No Blaise: Mental Breakdown

August 24th, 2016

I’ve mentioned I’m in the throws of my usual end of quarter routine–mental breakdown, losing track of days, full life collapse. What I haven’t mentioned yet, but what you probably have already guessed is going on, is my usual procrastination.

Since I make it my mission every quarter to do better with not saving everything to the last minute, I’ve done better with keeping up with assignments. I even have one already (almost) done that isn’t due until midnight tonight.

It’s really great that I’ve been able to somewhat keep track of my work in these two classes, and then I remember that I’m taking a third class, my internship at Newberry, and I’m all like “Oh Shit, I have about 10 week worth of lesson plans and reflections to write in a one week period.”

“Oh shit, I also have two quizzes and a project that consists of creating a months worth of content for a first grade classroom due at the beginning of the next week.” “Oh shit, I also have a full time job.” “Oh shit, I also like having friends and drinking alcohol.”

Oh shit, Oh shit, Oh shit.

So, here I am with a week left in the quarter, and a week and one day away from vacation in California, all “my brais melting do I even have the mental capacity to pull off one more sentence of work, let alone journals, and quizzes, and 20 days worth of relevant lessons for first graders.

The answer to this is: You don’t wanna take these god damn classes over, so caffeinate yourself and GET TO WORK.

It’s always nice to know you’re not alone in a sinking ship/brain explosion/body shut down, so my classmate Kim and I often exchange text messages that go something like:

“I’m confused”

“Me too”

“It’s because my brain is melted”


“It’s because I love wine”

“Me too”

“I’m only one human with one average sized brain!”


“Will we be single forever?”

“It’s looking that way.”

“K cool.”

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Benny Jay: Another Country

August 23rd, 2016

With lots of free time on my hands, I spent the better of my recent vacation reading Another Country, James Baldwin’s classic novel about blacks & whites in New York City during the late 1950s.

What can I say? Great book! The man’s a genius. Though it was written over 50 years ago, Baldwin’s way ahead of his time as he tells a tale of men and women–gay and straight–struggling to overcome the demons that divide us.

It’s wise and insightful. I recommend it to one and all.

Plus, it’s got some steamy sex scenes.

Ultimately, it’s sort of uplifting. At least Baldwin’s characters are trying to bridge the racial gap.

That said–Baldwin made one mistake.

It came when one character calls another a “cock sucker”.

As all Third City readers know, that’s a misspelling. It’s just one word.

At least according to Milo, who knows a thing or two about this stuff from his days as an outstanding young scholar at Horace Mann high school in Gary, Indiana.

jamesbaldwinEven the great James Baldwin occasionally makes a mistake…


Over the years, Milo’s dutifully waged a holy, one-man crusade to get people to correctly spell this word. Along with dipshit, fuckface, numbnuts, shithead, dumbass, and motherfucker–all one word. Not two!

Off the top of my head, I recall Milo correcting misspellings by No Blaise, Frank Coconate, Rolando and other Third City contributors.

I guess we can now add the great James Baldwin to that long and illustrious list.

Anyway, I broke the news to Milo, as soon as I got home.

“Hey, Milo, have you ever read Another Country?”

“Yes, I have, Benny–it’s a magnificent book.”

“Yes, well, I’m sad to say he made a misspelling.”

“Shit, Benny, don’t tell me Baldwin spelled motherfucker as two words!”

“No, he got that right. But he fucked up with cocksucker.”

“Two words?”

“Afraid so.”

“Jesus Christ, man–you’d think a great writer like James Baldwin would know better.”

He paused as if the disappointment were more than he could bear.

“Well, Milo,” I said. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

“You’re right, Benny. Horace Mann had a rigorous 9th grade spelling curriculum. Besides, look on the bright side. How many other authors managed to get motherfucker and cocksucker in the same book? Not enough, my man, not enough.”


Letter From Milo: About 90%

August 22nd, 2016

A while ago, I fell down, hit my head, and suffered a subdural hematoma, which is bleeding of the tissues around the brain.

The doctors said I was extremely lucky. I could have died, been a vegetable, or spent my golden years in a wheelchair, drooling and wearing diapers.  Fortunately, they caught it in time. The brain surgery went smoothly and there were no complications. They told me I should make a complete recovery.

This all happened three and a half months ago and, despite what the doctors said, I still don’t feel right. I sense I’m about 90% of my normal self.

Oh, sure, people tell me I look great. They say they can’t see any difference in me, that I look and act exactly the same as I did before the accident.

But I know better. I may be okay physically, but mentally, I’ve still got a ways to go. In the last week, I…

Caught myself calling my daughter’s dog by my recently deceased cat’s name.

Put food in the microwave and forgot about it until the next day.

Spent 20 minutes looking for my reading glasses, when, all the time, they were clipped to the neck of my tee-shirt.

Couldn’t remember my zip code when I used a credit card at a gas station.

Walked to the corner convenience mart to buy cigarettes and forgot to take the pack with me when I left the store.

Did laundry and left the clothes in the dryer overnight.

Developed a slight stutter that friends and family claim not to notice, but I do.

There are several other issues that I blame on the head injury, but at the moment, I can’t remember them.

I complained about the situation to my wife and her advice was to be patient. “The doctors said your recovery would take six-to-nine months. The surgery was a little more than three months ago. You have to give it time.”

“Yeah, but I’ve always been a fast healer.”

“Honey,” she said, “you’re not a kid anymore.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“At your age, you can’t blame every little lapse on the brain surgery. It’s natural for an older man to be a bit forgetful.”

“Good lord! You don’t think I’ve got Alzheimer’s, do you? I mean, who forgets their zip code.”

One thing I didn’t forget was my youngest daughter’s birthday. She turned 24 this past Sunday and my wife planned a dinner party in her honor.

The lovely Mrs. Milo asked me to run a few errands. I picked up a birthday card, a present, and some beer and wine. I also had to stop at the bakery to pick up a cake.

When I arrived at the bakery, I realized I didn’t know what kind of cake my daughter liked. So I called my older daughter and said, “What kind of cake would your sister like for her birthday?”

There was a moment of silence, and then she said, “Ah, Dad, you asked me that same question yesterday.”


Benny Jay: Back To The Shithole

August 21st, 2016

I spent the last week of my life flaked out on a beach in paradise–or as close to paradise as my broke ass can afford.

As the days went by, the sun wore me down, melting my harsh protective exterior, until I became a marshmellow. Just one round ball of peace, love and understanding.

Then I returned to civilization…

Waking Sunday morning to read my first newspaper in a week, I came face to face with the following paragraph in an essay by a columnist named Mona Charen, chastising Donald Trump for not doing a better job of winning over the immigrant vote.

“If there is one minority group that ought to lean Republican, it’s Asians. They have very low illegitimacy rate, little divorce, high levels of small business ownership, are highly educated, hard-working and self sufficient. Yet they cast more than 75 percent of their votes for Obama over Mitt Romney.”

Oh, lord, people, why did I leave the beach?

I mean, seriously–how an you have an honest and enlightening discussion with Republicans about the state of humanity when they’re writing such drivel.

I mean, I mean–the underlying assumption in this paragraph is that there are some inherent virtues about being Republican. But if you’re not Republican you’re shiftless, lazy, ignorant and burdensome.



Take me back to paradise…


Take the marriage issue…

The current big three in GOP politics–Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich–have each been married three times.

At age 70, Trump’s 32 years older than Melania, his current wife, who’s only seven years older than Donald, Jr., his oldest son.

Thank God for Viagra–huh, Donnie?

Giuliani announced his intentions to separate his second wife at a press conference before he actually told his wife he wanted to divorce her.

Class act, Rudy.

And Gingrich divorced his first wife when she had cancer, cheated on his second wife with a congressional staffer, and then blamed his infidelities on his dedication to his country…

“There’s no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

In other words, you’d have to be willfully ignorant to suggest that this collection of sleazy philanderers represents the virtues of healthy matrimony.

Forget it, man. I’m exhausted. Just take me back to the beach. I’m too frail for the hypocrisies of modern civilization.

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Rolando: Crazy Kid

August 20th, 2016

I was a bizarre kid with a lot of weird ideas when I was growing up. And lately for some odd reason, I’ve been revisiting a lot of memories from my childhood and having a good laugh in the process.

I mean, the crazy shit that I used to think up. Most of it was based almost entirely on my own imagination, some of it was based on observations my young mind would make, but almost all of it–now that I look back as an adult–was hilarious.

Take, for example, my take on some of the differences between white folks and brown folks. I can remember clearly, at the age of seven or eight, believing that white people did not feel cold the same way brown people felt it.

I was convinced that white people didn’t feel cold on their legs or arms.

How did I come to this conclusion? Well, it was simple, really. We’d be in my dad’s car, driving down the street, and I’d see a white person, jogging, with shorts, a t-shirt and gloves and a skull cap on. In the middle of winter. Just bare arms and bare legs.

I saw this repeatedly. So I formed an opinion: White people’s arms and legs don’t get cold.

Or take for example my belief that, as a young, nine-year-old little league baseball player, if I were transported back to the twenties or thirties, I would be as good, if not better than the pro ball players of that era.

The Babe and all those old timers? I’d show them how to knock it out of the park. I’d run faster, hit harder, throw missiles from any position on the field–they’d have to rewrite the history books about this young Puerto Rican kid phenom who was killing the league.

How would I be able to do these things at the tender age of nine? Well clearly (in my mind) the human body had progressed so much in the intervening six or so decades, that a nine-year-old in the early nineties, was much stronger and a more capable athlete than someone from the twenties or thirties.

If only I could’ve gotten a fully-functioning time machine. I would’ve been a star.

The funny thing about all this is that I don’t remember at what age I stop believing these things or what it was that finally made me understand that things didn’t quite work that way.

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Randolph Street: Look See

August 19th, 2016

1DSCF1496Lincoln Park


2DSCF1329Wrigley Field


3DSCF1430Montrose Harbor


4DSCF1246 copyWilson & Broadway


5DSCF0618 (1)Hudson, Ontario


All photos © Jon Randolph 2016



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