Randolph Street: Year Favorites

January 15th, 2021





3aDSCF7314Alley Cat–Chicago


All photos © Jon Randolph


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Benny Jay: Remember That Day

January 12th, 2021

As long as I’m living and my brain is functioning, I’ll remember where I was and what I was doing when I saw or learned about _____________.

C’mon, boomers, fill in the blank. All those calamitous and frightening moments. You saw them, too.

When something happened that you couldn’t believe, or didn’t want to believe, or wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t eventually seen it with your own eyes. And from that point on, you always remember where you were when you first heard about it. Like . . .

The assassination of Martin Luther King. I was watching a Blackhawks game when the news flashed on the TV.

The shooting of Bobby Kennedy—my father told me about it when he woke me up to go to school.

9/11—I was carrying dirty laundry to the washing machine in the basement, and I heard my wife on the phone saying, “An airplane went through what?”

The great blackout of 1965. OK, maybe most of you don’t know about that. The whole eastern seaboard went dark for about 12 hours.

I was a kid, living in Rhode Island. I was walking home from a friend’s house. I had a stick in my hand, which I was mindlessly whacking against trees that I passed.

I whacked that stick against a telephone pole at the very moment all the lights in all the houses went off. Oh, no, I panicked, it’s my fault!

I ran home, ready to confess to my mother, hoping true confession might win me some mercy. I was so relieved to learn it was far greater than me.

To that list add the horrors of last Wednesday’s MAGA putsch, when Donnie’s dumbasses took over the Capitol. Actually, I didn’t literally see it with my own eyes.

I was talking politics via Google Meet with journalist Monroe Anderson on my podcast. Monroe was doing his best to hold up his end of the conversation. But I could see he was distracted. His eyes were on a television set that was in front of him.

“You won’t believe this,” he said. “They’re in Nancy Pelosi’s office.”

In his eyes I saw a mix of fear and disbelief. Like he was seeing the start of a second Civil War.

When we ended the show, I raced to my TV and saw the shocking footage for myself. MAGA smashing windows and knocking down the doors. Chasing security guards through the hallways. Overtaking the Senate and Nancy Pelosi’s office.

It was all a scary rerun of what I’d originally seen in the fear and disbelief of another man’s eyes.

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Randolph Street: Choices ’20

January 8th, 2021





3aDSCF7348Granary–Donnellson, IL


All photos © Jon Randolph






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Letter From Milo: Cat Man Doo

January 8th, 2021

“Mom! Daddy was trying to stuff the cat into the microwave today!”

“Milo! Is that true?”

“Heh, heh. Now, honey, you know the children have hyper-active imaginations. We may have to adjust their meds.”

“Well, you just better leave that cat alone.”

“I wouldn’t dream of harming the cat. Besides, it’s probably not that easy to stuff a cat into a microwave.”

I don’t like or dislike cats. I am indifferent to them in the same way that they are indifferent to me.


There is one cat, however, that is at the top of my shit list. His name is Otis and he is a sneaky, black-hearted, treacherous bastard with the soul of an assassin and the cunning of Meyer Lansky. He is a cat without scruples, remorse or a sense of pity, and I curse the day that the furry little fucker came into my life.

“Milo, I was talking to Cathy Ivcich this morning. She drove by the house yesterday while you were mowing the lawn and she said it looked like you were trying to run over the cat with the power mower.”

“You tell that slutty Cathy Ivcich to mind her own damn business.”

“Is it true?”

“Of course not, sweetheart. What have I ever done to make you think I’d do a terrible thing like that?”

“The children would be heart-broken if anything happened to that cat.”

“It’s a tough old world. Accidents happen all the time. A cat’s got to take his chances like anyone else.”

The day Otis followed my youngest daughter home may have been the worst day of my life. As soon as I spotted him I knew he was a stubborn, hardheaded bastard. For one thing, he wouldn’t take a hint. I yelled at him, threw rocks at him and squirted the fucker with the garden hose, and still he wouldn’t leave.

He hung around the back porch, mewing, purring, grooming his ratty fur, trying to pass himself off as some sort of respectable house pet. The kids put out food for him. The lovely Mrs. Milo set out bowls of water. In a couple of days he had weaseled his way into the household. And there was nothing I could do about.

“Mom! Dad tried to sell Otis to the guy who owns the Korean restaurant.”

“Nadia and Petra saw you talking to our neighbor, Mr. Choi. You were pointing to Otis and some money changed hands.”

“Heh, heh. I believe our darling children misconstrued the situation.”

“Why did Mr. Choi give you money?”

“He was, ah, paying off an old Mah Jong debt.”

imagesBut the thing is — you can’t trust them….

There are a lot of reasons to hate Otis, but the main reason I despise him is that he’s a stone cold, merciless killer. He kills birds, mice, squirrels, anything that he senses he can overpower. He doesn’t just kill them, he toys with them, tortures them and then he eats them, sometimes while they’re still living. Once or twice a week I have to remove the pitiful remains of some small animal from my back yard.

His favorite prey animals, however, are cute little bunny rabbits. Lincoln Square has been overrun by rabbits in the last few years and Otis has had his fill of the helpless little cottontails. At least twice a month, I find the partially eaten carcass of a little bunny rabbit in the back yard.

“Milo, I got a call from an animal shelter this morning. They said someone from this number called and asked if they were a no-kill shelter.”


“When they said ‘Yes,’ the caller asked if they had the phone number of a kill shelter.”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that, dear.”

The other day I was on the back porch, enjoying a whiskey with my morning cigarette, when Otis came trotting into the back yard, clutching a little bunny rabbit in his jaws. The bunny was still alive, kicking spasmodically and screeching, “Eek, eek, eek.” It was more than I could stand.

“You bastard!” I shouted, then ran into the yard, grabbed a trowel and chased the cat into a bed of hostas. He was pretty well hidden, but I flushed him out. He still had a grip on the bunny and ran for the shelter of the grape arbor. I caught up with the fucker, took a good swing at him with the trowel and, even though I missed, he released the bunny and ran off.

The bunny was in pretty bad shape. It sat there trembling for about an hour, then keeled over and died. I used the trowel to pick it up. I put the poor thing in a plastic Jewel grocery bag and dropped it in the garbage can. Streets and Sanitation would give the bunny a proper sendoff on Monday morning.

Otis was pretty proud of himself. He was lolling around on the back porch like an Animal Planet lion that had just done in a wildebeest. Enjoy it while you can, I said to myself. Your time is coming, motherfucker.

One of the days I’ll get you, that is, if you don’t get me first.

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Randolph Street: People

January 1st, 2021

1Aimg080Ramblin’ Man–Oakland, CA


2DSCF0211aBus Stop–Guanajuato, Mexico




All photos © Jon Randolph



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