Benny Jay: Pride Day

June 26th, 2016

This being Pride Day, I make my way east for the celebration–cause everybody’s gay on Pride Day!

Only I don’t go to the official Pride Day Parade.

Nah. Too many people for me.

Hey, man, just cause you’re gay on Pride Day doesn’t mean you want to hang with thousands of people. Many of whom are shit faced.

Instead, I go to Montrose Hill, where the pre-parade Pride Day celebrators are celebrating.

On the south side of the hill, a bunch of celebrants are listening to Pipe It Up by the Migos. Sample lyrics…

Pipe it up, pipe it up, pipe it up, pipe it up
I walk in the club just to pipe it up
I stand on this stage and I pipe it up
Get a regular ho tell her pipe it up
Go buy a bando then I pipe it up…

Doesn’t sound like something you’d hear on the jukebox at the Stonewall Inn back in the summer of 1969, where so much of this started. Obviously, things have changed.

pridedaydancerJoin the party…

 

The millennials who’re playing Pipe It Up welcome me to their party. Even snap a picture with me. Just to show that on Pride Day, even the old guys are part of the celebration.

On the other side of the hill, a group of Pride celebrators have got a big grill fired up and are preparing to cook a slab of ribs about as thick as a mountain.

They look to be in their 40s. On their boom box, they’re playing the Temptations. Sample lyrics…

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.
When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May

Gives me a chance to indulge in a little Pride Day generational debate.

Which lyrics to you prefer? The Migos?

Pipe it up, pipe it up, pipe it up
I walk in the club just to pipe it up
She was a basic bitch til I piped her up…

Or Smokey Robinson (well, he wrote My Girl).

I’ve got so much honey, the bees envy me.
I’ve got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees

C’mon, I think even most of you Pride Day millennials have to go with Smokey.

It really doesn’t matter. Cause, like I said, no matter if you dig Smokey or the Migos–everybody’s gay on Pride Day!

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Benny Jay: My Derrick Rose Years

June 23rd, 2016

A brief history of my short, agonizing relationship with Derrick Rose…

May 20, 2008: Sitting in the basement of a church on Chicago’s northwest side, listening to an alderman talk about zoning–is my life exciting, or what? A friend calls to say: Bulls won the NBA draft lottery!  Meaning they’ll get to draft D Rose–the pride and joy of Englewood. First reaction: That lottery must have been fixed. Second reaction: Who cares!

June 2008: Too nervous to watch the draft for fear the Bulls will fuck things up by taking Michael Beasley–the guy many sportswriters say they should draft. Jog along the lakefront. Stop at the Waveland golf course clubhouse. Dude behind the counter says: Bulls took Rose. Thank God, no one pays attention to sportswriters.

April 2009: Bulls eliminated in playoffs by Celtics. Tell my friends: Just wait till next year.

April 2010: Bulls eliminated in playoffs by Cavs. Tell friends: I meant, next year.

June 2011: Bulls eliminated in playoffs by Heat. Tell friends: Actually, I meant 2012.

April 2012: In first game of opening round playoff series, Derrick falls to the ground clutching his knees. Tell friends: Don’t worry, it’s probably only a sprain.

October 2013: Sprain’s actually a torn ACL. Out for over a year, Rose looks lousy in first game back. Tell friends: Just wait till he wears off the rust!

November 2013: Rose limps off the court. Tell friends: No worries, it’s probably just a Charlie Horse.

October 2014: Charlie horse’s actually a torn medial meniscus. Out for almost a year, Rose scores 13 points in his return game. Tell friends: He’s stronger than ever!

2015 NBA Draft

Jerian Grant–remember that name!

 

February 2015: Rose limps off the court with unknown injury. Tell friends: No need to panic, it’s probably only a bruise.

May 2015: Bruise’s actually another torn medial meniscus. Who knew you could tear it twice? Rose comes back in time to be on team that gets eliminated in playoffs by Cavs. Tell friends: The future looks bright cause he has all summer and then the preseason to get stronger.

September 2015: Rose takes an elbow to the face in the first day of practice and misses the rest of preseason training with a fractured left orbital bone. Tell friends: Ah, preseason’s overrated anyway!

April 2016: Rose sits out last two games of season cause–Bulls didn’t make the playoffs so what’s the point of playing him. Tell friends: You watch, Rose and Jimmy Butler are going to spend the summer practicing together.

June 22, 2016: Rose traded to the Knicks for Jose Calderon, Robin Lopez and a 23-year-old point guard named Jerian Grant. Tell friends: That’s the point guard I wanted all along!

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Benny Jay: When That Rooster Crows

June 21st, 2016

For my daughter’s birthday, the whole family gathers in a cottage in the mountains of California–about as wilderness as I’ll ever get.

It’s run by a hippie lady, who looks like she spends a lot of time listening to Joni Mitchell.

She’s so Mother Earth, she’s got chickens running all over the place.

“Be careful,” she tells us as we pull in. “Don’t run over any of the chickens.”

Not something I hear everyday–that’s for sure.

We’re having a great time. Lots of talking, eating, walking, card playing, etc.

By nightfall, I’m exhausted. I fall into a sound sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

And then…

Sometime in the middle of the night, a strange sound awakes me.

Sort of a squawk. Like a parrot. Or a duck. Not sure what it is–never heard anything like it.

I look to my wife for an explanation, but she’s fast asleep.

Man, it would take 20 parrots and ducks to wake her up.

roostercrows1

That bird wouldn’t shut up…

 

And then it hits me.

It’s a rooster, crowing his ass off.

He senses the approach of dawn and he wants everyone to know about it.

First time I’ve ever heard a rooster. Don’t hear many of them in Chicago. I had to come all the way to California to finally hear a rooster crow.

Funny thing is I thought they went cock-a-doodle doo.

This is like squaaaak…

There’s not a cock, a doodle or a doo anywhere near this sound.

I look at he clock. It’s five in the morning. Way too early for me. But I can’t get back to sleep with that bird making all that racket.

Fucker won’t stop. It’s like he’s up, so he wants everyone to get up, too.

I start thinking about the song by Dylan: “When the rooster crows at the break of dawn, look out your window and I’ll be gone…”

Now I can’t get that song out of my mind.

Between Dylan and the rooster, I’m wide awake.

My mind wanders. I think about the thousands and thousands of chickens I’ve consumed over the years.

Must have been a rooster or two in the bunch.

This squawking bird that’s keeping me up?

Just call it the rooster’s revenge.

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Benny Jay: Congratulations, Taaj!

June 19th, 2016

As hard as it is to believe, ten years have passed since my youngest daughter tried out for her high school frosh-soph basketball team.

At her first day of practice, she met Taaj Reaves, a 14-year-old sophomore with a big smile and a giant personality.

They became friends and backcourt mates. My daughter played the point–Taaj was the shooter.

By chance, Taaj’s dad, John, loves basketball as much as I do.

We didn’t miss a game–sitting next to each other in the stands. I guess you might say we were vicariously living our basketball dreams through our daughters.

And if you said that–you’d be right.

That team gave us a lot to cheer and vicariously dream about. They made it to the city championship against Hope high school.

The game came down to one last shot. My daughter passed to Taaj, who shot a jumper from the corner…

Alas, it rimmed out.

You know, Taaj, I still say they fouled you.

Win or lose, I came away impressed with Taaj. You gotta love a shooter who’s unafraid to take the big shot.

Well, the girls ended their basketball careers long ago, forcing John and me to look elsewhere for our vicarious hoop-playing thrills.

At the moment, I believe he’s Jimmy Butler and I’m Derrick Rose. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

IMG_2014

That’s the shooter on the left and the point guard on the right…

 

Taaj moved on with her life. Graduated from the University of Missouri. Traveled all over the world: Asia, Africa, South America.

I’d be following her on Facebook, thinking: All right, where’s that girl today?

As fate would have it, my daughter and Taaj wound up living in New York City. So my daughter was on hand to cheer as Taaj graduated from law school at New York University.

Yes, that is correct. The little sophomore with the big smile is now a lawyer.

How the hell did that happen?

I always used to say that if I got in trouble in NYC, the first person I’d call would be Murray Richman. He’s the defense lawyer–nicknamed “Don’t Worry Murray”–who helped Jay Z beat the rap a few years back, after the rapper got arrested for stabbing a man in a fight at the Kit Kat Club in Manhattan.

But now?

Sorry, Murray. But if I get in trouble, I’m calling Taaj. My own personal lawyer in NYC!

In fact, Jay Z, if you’re reading this, you might want to throw a little law practice Taaj’s way. You can’t go wrong with a shooter who’s unafraid to take the big shot.

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Benny Jay: Milo’s Back!

June 16th, 2016

In the annals of history there have been several momentous returns. For example…

In 1995, Michael Jordan ended his first retirement from basketball with a simple two-word message: “I’m back.”

Ten days later, he dropped 55 on the Knicks.

In 1942, General Douglas MacArthur had to flee the Philippines, under Japanese attack, announcing: “I shall return.”

Two and a half years later, he did just that, declaring: “I have returned.”

And, of course, there was Napoleon, who returned to France from exile on the Mediterranean island of Elba.

“Here I am,” he told French soldiers. “Kill your emperor, if you wish.”

To that, we have a new return that’s every bit as spectacular: Milo’s back!

I got the call this morning.

“Benny,” he said. “It’s time to get your sorry ass back to work.”

At which point, I fell to the ground and proclaimed: “Vive L’Empereur!”

Just like those French soldiers did to Napoleon.

If you recall, Milo took a nasty fall about six weeks ago. To fix him up, the docs at the V.A. hospital inserted a piece of titanium into his skull.

To say he was out of sorts is an understatement. He could barely speak.

Now he’s barking out orders. Just like in the old days.

MacArthurReturnsMilo–in his shades–returns to TTC…

 

Explanation time…

See those sidebars–thought of the day, sleazy ad, dumbass of the week, etc–just to the right?

They’re largely Milo’s creations. Mostly, I type as he dictates.

Why doesn’t Milo just type it himself?

Cause after eight years of blogging, he still doesn’t know how to insert a photo into a post.

Apparently, they didn’t teach blogging at Horace Mann High School in Gary, Indiana, where Milo was a straight-C student in the `60s.

They did teach him how to spell. So his job is to proofread what I type.

As a test, I made a mistake or two just to see if he’d truly recovered.

Instead of writing “wholly owned subsidiary”, I wrote “wholly subsidiary.”

Okay, maybe, it wasn’t really a test. Maybe I’m just incapable of writing a sentence without making a mistake or two.

Either way–he caught it!

Thanks to all the teachers in the Gary public schools for making Milo the world-champion proof reader he is.

“Will you be writing a new post on Monday?” I asked him.

“I don’t think I’m ready for that,” he said. “Just doing this wore me out. I need to take a nap.”

Funny, I feel the same way–and I don’t have the titanium excuse.

Good to have you back, Milo.

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Benny Jay: Sleepy Movie

June 15th, 2016

For our Saturday night movie, we watch The Pianist, Roman Polanski’s film about the Warsaw Ghetto. I didn’t want to. I don’t handle unspeakable horror very well. I still haven’t watched Hotel Rwanda.

But my wife insisted. I think she’s got a thing for Adrien Brody.

Watching the movie with us is my buddy Ed, who’s visiting from out of town and sleeping in my older daughter’s old bedroom.

So the movie starts and within a few minutes I know why I didn’t want to watch it. Madmen rule the world. Thousands and thousands of people herded to death.  No good guys in sight. I close my eyes. I can’t bear the sights and sounds. Oh, why did I rent this?

In the midst of the carnage, Ed starts to snore. Not too loud. But you can’t ignore it. After about five minutes, he stops snoring.

Midway through the movie, the tone changes. Adrien Brody’s character slips out of the Warsaw Ghetto. The parade of death stops–at least, we don’t see it.

At the climax, when the central character’s almost out of his mind with hunger, he finds a piano. He starts to play. It’s a moment of iconic heroism and triumph, a symbol of man’s fierce determination to survive.

And right in the middle of it all, Ed takes his snoring up another notch. It’s not a gentle buzz like before–more like a chain saw. He’s like Curly in the Three Stooges. If you put a towel on his face, it would flutter up as he exhales.

“Ed, Ed,” says my wife.

“Huh?” says Ed, lost in sleep.

“You’re snoring…”

“Snoring?”

“Snoring…”

“Okay…”

adrienbrodypianistAdrien Brody as the pianist…

 

He opens his eyes. Sees the pianist playing the piano. And falls back asleep. “I hear the TV,” he says, “but I’m asleep…”

A few minutes later, he’s snoring again.

When the movie ends, Ed wakes up long enough to go to bed. Pretty soon I’m the only one awake in the house. How these people can sleep after watching so much death is beyond me.

I look at the clock. It’s two in the morning. I’m wide awake — no sleep for me. I put on Stony Island, Andrew Davis’ classic flick about a soul band trying to make it big in Chicago in the 1970s.

By 4:30 I think I’m ready for sleep. I trudge up the stairs and climb into bed. I close my eyes. But I hear a noise. Sounds like a buzzing. Maybe an alarm clock. Or a rodent in the wall.

I get out of bed and walk toward the sound. It’s coming from my daughter’s bedroom. I walk closer. It’s getting louder. I push open the door. It’s Ed — freaking Ed! He’s snoring. Sounds like water rushing down an unclogged drain.

He’s dead asleep. Oblivious to it all. Some guys have all the luck.

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Benny Jay: Trump Crazy

June 9th, 2016

I’m on the phone talking politics with my old friend, Thor, and the subject of Trump arises–as it generally does when I’m talking politics these days.

Thor’s of the Democratic persuasion, which means he’s losing his mind over the possibility that Trump might win this election.

I talk to people like this all the time. That is, voters of the Democratic persuasion losing their minds over the nightmare of President Trump.

I try to play the role of the cool, calm and collected social scientist, who’s sifting through the evidence in search of truth.

So I’ve been having lots of conversations that go like this…

“You have to assume Trump will get at least 48 percent of the vote just cause he’s the Republican, right?” I say.

“Right,” says Thor.

“And he’ll win states like Wyoming and North Dakota and all of the south–correct?”

“Correct…”

“So for Trump to win he needs to convince swing-state voters, who voted for Obama in the last election, to vote for him–right?”

“Right…”

“So ask yourself–do you know any Obama voters who will vote for Trump over Hillary?”

“Well, no,” he says.

“And that’s why I say it’s very unlikely that Trump will win.”

barackobamawhitesox

Please just stay in office for at least another term, Mr. President…

 

“But, Benny, you have to understand–there’s a ton of coal miners in southern Illinois who like Trump.”

“I know there are. And in the last election they voted for Romney. The question you have to ask yourself is–how many of the coal miners who voted for Obama will turn around and vote for Trump?”

There’s a pause. He’s either asking himself that question or trying to figure out how to diplomatically end this call. I plow ahead…

“I used to think Jewish voters might move from Obama to Trump over Israel,” I say. “That would help Trump in states like Florida.”

“I have a Jewish person in my office,” says Thor. “Her name’s Jodie. I’ll ask her.”

I try to picture Jodie. In my mind, she’s a young woman who’s probably thinking–”Please, God, please, don’t turn me into anything like these lunatics, when I get older.”

“Do you know any Jews who are voting for Trump?” Thor asks her.

“No, no, no,” I exclaim. “That’s not the right question! I know there are Jews who’re voting for Trump. The question is do you know any Jews who voted for Obama who will now vote for Trump?”

“Benny,” says Thor, “do you know you sound crazy?”

“Huh?”

“You’re bellowing–`I know there are Jews who’re voting for Trump!’ You sound like some old, crazy guy on the bus.”

He’s right. I’m telling you–this election’s driving everyone crazy. Even us cool, collected social scientists.

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