Randolph Street: Looking Good

October 9th, 2015

Yes, it’s true–the great Mr. Randolph’s still in Argentina. While he’s off, enjoying the good life, enjoy some of his great hits…


jonranar1Sometimes you gotta take it to the streets…


jonranar2Stuck inside of Mobile…


jonran3The Shrine…


jonr4We love teachers!

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Benny Jay: Cubs Heroes

October 8th, 2015

After last night’s stirring triumph in Pittsburgh, it’s time to pass out some game balls.

So without further ado, I think we’ll all agree that the game balls go to…

Cap–played host for the big game. At one crucial moment in the seventh inning, Cap–who also happens to be a master chef–walked into the TV room with a heaping platter of freshly cooked and delicious smelling food and said: “Want some breaded pork chops?”

Are you kidding me! Man, Jake Arietta would have stepped off the mound to have some of Cap’s breaded pork chops.

J.R.–one of Cap’s oldest friends–who led me through each and every agonizingly tense inning by calming predicting that Cubs had it in the bag thanks to Dexter Fowler’s first inning run. Or as J.R. put it…

“Benny, man–settle down and drink your wine.”

J.R. could teach even Joe Maddon a thing or two about calming nervous nellies.


IMG_1418J.R. led us to victory…


Miles–Cap’s 18-year-old son and Cubs fanatic–who was on hand to answer such all-important questions as…

“Hey, Miles, who did the Cubs get Dexter Fowler from?”

Who needs Google when Miles is in the house? (BTW–it was the Astros.)


My wife, who texted for updates from time to time. When I texted her that the Cubs were up 4-0 in the 6th inning, she texted back: “How many innings are in a baseball game, again?”

As you can see, it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon.

My cousin, Josh, one of the world’s greatest opera singers, who called from the east coast when the game was won to serenade us with Go, Cubs, Go.

It was even better than Luciano Pavarotti’s version!

Danny B–longtime season ticket holder and arguable the world’s greatest Cubs fan–who staved off bad luck by not opening the Fed Ex package that contained his playoff tickets until after the Pirates game was over. Or as he explained…

“I’m not superstitious, just a lil stititous.”

I know I speak for Cubs fans everywhere when I say: Thank you, Danny!

See you in St. Louie…

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No Blaise: Test Crazy

October 7th, 2015

This Saturday will mark my second attempt at passing a standardized test during my graduate school career. I opted for the ACT this time around. The Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) that I took a few months ago turned out to be harder to navigate than my  love life, and possibly took longer to get over than any of my relationships.

Another reason that standardized tests are evil.

Unlike the TAP where I just took (and failed) a bunch of practice tests in preparation, I learned my lesson and bought a ginormous ACT study book.

Princeton Review’s 2015 edition…check please.

The first section in the book is English, and having my undergraduate degree in English I hoped this section wouldn’t be one that gave me nightmares the way I knew Math would. Luckily I was sort of right, except that I had to reteach myself a lot of basic grammar. Good news was that I did still know how to read.

After doing pretty well on the practice test I moved onto the next section: MATH. The dreaded, terrible, bane of my existence subject that dumped me during the TAP. Things are a little different this time around because the ACT allows you to use a calculator for the math portion, unlike the TAP that expects you to work everything out on scratch paper like cavemen. I still don’t understand the no calculator concept. I am going to be a kindergarten or preschool teacher, these math concepts will not apply to my area of teaching. And even if they did, I would use a fucking calculator.

According to the ACT prep book words like “reciprocal” and “integer” were math terms I knew at some point in high school. Thank goodness for Google and it’s ability to teach  me everything I need to know. And a lot of things I don’t need to know.

I keep telling myself that I’m going to take the math practice test, sit down to do it, and then find something on instagram that needs to be investigated. Seeing as how the test is in three days,  I’m hoping that either I gain some semblance of an attention span or instagram shuts down. Along with every other app on my phone.

Here are my goals before Saturday:

1) Learn math

2) Actually learn math

3) Find a functioning calculator

4) Go to the history museum and buy #2 pencils

5) Turn my brain on

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Benny Jay: Cubs Memories

October 6th, 2015

In preparation for tomorrow’s big playoff game against the Pirates, here’s a few favorite memories from about 50 years of rooting for the Cubs.

Let’s see…

The year’s 1969, and a family friend–Stephen–is in town from New York.  I ask him: “Would you rather see the Cubs or go to Old Town and look at the hippies?”

Stephen–who must have been 17–says: “Old Town!”

So we take the Clark Street bus to North Avenue and wander up and down Wells Street, looking at the head shops and checking out the hippie chicks.

Well, Stephen checks out the chicks. I’m only 13 and not really into chicks, hippie or otherwise.

Heading home, the bus stops at Addison, and the Cubs fans pile on, breathlessly talking about Kenny Holtzman’s no hitter.

And I was like–oh, man,  we missed a no hitter!

And Stephen was like–yeah, man, but those hippie chicks were fine?

As you can see, Stephen had a wider perspective of things.

kenholtzmanandsantoHoltzman & Santo celebrate the no hitter…


Here’s another memory from 1968.

We go to the game with family friends, consisting of twin girls–about 10–and a six-year old boy named Tommy.

Deciding to play a trick on Tommy, the twins sign the name Ron Santo on their scorecards. Then they tell Tommy it’s from the Cubs third baseman.

Only by mistake, one of the twins writes Don, not Ron. Clearly, she’s no baseball fan.

No dope, Tommy points out that there’s no Don Santo on the Cubs.

Not missing a beat, the twins tell him that it’s actually Ron’s younger brother. So the autograph’s just as good.

Man, those girls sure know how to torment their little brother.


The great Mr. Goodman…


Finally, there’s the day in 1977, when I happen to bump into Steve Goodman, as we’re leaving the bleachers, after some meaningless game in July.

He’s the great songwriter who wrote–among other tunes–Go, Cubs, Go. A song Cubs fans sing after every victory.

I follow Goodman as he walks to the Addison el stops and catches a train bound for Evanston.

As a big fan, I want to say something to him. But I’m too self conscious. So I miss my moment. The last I see of him, he’s heading west on Main Street in Evanston.

Seven years later, Steve Goodman died of cancer at the age of 36.

That seemed liked a pretty old age to me back in the days when I was checking out hippie chicks with Stephen. But it sounds sadly young to me today.

Well, that’s enough Cubs memories for the moment. As you can see, none of them involve a victory. That’s because the Cubs won very few things worth remembering.

But as any lifelong Cubs fan can tell you–victories are overrated.

Go, Cubs, go!

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Benny Jay: Watching Chomsky

October 4th, 2015

For the last few days, I’ve been watching clips of Noam Chomsky on youtube–an odd obsession I get into at least once a year.

Chomsky’s the 80-something-year-old genius, who probably knows more about everything than anyone else in the world.

He’s an unapologetic leftist, unafraid to criticize U.S. foreign and domestic policies and, as such, is reviled by many people to the right of Bernie Sanders.

As smart as he is, he’s not pedantic or arrogant or condescending. He has a way of flawlessly explaining the most complex of ideas in a way that makes you feel smart, even if you’re not exactly sure what he’s getting at.

He also speaks in soft-spoken, generally unemotional monotone that can put you in a trance.

As you can tell, I’m a big fan, even if I disagree with what I think he’s saying. My guess is that many people would find him unimaginably boring.

Or exasperating, especially if he’s pointing out the inconsistencies of the assumptions that underline the way they look at the world.

William F. Buckley once got so frustrated with Chomsky that he threatened to punch him in the nose. This was back in the 1960s when they were debating U.S. foreign policy.

Chomsky never even raised his voice.

My current burst of Chomsky watching began with a documentary called Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

Basically a long interview with Chomsky on the subject of linguistics, it’s made by Michel Gondry, who speaks English with a heavy French accent. So it’s sort of like listening to Chomsky being interviewed by Inspector Clouseau.

Though I should point out that Gondry’s English is a hell of a lot better that my French.

noamchomskyandmichelNoam & Michel…


Sometimes it’s hard to understand what Gondry is saying and other times it’s hard to comprehend what Chomsky’s getting at. Think of it as watching a 90-minute conversation between two men who are hard to understand.

I liked it so much that I watched it twice.

The title comes from the linguistic puzzle having to do with the sentence: ”The man who is happy is tall.”

As Chomsky notes, if you switch “is” to the front of the sentence, a declaration becomes a question. And we get: “Is the man who is tall happy?”

But the “is” that gets switched is the “is” that’s farthest from the start of the sentence. In that regard, it’s an illogical choice since it would seem more logical to move the ”is” that’s closer to the start of the sentence. In which case, the sentence would be: “Is the man who happy is tall?”

Which is gibberish. Somehow our minds were genetically coded to figure out that it makes more sense to do the illogical thing.

I’m exhausted from having explained that. Just think–Chomsky explains things like this all the time.

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Randolph Street: Great Shots

October 2nd, 2015

Mr. Randolph’s on the road in Argentina. While he’s away, enjoy some of his greatest hits…

jononroad1Look out for killa’…



jononroad2A quick glimpse…




Up to no good in Uptown…


jononroad4Just plain classic…


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Benny Jay: Halitosis

October 1st, 2015

Heading south to Greektown, when my youngest daughter breaks the news….

“You have bad breath,” she tells me.

Not sure what prompted her to drop the bombshell at this particular time. No matter, I must deal with it.

“Is this true?” I ask my wife.

“Not always,” she says.

Well, that’s hardly reassuring.

“Did you plan this?” I ask.

“Huh?” asks my daughter.

“Is this an intervention?”


“Oh, my God — you planned to have a family intervention to tell me I have bad breath.”

“Dang, dad — your breath is flamin’….”


“We did not plan a family intervention,” says my wife.

“Don’t be defensive,” says my daughter.

“I’m not defensive,” I say.

“Yes, you are,” says my daughter.

“No, I’m not.”

“Just bring a mint with you….”

“Yeah, you used to carry mints with you,” says my wife. “Why did you stop doing that?”

Then they worry that they’ve gone too far. So they start telling me what a great guy I am. As in — great guy, despite the bad breath.

“Do I have bad breath all the time?” I ask.

“No, just once in awhile,” says my daughter.

At least he doesn’t have bad breath….


I have this flash. Have I had bad breath in public places where it could come back to haunt me?

“When was the last time I had bad breath?” I ask.

“I can’t remember,” says my wife.

“Yes, you can,” I say.

“Okay — when we saw Flight.”

That’s the movie in which Denzel Washington plays this super cool airplane pilot who has lots of problems — excessive drinking, drug taking, womanizing — but not bad breath.

“But you didn’t tell me,” I say.

“I don’t always tell you.”

“You mean — you let me walk around with bad breath!”

It hits me that I’ve probably had bad breath while standing in front of people I was trying to impress only they didn’t tell me cause it wasn’t the politically correct thing to do.

I recall sitting next to a friend — Michelle — in a gym and she handed me a Tic Tac that she happened to have in her pocket. Obviously, she was sending me a subtle message. How could I not see it at the time?

Fast forward several hours….

I’m lying on the couch reading a book. The dog comes by. Sniffs in my general direction and then lays down besides me.

Suddenly, I’m aware of a horrendous odor. I check my shoes to see if I stepped in shit.

Nope. It’s the dog.

“Damn, Nicky,” I say. “You need a Tic Tac.”

It’s reassuring to know that my breath is not as bad as the dog’s.

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