile-up of people waiting to get by her to get a seat. After she picks her seat, she begins her cleaning ritual, spraying some unknown liquid from an unmarked misting bottle. It smells like some homemade concoction, not like any well-known Proctor And Gamble product. And if you’re sitting in the seat behind her, you’ll probably get a spritz or two in the process, a wafting of the mystery liquid as it floats over the seat and onto your hands, clothes, face. Then IGW will begin scrubbing the seat to rid it of any dirt that the highly-paid official transit authority cleaning crew missed, ground-in footprints of little kids, leftover vomit or some residual bum juices. With that done, she places a large napkin thing on the seat as if it was a toilet in a bus station, hoping to create an impenetrable two-ply paper barrier between her ass and any microbes that were lucky enough to survive.

To make sure her now-sanitized section stays that way, IGW snarls at anyone who tries to sit next to her. OK, maybe snarls is a bad choice of words, but she’s not at all happy. She tries to put her bag on the seat next to her as a deterrent, but on a crowded rush hour bus, most people are like, “fuck that.” They’re polite when they ask her is it’s alright if they sit there. When they do, she gives them a stern look, sometimes a heavy sigh as if someone with 20 items just moved into eight-items-or-less lane and then, finally and with visible reluctance, moving the bag and shifting

Insane Germophobic Woman is obviously, well, germophobic, which immediately begs the question: If she is so concerned with germs and cleanliness, then why, pray tell, is she riding a CTA bus? Of all the transportation choices she could make, why pick the one that’s like a stool sample with wheels? Bums make their home on there, babies demonstrate their lack of bowel control on there. It occasionally has the unique combination of urine and French fries. It’s a disgusting mess and no amount of spritzing and scrubbing will fix that.

I know things between her and some other rider are going to come to a head one day and maybe soon. And it won’t be pretty. She’s already caused several people to change seats or choose to stand while they try to figure out what the fuck her problem is.

Today, with the bus crowded as usual, some guy walked back and asked if it was alright to sit there. She tried to discourage him by saying there was dirt on the seat, but it’s a fucking CTA bus; there’s dirt on every seat. When he shrugged it off as if to say that’s OK, she reluctantly moved her special germ-killing paper towel from THAT seat. He had a newspaper in one of those rain-protecting plastic sleeves and dropped it on the seat to sit on it in case she was telling the truth. I guess the plastic was a little too close to her or something, because she flicked it away and sent his newspaper to the bus floor. She said “sorry” but you know she didn’t mean it. The guy picked the paper off the floor and slammed it onto the seat with an audible “thwack”, opened up a second paper and began flipping through the pages, making each one rattle in that “I’m pissed but I am going to read this paper!” kinda way.

I saw Insane Germophobic Woman on the bus home today too. I wonder if she has a husband…


Daniel Boone Can Rest Easy...

The power went out in my building tonight.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal for me. I grew up in the city, but I like to think of myself as frontier stock. Like I could, if I had to, figure out some way to start a fire, or cook a rattlesnake to make it edible, or build a respectable shelter for me and the missus (If I had a missus) and fend off rustlers, etc., etc., etc. I mean, when it’s cold outside I can stand on the bus stop for at least 30 minutes without complaining.

But not today. No, the last fucking thing in the world that I needed on the hottest day of the year is for the fucking power to be out in my fucking building when I fucking get home. We here in Chicago recently got our share of the big Al Gore-sponsored heatwave that ‘s been sweeping the country. The recorded temperature was in the 90s, but with the humidity and all that it’s, like, 250 I think. Either way, it’s hotter than a fuck. Everybody on the street is sticky and wilted. The bums smell more bummier and the urine-soaked alleys smell more urine-y.

I had already had the Mother of All Bus Rides Home, a herky-jerky affair where the bus driver is hitting the brakes every nine feet until you start to think they’re just doing it to be an asshole. Normally, the ride takes about an hour and I can tolerate that even though I HATE riding the fucking bus.

NOTE: The power went out again as I was writing that last sentence! It went out at 8:30 Monday night. It is now 8:12 Tuesday morning. I thought I fucking lost this post (not that the world would miss it, but damn…). Thank God for the wonders of recovered documents.

So anyway, I finally complete my TWO HOUR ride home on a bus, which, ironically, is freezing cold inside because the driver feels he has to compensate for the heat outside. This huge difference in temperature hits me when I step off the bus, and of course, it immediately feels like someone is gagging me with Saran Wrap. But before I go home I have to stop at the store and get something for dinner.

I’m walking along the sidewalk I notice more people that usual hanging out on the street. Most of the time it’s the same guys standing on the same corners holding the same cups asking for the same change. But for some reason there are more people just hanging out on the street, people who look like they have better things to do.

I pass by the restaurant on the corner and it’s completely dark inside. The dry cleaners across the street is dark as well. More people milling about the street. I get to the store and it’s closed. What the fuck?… It’s not nine yet. I say fuck it and walk to my apartment building, figure I can dig up something from the plastic containers that have been in there since Bush declared “Mission Accomplished.”

There are people standing around outside my building and I figure they’re loitering. I detest loitering. I always feel that people who loiter MUST have something better to do. Read a fucking book. Rearrange your sock drawer. SOMEthing… I force my way past them and into the building. That’s when I notice that even though it’s still daylight outside, the building is strangely dark. The lobby’s dim. I’m not a complete idiot but I have all the parts to build one: I figure out that the power’s out in the neighborhood. Which explains all the standing around outside. It’s then I notice the sound of ambulance sirens rushing to the high rise condos to rescue all of the old people trapped in their apartments who have fallen and can’t get up, or pulling up to one of the many rehab/mentally handicapped residential buildings (we have more per capita in my neighborhood than anywhere else in the city!). I realize there were more police cars than usual out there.

This makes me even more depressed after the long bus ride, so much so that I don’t even think about the 11 floors I have to climb to get to my expectedly dark apartment. Did I mention I live on the 11th floor? Most of the stairwell is lit by those emergency beacon things, but a few of the floors are pitch dark because the lights aren’t working. So every few flights I can’t see where I’m going. I’m sweating like a pig in the dark. Occasionally there’s someone coming downstairs and I can’t see who it is, just hear them. So I just move to one side and let them figure it out. I make a foot-shuffling noise (fake) or heavy breathing (not fake) to let them know somebody’s there.

I finally make it upstairs and realize I can’t stay in. It’s feels like a pizza oven inside the apartment and it’s dark and getting darker. I’ve gotta go somewhere cool so I head over to one of my usual bars and thank God it’s air conditioned. I decided to wait it out with a beer and the White Sox (Sox won, so that was a plus) for a couple of hours and then head back and see if civilization has returned to my apartment.

As I approach, I see there are lights on in the building… the fourth floor… the ninth floor. Cool. The elevator goes up and I barely think about the power it takes to make it move. The lights on my hallway floor are on and I don’t give it a second thought. I grab the remote and punch on the TV and only think about the miraculous scientific process that has made that possible for only a second or two. I fire up the computer and begin writing this post… and about 45 minutes later, the power goes out again. Fuck! I want electricity. I NEED electricity. I lied, I’m NOT a mountain man or a pioneer. I’m not self-sufficient. I’m a modern man who lives on electricity and gas and eats microwave popcorn and needs to finish Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I’ve got dirty clothes and no rock or stream handy! No, sir, I’d rather NOT be alone with my thoughts. Candle, yeah, I’ve got one, but those are for romantic dinners or summoning the dead, not a primary source of light.

It’s getting dimmer in the apartment as the sun heads out of sight. I’m deciding between heading back out the bar because I’m not ready to go to bed yet (and have to walk back up 11 flights of stairs AGAIN), or just calling it a night at 8:30 p.m. No TV to wrap up the night, no radio to lull me to sleep. Just cars and the sound of my own breath. Yuk. I decide to stay in.

I decided to use the fading light one last time to take a whiz in the bathroom. Absentmindedly, I flick the light switch and the room is filled with glorious incandescence. Fuck yeah! Light. I try the living room switches again. Nothing. What gives? I try the bedroom switch. Working. Bedroom TV comes alive. OK, in the same apartment, the living room lights are out but the bathroom and bedroom lights work. I don’t bother to ask questions, just thank God and ComEd.

I go to sleep and feel, for a second like some tiny animal holed up in a tree just waiting for daylight again.


Ann Coulter's (Possibly) Bizarre Sex Life

OK, I know it’s like beating the crap out of a dead horse, but is it OK to label Ann Coulter officially insane now? Is there paperwork required for this, or can we just come to a consensus.

When I first became aware of the ultraconservative commentator, from her appearances on the old ABC-TV version of “Politically Incorrect” (I never caught the cable episodes), I quickly came to the conclusion that she was just an arrogant, ball-busting know-it-all with a low tolerance for anyone who disagreed with her. Fair enough. I’ve known people like that all my life. Hell, I almost WAS one of those people (without the conservative part … conservatism is boring). And after seeing a few more of her appearances, I racheted up my opinion of her to “intolerable shrill harpy with man-hands”. Again, no problem. Been there, argued with that.

But since then?…Well, let’s just say I now realize that "dat bitch is fucking CRAZY, with a capital CRA!"

Her wacko levels have been off the charts for sometime now and most people with at least two functioning brain cells acknowledge this. But as much as people rant about her being a couple of roaches short of a nickel bag, she continues to probe new heights of nutballery, seeming to feed off the outcry like Dracula off the blood of virgins. Her recent attempt to label 9/11 widows as “witches” was not only unexpected (even for her) but hypocritical. Everybody knows full well that had those same widows come out and praised Dubya as the greatest thing since buttless chap, she would have hailed them as patriots and offered to spit-shine their silverware. But her latest wild-eyed proclamation is particularly bananas in light of what the entire COUNTRY knows about the subject.

She called Bill Clinton a fag.

OK, to her credit she didn’t say “fag” exactly, but everyone KNOWS she wanted to use that word, just as it’s obvious she’s been chomping at the bit to say “nigger” and “spic” to drive her point about liberals home. I would love to be a fly on her pristine white apartment walks at night to here her finally let it all out at night (“Goddamn fucking niggers and spics and wops and faggots and dykes and.. oh, that felt good.”)

And it’s not so much her suggestion that Clinton’s gay as it is the reason she thinks so. According to her, the former Commander in Chief is akin to an interior decorator because he likes the idea of sex with women. A lot. Which would mean most of the professional athletes in America, almost every male rock star, four out of every five Italian race car drive and your nephew Danny with the extensive magazine collection under his bed are all potential replacements for the policeman in The Village People.

This leap of logic (of which she holds a world record for I believe) actually says more about HER sexual habits that Clinton’s. Look, everyone knows the guy’s a major swordsman. If it wasn’t for Hillary yanking his collar like he was an overly inquisitive pug, he’d be on the cover of People every week hugging up with a different American Idol finalist. I’ve always thought Hill and Bill would be the first former presidential couple to get a divorce, so strong is his appetite for the ol’ poon tang.

But for her to conclude that because he’s on the hunt for the kitty cat and has a couple of notches on his ample belt he secretly desires to be tea-bagged… well, even a nun would laugh at say, “Damn, bitch, what YOU been smokin’?”

She says the tip off is his “rampant promiscuity”, which leads me to ask: Is there any other kind of promiscuity? Is it still promiscuity if you show restraint? Is there such a thing as “well-measured promiscuity”? Carefully thought-out promiscuity? Isn’t promiscuity, by the very definition of the word, SUPPOSED to be rampant? And what does she know about Clinton’s sex life that qualifies as “rampant” or “promiscuous”? Yeah, we’ve heard about the trailer trawling and assorted accusations here and there. And not all of those were actual conquests but maybe him playing a little grab-ass with some “political aide” who was really an in-way-over-her-head diner waitress. But even if we were to double the ones we know about, it would STILL either equal or fall short of the mattress-squeaking output of most men his age.

But OK, Ann, he’s “promiscuous”…fine. It’s her conclusion that a man who likes sex with women a lot is gay open up all KINDS of weird tuna cans in the kitchen that is Ann Coulter’s sex life. What the hell is going on in HER bed, besides playing with herself to Rush Limbaugh podcasts, that leads her to connect sex frequency with sexual preference? Is this a glimpse into the chaste world Ann Coulter, one of firm handshakes at the door, polite offers of drinks being interpreted as blatant sexual come-ons (“A margarita? How DARE you!”)? Did her mom make the mother in “Carrie” look permissive? Having sex a lot = gay… hmmm.

I’d always thought, when she’s not thinking up new insulting names for liberals, that at some point in her life, Ann Coulter does have actual sex. With a human being, or at least someone from her home planet. But now, I’m not so sure. No one who has and enjoys sex, even the monogamous kind, can nod their head in agreement that having frequent sex means you have an unnatural obsession with yourself and therefore want to be with someone of your same sex and … my head is starting to hurt.

Coulter reminds me of those women I occasionally run into in bars: not exactly horrible looking (well I have had a few JW Reds), seemingly intelligent. They’re sitting there, usually by themselves, which should be a tip off. The conversation starts. You make small talk about some innocuous topic, when she calmly says something like, “Well, that’s only because it’s part of the Jewish/Chinese conspiracy.” Huh? Really? The designated hitter? Um, I have to, um, go over here now…

And then there is her well-documented obsession with Clinton, mentioning his name at every opportunity, in every book she, ahem, “writes”, during every interview, every column she scrawls out. She mouths his name with every discussion of everything past, present and future in this country. She… hey, wait a minute. Where have I seen this before? One person constantly badgering another member of the opposite sex, taunting them, teasing them, vehemently denying any attraction to them… I got it! Fifth grade… Wayne Terrell and Mary Finnigan… Sr. Paula’s class. On the playground. In the lunch line. Of course!

Coulter has a crush on Bill!

Ann and Billy sitting in a tree…


Things I haven't done, Pt. 1

Things that I haven’t done that I assume everyone else HAS done at some point or another

1. Seen “Brokeback Mountain”
2. Seen “Crash”
3. Listened to an entire Coldplay CD and liked it. Actually, just the “listened to Coldplay” part would suffice
4. Played beach volleyball
5. Went “clubbin’”
6. Watched “Desperate Housewives”
7. Started a chain email
8. Posed nude
9. “Experimented”…
10. Pledged money to public television
11. Sat on a beach in Mexico
12. Had a “fling” while traveling overseas
13. Paid cash for a car
14. Screamed my head off over a goal in a World Cup match
15. Went to a bar at 9 a.m. and drank while watching a World Cup match live


Have you seen that guy...?

People I like seeing/miss seeing walking around Chicago:

Walking Man: The guy who wears an out-of-date wide lapel suit (or maybe two – I think he has more than one) who is only seen walking around the city, from as far north as Uptown to as far south as Printer’s Row. Never riding the bus, never riding the el, never in a cab, never riding a bike… just walking, like he’s just a little bit late for something He looks like Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night (see photo), circa 1974, although a little bit weathered and leathery thanks to time. I’ve never seen him talk to anyone in the 15-plus (20-plus?) years I’ve seen him. People have tried but he just blows them off. Whoever scores an interview with him will become the most sought-after celebrity in Chicago.

Zoot Suit Guy: Pick a color of the rainbow and this guy appears to have a zoot suit in that color. Primarily seen around the Michigan Ave. bridge near Wacker, Zoot Suit Guy looks to be about in his late 60s or early 70s. He’s got a little fringe of grey hair around his head and looks like someone’s kindly old grandpa … until you catch a glimpse of that suit! Cherry red, shamrock green, royal purple…you name it, he’s got it. He’s friendly enough to actually talks to people. I never have and I suspect he’s a couple of deuces shy of a full house. But he seems harmless enough. I think I’ve even seen him talked to on television a couple of times.

“Jesus” About To Be Crucified Guy: I first saw him when I started hanging around North Broadway, about 1985. Back then, the strip between Diversey and Belmont was a hell of a lot skuzzier that it is now: transvestite hookers, bikers, drug dealers, drunks, etc. It was a great place. But every now and then, “Jesus” would walk down the street to save the day! Usually you’d see him on weekends during the afternoon – I suspect Jesus had a regular job during the week. He had the sandals, the robe, the crown of thorns (plastic?) and the life-size cross that he’s drag up and down the street over his shoulder like he was on his way to Calvary, just like you’d see in the pictures and movies! He’d only make about two or three passes, but it was a hell of a sight (no pun intended) when you’re sitting in a bar on the street sucking down a Budweiser. There was actually an interview somewhere, the Chicago Reader I believe, where a reporter talked to him. He was actually a sane guy but said he did it because he was “saved” from a life of drugs, etc. and wanted to help others.

Black Power Fist Guy: Mostly seen downtown in the Loop, he was definitely a wack-job, but a wack-job with style. With no visible show of fear, he’d march up and down the middle of the street on whichever block he chose that day with his tattered-gloved fist thrust into the air like John Carlos on the medal platform at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico. Back and forth between bewildered drivers he’d march, occasionally shouting something inaudible. He didn’t ask for loose change like most of guys who walked between the cars at a stoplight, nor did he try to clean your windshield without being asked. Just marching up and down the street, arm pointed toward the sky, fist clinched as if he was the last Black Panther on earth.

Soon-To-Be-Famous-Artist Woman: I didn’t see her too often, but she hung out along Clark Street between Fullerton and Diversey, trying to sell these crappy drawings of hers for a couple of bucks, crude sketches of people and places on the streets of Chicago that looked like a five-year-old drew them. They were a couple of steps above stick figures. When she died, there was an obit in the paper and everyone who had seen her wondered, why the hell are they writing about her. Then you read further and find out some local art bigwig decided that she was a genius, a classic practitioner of outsider art and her original drawings now sell for thousands. That day, everyone who walked by her and said “no” to her sales pitch gave themselves a good, swift kick in the ass.

The Human Statue Guy: Drive down Western Avenue near Foster and look on the west side of the street near the bank. You’ll notice one or two pigeons walking around. Nothing too unusual. Then you’ll notice a few more. Then a few more. Finally you notice him. A guy sitting there on a fire hydrant (ouch) covered with pigeons, like a human statue. You wonder why the pigeons are walking all over this guy, figure he must spread birdseed or bread crumbs over himself to get them to flock to him. Then you start thinking about what happens to those birdseeds and breadcrumbs AFTER they’ve made their way through the pigeons’ digestive tract. You picture real statues and recall that pigeons are not known for their sanitary bathroom habits. You conclude that when a pigeons’ gotta go, a pigeons’ gotta go and they pretty much don’t care where. You vow never to get too close to Human Statue Guy.

Hanging out on Madison

There’s gotta be a name for it. That period where nothing is going right, but nothing going horribly wrong, “horribly” being a completely subjective word. I mean, you haven’t won the lotto, but you haven’t lost your wallet or locked your keys in your car. You haven’t gotten that great new job, but you haven’t been fired from your current one either.

I’m in that period right now, that limbo between shouting “Wow, I can’t believe this has happened! Terriffic!” and yelling “Mother-FUCK this shit!” over and over again. If it was a series of bad things happening I would have a name for it: a string of bad luck, a dry spell, etc. And if things were hunky-dory, I’d have words for that too: batting 1.000, on a roll, in the groove, etc.

But I don’t know what to call this period, where things are just….there. For instance, I’ve been lucky enough to get a few freelance graphic design jobs on the side, apart from my regular job. But I haven’t been paid for them yet. So I’m not sure what category to put it in: good luck or bad luck. Or is it something different altogether. I’m behind on a few bills, but not so much that I have to panic; they’ll get their cash in a few days. And there’s this woman I’ve been hanging out with who sort of fun and it’s something to do to keep me from flipping through the TV channels on the weekend, but she doesn’t want to get “involved” with me “that way” and I figure why hang out with her, but I do. So what the hell do I call that?

And don’t tell me to call it just “life”. That’s too generic and dime-store Zen’y. The other occurrences are “life” too. I need some thing new. Is limbo OK? Midfield? The ozone? Maybe I can say, “I’m just hanging out on Madison right now,” Madison being the midpoint in Chicago separating the north and south sides of the city.

Yeah, I’m hanging out on Madison right now.

My new gay 'hood

My neighborhood is now gay-friendly. Or at least for the Gay Games, which wrap up tomorrow (Sunday, July 23). Up until now, it’s been pretty non-descript as far as sexual orientation goes for the almost-20 years I’ve lived here. I mean, I knew there were gay people here, but the community fathers and mothers never really made the grand gesture to embrace it like Boys Town or Andersonville. It was just something that was there, along with all the other subcultures around (ethnic, mentally disabled, gangsta, etc.)

But since the arrival of athletes and other out-of-towners for the Games, Edgewater has become, I guess, one of the Official Neighborhoods of the 2006 Gay Games (sort of like Coke or Ford is for Major League Baseball). There are a couple of flags hanging from the street poles touting the games, signs on the former grocery story/beauty supply store on the corner of Winthrop and Bryn Mawr not only welcomes participants to the games, but flaunts the historic buildings of the area, which I didn’t even know.

I guess it makes sense to try and scoop up some of that disposable income that folks coming here to see the games will bring with them. And who knows, they may decided to stay once they see the surge of condos, fancy French restaurants, tanning parlors, bakery cafes and, of course, Starbucks. Hey, we’ve even got a big pink apartment building to use as a handy landmark. And the beach down Ardmore has long been a gay gathering place, or so I’m lead to believe. So why not ride on the coattails of Andersonville and no-so-quietly promote the area as a new gay-friendly area? Why not change the name from Edgewater to Andersonville East? After all, the name “Edgewater” is so generic that any neighborhood along the lake could use it.

If anything, it would make people who hang out on the corner a little more interesting.

Leaving Andersonville...

I saw a guy hurl the other day in an Andersonville bar in the middle of the afternoon.

I suppose that’s nothing unusual in Chicago, the land of the 4 a.m.-close-for-a-few-hours-back-open-again-at-11 a.m. bar. But it still caught me off guard that at this early point in the day, a person could already be to the point of rejecting anymore alcohol into his system.

It was the day before July 4 (which I guess would make it the 3rd) and since I took this beautiful, sunny day off I naturally went to a dark, semi-smoke-stained bar. It was just a little after noon. The Sox were playing a pre-holiday game at The Cell and I got the rare chance to see a weekday game on television rather than listening to it on my crappy little radio at work. I usually stop in this particular bar on weekends and sit with one of the lone Sox fan bartenders on the North Side and laugh at how pathetic the Cubs are (we’ve been a quiet lately now that the Sox are stinking up the joint a little more). But this was a weekday so it felt a little like cheating on work, which is always fun. Instead of my weekend Sox cohort, one of my favorite female bartenders was working, a regular, down-to-earth woman with little pretense. She’s a breath of fresh air compared to the slacker-with-a-purpose types that get hired at most of the other places, who work there in between getting another tattoo that will have little or no meaning later on in their lives.

This particular bar has a back door that a lot of regulars use in lieu of the front, which announces itself to anyone walking down Clark street. I like to think the back door is used more for convenience than shame, but I find it hard to believe that ALL of them live on streets that only exist behind the bar.

A sudden shaft of light erupts from that rear entranceway. Someone’s coming in, of course, but the light temporarily blinds everyone looking in that direction. When our eyes adjust, we see a guy taking tentative steps into the bar. I think I see him weave a little, but I chalk it up to my eyes readjusting to the darkness of the bar.

He moves past the four people (myself included) seated at the far end of the bar, away from the front door, and takes a seat about 10 feet from the door. He’s blonde, short-haired, about 6-3, 230 pounds and is wearing the official male uniform of Wrigleyville in summer: polo shirt, shorts, deck shoes with no socks. He sits down with an audible plop and rests his head on the bar for a second. It appears he realizes this is a universal bar no-no and he jerks his head up and looks in the direction of the bartender.

The bartender, being the steady seen-it-all type that she is, walks over to him, sizes him up for a second and seems to conclude that she’s seen worse. He orders a beer, she brings him a bottle and walks away.

I watch him out of the corner of my eye, between pitches in the Sox game. I have a thing about people visibly drunk in bars, which would seem kind of unusual since that’s where most of them either begin or end up. But I like to watch them, half for the amusement factor (gotta admit, a lot of drunks are train-wreck funny) and half for safety factor. Drunks like to fall down, fight and hug and I try to avoid all three with strangers. But this guy seems content to stay in his area and rest his head on the bar so that’s cool with me.

After a while, the bartender notices that his head’s been resting on the bar for longer than should be allowed. She walks over, just close enough for him to hear her and she firmly says to him, “Sir.. Sir… there’s no sleeping at the bar.” He jerks his head upward and gives her a nod of acknowledgement. I can see him fighting to keep his head aloft, but it‘s like trying to keep an block of cement afloat in a swimming pool.

A minute or two pass and his head goes back down like Buster Douglas in the third. Some one alerts the bartender and now everyone wonders just how drunk this guy really is. Like I said, it’s only about 1 o’clock in the afternoon, way to early to be shit-faced in my book. Three or four is a more appropriate time.

The bartender ignores him for a while, conceding him time to rest. Figures it might do the guy some good. But I keep watching him out of the corner of my eye. The top of his head seems glued to the edge of the bar. I forget him for a second and watch as a Sox pitcher mows down some hapless batter. As Hawk Harrelson gives his trademark “He gone!” strikeout call, the guy spews forth a gusher straight down to the floor of the bar between his deck-shoed feet. It lasts a good 10 seconds and he does so without lifting his head, which I consider a very economical move. No one else seems to notice and just as I’m about to alert the bartender, I can see his body heave and he goes for the second round, another forceful stream of the contents of his stomach, hitting the floor and splashing like water hitting the bottom of Niagara Falls. Other than his jaw, he doesn’t move a muscle, like this is the way it’s supposed to be done.

I start to wonder how the hell someone gets that drunk so early in the afternoon. The Cubs are out of town, so the pre-game bar-hopping isn’t a reasonable excuse, though it’s one that a lot of people could and have used. It’s too early for a backyard barbecue; I mean, most people don’t really get the grill going until 2, right? The World Cup is going on so maybe he was celebrating some 1-0 win by Unknown Foreign Country over Other Unknown Foreign Country that started at 8 a.m. I entertain all of the intriguing possibilities, but the sight of a puddle of vomit brings me back to the situation at hand.

By this time I don’t have to alert the bartender. She either sees it, hears it or smells it. She gives a sigh and walks over to him and with much more restraint than is warranted, she politely tells him he has to leave. She has to jostle his shoulder to get his attention, but he finally looks up at her, down at his intestinal artwork on the floor and stands. He goes to finish the beer but she stops his hand and tells him again that he has to leave. He steps away from the bar and calmly pulls his cell phone from his pants pocket. He punches in a number. A few second later and he’s talking to someone on the other end in a rational voice. “Hi… yeah, I’m in Andersonville…Yeah, I just threw up… Ha ha, yeah… no, I’ll meet you there… how do I get there?…OK, see you then.” He turns to leave (I can’t see if he left a tip or anything other than last night’s beef stew for the bartender) He steps in the puddle on his way out and leaves vomit tracks as he walks to the front door, pushes it open and light fills the place again. I have to fight the urge to follow him out of the door and see where he ends up next. I watch him as he stands for a moment in front of the bar’s window, seeming to decide which direction to go. He walks left and into oblivion.

The bartender barely blinks an eye. Not only has she dealt with this in her capacity as purveyor of alcoholic beverages, but she says she been a nurse. “I’ve dealt with worse,” she explains and I try not to think of what that could be. Instead of the usual mop, ringer bucket and seven-foot tongs (Ok, the last one is something I would use), she dons a pair of rubber gloves, gets a sponge and a small bucket and goes to work, her hands feeling the tactile chunkiness of the upchucked kibbles and bits through her rubber gloves, her nose getting a good, heavy whiff of his partially digested stomach chowder. “This is no big deal,” she calmly states and at once I both admire her and am stunned by her.

The Sox are winning 3-1...


Hey, I can see my Pee Wee again!

Pee Wee Herman is back on TV and all is right with the world.

Ok, fine, there are still people getting killed/maimed/decapitated/raped/etc. in Iraq. Everybody still shits in their pants when there's a loud noise in the subway. Guys are still hitting on 13 year old girls on My Space even though they KNOW it's probably a fat cop on the other end (and maybe they want that).

But Pee Wee's back on the air and for some reason that comforts me.

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim bloc was smart enough to put him back on the air at 10 p.m., unfortunately opposite "The Daily Show", but that's why God made the "Last" button on remote controls. Ever since "the incident" (involving a movie theater, his hand and his penis, among other things), Paul Rubens' appearances on television have been few and far between. A few guest shots on shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, but that was about it.

But for about four or five years, Pee Wee was my Saturday morning ease-into-the-day TV show, part of my hangover remedy. The staccato bursts of morning news only made my hangover worse (bombings, murder, corruption... forget it). But as I laid around there trying to find a comfortable position where my head didn't hurt as much, listening to the light chatter of Chairy, Globy, Konky (I sense a pattern here), Magic Screen, etc., helped a lot.

Of course, I know I’m too old for Pee Wee now. Hell, I was too old then. But I’m a sucker for a kids’ show that’s goofy enough for kids but smart enough to have an “edge” that an adult can appreciate, which hardly any of them have. I mean, you can be a dish of warm beef broth and “get” The Power Ranger or any of those Disney animated movie TV cartoon spinoffs.

But those little semi-mature jabs that they sneak into shows like Spongebob (OK, I used to watch that too, so fucking what?)? Thats' what makes it worth it. When Patrick and Spongebob find an abandoned baby clamshell or whatever the hell it was, and decided to raise it themselves, they automatically assume male and female parenting roles (Spongebob becomes the mom), which leads to a mildly amusing line at the end, as the now mature clamshell flies off and the two very close friends shed a tear over their little one flying the coop, Patrick gets all moon-y eyed and turns to Spongebob and says, “Let’s have another.”

(You may sound the nerd alarm now if you like.)

But Pee Wee was the king of the kid-show-for-adult approach to Saturday morning TV. Rubens toned it down a hell of a lot from the origins of Pee Wee, when the character was part of a late night stage show in L.A. intended for adults. ThereÂ’re a couple of videos out there somewhere of the show, which even then had some of the same goofy situations and
characters (Phil Hartman was Captain Carl from beginning to end), but it was a little more risque. He did stuff like "hypnotize" a woman and then have a puppet look up her dress while she was under the spell. Or the floating head Jambi receiving a packing containing the pair of hands he orders and saying, "There's been something I've been wanting to do with these for a long time.")

But on TV you had to wait for the little subtle jokes, the double entendres. (Like Jimmy Smits playing the Conky 2000 repair man and being asked seductively by Miss Yvonne to stop by her place afterwards and "fix a few things." Smits leered and replied, "Well, I always carry the right tool for the job...")

But Rubens just HAD to go and pound one out in a movie theater. That pretty much killed the show and I was left to watch the reruns on the 10-tape VHS collection I bought. Yeah, I was a fan.

But now I get to watch him again on television. There's something different about not having to pull a tape out, turn on the VCR, pop it in, wait for it to start up, watch the show, rewind the tape when it's done... no, Pee Wee is best just appearing on television on his own. Sure, I'm watching on a Wednesday night 10 p.m., but for that half hour, it's Saturday morning all over again.



Money makes the world go 'round...

Reason Why I'm a Fuck-Up, Part 173

It is the Fourth of July and I look out of my window and see people lounging on the beach, running in the park, kicking back on blankets in the grass, driving on the street below with their tops down (on their cars, not their body). There are boats anchored just offshore in the almost blue Lake Michigan water. Cars are in constant motion in both directions on Lake Shore Drive, either coming from or going to some holiday event, I'm guessing. There's the faint hint of burning charcoal in the air and little wisps of smoke rise above the park horizon like gastronomic smoke signals.

Me? I spend most of the day standing in the bland hallway of my building waiting on someone to let me into my apartment because I fucking locked myself out of my apartment ... AGAIN.

Maybe it was because I was distracted by the seemingless endless plethora of options I had in front of me on this day off: laying around on the beach, laying around on the couch watching television, laying around in a friend's backyard while they fired up the grill, laying around... well you get the idea.

But whatever the reason, I'm not paying attention as I leave the apartment for a second to run downstairs and throw something in the garbage. But right as I hear that click of the door lock I know something's wrong. I start slapping my pockets, hoping I feel the outline of the front door keys, hear something jingle that isn't change. Nope, the fucking keys are inside. I've been reminding myself time and time again to check my pockets before fully closing the door, ever since the last time I did this and had to pay the $20 the building charges to let me back into my tiny overpriced apartment. That double whammy of the loss of 20 bucks and the "what a fucking idiot" looks the guys at the desk gave me made me promise myself I wouldn't do it again.

But here I am standing outside my door, seriously contemplating kicking the stupid thing in, trying various other keys in my pocket to see if MAYBE they might work (hmmm. this key to the file cabinet at work looks about the same. I wonder if... FUCK!). And as an added bonus, it's about 9:30 in the morning, which gives me plenty of time to wander up and down the building like a derelect. I jiggle the door knob one last time to see if it has magically unlocked, then suck up my pride and head downstairs.

The Eastern European kid at the front desk is nice enough, but still manages to piss me off when he tells me that no one will be available to let me in until after 3:30 p.m. becaue it's July 4, after all and the maintenance guys want to lay around and stuff their face too. It's not the front desk kid's fault, I know, but he's pretty much planned my day out. My car keys are upstairs, so there's no chance of driving somewhere else to wait it out. I haven't had a chance to shower this morning, so I smell like Shaquille O'Neal's size 22s after a game. Luckily I have my wallet so at least I can give them the 20 bucks BEFORE they agree to open the door which is required. But I still have to wait.

I take a chance and leave the building. It's a chance because the key to the outside doors of the building are also on the same key ring. I can usually walk to the front door where they can see me, recognize me and let me in. But if there's no one at the front desk to see me, I'm stuck outside there too. This officially sucks.

Anyway, I don't get back into my apartment until 4:30. I make a few phone calls. Yes, hotdogs have been consumed, beer has been imbibed. They tell me there still have some stuff left if I want to come over, but there's nothing more depressing than eating a past-its-prime weenie. I needed it right off the grill, not all shriveled up like your Great Uncle Earl.

So, yeah, I made all the new promises to myself: get a second set of keys, maybe leave one in the car or at a nearby friends house, blah blah blah... It remains to be see if i follow through. I mean, crisis over, out of sight out of mind. Perhaps it would be easier to leave a spare grill outside my front door for emergencies...


Gotta have it

Who owns these things and when do they use them?:

A home cotton candy machine. Who eats that much cotton candy that they have to have it even when they’re at home? When are you eating this crap, while watching the news? “Hey, honey, you know what I could go for right now? Some spun sugar would really hit the spot.”

Those chocolate fountain things. Same as above.

A countertop hot dog roller grill that only makes hot dogs. Nothing else. How many hot dogs does the owner of one of these eat in a year? Why waste precious counter space or cabinet space in your kitchen with a machine that just makes hot dogs?

Portable DVD players. Other than on an airplane, where would you use it? At the beach? YouÂ’ve got sand, surf and bikini-clad women? Why are you watching a movie, you anti-social bastard? Go home if you want to do that. In the park? Hello! Nature over here! God wasted his time making this stuff so you could watch “Elf” in the park? On the bus? Hey, bozo, you’re gonna be home in 10 minutes, turn that stupid thing off. And here’s the kicker: the portable DVD player I’m looking at in the paper has a remote control. A remote control??? How much of a lazy ass do you have to be to need a remote control for a portable DVD player with an 8-inch screen? “Oh, man, the DVD player is all the way down on the other end OF MY LAP. Can’t … reach… it… Thank God I have this remote control.”

We'll be right back after a word from our t-shirt

I’m looking at a JC Penney Pre-Fourth of July Sale insert from the Thursday, June 28 edition of the Chicago Sun Times and there’s a picture of a young guy wearing a t-shirt. “Entire stock Young men’s Novelty Tees 50% off”. Ok, cool. ‘Cept the kid is wearing a red t-shirt with the KFC logo on it. That’s it. Nothing irreverent (“Hey, baby, I’m finger-licking good!”). No sly in-joke about KFC (“Lost one of our herbs and spices, now down to 10”). No protest slogan (“KFC Is Murder!!! Go PETA!!). Just a picture of ol’ Colonel Harlan Sanders and the letters “KFC”. And I’m wondering, who the fuck would want to wear that? Is there something cutting edge and cool about KFC that I don’t know about? Is that the new hip hangout place (“Dudes, let’s skateboard down to KFC and snag a couple of those new Chicken Snackers!”)? Why would a kid, a “young man” in the JC Penney parlance, want to wear a KFC shirt? Even if it is 50 percent off. If I had a kid that wanted to wear a KFC shirt, I’d probably smack him in the back of the head and yell at him, “Whaddya you wanna wear that dumb shirt for? What are you, a dork? You’re gonna get your ass kicked in school wearing that. Get outta here! Go march in a protest or something.”

Now, I have to admit I’ve worn my share of corporate product shirts, mostly beer shirts that I got free at bars. But in a sudden burst of maturity, I tossed them all out one weekend, figuring I didn’t want to advertise someone else’s beer anymore, at least for free. I’ve got one “beer” t-shirt left, but it’s for Tusker, a brand made and sold in African that a friend brought back from a trip there a few years ago, so that’s a little different. And I suppose the White Sox are a “corporation” like KFC, but a sports team t-shirt is a little different. I mean, baseball has its own song. No one sings, “Take me out to White Castle/Take out to the sliders/Buy me some Pepsi and onion rings/But I’m so drunk right now I’ll eat whatever they bring…”. Almost all of the rest of the t-shirts I have with writing on it have some sort of irreverent phrase that may or may not convey my sarcasm or outlook on life. “Thank you for not breeding.” “Elvis Shot JFK” “*&*$%*# - David Mamet” (Got that one for third place in the Mamet Write Alike contest), one with a small question mark on front and a big one on back. And I have about 10 plain black t-shirts, which I guess is a statement of some sort.

But only a loser would opt for a shirt that just reads “KFC” with a picture of Colonel Sanders on it. Why not just wear a Land O Lakes butter t-shirt? A Kinkos t-shirt. A JC Peney t-shirt. Are people supposed to look at the shirt and think you’re cool? What is the purpose? OK, maybe some product t-shirts can be inherently cool, just because of the product itself. Like a Mallo Cup or Pez t-shirt could be cool, I guess, because it’s so old school. Or maybe some Mountain Dew t-shirt because it also had a cool design. But just a picture of Colonel Sanders. The letters “KFC”. That’s it?

Once again, life confuses me…