Letter From Milo: Mickey and Bonnie

December 11th, 2017

Mickey came home from Vietnam in February of 1970, just a few days short of his 21st birthday. He had been an infantryman, a rifle-toting grunt who had slogged through mountains and swamps, bombed out rice paddies and impenetrable jungles. He had seen and done things that no person should ever see or do. Some of the memories would never leave him.

Back home, Mickey was at loose ends. He didn’t know what to do. He was lost and confused. His old friends, high school buddies, seemed like childish strangers. He wasn’t sleeping well and was eating poorly. Even his mother’s cooking, which he had always relished, was tasteless to him.

Mickey spent most of his time in his car, driving aimlessly, listening to the radio and smoking lots of marijuana. Sometimes he’d pick up a six-pack or a pint of whiskey and drive out to the beach, where he’d find an isolated spot near the shore of Lake Michigan, park his car, and watch the waves roll in and out for hours at a time. The sound of waves lapping at the shoreline soothed him and often he would fall asleep, lulled by the rhythm of the tides.

Mickey knew there was something wrong with him but he couldn’t figure out on the problem. The term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder hadn’t been coined yet. If he had known about PTSD he might have tried to get some help, although Mickey was by nature a self-contained type and probably wouldn’t have asked for help even if he knew he needed it.

After being home for a few months, the time had come for Mickey to make a decision. He could either get a job in one of the local factories or do something else. He opted for something else. He decided to take advantage of the GI Bill and go to college for a year or so, just to clear his head. Maybe he would get a new perspective on things. Maybe his demons wouldn’t follow him to southern Indiana. Maybe he could outrun his past. Maybe.

His first months at college were not much different from the life he had been living in his hometown. Mickey wandered around in a daze, keeping his head down, unable to reach out to people, unwilling to expose himself more than absolutely necessary. He attended classes sporadically, spent time drinking alone in the local taverns and smoked pot to take his mind off of, well, who knows what. He may as well have been a ghost, his presence unnoticed except for those whose senses were attuned to the high and lonesome end of the misery spectrum.

And then Mickey met Bonnie.

She was a beautiful, long-legged art student, a farm girl from southern Indiana. She saw something in Mickey that he thought had been lost and gone forever. She saw a spark of intelligence, a glimmer of humanity that he thought no longer existed. For some reason she decided that he was someone worthwhile, someone she wanted to know better.

Bonnie took Mickey under her lovely wing. They became friends, and then they became more than friends. She had a kind and generous nature and, more than that, she seemed to have an intuitive sense of how to deal with Mickey’s damaged psyche. When he went into one of his funks, she knew how to lift his spirits. She was comfortable with his silences and listened patiently when he felt like talking. Although Mickey didn’t realize it at the time, Bonnie was exactly what he needed at that point in his life.

When Bonnie brought Mickey into her life she also introduced him to her world. As an art student, Bonnie’s social circle included other aspiring artists – actors, writers, dancers and musicians. Mickey, who was used to the rough world of soldiers and working men, found himself enjoying the company of his witty and creative new friends. They made him laugh and think and look at the world differently. He was changing.

Slowly, Mickey began to come out of his shell. He felt healthy again. He was sleeping better, too, his dreams less vivid and frightening. He took pleasure in good conversation, good music and even began enjoying some of his classes, although it must be said that Mickey had a low opinion of organized education. He no longer had a sense of dread when he woke up in the morning. He had the odd but welcome sensation that he was becoming a human being again, reconnecting to the person he once was and seeing intimations of the person he might become.

Mickey understood that none of this would have been possible without Bonnie. She had literally saved his sanity and, possibly, his life. She had lifted the darkness from his soul and replaced it with dawning hope. Mickey knew that he could never explain to Bonnie what she had done for him. He could not find words that adequately expressed what she meant to him. In fact, he doubted that the proper words of thanks existed in the English language. The only thing he knew for certain was that without her he might have remained a ghost, a blue-collar Flying Dutchman, doomed to spend eternity wandering. He would never forget what she had done for him.

All stories have a beginning and, sadly, an end. When she finished school, Bonnie decided to move to New York City to pursue her artistic dreams. Mickey’s future lay elsewhere. They went their separate ways, but Mickey always kept Bonnie in his heart, safely tucked away in a place where a person’s most precious treasures are kept. He thought of her often, wondering where she was and what she was doing. Always, when he thought of her, he wished her peace, love and happiness. There was nobody more deserving.

And there was absolutely no doubt in Mickey’s mind that when Bonnie thought of him, she wished him the same.

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Benny Jay: Tim Hochberg

December 10th, 2017

This bit’s from the December 7th show. To listen, click here

 

After yesterday’s show, Dennis tells me…

Dennis as Dennis: Hey, great show today. But–who’s Tim Hochberg?

Damien as me: Huh?

Dennis: On the Hochberg read–you said Tim Hochberg instead of Team Hochberg.

Damien as me: No, I didn’t.

Dennis: Yes, you did.

Something you should know. Dennis and I always have scintillating debates. Also, David Hochberg is a leading advertiser who has a spot that goes…

Dennis as Stephanie Miller: Having trouble in tummy town?

Ooops, different sponsor. Like this…

Dennis as Hochberg: Hi, I’m David Hochberg. I can’t help, if you don’t call.

Anyway, back to our discussion. Yoda, our enlightened station manager, walks into the studio.

Matt: Hey, Ben—did you hear the Bulls signed a new player?

Damien as me: No, man–really?

Matt: Yes. His name is—Tim Hochberg.

Dennis as Dennis: That’s a good one, Yoda.

Just then Laura walks in.

Laura as Laura: Hey, Benny—big news. Trump just appointed a new aide.

Damien as me: Really, man—who?

Laura: His name is—Tim Hochberg.

Dennis/Matt/Laura laugh.

Damien: Ah, real funny, guys.

Then Dennis gave me a tip.

Dennis as Dennis: Look, Ben, look, man—I learned this trick in radio school.

davidhochberg

David–not Tim–Hochberg…

 

Something you should know—Dennis went to radio school.

Dennis in radio voice: Lewis and Clark Community College—the Harvard of the Midwest.

That’s why we call him—Doctor Dennis.

Dennis: I am not a doctor.

In fact, most of the stars at this station went to radio school. Sometimes Dennis, Laura and Yoda sit around the break room for hours, swapping radio school stories.

Laura in valley girl accent: Oh, my god–one time in radio school, we, like, totally fixed an antenna…

Dennis in valley boy accent: No way. And, one time in radio school, we had a broken transmission…

Matt: And one time in radio school, they gave us these super cool Cubbie blue lunch boxes.

Back to Tim Hochberggate. Dennis said…

Dennis as Dennis: Here’s a tip, man—flex your articulators.

Damien as me: Huh?

Laura as Laura: It’s a vocal exercise—like this.

And she put her fingers on either side of her mouth and made weird noises.

Matt: Also try some tongue twisters.

Laura: Yeah, like this one—Tiny Team Hochberg tweeted a terrific tweet.

So for the rest of the day, I practiced that tongue twister, even with Nicky the dog.

Dennis as Nicky: Dude, where’s dinner?

Damien: Ugh, Nicky–tiny Team Hochberg tweeted a terrific tweet.

Dennis as Nicky: Huh?

And then my wife came home.

Laura as wife: Honey, I’m home.

Damien: Oh, yes–tiny Team Hochberg tweeted a terrific tweet.

Laura as wife: Oh, yeah, I heard you called team Hochberg Tim Hochberg.

Oh, brother. Word travels fast.

 

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Randolph Street: Three Picks

December 8th, 2017

1DSCF2915Approach–Chicago

 

2DSCF2862Koi–Norman, Oklahoma

 

3DSCF2817Chairs–Sheboygan, Wisconsin

 

All photos © Jon Randolph 

jonrandolph.com

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Benny Jay: Scottie Duff

December 7th, 2017

This bit’s from the December 1st show. To hear it, click here.

 

So the other day, there’s a break in the show and I’m hearing a voice doing a read that sounds a little familiar.

Dennis as dignified Scott: Lord Byron was a great poet…

Man, I know I’ve heard that voice before. But I can’t quite place it.

Dennis as dignified Scott: Lord Byron was a great British poet, peer and politician…

The voice—it’s so thoughtful, urbane, sophisticated.

Dennis as dignified Scott: Lord Byron is regarded as one of the greatest Romanticists of all time.

It’s the voice of a civilized man of letters, who’s sitting beside a roaring fire in his book-lined study, sipping fine brandy and reading, well, Lord Byron, of course.

Dennis as dignified Scott: She walks in beauty, like the night…

Curious as to who’s talking, I ask Dennis.

Laura as Ben: Hey, D, man—who’s that dude?

Dennis as Dennis: You don’t know. That’s Scott Duff.

Laura as Ben: You mean, my man—Scottie D. The madcap, wild man who hosts Out Chicago, which airs every Sunday at 11 am—right here on WCPT 820 am. Where facts matter. Right before Rickey Hendon. That Scott Duff?

Well yes and no. Yes, it’s that Scott Duff. But, no the Rickey Hendon show now comes on Saturdays at 4.

Dennis as Rickey Hendon: Hey, I’m Rickey Hendon. Talk rhythm, baby.

scottduffThe great Mr. Duff…

 

But I digress. Anyway, I listen to more of Scottie’s read.

Dennis as dignified Scott: Lord Bryon wrote exquisite poetry.

As I listened, it occurred to me that Scott had a touch of Eddie Haskell in him.

Dennis: Who?

Oh, sorry, millennials. Eddie Haskell–a character in the 1960s sitcom, Leave it to Beaver—had what you might call a split personality. He was exceedingly polite to adults, like in this exchange with Beaver’s mom, Mrs. Cleaver.

Laura as polite Eddie: Oh, hello, Mrs. Cleaver, you look marvelous in your lovely yellow dress.

Dennis as Mrs. Cleaver: Why, thank you, Eddie.

Laura as polite Eddie: Here, let me help you carry that grocery bag.

Dennis as Mrs. Cleaver: Oh, my, Eddie, why can’t my boys be as polite as you?

But around his pals? Well, Eddie was a different kind of cat.

Laura as nasty Eddie: Hey, Cleaver, shut up before I give ya a knuckle sandwich in your kisser.

By the way, Scottie’s not the only Eddie Haskell I know. Oh, no, consider the case of our very own Laura Vaughn, our favorite news anchor. There’s the on the air Laura…

Laura as news anchor Laura: In this breaking news, Governor Rauner has undergone a sex change operation…

And then there’s the Laura we meet every day in the break room.

Laura as wild girl: Yo’, Antonio, don’t Bogart that bong, dude—gimme a hit!

Dennis as Antonio, making bong noises: Ugh, huh, what—hey?

Laura hitting bong and then singing: Gonna use my arms, gonna use my legs, gonna use my style, gonna use my side-step, gonna use my fing-gers….

Dennis as Antonio: Oh, wow—rock on, bad girl.

Oh, yeah, guess there’s a little Eddie Haskell in us all.

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Randolph Street: Unmeltable Snow

December 6th, 2017

1_MG_4927

Wrigley Field–Chicago

 

Snow doesn’t melt–it wears out.

 

2_MG_4944

# 2

 

3_MG_4954

#3

 

5_MG_4952

#4

 

6_MG_4960

#5

 

7_MG_4917

Gate R

 

All photos © Jon Randolph 2014

 

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Letter From Milo: The Hard Way

December 4th, 2017

A few years ago, when I was preparing for major surgery, the doctor asked my wife about my lifestyle. He wanted to know if I had any bad habits.

The lovely Mrs. Milo replied, “Yes, he does. He smokes and drinks and eats red meat. He likes to gamble and he occasionally smokes marijuana with some of his low-life friends. And I know for a fact that he regularly entertains impure thoughts.”

“Let’s hope this surgery makes him change his ways,” the doctor said. “Maybe a few hours on the operating table will put the fear of God into him.”

“Doctor, you don’t know my husband. He won’t listen to anyone’s advice and he takes direction poorly. I doubt he’ll change his ways.”

My wife was right. Against all common sense, against sound medical advice, and much to the despair of several members of my immediate family, I quickly reverted to form and resumed the low-life diversions that had always been a comfort to me.

Shortly after recovering from surgery, I was, once again, happily wallowing in a mire of liquor, tobacco, red meat, reefer and thoughts of an impure nature.

A while ago, I was sitting on a barstool in Swillagains when an old friend, who I’ll call Pete, sat next to me and ordered a drink. Pete didn’t look well. His skin had a yellowish caste and he looked like he had lost some weight.

When I asked about his health, Pete said, “Fucking liver’s been acting up again.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Doctor says I should quit drinking.”

“Well, that’s something to consider.”

“Ah, the fucker’s been telling me to quit drinking for 20 years. I’m thinking about getting a second opinion.”

A little later, I was standing outside of the saloon, enjoying a cigarette with an old friend, who I’ll call Tim. We were in the middle of a conversation when Tim went into a hacking and wheezing fit that lasted for a couple of minutes.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just the fucking emphysema acting up again.”

“Sorry to hear it.”

“Doctor told me if I wanted to live much longer I’d have to quit smoking.”

“What did you say?”

“I told him I’d think about it.”

Later that evening, as I was enjoying a glass of red wine and mulling over the day’s events, I thought about the choices that my friends Pete and Tim had made. When presented with evidence that their behavior would have detrimental and possibly fatal consequences, they chose to ignore it. They didn’t believe it, didn’t understand it, or didn’t care. In any case, they refused to take their doctors advice.

Now, these doctors had, no doubt, seen the damage that heavy drinking and smoking can cause. They have treated people with ruined lungs and corroded livers. They’ve watched heavy smokers slowly choke to death as cancer squeezed the life out of them. They’ve watched heavy drinkers turn yellow and die because their livers failed. They’ve probably told an untold number of people who led self-destructive lifestyles that they were doomed.

Inevitably, when patients are told they have a terminal illness, the first question they ask is, “How long have I got?”

The doctors generally give an educated guess. It could be weeks, months, or even a couple of years. But deep in their hearts, doctors know that the true answer is, “Not long enough, my friend.”

I wish Tim and Pete would have taken their doctors’ advice.

Man, I’m glad I’m not a dumbass like those guys.

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