Benny Jay: Yobs

March 22nd, 2018

Years ago, I wandered into the office of a publicist named Eric, looking for info about property taxes.

At the time, Eric labored for the Cook County Assessor. So reporters turned to him when they had questions about property taxes. Which was pretty funny since Eric cared as much about property taxes as I cared about, oh, microbiology.

Hey, man, a gig’s a gig.

Anyway, I was going on and on–as I’m apt to do–about the connections between TIFs and the Homeowners Exemption, when Eric changed the subject. No doubt to keep from dozing off.

“Do you like Joe Strummer?” he asked.


“No, Strummer–from The Clash.”

“Never heard of him.”

“You never heard of Joe Strummer? He’s a fuckin’ genius!”

There and then Eric started quoting iconic lines by Joe Strummer, including this one…

“He who fucks nuns will later join the church.”

Now, that grabbed my attention. You don’t generally get the words “fuck” and “nuns” in the same lyric.

Soon Eric was singing the full verse.

‘N’ every gimmick hungry yob digging gold from rock ‘n’ roll
Grabs the mike to tell us he’ll die before he’s sold
But I believe in this and it’s been tested by research
He who fucks nuns will later join the church…


We’ve come a long way from Joe Strummer…


I’m not sure what impressed me the most: the lyric or Eric’s ability to quote it by heart.

“It’s from Death or Glory,” he said.


“From London Calling…”

More silence.

“You’ve heard of London Calling–right?”

I shrugged.

“Dude, you gotta be kidding me–you never heard of London Calling?”

“I kinda spent the `70s listening to pop music on a transistor radio I kept by my bed,” I confessed.

“What kind of `70s music do you like?” he asked.

“Any list must include the Bee Gees,” I said.

“You’re kidding, right?” he said.

Saturday Night Fever is one of the greatest pop records–ever!”

“Oh, shit, next you’ll be telling me you like the Carpenters.”

“How did you know?”

“I was making a joke.”

“No list of `70s songs is complete without Superstar.”

“Dude, you can’t admit this shit–it’s embarrassing.”

“Why? Karen Carpenter is a great singer.”

“Don’t tell me you like Barry Manilow.”

“Of course. `She sits there so refined, and drinks her self half-blind’. Great lyric!”

And so on…

We’ve been having one variation or another of that debate ever since. Probably be having it in our dotage at the Happy Trails Nursing Home. It sure beats talking about property taxes.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I recently saw Eric making a Facebook “playlist of seventies songs I’m embarrassed to say I like.”

Before it was over, Eric had confessed to liking Baby Come Back, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy and Fly, Robin, Fly.

And he’s bitching about Barry Manilow?

Welcome to the church, Eric. I had a feeling you were

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Benny Jay: Time Lost

March 20th, 2018

This bit’s from the November 7th show. If you want to hear it, click here


Sunday was daylight saving day and, as such, my wife faced a monumental decision when she turned back the kitchen clock.

Laura: Hey, Benny, should I set the clock so it’s a little ahead of time?

If it’s ahead, we won’t be late. Or, at least we’ll be rushing to get out of the house, thinking we’re going to be late, when, in fact, we’re on time.

Laura: What do you think, Benny—late or not late?

To which I say…

Damien as me: Freaking Jerian Grant—he never passes to the rookie.

True to form, I’m reading about the Bulls and not concentrating on what she’s saying.

Laura: Fine. I’ll do whatever I want, since you’re obviously not listening to what I say.

Fast forward to Monday, I’m late. Always late. Dashing out of the house to get to the studio. But first gotta take a shower. So into the shower I hop. Singing one of my favorite tunes.

Damien: Dead in the middle of little Italy…

Not sure how I got so good at hip hop. Must be from hanging out with Damien. Then out of the shower I hop. As I dash out of the bathroom, I see the clock on the kitchen wall.

Damien: Holy, Moses, man! It’s 1:45. I’m late!!!

Up the stairs I run, kicking over the dog.

Dennis as Nicky the dog: Oh, dude, watch it, manude. Can’t a dog sleep around here?

Damien: Sorry, Nicky.


Running late, like Dagwood…


Then I trip over a baby that’s in the living room.

Dennis as two year old: Goo, goo gah, gah.

Actually, there’s no baby in the room. I just wanted to irritate Dennis by making him play a baby again.

Dennis as baby: Goo goo, gah gah. Wait till my agent hears about this!

I throw on some jeans and a T-shirt and dash down the stairs two steps at a time flying past my wife.

Laura: Did you walk the dog?

Damien: No time! Gotta go. I’m late!

Laura: Yeah, well that dog’s gotta go.

Dennis as Nicky: Yeah, man. I gotta go

Damien: Okay, fine. C’mon, Nicky—hurry up!

Dennis as Nicky: This dude’s crazy.

As I look at my phone, I realize…wait, it’s only 1:40. My wife had set the kitchen clock ahead. If I leave right now, I won’t be late at all.

Damien: Oh, man, happy day.

Just then my cell phone ring.

Dennis as Milo: Hey, Benny.

It’s my old pal, Milo.

Dennis as Milo: How come Jerian Grant don’t pass to the rookie?

Obviously, great minds think alike.

Dennis: Have you ever noticed that Jerian spelled backward is Narije.

Clearly, Milo’s got a lot of time on his hands.

Dennis: Have you heard me imitating Bernie Sanders reading the Paradise Papers?

Oh, man—can’t resist this.

Dennis: Hey, waiter—twenty-seven dollars.

I spend five minutes listening to Milo do Sanders. And then I realize—ugh-oh, I’d used up all the time that my wife had put on the clock.

Damien: Gotta go—now I’m really late.

You know, some guys are late, even when they’re early.

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Benny Jay: Saul To The Rescue

March 15th, 2018

This bit’s from the Friday, the June 16 Ben Joravsky show. If you want to hear it in action, click right here…

We’re calling this Better-Call-Saul Friday, and here’s why…

So about a week ago I discover Better Call Saul, this TV show about a sleazy lawyer. And I love it. Can’t stop watching it. I know, I know, it’s been around forever–once again, I’m late to the party. But here’s the thing. I love it so much all I want to do is talk about it. But even though it’s super popular, I can’t find anyone who’s seen it. So I can’t find anyone to talk about it. Cause, who wants to talk about a show they haven’t seen? Nothing duller than that. Why, the other day I went to Dennis…

Me: Hey, Dennis—have you seen Better Call Saul?

Dennis: You mean that show with Bob Odenkirk?

Me: Yes—that one.

Dennis: I love Bob Odenkirk.

Me: Well, in Better Call Saul, he plays this sleazy…

Dennis: Have you seen Mr. Show?

Me: Mr. Who?

Dennis: Mr. Show. It’s a TV show from back in the day. Odenkirk was in it.

Me: No, but in Saul he plays Jimmy McGill and…

Dennis: By the way, have your heard Brian Regan?

Me: Who?



Dennis: Brian Regan. The comedian.

Me: No, but…

Dennis: Man, that dude’s so funny. He’s got this bit about going to an emergency room where he goes, `Have you ever had to call your own ambulance…’

All right—obviously, I’m not going to get any decent Better Call Saul conversation out of Dennis. So I try Patrick, the WCPT computer whiz. I catch him in the break room.

Me: Hey, Patrick you see better call Saul?

Patrick: Uh-uh.

Me: Great show. This sleazy lawyer gets caught up with the mob and…

Patrick: Hey, what’s a six-letter word for alternative to olives?

Me: Huh?

Patrick: I’m doing the crossword.

Me: Okay, but in Saul…

Patrick: Capers! That’s it!

Oh, brother. He’s not much help. Now I’m desperate. I gotta talk about this show. But if I didn’t know better, I’d say word’s got around. Uh-oh, look out for Ben! Cause, it’s like–guys are getting weird. Like Yoda, the station manager.

Me: Hey, Yoda…

Matt: Let me guess—Better call Saul.

Me: How did you know?

Matt: I’d love to talk to you about it but, I, ugh, uhm, gotta switch the laundry.

Me: Laundry?

Matt: Yeah, my clothes are in the washer and I gotta put them in the dryer.

Me: We have a laundry facility in the studio?

Matt: Gotta go—don’t want my shirts to get wrinkled.

Finally, I corner Mark, the guy, who sells ads.

Me: Mark—my man. I know you must have seen Better Call Saul.

Dennis as Mark: Oh, no, I’ve broken out in a rash!

Me: What?

Dennis as Mark: First it was my hands. Then my back. Now, it’s my knee, arms and thighs. Quick, get out before you catch it.

You know I’m starting to think these guys really don’t want to talk about Better call Saul.

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Benny Jay: Floor Fixer

March 8th, 2018

This bit’s from the September 17th show. If you want to hear it, click here


So my wife comes home last night to find me in the kitchen eating hummus on a sweet potato tortilla chip. Man, life’s good. And she says…

Laura as wife: Benny, why aren’t you at bowling?

Something you should know. For the last 20 or so years I’ve spent almost every Monday night bowling in a men’s league, which generally starts the first week after Labor Day. Meaning bowling should have started two weeks ago. But…

Damien as me: Ah, it’s the floor.

Laura: Bob’s still installing the new floor? That’s ridiculous!

Something else you should know. Bob owns the bowling alley.

Laura, as wife: How long does it take to fix a freaking floor?

And with that she’s on the phone with Deb, the wife of another bowler in the league.

Laura as my wife: Can you believe this poop, Deb?

Dennis as Deb: Ridiculous.

Laura, as wife: That’s what I said. And I was all set to watch Magic Mike II.

Dennis as Deb: Oooh, that Channing Tatum can park his shoes under my bed anytime he wants. Hold it.

Dennis as Deb, yelling: Hey, get your feet off the couch!

Damien as Cap, yelling from the background: Huh? What I do?

Dennis as Deb, yelling: And stop eating corn chips in the living room. Pig.

Dennis as Deb back on the phone: Sorry, Pam. But I can’t take another minute of having him home on a Monday night.

He sounds like Brando…


Immediately, I head to the bowling alley to break the word to Bob that he’d better fix the floor. I find Bob and his brother, Mark, on their knees in the middle of an alley. The place is in shambles. Dust everywhere. This doesn’t look good for starting the league soon.

Damien, as me: Bob, when you going to install this thing, man?

Dennis as Bob: Ah, this [beep] floor sander is all [beep] up.

Something else you should know about Bob—he swears a lot.

Dennis as Bob: If I had a nickel for every [beep] time this [beep] machine [beep] up.

Then Mark pipes in.

Damien as Marlon Brando: Ah, yeah, ugh–Stella!

Something you should know about Mark. He mumbles. Not sure why. But he sounds like Marlon Brando. When it comes to conversing with Mark, I always ask—what? In the hopes I’ll understand him on the second go around. So…

Damien as me: Ugh, man, what did you say?

Damien as Marlon Brando: Ugh, yeah, ugh—butter.

Oh, well–didn’t work. Just then Bob’s phone rings. It’s Patti, the wife of another bowler.

Laura as Patti: Hey, Bob. What’s going on with that freaking floor?

Dennis as Bob: Gimme one more week.

Laura as Patti: You said that last week. Hold it [starts yelling]: I’m on the phone—what do you want?

Damien as husband, talking from background: Hey, what happened to the pepperoni pizza in the fridge?

Laura as Patti: How the hell do I know? Do I have a pepperoni tracking system in my uterus!

Oh, brother—sounds like trouble in paradise.

Damien as husband in background: Was it you? Did you eat the pepperoni?

Laura as Patti: I didn’t touch that freaking pepperoni!

Damien, as husband in background: It was your no good brother, wasn’t it?

Laura, as Patti: Look, Bob. Fix that floor. When I got married I swore to have and to hold in sickness and in health—but not on Monday nights!

Look, Bob, for the sake of us all—fix that freaking floor!


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Randolph Street: The Aldermen

March 7th, 2018


Progressive Caucus–Chicago

These seven Chicago alderman held a Community Town Hall City Budget hearing Wednesday night. Mayor Emanuel eliminated formal public budget hearings two years ago. The aldermen(from right): Rick Munoz, John Arena, Roderick Sawyer, Bob Fioretti, Scott Waguespack, Toni Foulkes and Nicholas Sposato.



Public Testimony



United Electrical Workers Hall



Alderman Rick Munoz



Aldermen (L) Toni Foulkes, Scott Waguespack and Bob Fioretti



Public Hearing


All photos © Jon Randolph 2013

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Benny Jay: Freda

March 6th, 2018

For the last few days, I’ve been singing the great Beatles song, I Will.

It’s been on my mind cause it’s the song they play at the climactic moment of Good Ol’ Freda, a documentary by Ryan White, that I recently saw.

It tells the tale of Freda Kelly, the teenager from Liverpool, who, at the age of 16, got the greatest job in the world–secretary to The Beatles.

Watching that movie brought back many memories.

Like, for instance–I used to a Beatle.

Yes, this is true. You know, in a round about way.

Back in the `60s, my older sister and her friends organized a pretend-Beatles group.

No one played any instruments. They’d put on a Beatles record and sing along–like they were the real Paul, George, John and Ringo.

I got to play along because there were only three of them and they needed a fourth to fill out the band.

Apparently, the dog wouldn’t do.

johnlennon2Let’s face it–John was the coolest Beatle…


Of course, they made it clear to me that I was only in the band because that they had to take me. As such, I didn’t get a say in selecting which Beatle I was going to be.

I had to be whichever Beatle was left over after they made their selections.

I tell ya’–life ain’t easy for a boy named Benny.

The left over Beatle happened to be John. And so from that day on, John has been my favorite Beatle.

It’s funny how time has a way of changing our perspectives.

Eventually, my sister came to the realization that John was the smartest, funniest and most talented of the bunch.

And so she had to confront the fact that I–her baby brother–had made the wisest selection as to which Beatle he wanted to be.

Even though the selection really wasn’t mine to make.

By the way, she chose to be Ringo. A fact I tease her about to this very day.

And here’s the kicker…

My sister knows way more about the Beatles than I do. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that my sister knows more Beatles trivia than anyone alive.

With the possible exception of Freda Kelly, of course.

But when push came to shove, she was Ringo and I was John.

As much as we all love Ringo, it’s obvious to one and all that John Lennon is one of the few people in the history of rock n’ roll who actually gets better as the years move on.

Anyway, check out Good Ol’ Freda.

I’m sure it will bring back memories of your

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Benny Jay: Yahooooo

March 1st, 2018

As part of our effort to make more money from blogging, Milo and I have been studying the Yahoo business model.

Milo is, of course, my partner in The Third City blogging empire.

So far we’ve made exactly $20 thanks to one of Milo’s old friends from Gary, who sent him twenty bucks out of the blue one day a couple of years ago and told him to buy himself a drink.

Obviously, we can use all the help we can get.

In contrast, Yahoo is a publically traded company that’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

So clearly we can learn a thing or two from them about getting rich from catering to American tastes.

But so far we’re baffled by what we discover when we examine their site.

As near as we can tell, Yahoo tailors the stories that appear on their website to the tastes of the people visiting that website. Apparently, Yahoo’s computers can figure out what you want to read from what links you clicked on in the past.

That’s why the stories I get when I go to Yahoo’s website are different than the ones Milo gets even when we go to Yahoo at the same time.

What’s confusing is that neither Milo nor I have any interest in the stories that appear on Yahoo’s site.

Like this headline Milo found the other day: “Pakistani cricket legend Imran Kahn files for Divorce.”

Milo swears he’s never heard of Imran Kahn, much less clicked on any article about him or cricket.

At that same time, the lead article on my Yahoo page was “Justin Bieber storms off stage after one song; `I’m done!'”

I’ve never thought of myself as a fan of Justin Bieber. But maybe Yahoo knows something about me that I don’t know.

justin bieber pix

According to Yahoo, this is my guy…


Yahoo also features a list of people, places and thing that are trending on the Internet. But that trending list varies from computer to computer. Which set of the following conversation exchange…

Me: Why wouldn’t all trending lists be the same?

Milo: How the fuck would I know.

As you can see, you can learn a lot about the internet from Milo.

At the time of our conversation, this was my trending list…

1. Chrissy Teigen; 2. Scarlett Johansson; 3. Emilia Clarke; 4. Irina Shayk; 5. Emma Watson; 6. Jenna Bush Hager; 7. BMW cars; 8. Selena Gomez; 9. Rachael Farrokh; 10.) Chloe Sevigny.

I’ve never even heard of most of these people.

At the same time, this was Milo’s trending list…

1.) Rita Ora; 2. Ellie Goulding; 3. Cate Blanchett; 4. IPad Pro; 5.) Scott Kelly; 6. Dennis Cuspert; 7. BMW cars; 8 British Airways; 9. John Kerry; 10. Chicago Blackhawks.

That set off the following exchange…

Me: Why would Yahoo put the Blackhawks on your trending list.

Milo: How the fuck do I know–I hate hockey.

Obviously, we have a long way to go in this Internet game.

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