Letter From Milo: Mr. Kafka

March 26th, 2019

I’m not 100% certain, but I think it was the great Franz Kafka who said, “Man, there’s always another layer on the shitcake.”

As if having heart surgery isn’t bad enough, now I’ve got something else to fret about. You see, before having heart surgery you have to have a dental examination. The purpose of the exam is to see if you have any oral infections, which can complicate the surgery.

So, I grabbed a cup of coffee at the corner beanery and a Sun-Times (for the crossword puzzle) and headed down to the Jesse Brown V.A. Hospital. I waited in the dental clinic for about half an hour, spending most of the time trying to figure out a seven letter word that means “Yo Mama” in Urdu.

When I finally entered the dentist’s office, I was gratified to see that the dentist had his diploma prominently displayed on the wall. It stated that his name was Dr. Frankie (Disco) Lopez and he was a graduate of the Triple A College of Dentistry & Bait Shop in Gary, Indiana.

After examining me for a few seconds the good doctor smiled sadistically and said, “Looks like I’m going to have to pull all four of your wisdom teeth and maybe a couple of others, just to be on the safe side.”

“What! Are you fucking crazy!”

“Dude, don’t get so excited. What’s the big deal? They’re just teeth. I pull a couple of hundred every day.”

“That’s not the point. You’re a dentist. You’re supposed to try and save teeth.”

“Save your teeth? Is that what you want to me do?”

“You might consider it.”

“Okay. No problem. I’ll save your teeth for you. I’ll leave them with the receptionist. You can pick them up on your way out.”

Needless to say, I’m going to get a second opinion, and a third and fourth if I have to. I’m not giving up a single tooth without a fight. Fuck ’em.

Now, I want you to understand I’m not afraid of having my wisdom teeth pulled. Matter of fact, I’m not afraid of anything. I may be one of the roughest, toughest men you’ll ever meet. I’m mean as a snake. I eat leather and shit pointy-toed cowboy boots. I don’t use napkins when I eat ribs. I once fought Waterfront Alice to a draw in a savage street fight on Lincoln Avenue. I drink tequila without lime or salt. I prefer two-week old sushi to the fresh stuff, I am, in all respects, a bad, bad man.

There is, however, one tiny, itsy bitsy little thing that makes me a bit nervous. It’s called pain. I don’t want anything to do with it. Pain makes chickenshits of us all. I’m going to have enough pain when I undergo heart surgery. The pain of having wisdom teeth extracted is just going to add to the misery.

My eldest daughter, Nadia, had three impacted wisdom teeth extracted a couple of years ago and it broke my heart to see the pain she suffered. The worst thing a parent can experience is watching a child suffer and not be able to help.

The second worst thing is to suffer pain yourself.

So, I’m going to see if there are any alternatives to having my wisdom teeth yanked. I know wisdom teeth are worthless. All they do is cause problems. But i’ve grown fond of them over the years. I’d like to keep them a while longer.

NOTE: Big Mike, the Barn Boss of this decrepit outfit, and his lovely wife, Mrs. Barn Boss, recently relocated from Louisville, Kentucky to Bloomington, Indiana. According to Benny Jay, Big Mike snuck out of town in the middle of the night, owing seven-months rent on The Third City’s corporate offices in downtown Louisville. You’ve got to hand it to the Barn Boss. He’s always looking out for our best interests. Let’s all join in and wish Big Mike and his beauteous Mrs. health and happiness in their new home.

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Randolph Street: Hoop Dream

March 22nd, 2019

1_MG_4499IIT Gym–Chicago










All photos © Jon Randolph


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Letter From Milo: Worry Warts

March 21st, 2019

The piece I posted about my upcoming heart surgery elicited more responses than anything else I have written. Letters and emails poured in to The Third City blog site, and I’d say more than 60% of them were supportive. People wrote to ask if I was okay. They worried about my health. They worried about my state of mind. They worried in general. Most of my readers, apparently, are worriers.

I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to have all of these wonderful people write to express their sympathy and offer best wishes. Marjorie Synakiewicz and Mary Beth Sundstad sent lovely notes. Meryl Streep sent me some used panties. Monica Lewinsky offered to drop by for a few minutes and cheer me up. My good friend, Bruce Diksas, sent me a Hallmark Card with a joint and a ten dollar bill enclosed.

Even Big Mike, the Barn Boss of this shabby outfit, sent me an endearing note, telling me to cut the bullshit and get my next blog ready or else he’d come over and perform the surgery himself.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the letters from well wishers and concerned readers. Here are a few of the heartfelt notes along with my snappy replies.

Letter #1:

Motherfucker, where’s my money!

Snappy reply:

Oops. I’m sorry. That was a letter from a previous piece.

Letter #2:

Great scam, dude! You cam make a lot of money from that heart surgery thing. I made about six grand last year, collecting money for my liver transplant. The funny thing is, I was planning a benefit for myself later this year to collect some bread for a quadruple bypass. I was thinking that maybe we should get together and hold a super benefit. We can make some real money, man. There’s a lot of chumps out there. How about it?

Snappy reply:

Count me in.

Letter #3:

Hello to you. I am presently being Ibeku Nayana, President of the Third National Bank in Lagos, Nigeria. The situation in concern of your heart was pointed to my attention. I am wishing to inform of you the Greater Nigerian Charitable Association has made many funds available for you in this time of your trouble. The sum is $190,000 in USA dollar money to help paying to the doctor who will proceed to operating for you. If you will please and kindly send to me a money order for $300 to cover the necessary paperworking and the international taxing business, I will personally sending to you the $190,000 immediately or sooner, whichever preference you may be wishing.

Snappy reply:

Oh, man! That’s great. I can really use the dough. I’ll send the money order this afternoon.


I am Doctor Wallace Hafner, the surgeon who will be performing your heart procedure. I was going over my schedule this morning and ran across your name. Are you by any chance the same low-life rotten bastard who was screwing my wife a couple of years ago?

Snappy reply:

Heh, heh. No sir. You must have me confused with another Milo Samardzija

Letter #5:

This is your friend Sven from the Fabulous Swedish Dick Extender Company. I am truly sorry to hear of your recent troubles. You have been a valued customer over the years and we wish you the best of luck in the future. I am sure that after your surgery you will be like a new man, invigorated and ready for, ah, new challenges. That is why I want to inform you of the new model FSDE, which will be available in November. We are calling it the Turbo Extra Large Jumbo Sizer and it comes in two versions: the Louisville Slugger and the Wilt Chamberlain. If you wish, we will save you the version of your choice. The usual terms apply.

Snappy reply:

Always great to hear from you, Sven. I’ll take the Wilt Chamberlain. By the way, can you send clearer instructions this time? Last year’s model, the Seattle Slew, came with a confusing instruction manual. I ended up walking with a limp for about a week and a half. Thanks for thinking of me.

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Randolph Street: I Love These Pictures!

March 17th, 2019



Artist at work…



Alone together…


Boys just wanna have fun…



I love this picture!


All photos © Jon Randolph


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Benny Jay: Mr. P

March 12th, 2019

This all started about seven years ago, when, by chance, I read a Janet Maslin review of The Turnaround, a novel by George Pelecanos.

I’d never heard of Pelecanos. But according to Maslin, The Turnaround was “a hard-hitting urban parable” about six teenage boys who get caught up in “an ugly race baiting incident from 1972.”

That sounded like something I had to read, so I bought the book and it was, like–holy shit, where have you been Pelecanos! I mean, it was like he wrote this book just for me.

It was page after page of nailbiting action with realistic dialogue and gritty Washington, D.C. settings. Also, pithy asides and observations about blacks and whites and movies and cars and music, especially music. Also, sex. Hey, man, I like a good sex scene as much as anyone else.

After that, I was hooked on Pelecanos. I read the books he’d already written–King Suckerman, Right as Rain, Hard Revolution, etc. Then I started reading the new ones he was churning out like What It Was and The Cut and The Way Home.

I think Hard Revolution–set during the riots of `68–is my all-time favorite. Though, now that I think about it, King Suckerman‘s pretty freaking good.

Anyway, one day not long ago I was chatting with Josh, my old high school pal who now lives in Washington, D.C.

And he asked if I could recommend a book for Ben, his teenage son.


George meets Ben…


“What’s he into?” I asked.

“Rap. Skateboarding. Washington, D.C…”

“You might want to try the novels of George Pelecanos.”


So I launched into my refrain about how a book by Pelecanos has it all–Washington, race, music, action, sex. You name it!

To Josh’s everlasting credit, he went out and bought several Pelecanos novels for his son.

And now, guess what? Josh and Ben are hooked on Pelecanos. They’ve read a bunch of his books. If this keeps up, Pelecanos’s gonna have to cut me in on some of the royalties.

Anyway, that’s where the story stood until a few days ago when I got a packet in the mail from Josh. In it was a copy of Martini Shot, Pelecanos’ latest book.

Turns out that Josh and Ben attended a reading Pelecanos gave at a local book store in D.C.

And, dig this, they got him to inscribe the book they bought for me.

“To Benny Jay–I love The Third City. George Pelecanos.”

Okay, he didn’t really mention TTC. Maybe next time.

Thank you, Josh. That’s one of the nicest things one old friend can do for another.

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