Benny Jay: Thanks to Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2015

With Thanksgiving here, the time’s come to give a special Third City thank you to just a few of the many who’ve done so much for us this year.

So without further ado, thanks to….

Nickle Bag Bernie, one of our valued advertisers, for keeping the editorial staff happy at all times. See you in the parking lot, Bernie.

Madame LeFarge’s Whorehouse, another valued advertiser, for the group rates.

Swami Sam, the Skokie Yoga King — Sam doesn’t do much for us, but he’s done wonders for the ladies.

Dr. Frankie “Disco” Lopez, our primary physician, for making sure we never run low on our meds.

Dr. Matt Farmer and El Dragon,  our esteemed attorneys, for squashing all those cease-and-desist orders and keeping us out of jail. By the way, the good news is that Milo’s DNA test came out negative!

Hey, corporate farmers — thanks for the fat turkey….


The Lovely Mrs. Milo for refraining to hire a hit man to get rid of her loving but somewhat erratic husband.

The Triple A Bail Bond Company of Gary for bailing Milo out of jail after that Labor Day escapade with Mrs. Shimkus in Skokie.

Mr. Shimkus for dropping the charges.

Elmore Stiglitz & Sons — Gary, Indiana’s most reliable bookies — for the easy-payment plan. Our next check’s in the mail!

The Corporate Factory Farms of America for the two-headed, 20-pound Cornish Hen.  Can’t wait to pop it in the oven!

The Chicago Bulls and Bears and Cubs and Sox for winning all those championships last year….

Oh, forget that one.

 As always we’re thankful for the great Pam Grier!


Denzel Washington for being the next Paul Newman.

Paul Newman for being the first Paul Newman.

Our sensational crew of superstar writers, photogs, computer geniuses, podcasters, and actors who give it all to The Third City.

And, finally, our loyal readers — all 109 of you, or 110, when Milo’s sister is sober enough to navigate a keyboard. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to make your checks out to cash!

Peace, thy most precious gift.

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Benny Jay: Clouds In My Coffee

November 24th, 2015

After years of investigation, I’ve figured out a secret that’s vexed Baby Boomers for decades–the mystery men in You’re So Vain, Carly Simon’s big hit from 1972.

That’s the song with the following chorus: “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”

One of the cleverest lines ever written.


If you were Carly, how could you resist…


In her newly published autobiography, Carly says the song’s about three former lovers, one for each verse.  Starting with…

You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner…

Many pop critics claim she’s referring to Jack Nicholson or Mick Jagger. But what do pop critics know!

I believe Carly’s singing about Frank Coconate, the reigning world champion of The Third City’s Hairy Ass Contest.

A lot of people don’t realize this, but Frank was a dashing young man back in his day at Willowbrook High School. Especially, when he wore his beret.

He used to woo the ladies with Italian love songs:  ”Volare–oh, oh…”

After one or two verses, well, let’s just say Carly saw clouds in her coffee. If you dig what I’m saying…

Frank Coconate or…


You’re So Vain’s second verse goes…

You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me…

Carly claims she’s singing about Warren Beatty. But I think she only mentioned Beatty to hype book sales.

I think she’s really singing about Jon Randolph, TTC’s superstar photographer.

Back in the `60s, Jonny was always serenading beautiful women with lines, like: “Hey, sugar, I think we make a pretty pair. Wanna visit my dark room and check out my single-lens reflex?”

Now, you tell me–what woman could resist a come on like that?

Finally, there’s the third verse…

Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear Jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun…

miloandmeandadolfoAny of these guys, but especially Milo (far right)…


Again, there’s much debate over who this could be. James Taylor? David Bowie? Cat Stevens?

I think it’s Milo, my partner in the TTC blogging empire.

Okay, Milo never flew a Lear Jet. Or went to Nova Scotia. Or saw the total eclipse of the sun.  I’m not sure he’s even heard of Saratoga.

But back in the `60s, he was a regular at the sulky races at Sportsman Park in Cicero. Why, he once won the Daily Double by betting on Drunken Serbian and My Grandfather The Pig Farmer.

When I called Milo for comment, he snickered and said…

“Benny, there are some secrets a gentlemen never tells.”

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Benny Jay: Poor Bucky Badger

November 22nd, 2015

As a fan of Northwestern football, allow me to extend my deepest, most heartfelt sympathies to the fans of the University of Wisconsin…

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…

The Badgers lost a heartbreaker yesterday to my beloved Wildcats after the referees reversed what looked like a winning touchdown catch by Jazz Peavy…

Aw, poor babies

The refs ruled that Peavy didn’t have both feet down long enough to merit a catch…

Wah, wah, wah

Believe it or not, it was the third touchdown the refs took from Wisconsin in that game…

I believe it, I believe it

So, if you add the scores Wisconsin got to the ones the refs took away, they’d have won the game…

Too bad you can’t do that…

As NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said afterward: “I’ve been on the other side of those games…”

You’re darn tootin’, you have. Remember the Ohio Stage game in 2013, when the refs spotted NU shy of a first down on that key 4th quarter drive?

Fitz also said: “That’s a tough way to end up on the short end of it…”

It’s been all downhill for NU since that call…

And: “I feel for those kids from Wisconsin…”

Is there anybody out there who thinks Fitz really gives a hoot about “those kids from Wisconsin…”

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst was obviously very disappointed…

I didn’t think so…

Coach Chryst said: “It was a tough game to lose…”

You know, it’s funny, I didn’t hear old Coach Chryst weeping about tough games after Hue Hollins made that call against Scottie Pippen…


Sorry, coach, but sometimes the calls go the other way…


Chryst said he agreed with one of the ref’s touchdown take-away calls…

That Hollins call came in a Bulls/Knicks playoff game in 1994.

But he said he disagreed with the call on Peavy…

I know, I know–different sport, different league, but still…

About Peavy, Chryst said: ”I thought he had gotten a couple of feet down…”

And I thought that Pippen only incidentally touched Hubert Davis…

Chryst added: “But it doesn’t matter what I think…”

You got that right!

Twitter feeds have lit up with comments from aggrieved Badger fans…

Name one Badger fan who tweeted about that Hue Hollins call!!

Sometimes you have to learn to persevere in the face of senseless disappointments…

Okay, Twitter hadn’t been invented in 1994–but, still…

As you move on with your life…

While I’m on the subject–Fuck the Knicks!!!!

So in conclusion–good luck and Happy Thanksgiving to all…

Better luck next year, Cheeseheads!

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Benny Jay: Rough Night

November 19th, 2015

Rough night at bowling–we got our butts whooped by the High Rollers.

As the name suggests, that team has a reputation for smoking lots of reefer.

I’ve always maintained that the marijuana gives them an unfair advantage over the other bowlers. It’s a theory, anyway.

In addition to the reefer advantage, they also beat us cause we only had four bowlers–a big disadvantage in a five-man league. Even if the opposing team’s wasted.

I could explain this, but it’s really complicated. So just trust me for once.

We would have had five bowlers, but Allen didn’t show up. Not sure why.

I asked his brother–who bowls on a different team. He said it had something to do with something in Skokie.

It’s probably less mysterious than it sounds.

A few years ago, I was on a team with another bowler–also, coincidentally, named Allen–who called about an hour before tip off to say…

“Benny, I won’t be able to make it tonight–my gerbil died.”

By the way, I’m not sure if the start of a bowling game is called a tip off.

“A gerbil?” I said. “Did you say your gerbil died?”


“Allen–it’s a fuckin’ rodent! I don’t even think gerbils mourn when gerbils die.”

“I know,” he said. “But we were close to it. I feel I should be with the family at this time.”

bengordonkirkhinrichThat’s Kirk on the left and Ben in the middle…


Anyway, back to our recent ass-whooping by the High Rollers.

The only good thing about the night is the Bulls game was on TV. That gave Norm and me another chance to revive one of our favorite debates: Who’s better–Ben Gordon or Kirk Hinrich?

We’ve been having this debate for the better part of the last ten years. And it shows no signs of subsiding. Even though Gordon has retired.

I’ve long preferred Gordon on the grounds that 1.) he’s short; 2.) he loves to shoot; and 3.) his name is Ben.

Thus, he’s just like me. Aside from the fact that he made it to the NBA and I didn’t.

Generally, Norm’s response has always been: “He’s too fuckin’ short, Benny.”

We had another round of this argument when Hinrich–now a backup guard in his waning years–made it into the game.

“Hinrich’s too old,” said Norm.

“I told you we shoulda kept Ben Gordon,” I said.

“Benny, how many times do I gotta tell you–he’s too fuckin’ short.”

I suspect Norm and I will be continuing this debate long after this week’s thumping has been forgotten.

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No Blaise: Joakim Noah & Me

November 18th, 2015

No’s studying for her finals. So, enjoy one of her greatest hits…


When I bought my ticket to last summer’s Lollapalooza, I knew I’d be in for an experience. What I couldn’t predict was meeting Joakim Noah.

That’s right, I got up close and personal with a big-time Bulls player.

If you know nothing about Lollapalooza, you should know that crowd turnout for this three-day music festival is massive. I was afraid to blink at certain points in the day in case my friends might get enveloped into the madness in that millisecond.

No, I’m not kidding.


Seeing basketball players on TV you know they’re tall. But because they’re all so tall, it’s hard to realize their height in terms of the rest of us here in the real world.  Post-Joakim meeting I’ve been enlightened—the dude is huge.

Remember my reference on crowd size at Lolla… Not even the music-loving mass could keep Joakim out of my line of vision.

Making our way from one stage to another, my girl, Anika, looks up, points, and simply shouts: JOAKIM!

There he was, at the beer tent no less.

I knew there was a reason he was my favorite Bulls player.

As is the natural reaction when you spot a noteworthy person within your proximity, we ran over to snap a picture with him.

You’ll have to take my word for it, but I am tall. On the non-NBA scale, that is. I’m used to being the head above the other heads in a group photo. But I ain’t got nothin’ on Joakim.

Anika, Hannah (my other girl), and I catch up to him and beg him for a photo. Unsurprisingly, he’s completely nice about it. Hannah and I take a place on either side of him.  Anika snaps the pic.

Sorry, Ani.

As soon as I fell into pose, I realized how tall he actually was. No longer was I floating above — in fact, my head just slightly reached the height of his shoulder.

How do people play defense on this guy? Oh, right – in his world, he’s almost short.

The camera clicks and my association with this Chicago Bull is captured for eternity.

We step out from under his wingspan and for two seconds, the three of us just sort of look at him like little girls. Giddy and ridiculous. He breaks our child-like stupor by thanking us and gliding back into the crowd.

I think I might’ve awkwardly shouted “THANK…YOU!”  But maybe not. My memory can only comprehend so much about that moment.

When I finally floated back down to real life and regained normal consciousness, I begin to understand what just happened. Not only did I meet Joakim, but I had my picture taken with him.

A picture I could post online!

And show it to everyone I know!

Which I did.

It was digital gold.

Even my Celtics-loving father was impressed.

Why write about that picture today, after so many months have passed? Well, I happened to find it just the other day. It’s as golden as ever. Look for yourself.



By the way, that’s me on your right and Hannah on your left. Nice picture, right? But now that I look at it, there’s a bunch of questions I wish I’d asked him. Like — who’s the dude in the back and what’s with the yellow-framed shades?

Oh, well. Next time — I swear.

I posted it on my Facebook page and everybody was either way impressed or totally jealous — all over again.

Even Two-Headed Boy thought it was pretty cool.

My picture with Joakim is the gift that just keeps giving…

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Benny Jay: Football Binge

November 17th, 2015

Over the weekend, several friends come to town to watch Northwestern’s game against Purdue.

As you recall, the same thing happened a few weeks ago.

Somehow I’ve collected blocs of friends who graduated from a school I never attended.

The latest batch consist of Ryan, Sridhar and Vinnie–three graduates from the late `90s.

We begin our day with bagels and coffee before picking up Amanda–another NU grad. I’m telling you–I must have an NU homing device in my leg.

After the game, Amanda heads home and the boys return to my house, turning the living room into a man cave. My wife takes one look at us and goes straight upstairs to play her guitar.


First we went to the NU game…


I suggest we watch American Gangster, which I’ve only seen 422 times. More or less.

But, no, the boys want to watch more college football.

Oh, what is wrong with the younger generation?

So we sit–long into the night–watching game after game.

After awhile, it’s a blur. Stanford. Michigan. Nebraska. Alabama. Or maybe that was Oklahoma. Really, what difference is there?

At one point, Iowa’s playing Minnesota. And Leshun Daniels, Iowa’s running back, gallops for a 51-yard touchdown.

“No,” Vinnie exclaims. “Don’t score the touchdown. Take the knee!”

A word about Vinnie. The dude’s a genius. At age twenty-something he made it to the finals of Jeopardy. And not just college Jeopardy–but the real one!

IMG_1337Then the men gathered in their cave…


Back to Iowa’s touchdown…

“Why wouldn’t he want to score?” I ask.

Vinnie flashes a look of impatience. Like Albert Einstein might have for a dimwitted grad assistant who doesn’t quite get relativity. Calmly, he explains…

“There’s only two minutes left. And Minnesota has no time outs. So once Daniels gets the first down, the game’s basically over. Iowa can run out the clock by taking three knees…”

“But his touchdown gave Iowa a 12-point lead…”

“True. But now Iowa has to kick off. Minnesota can score and go for an outside kick. If they get the kick, they could win with a Hail Mary. By not taking the knee, he turned a for-sure win into a possible loss. But even if that doesn’t happen, there’s still two-minutes of football. That means Iowa runs the risk of injuries. And that’s why Daniels should have taken a knee.”

Wow!  I mean, really, what more can I say after such a virtuoso performance? It’s as though Jimi Hendrix came to my house and played a riff on my wife’s guitar.

Sure enough, things happen exactly as Vinnie predicted. Minnesota scores a TD and tries the onside kick.

Okay, they don’t get the ball, and Iowa wins. But Iowa risked life and limb instead of ending the game with Daniels taking the knee.

The thing is–none of the TV experts mention it. In fact, the headline in Sunday’s paper reads: “Iowa’s Daniels seals win over Minnesota with huge TD run”.

I almost want to yell at the headline writer: No! He shoulda listened to Vinnie!

Don’t worry, Vinnie. At first they didn’t believe Galileo either.

Let’s do it again next year, fellas. Only this time, we’re watching American Gangster.


Benny Jay: IRS Calls

November 15th, 2015

I’m hard at working–if you call what I do working–when my office phone rings.

Not wanting to interrupt the precious flow of words, I let the call go to the phone machine.

Thus, I hear the following message…

“This call is officially a final notice from IRS.  Internal Revenue Services. The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file, please call immediately. Our department number 314-449-9358.  I repeat–314-449-9358. Thank you.”

And with that my creative juices come to a screeching halt.

I re-play the message several times.

It’s a female voice. Or a computer-generated voice disguised as a female.

There’s something foreign about the syntax of the message. As though English were not the native tongue of whoever wrote the script.

For instance, they didn’t say, “The IRS is filing a lawsuit against you.”

They say: “IRS is filing lawsuit against you.”

I feel like I’m putting together the pieces of a puzzle that spell–scam!

Just call me Noam Chomsky–linguistic detective.

Looking for guidance, I call the wisest person I know–my 80-something-year-old mother.

“You got a call from the IRS?” she exclaims.

“No. I got a call from someone claiming to be the IRS.”

Too late! She’s bellowing the news to my father, who’s in another room.

noamchomsky1Just call me detective Chomsky…


“Benny got a call from the IRS.”

“No, ma,” I say. “I didn’t say it was the IRS…”

“What?” says my father.

“I said–Benny got a call from the IRS!”

“Tell him to pay his taxes…”

Ha, ha, ha. A regular Jack Benny, my father is.

“Don’t call them back,” my mother tells me.

“I won’t,” I say.

“And don’t give them your social security number,” she says.

“Ma–how can I give them my social security number, if I don’t call them back?”

“Don’t get fresh to your mother.”

Oh, brother.

After I hang up, I’m hit with a bolt of inspiration.

I google the phone number–314-449-9358. I wind up in chat room where I discover I’m not alone.

Lots of people have been getting these calls. Clearly, someone somewhere–probably eastern Europe–is up to no good.

One person on the chat room writes…

“If you want more information, click on this story.”

I click on the link and wind up facing a warning that says…

“We are not responsible for the contents, safety and privacy policies of third party websites. Use caution when you share personal information…”

Oh, no. I fell for the oldest trick in the book. While looking into one computer scam, I got snared in another.

Quickly, I call my mother with the update.

“Whatever you do–don’t give them your social security number,” she says.

Truer words were never spoken.

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