Benny Jay: Mt. Rushmore

October 20th, 2016

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…”

“Fair enough…”

“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…”

“Good point…”

“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…”

“That’s three–right?”


“So I got one more?”


I thought it over.

“I gotta go with MJ,” I said.


“Michael Jordan?”


“Hey, the man brought six rings to this town!”

“Man, you’re weird.”

“Tell me something I don’t know…”

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Benny Jay: Talkin’ Bob Dylan

October 18th, 2016

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
Greenwich Village…

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?”


“Then who?”


“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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Benny Jay: I See Mr. Dylan

October 16th, 2016

In honor of Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, The Third City will be running Bob Dylan posts for the rest of eternity, including this masterpiece from 2009…

It’s Halloween night, and I’m at the Dylan concert at the Aragon with Jon Randolph, the world’s greatest photographer, and two of his out-of-town friends: Doug & Cindy.

I love Bob Dylan  — got a bunch of his records and a few of his books and I’ve been talking up this concert for months. But I don’t love Dylan as much as Jon loves him. I don’t think you can love Dylan as much as Jon. When it comes to Dylan, Jon’s nuts with love, like the kid who sits at the front of the class and defends the teacher no matter what he does.

For instance, take Dylan’s recent collection of Christmas songs. Most people say they’re dreadful. Not Jon.

Jon: Have you heard them?

Me: No, but it’s a guy who can’t really sing, singing songs I really don’t even like.

Jon: Well, you can’t judge them until you’ve heard them.

I guess he has a point, but–see what I mean?

There’s no assigned seating at this concert. In fact, there’s no seating at all. It’s standing room only cause there are no chairs.  So it’s an hour before the show and several hundred of us suckers–I mean, fans–are standing in a line to secure the best place to stand once they let us in. When it comes to Bob Dylan, everybody must be nuts.

After awhile, this fat security guard comes out to announce: No cameras. It’s “Mr. Dylan’s policy.” No pictures — absolutely none. We’re going to search you. If we find a camera, it will be confiscated.

Search? Confiscate? What–is this Russia?

As for cell phones, the guard continues. We realize we can’t confiscate them, but if we catch you taking pictures of Mr. Dylan with your cell phones, we will erase the images.

He pauses. Then asks: Any questions?

I want to ask a bunch, starting with: Are you kidding me? But I keep my mouth shut. If I want the honor of being in Mr. Dylan’s presence, I must play by his rules.

As the guard walks away, I start to suspect that this is all part of a plan devised by Dylan to mess with our minds. You know, like let’s see how much weird stuff I can make these clowns do.

True to form, Jon defends the camera policy. He says if you don’t keep people from taking pictures, they’re going to rush the stage to take them. So Dylan’s actually doing it to protect us from us. Let’s just call him Saint Bob Dylan.

Eventually, the doors open and – after frisking us – they let us in and we walk past vendors selling posters and T-shirts of Dylan. At least someone gets to take his picture.

An hour or so later, Dylan walks out onto the stage and the show begins. The only problem–the band’s so loud, I can’t make out what Dylan’s saying. I know this sounds ironic, what with Dylan being such a great lyricist. It’s like seeing a Picasso exhibition where the paintings are covered in cloth.  I don’t even know what songs he’s singing cause he likes to mix up the melodies. I think he’s singing one,  then it turns out he’s singing another.

Midway through the concert, Dylan asks us to welcome Tom Waits. The crowd goes even nuttier. Instantly, people take out their cell phones and start clicking away. So much for Mr. Dylan’s no-picture policy.

Some guy who looks vaguely familiar – I swear I’ve seen him before — steps to the mike and begins bleating.  I can’t understand a word he’s singing either.

It hits me. This isn’t Tom Waits. It’s the rhythm guitar player! No wonder, he looks familiar. I’ve been looking at him all night.

Bob Dylan’s got jokes. Who knew?

Now I’m convinced the whole camera-ban thing is part of an elaborate social experiment designed to see what it takes to get people to do exactly what they promised they wouldn’t do. Or maybe not–you never know with this guy. I’m telling you, Mr. Dylan loves to mess with our minds.

The band launches into Highway 61. At least, I think it’s Highway 61. I swear I hear Dylan say something about killing a son. But for all I know, he’s singing Silent Night–from his Christmas album.

The weird thing is–I loved it! Not sure why. Maybe it’s just that when it comes to Dylan, I’m almost as nutty as Jon.


Benny Jay: Don’t Blame Us For Trump

October 11th, 2016

I’ve been in the company of men without a woman in hearing range many, many times in my life.

Including moments in/on bars, bowling alleys, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and locker rooms. Lot’s of locker rooms.

I’ve taken cross-country car trips with men.

I’ve gone for long walks with men, where we pour out our souls.

I’ve sat on rocks overlooking the lake with old friends, swapping tales, some of which may have been true.

In college, I was known to have spent many hours up late, smoking reefer, and playing air guitar to Jimi Hendrix music–with other air-guitar playing men in the room.

Always wifth my left hand. The air guitar playing, that is. Cause Jimi was left handed. So if we were air guitar playing to say, Duane Allman, we’d play it right handed.

I guess you can say I’m a guy’s guy. I like the company of men.

casanovaLots of guys think they’re as irresistible as Casanova…


But in all those years, with all those men, I have never, ever heard a man talk about women the way that Donald Trump does.

Or the way Trump did in his infamous conversation with Billy Bush.

The one where Trump, bragging about how he can do anything he wants to a woman, regardless of what she wants, including “grab them by the pussy.”

Don’t get me wrong–in all those bars, bowling alleys, basketball courts, etc. I’ve heard lots of talk that women would probably find offensive.

But hear a guy claim he had the right to grab a woman by her pussy? Never.

On the contrary, most guys go the other way. Bragging about all the woman who supposedly want to grab them.

To hear them talk, you’d think women find them irresistible.

I say this because lots of women have been telling me: I know this is how men talk when we’re not around.

Like I said, I’ve heard lots of chauvinistic talk. But nothing like Trump’s.

Never met anyone like him. Not even in a locker room.

I still can’t believe 40 percent of America wants him to be president.

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Benny Jay: A Rooster’s Revenge

October 9th, 2016

For my daughter’s birthday, we gather 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.

We’re having a great time. Talking, eating, walking, card playing, etc.

By nightfall, I’m exhausted. I fall sound asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. And then…

In the middle of the night, a strange sound wakes 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.


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: Board Meeting

October 6th, 2016

Editor’s Note: With Indiana Governor and Trump running mate Mike Pence in the news thanks to the vice presidential debate, we decided to rerun this 2015 classic…

In response to growing outrage over the insensitive and politically incorrect comments made by Milo regarding the good people of Indiana, The Third City convened a meeting of its board of directors.

That august body includes RolandoRandolph, Jim SiergeyElaine Soloway, skyping in from her office in L.A, and Frank Coconate, who’s chairman of the board.

In last week’s post, Milo was asked to explain why Indiana Governor Mike Pence–a Republican–would sign into law the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” basically making it legal for Hoosiers to discriminate against people who offend their religious sensibilities.

A category largely consisting of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and bloggers from Chicago.

Here’s a link to that post. And here’s a transcript of the board meeting.

Chairman Coconate: I call this meeting to order!

Rolando: Hey, Benny Jay, where’s the fuckin’ pizza you promised?

Randolph: As Bob Dylan once said….

Chairman Coconate: Fuck Dylan–lemme tell you about Frank Sinatra…

Jim Siergey: Did I tell you I was at Woodstock?

Chairman Coconate: Fuck Woodstock! I used to play football at Willowbrook high!

Elaine: Oh, god. My association with The Third City is the biggest mistake I’ve ever made…


Rolando, Chairman Coconate and Benny Jay convene a meeting off TTC’s board of directors…

The board would like to apologize for the following comments made by Milo…

Hoosiers are “a bunch of dumbfucks.”


Hoosiers are a “a bunch of ignorant Rednecks.”


Hoosiers are “toothless, illiterate Rednecks.”

Also, while it may be true that Indiana once had “the largest concentration of Klansmen,” we don’t know why he brought it up.

Finally, it’s not true that Hoosiers are “rustics and pigkissers,” and that Republicans are “the biggest bunch of morons since the cavemen.” Or “it’s been downhill for those pricks since Booth assassinated Lincoln.

Actually, Milo didn’t say that. Though it sounds like something he would say.

Also, we apologize to cavemen.

Back to the transcript…

Siergey: Once I took this far-out acid and the walls, man, the walls started doing their wall thing…

Chairman Coconate: Fuck that–I ran back punts!

Randolph: As Dylan said on the Basement Tapes…

Rolando: What’s with these fuckin’ Cheez Its, Benny Jay?

Elaine: I can’t believe I ever got involved with these losers…

Ultimately, the board unanimously voted to suspend Milo at half pay for the indefinite future.

When informed of the suspension, an enraged and obviously inebriated Milo told the board members to go fuck themselves.

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Benny Jay: Trump’s Taxes

October 4th, 2016

The last few years have been rough for journalists–in fiction and reality.

In the real world, it seems like papers are cutting budgets and firing reporters every week.

In movies & TV, reporters have been relegated to stock characters–the nitwits who stand on the sidewalks barking out dumbass questions as the hero passes by.

We’ve come a long way since All The President’s Men.

Well, that at least temporarily changed on Sunday when a team of investigative reporters for the New York Times broke the story that Donald Trump probably didn’t pay federal income taxes in 18 years, starting in 1995.

Which may explain why he won’t release his tax returns, like most presidential candidates.

The investigation began on September 23, when Times reporter Susanne Craig found a manila envelope in her mailbox, postmarked NYC.

susannecraigDon’t mess with Susanne Craig…


Inside was a few pages of Trump’s tax returns from 1995 that showed he claimed over $915 million in losses.

Immediately, Craig turned to her colleague David Barstow, one of the top investigative reporters in the business, to figure out what to do next.

The big question was were the returns real–or were they being setup? They still don’t know who mailed them–or, if they do, they’re not saying.

My favorite part of the story is where they track down Trump’s old taxman–an 80-year-old retired accountant named Jack Mitnick, who’s living in Florida.

Barstow flies down for a get together. They break bread over bagels in a coffee shop. And Mitnick pretty much confirms the tax returns are legit.

On Sunday, the story–written by Craig, Barstow, Ross Buettner and Megan Twohey–hits the street.

Immediately, Trump’s flunkies swear up and down the scoop’s good news for their boy.

“There’s no one who’s shown more genius in their way to maneuver around the tax code,” Chris Christie said.

Actually, that’s not true. If anyone in this story’s a tax-code genius it’s Mitnick. He’s the one–not Trump–who figured out how to dodge the IRS. Maybe he should run for president.

Christie continued: “What an absolute mess the federal tax code is. That’s why Donald Trump is person best positioned to fix it.”

That’s like saying Bonnie and Clyde should be in charge of protecting banks cause they know how to rob them.

Finally, it wouldn’t be Trump tale without a threat of litigation.

After the reporters called Trump for comment, the Times got a letter from Donnie’s lawyer’s threatening “prompt initiation of appropriate legal action” if they ran the story.

They ran it anway. Badass to the bone…

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