Letter From Milo: Gary’s Greatest

September 16th, 2019

This guy, Stiglitz, is starting to piss me off. Just because he won a Nobel Prize in Economics he thinks he’s some kind of Big Shot. If you want to know the truth, the reason he turned to Economics was that he was a complete failure as a bookie in Gary, Indiana. All the good math students in Gary aspired to be bookies. Joe, unfortunately, couldn’t cut the mustard. When Bears and Bulls were mentioned, Stiglitz immediately thought of the stock market. What a huge waste of talent.

Anyway, the reason I’m pissed at Stiglitz is that he snubbed Benny Jay, my good friend and fellow blogger here at The Third City. You see, when we were having a raging debate on this site over who was Gary’s greatest writer, the esteemed Morry Frank, the immortal Monroe Anderson or the well-hung Milo Samardzija, Benny insisted on including Joseph Stiglitz in that distinguished group.

Benny even wrote a piece on the subject, saying that anyone who had been awarded a Nobel Prize should, at the least, be given some consideration for the title of Gary’s greatest scribe. After giving it a great deal of thought, while at the same time consuming a joint and a couple of bottles of wine, I grudgingly agreed.

After writing the piece, Benny decided to forward the article to Stiglitz, thinking that the “great” man would be flattered to be mentioned in the same breath with me, Morry and Monroe – at least that’s what Benny told me. But I know his real motivation. He just wanted to correspond with a Nobel Prize winner so that he could have something to brag about at fancy dinner parties.

“I just got an email from Joseph Stiglitz.”


“Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winner in Economics and, arguably, Gary’s greatest writer.”

“You know the fucker?”

“Well, heh, heh, we’re not real close, but we do exchange emails on occasion.”

“What did he send you an email about?

“Nothing important. Just small talk. Mainly, we discussed, ah, the Bears and Bulls.”

Sadly, Stigliz never replied to Benny’s email. All he got was an automated response, saying that Stiglitz was available for personal appearances, speaking engagements, shopping center openings, Bar Mitzvahs, and throwing out opening-day baseballs. Further correspondence should be addressed to his agent.

That’s what you get for fucking around with Nobel Prize winners. Except for Saul Bellow and Mother Teresa, they’re mostly a bunch of elitist bastards with nothing going for them except a freakish sort of Rain Man intelligence.

By the way, did I mention that I hate the Nobel Prize? Well, not the Prize itself, just the man who endowed them, that low-life Swedish cocksucker, Alfred Nobel.

Alfred Nobel made his fortune by inventing dynamite, which, at the time, was the most powerful explosive known to man. Dynamite was responsible for killing untold numbers of human beings on battlefields all over the world. The death toll in World War I was appalling. Millions of people died in the last of Europe’s dynastic wars. And a huge amount of those deaths were directly attributable to Alfred Nobel’s diabolical invention.

I won’t even mention the toll that dynamite has taken on our planet. Check out some areas in Kentucky and West Virginia, where dynamite was used to level mountains and denude native forests in the frenzied search for coal. Some of those coal fields look like especially bleak parts of the moon.

After foisting dynamite on the human race, Alfred Nobel seemingly had an attack of remorse. He established the Nobel Prizes to salve his rotten conscience. And, get this, the most notable of the Prizes is the Nobel Peace Prize. What gall! What fucking nerve!

A peace prize from someone who has the blood of millions on his hands. Why not give Charles Manson a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame while you’re at it.

Just thinking about that damned old dynamiter put me in a terrible frame of mind. I had to talk to someone to calm me down. I called Big Mike, the Barn Boss of this scabby, debt-ridden outfit.

“Hey, Big Mike, it’s me, Milo.”

“Make it quick, asshole. I’ve got a blog to run.”

“I just wanted to tell you that I’ve got my blog ready for Monday.”

“What’s it about?”

“It’s about the Nobel Prize.”

“What! Are you fucking nuts! Why are you writing about the Nobel Prize? Our numbers are down. You should be writing about porn, something that’ll bring our readers back.”

“Okay, I’ll write about porn next week. By the way, have you given any more thought to my request for a raise?”


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Randolph Street: Fowler Theatre

September 13th, 2019

DSCF6415Fowler Theatre, Fowler, Indiana


The Fowler Theatre was built in 1940. Over the last twenty years it was slowly restored and is open and showing current movies every weekend.










All photos © Jon Randolph


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Benny Jay: Erickyma

September 13th, 2019

When we were kids, we didn’t really know the parents of our friends.

It’s more like they were these formidable figures, looming in the background–like the adults in Peanuts.

So it was with Arthur Erickson, a man I never called anything but Mr. Erickson.

He was the father of David Erickson, one of my best junior high friends. A kid we usually called Erickyma.

Can’t remember why we called him that, though I’m sure we thought it was really clever at the time.

As I remember, Mr. Erickson was a quiet and lanky. A sample–and rare–conversation between the two of us probably went like this…

Mr. Erickson: Hello, Benny.

Benny: Ugh, hi…

As you can see, witty repartee with parents wasn’t really my thing.

The Ericksons lived on the second floor of a two-flat near the lake. We called it “Erickson’s crib.” I spent many afternoons hanging there.

Mr. Erickson was the display manager at Marshall Field’s department store. So obviously he was very artistic.

You could tell he was artistic just by looking at his house. It was very neat and orderly and filled with his paintings, sculpture and drawings.

One day while snooping around–as kids will do–I came upon a book of pictures of naked people.

It may have been the first time I’ve ever seen such a thing. In a book, anyway.

Naked boys playing leapfrog. Naked men running. Naked women walking up stairs. All kinds of naked people doing all kinds of different things–while naked.

I don’t think I can emphasize the naked part of this enough.

The photos were by Eadweard Muybridge, who was probably every bit as weird as his name suggests.

I’ve since learned that Muybridge was a seminal photographer of the 19th century, who’s had a profound influences on many artists, including, obviously, Mr. Erickson.

But back then all I knew is–dang, this shit is weird. Though that didn’t stop me from sneaking a look at that book every chance I had. But don’t tell Erickson.


Arthur Erickson’s memorial program…

Mr. Erickson died last month–complications from a stroke. He was 89-years-old.

By the end of his life, he’d moved out of that nice two-flat by the lake and was living in an assisted living place.

Two weeks ago, they had a memorial service for him.

In their eulogies, David and his sister, Janet, briefly told the story of a man I hardly knew. For instance…

He graduated from Sullivan High School. Home of the Tigers. Which is appropriate, since Mr. Erickson loved animals of all sorts, especially big cats. He loved painting them, too.

In the `40s, he got drafted and sent off to Europe.

When he returned from the war, he met Marian Miller, a woman I came to know as Mrs. Erickson.

Sample conversation between me and Mrs. Erickson–oh, you can imagine how that went.

For their honeymoon, Mr. & Mrs. Erickson crossed the country. Visited the Grand Canyon, drove up the coast of California to San Francisco.

They were living the Bohemian life of two artists in Chicago. Then came the kids and that two-flat by the lake.

He was, they said, a bit of a mystic.

“He loved dogs,” Janet said. “He said you could look into a dog’s eyes and see the eyes of god. Not the god of racism and war. But the god you can see in the eyes of a dog.”

I wish I knew him when I was old to appreciate who he was.

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Randolph Street: Cool Cats

September 6th, 2019



2Green Island, Iowa




4Vicksburg, Mississippi


Hiway 61Duluth, Minnesota


All photos © Jon Randolph


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Letter From Milo: A Shameful Episode

September 4th, 2019

The high school I attended was blessed with an abundance of beautiful girls. Everywhere you looked there were long-legged teenage beauties, with angelic faces, fine butts and perky young tits. It was a paradise for an aspiring pussy magnet (see appropriately titled post). I spent most of my high school years walking around with half a hard-on.

The best looking girls in the school were the Anderson sisters. They were every young man’s fantasy, beautiful, poised and shapely. I’m sure they were responsible for the vast majority of soiled sheets in my school district. I know that my laundry bills skyrocketed.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t have hesitated to approach one of the Anderson sisters, maybe invite one of them to see a movie or go to a school dance, then, afterward, hope to get extremely lucky. But, to my eternal regret, I never did ask one of them for a date. In essence, I chickened out.

You see, there was a problem with the Anderson sisters. They were African-American and I was not. And in Gary, Indiana, the racial divide was a wide one.

I was a freshman in 1964, when my high school was integrated. To say the least, it did not go smoothly at first. There were fist fights nearly every day, tough blue collar black kids and tough blue collar white kids beating the shit out of each other to prove, well, who knows what they were trying to prove? There were police cars parked by the school every day to keep the violence from getting out of hand. Not that it mattered. When young men want to fight, they generally find a way.

In time, however, things settled down. After school brawls became rare as the black kids and white kids began to accept each other. Tentative friendships were formed that often turned into genuine friendships. Black and white jocks began hanging out together. Black and white misfits began drinking cheap beer and smoking Lucky Strikes together. And black and white nerds probably got together to practice their slide rule chops.

But the one gap that was never bridged was interracial dating. It was too much to ask in the mid 1960s. I don’t recall ever seeing a black and white couple walking the halls of my school and holding hands. I don’t remember ever seeing a teenaged black and white couple out on a date. It just wasn’t done.

Now, you’d think that a legendary pussy magnet like me would be the one to break the interracial dating taboo, especially with a prize like the Anderson sisters at stake. I mean, let’s face facts, beauty is beauty, no matter what kind of package it comes in.

But no, the great Milo, in his teenage years, didn’t have the balls to do the right thing — the right thing being taking my best shot at the best looking girls in town. I had let down pussy magnets everywhere.

Would Errol Flynn have hesitated? Would the immortal Porfirio Rubirosa have given it a second thought? Would a beautiful woman’s skin color have mattered to Warren Beatty? No! But young Milo couldn’t come up with the goods when the occasion called for greatness.

It is a failure that haunts me to this very day.

Times have changed. We have all moved on, even the Anderson sisters. One of them, with a slight name change, became a well known entertainer. I don’t know what happened to the other sister, but I assume she did well in life, too.

As for me, I became a famous and highly paid blogger here at The Third City. I spend my days thinking deep thoughts and my nights wandering the streets of Chicago. And whenever I see an interracial couple, and I’m glad to say I see them often, I curse myself for being the worst sort of idiot, a disgrace to pussy magnets all over the world.

How did I ever let the Anderson sisters slip through my hands?

Pussy magnet, my ass.

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Randolph Street: Images

August 30th, 2019



1DSCF6251Woman with Pearls–Chicago


3IMG_7373Grain Elevator–Carlinville, Illinois


All photos © Jon Randolph


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