No Blaise: Divvy Disasters

July 23rd, 2014

Pitchfork was amazing.

Ah-maz-ing.

Before you ask, I saw:

SZA, Beck, Pusha T, Tune-Yards, Danny Brown, St. Vincent, Neutral Milk Hotel, Schoolboy Q, Real Estate, Grimes, and Kendrick Lamar.

Although I thought Grimes may have been lip syncing  and that she was much better when I saw her two years ago, everyone else was amazing.

Ah-maz-ing.

Anika and I live close enough that we decided to walk home Friday night, which was lovely. Perfect weather, etc etc.. And Sunday Ryan had driven so she gave us a ride home which was perfect since I am still, on Wednesday, in extreme energy recovery mode from the weekend. But Saturday we decided to try Divvy for the first time as our method home.

My first Divvy will be my last Divvy.

Initially it takes about 15 tries for the machine to read Anika’s card, but once it does we bike our 8 block journey and then park with great success. After a brief stint at home where I get refreshed with a beer, we decide we’ll Divvy to Soul Summit at Double Door which is again only about an 8 block journey.

Though we are at a different Divvy station, the machine again is a real dick about reading Anika’s card. It turns out that this station has also decided to be an a-hole about accepting the little code thing Divvy spit out at me to allow me to take a bike. I try pressing the six numbers into several different bike ports, and although none of the lights turn green signaling my ability to take the bike, I somehow manage to pull one from it’s parking spot.

Maybe my workouts are paying off..

We finally are able to make our way 8 blocks north and find a station that has two spots open.

Perfect!

Anika jams her bike in, no problem. I roll into the last spot just as confidently and am met with a big fuuuck youuuu. The bike didn’t click in so I’m standing there with these unethically heavy bike and no where to put it.

Another guy rides up looking for a spot and I ask him to test whether or not his bike will cooperate, it doesn’t either. This guy turns out to be much more immune to Divvy’s bullshit and is all “Gonna go find another station, ta ta!” happy as a clam.

What a freak.

I set off much less happily to the next station which isn’t that far away but it’s far enough away that I can gripe for about 5 minutes about how annoyed I am. Unfortunately Anika stayed behind to wait for me by Double Door so I am talking to myself.

Same ol’ Same ol’.

As I approach the salvation station I hear someone yell out my name…

“Oh! Hello boy I went on a date with last week!”

At the end of the night we decide to cut our loses and walk home. But nothing without stopping at 7-eleven and McDonalds so I can drown my Divvy frustrations in gardettos and quarter pounders.

When we’re finally home I give my bike a hug and am all like, “I love you, I’m sorry I strayed, please forgive me, I just didn’t want to carry a lock in my teeny tiny purse, it’ll never happen again…”

And my bike is all, “Nora go drink some water and go to bed.”

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Benny Jay: James Garner

July 22nd, 2014

James Garner died the other day. At age 86, of natural causes in his home in L.A.

The man lived a charmed life, he was a movie star who made a ton of dough. Still, I feel a little sad. I was big Jim Garner fan. He was funny and witty and cool.

I saw a ton of his movies back in the day, starting with The Great Escape. Which just may be the greatest Hollywood war movie — ever!

He played Bob Hendley, the sly and slick prisoner they called the Scrounger. As I recall, he got caught when the plane he was flying crashed.

I was about nine when I saw that movie. Probably went home and cried cause none of the good guys got away.

jamesgarnerstevemcGarner & McQueen in The Great Escape…

 

I also loved him as Charlie Madison, the cynical adjunct to the lieutenant commander in The Americanization of Emily. Which just may be one of the greatest Hollywood anti-war flicks — ever!

Paddy Chayefsky wrote the script. Let’s all quote one of Garner’s great lines…

“I don’t trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It’s always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a hell it is. And it’s always the war widows who lead the Memorial Day parades.”

Amen to that.

I loved his TV shows. Especially The Rockford Files. Which I used to watch every week with my mom.

He played Jimmy Rockford, this down-on-his luck private detective who lived in a trailer and was always broke. He’d get messages on his phone machine that went like this…

“Jim, this is Norma at the market. It bounced. Do you want us to tear it up, send it back or put it with the others?”

My man.

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With Diahann Carroll at the March on Washington…

 

As much as I loved Garner’s movies and TV shows, I never knew much about his life.

I definitely didn’t connect him with politics. If you asked, I’d have guessed he was a Republican, like Clint Eastwood, John Wayne or the other macho stars of that time.

But, no, it turns out he was “a lifelong Democrat, who was active in behalf of civil rights and environmental causes,” who met his wife “in 1956 at a presidential campaign rally for Adlai Stevenson,” according to his obit.

As such, he was one of the few Hollywood stars who had the guts to appear at the Great March on Washington in 1963.

Along with Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Charlton Heston — who used to be a liberal before he lost his mind.

Nowadays, standing with Martin Luther King may not sound like much. But back then it was a pretty radical thing for a white actor to do.

When needed he was there. For that and everything else, I say — thank you, Mr. Garner!

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Letter From Milo: Moe DeLawn

July 21st, 2014

I’ve got to mow the lawn today and I’m just sick about it. I hate mowing the damned lawn. If there’s a more useless activity or a bigger waste of time than cutting grass, I’ve never heard of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against wasting time. As a matter of fact, wasting time is what I do best. I take a back seat to nobody when it comes to laziness, loafing, shirking responsibility, or just plain fucking around.

But when it comes to mowing the lawn, there are other forces at work. The neighbors, for example, start giving me ugly looks and making snide comments when the grass on the front lawn grows to knee high. I’ve had people leave nasty notes in my mailbox, threatening to report me to the alderman unless I did something about the lawn. Even the local dogs consider it beneath their dignity to shit on my eyesore of a front yard. They prefer to do their business on a more aesthetically pleasing expanse of greenery.

The worst, however, is when my wife starts in on my ass.

“Hey, Milo, the lawn’s looking pretty bad.”

“I hadn’t noticed.”

“Trust me, the lawn needs to be mowed.”

“Okay, I’ll take care of it.”

“When?”

“Tomorrow, or maybe the day after.”

“I wish you would do it today. The lawn looks terrible. It’s embarrassing.”

I was about to tell the lovely Mrs. Milo that I had other plans, more important things to do than fuck around with the lawn. But she’d probably ask what those plans were, and I was pretty sure that having a couple of drinks and taking a nap would not be an acceptable excuse at that particular moment.

Besides, she had the steely, combative look in her eye that I knew so well from dozens of other vicious marital dust-ups we’ve had over the years, so I just said, “Yes, dear.”

A short while later, I went to the garage, got the power mower, checked the fuel level, pushed it out to the front yard, primed the engine, and yanked on the starter cable. To my bitter disappointment, the damned thing started up right away.

Mowing a lawn isn’t as dangerous for a man of a certain age as, let’s say, shoveling wet snow. Casualties are rare, but not unheard of. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be careful.

I’m not a dumbass, like a lot of guys my age, so I took my time, paced myself, stopping often to regulate my nicotine levels and hydrate myself from a half-pint of Old Crow. I stopped for a while to chat with a neighbor about the Chicago Bulls’ off-season acquisitions, and spent another five minutes talking to a neighbor about the long-legged, busty babe who had just moved in down the street.

When I finally got the job done, I was pleased with myself. Except for the weeds, bare spots, divots, ant hills, and brown patches, the lawn looked okay.

Plus, my timing was great. By the time I put the mower away and got cleaned up, it would be cocktail hour.

I was in the process of making myself a drink, when my wife walked into the house and said, “Nice job with the front yard, but the back yard has to be mowed, too.”

“Ah, shit.”

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Benny Jay: Love Never Felt So Good

July 20th, 2014

In honor of Michael Jackson’s topping the charts — five years after he died — with Love Never Felt So Good, another one of his irresistible pop sensations, we reprint this blast our glorious past…

 

I was driving in the car when onto the radio came – Off the Wall by the great Michael Jackson!

I cranked up the volume and started singing.

“Cause we’re the party people, night and day —  livin’ crazy that’s the only way….”

I hadn’t heard that song in years. Brought me back to a wild New Year’s Party, as `79 turned into 1980. A young Benny Jay — with a ton of hair –  acting crazy. Thank goodness there are no known negatives to be used against me.

Thing is – the song stayed on my mind, long after it ended. I’ve been singing it day and night ever since.

Eventually, I boiled it down to two lines, which I say over and over, apropos to absolutely nothing. I fear this may be the first sign of some odd form of insanity.

Like this recent exchange with a receptionist…

“Hold for Mr. Jones,” she says.

“We’re the party people night and day — livin’ crazy, that’s the only way,” I say.

“Excuse me?”

“Sorry — just ignore me.”

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In my mind, I dance like this….

 

One day I was talking to this twenty-something year old I’ll call Adrienne. Cause that’s her name.

“Do you know where this line comes from?” I asked. “`We’re the party people, night and day — livin’ crazy, that’s the only way.’”

“No,” she said.

“That’s cause you’re too young. Ask your mother — she’ll know.”

So she texted her mother.  A few minutes later, her mom texted back: “Michael Jackson.”

“See!” I said. Then I said the following line from the song: “`Gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf, and just enjoy yourself.’”

“Oh,” said Adrienne. “If you’d asked about that line, I’d have known the song.”

Like I did something wrong.

The next day, I’m in the county clerk’s office, chatting with the nice lady at the desk. When I get the urge.

“Do you know this line?” I asked. Then I say, not sing: ”We’re the party people, night and day — livin’ crazy, that’s the only way.”

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But in reality, I’m more like this….

 

“Oh, I know that line,” she said. “But I can’t remember where it’s from.”

“I’ll give a hint,” I said. “The writer died in 2009.”

Looking at me as if to say — Duh! – she pulled out her cell phone and showed me her screen-saver picture: A young Michael Jackson, doing the moonwalk.

Then she started singing — right there in the clerk’s office! “Gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf — an’ just enjoy yourself.”

At which point, I said: “Yeah!”

Which didn’t have any applicability to anything. Just got caught up in the moment.

Yes, he was weird. But I miss Michael Jackson

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Rolando: A Bum and A Spaniard

July 19th, 2014

-You see we got Gasol from LA?

-I saw it on the SportCenter last night. That’s a big man.

-He is a big man. That’ll be a nice one-two threat with Noah down low.

-Where’s he from now? Slovakia? Slovenia?

-He’s from Spain, you dunce.

-I don’t know…

-Another good thing that came from the signing is we got rid of Boozer.

-Thank God.

-Right? The man is a bum…

-A bum.

-Worst 80 mil the Bulls ever spent.

-Loved him when he was at Duke though.

-He was great at Duke.

-Pretty descent at the Jazz, too.

-But with the Bulls…

-A bum.

-And what’s with the painted beard and hairline?

-Who knows. Maybe that’s the black guy version of a toupe. Is that racist?

-I don’t think so.

-Me neither.

-I give us two years and then we’ll bring the title back home.

-You think so?

-I know so. D Rose will be back stronger and smarter. Noah and Gibson, too, we’ll be unstoppable in the East.

-I hope so. This city needs another championship.

-Either way, I’m just glad we got rid of Boozer. I couldn’t take another season with that bum.

-I did like him at Duke.

-Yeah he was great at Duke.

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Randolph Street: Grab Shots

July 18th, 2014

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Three Women–Chicago

 

Most of these were taken in the 1970′s.

 

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St. Patrick’s Day–Chicago

 

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Two Women–Chicago

 

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Cub’s Fans–Chicago

 

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Walk–Chicago

 

All photos © Jon Randolph 2014

jonrandolph.com

 

 

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Benny Jay: The Guy Who Wrote Angels In America

July 17th, 2014

My wife and I are sitting in the living room, watching Munich, the Steven Spielberg flick, which we rented for the night.

And I say…

“You can tell what’s his face wrote this script. The dialogue sounds just like him.”

“Who’s what’s his face?” she asks.

“You know…”

“No, I don’t know…”

“That guy…”

“What guy?”

“You know — that guy. The one who wrote that play…”

“What play?”

“You know — we saw it with Randy and Vickie.”

“You’re not telling me me anything…”

Suddenly, it’s like my brain’s overwhelmed. I’m trying to remember the name of the writer while talking. It’s too much.

“We saw it at that theater on Belmont…”

“This doesn’t help me…”

“It’s got Angels in the title.”

“Angels?”

Angels in America. That’s the name of the play!”

“Oh, that play…”

“And he wrote that other play. It’s got Caroline in the name. You know, he’s a gay guy. Very liberal. Oh, come on — what’s his name?”

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I can see his face…

 

This is killing me. I can see it all. The plays he wrote. Where we were and who we were with when we saw them. I can see his face and hear his voice from the TV specials on public TV. He’s got curly hair and a gap in his front teeth!

But I can’t remember his fucking name!

I’m having a moment of panic. This could be that first dreaded sign of dementia. Where things start to shut off!

“I can see his first name,” I say. “It starts with an A…”

“No, not an A,” says my wife.

“Is it a K?” I ask.

“No, not K.”

We turn our attention back to the movie. The hero’s having a horrible nightmare. He wakes up in a pool of sweat. A beautiful and sinister assassin has bared her curvaceous breasts.

“Kushner!” says my wife.

“Huh?”

“Tony Kushner!”

“That’s it!”

“Right?”

“You’re right. That’s his name.”

It’s hard to describe the glow of delight and satisfaction that radiates her face. I’m telling you, man — as you get older, you’d be surprised by the stuff that makes you proud.

A few minutes later, the credits role. And sure enough — screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth.

“Told you,” says my wife.

“Yes, you did,” I say.

“I remembered his name before you did.”

I say nothing.

So she repeats herself — just to make sure I heard her. “I remembered the name first — I remembered the name first…”

Aw, shit. Trash talking wives. First dementia now this. It’s always something.

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