Benny Jay: Chill Time

August 9th, 2018

As part of my duties to keep my partners informed of everything I’m up to, I tell Milo about my big plans to take a break.

I’m beat up, worn out and on the brink of break down. Gonna go north–far from this madness to re-charge my run-down batteries. Yes, sir, that’s what I’m gonna do…

Soon as I finish, Milo tells me about his friend who did 22 years of hard time on a prison farm in Mississippi. They made him pick cotton in the hot sun all day long–didn’t even let him wear gloves to protect his fingers.


Well, don’t I feel like the big wimp, complaining about my easy existence while this guy’s picking cotton in the broiling sun?

Just goes to show you–as bad as I may have it, someone, somewhere has got it worse. It’s always good to have a little perspective on life.


Gonna be jumpin’ for joy on a beach…


That said, I’m not giving up my vacation time just cause Milo’s friend did 22 years of hard time.

Oh, no, I’m gonna lie on a sand dune and watch the clouds meander across the blue sky. And then when I get hungry, I’m gonna get up and make a cheese sandwich–slather it with Mr. Mustard.

Man, I love Mr. Mustard!

When I come home, I’ll be like a marshmallow–all soggy and soft. People in Chicago will be going one-hundred miles per hour, and I’ll be going ten. I’ll be the slow car in the fast lane. It’ll take me at least a week to catch up to speed.

And then I’ll start dashing until I can dash no more and I need to take a break.

Like I said, every battery needs a re-charge when it’s running low. That’s just how it goes. No need to apologize. Even in that prison farm, they got Sundays off.

See ya’ soon…

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Benny Jay: Keep The Secret

August 2nd, 2018

Working at home on a snowy afternoon, when my phone line crashes.

Don’t know why.

It just doesn’t work. Internet. Phone. Nothing.

So I get out my cell phone and call AT&T. Wind up talking to a nice lady named Stephanie, who tells me I should unplug the phones.

“You want me to unplug the phones?” I ask.

Just to make sure.

“Yes — all the phones,” she says. “Keep them off for about five minutes and then plug them back in.”


I crawl under the desk and look at the snake tangle of wires — red, blue and gray — hooking phone, computer, printer, etc. into the surge protector.


Not sure which is which, I just start pulling plugs out of sockets.


Stephanie, the phone operator, looked a little like Raquel Welch….


Then I go downstairs to have a delicious glass of chocolate milk. Ahhh.

Then I read the sports section. Then I call Cap on the phone to talk about Derrick Rose’s knee….

Next thing you know — 15 minutes have passed. So it’s back to the phones I go.

I plug this plug here and that plug there and….


I call Stephanie — my new best friend — and she says she’ll send over a repairman.


I killed time talking about D. Rose’s knee….


Fast forward an hour or so….

My wife comes home.

“My phone died,” I tell her.

“Let me look,” she says.

“Oh, like you can fix it.”

She goes to my room and crawls under the table and then announces….

“You didn’t plug in the phones.”

“Yes, I did,” I say.

“No, you didn’t.”

I’m starting to get a little annoyed.

“Of course, I did.”

“No, you plugged the surge protector plug into itself….”


“It’s not plugged into the wall socket — it’s plugged into itself.”

She points to the problem.

“Oh,” I say.

“It’s like electrical masturbation,” she says.

She likes that line so much, she says it again.

Then she unplugs the surge protector plug from the surge protector and plugs it into the wall. Voila! The computer and phone come back to life. And I call Stephanie to cancel the repairman.

“That’s really funny,” says my wife.

“You can’t tell anyone about this,” I tell her.

“How `bout Jenny — can I tell her?”

Jenny works with my wife.

“Especially not Jenny.”

“Oh, all right.”

“And whatever you do, don’t tell Milo. I’ll never hear the end of it.

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Benny Jay: Takin’ A Lickin’

July 26th, 2018

The other day in another existence, I wrote an article for the Reader about one of the most important issues of our time–what the hell is James Brown getting at in his masterpiece, Lickin’ Stick?

As I pointed out, this question’s been vexing me since I was a little boy back in the late `60s and I first heard the song over the AM-only transistor radio I kept by my bed.

Here’s the article that I wrote.

Here are the key lines from Lickin’ Stick: “Mama, come here quick / Bring me that licking stick.”

My conclusion is that my search for meaning in Lickin’ Stick was almost as much of a waste of time as my search for truth and justice in Chicago politics.

In other words, I was looking for something that doesn’t exist.

Which doesn’t mean I’ll stop either search. I’m a stubborn kind of fella, as Marvin Gaye once said.

In an effort to deter me, my good pal–Mack the Knife–sent me an email of sage advice.


One thing Mack & I share is a love for Pam Grier…


I’m repeating it as Mack wrote it–in his inimical, fuck-the-capital letters, E.E. Cumming’s style.

Cause Mack’s a poet, even if he don’t know it.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

Oh, wait! That is E.E. Cummings.

Take it away, Mack…

your boy devin thompson with chicago catz is totally 100% right on point in what he told you about jb’s lyrics: you—being of the cerebral journalistic inquisitive analytical stripe—place far too much weight on deconstructing jb’s lyrics instead of diggin’ on what ol’ boy is really truly puttin’ down: the rawest grittiest hottest sweatiest funkiest dick-hardening twat-creaming gut bucket soul music on the freakin’ planet, bj…… you actually think anyone of color is even genuinely listening to jb’s lyrics????!!!

dude, they’re too busy groovin’ on the lust dripping from everything that jb crooned.

it’s analogous to my other boy, jimi: listen to his lyrics: in “3rd stone from the sun”, when he croons: “although your world wonders me with its majestic & superior cackling hen, your people i do not understand, so to you i say put an end, & you’ll never hear surf music again”, (altho it’s obvious in the last line that jimi was making a direct reference to the beach boys).

or for a real head trip, do a youtube on jimi’s lyrics for “1983, a merman i should be”. uuuhhhh, neither i nor any other dopers back in the day were philosophizing over the guitar god’s lyrics—-how could we when our minds were in some distant galaxy???!!!!

your guy mack’s advice, bj: save the analyzing fer these fucked up politicos you’re so amazingly adept at skewering & instead, as the immortal sly stone says: “dance to the music!”

Great advice, Mack. Not that I’ll follow it, with Jimi or James.

After all, the search for meaning is almost as much fun as the discovery.

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Benny Jay: Party People

July 19th, 2018

I was driving in the car when onto the radio came — Off the Wall by the great Michael Jackson!

I cranked up the volume and started singing.

“Cause we’re the party people, night and day — livin’ crazy that’s the only way….”

I hadn’t heard that song in years. Brought me back to a wild New Year’s Party, as `79 turned into 1980. A young Benny Jay with a ton of hair was acting crazy. Thank goodness there are no negatives that can be used against me.

Thing is — once the song ended, it stayed on my mind. I’ve been singing it day and night ever since.

Eventually, I boiled it down to those two lines, which I started saying over and over, even if they were apropos to absolutely nothing. I fear this may be the first sign of some odd form of dementia.

I’d be on the phone and the receptionist would say, “Hold for Mr. Jones.”

And I’d say, “We’re the party people night and day — livin’ crazy, that’s the only way.”

And she’d say: “Excuse me?

And I’d say: “I’m sorry — just ignore me.”


In my mind, I dance like this….


One day I was talking to this twenty-something year old I’ll call Adrienne. Cause that’s her name.

“Do you know where this line comes from?” I asked. “`We’re the party people, night and day — livin’ crazy, that’s the only way.'”

“No,” she said.

“That’s cause you’re too young,” I said. “Ask your mother — she’ll know.”

So she texted her mother. A few minutes later, her mom texted back: “Michael Jackson.”

“See!” I said. Then I said the following line from the song: “`Gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf, and just enjoy yourself.'”

“Oh,” said Adrienne. “If you’d asked about that line, I’d have known the song.”

Like I did something wrong.

The next day, I’m in the county clerk’s office, chatting with the nice lady at the desk. When I get the urge.

“Do you know this line?” I asked. Then I say, not sing: “We’re the party people, night and day — livin’ crazy, that’s the only way.”


But in reality, I’m more like this….


“Oh, I know that line,” she said. “But I can’t remember where it’s from.”

“I’ll give a hint,” I said. “The writer died in 2009.”

Looking at me as if to say — Duh! — she pulled out her cell phone and showed me her screen-saver picture: A young Michael Jackson, doing the moonwalk.

Then she started singing — right there in the clerk’s office! “Gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf — an’ just enjoy yourself.”

At which point, I said: “Yeah!”

Which didn’t have any applicability to anything. I just got caught up in the moment.

When I left the clerk’s office, I was still singing that song. In fact, I’m singing it now.

C’mon, everybody….

“We’re the party people, night and day — livin’ crazy, that’s the only way!”

Yes, he was weird. But I miss Michael Jackson.

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Benny Jay: Kill Those Emails

July 12th, 2018

I’m chatting with Chuck, while he’s sending an email on his cell phone, and what do I see?

My old friend’s got something like 3,700 unopened emails.

I’m like–Chuck, how can that be?

He shushes me, like sending an email is so important, he can’t be interrupted. That’s when I realize–everybody’s not like me.

Okay, I may have realized this a few hundred times before. But I’m realizing it again in a new context.

More precisely, I’ve discovered another subset of the species: Those who routinely kill their unopened emails, and those who let them pile up.

Chuck’s just the tip of iceberg.

My old friend, Karen’s, got about 12,000 unopened emails.

That explains why she never responds to any of them.

I’m like–Karen, why even have an email address?

A few days ago, I discovered the champ of the unopened email. Let’s call her Jen–cause that would be her name. Other than that, her identity’s a secret!

At last count, Jen had 50,000 unread emails.

That’s 50 as in–fifty-fuckin’ thousand. I mean, on some level, you gotta be impressed.

IMG_1992 (1)

The unidentified Jen is somewhere in this picture…


I think I know how this happens…

You’re busy when an email comes in. So you say, I’ll look at it when I have time. But, by then, five others have come in. And while you now may have time to read one email, you don’t have time to read six. So you hold back until you have time to read six. But by then you have 66.

And so on and so forth until one unopened email’s become 50,000.

In contrast, I view killing unopened email as a form of Ms. Pac-Man, a game I spent much of the 1980s playing.

Just send them to trash–it’s like getting Ms. Pac-Man to swallow those little pellets.

It’s second nature. I do it all time.

In fact, while writing this post, I’ve killed the following unopened emails…

Love your body again.

Charmin toilet paper–you just won free samples.

Real rock hard–drive your partner crazy in bed.

As well as one or two having to do with varicose veins.

Hold it!

Just got an email about hair restoration…

Killed it.

Oh, how satisfying.

Now, where was I?

Oh, yes, Jen and her 50,000–probably close to 60,000 by now.

Please, Jen, give me access to your phone. I’ll kill those suckers in no time.

It’ll be more fun than playing Ms. Pac-Man.

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Benny Jay: Slowin’ Down

July 5th, 2018

Sometime in the middle of these summer thunderstorms and firecrackers, Nicky, the dog, goes psycho.

She develops a phobia for late-night walks. As in — she won’t do them anymore.

It’s not that I don’t try to take her for nighttime walks. Every night, it’s the same old thing….

“C’mon, Nicky,” I say in that cheery sing-song voice we use for little kids and dogs.

Like — this is gonna be so much fun!

But instead of walking down the front steps with me, she digs in her heals. Gives me the look that says: “No fucking way.”

If I drop the leash, she whirls and heads back to the door — tail between her legs, as if to say: “Hurry up and let me back in!”

It baffles me — there’s no obvious explanation. This is a dog who used to love late-night walks. In fact, she’s been my companion for thousands of them over the last nine years.


Nicky, the dog, let us know — I ain’t walkin’ anymore!


I’ve heard all sorts of explanations for her behavior.

It’s the thunder storms….

It’s the firecrackers….

Her eyes are going bad and she can’t see in the dark….

(The vet offered up that one.)

I’ve received many suggestions. Like this one from my father….

“Take her to the doggie analyst and have her lie on the couch and tell the doctor about her dreams.”

As you can see, my father’s always been a big fan of Freud.

The vet suggested we give her a treat as a reward for leaving the front steps. And not just any old doggie biscuit, but something special — like a piece of hot dog or chicken.

Hell, there’s not much I wouldn’t do for a good piece of fried chicken.


Paging Dr. Freud!



My wife gives the dog the treat and the dog still resists.

“You don’t understand,” my wife tells Nicky. “I’m not giving you this piece of hot dog for the sake of giving it to you. You have to earn it. It’s a reward for going for the walk.”

“Oh, I understand perfectly,” Nicky tells my wife. “I’ll eat that hot dog, but I ain’t walking!”

Well, the dog doesn’t actually say that. But she lets us know.

Just to be clear. Nicky’s an eager beaver when it comes to daytime walks. Tail wagging. Gonna run, run right down the street.

Then at night — no way, Jack!

Most nights I drag her down the block to the corner. Once we turn the corner, she stops resisting. My wife’s theory is that once we turn the corner, the dog realizes going back is not an immediate option, so she might as well accept her fate.

“Let’s face it — you dog’s getting old.”

A neighbor tells me that.

Makes as much sense as anything else. With dogs as humans, getting old is a bitch.

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Benny Jay: One Word

July 1st, 2018

As the old guy in an universe of the young, I’m always hearing expressions I’ve never heard before. And so it was the other day, when my wife approached me as I was reading the newspaper…

“I think Ziggy made a mistake,” she said.

Ziggy’s her 30-something-year old guitar teacher.


“He sent me a text that says `bitchin’.”


“Yes, bitchin’…”

“That’s it?”

“Yep–that’s it.”

I put down the newspaper. Obviously, this required my full attention.

“What was the context?” I asked.

“I texted to see when we were having our guitar lesson. And he texted back–`is 1:45 good for you?’ I wrote yes. And he wrote–`bitchin’.'”


“He must have meant to send this text to someone else,” she concluded.

Well, there’s precedence for this.


“The secret to staying young is to lie about your age”–Lucille Ball. Word.


Years ago, when our daughters were teenagers, my wife wrote one of them a text, bitching about something our daughter had done.

But she accidentally sent that text to Susan, a friend.

Susan texted back: “I think you may have sent this to the wrong person.”

Then she launched into an obscenity-laced rant about her own teenage kids.

But back to bitchin’…

I said: “Bitchin’ must be something millennials say to one another a lot. Though we wouldn’t know that cause we haven’t been millennials in a long time. Actually, we’ve never been millennials. Either way–I’ll look it up in the Urban Dictionary.”

The Urban Dictionary is a website I discovered years ago when I was at the bowling alley talking about this, that and the other thing with my 30-something-year-old pal, J Dub.

I said: “These politicians are all crooked.”

And J Dub said: “Word.”

“What?” I asked. As though the problem was I didn’t hear what he said.

“Word,” he repeated.

“Oh, yeah, man,” I said. As though I knew what he was talking about.

When I got home, I went straight to Urban Dictionary, where I discovered that for years word didn’t just mean word, but “to speak the truth.”

How come no one tells me these things?

Anyway, I looked up bitchin’ and I found that it’s top definition is “good, fuckin’ great, awesome.”

Needless to say my wife and I have been saying bitchin’ to one another ever since.

It’s sort of like a linguistic version of a face lift. Anything to stay young. Word.

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