Benny Jay: Those Who Got…

October 22nd, 2017

For the last few weeks, I’ve been filling out countless forms and sending them to New York City, so I can rent an apartment in Manhattan.

I don’t want to rent an apartment in NYC–my youngest daughter does.

But she’s too broke to have a credit rating. So the landlords are making me and my wife act as guarantors. That means, if my daughter and her roommates skips out of town, the landlord can come after me and my wife for the rent.

When I tell this story to other Chicagoans my age, they don’t believe me.

They say–it’s not like that in Chicago.


We didn’t have to do that when we were starting out.


We didn’t have to do that with our kids.

It’s like they think I’m making this up. I’m starting to think that the only thing more annoying than the landlords of New York City are the people in Chicago who don’t believe you when you bitch and moan about the landlords of New York City.

monkeyproctologyA New York landlord examines a potential tenant…


I have to send all sorts of personal stuff to these landlords, including tax forms, letter from boss saying I work where I say I work and pay stubs.

You’d think that I wouldn’t have to get the letter from my boss if I send them the pay stubs.

I think those New York City landlords are just fucking with us cause they can. What’s next–blood and urine?

I also have to sign a statement in which I pledge to pay the rent if my kid skips town. Then I have to get that statement notarized. So I go to the local bank.

I wind up having a chat with the manager.

“It be easier if I just bought the building,” I say.

“Well, they need to protect the landlord,” says the manager.

Have you ever noticed how bankers and landlords stick together?

“Nah, that’s not why they’re doing it,” I say.

“Then why?”

“Because they want to rent to the richest people they can find. So they’re looking to see how much we make.”


“If it’s me and my daughter against Rockefeller and his daughter, they’re renting to Rockefeller.”

“But that would be illegal.”

“Oh, yeah–like anyone’s watching.”

It’s a seller’s market–buyers beware.

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Benny Jay: We Miss You

October 19th, 2017

This bit’s from the October 18th show. If you want to hear it,   click here


So the other day I head into the studio bubble to start another great show, when I notice there are no headphones. At which point I bellow…

Damien as me: Hey, Yoda!

Dennis: Yoda, Yoda.

Yoda being our station manager, who makes the trains run on time. So to speak. Into the bubble, he runs.

Matt as Yoda: I was watching Cubs highlights, what do you want?

Damien as me in panic: Man, I need Headphones.

Might as well mention–we’re about two minutes to air time.

Matt as Yoda: Oh, the weekend crew must have put them somewhere.

Now it’s less than two minutes to air. Yoda runs out. Then back—headphones in hand. I ask…

Damien as me: Hey man, who’s the new, news guy?

At the end of each opening segment I kick it back to the newsroom as in…

Damien as me: But first the Chicago News with Laura Vaughn.


Bet ya’ Thom Hartmann doesn’t worry about this stuff…


Only Laura’s been on vacation. So that’s why I need to know who I’m kicking it back to for the news. Get it? Only Yoda says…

Matt as Yoda: I don’t know.

Damien as me: Oh, man–what do you mean you don’t know?

Matt as Yoda: I mean, you’ve asked for a body of information of which I have no knowledge.

A minute to air time…

Damien: No, I don’t mean what does I don’t know mean. I mean, who the hell should I say is doing the Chicago News, man?

This is not as easy as it looks, folks. There’s lots of different people who’ve done the news. Such as…

Laura: Hi, I’m Ryan Gatenbee.


Laura: Hi, I’m Jim Ryan.

You know, to confuse the old guy with two Ryans. And…

Laura: Hi, I’m Mark Vasco.


Laura: Hi, I’m Walter Cronkite.

Okay, not him. Still, I live in constant fear of getting it wrong as in…

Damien as me: But first Chicago News with Mark Vasco.

Laura: Ugh, Ben—it’s actually Jim Ryan.

Damien: Aw, man. Not again.

Anyway, Yoda says…

Matt: Let me check.

Out of the bubble he runs, leaving me to wonder: Do other radio hosts have this problem? Like Thom Hartmann?

Dennis as Hartmann: Thom Hartmann here—do you like beets? Do ya? How `bout gold?

Or Norman Goldman…

Dennis as Norman: We’ll be right back where justice is served on the Norman Goldman show–why.

Or my, main man, Rickey Hendon…

Dennis as Rickey: Rickey Hendon–this talk show’s got rhythm, baby.

Just then Yoda returns with the best news of all.

Yoda: It’s Laura.

Damien: As in Laura Vaughn?

Yoda: Yes, she’s back from vacation.

Prompting everyone to go…

Dennis/Damien/Matt: Yay!!!!

Dennis: Get the bong out.

Welcome back, Laura—we really missed you.


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Benny Jay: In Polish

October 15th, 2017

A days ago, I’m hanging at the Hideout bar, when my old pal, Dan Pogorzelski, comes up and says…

“I want to introduce you to my friend.”

With that I meet Malgorzata “Margaret” Ptaszynska, who hosts a talk show on Poliskie Radio, which, as the name suggests, is a Polish-language radio station.

“I want you to be a guest on my show,” she says.

Sounds good, except–I don’t speak Polish.

No problem, she says. Dan will translate.

“Dan speaks Polish?” I ask.

“You’re surprised?” asks Dan.

To prove it, he says something in Polish. Though, for all I know, it could be Greek. I’m so bad in languages, I once mistook Japanese for Spanish. A long story, I’d rather not share at the moment.

Well, one thing leads to another and here I am in the lobby of Poliskie Radio, waiting for the show to begin.

On the wall, are photos of famous Poles who’ve been guests on the station, while passing through Chicago.

This includes the pop singer, Doda–who’s like the Madonna of Poland.

Doda once got in trouble with Polish authorities for saying she believed more in dinosaurs than the Bible because “it is hard to believe in something written by people who drank too much wine and smoked herbal cigarettes.”

I don’t know about that. I have some of sharpest insights after a glass or two of wine.

Doda’s never been afraid to speak her mind…


Eventually, Margaret ushers me into the studio and explains the ground rules.

She’ll ask questions in English. I’ll answer in English. And then Dan will translate.

And so off we go…

After awhile I feel the rhythm. I learn to limit my comments to two or three sentences. So I don’t overwhelm Dan, who has to remember what I say in order to translate it.

We’re talking about this and that and Margaret asks whether there’s any hope to transform our dimwitted and corrupt political system. And I go off on this thing–as I often do–about Chicagoans being pathetic little scaredy cats who are afraid the city will jump into the lake, if they elect anyone other than the incumbent mayor.

As I watch Dan do the translation, it dawns on me: I don’t know what the hell he’s saying. For all I know, it could be: “My name is Benny Jay and I love Mayor Rahm!”

Now I know how Bill Murray felt in Lost in Translation


That’s Margaret on the left and Dan on the right…


All of a sudden I hear Dan say “California.”

And I’m thinking–California? I never said California!

WTF–has Dan lost his mind?

After the show, Dan explains that he’d said “California falls into the sea. Cause you said Chicago falls into the lake.”

“Oh,” I say. “Like in the Steely Dan song.”


Forget it. That’s called lost in a generational translation.

Anyway, thank you Margaret & Dan for being so patient.

I hope I passed the audition and that someday my picture will go on the Wall of Fame–right next to Doda’s.

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Benny Jay: Phone Crazy

October 12th, 2017

This bit’s from the October 11th show. If you want to hear it, click here


So it’s well past midnight and I’m finally getting to bed for some much needed sleep, when I realize…

Damien as me, muttering: Aw, man, I don’t have my phone.

Not sure why this should bother me. As I said, it’s well after midnight. I won’t be calling anyone. If someone calls me, I won’t be answering. So I tell myself…

Damien as me, whispering: Just go to bed, Benny. Calm down, big fella.

And I try to ease myself to sleep by counting Bulls players hitting jumpers—you know, the way other people count sheep.

Damien as me, whispering: Denzel hits a jump shot. Nikko hits a jumper. Laurie hits a jumper. Diamond Stone hits a jumper…

But it doesn’t work. I can’t fall asleep cause I’m worried about that freaking phone. So out of bed I hop. Here’s the problem–my wife is sleeping.

Dennis snores.

And if I turn on the light, there will be hell to pay. As in…

Dennis as wife: Hey, Benny, turn of that mother-beeping light. Weirdo!

So I creep around the room silent as a mouse, and bam—I hit my toe on the dresser.

Damien as me: Aw, shirt.

And then—bam, I stumble over Nicky, the dog.


People love their phones…


Dennis as Nicky: Agh, dude, what are you doing.

And then I knock over a lamp which almost hits the dog.

Dennis: Dude—keep this up and I’m calling SPCA. Freak.

I look upstairs. I look downstairs. I look in the bathroom. But I can’t find that phone. I start to worry…

Damien talking to himself: Is it in my blue jeans pocket? The jeans I just through into the washer? Crap, man, am I washing my phone?

I never realized how precious that phone has become to me. And to think that I was always criticizing it. Like just the other day in a conversation with Yoda.

Damien: This freaking phone is always freezing yoda.

Yoda: That’s because you don’t have the iPhone ten.

Have you ever noticed how yoda knows everything?

Yoda: Just sayin i think its your bulls[phone sis interfering with the radio wavs…g.

Anyway, I get back in bed, hoping to fall asleep when it hits me. I can call the phone. And that way I’ll know where it is. So out of bed I pop. Downstairs I run. And…

Damien, dialing as he mutters to himself: 773-588-2300…

Upstairs I hear.

Dennis rings the phone.

My phone! I race upstairs. And there it is on the bed just below my sleeping wife.

Dennis snores.

Damien, talking to himself: Ah, phone. I love you phone.

I take that phone and put it on my dresser and climb back to bed. Close my eyes and think about—what else–the Bulls.

Damien, talking to himself: Laurie hits a jumper, Jerien hits a jumper, Zach hits a jumper, Diamond Stonezzzz…

Peace at last…

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Benny Jay: One More Time

October 8th, 2017

In honor of yesterday’s homecoming game at Northwestern–where they kept alive their tradition of inviting grads to come back to Evanston to watch their alma mater get blown out–we’re reprinting this classic from 2015…


For Northwestern’s monster homecoming game against Iowa, I’m up and at `em early for an 11 am. kickoff.

Well, that’s early for me.

I’ll be watching with Kevin, Uduak and David–three 50-something-year-old grads from the class of `81.

Together they’ve suffered over 100 years of football futility, yet they still root, root, root for the home team. There’s help for this, I’m sure.

Our seats are up against the wall in the back row.

Also, there’s an overhang. So we have to duck to see the field. Other than that–great seats!

Kevin purchased them. So everyone gives him a hard time.

Kevin points out that the overhang will come in handy–should it rain.

David points out that there’s not a cloud in the sky.

Kevin changes the subject.

It’s a typical NU game, which means they’re getting clobbered.

The guys reminisce about their senior year. The question is–did they win any games?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is they lost eleven.

For the record, NU won 2 and lost 41 in their four years at the school.

NU also tied a game during that era–a scoreless slugfest against Illinois in 1978 that everyone tried to forget as soon as it had ended.



Speaking of losing…

They reminisce about an intramural basketball game that took place roughly 35 years ago.

They were playing the Chick Evans Scholars for the championship. But they only had four players. That’s cause a guy we’ll call Jerome didn’t show up.

“He had a rehearsal for a step-dancing show with his fraternity,” Kevin explains.

“You mean, he had to do the show,” I say.

“No, it was a rehearsal,” says David.

“Are you telling me the dude missed the championship game for a rehearsal?”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you.”

After that, I started ripping Jerome–and I don’t even know the guy!

At halftime, I head to the concession stand for a hot dog. Ah, delicious. Feeling healthier already.

I stand behind two alums, who’re trashing Kain Colter.

Colter’s the brilliant quarterback who–two years ago–tried to organize the team into a union. He failed. But NU alums have been blaming him for every loss ever since. If they were ancient Hebrews, they’d cast Colter out into the desert.

By the fourth quarter, many of the NU fans have given up and gone home. And we’re surrounded by Hawkeyes, singing the Iowa fight song.


Iowa wins 40-10. Which is not as bad as the 63-0 shellacking NU took from Ohio State back when Kevin, David and Uduak were seniors.

So I guess you can say things are looking up.

At least no one can blame this one on Kain Colter. Though if the attitude toward Jerome is any indication, the statute of limitations lasts a long time.

In the parking lot, they’re planning their next move. Heading over to Uduak’s for a sumptuous feast.

I’m telling you–these NU guys know how to live.

See you next year, gentlemen!

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Benny Jay: Time On My Hands

October 5th, 2017

This bit’s from the October 4th show. If you want to hear it, click here


So, the other day I’m on the phone, when the door bell rings. Phone to ear I rush to the door, to find a rather sullen millennial, camera around his neck and clipboard in hand.

Dennis, very sullen: Hi. I’m from the insurance company.

He explains he needs to take pictures of my house before the company can sign off on our home insurance policy.

Damien, as me: Hey, man, no problem. I’m on the phone but do your thing.

Dennis, sullen: I’m a millennial. I’m sullen. I hate my job.

Well, he didn’t say that. But he kind of beamed it. Anyway, I let him in and went back to my all-important conversation. About what else?—the Bulls.

Damien as me: So what i was saying was–Diamond Stone. Remember that name. And Denzel Valentine. Remember that name too.

A few minutes later, the photo taker comes up from the basement to say…

Dennis, still sullen: I’m done here. Thanks for nothing. I hate my job. My life sucks.

Fast forward a few days. I’m upstairs. My wife’s in the front door vestibule.

Laura as wife, yelling: What the hey. They cancelled our policy.

Damien as me, yelling: What?

Laura, as wife: I said–those nimrods cancelled our home policy.

Ever notice how these important conversations happen when I’m on one floor and she’s on the other?

Laura as wife, yelling: You gotta do something about it.

Damien, yelling: Why me?

Laura, yelling: Cause I gotta go to work. Bye


Got more time to talk about Diamond Stone…


So, I dutifully call the insurance company and wind up with an operator in a phone center.

Damien: So how come you cancelled our policy?

Dennis, cheery: Well, sir, according to our records, you have no heater. And if you have no heater, we can’t insure you.

Damien: Well, that makes no sense. No heater?

Dennis, cheery: Yes, sir. That’s what our records show.

Damien: Dude, we live in Chicago. We have this thing called winter. Ever hear of it?

Dennis, chuckling: Well, ugh, I’m a woman. And, oh, sir–very funny.

Damien: Seriously, man, how can we have no heater if we live in Chicago?

Dennis: Once again–wo-man.  Sir, our photographer could not find it.

I flashback to that sullen millennial with the camera.

Damien: You mean that dimwit couldn’t find the heater?

Dennis: Or the thermostat.

Damien: But I’m looking at the thermostat right now.

Dennis: Okay, sir, here’s what you do. Take a picture of the thermostat and the heater, email it to us, and we’ll let you know if we extend your policy.

Damien: How about this. Take that fricking policy and stick it up your fricking behind.

Well, I didn’t say that. But I wanted to. Fast forward a few days. I’m upstairs on the internet reading about the Bulls. When…

Laura, yelling: Benny, I took care of that insurance thing.

Damien, yelling: Huh? What?

Laura: The insurance. I’ve been on the phone for a freaking hour. I got a new agency. So—you’re welcome.

Damien, yelling: Oh, yeah—I totally forgot about that. thanks.

Ah, yes, more time to concentrate on the Bulls.

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Benny Jay: Packed Out

October 1st, 2017

This bit’s from the September 28th show. If you want to hear it, click here


With my beloved Bears playing the dreaded Packers tonight, I thought I’d tell you about the time I went to meeting about education and who do I see sitting at the front of the room with the other dignitaries? A Packers fan.

Dennis as Cheesehead: Hi, I’m a Cheesehead.

As he sat there, some school official was going on and on about reading test scores.

Laura as official in bureaucratic drone: The third quadrant is higher than the fourth because the fourth is actually the fifth.

I won’t tell you Packer fans name cause, as you know, Bears fans hate the Packers. But he lives in Chicago and he’s some kind of bigshot, hence he’s on stage. And his first name is Kevin, and his last name sounds like an animal that goes baah. So when you put first and last together, you get…

Dennis in radio voice: His name is Kevin Lamm.

Oh, wait, I wasn’t going to tell you his name. I think Kevin loves the Packers cause he was dropped on his head too many times when he was a high-school wrestler. By the way, don’t get Kevin talking about his wrestling days.

Dennis as Cheeshead: Oh, I love wrestling. In the big match against the Bulldogs, I got this guy in a half nelson and I had my head into his arm pits. He couldn’t even talk.

Damien as other wrestler: Ugh. Hey. Ugh. (grunting).

Dennis as Cheesehead: Then I pinned him.

Damien: [grunting noises].

Dennis as Cheesehead: I love wrestling almost as much as I love the Packers.

Damien: [muffled grunting].

Back to the meeting. I ducked behind a man with a big head that was sitting in front of me and sent Kevin the following text.

Damien as me: Hey, Kevin, are you gonna tell everybody how much you love your little Packer wackers?

Oh, my god it was so funny. As soon as he got the text, Kevin looked left and right as if to say…

Dennis as Cheesehead: Oh, I know you’re here. Where are you? You lousy, Bears-loving motherfreaker…


Say no more…


And all the while, the lady was going on and on about test scores.

Laura as bureaucratic speaker: And so in the second percentile, there are 44 percent students at grade level but 39 percent at fifth grade level and only 19 percent at the third percentile…

And there was nothing Kevin could say cause it would interrupt the speaker.

Laura as bureaucratic speaker: And so we find that if you substitute the children scoring below standardized norms you [burps]. Oh, excuse me, I had pizza tonight.

As she blathered on, I sent Kevin another text.

Damien as me: Your little Packers suck.

Okay, it’s not so witty. But you gotta keep things simple when you’re dealing with cheeseheads. This was so much fun, I sent him a question.

Damien: Hey, Kevin, why did the Packers fan get excited about finishing a jigsaw puzzle in six months?

Then I texted him the answer.

Damien: Cause the box said it was for two to four years.

Eventually, the speaker called on Kevin.

Laura: And now let me introduce you to Cheesehead Kevin. I mean, Mr. Lamm. Oh, was I not supposed to reveal his name?

Dennis as Cheesehead: Hi, I’m a Cheesehead. And, boy, I love them Packers.

I was the guy in the back of the rooms ticking out his tongue and making funny faces. It may have been the highlight of the Bears season.

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