Randolph Street: Flower Power

August 23rd, 2017

1DSCF0276Sum & Substance Hosta


These photos are from my sister’s garden last May 15th. There is a green that Spring is


2DSCF0296Olive Baily Langdom Hosta & Missouri Evening Primrose


3DSCF0308Ghost Lady Fern


DSCF0292Yellow Wax Bell


DSCF0305Angelique Tulip Buds


All photos © Jon Randolph











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Benny Jay: The Bat Cave Number

August 22nd, 2017

This bit’s from the August 21st show. If you want to hear it, click right here

We’re calling this—just like Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus Monday. And here’s why…

So I’m on vacation last year and I run into this dude I’ll call Joey.

Dennis as Joey: What’s up, Benny Boy.

Great guy. Funny. Smart. Loves sports. Plus, he’s got an inside connection to Bears tickets.

Dennis: I can get you on the ground floor for the full VIP treatment.

Damien as me: Really.

Dennis as Joey: Anything—for a bigtime player like you, Benny Jay? Consider it a done deal.

Immediately, I rush to tell my wife.

Damien as me: Joey’s gonna get me on the sidelines for a Bear’s game.

Laura, singing: I just don’t wanna be lonely…

Oh, yeah, I rushed in as my wife was playing her guitar and singing I Just Don’t Want to be Lonely by the Main Ingredient, one of the greatest songs of the `70s…

Laura: I wanna be loved and needed…

Anyway, she puts don’t the guitar long enough to hear me gush…

batmanandrobinphoneHello, special line…



Damien as me: He says all I gotta do is call him up and it’s a done deal.

Laura: Oh, that’s nice, Benny.

Damien as me: Me—on the field. Just like Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus.

Actually Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus haven’t played for the Bears since the `70s. But you get the idea. Anyway, back to Joey.

Dennis as Joey: Benny, let me tell you how the world works.

Damien as me: Okay.

Dennis as Joey: There’s the outside phone numbers. Which everyone has. When you call that number, you get a receptionist who takes a message. Dig?

Damien as me: Yeah…

Dennis as Joey: And then there’s the bat cave number.

Damien as me: The bat cave number?

Dennis as Joey: Yeah, man. When you call, the man answers.

Damen as me: Wow—the man!

With that he slips me his business card. Fast forward to just before the big Bears Packers game. I take out Joey’s card and call the bat cave number. Conversation goes like this…

Damien as me: Hey, Joey—it’s Benny.

Dennis as Joey: Who?

Damien: You know—the guy from vacation.

I can practically see his brain scrambling to figure out who I am and then—bam. He remembers.

Dennis as Joey: The dude in the Bulls hat?

Damien as me: That’s me.

Dennis as Joey: How did you get this number?

Damien as me: You gave it to me.

Dennis as Joey: I did?

Damien as me: The bat cave—remember?

Dennis as Joey: Oh, yeah.

Damien as me: So about those Bears tickets…

Dennis as Joey: Listen, man, I’m really busy now. Let me get back to you.

Anyway, that’s the last I heard from him. Until last week on vacation.

Damien as me: Hey, Joey, remember me?

Dennis as Joey: Man, how can I forget a bigtime player like Benny Jay?

Damien as me: So about those Bears tickets?

He slips me a card.

Dennis as Joey: Just call the ol’ Bat cave number—for the VIP treatment.

This is the year, folks. I’ll be hanging on the sidelines, just like Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus.

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Letter From Milo: Road Warrior

August 21st, 2017

I’ve become somewhat of a hermit as I’ve gotten older. My comfort zone has shrunk to a few North Side neighborhoods. I hate to travel. I don’t like meeting new people or seeing new things. I’m uncomfortable with crowds. And I refuse to fly.

I am a weird old dude, and I’ve got the documentation to prove it.

The lovely Mrs. Milo, on the other hand, is the most social of creatures. She loves people, parties and travel. Fortunately, she has a wide circle of girlfriends, some of them also burdened with uncooperative or curmudgeonly husbands, who help her enjoy the social pleasures, things that I am unwilling or incapable of doing.

A few weeks ago, my wife approached me and hesitantly asked, “Milo, honey, is there any chance you’ll go on a road trip with me?”


“Upstate New York. My brother’s going to race one of his cars at the racetrack in Watkin’s Glen. It’s near Ithaca, where, if you recall, I was born.”


“What! You’ll actually go.”


“And you won’t grumble and complain.”

“I just agreed to go. I didn’t agree to behave.”

Ithaca is about an 11-hour drive from Chicago. We decided to drive to Cleveland, which is more than halfway to Ithaca, and spend the night at a Bed and Breakfast, which my wife found on the internet. The room was funky, it had a medicinal smell, but the breakfast was excellent.

We stayed at a B and B in Ithaca, too. The room was great, but the breakfasts were horrible. Everything – eggs, potatoes, bacon – was microwaved.

Despite the shitty breakfasts, we had a nice time in Ithaca. It’s a pleasant community, hilly, watered by several streams, with well-maintained homes, and dominated by Cornell University. It reminded me of Gary, Indiana. We did some sightseeing, found a few good restaurants, and patronized a couple of the local watering holes. Then, we were off to Watkin’s Glen to meet my wife’s older brother, Richard.

Richard is a retired naval officer, in his early 70s, with a lot of spare time on his hands. He spends that time buying, rebuilding and racing old Mustangs. And that’s how I ended up, on a fine Saturday in August, wandering around the pit area of the Watkin’s Glen racecourse. My wife and I were going to watch her brother race his Mustang.

I’ll admit that I know nothing about cars. In fact, I have no interest in knowing about cars. If someone had told me that I would spend an entire day nosing around the pit area of a racecourse, I would have laughed out loud and asked what they were smoking.

There were dozens of cars in the pits, most had their hoods up and a couple of guys tinkering with the engines. As I walked past some of these mechanic types, I could hear fragments of their conversations. And I could barely understand a word they said. It was like they were speaking a foreign language.

I realized, then, that these guys were like the kids I knew in high school who used to hang around gas stations, except that they had grown up and were able to afford expensive racing machines.

All of the race cars were covered in product decals – oil companies, auto parts companies, tire companies, etc. As I strolled around with a beer in my hand, I noticed a car with a prominently displayed “Hoosier” decal.

Ah, I said to myself, a fellow Indiana boy. I walked up to the guy working on the car and said, “What part of Indiana are you from?”


“I grew up in Indiana,” I said. “I noticed your Hoosier decal and wondered what part of Indiana you were from.”

He looked at me strangely and said, “I’m from Pennsylvania and Hoosier is the brand name of a tire.”

I smiled, nodded and walked away.

My wife and I spent another day in Watkin’s Glen, but stayed away from the racecourse. We sailed on Seneca Lake, ate at a couple of decent restaurants, and bought some souvenirs. The following morning we left New York State and drove straight through to Chicago. I was glad to get home.

About a week later, my wife approached me and said, “A group of us are thinking about going up to Michigan for the weekend. Do you want to go? It’ll be fun.”


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Rolando: No Man (Or Woman) Left Behind

August 19th, 2017

We had just finished hiking up a mountain, and were feeling pretty good about ourselves.

We had spent about an hour on the mountain’s peak, taking in the breath-taking views, drinking the celebratory bottle of wine we brought along and generally feeling good about the day’s accomplishments.

After, the group of us, which included a close friend and his girlfriend, began to make the hike back down the mountain.

Fifteen minutes into our descent, we ran into a couple of hikers who were making their way up the mountain.

We exchanged a few words and wished each other well and continued on our way.

We got about hundred feet away from them when one of the hikers called out to us from up the trail: “At the fork in the road at the end of the trail, take a right. The left side has a bunch of houses with crazy dogs.”

“Thanks,” I yelled back as we continued on our way.

We kept on and a couple hours later, we reached the fork in the road. The hiker had said to take the right, but it was more of the same, rocky trail that continued to wind down the mountain. The left side was a paved road lined by very large, expensive-looking houses.

“I say we go left, guys,” I said. “We’ve been hiking half the day on this mountain and still have another hour to go. A paved road will be a lot easier on the body.”

“What about the dogs?” my friend’s girlfriend asked. “The guy said go right.”

“Look at those huge-ass houses. There aren’t going to be any rabid dogs roaming around on the road trying to eat us,” I said. “I’m tired, let’s go left.”

We were all tired, so nobody put up much of a fight.

We made our way down the paved road and past the houses. Some of them had locked steel gates with dogs behind them.

The dogs barked as we passed by, it was a little nerve wrecking at first, but we didn’t seem to be in any real danger.

“You see,” I said, confident that the hiker who warned us had overreacted. “The dogs are locked up and are probably used to protect the houses from burglars.”

We kept on down the road. The dogs kept barking, but none of them posed a threat. After 30 minutes of this, we became fairly confident that we weren’t going to be killed by crazy dogs.

We got about 20 minutes away from the end of our hike when we came across a house with this janky-looking gate that had this huge German Shepard. The damn thing was going ape shit. I mean, really trying to get at us.

He kept slamming against the gate. It was loosely held together by a chain that allowed his head to stick out between the gates all the way to his neck, as he tried to get free.

All the confidence we had built up over our last 40 minutes of hiking drained from our bodies.

“Shit, bro,” my friend said as he moved away from the dog to the far-side of the road, dragging his girlfriend with him. “That dog is trying to get at us like he hasn’t had anything to eat in a long time.”

“Man that’s a damn beast of a dog,” I said. “Let’s get the hell out of here before that fucker gets free.”

We moved ahead, my friend and his girlfriend trailing just behind me, when all of a sudden, the prankster in me struck.

I looked back at my friend and his girlfriend, they looked terrified as the dog continued to slam against the gate, but they kept moving, not turning to look at the dog, but choosing to move as quickly as possible away from the thing.

I waited for the dog to slam against the gate again and then I turned and screamed: “Oh shit the fucking dog is loose. Run!”

I turned and started sprinting down the road while screaming: “Oh, fuck. Oh, fuck. That fucker is coming.”

After about 30 feet, I stopped and turned to see if it had worked.

And damn did it work. Both my friend and his girlfriend were sprinting down the road with looks of complete horror on their faces. I’m talking, ‘Oh my god I’m going to die’ looks.

But that wasn’t the best part. The best part was the move my friend pulled on his girlfriend.

They were side-by-side for most of the sprint, until my friend pulled what is called a swim move.

It’s a move defensive lineman use to get past an offensive lineman.

In a swooping motion, he swung his right hand across her chest and swept her back, creating about two feet of separation between them, and kept on running.

It wasn’t until he ran past me that he realized what was going on.

“You motha fucka,” he screamed as he struggled to catch his breath. “You think that’s funny?”

“What, man?” I said, doubled over with laughter. “It was just a joke. Nothing bad happened.”

“You’re an asshole,” he said as a slight grin appeared on his face, which promptly disappeared when his girlfriend caught up.

“I can’t believe you,” she roared. “You pushed me behind so you could get away.”

“Babe, but the dog wasn’t even chasing us. Rolando was just fucking around.”

“You didn’t know that until after you left me behind for dog bait….”

They argued the rest of the way down the mountain.

It was a bit of a dick move, I admit that, but it was funny as hell.

And they ended up getting over it, anyway.

So it all ended well.

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Rolando: Early Noon Riser

August 12th, 2017

I got a call from my cousin, Theo, the other day. He wanted to get together and hangout.

“Let’s go chill tomorrow,” he said.

“Alright,” I said. “What time?”

“Meet me at my crib at noon. I don’t like to get up too early.”

So the next day I headed over to his place. But when I got there, his wife told me he was still sleeping.

“Well wake that punk up,” I said as I plopped myself down on his sofa.

As I waited, I turned on the TV and began flipping through the channels.

Then I heard my cousin’s wife let out a scream.

“Theo, don’t go out there like that!”

I didn’t flinch. I figured he was coming out of his room in his underwear or something. Theo likes to walk around his house in his draws no matter who’s visiting. I was used to it.

I kept flipping through the channels, trying to find something to watch.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a tall, dark figure emerging from the bedroom. It was Theo, I could tell.

I kept flipping through the channels, not even looking in his direction.

“What’s up, bro?” he asked as he continued to approach.

“Chilling, bro. What’s up with you?”

“Shit, bro. Just woke up.”

I kept flipping through the channels.

“That’s cool,” I said.

He stopped about a foot away and I looked up at him. He had a huge grin on his face.

“What?” I asked. “What the hell you smiling about?”

His smile got bigger and he began to laugh. He put both his hands on his hips and gestured downward with his eyes.

As I looked down, I nearly dropped the remote. Of course, he was in his underwear, but he also had a raging boner.

“Bro! Why the hell do you have a freaking boner? You damn animal.”

“What, bro? It’s morning wood. You don’t get morning wood?”

“I don’t want to see that shit. It’s 12:30, it’s not even morning anymore.”

“What? We’re family. It’s ok.”

“Being family doesn’t make this ok, Theo.”

“Come on, bro. Don’t be like that. It’s natural. Every man gets it.”

He began to laugh again as he started thrusting  his pelvis like a Chip N Dale dancer.

“Ahh, come on, man.”

As he pumped he kept repeating: “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.”

“Get the hell out of here with that shit, man. Go somewhere and take care of that situation.”

Suddenly his smile disappeared and he stopped pumping. He turned around and casually walked away.

“Fine,” he said as he walked toward the bathroom. “I’ll be back.”

A few minutes later he emerged from the bathroom, boner under control.

“You see. All I needed to do was take a pee and it’s gone.”

“You’re sick.”

“You’re so dramatic. It was morning wood,” he said as he plopped down directly next to me on the sofa. “A man can’t walk around his own damn house with morning wood? I gotta lay in bed till that shit goes away so poor little Rolando won’t get offended?”

“I’m just saying, Theo. No one wants to see that shit.”

“Well that life, bro. Sometimes you get morning wood and you can’t stay in bed, afraid of life, till it goes away. No, you have to get up and face the day.”

“Whatever, bro.”

“Now, what are we going to do?”

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Randolph Street: Three Photographs

August 11th, 2017

1DSCF2244Sculpture–Kalo Museum 


2DSCF2156Cloud Flowers–Lincoln Park


Mark Noller in his Music Box.

Mark Noller & His Music Box–Manteno, Illinois


All Photos © Jon Randolph


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