Benny Jay: Cool Voter

October 28th, 2020

As I may have mentioned before, I was never what you would call cool back in my not-so-glory days.

In high school, I was on the White Sox Fan Club, for goodness’ sake.

My idea of a great song was Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie by Jay and the Techniques.

C’mon, everyone together . . .

“Apples peaches pumpkin pie/Who’s not ready? Holler I . . .”

Outside of Bulls basketball, my greatest passion was politics. I was the kind of 12-year-old who could recite the whole Democratic ticket—from president to water rec.

Why, I can still tell you my first vote . . .

1974. I rode the Greyhound from college in Wisconsin to vote for Abner Mikva.

And my first presidential vote . . .

1976. Proudly cast for Jimmy Carter.

And the last time I voted Republican was in . . . you know, maybe that’s enough reminiscing for the day.

Point is—I was a freakin’ geek. But here’s the thing. Every geek has his day because to my utter amazement, voting suddenly has become cool.

It’s all the rage—like vinyl. At long last—I’m hip!

I realize, of course, this has nothing to do with anything I’ve done. Credit it to Trump. Nothing like a fascist in the White House to scare people—even the super cool and above it all—into voting. If this keeps up, Beyoncé will do a cover of Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie.

By the way, 1980 . . .The last time I voted for a Republican, that is. For Bernard Carey over Richie Daley in the race for Cook County state’s attorney. Still proud of that vote. Carey lost. Let’s hope this time I’ll be voting for nothing—and no one—but the winners.

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Benny Jay: Colonel Jack

October 20th, 2020

I get a call the other day from the great Carol Woodworth–the decluttering genius, who helped me declutter my office.

Time out for an unsolicited promotion: If you want to get your life in order, contact Carol at Optimal Organizing!

Anyway, she’s calling about the song Chicago by Graham Nash.

You know, it goes: “Though your brother’s bound and gagged, and they’ve chained him to a chair, won’t you please come to Chicago…”

Basically, it’s calling on people to come to Chicago to protest the Chicago 8 trial, which is when the federal government, in all its glorious stupidity, prosecuted eight anti-war activists on trumped-up charges.

Keep it here for more unbiased explanations of our country’s past!

Specifically, Carol wants to know who’s Jack in the line: “Don’t ask Jack to help you, cause he’ll turn the other ear…”

“I thought it might be someone from city government,” she says. “Maybe Colonel Jack Reilly, who was director of special events back then.”

I’m impressed. There are probably only three people in the universe who remember Colonel Jack Reilly. And I never thought one would be Carol, who, though a genius at decluttering, has never showed much of an interest in obscure political figures from Chicago’s past.


The Chicago 8…

Apparently, Carol found her way to Colonel Jack through a Google search.

By the way, I’m pretty sure Colonel Jack’s a colonel in much the same way Tom Parker is. That is–not at all.

You know, I’ve been thinking of calling myself Colonel Benny Jay.

Back to Jack–I have two theories.

One.) Nash is using the word Jack simply to get to the next line. That’s a favorite tactic of Bob Dylan, who writes down any old shit and then takes perverse pleasure in watching his fans struggle to ascertain the meaning of it all.

When in reality it’s only a conveyance from Point A to Point C.

Two.) Jack could be the proverbial Everyman, who’d come to Chicago to change the world, if only he wasn’t so busy doing stuff like watching TV.


Graham Nash is the man in the middle…

Carol’s not buying it. In her mind, there’s a specific man named Jack and she’s hell bent on finding out who he is.

And who am I to argue with the woman who decluttered my room!

After we hang up, I go to Google and type: “Who is Jack in the song Chicago?”

You, too, can be an investigative journalist!

That gets me to a chat room, featuring “Gina from Paradise, Arizona” and “Bob from Rahway, New Jersey.”

Bob writes: “‘Jack’ was a reference to John Daily who was Mayor of Chicago.”

Excellent answer, except…

Chicago’s Mayor Dailys were named Richard, not Jack.

And it’s not Daily, it’s Daley.

Other than that, Bob, your knowledge of Chicago politics is remarkable!

Gina writes: “I asked David and Graham. They said it’s just like anyone, any dude.”

Wow, talk about going to the source! Why didn’t I think of that?

Hope that helps, Carol.

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Benny Jay: Nancy Got Set Up!

October 8th, 2020

When many people meet me, they’re surprised to discover I’ve been married for almost 40 years to a hairdresser who runs her own salon and always looks sharp and has a great eye for fashion.

I, on the other hand—well, let’s just say I’ve been wearing one of two pairs of Cargo shorts for the last three months. Usually, they’re clean. Though there was one week not long ago when I went around with a mustard stain on the side that no one seemed to notice.  Or if they did notice, they were too polite to mention.

Anyway, this is a long set up to say that the talk in my wife’s salon is that Nancy Pelosi should have known better than to go to a salon in San Francisco in the midst of a pandemic, when all the shops were supposed to be closed. Just like Mayor Lightfoot should have known better than to get a haircut in the early days of the pandemic after filming a PSA telling people to forgo such luxuries.

That said, pretty much everyone agrees that Pelosi was set up and no one believes the crocodile tears of the salon owner.

She acts like a helpless, little innocent, but she knew enough to take her tale (and videotape) to Fox—so, obviously, she’s not so innocent. Or helpless.

Also, if voters say Pelosi-haircutgate is what gets them to vote for Trump, then they’re lying. Clearly, they were going to vote for Trump anyway, but were looking for any old excuse (as bad as this one is) to justify voting for such a malicious miscreant.

And while we’re on the subject—absolutely everyone in the salon (even the closet Republicans) thinks Trump was lying when he claims he never said the dead American war heroes, buried in that French ceremony, were “losers”.

And that, of course, he skipped the memorial service for those dead soldiers because he’s so vain he didn’t want to get his hair messed up in the rain.

And, finally, when it comes to style and fashion, Nancy Pelosi’s haircut looks way better than Trump’s combover.

Even I know that and I’ve been wearing one of two pairs of Cargos for the last three months.

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Benny Jay: Silence Is Golden

September 29th, 2020

Like many lifelong Bears fans, I eagerly read all the tributes to the great Gale Sayers—who died last week at the age of 77—happy to be momentarily distracted from the gloom and doom, and corruption of politics in the age of Trump.

And then I fell upon this quote from Mike Ditka, who played with Sayers in the 60s: “You never heard him say a word. He was quiet. He was humble. Not only was he a special player, he was a good, good guy.”

And just like that, politics came roaring back . . .

Ditka’s sudden appreciation for silence is funny. Certainly, Ditka never held back from expressing any right-wing notion—no matter how ludicrous—that popped into his brain. Lately, he’s criticized football players who take a knee during the national anthem. So clearly his homage to the silence of Sayers was a not-so-subtle dig at the Colin Kaepernicks of the world.

galesayersThe great Gale Sayers…


I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Gale Sayers for not being as outspoken as other stars of his generation—like Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or Bill Russell. Obviously, these are personal decisions.

But there’s nothing virtuous about silence in the face of injustice, especially where there’s so much injustice to speak up against.

Picking just one example, in the summer of 1966—when Sayers and Ditka were teammates—Martin Luther King Jr. led open-housing marches throughout the southwest side of Chicago. He was greeted by crowds of enraged white people who called him the n-word. Someone threw a rock that hit King in the head. It would have helped if any Bear—Ditka included—had spoken up for King.

One of today’s most outspoken athletes is LeBron James, who uses his platform to advocate against police brutality.

For his efforts, James has been trashed by an MMA fighter named Colby Covington. Think of Covington as today’s Mike Ditka—a loudmouth, MAGA-hat-wearing right-winger who mocks anyone who opposes Trump.

James is one of his favorite targets—obviously, Covington’s hoping to spark a response. So far James has chosen not to dignify Covington’s trash-talking with a comment.

Sometimes silence really is golden.

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Benny Jay: Appointing RBG

September 22nd, 2020

In the category of good news…

Mitch McConnell’s assertion that he’d advance a successor to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—an assertion made just after her death—was not the single most cynical act Republicans have committed in the game of filling judicial vacancies.

It’s not even the second most cynical act, as evil and hypocritical as it is.

No, second place goes to Donald Trump for announcing, just a few hours later, that he’d nominate a replacement, but only after RBG’s funeral. Cause, you know, he didn’t want to look too ghoulish.

I was hoping Trump would name a man to replace RBG (say Ted Cruz)—just to let everyone know how much contempt he has for the rest of us.

I have no doubt that it wouldn’t matter had Trump nominated Cruz or Rick Santorum or Jerry Falwell Jr. (pool boy scandal and all) to replace Justice Ginsburg. MAGA would cheer and Republican senators, terrified of a Trump tweet, would dutifully vote to confirm.

But, no, Trump swears up and down he’ll name a woman. We shall see.

But I was going to cheer you up…

Oh, yes, the most cynical act came in 1991 when George Bush (aka, daddy Bush) nominated Clarence Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall on the grounds that—what the heck, they’re both Black, so who’s gonna know the difference? Thus, Bush selected a right-wing, Republican hack to undo the strides Marshall—a true giant for justice—had dedicated his life to accomplishing. Now, that’s cynical.

Now for the good news.

Putting Thomas on the court helped turn the tides against Bush. In 1992, he lost his re-election campaign. And so, it was Bill Clinton—not Bush—who got to name someone to replace Justice Byron White, when he retired in 1993. And that someone was, of course, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And the rest is history.

So, you see, there’s always hope, even if it’s just a glimmer in the midst of stressful gloomy times.

Keep up the fight, everybody—we have an election to win and a country to save.

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Benny Jay: Don’t Fall For It

September 13th, 2020

We’ve officially reached that point in the Trump era where I can say the country’s never sunk so low. At least not in my lifetime—and I lived through Nixon.

Apparently, the Republicans have taken the position that Kenosha police officers were justified for shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back because, well, it’s always the Black person’s fault when they’re shot by police. Even if it’s not.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are glorifying Kyle Rittenhouse for killing two protesters and injuring a third on the grounds that those bastards must have had it coming and Rittenhouse is a patriot who was trying to preserve law and order.

As opposed to a twisted young man with Rambo-like delusions, who never should have been allowed to carry a high-powered rifle in the first place.

Clearly, the Republican Party’s position on Black lives is they don’t matter. Unless they’re one of the few Black people who love Trump—in which case, put them on TV!

Although how much even those Black lives matter . . .

Consider the case of Herman Cain, who died of COVID-19 a few weeks after attending Trump’s rally in Tulsa, where he sat shoulder to shoulder with his friends (not a mask in sight) as though to prove that Trump was right and the virus is a hoax.

As far as I can tell, Trump’s attitude toward Herman Cain is that he never existed, even if Cain essentially gave up his life for the Trump cause.

Proving once again that Michael Cohen was correct when he said Trump doesn’t care about anyone other than himself. And maybe Ivanka.

For weeks, I’ve been predicting Joe Biden will win because I can’t believe a country as civilized as ours could elect such a lunatic—again! Even with our nutty Electoral College in which the loser gets to win.

But I’m feeling a little shaky about my Biden prediction as I watch Trump fire up his Hate Machine, hoping to spark a race riot that will frighten white people into voting for him.

Don’t fall for it, white people!

In the meantime, enjoy this video in which Steve Buscemi gives Biden a backhanded endorsement. Sometimes it helps to laugh.

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Benny Jay: Cancel Culture

September 2nd, 2020

I didn’t start the day looking to go on a rant…

I was peacefully resting on a porch overlooking a little lake, watching ducks swim in circles, enjoying my vacation. Then I decided to pick up my phone and check out my email. Wound up reading The Chicago Public Square, a daily aggregation service put out by veteran Chicago newsman Charlie Meyerson.

So, I read a story about Mayor Lightfoot’s appearance on Face the Nation, and I read a joke by John Oliver, and I got to a sentence in which Charlie writes…

“The Square lost a reader last week. Someone who subscribed in January 2017 has unsubscribed, explaining: `Too far left for me. Sorry I ever signed up.’”

That’s when I went on my rant—though, there was no one to rant to, except the ducks.

Hey, Charlie, sorry if the dude’s a friend of yours. But…

What a wimp!

Proves my point about right-wingers. They’re the world’s biggest snowflakes. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

Declare they have a First Amendment-protected right to talk trash about anyone—gays, Blacks, Jews, you name it. But say one little itty bad thing about them, and they fall apart.

Start crying like little babies, saying things like: “Oh, you lefties are so insensitive.”

“Oh, you’re so elitist.”

“Oh, you hurt my feelings.”

Expose them to an idea they disagree with and they fall apart.

“Sorry I ever signed up.” Man, they whine day and night about the cancel culture of liberals. And what’s the fight thing they do when they read something they don’t like?

Cancel it!

What a bunch of hypocrites.

If I stopped subscribing to every paper I disagreed with, I wouldn’t read any newspapers at all.

You figure the dude would want to read what liberals were writing just to know what they’re up to.

That’s why I read half the right-wing columns in, say, the Tribune. Or why I get Tea Party emails. And Trump campaign emails.

Man, I must get 200 pro-Trump emails a day. From Tom Cotton. And Lindsey Graham. And Newt Gingrich. And Lara Trump. And Ivanka Trump. And baby Donnie. And Eric. Yeah, they let Eric send out emails, too. 

Anyway, Charlie, I say, you’re better off without the dude. Let him crawl back to Fox News, where everyone parrots the MAGA line—even if it changes from day to day. In the meantime, everybody else—give the Public Square a try.

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