The middle and late 1970s were definitely not my peak earning years. I scuffled for a living, freelancing as a copy editor and proofreader, and occasionally making a few bucks writing jacket copy for a local book publisher.
To cut expenses I shared an apartment in Wicker Park with a guy named Mark, whose financial circumstances were not much better than mine. He eked out a living with temporary bartending gigs and occasional electrical work. We never had much money, but there was always plenty of alcohol and reefer on hand and sometimes there was a bit of food in the refrigerator.
Mark had the good fortune, at the time, to be dating a fine looking woman, named Maggie, who was a dancer in a modern dance company. Maggie and I always got along well and one day she said to me, “Hey, Milo, how would you like to go out with a beautiful girl? She’s a dancer, too. We’re in a show together.”
“Hmm. I believe I could make room in my schedule for a beautiful girl.”
“There’s a catch. You’ve got to come to the theater and see the show if you want to meet her. I’ll introduce you after the performance.”
I definitely wanted to meet this woman, but I had never been to a dance performance and didn’t want to go by myself. I asked a few of my friends if they wanted to go, but they all had other plans. Bruce Diksas was committed to a poker game. Ron Skelton had been drinking all day and was planning to direct traffic, later that evening, at the corner of Lincoln and Diversey. And Wayne Gray had a date with a prominent Gold Coast matron whose husband was away on business.
I had resigned myself to going to the dance concert alone, when I ran into a friend, named Carlos, at Swillagain’s Saloon. I asked Carlos if he wanted to go to the concert, he said, “No, man, I got no interest.”
I had known Carlos for a few years and I knew that his main interests in life were getting high, gambling and, most importantly, getting laid.
So, I said, “Don’t be a dumbass. It’s a dance concert. The place will be crawling with fine looking ladies. It’ll be a bonanza of babes, like Oxford’s Pub at closing time, but better. Even an ugly fucker like you should have no trouble getting lucky. You’ll be a disgrace to Puerto Rican manhood if you take a pass on a chance to get some pussy.”
“Well, since you put it that way, I’ll go. But first, let’s have another drink.”
I don’t remember much of the concert, but I do recall spending most of the time trying to figure out which of the dancers Maggie wanted me to meet. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face when, after the show, Maggie walked into the lobby with the woman I’d hoped to see.
“Milo,” Maggie said, “say hi to Sharon.”
We chatted for a while. I don’t recall what we talked about, but I do remember making her laugh once or twice. After what seemed like too short of a time, Sharon smiled prettily, said it was nice to meet me, shook my hand and left.
A couple of days later, I ran into Maggie and she said, “Sharon liked you, said you seemed like a nice guy. I bet if you asked her out she’d say yes.”
“Do you, by any chance, have her telephone number handy?”
“I’ve got it right here.”
The next night, Sharon and I were seated across from each other in a booth in a North Side restaurant. There was a bit of awkwardness at first, but after ordering some wine and making small talk, we got comfortable with each other.
“So, tell me about yourself,” she said.
“It’s a long story.”
“That’s okay, we’ve got lots of time.”
And we did. We had all the time in the world. Going to that dance concert worked out real well for me.
But I don’t remember if Carlos got lucky that night.
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To read the papers, you’d think all of Chicago’s ecstatic since the Cubs beat the Dodgers to make it to their first World Series in 71 years.
In reality, a good chunk of the local population roots for the White Sox and only the White Sox. As though to root for both teams in town is an act of sacrilege, akin to coveting thy neighbor’s ass.
Not sure why Chicagoans feel compelled to hate the other team. It’s just another one of those inexplicably weird things that so many Chicagoans do–like electing shmucks for mayor.
Another weird thing is the way many Sox fans try to cover up their Cubs hating.
For instance, consider Jenny, one of my favorite people in the world. A long-time Sox fan, she insists she’s not hating on the Cubs and is happy for Cubs fans.
And, yet, she keeps finding new reasons to root for other teams. At the moment, she favors the Indians in the World Series on the grounds that they’re in the same conference as the White Sox.
Of course, that makes no sense. It’s like a Bears fan saying he’s for the Packers in the Super Bowl cause they play in the same division as the Bears. It would never happen.
Obviously, Jenny just made this up to deflect attention from her Cubs hating.
C’mon Sox fans–join the celebration!
Similarly, my good pal, El Dragon–another Sox fan–has been exhausting himself, feverishly looking for new excuses to justify supporting the Dodgers over the Cubs.
Eventually, he settled on Adrian Gonzales–the Dodgers first baseman who refused to stay at Trump Tower, when the team was in Chicago.
To hear El Dragon talk about it, you’d think that rooting for the Dodgers was the moral equivalent of marching with Dr. King across the Edmund Pettus bridge.
What El Dragon conveniently fails to mention is that the other Dodgers had no problem staying in a tower named for Trump.
Or that the organization thought it would be a good idea to stay there in the first place.
I think Sox fans should follow the example of my friend, Vinnie.
Raised in Missouri, he’s a lifelong Cardinals fan–the Cubs true rivals. Yet these days he’s wearing a Cubs T-shirt.
That’s cause his wife, Hillary, is a true-blue Cubs fan. And Vinnie’s attitude is–if it makes my wife happy, then I’m happy.
C’mon, Sox fans, if Vinnie can do it, so can you. All together now: Go, Cubs, Go.
Now, that wasn’t hard–was it?
In the wee hours of a long day, I was sitting at the bowling alley bar, chatting about this and that, when my barmate asked: “What about Mount Rushmore?”
We’d been talking about a fictitious Rushmore, featuring cultural icons–like Ali, Hendrix and Dylan. But he was alluding to the real thing.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“If you could start all over–which famous American faces would you carve on that mountain?”
Hmm. Interesting question.
“Who’s up there now?” I asked.
“It’s a presidential thing,” he said, after looking it up on his cell phone. “Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.”
I thought about it.
“Well, right off the bat, I’d ditch that strict presidential theme…”
“If Trump’s this close to being president, it’s not that big a deal…”
“I’d keep Lincoln, though–gotta keep Honest Abe…”
“Best president ever…”
Sorry, fellas, but some of you have got to go…
“But I’d ditch Washington and Jefferson. Don’t want any slave owners up there…”
“That sounds so politically correct…”
“You wouldn’t say that if you were one of the slaves…”
“But if I’m sticking with a Founding Fathers thing, I’d go with Hamilton. At least he managed to get through life without owning any slaves…”
“Your bar’s pretty low…”
“I’d be tempted to go with John Brown–except he was a fuckin’ loony tune. So I’ll go with Harriet Tubman. She led a lot of slaves to freedom…”
“Would have led more, except they didn’t know they were slaves…”
“So I got one more?”
I thought it over.
“I gotta go with MJ,” I said.
“Hey, the man brought six rings to this town!”
“Man, you’re weird.”
“Tell me something I don’t know…”
During a recent trip to Target, Anika and I decided that we needed coffee tumblers. So, we proceeded to stand in the coffee tumbler aisle pantomiming drinking coffee out of a variety of coffee tumblers.
I went in knowing I wanted a Contigo brand tumbler, because I’d “borrowed” Katie and Ryan’s enough to know that Contigo was my brand. But, of course, I still had created plenty of other obstacles for myself in deciding on the perfect one.
I found one I loved, lookswise, and as soon as I picked it up it broke. So, that one can stand in place for my love life.
I found one I loved, lookswise, and upon further investigation it was too small for the amount of caffeine I need on a daily basis. So, that one can stand for my love life, too.
I found one that I loved size-wise, but it wasn’t in the color I loved. So, that one can stand for whenever I find clothes I actually like.
Finally, I found one that I loved both size and colorwise, but it happened to be the exact same one Katie has. I bought it anyway, so my new tumbler can stand for my social life.
The cherry on top is that Anika and I bought the same tumbler in different colors, and hers happened to be the same one as Ryan has. So, now you have a really good idea of how social we are outside of the house.
Anika and I get home, and are immediately too excited about our Contigos and pour whatever beverage we decide to drink into it. Anika pours water, I make a matcha drink and pour it into mine.
I should now mention that we have enough cups and coffee mugs for at least 20 people.
We like new things.
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I was walking through Greenwich Village on a gorgeous October morning, when I got the word that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize in literature.
What a coincidence.
Greenwich Village is where a young Bobby Zimmerman came to when he got the hell out of Minnesota all those years ago.
To get in the spirit of the moment, I stood in the middle of Washington Square Park, closed my eyes, and chanted a few lines from Talkin’ New York, one of Dylan’s earliest songs.
I swung on to my old guitar
Grabbed hold of a subway car
And after a rocking, reeling, rolling ride
I landed up on the downtown side
I was hoping to magically transport myself back in time to 1961, so, when I’d open my eyes, I’d see young Bobby D sitting by the fountain, playing his guitar…
Alas, it didn’t work. When I opened my eyes, it was still very much October 13, 2016. And there was no Bob Dylan, young or old, anywhere in sight.
Bob Dylan in Washington Square Park…
Unable to talk to Dylan, I did the next best thing. I sat on a park bench and called Milo, my partner in this blogging empire.
“Milo,” I said. “If you were to create a Mount Rushmore of cultural icons from our generation, you’d start with Dylan and Muhammad Ali. Right?”
“Good choice. Now, you need one more–cause Mt. Rushmore has four.”
He gave it some thought, then said: “Nixon.”
“Nixon?” I exclaimed.
“Well, he was influential.”
“But he was a maniacal, drunken insomniac who bombed the shit out of smaller countries.”
“Benny, you make a good point.”
Folks, just between you and me, Milo hasn’t been the same since the titanium.
Eventually, we agreed that no such Mt. Rushmore would be complete without Jimi Hendrix.
Think about that–this must be an awfully great country to have produced Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan within a span of about ten years.
On the other hand, it produced Donald Trump.
Well, no country’s perfect.
Congratulations, Mr. D.
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