Monday, April 30, 2012

Hoping each leap will be the leap home…

Today marks the 223 anniversary of the swearing in of George Washington as President of the United States. George was not, however technically, our “first President”.  In 1775 John Hanson was elected to the Provincial Legislature of Maryland. Then in 1777, he became a member of Congress. He was then elected President in 1781 under America’s first attempt at self government under the Articles of Confederation. His role is under scrutiny though as he may have had as much, “power”, as something like the head of a board of directors. By 1789 George Washington was the man and he was unanimously elected our first President under the new U. S. Constitution.  

Today also marks the conclusion of the deal for the Louisiana Purchase with the French.  209 years ago we made one of the largest land purchases in history for the low cost of about 3 cents an acre. It was really quiet a steal and successfully doubled the size of the United States. Thanks France.

A mere 67 years ago Adolph Hitler killed himself in his bunker. His death marked the end of the War in Europe.  The war was essentially over for the Germans at that point anyway as they had been soundly defeated for the second time in one century.  

Speaking of the First World War, today also marks the 1917 Battle of the Boot. It was not a battle over footwear as you might have thought. It does however illustrate how long global conflicts have been going on in the Middle East. The Battle of the Boot took place at the end of the British army's Samarra Offensive. The British “defeated” the Turks, although a sandstorm had a lot to do with it. In 1917 General Maude defeated 13th Turkish Corps at Gorge of Shatt-el-Adhaim and Kifri. Why is this significant? You didn’t know about it; that’s why.

I love History. If it weren’t for History we’d just be stupid Eloi. Of course, there are a lot of Eloi out there as it is. And if you don’t know what an Eloi is, I suggest you look it up because then you’d be in on the joke and others will think you’re super cool. Don’t you want to be cool?  

In the great scheme of things, without history we’d really have no idea who we are and have no idea where we’re going. I’m glad to know my history and I’m not planning on repeating it.  Unless it involves an intimate or emotional relationship, then I’m all Quantum Leap.

Yes, nerds. You read that right and I think it’s a great line and I’m planning on adding it to our collective lexicon. So one day another guy will write about the great historical moment of April 30, 2012 as the day repeating history became known as Quantum Leaping.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hold on tighter

Today has rapidly escaped my grasp. Due to conditions beyond my immediate control I am not able to while away the morning writing ever more exciting articles about space monkeys or robot cowboys or the fact that I'd like to see space monkeys and robot cowboys duke it out.

I hate to let Friday down with this minor and inconsequential piece but I must. I actually have to pay attention to what, "work", I'm doing and can't drift off.

I'll close with advice from a good friend of mine. "Just be cool and careful out there kids". And a little bit of my own, "Look at those cool kids. God they think they are so awesome. Well you know what? They're not".

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eye opener

Susan hurried into her usual coffee shop for her double shot of espresso. The coffee place, called Snead’s Caffeine Corner, was one of the few local coffee places that survived the Starbucks and Caribou invasion. It had somehow battled the major corporate machines that rolled through downtown with only minor injuries and came out with a strong and severely loyal customer base.

“Good morning Sue”, said the bright eyed barista whose name Susan just couldn’t remember. The name was something strange like Moonbeam or Sunflower or Moonflower.  Susan just couldn’t think of it.

Moonflower, or whatever her name was, seemed like a hard core hold over from the 1990’s grunge era. She only wore sundresses and combat boots. She had a facial piecing in her lower lip long before all the current hipster kids thought they thought of it. She had a few very interesting Japanese looking Yakuza tattoos on her shoulders. They sort of unnerved Susan, but she guessed that was the point.

“Good morning to you”, said Susan, “double espresso please”.

“No problem. Coming up”, said Moonbloom/Flowermoon.

Susan put her two fifty on the counter and stepped to her right near the pick-up ledge. Susan was glad the prices never changed. It was comforting in this economy. Susan checked the time on her phone, 7:52 a.m. She still had some time to get to the office, run that report for her boss, Mr. Asspants, and make her conference call at 8:30. It seemed like it might be a pretty productive day.

A coffee mug shattered behind the counter and Susan looked up from the schedule in her mind. A woman with a knife was standing at the order window. She was dressed in a tan business suit, had a nice work bag slung across her chest and excellent looking high heel shoes. Susan had to take another second to really verify she was the source of the shattered mug.

“Give me the God damned coffee of I’ll slit you wide open and drink your piss”, the knife wielding woman screamed.  

The woman’s knife hand was jutting about wildly as she spoke, actively slashing and jabbing at the air in front of Moonblossom or Moonpuddle. Susan froze with fear. She really didn’t want to get stabbed today; or any day for that matter.

Moonflower went to the coffee pot and poured a fresh cup of coffee and slid it on the counter toward the twitching hand of the knife wielding woman. She reached down with her free hand and lifted the coffee mug and seemed to smell the coffee. Susan felt urgency in her bladder.

The woman continued to smell the coffee. She seemed to relax, which brought the tension down a little. Susan remembered to breath. It was something she had stopped doing since seeing this crazy lady.

“Is… everything… okay”, asked Moonflower.

The woman’s eyes changed. Her calm face wrinkled into a road map of hell. She thrust the knife at Moonflower and stabbed her in the face, severing the side of her cheek to the back of her jaw. Moonflower, ‘her name was Jane’, thought Susan, fell backwards and blood exploded onto the counter. Jane screamed and slipped backwards onto the floor. Susan felt the urgency in her bladder release.

The knife woman sipped the coffee in her mug, decided it needed something else. She took a napkin from the counter and sopped up some of the blood by the register and then wrung the napkin into her coffee.

“Ah, now that’s good coffee”, she said to Susan.

The woman put the knife in her nice bag and then pulled out a five dollar bill and placed it on the bloody counter. She took another sip of the coffee, smiled a little and walked out the door.  Susan shivered and collapsed to the floor as siren’s bellowed in the distance. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


My neighbor is moving at the end of this month and I reminded her last night that I still had a plate of hers and a few other items we exchanged over the few years she lived in the apartment across from me. She reminded me that she had a couple of my items as well.  She lamented in our text exchange that she was sad and happy to be making this move. I said that it was merely the next chapter in her life. She responded in a way that gave me the idea for today’s article.

She said, “Good Lord. This is like volume 3 of my personal encyclopedia”.

What a great statement. I marveled at it for a moment and decided right then and there it would be to topic of today’s article; each of our own personal encyclopedias.

My neighbor hit the nail on the head insomuch as to qualify what our lives, these collected experiences, amount to; an encyclopedia of us. It’s really quite an accomplishment to have this ongoing tome of life written as we take each step and each breath. Each page is filled with the things we experience and it’s catalogued for future reference. I think that’s neat.

It’s one of those things that I’ve always been amazed by, how experience can open a person’s mind and help them gain a greater understanding of the world around them as it is and not as how we wish it were. These wandering encyclopedias wrapped in human flesh, spouting their wisdom or nostalgia to each other over countless decades is truly amazing. An encyclopedia may have passed away but we can still use them as a source for our own life and add them to our ever growing knowledge base. The volumes of experience are nearly ceaseless.

It put a positive spin on some otherwise depressing stuff I’ve been writing lately and reminded me that all these things are learning experiences to be written away in memory to be recalled when faced with a similar situation. For the most part, nothing is truly hopeless or without resolution. Knowing where to look for the information is what counts. There are countless people around us that can provide guidance based on their own experiences. It is like having access to the greatest research facility ever designed.

This is not to say that accumulation of this material is easy. It is often times very hard to add these experiences to the already existing encyclopedia. What else can you cram in there before Zebra? However, I think even the attempt to cram something new in, to add the attempt at experience finds its way into us and becomes more information to make future decisions with.  

So I hope this next volume of my neighbor’s encyclopedia is filled with more happiness than sorrow. I hope her encyclopedia keeps expanding and in the end it’s a shining example of experience others can look to for guidance. I’m glad to have been able to catalogue her in my encyclopedia. You’ll find her under Friend. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

115th day

“Today is the 115th day of the year. I’m not sure what sort of significance that has, it just seemed peculiar to me when I looked at my calendar. 115 days have passed since New Years? It sounds like a lot and maybe it is”, said Peter.

“Yeah, there have been several weddings and births and deaths already this year”, said Martha, “It does seem to going by pretty fast”.

“We should have a baby”, said Peter.

Martha looked up from her iPhone at Peter. She admired his sincerity but she’d never have a baby with him. He was too… lumpy in her opinion.

“A baby”, she said. “I don’t think I’m ready for a baby yet. I’m still working on all these Words with Friends games”.

“But think about how much time has passed already. 115 days have gone by and what do we have to show for it”, asked Peter.

Martha put her iPhone down on the table and took Peter’s hand. She looked at him in the eyes and took a breath.

“I think we should break up”, she said.

Peter froze. He thought she was leaning in for a kiss or maybe to say something comforting to him. He had been feeling very vulnerable and weak the last few days and he was hoping for a little more support. He really didn’t know if he wanted to have a baby with Martha but the idea of having a family before he got too old was deeply taking root in his brain.

“What? You want to break up because I was talking about having a baby”, asked Peter.

“No. Well, not entirely. But I can see where your thoughts are and I’m just not in that place. There’s more in this life that I want to do”, said Martha.

“And having a baby with me isn’t one of those things”, asked Peter.

“No. It’s not”, said Martha.

Peter could see in her face there was no argument brewing. It was just a simple fact. It wasn’t malicious. She was just in a different place and having a baby with her was just a silly dream.

“Well, we don’t have to have a baby. I may have jumped the shark on that one. It’s just all this quickly passing time that has me worried. I mean, the majority of my youthful life is gone. I’m older that my parents were when they were having their second child and it’s starting to freak me out”, said Peter.

Martha nodded and moved away from Peter slightly. She had no desire to get married or even think about having kids right now. She was still trying to figure out how to get a free drink from that cute bartender at the club. She knew she could get free drinks from him if she just had a chance to talk to him.

“It’s okay Peter”, said Martha, “but I am serious. I think we should break up. I really don’t see this going anywhere. Or at least anywhere I want to go right now”.

Peter sighed and rubbed his face. He wished he hadn’t ever even looked at the damn calendar today. Now his girlfriend was breaking up with him. He could understand though. She was quite young and he was getting older. He was fooling himself by dating a 23 year old anyway.

“I understand Martha, and it’s okay”, said Peter.

“Thanks Peter, I knew you’d understand. Can I have a ride home?”

“Of course”, said Peter, “I’m not a monster”. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Eyes open

I hate when I get stuck in a mortality loop. That strange loop of thought revolving around the fact that one day I will cease to exist. It gets me thinking about what I’ve done with my life. Or rather, the effect my life has had on the lives of others. I hope I’ve been entertaining at least.

This is not a depression driven observation, it’s just a simple fact that I will die someday. You will too. Unless the cyborg shell body you’ve been working on in the garage is perfected and you can download your mind’s essence into it before your physical body dies.  Then I’ll re-state; you and I will die someday.

It’s not dying that has me worried. That’s just a simple absolute of life and I can’t do anything about it so I’m not worried. What I am concerned with is how I lived that life. Did I suck the marrow from the bones of life and reveled in every sunrise? No. I’m pretty sure I haven’t. In fact, I think I’ve spent most of my life complaining about how cruel Monday’s are like some real life Garfield. (I do like lasagna though).

Everyone tells me that your life, everyone’s life, is what one chooses to make it. I agree with them on a certain intellectual and philosophical level. But intelligence and philosophy alone won’t cook your soup or keep you warm in the winter. You need money. It’s as certain a fact as dying. A life in the pursuit of something extraordinary seems to be a life of poverty and financial uncertainty. While you’re karma may be good, your stomach is growling because all you had to eat for the last two days was grape-nuts and an orange rind. Plus without insurance that scrape on your knee cap from the river/hiking trip to gain oneness with nature will turn in to gangrene and you’ll die for no other reason than you couldn’t obtain some freaking Neosporin because you have no money.

So sure, I agree that life should be lived and a wasted life is a sad thing. I also agree that freedom comes at a cost and often times has a higher price tag than working everyday for the corporate machinery that keeps us shackled to a desk while artists paint and poets dream. I can’t afford the freedom I’d like.

I hear it all the time, “Do what makes you happy”. But happiness, real soul quenching happiness, is out of my financial reality at this time. I can’t afford happiness. I don’t think it’s an excuse. I really don’t. The reality of life is just that. It’s real and you just can’t start over. You’re path has been set by all your choices to this point and you can’t suddenly hit the brakes. A new life takes money. Lots of money. That’s the truth no one will tell you.  Happiness is indeed expensive. Risk is expensive. Chance is expensive. And if you don’t have the stake money, you can’t play. So you have to sit in your cube, in your booth, in your car and wonder why other people get to be artists and you get to be a claims guy.

I’m just being a realist about it. A pessimistic realist. There is no do-over. No extra lives available. There’s no escaping from who you are. I just hope who I am will be enough for the rest of my days and I won’t wind up in a mental institution blathering on about how I could have been, or should have been, with a bitter resentment of the universe’s cruelty burning in my eyes.

I hope I figure it out soon. This complaining is really boring. 

Friday, April 20, 2012


I'm not very responsible.
There was no alarm
or noise to stir me
from my sounded

So now I'm late
sitting at my
desk trying to
be cool but feeling
like a fool.

I hate that I have
no internal alarm.
I hate that I can't
seem to rise AND

It's my curse,
my cross,
my French

It's the humiliation
I can't bare. The
35 year old
foolishness I

Thursday, April 19, 2012


So I guess there’s been a bit of a furor over this hologram of Tupac performing at some music festival over the past weekend. From what I’ve read, it has created rumors of Tupac’s faked death and that he’s alive living in a mansion somewhere and this “hologram” was really him. This we know to be untrue. Tupac is dead.

I liked Tupac. I thought as an artist and creative person he had a lot going for him. It was unfortunate that his death in a hail of bullets didn’t galvanize a culture against that very gun violence that took his life. But I digress, the hologram seems to have a lot of people freaked out and now there are thoughts of using the same technology to send a holographic Michael Jackson out on tour. This has people very shaky for some reason.  This doesn’t bother nerds like me.

In fact, we’ve been waiting for holographic technology to be super awesome ever since the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Data and Commander Riker meet on the Holodeck. So a holographically projected Tupac is a step forward to a vacation on the moon without ever leaving Earth. I greedily wait for those times.

It’s an amazing technology that has been a long time coming. I remember a western gun fight holographic video game at Great America Amusement Park many years ago. (Maybe the 1980's). There were teeny cowboys on a very small screen, projected holograms, that had little gunfight showdowns. It was $1.50 to play and was over way too quickly. But I was amazed by it and though we’d see holographic style games and TV shows in just a couple of years. It was a pretty impressive thing for the 20th Century. However, it took us until the 21st Century to get something close to being interactive.  Who would have thought it would have come in the form of deceased rapper?

I’m glad that we’re finally on the way though. It’ll will be very interesting to see what they use this technology for next. I know CNN used it a little bit during the Presidential election coverage but they made it lame.  

So I applaud the resurrected holographic Tupac. He’d done more dead than most of us have ever done alive. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What’s that noise?

There’s a clamor and
a din around me
of grumbling and
annoyed co-workers
all drowning in
the red tape
bull pucky
nonsense of

There’s an angry
jabbing of fingers
at keyboards to
document the madness
forced down the
throats of rational
men and women.

There’s a constant
hum of discontent
beating in the hearts
of those around me
and I’m fully invested
in that choir. Raising
my voice to sing along.

Insanity has a
rhythm you can
dance like a manic
to, on the disco floor
of immediate
gratification and
lost patience.

It’s very noisy in
here and I don’t
like it. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No reason to fear

April liked the month of April. It was her month. She was born in October, but still, April was April’s month. She liked the spring flowers blooming and the cute spring jackets she could wear to work instead of the bulky winter coats that hid the figure she was working so very hard on. Three days a week at the gym and some of the cross-fit workouts would not be hidden from the world by some miserable coat. That and all the dieting she did over the winter. April was April’s coming out party.

Since April left college she’d been putting on weight and she just didn’t seem able to take it off or keep it off. Her friends all told her she was beautiful but she knew that she wasn’t happy with her expanding belly. Her friend Matt was the worst offender. He constantly told her how beautiful she was and that she didn’t need to lose any more weight but she just felt fat. Plus Matt clearly had a crush on her and he was just not cool.

April got on her bathroom scale after her shower and marveled at how slender and sleek she now looked in her mirror. She wasn’t a normally conceited person but she couldn’t help herself.

“Hot damn”, she said to her reflection and smacked herself on her butt.

She giggled at herself and started getting ready for work. She had her window cracked to vent the bathroom of all the steam that built up and she could smell springtime in the morning air. It seemed like, for the first time in her whole life she was really happy. Like all those Goth years and bad poetry were behind her and she could finally be the woman she always wanted to be.

“Hot damn”.

She heard repeated from the courtyard of her apartment building below. She quickly grabbed her towel and wrapped it around her body and looked out the window. She didn’t see anyone. She suddenly felt very conscience of herself and embarrassed. She felt foolish for admiring herself. That was not the modest girl she told everyone that she was. She was still rattled though.

Did someone seen her naked? Or maybe someone outside just heard her say hot damn and was being a smart ass and repeating it. Maybe she shouldn’t let it get to her so much. She walked out of her bathroom and to her kitchen and took out a breakfast energy bar and started munching on it absently. She sat on one of her kitchen chairs and chewed the sawdust tasting breakfast bar and felt tears in her eyes.

Who would make fun of her? She worked so hard and lost all that weight and finally felt like a real person. Why would someone make fun of her? She then started to wonder if maybe she did have a peeping Tom. Maybe she had gotten hot enough for men to want to watch her walk around her apartment naked. Maybe she was desirable.  She swallowed the pressboard breakfast bar and stood from her table.

It was fine. It was fine. There was nothing to worry about. She was totally hot now and nothing happened to sexy women.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Type, type, type, erase, erase, erase. It’s taking me quite a long time to come up with anything to write about today. I’m probably still insane Sunday lagged. Sunday I spent selfishly plopped on my couch eating chili with Verde and cheese over white bread. I drank a lot of Coke and smoked too many cigarettes. It was one of those strange mental train depot days where everybody got off to stretch their legs while the train re-fueled and the dining car was re-stocked.

I caught up on my Mythbusters and now I am 100% sure what caused the Titanic to sink and that one day I think I’d like to retire to the south of France and make wine.  I did see a little too much of the old Sunday romance movies which always reminds me that I’m not very romantic in the Hollywood expectation sense and reconfirms my amazement that any woman would find it desirable to spend time with me in any capacity.

It is taking a long time to fill this blank page with something; far longer than I would like. I have far too many tasks I must attend to today to spend it whining about how I may have lost my sanity for a short time on Sunday. I stalked around my apartment in my underwear because why do I need to put on pants if I’m not planning on leaving the house. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting a little agoraphobic.  

I look out the window and see people out and about and I just can’t imagine what they are doing out there. I look at them like they’re the crazy people and I’m the smart one for staying indoors and avoiding all that solar radiation that’s probably killing us all. I think I’ll start making tinfoil hats.  I’m just kidding of course, but I do look out the window and wonder what it would be like to be one of those people; one of those active, go getter types that always seem to be occupied with exciting activities.

I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not that person. If I have to do more than one task in a day I feel like my universe is going to collapse. I still wonder though and I think at times I could probably be that person, if I really had to. But I don’t challenge myself in that way. I don’t really want to be challenged that way. I like the imaginary version of myself. The one where I'm singlehandedly disarming terrorists and relaxing in my villa while my supermodel wife teaches me swear words in French. And always on my terms.

I have to quiet my brain now and turn it back over to work mode. Time is fleeting and things must be done.

I wonder if other artists feel this way?


Friday, April 13, 2012


She looked at me like
I was infested with
some horror from
her childhood.

I was some sort of
abomination from
ancient history that
didn’t deserve the
seat next to her.

Her face was a
ghastly portrait of
how not to look at

She was disappointed.
She was upset.
She was boring.    

I seem to get that
look a lot. Even from
the faces that I know.

I sat and flipped through
the paper and tried not
to be hurt. Her face, her
pretty, evil face bothered me.

I’m too old and tired
to let that face get to me
on the train
in the morning
on a Friday.

It’s just another person
I’ll never know, who’ll
never know me
and it’ll never make
more noise than this

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I apologize for not posting yesterday. I’m sure the loyal reader was quite concerned with my absence and I thank you for your constancy. I was attending a funeral yesterday for my “Uncle’s” father. I say, “Uncle”, because he’s been dating my Aunt for something like 20 years but they’re not married.  He is family now so I guess it’s okay to call him Uncle.

I’ve been to far too many funerals in my life. In fact, my sister, cousins and I have been going to funerals so much that as children we used to play, “funeral”. One of us would lie on the couch and pretend to be the deceased while the other cousins played the mourners. We played it like other children played school or hop-scotch. So needless to say, we’ve gone to a lot of funerals.

Yesterday was another notch in the old funeral stick. However, there were some distinct ritualistic details of the Catholic service that had me perplexed. Apparently the Catholic Church decided they needed to update some of the tired and worn out practices put in place by Vatican II in the 1960’s. These changes really threw me and my sister off. We were very used to our catholic school upbringing and rote memorization of the proper responses to what the priest said. Now they’ve gone and changed it.

Instead of saying, “And also with you”, you now say something like, “May his spirit rise up your skirt”, or something like that. It really threw me for a loop. The priest performing the mass was kind enough to point out a handy little placard in the pews that instructed us non-practicing Christians on what the new lines were. I have to say, I wasn’t impressed. I’d almost rather they go back to Latin. At least then we could all say, “Yeah, I’m bilingual. I speak English AND Latin”. Plus if we had learned Latin I bet it would have been easier to learn another foreign language, like French or German.

The service had its curveballs and I muddled through but there was something the priest said that did resonate with me. (Which was rare because I usually tune religious services out completely). The priest made mention of the Church as a community that was there to support each other through tough times like a death in the family. I thought that was very true and for once I was glad to have been part of the Christian tradition. That feeling lasted for a few seconds until the priest sort of twisted it into something about it was all God’s will anyway and we should turn ourselves over to His glory in all things.

I have a problem with the whole, “here’s your free will, now freely turn it over to me”, way of thinking the Church seems to have. It’s so, “make you own decisions, but if they aren’t our decisions we’ll excommunicate your ass”, kind of hypocrisy. I don’t know. It’s sort of like the changes the Church made to the mass. It was designed to get the community more engaged in the service but from my perspective, I felt like I had been left behind and that the rituals I was so familiar with were no longer mine to have.  I’m not holding your hand during the Our Father, I’m just not. I’m very Depeche Mode Personal Jesus about church.

I don’t want my religion to tell me what to do or how to think. I want them there just as the priest described; as a moral and ethical support group to help me up when I fall. I want them to be a shoulder to cry on and a pat on the back, without any judgment on me or my deeds. They should forgive and forget like a true friend and not ask me to turn my will over to them.

They can keep the changed rituals and responses. I’ll keep my God close to my chest and let the other’s squabble over how to pray.  (Have I been on a religious kick lately?)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You cooing at me?

I caught a snippet of a conversation this morning I was completely unable to understand. I’m sure being a completely different species had something to do with it. There were two pigeons strutting across the sidewalk near the front entrance of my building. As I passed they were cooing at each other.

I thought it was odd since I hadn’t heard pigeons cooing in a while, especially in noisy Downtown Chicago. I was overwhelmed with wonder at what they could possibly be saying to each other. At first I thought it was probably something pretty banal, like;

“Hey Jerry! Did you poop on that thing?”
“Hey Grover! I sure did poop on that thing”.

(Just for the record, Grover is a very common name for pigeons. Take my word for it). As the cooing intensified things seemed to get a little heated;

“Did you see that stale bread near the curb”, asked Jerry.
“I sure did see that stale bread near the curb”, said Grover.
“Why are you copying what I’m saying”, asked Jerry.
“I’m not copying what you’re saying”, said Grover.
“Stop it”, said Jerry.
“Stop what? We’re just cooing here”, said Grover.

Unfortunately my observation of the natural world and the state of pigeon courtesies had to come to an end so I could drag my poor body inside the building to work on my own metaphorical piece of stale bread.

At least there were only two pigeons, by Monroe and Wells streets there is a huge gang of pigeons that congregate under the “EL” tracks. They cluster together and hassle people for cigarettes and change. Those are bad pigeons. They won’t get out of your way for anything. I think if you looked around the corner there would be rows of little mini-motorcycles.

While they may be a bad group I don’t often hear them being as vocal as these two pigeons in front of my building this morning. I thought about it probably too much as I rode the elevator up toward the floor I work on. I wonder why an animal with the ability to fly would choose to roost in the dirty, noisy, smelly city rather than someplace with open fields and wide plains to poop on. 

Although, I am a city guy. I might understand their unwillingness to relocate to quieter locals.  I need the noise of the city. I need its rumbling and constant wailing like a baby needs his mother’s lullaby. When I’m in the country, I feel far too disconnected to the world. Plus those country noises bother me. Crickets are Hell’s violin.

I’ll just have to keep wondering about the conversations of city pigeons and dream of flight. 

Monday, April 9, 2012


Frank was ashamed of his indifference. He just couldn't care. It wasn’t as if he was a soulless machine incapable of compassion or empathy; he just found it hard to care at times. He was always impressed by those people in the world that found time to volunteer or work with the elderly or wash the sick and dying. It just wasn’t something Frank could wrap his brain around and it filled him with shame.

It wasn’t enough shame for him to shake off the conditioning of his entire life however and while he felt bad towards his indifference, he still wouldn’t change. He thought that maybe he’d reached that point in his life where he was an old dog and learning a new trick was beyond him. He didn’t want to even bother with caring. Caring leads to deep feelings and those deep feelings lead to attachment, then the fear of loss and the next thing you know you’re telling some Luke kid that you were his father after a prolonged light saber battle on a fully operational battle station.

Frank didn’t want to get involved with all of that. He just wanted to get through his day without having to pretend to give a crap about other people’s issues or problems. In the back of his mind though there was a smaller version of himself that seemed angry.  It was a mini-Frank that pounded against the plexi-glass barrier between Frank’s compassion and self-interest, and yelled that it was important to care about others.

Frank knew logically that it was important to care about other people’s feelings and what they were going through but he had just about enough of it. His capacity for compassion had been nearly burnt out. He was so tired of the crying and complaining and constant sorrow he had no choice but to deal with on a daily basis. He could barely stand to hear a conversation about another person’s experience dealing with death or births or who stole the marmalade. He wanted to be away from it all.

The casket was placed at the back of the mourning room and Frank did his job of draping the casket appropriately and making sure the floral arraignments were placed right around the body.  He hardly looked at the old woman, the old corpse in the box. She was just another one of the hundreds Frank had, “decorated”, at his family’s funeral home. In his mind though he could hear the mini-Frank, pounding away at the plexi-glass, “She was a person! She was a person! She loved and was loved! Look at her!”

Frank pulled a small flask from his suit breast pocket and took a quick pull of vodka. He’d learned to drink vodka because it was odorless and the funeral home guests didn’t smell it. He’d prefer a whiskey to shut that little voice up in his brain, but vodka would have to do.
The voice inside calmed a little and Frank straightened out the rows of chairs for the mourners. He knew he should be sad though, but he wasn’t. He just wanted to get the day over and get home to his cigarettes, a stiff drink and escape all of it through the soothing glow of televised idiocy.

The shame crept back into Frank’s mind and he felt bad again. Maybe it was time for a change. Maybe it was time to leave this small town. Maybe. Frank took another sip of vodka and turned off the lights in the mourning room. 

Friday, April 6, 2012


Jesus walked into a hotel and tossed three nails on the counter. “Can you put me up for the night?”

“Psssht, walking on water. Big deal. I can do the same thing when it freezes”.

As you can tell it’s clearly a religious holiday weekend and I’m feeling sacrilegious. It’s not that I have anything against Jesus. I think he was a hell of a guy. I mean, I’m not sure he meant to found a whole new religious way of thinking so the Jews could have someone to work on the weekends while they stood in hotel lobbies waiting for someone else to push the elevator button. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t his intent.

His messages of peace, love, forgiveness and keeping the temple free of Starbucks (Starbuckses?) resonates deeply with me and I think that was his real goal. Plus I think he had a great sense of humor. I can’t think of any truly charismatic leader that didn’t have a big smile and welcoming sense of humor. (We’ll just ignore that little Hitler fellow).

So when we do make jokes about Jesus or Easter or Jesus’ Dad it’s all in the same rich religious hilarious tradition that little lord Jesus probably had at his last supper. I mean it couldn’t have been all somber and betrayal. I’m sure at least one disciple had something funny to say when Judas ran off after being accused of being a traitor. I’m sure James the Lesser was all like, “Man, I thought he’d never leave. Can I have his slice of Messiah bread and cup of Christ blood?” Which I’m sure Jesus snickered at and waved a finger at him, “You….”.

It’s those people that don’t have a sense of humor about religion that really scare me. Those that have a cold, unquestioning, blind devotion to religious ideology and never crack a joke about Jesus or that other Middle Eastern religious guy makes me afraid. Belief without a sense of whimsy is dangerous. I don’t think making a few jokes about God and his weird family is all that bad. It almost lends some credence to the majesty of His creation. (If indeed we are from God’s cookbook). Those that shame me for being a little humorous about religion need to relax and know that any God that made me knows I have the capacity to be hilarious. And therefore shouldn’t be offended when I say something about how God’s put on a little weight.

I like that kid Jesus and his Dad. They’re a couple of crazy guys. I wonder if Heaven is all whoopee cushions, fart jokes and rubber chickens. What a funny idea.

“Welcome to heaven, here’s your rubber chicken”, said St. Peter, “watch out for the fake throw-up”.   

I hope everybody has a very peaceful and Happy Easter. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Like Baseball

As a Chicagoan I have a pessimistic yet optimistic view of America’s pastime. I know that sounds a little confusing so I’ll elaborate. Baseball means spring is here and the days will be longer, the nights will be warmer and we’ll have yet another thing to talk about as we blandly while away our meaningless hours on the face of this planet before we all turn to dust. But we’re probably going to heaven, where the Cubs win every year. (This is also hell for Sox fans). You can now see what I mean about being pessimistically optimistic.

There have been a lot of reasons why baseball is called the National Pastime and I’m not here to try and describe them all to you. If you don’t know by now then you’re probably strictly a football fan and find baseball more boring than a lobotomized monkey race. (Which is our nation’s second favorite pastime; it’s called Congress.) The reason I think it’s such a beloved sport is the amount of time we spend sitting with each other engaged in a collective experience.  It’s a lot like going to the movie theater with a big crowd and participating in the ooh’s and ahh’s of the audience when Keanu saves a bag full of kittens from the jaws of a giant squid.

There’s something to the spring/summer air washing over the crowd at a baseball game while the pitcher meets with the trainer for 15 minutes to take care of a hangnail. There’s just something magical about it. I haven’t actually gone to a baseball game in two years because I don’t like paying that much for beer, food and mediocre entertainment. I would rather watch Keanu Reeves as Gorsh the Nordic Squid Slayer in IMAX. But most Americans, real Americans, love their baseball and can’t wait to shell out forty or fifty bucks a person to watch guys run around on a field spitting and fielding their balls.

I was a baseball fan. I was a White Sox fan as a boy, a Cubs fan as a Twenty-something and now a thirty-something couldn’t give a rat’s ass fan. I’ll still watch it on TV and maybe even root for a particular game or pitching situation, but I’m not willing to open my heart to baseball any further. They hurt me too much.

I used to work at Wrigley Field. I used to watch Sammy Sosa in the batting cages and practice on the field. I saw Michael Jordan, while he was publicly masturbating, play for the minor league Barons team against the Cubs. I watched poor Steve Bartman get destroyed by a baseball public that really should have known it was the blown double play ball that cost them the game, not Bartman. I jumped up and down like a man on fire when the Sox won the World Series. I’ve had my heart broken too many times by a particular north side ballclub. I’ve had a lot of amazing baseball experiences. But all of it has left me somewhat bitter and unconcerned.

Baseball will go on, there’s no doubt about it, but I’ll keep my distance. (Unless you’re a super model that digs me and wants to take me to baseball games every weekend, in that case, PLAY BALL!) 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


There’s too much to
There’s not enough to
There’s stuff about to

But none of it is
but it must be

It doesn’t keep me
but it does keep me

So I’m doing this
keeps me from

It’s neither good or
It’s neither happy or

It’s just there,
doing what must be
done, to be done
while the doing is

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It burns me

Bureaucracy without common sense really bothers me. I’m against any red tape that requires any reasonable idea to be raped against the rocks of duplication or repetition just for the sake of rape. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. In my business there is such an occurrence that drives me wild with rage and frustration.

It’s like asking for a piece of cake at a birthday party and being told, there’s three slices of cake available for you to eat. So you talk to your friends about the cake and you all agree that having one piece is good enough so you go back to the party table with your plate and fork to get that piece. Once you get to the dessert table and hold your plate out you’re told that you have to go to the back of the line so the piece you requested can be verified. You say, “But I already verified there were three pieces”, but the servers stare at you like you’re the idiot. The bakers then all gather together and discuss if they are comfortable with giving one the three pieces to you to satisfy your dessert craving. After a long conversation they give you the piece but ask that in the future you submit your cake request at least 21 days in advance, even though they already told you cake was available.

So the cake is available, but you can’t eat it, until it’s authorized to eat, even though we told you it was available. It is madness and a complete failure of common sense in business. I’m a fan of streamlining most processes. Why ask three people for something when there’s really only one person that has the actual say on what goes on? Why not just ask the one frigging guy?

I understand the importance of a chain of command in most things; usually it can make sense, but when that chain becomes cumbersome and obsolete why keep using it. It’s antiquated and obtuse. It makes me very upset and makes me want to drink at work.

In fact, it makes me not want to come to work at all. If I can’t use my brain and all the experience I’ve cultivated to make informed decisions, why am I working? Why am I a valuable part of the team? Oh, I’m not. I’m a faceless drone that just happens to function within the operating budget of the company.

I’ve always been somewhat of a malcontent when it comes to foolish time wasters. It’s always been my opinion that every process should be streamlined and updated for maximum efficiency. If there’s too many cooks in the kitchen or too many kids in the tub all spouting there varied and well paid theories about what could or should be done regardless of what I’ve recommended makes for a pretty lousy work day.

It’s why I hate most of what I do on a daily basis and why I can’t wait for something different. Okay, I think I’ve got that out of my system. I’ll get back to writing about a world where cows are the dominant species on Earth and how they are dealing with the impending doom of the Moo-yan Calendar. 

Monday, April 2, 2012


Frank was strapped into the heavy metal chair in the center of the gas chamber. The thick leather straps tightened around his wrists and ankles nearly cutting off any circulation. The prison guard checked Frank over to make sure the restraints were proper. He then reached up and wiped an errant eyelash from below Frank’s left eye. He then nodded at Frank and stepped backwards and out the large metal gas chamber door. The heavy door closed and sealed Frank in.

A voice came on over some speakers just as a curtain on the opposite side of Frank opened.

“Frank Augustus, you have been found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death by a jury of your peers. Do you have any final statements?”

Frank looked up at the bright lights in his face. They were probably there so he couldn’t see who was sitting on the opposite side of the window. He didn’t really want to see them anyway. There was nobody out there that loved him or cared about him. It was just those people that would take comfort in his death.

“I’d like to say that I’m sorry for what happened. I hope that my end will bring some closure to the families I harmed. I am sorry. I never knew much kindness in my life. I had it hard from the day I was born and had to fight for everything and I had and take what I could. It was wrong of me to take those lives”, said Frank.

His voice sounded tinny and canned from inside the sealed gas chamber. He heard a priest start a prayer. He closed his eyes and sighed. A hissing noise started and the air changed. Frank tried to breathe normally at first but it slowly became slightly more labored and he couldn’t stop from coughing.

He was calm in his mind though. Even though he could feel his body dying it hadn’t reached his mind. His mind was wide and clear and open. So as his body started to choke and struggle to draw in a deep breath his mind remembered the first time he drove a car. He remembered a piece of candy his grandmother gave him. He remembered a day in high school when nobody hassled him about his acne. His mind started to run scenes in his head, like old Super 8 home movies that flickered and flashed without any sound.

The air was thick with poisonous smoke and Frank’s body was choking and wheezing. He remembered his long dead mother’s sparkling blue eyes as she looked down into his crib. He remembered her smile. He remembered her smell. He could feel her arms reaching down into his crab and lifting him up toward her bosom as she cooed a lullaby.   

Frank’s body stopped writhing in the heavy metal chair. His body stopped wheezing. His heart stopped beating. His mind blackened as the image of his mother pulled further and further away until only a pin-hole of light remained before disappearing all together.

Fan’s kicked on and soon the chamber was safe to open. A doctor stepped in and checked Frank’s vital signs. Frank was gone.