Jon Randolph’s latest post was so damn good, I had to call and get the back story.
It’s pictures he took in the early `70s of students from Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, competing in a Keep On Truckin’ contest, to see who could come up with the best imitation of Robert Crumb’s classic hippie comic. Here’s the link.
So, I get Jonny on the horn and, well…
Here’s what Jon remembers about taking those great pictures…
“It was 1971. I was out of school by then. I must have come down for a weekend. Not sure how I ended up there…”
“Anything else?” I ask.
“Ugh, I submitted some to Look magazine. They rejected it, but they liked it.”
“How did you know they liked them — did they send you a letter?”
“I got a nice rejection notice from Annie Leibovitz.”
“You also sent the Truckin’ pictures to Rolling Stone?”
“No, I’m just saying I once got a rejection letter from her.”
I tell you — interviewing Jonny’s like taking Allen Ginsberg’s deposition. You only hope to capture whatever springs to his mind.
“So, Jon, would you say you were a hippie back then?”
“I don’t know, if you would say that. Sorta. I guess.”
All right — wouldn’t want to go out on a limb there.
We suddenly find ourselves having a conversation about something we know nothing about. As if that’s ever stopped us.
In this case — can we print a copy of Crumb’s orginal cartoon without getting sued by Crumb?
Jon says we can on the grounds that TTC’s not making any money.
The fucker can’t remember what he ate for breakfast, but suddenly he’s an expert on copyright law.
But no one takes a photo like our boy Jonny…
Desperate for something — anything — more to write, I ask how he found the old pix, hoping he has a stirring tale to tell. Alas…
“Friday morning I was panicking about what to run, so I looked around…”
“And?” I ask.
“You found the Truckin’ file?” I suggest.
“It’s not really a file,” he says. “It’s a box.”
“That’s it?” I say.
“You want more?”
Remind me never to ghostwrite this dude’s biography.
“So this is going to be my bad memory?” he asks.
“Well, it’s not like you give me a lot to work with…”
“Cooperate with the press once and look what happens?” he says. “I’ll never talk to the fuckin’ press again!”
I’m sure newspaper editors everywhere are weeping at the news.
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No Blaise was planning to write an original post, this being Wednesday. But she got bombed last night and had to take the day off. Happy Birthday, No! You’re a Third City kind of girl! As she works off that birthday-bash hangover, we’re running one of her greatest hits…
Though I have some habits that are a staple for me like being hungry all the time, most of my other habits I would consider sporadic.
One of these such sporadic habits is reading. I will get into phases with a good book where I plow through it in a week or two, depending on length. In the aftermath of said good book I’ll read more articles, seek out more information, etc.. Then I’ll find a new good book, get two chapters in and have a headache that can only be cured with photo lists of cute animals and binge watching Netflix.
I can only have the smarts for so long, ya know.
Like most of my sporadic habits, I would like to start reading more regularly. But, how!? It’s not like I don’t like reading, I love it. Getting into a good book is like…the friggin best. So why do I get distracted so easily?
Is it A.D.D.?
The reason this all is at the forefront of my mind is because when I start grad school in September this habit of reading when I feel like it isn’t going to fly, at least in terms of my assignments.
“Sorry professor, I didn’t do the reading cause I had just done that other reading and my brain didn’t feel like it.”
“Oh, whoops, I tried doing the homework before bed and fell asleep and then forgot about it in the morning. Can I turn it in next week? Or maybe in a month? I’ll definitely have it done in a month.”
“I just couldn’t get into the reading so I stopped.”
“They don’t have that textbook in the kindle store so I’m sorry but I won’t be using it.”
“Yes, ma’am, you are right. I do need a reality check.”
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Champagne bottles are popping at The Third City because…
Weird Al is number 1!!!
That is — Weird Al Yankovic, one of the premier artists of our time, has the number-one selling CD in all the land.
It’s called Mandatory Fun, it features his chart-topping single, Tacky — a parody of Happy. And it’s the first comedy record to hit the top spot since 1963, with My Son, the Nut by Allan Sherman.
Speaking of geniuses.
Actually, I might be Weird Al’s only fan at TTC.
As near as I can tell no one likes Weird Al cause 1.) he’s a parodist, so they think he’s not really an artist. Like parody is easy to do. And 2.) he looks really nerdy.
That doesn’t keep my from trying to win them over. I’m always emailing my friends links of Weird Al videos, along with notes like…
“I think you’ll like this one.”
“Forget all the others — you’ll really like this!
The great Mr. Sherman…
And they’ll write back things like…
“I don’t find this funny.”
“I can’t believe you find this funny!”
“Stop sending me Weird Al shit!”
I will now take a break to list the three greatest Weird Al bits of all time.
Amish Paradise, Eat It, his fake interview with Bruce Springsteen, and Bob, his Dylan parody done in palindromes. Do you know how hard that is, people?
I know that’s four. But limiting this man’s 30-years of genius to three is like eating just one piece of fried chicken — it can’t be done!
I even have a hard time coming up with my favorite line from a single song.
For instance, I’ll be thinking this is the greatest line from Eat It (imagine it sung to Michael Jackson’s Beat It)…
We love you, Weird Al!
“Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Get yourself an egg and beat it…”
But then I’ll think — no, this one’s funnier…
“Have some more chicken, have some more pie
It doesn’t matter if it’s boiled or fried
Just eat it, eat it, just eat it, eat it…”
Then, I think — no, this is the funniest!
“Don’t want no Captain Crunch, don’t want no Raisin Bran
Well, don’t you know that other kids are starving in Japan
So eat it, just eat it…”
At this point, I’d like to introduce you to Jennie. She works with my wife, and, yes, she too loves Weird Al!
So we are not alone, my friends!
She was a skeptic till she saw Weird Al in concert. “That’s when I knew — he’s a genius!”
For sometime, Jennie and I have been sending my wife links to Weird Al songs in the hopes that she will see the light.
Alas, I think my wife’s about to hire a lawyer to send us a Weird Al cease-and-desist letter.
In any event, congratulations on being number 1, Weird Al. You deserve it!
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I remember it like it happened yesterday.
About five years ago, Frankie “the Suit,” Chief Financial Officer of this scabby, befuddled outfit, asked Benny Jay and I to attend a meeting in the conference room of our plush Michigan Avenue office. He wanted to discuss the sorry state of The Third City’s finances. According to the spread sheets Frankie had tacked to the walls, readership was down, advertising was down, interest was flagging and, worst of all, revenues were nearly non-existent.
“Boys, we’re in trouble,” Frankie said. “Unless we find more readers and crank up our cash flow, you two might have to take salary cuts.”
“But I’ve got the solution to our problems, “Frankie continued. “We’re all going to get on Facebook.”
“Great idea, Frankie,” Benny Jay said. “That’s why you make the big money here.”
“Good thinking,” I added. “But, ah, what the fuck is Facebook?”
“Facebook is a social networking site.”
“Networking is something people do to stay in touch with like-minded individuals. They help each other find jobs, romantic partners, etc.”
“Sounds like a bunch of homely, unemployed losers fucking around on the internet.”
Frankie called me a few choice names and then went on to explain our Facebook goals.
“The thing to remember is that we’re going for quality over quantity. We want to befriend movers and shakers, people in the media, people who can help promote The Third City. Don’t waste time making friends with just anybody. The whole point of this exercise is to promote our blog site and get obscenely rich. We’ll get together next month and evaluate our Facebook progress.”
When I got home that evening I poured a big glass of wine and sat down at the computer, ready to join the world of Facebook. To be completely honest, I actually had heard of Facebook before, but always figured it was something for kids. Not knowing any better, I imagined that an adult spending time on Facebook was odd, even creepy, sort of like a grown man spending time watching MTV. I quickly learned different.
Anyway, once I logged on to the site, I discovered that I needed help. So, I called on the services of the Facebook experts in my home, my daughters, Nadia and Petra. They quickly got me set up and explained the basics. The only thing lacking was a photo of me.
“Why do I have to put up a picture of my ugly old ass?”
“Duh, Dad, it’s called Facebook for a reason.”
“I’ve got an idea. Let’s put up a picture of Steve McQueen and tell everybody it’s me.”
“That would be, like, false advertising. Don’t worry, Dad. We’ll find a nice picture of you.”
The girls rummaged through some old photo albums and found a 20-year-old picture of me. They scanned it, did a bit of Photoshop work, and imported it into my Facebook profile. I was in business. Two minutes later, someone sent me a message asking to be my friend, and I was off to the races.
Every night I would sit at my computer, a couple of bottles of red wine in easy reach, and do my Facebook duty. I’d request friends, confirm friends, comment on links, become a fan of sites and post shit on my wall. I wasn’t doing it because I enjoyed it. No. If anything, it was becoming a chore. I was doing it for a greater good. I was doing it for The Third City. I was doing it for all the people that counted on us to keep their spirits up in these desperate times. I was doing it for all the good folks that see us as a bastion of decency and civilized discourse in an increasingly rude and hostile world.
Mainly, though, I did it until the wine ran out.
About a month later, Frankie, Benny Jay and I reconvened in our corporate offices.
“Well, boys,” Frankie said, “we’ve staved off disaster. We live to blog another day. Our readership has increased by 87.4%. And it’s all due to Facebook. But, I have to tell you, I’m puzzled.”
“If you remember, I asked you both to befriend movers and shakers, people with influence in the world of media and communications. Well, according to my printouts, you two did no such thing.”
“We did our best, Frankie,” Benny Jay said.
“Benny, the only people you befriended are a bunch of Bulls’ fans and the guys on your bowling team, and most of them are illiterate. They need a calculator to keep score at the bowling alley.”
“What’s your point?”
“And Milo, you’re a disgrace.”
“So, what else is new?”
“I checked your friends’ list and the only people on it are young women who show a lot of cleavage in their profile photos.”
“It’s still a work in progress, Frankie.”
“Whenever you comment on someone’s link, the only thing you say is ‘Go fuck yourself.’”
“That can’t be right.”
“And who’s this Elaine Soloway broad?”
“I’m not sure, but I believe she was my third or fourth wife.”
“Well, I guess it’s not important. What matters is that our readership is up and the dough is rolling in again. Now, have either of you two dumbasses ever heard of something called Twitter?”
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In honor of the summer moon, we’re reprinting one of our greatest hits…
I’m watching Apocalypse Now, when my wife walks out the door.
She’s joining a bunch of women to practice yoga on the beach under the full moon. They do it once a month in the summer — call it full-moon yoga. I’m not making any of this up.
See, that’s the thing about women. They’re different than men. They practice yoga under the full moon. We watch “Apocalypse Now” — again and again.
“Pick me up at 8:30,” she says.
“Yeah, yeah,” I say, as bombs and shells blast away.
“I’ll be at Lawrence and the lake….”
“Yeah, right,” I say, not wanting to miss a beat.
I watch it to the scene on the beach, where Robert Duvall’s making the soldiers surf while the bullets whiz by: “If I say it’s safe to surf this beach, captain, then it’s safe to surf this beach. I mean, I’m not afraid to surf this place. I’ll surf the whole fucking place!”
Great line. Some things never get old.
It’s getting dark outside, so I pause the movie and drive to Lawrence and the lake — the exact spot where my wife said she’d be.
Only she’s not there. The corner’s empty. Pitch black, too. Spooky as all hell. I get out of the car and walk up a slight embankment to the top of a ridge that overlooks the lake. My God, what a sight! The moon’s like a big orange ball, casting its ghostly glow on the sand.
I see some kids throwing a football, but no yoga-doing women.
It sort of irritates me. I’m easily irritated when I’m hungry and I’m seriously hungry. And we’re supposed to eat at Annie’s Chinese restaurant. I’m already thinking about the Kung Pao Shrimp. This place makes the best Kung Pao Shrimp.
I figure wherever my wife is she’ll call me when she’s done. So I go back to the car and turn on the radio. They’re playing The Who.
Another car pulls up along side me.
I got the volume cranked high: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss….”
I’m wailing away on my air guitar when I remember there’s a car next to me. I sneak a peek. The guy in the front seat’s staring at me.
It hits me — he’s gay. This is where gay guys go to find other gay guys. Big Mike told me this years ago. Not that Big Mike is gay. He just knows lots of stuff.
This guy must think I’m gay! Why else would I be sitting in my car out by the lake all by myself in the middle of the night?
I think about calling out the window: “I’m not gay! I’m just waiting for my wife, who’s doing that full-moon yoga thing.”
But I think: What if he’s not gay? What if he’s just waiting for his wife? Or worse, what if he doesn’t believe my story. I mean, full-moon yoga? It does sound like a stretch. Who the hell does full-moon yoga? He’ll probably think I’m a rookie gay guy – taking his first steps out of the closet.
I put the car in gear and drive away.
But he follows me! He’s got his high beams flashing off my rear view mirror so I can barely see.
I push on the gas, losing him at the light. I circle the block, parking right where I started.
Another car cruises up and parks next to me. A different guy looks in. No! Not again!
My cell phone rings. It’s my wife. “Where are you?” she asks.
“Where am I? Where are you?”
“At Lawrence and the lake….”
“I don’t see you….”
“That’s cause it’s dark….”
“Walk to the street light,” I tell her. “Hurry up. I gotta get out of here. These fuckers are like carnivores….”
Sure enough, out from the darkness come the shadowy figures of women, bearing yoga mats, including my wife and her friend, Jeannie.
They have the blissed-out, God-is-good-glow of women who’ve done two hours of yoga on a beach under the full moon.
Definitely more blissed-out than me, who spent the better part of the last thirty minutes on the run.
We drive to Annie’s Chinese and order a ton of food. Let me tell you — these chicks can eat! They’re shoveling it in — staying with me, bite for bite. Right down to the last peanut in the Kung Pao Shrimp.
When you’re hungry, you gotta eat. That’s one thing men and women have in common.
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-How much longer to the El?
-We got like five more blocks, bro.
-I’m tired, man.
- You’re lazy, that’s what you are.
-I’m just saying…. We’ve been walking for like an hour.
-Chill, bro. We’re almost there.
-I’m hungry, too. Give me some of those Cheetos.
-Here, take them. Damn you like to complain.
-Just give it here.
-Bro, bro, look at this shit.
-That stroller in front of that building across the street with those two babies.
-They’re alone. Where the hell are the parents?
-That lady over there’s got to be the mom.
-Across the street digging through the trunk of that truck.
-She’s like a block and a half away. And she’s got her back turned to them. Any psycho could just snatch those kids up and run away.
-No one’s going to do that. Who’d try and snatch a couple babies up like that?
-You never know. There are plenty of psychos in this city. What sane parent does that?
-They’ll be fine. Stop tweaking.
-You know what I feel like doing? Scaring the shit out of her so she learns her lesson.
-I’d run up, grab the stroller and start running away with it while screaming ‘I’m stealing your babies! I’m stealing your babies cause you weren’t paying attention to them!’ It’ll scare the shit out of her and she’d never do that dumb ass shit again.
-Yeah. Yeah it would scare her. And it’d probably get you a free trip to County at the same time.
-I mean, I wouldn’t actually run away. I’d stop and snap on her for being a neglectful mother and tell her I did it to teach her a lesson.
-Yeah. I’m sure the cops would buy that story. You really are right. There are some psychos in this city. I’m walking next to one right now
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