Benny Jay: Mr. Bryant

January 30th, 2020

This post originally ran in 2016, when Kobe Bryant retired…


After giving it much thought, I’ve decided to bestow upon Kobe Bryant the greatest honor I can give him–a spot in the Benny Jay non-Bulls Hall of Fame.

That’s different than the Benny Jay Bulls Hall of Fame–reserved for the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Norm Van Lier. Especially, Norm Van Lier. I love you, Norm!

The non-Bulls Hall of Fame consists of dreaded opponents about whom I said, when their careers were over…

Man, I wish you’d played for my Bulls!

In short–the highest of praise.

The founding members of this illustrious club are, of course, the holy trinity of ballers from my grammar school years: Bill Russell, Connie Hawkins and Wilt Chamberlain. Especially Wilt Chamberlain.


Lil’ Nate Archibald could play!

That was followed by Hall of Famers from my high school days: Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave Cowens, Paul Silas and Nate Archibald. Especially, Nate Archibald. I always loved the little guards.

And onto my college years: Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Lionel Hollins, Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Rick Barry, and Dr. J. Especially, Dr. J. I revere him so much that, to this day, I order Crown Royal–when drinking shots–cause that’s the brand the Doctor endorses.

And into the `80s, 90s and 00s with Mo Cheeks, Moses Malone, Rickey Pierce, Terry Cummings, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Charles Barkley, Larry Joe Bird, Magic Johnson, Reggie Miller, Shaq, Allen Iverson and Dennis Johnson. Especially, Dennis Johnson.

You know, some people say my game reminds them of Dennis Johnson’s.

Well, I may be the only one who says that, but still…

At this point, I realize some of you might be thinking–damn, man, you spend way too much time thinking about basketball.

To which I say…

You’re probably right. Now back to the list…


The great Craig Hodges!

Some guys are enshrined in both of my halls of fame, having played for and against the Bulls. I’m talking about Chet Walker, Clifford Ray, Artis Gilmore, Charles Oakley, Nate Robinson, Doug Collins (he coached the Bulls), Ben Gordon, Jannero Pargo and Craig Hodges.

Especially, Craig Hodges. I love three-point shooters!

As for Kobe, I used to hate on him with unabashed abandon. In large part because he had the audacity to act as though he were as good, if not better, than Jordan.

In truth, he deserved to act that way. Cause, in truth, he comes as close to being as good as Jordan as any player I’ve seen.

So now that Kobe passed Jordan on the all-time list of scorers, I might as well officially enshrine him into my Hall of Fame.

Congratulations, Kobe–if this was your Bar Mitzvah, I’d give you a fountain pen.

But it’s not. So what I’ll do is this…

I’ll raise glass of Crown Royal–what else–in your honor.


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Randolph Street: Line Play

January 24th, 2020

1DSCF5499aCrosswalks–Hyde Park






All photos © Jon Randolph

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Letter From Milo: Annie & Willie

January 23rd, 2020

It was late Sunday morning and I was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and trying to write a blog piece that was due the next day. It was going to be the greatest blog piece ever written, one that would change the fate of the world.

You see, the evening before, while deep into a bottle of Jack Daniels, I had one of those revelatory visions that very few people have the great fortune to experience. In a moment of absolute clarity, I had discovered the secrets to solving world hunger, the economic crisis and the Arab/Israeli conflict.

Unfortunately, I had neglected to take notes.

That Sunday morning, as I was hunched over a yellow pad, desperately trying to reconstruct my brilliant ideas from memory, the lovely Mrs. Milo walked into the kitchen and said, “Milo, honey, are you going to mow the lawn today?”

“Hadn’t planned on it.”

“The lawn’s starting to look pretty bad..”


“The neighbors might start complaining about it soon.”

“Fuck the neighbors.”

“Oh, quit being such a grouch.”

“I’m not a grouch.”

“Yes, you are. You’re always grouchy when you have a hangover.”

“What makes you think I have a hangover?”

“You always have a hangover.”

I decided not to argue with the missus. As I mentioned before, she’s got a mean streak. It’s not a good idea to argue with her in the kitchen, where there’s cutlery in easy reach.

As I was mowing the lawn, I wondered if all writers had to put up with this sort of shit. Did Anne Hathaway interrupt William Shakespeare while he was writing Macbeth and tell him to go out in the pasture and shear a couple of sheep? Did Mrs. Hemingway interrupt Ernie while he was writing The Sun Also Rises and ask him to run down to the corner and pick up a baguette? Did Mrs. Stiglitz interrupt her Nobel Prize winning husband, Joe (arguably Gary, Indiana’s third or fourth greatest writer), and ask him to wash the car? I doubt it!

When I went back into the house, I told my wife exactly what I had been thinking. She stared at me in disbelief for a few moments then burst into laughter.

“If you’re comparing yourself to Shakespeare, Hemingway and Joseph Stiglitz, then you really have lost your mind. I doubt if there’s 10 people that read The Third City blog. The only money you’ve ever made from it is when you cheated your old friend, Tony Patellis, out of 20 dollars with that ridiculous fund raising scam.”

“Wait a damn minute! Big Mike and Benny Jay have personally assured me that we have a lot more than 10 readers. We’re huge in the New Hebrides.”

“Benny Jay and Big Mike are even bigger idiots that you are.”

“Damn it, Sharon. I don’t want to argue with you. I’ve got to finish this blog. It could be the finest blog piece ever written. It’s about world hunger, the economy and…”

“Okay, go finish your blog. But can you fix the screen door first? It’s sticking again.”

“Didn’t you hear what I just said?”

“It’ll only take a few minutes. Just do it.”

It took a lot longer than a few minutes to fix that fucking screen door. The cost in blood and sweat was dear, too. I gashed my hand with a screwdriver and nearly lost an eye when a drill bit snapped and bounced off of my forehead.

Somehow I survived and made it back to the kitchen table where my writing tablet and pens were waiting. Sadly, the thread of the idea for my great blog piece had unraveled. I could not recall the great breakthrough I had made in the wee hours of the previous evening. The world would have to limp along without my help, wallowing in the mire of hunger, economic instability and never-ending armed conflict.

And it was all my wife’s fault.

Still, I couldn’t give up on the blog bit. The writers of The Third City blog are blooded veterans of the QWERTY wars. Big Mike, the Barn Boss of this scabby, hygienically-challenged outfit is meaner than a wolverine. Benny Jay is tougher than a pack of pit bulls. And I’m meaner and tougher than both of them.

Besides, the world is counting on us. People all over this planet are relying on The Third City to provide the leadership, common sense, and compassion that they can’t get from their elected leaders. In essence, the world knows that The Third City may be its last and best hope. We are the caped crusaders of the blogosphere.

The ideas of the previous evening began coming back to me in dribs and drabs. I was beginning to reconnect the dots that would restore harmony to this sorely abused planet. Maybe I could salvage the situation. Maybe all was not lost. I had just starting jotting down some notes when my wife walked through the kitchen toward the back door, on her way to teach a Pilates class. Just before she closed the door behind her, she said, “If you get a minute, will you start the laundry?”


That, my friends, was the last straw. I was a broken man, defeated, with nothing to look forward to but pain, despair and a lingering death. When my wife came home, later that evening, she took a knowing look at me, shook her head, and said, “Will you do me a favor, honey?”

“What the fuck do you want now?”

“Will you be a dear and open a bottle of Pinot Noir?”

“Now, you’re talking, babe! Maybe I’ll open two.”

Maybe there is hope after all.

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Randolph Street: OutTakes–61

January 17th, 2020

ShoeshineStandS1Shoeshine–New Orleans






3Skipping StoneSSkipping Stones-Minnesota



All photos © Jon Randolph





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Letter From Milo: Bank Robber

January 15th, 2020

I wasn’t always a famous, wealthy and beloved figure in the blogging world.

I know it’s hard to believe, but before I was overwhelmed by fame, fortune and the paparazzi, I was just a regular guy. By regular guy I mean I was an average Joe, shuffling along in obscurity, content to make a living, raise a family, get drunk once in a while and get laid on occasion.

Then, the feces got into the central air. Like regular guys everywhere I got hit hard by the Great George Bush Economic Meltdown. The small business I had owned and mismanaged for many years, the Dumbass Advertising Corporation, Ltd, LLC & Sons, nearly went under. The cash stopped coming in. The lovely Mrs. Milo had to shoulder the main burden of keeping us afloat. I had to do something, anything, to crank up the cash flow.

So, I got a night job.

It wasn’t a great job. I had never done anything like it before. I won’t even mention what it was except to say it wasn’t anything I’d care to post on my resume.

The best thing about it was the hours, six hours a night, four days a week. It allowed me to keep my normal activities going during the day and it provided much needed cash. It was what I needed at the time.

The business wasn’t exactly a fly-by-night enterprise, but it was real close. The workforce was a mixed bag of characters. There were middle managers who had been downsized, college kids working their way through school, retirees who couldn’t make it on their pensions, whores who were too old to make a decent living, a number of young men with crude jailhouse tattoos, musicians who had wasted their youths trying to get record deals, a few people who were obviously junkies, and of course, an aging, burned out advertising man.

It seemed that anyone who wanted that job could have it. The only requirements were the ability to read and write and minimal computer skills. None of the employees stayed long. Turnover was ferocious. After a month there were only two of us left out of a group of 12 that started with me.

The other guy was a man named Teddy, who, as a young man, had made a living as a bank robber in Mississippi.

Of course, he didn’t blurt out this information at our first meeting. We had to become friends first. And that wasn’t easy. I wasn’t looking for friends and I doubt if Teddy was, either. All we were looking for was a paycheck, preferably one that didn’t bounce.

But as new faces kept showing up week after week, and the people we knew drifted away, Teddy and I began spending more time with each other. We’d eat lunch and take smoke breaks together, and after work we’d walk to the El train together. Teddy generally carried a half pint in his jacket and had a drink or two on the walk to the train. He was a gentleman and always offered me a drink. And I always accepted.

It was while walking to the El one evening that Teddy said, “Man, you don’t know how good it feels to be walking down this street.”

“It’s a beautiful night.”

“It’s more than that, Milo. You see, I spent 22 years in prison, in Mississippi. Got out eight months ago. Just getting on this El train and going anywhere I want is sweet.”

“Damn, man. 22 years?”

“Yeah, robbed four banks. I should have stopped at three.”

When I got home that evening, I opened a bottle of wine, poured a hefty drink and thought about Teddy. I would have thought someone who had served so much prison time would be bitter and angry. But Teddy was just the opposite. He was one of the sweetest natured men I’d ever met, always smiling, always genial. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He even had a playful side, which he allowed me to see.

He had begun greeting me at work by giving me an ugly look and saying, “Motherfucker, where’s my money?”

And I’d reply by saying, “Spent it, motherfucker.”

Teddy always laughed at my reply and said, “Shit, man, I would have done the same thing.”

One evening as we walked to the El train, I asked Teddy, “It must have been tough being a black man in a Mississippi prison?”

“It wasn’t easy. The funny thing is that my own people made it tough on me. You see, most of the trustees and guards at the prison are black men. But they have to answer to white men. So they can’t look like they’re taking it easier on their own people than on whites. Motherfuckers can make your life miserable, sometimes.”

“How’d you get this job, anyway? The application form asked about felony convictions.”

“”They just asked if you had been convicted of a felony in the last seven years. Shit, man, I been in prison a lot longer than seven years.”

Another time, Teddy said, “Stolen money don’t last long. This short money we making here last longer than bank money. My biggest hit was $30,000 and it was gone in a month. Course I had to split it with a partner. If you a criminal you got a lot of expenses. Plus, you get crazy with the money. When you work for your money, you watch it closer.”

About a month later, Teddy came in late to work, which was unusual. He never missed work and he was always punctual. He was also disheveled and smelled of alcohol, another unusual occurrence. He never drank at work.

“Are you okay, man?” I asked.

“My woman put me out. I had to move all my shit into my brother’s place.”

“Damn, man, that’s rough.”

“Bitch went crazy. Accused me of all kind of shit. I swear, Milo, I ain’t even looked at another woman since I been out of jail.”

About an hour later, Teddy abruptly stood up at his cubicle, raised his face toward the ceiling and hollered something I couldn’t quite make out. Then he rushed toward the exit door.

That was the last time I saw him.

Word on the street was that Teddy had broken parole, either a domestic dispute, something to do with a car or a concealed weapons charge. I was pretty sure he didn’t go back to robbing banks because I didn’t read anything in the papers about any local banks being robbed. He might be in prison in Illinois or maybe they sent him back to Mississippi. Who the hell knows?

One thing I do know is that I miss him. He was good company and always cheered me up when I saw him.

Sometime in my life I’d like to see Teddy again. If I do, I’ll throw my arms around him, give him a big hug and say, “Motherfucker, where’s my money?”

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