Benny Jay: Happy Turkey

November 20th, 2018

With Thanksgiving here, the time’s come to give a special Third City thank you to a few of the many who’ve done so much for us this year.

So without further ado, thanks to….

Nickle Bag Bernie, one of our valued advertisers, for keeping the editorial staff happy at all times. See you in the parking lot, Bernie.

Swami Sam, the Skokie Yoga King–where the great ones go to sweat it off.

Dr. Frankie “Disco” Lopez, our primary physician, for making sure we never run low on our meds.

El Dragon, our esteemed attorney, for squashing all those cease-and-desist orders and keeping us out of jail. By the way, the good news is that Milo’s DNA test came out negative!

Hey, corporate farmers — thanks for the fat turkey….

The Lovely Mrs. Milo for putting up with him.

The Triple A Bail Bond Company of Gary for bailing Milo out of jail on several occasions.

Elmore Stiglitz & Sons — Gary, Indiana’s most reliable bookies — for the easy-payment plan. Our next check’s in the mail!

The Corporate Factory Farms of America for the two-headed, 20-pound Cornish Hen. Can’t wait to pop it in the oven!

The Chicago Bulls and Bears and Cubs and Sox for winning all those championships once upon a time.

Denzel Washington for being the next Paul Newman.

Paul Newman for being the first Paul Newman.

Our sensational crew of superstar writers, photogs, computer geniuses, podcasters, and actors who give it all to The Third City.

And, finally, our loyal readers — all 109 of you, or 110, when Milo’s sister is sober enough to navigate a keyboard. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to make your checks out to cash!

Peace, thy most precious gift.

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Letter From Milo: Luc Man

November 19th, 2018
Back in the days when Jack Daniel and I were close friends, I used to do and say a lot of very stupid things. It wasn’t my fault. I blamed it on the booze. As an anonymous old bluesman once sang, “I was high, baby, when I did you wrong and you know it don’t count when you’re high.”


I remember staggering home one evening from my local swill-a-teria and passing my neighbor’s house on the way. The neighbor, a lovely woman named Amy, saw me rocking and reeling and called out, “Milo, are you drunk again?”


“I am indeed drunk,” I replied, in my usual gentlemanly fashion. “But tomorrow morning I’ll be sober and you’ll still be an ugly old whore.”


The next morning Amy’s husband, a big brute of a man who is 20 years younger than I am, confronted me. “Did you call my wife an ugly old whore last night?”


“Yes I did,” I answered. “And I’m truly sorry about it. It was presumptuous of me to say that. You see, I don’t know what your wife does for a living.”


Instead of kicking my butt, which he had every right to do, Amy’s husband laughed his ass off and invited me over for drinks later that day.


I used to hang out at a bar called Sterch’s on Lincoln Avenue. It is far from a chic or trendy spot, just a local saloon that has been sensitive to the needs of drinkers since the early 70s. One evening, a little after midnight, a smartly dressed couple walked in, probably by mistake, or else they were just slumming, checking out the local wildlife. They reeked of class, probably had season tickets to the opera and made regular appearances in Kup’s Column.


It just so happened that the gentleman sitting on the bar stool next to me, who I had been having a lively discussion with for the past few hours, chose that moment to pass out. He rocked back and forth a couple of times then fell forward, his head hitting the bar with a loud thump.


The society matron appeared disgusted by the sight of my friend dozing on the bar. The woman pointed a well-manicured finger and said, “He must be the local drunk.”


“No, lady,” I told her, “We all generally take turns.”


I’ve mentioned my good friend Bruce Diksas a few times in my posts. Bruce spends most of the year out of the country, in places like Bali, Nepal and Australia. Due to his proclivity for traveling, and his astute sense of the ridiculous, the editors of this blog site have offered him the prestigious and highly paid position of The Third City‘s Foreign Correspondent. As of this writing, Big Mike, the Barn Boss of this site, and Bruce’s agent, Moe Howard, are still dickering over the terms of the contract. The hangup seems to be the company car. Big Mike is offering a 1997 Ford Taurus while Bruce is still holding out for a late model Buick Electra 225.


Anyway, until Bruce comes on board and provides us with his own unique and informative brand of bullshit, I’m going to steal one of his stories.


Now, Bruce is a guy who enjoys a good drink once in a while. In fact, he has had the the great pleasure of ordering drinks on five different continents. When they open a saloon in Antarctica I’m sure it won’t be long before Bruce is on a first name basis with the bartender.


One day Bruce was sitting in his favorite watering hole on the island of Bali when in walks the biggest man he has ever seen. Not only that, the huge man is accompanied by a six-foot tall blond that would make Stevie Wonder look twice. When the awesome couple took seats at the bar next to Bruce, he realized that the man was none other than Luc Longley, the Aussie who was the former center for the Chicago Bulls. Bruce, being a Chicagoan and a Bulls fan, introduced himself and offered to buy Luc and his companion drinks. Luc accepted and shortly afterward reciprocated.


A few hours and quite a few drinks later, Bruce was feeling pretty good. In fact, he felt bulletproof, like Superman. He felt so good that he challenged Luc Longley to a game of one-on-one.


Luc, who must have faced this situation countless times, graciously declined, claiming a bum knee.


We were having a few drinks, a few months later, when Bruce related this story to me. Maybe it was the booze, or maybe Bruce was just feeling feisty, but he put his own unique spin on the tale. He didn’t outright say it, but he intimated that perhaps, just perhaps, the great Luc Longley chickened out.


“Can’t say I blame him,” I replied. “After all, why would any seven-foot tall former NBA basketball player with three chanpionship rings to his credit want to tangle with a drunk 60-year-old Lithuanian with a four-inch vertical leap.”


“My point, exactly,” Bruce said.
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Randolph Street: Last Colors

November 16th, 2018



These images are from Linnea’s Garden just outside my door.








All photos © Jon Randolph

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Letter From Milo: Rib Man

November 13th, 2018
I’ll eat almost anything. The word “omnivore” doesn’t do me justice. If it walks, crawls, flies or swims – as long as it doesn’t have opposable thumbs – I’ll try it.


I’m not saying I’m as adventurous as Andrew Zimmern, the nutcase who hosts “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel but I’ve eaten some pretty odd meals. I’ve eaten bugs, rodents, pig and cow testicles, raw beef and raw fish. I’ve tried fungi, mosses, weeds and leaves from trees. I’ve eaten food that looked great but tasted vile and food that looked disgusting but was absolutely delicious. I’ve had food that’s gotten me stoned (hash brownies) and food that’s sent me to the emergency room (tainted chicken).


That said, there is one meal that I prefer over all others. It is the meal I would order if I was on Death Row and it would be the last food I’d ever taste. I’d go to the gallows with a twinkle in my eye and a song in my heart as long as my face and hands were smeared with sweet, sticky and spicy red sauce.


Yes, folks I’m talking about barbecued ribs, God’s gift to the human taste bud.


I’ve eaten ribs in rib hotspots all over the countryChicago, the Carolinas, Memphis and Kansas City. Each of these places claims supremacy in the art of barbecue. And each has a valid claim. My good friend Bruce Diksas, tells me that there’s even a rib joint on the island of Bali, where he lives part of the year. The place is run by an American ex-patriot and advertises Chicago-style ribs.


One day Bruce decided to try the Balinesian ribs. Now, Bruce grew up in Bridgeport and knows a thing or two about ribs. When he finished the platter, the bar owner asked Bruce how he liked them.


Bruce shook his head sadly and said, “Sorry, pal, these ribs would never make it in Chicago.


One of the first times I ever tasted great ribs was in a small storefront in Gary, Indiana, called Shoe’s Ribs and Chicken. Shoe’s specialty was a rib sandwich, which was nothing more than two or three rib bones slapped between two slices of Wonder Bread, drenched in sauce and served on waxed paper. I don’t recall if napkins were made available. Anyway, those rib sandwiches were delicious. Man, a couple of those and a cold bottle of Blatz and you were set for the day.


When I settled in Chicago, I thought I found rib heaven. There were good rib joints everywhere. My favorite was a small spot off North Avenue by the Chicago River called Edith’s. In my opinion, Edith’s ribs were close to perfect. Edith used baby back ribs and the texture was just right. They weren’t wussy ribs that fell off the bone if a slight breeze passed by. You had to work them a bit but it was well worth the trouble.


The best ribs aren’t always found in restaurants. Some of the best ribs I’ve ever tasted have been at backyard barbecues. Two stand out in particular. One old friend, a college buddy named Way Out Willie Bauer, was and probably still is, a rib master. He took infinite care with his ribs, hovering over the grill like a card shark over pocket aces. He constantly adjusted the coals, carefully turned the slabs and watched for flare-ups as intensely as a California park ranger watches for brush fires. When it came time to add the sauce, Willie’s brushwork was every bit the equal of Picasso‘s. And Willie would accomplish these magnificent rib feats while consuming huge quantities of booze and reefer.


Another rib master is my neighbor, John O’Connor, who works as an attorney in order to finance his rib habit. John prefers a dry rub to sauce. Although I’m a sauce man I have to admit that John’s dry rub is the best I’ve ever tasted, spicy but not overpowering. He hosts a backyard cookout every summer. I always try to be on my best behavior at his cookouts because I don’t want to get drunk and do something so stupid that he won’t invite me back. His ribs are that good.


A while ago I wrote about visiting Kansas City with Bruce Diksas. We went for a reunion of our old army outfit. Now, Kansas City has a lot of things going for it. It’s not Milwaukee or Indianapolis, for one thing. But in my mind Kansas City’s greatest asset, it’s municipal pride and joy, is Arthur Bryant’s.


For years, Arthur Bryant’s, along with the Rendezvous in Memphis and Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, North Carolina, has been ranked as one of the top rib joints in the country. There was no way on Earth we were going to Kansas City and not visit Bryant’s. It would be like going back to your home town and not visiting Mom.


We were not disappointed. Bryant’s served superb ribs, meaty, al dente and with a wonderful sauce. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. We each had a slab accompanied by French fries and a scoop of slaw. I doubt Bruce and I spoke a word while devouring those fantastic ribs. We just grunted, groaned, belched, slurped, licked our fingers and guzzled beer. When we finished, we leaned back in our chairs, patted our distended bellies and sighed with pleasure.


“Well, what do you think?” I asked Bruce.


“You know, Milo,” he said, “I think those ribs would make it in Chicago.”
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Randolph Street: Open Tonight

November 9th, 2018

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This work was a multi-year project documenting life on Highway 61. The road runs from New Orleans to Thunder Bay, Ontario roughly along the Mississippi River up to the Twin Cities and then over and up the north shore of Lake Superior. A North/South examination of the middle America circa 1980. You’re invited…


1jon8nosharp5x7Baseball–Blue Grass, Iowa


2PorchdollAAAposPorchdoll–Steele, Missouri


3Mailboxes:61-2#37586Mailboxes–Kieler, Wisconsin


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All photos © Jon Randolph

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