Jim Siergey: Super Session

February 17th, 2017

There’s a small group of us, a quintet of guys who have known one another for most of each others’ lives, which has been a considerable amount of time, that meet up for an occasional lunch.

O, the discussions we have over our repasts! The fabled Algonquin Round Table would be not only impressed but envious as well. Our discussions are filled with thoughtful musings, philosophical bantering, and anecdotal administerings.

The topics we cover are many and varied; music, science, politics, the arts, you name it. We balance ourselves on lofty perches as we consume what are generally unbalanced lunches.

One such ethereal subject that we delved into to some degree was “Supergirl”.

We all remembered the Supergirl comic books. There were Superboy comics too but Superboy became Superman. Who did Supergirl become? None of us recall any Superwoman (note to reading public: All women are super, aren’t they?) comic books. Where did she come from? We know where Super Boy/Man came from and how but…Super Girl?

Someone needed to get to the bottom of this and that someone was me. Where trivia is involved, I will always answer the call to duty.

That evening, just after sunset and before “Modern Family” came on, I retired to my own Fortress of Solitude, the computer room. There I donned my green eyeshade and Google Gloves™ and began delving.

Supergirl was born of newsprint, then swept away to celluloid and now dabbled in digital as well because I know there is and have been “Super Girl” TV shows and movies but I’ve never seen any of them so if there was an origin explanation anywhere in any of those productions, I am unaware of it…or them.

supergirl1Don’t mess with Supergirl…

 

Besides, I was interested in the comic book explanation and origin story of Supergirl so into the depths of Googledom I dove.

From what I could ascertain from the various sources I found, Supergirl was introduced in Action Comics #252 in 1959. In this story Superman stumbles upon a crashed spaceship and discovers teenage Kara Zor-El, who introduces herself as his cousin!

Unlike the premise of The Patty Duke Show, which wouldn’t appear for a few more years, they were not identical cousins…outside of their super powers and regalia of red and blue.

Kara adopts Linda Lee (the Superman world loved those double L’s) as her alter-ego moniker and instead of wearing glasses to conceal her identity, she hides her blonde hair under a dark-haired wig. The cartoonists, obviously influenced by the attire of the women in the All-American Girls’ Baseball League, chose to clothe Supergirl in a blue miniskirt rather than tights or shorts.

(Yes, I can type with my tongue lodged in my cheek.)

Okay, so that was the lame origin story of Supergirl, as we all should have expected. But this question still lingers… does Supergirl remain a girl forever? Does she ever reach womanhood?

For that matter, what about Superman? He aged and grew from Superboy into Superman. Why doesn’t he age any further?

We Boomers could use a Super Senior Citizen Man, fighting such blackguards as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to save Social Security and Medicare for us Golden Agers and following generations.

But, If Superman did age, would he suffer from Super Arthritis? How would cataracts affect his Super Vision? How would his knees hold up from all that leaping over buildings in a single bound?

I guess that’s a discussion for another lunch.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was It’s Alright, Ma

 

 

 

 

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Jim Siergey: It’s Alright, Ma

February 9th, 2017

By some fluke, this memory was triggered and out it rolled—the time I saw Bob Dylan in concert.

I saw him only the one time. It was in January of 1974, his “Comeback Tour”, and first since 1966 after being in self-imposed exile following a motorcycle accident.

I became interested and eventually enamored with Dylan when I was in high school. My friend Carl introduced me to him by playing an album called “Another Side of Bob Dylan”. One cut in particular caught my attention.

The album contained a lot of attention-getting songs, the whimsical “All I Really Want to Do”, the chilling “Chimes of Freedom”, the soon to be classics, “My Back Pages”and “It Ain’t Me, Babe”. Also contained on this LP was “To Ramona”, which to this day remains one of my favorite love songs. But the one that snagged me was a little ditty entitled “I Shall Be Free No. 10”.

It’s a talking-blues type of song that began humbly, which I liked, with these opening lines:

I’m just average, common too
I’m just like him, the same as you
I’m everybody’s brother and son
I ain’t different from anyone
It ain’t no use a-talking to me
It’s just the same as talking to you

Then it swung right into light-hearted satire as he talked about fighting and knocking out Cassius Clay (this was pre-Ali 1964), not letting Barry Goldwater marry his daughter, and several other funny stanzas.

bob-dylan

Bobby D…

 

There are probably two reasons why I was attracted by this cut.

1.The only album I owned was “My Son, the Nut” by Allan Sherman so I was a fan of comedic song-writing.
2. I was a big fan of Cassius Clay. The fact that this skinny kid with a guitar had the audacity to call this talented boxer out saying that he would “knock him clean right out of his spleen” was hilarious as well as a bit daring.

That ditty made me a fan and I sought out his other recordings and got swept up , firstly, in his powerful songs about civil rights and hypocrisy and then in his lyrical, mystical prowess as his words went spinnin’ and swingin’ madly across my turntable. I listened to them for hours on end.

When I got wind of him planning to play at the Chicago Stadium, I went and spent the big bucks to get a ticket. My friend, Tim, kicks himself to this day for not wanting to spend the outrageous price of $9 for admission. I went with my friends Chris and Karen, who brought opera glasses along, which came in handy at times as our seats were fairly far from the stage inside the massive confines of Chicago Stadium.

Playing with Dylan was his old backup band, The Band. I had seen The Band in concert a few years earlier and they were the tightest group I had ever seen. They sounded exactly like the songs on their albums…to the note! However, playing with Dylan, they were one of the loosest bands I had ever seen. It was almost as if they didn’t know which song would be played next and knowing about Bobby D., they probably didn’t.

I wish I could remember more about that night, including all the songs that were played, but I cannot. I only have snippets of memory but they’re good ones.

At one point he performed “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”. This song from the ‘60s about racism and the power of the white man took on new meaning there in the days of Richard Nixon and his claim to be above the law because he was president.

There were many songs of his that were unrecognizable at first because he changed the tempo and approach, i.e. a countrified version of “It Ain’t Me, Babe”. He kept surprising his audience, something he continues to do.

The moment that stands out very clearly was, to me, a dramatic one. He walked over to his piano, donned a pair of his 1960s trademark black sunglasses and dove right into “Ballad of a Thin Man” and for six minutes or so it became 1965 again.

Sing the refrain with me, won’t you? “Something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?”

Yeah, that’s the stuff.

Well, I’m ready for to fade and it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin’ so…

(Cue harmonica solo and fade out)

 

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Jim Siergey: What Is Real?

February 3rd, 2017

There is no reality except the one contained within us.”–Herman Hesse

At some point in my adulthood I discovered that many of my childhood memories were false.

Those memories were very real to me, vibrantly etched into my subconscious, but it turned out they were not bona fide. They were all figments of an overactive imagination.

One I can remember as distinctly as if it happened just the other day. I was standing in our next door neighbor’s gangway and looking up into the sky where I saw an airplane flying eastward. Off to the side I saw another plane flying westward. I held my breath as I watched them get closer and closer to one another until they collided in a big ball of flames!

I quickly ran home to breathlessly tell my mother what I had just beheld. She was busy doing something that mothers did back then, cleaning or cooking or mending, and my eye-witness news did not seem to affect her in the least.

In her defense, I was probably about six years old then and she had had several years of my stories, most of which were not based in reality, so I imagine she responded with the usual “That’s nice, dear.” and continued peeling carrots.

But, to this day, that incident I thought I observed seems real.

Another false memory was of our car falling off of a bridge and into a river where we all escaped with our lives. My parents were in the front seat of our maroon 1953 Plymouth (that much is true) with my father driving. My sister and I were in the back seat. Suddenly, part of the bridge collapsed and we were plunged into the water. I can remember us all clinging to parts of the dismembered car, bumpers and doors, as we kicked mightily with our feet through the churning cold water in order to reach land. It was quite a visceral memory.

BeatlesStrawberry-Fields“Nothing is real”–as John once said…

 

Deep down I know that this never happened but the memory of it, like the planes colliding, seems as real as the hairs that are standing up on my arm as I relive this non-existent experience.

I have a tiny scar under my lower lip that I collected when I was a toddler. My recollection is based on what my mother told me, or my fevered imagining of what my mother told me.

I was having convulsions and I bit into the skin below my lower lip. As I was bleeding and convulsing, my mother placed me in the bathtub and went to call the doctor. I pictured myself in my pajamas, sitting catatonically in a few inches of water in the bathtub as blood dribbled down my chin.

Many years later, I happened to mention this episode to my mother and she cast me a peculiar look.

“That never happened.” she said, “You cut yourself on the Venetian Blinds.”

Was reality so difficult for me to accept as a child that I had to create some of my own?

In our back yard, there was a line of bricks separating the lawn from a flower bed that ran alongside a fence. On one of the bricks, the name ‘Anderson’ was imprinted. I decided that in the ground below that brick was where my real parents were buried. This made a lot of sense to me because I couldn’t believe that my real parents would treat me the way that these people claiming to be my parents did.

I concluded that my real name was Pete Anderson and I actually believed that for a while.

My brother and sister tell me of things that I, the oldest child, did to them while we were growing up but I have no memory of any of those awful things they contend I did. I guess we all have our own truths and have to choose to live with them or not.

As for me, I have wrestled with reality my entire life and have yet to pin it down (thankfully) but I never thought it would be a selling point in becoming president of the United States.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was La La at the Davis

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Jim Siergey: La La At The Davis

January 29th, 2017

“Beneath the phony tinsel of Hollywood you’ll find the real tinsel.”—Oscar Levant (or maybe Henry Morgan)

Late Tuesday afternoon the wife and I went to the movies. “La La Land” was playing at the newly renovated and re-opened Davis Theatre so, since we hadn’t been to the new joint yet and it was close enough to walk to, we did.

They did a nice job. The place is roomier with new rugs and a fresh coat of paint. There is no longer a ticket kiosk right when you walk in, though. You have to purchase your tickets along with your snacks at the concession stand.

Brilliant art of the deal thinking, man.

As usual, we forewent the purchasing of snacks as we are able to tolerate sitting for two hours without consuming foodstuff. We were, however, faced again with the choosing of our seats before receiving tickets.

I guess that’s the new thing with movie theatres. I don’t know how it’s an improvement over the old way of finding a seat in a movie theatre–looking for one you like. If a tall person sits in front of you or noisy talkers behind you, you could always move and find different seats. I asked the ticket-dispersing kid behind the counter if we would be punished if we sat in seats other the ones assigned us.

“Well, yeah, if you’re sitting in someone else’s seat.” he replied.

I didn’t press him on what that punishment might be—fisticuffs in the foyer, Jujubes at ten paces? Is a lawyer kept on the premises?

davistheater

It’s back!

 

It was a 3:30 show on a Tuesday afternoon. I avered that there wouldn’t be more than ten people in the audience. And there weren’t.

The new seats are nice. They’re the high-backed springy kind. At least they weren’t La-Z-Boys with attached tray tables like at Webster Place. There was quite a bit of room between the rows, enough that I could cross my legs, man-style, without having to resort to contortionism.

However, I did find myself reminiscing about the old style theatre rows with barely enough room between them to squeeze through. With the rows being that close, you could slump down and rest your knees against the wooden-backed seat in front of you and watch the picture in slouched comfort. If the place was sparsely filled, you could also stretch your long limbs out and rest your feet on the arm rests of the seats in front of you.

Ah, those were the days.

Before I leave those olden days, allow me to muse about when a movie theatre had only one screen, where the only sounds you’d hear would be from what was up on said screen. The Davis has three screens.

Throughout the quiet moments of “La La Land”, and there were quite a few, one could hear the loud rumblings and slightly muffled roaring that came from the movie playing next door. The rumblings came in a very deep bass vibration, like you hear in some cars out on the street. I think a film called “Rogue”, some sort of Star Wars-type piece of cinema was playing.

They either need to choose better movies to play next to one another or invest in better sound-proofing in the walls. Or doth I nit pick too much?

Okay, “La La Land”. It stars Emma something or other, one of those actresses whose eyes almost seem too big for her head a la Christina Ricci and Susan Sarandon. The male co-star and love interest was Ryan Baby Goose, I mean Gosling.

After the first ten or fifteen minutes, I found myself thinking “Okay, this is nicely done. Good choreography, nice camera work but there’s nothing grabbing me here. It’s like an attempt at remaking a Busby Berkeley musical but without even the thinnest of stories that those old musicals concocted.

Then, the third “meet cute” between Big Eyes and Baby Goose on the hill overlooking Hollywood where they do their tap dance number took place. It grabbed me right there and didn’t let go.

The story began and so did involvement with the characters. I was swept away and my one word review of the flick is that it is “Fab!”

I saw the list of Oscar nominees in the paper the next day and the only other Best Picture nominee that I had seen was “Hell or High Water”, which is very good but my bold and uninformed prediction is that “La La Land” will win, hands down. It’ll win a lot.

How could it not? It is pure Hollywood…with plenty of pretty tinsel.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was The March

 

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Chris Lamberti: Trump Is Too Dumb To Be A Baseball Fan

January 25th, 2017

When we get together, Benny Jay mostly shakes me down for blog posts.

But occasionally, we talk about other things.

For example, Benny has a theory that Barack Obama isn’t really a White Sox fan. Benny thinks it’s part of Obama’s “South Side guy” persona he developed after arriving in Chicago, which was sold, in part, by way of a fake allegiance to the South Side baseball team.

Having spent many years dealing with sleazy advertisers, Benny Jay has developed a pretty cynical view of people.

But he might be on to something.

If Obama is really a White Sox fan, why did they suck so bad while he was in office? They never even made the playoffs. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf continued to not spend on players, even though he gets his stadium for free and keeps just about all of the money he makes with it.

Are we supposed to believe that the most powerful politician on the planet couldn’t have slipped some White Sox pork into some bloated military spending bill? You know, for a decent third baseman or a right fielder?

Obama would have done it if he was really a fan. I know I would have.

Maybe, he did. Maybe, he earmarked a little cash in the federal budget for the Sox to sign Adam Dunn for $56 million back in 2011. That was a very un-Reinsdorf-like move.

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 12: Pregame activities at U.S. Cellular Field on October 12, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois prior to Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem and the Chicago White Sox.

The good old days…

 

If so, it’d rank as one of Obama’s worst decisions in office. Worse than letting the bankers off the hook after they tanked the economy.

Even a depraved bank executive would’ve hit better than .159 in his first season with the Sox, like Dunn did.

But the White Sox opportunity for government cheese is now lost. Donald Trump is said to be a Yankees fan.

This makes sense because the Yankees are rich and pompous.

Trump is definitely a fake fan, though. There’s no mystery with this president. Trump is too dumb to understand baseball.

He doesn’t know much about football either. In the ‘80s, Trump ran the United States Football League into the ground. There’s a 30 for 30 movie about it called “Who Killed the USFL?”

I’ll save you the suspense. It was Trump.

Fake wrestling is more Trump’s speed, and he loves him some Wrestlemania.

But baseball? Nah. Baseball has lots of little rules, the point of it is not obvious, and it’s understood by using advanced statistics.

Even if Trump weren’t a dimwitted buffoon, he’d have no interest, because baseball isn’t popular in the Russian Motherland. One of Trump’s first acts in office will be to make Siberian dog sled racing our new national pastime.

As a result, over the next four years, Benny Jay and I will no longer be having discussions about presidential baseball loyalties.

Unfortunately, that just leaves shaking me down for blog posts.

 

Editor’s Note: Chris’s last post for The Third City was Sox Blogger on the Run

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Ishmael: Name That President

January 22nd, 2017

Name that President

President’s have nicknames. It’s a great American tradition. Tricky Dick. Dutch. Slick Willy. Dubya. No Drama Obama.

Face it, it’s gonna be a long dreary slog through the next four years. A good nickname for Big Man Trump (has anyone else noticed how much more of him there is now than when he started his campaign?) can help lighten the load.

The irony here is that our new president is the master of the nickname. Crooked Hillary. Lyin’ Ted. Little Marco. And he did it so well because his whole business enterprise is based on naming, on branding things. Trump University. Trump steaks. Trump ties. Trump codpieces.

I’m sure that a man who so well understands the power of labels would appreciate our efforts, endorse our decision.

So to paraphrase Michelle Obama, when they go low, we go lower. It is time to nickname the President.

I propose a Third City contest. First prize, a free online subscription to this publication. Second prize, two subscriptions. Hell, I’ll even donate all of my Third City royalties to the winners.

Peter Sargent, of Gardener, Esther Moerth, Kathleen Leonard, Patti Scutari, Mary Thomas, Donna Horn and Linn McConarty, all of Wendell, knit pink "Pussy Hats" at Deja Brew in Wendell, as part of an effort to make hats for attendees of Women's Marches in Boston, Washington and New York City, Wednesday, January 18, 2017. The knitting group has made 46 hats so far.

It will give you something to talk about as you knit your pussy hats…

 

To get your creative juices flowing and get you started, here are some sample nicknames for our new president:

Comrade Trump.

Little Hands.

Grab ‘em by the Trump.

Creepy Donald.

Fat Donald.

Putin’s Poodle

Trump the Hump.

Billion Dollar Cry Baby.

See. It’s fun!

We could even help the new president nickname his cabinet. We already have the excellent “Mad Dog” for Secretary of Defense. How about “Betsy Botox” for our new Secretary of Education? “Robo Scab” for the Secretary of Labor? “Dim Bulb” for the Secretary of Energy? “Cayman” for the Secretary of the Treasury?

That’s fun too!

We can even name that segment of the population that got him elected, put him over the top: The Trumpen Proletariat!

But lets stay focused. We start with the President. Just add your suggestions to the comments section at the bottom of this column. Submit as many as you like.

Benny Jay and Milo will sort through the thousands of entries and narrow it down to the best dozen or so. Then we’ll convene a town hall meeting at McCormick Center to discuss them and vote. The winner will be announced right here at the Third City.

Do it for the Third City! Do it for America! Do it to stay sane.

 

Editor’s Note: Ishamel’s last post for the Third City was Blame Trump on the Cubs

 

 

 

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Jim Siergey: The March

January 22nd, 2017

The day the woman-molesting, disabled-mocking, tax-evading, press-hating, perpetually prevaricating possible puppet of Putin was sworn in as Prez of the U.S., it was, fittingly, damp, dark, drizzly and dank.

Conversely as well as fittingly, it was a bright sunny day almost everywhere that millions of women throughout the United States and around the world marched and rallied for recognition of their rights and disapproval of the new president’s words and actions.

In Chicago, for example, it was blue skies, sunshine and nearly 60 degrees…in January! Was it merely meteorological coincidence or divine providence? You make the call.

The morning of the march, five women who have been nearly lifetime friends, gathered at our house to assemble and embark downtown. I, of course, who was Alan Alda before Alan Alda became Alan Alda (an archaic reference perhaps but an apt one just the same as I have long been a supporter of equality) was joining in, as I hoped many other members of the male species would as well.

After we climbed the stairs to the Irving Park stop on the Brown Line, we discovered that the platform was filled with people, mostly but not entirely, of the female persuasion. Each of the train cars was packed, sardine-like during the entire trip to the Loop.

As we walked up Adams to the Art Institute we were met with a glistening throng of humanity. It was quite a sight to see. Our little septet of participants became separated as we mingled and snaked our way through the throng but there was an overwhelming zeitgeist of harmony engulfing and welcoming all of us.

Reportedly, 250,000 people showed up at this Women’s March. The actual march was called off because of the size. There just wasn’t any room to march so it became a rally, a gathering of like-minded souls intent on protecting the rights of women as well as concerned with the rights of all not being trampled in this fevered rush to inexplicably make America great again.

Despite the determination and distrust felt by this crowd toward the new regime, it was a very, very (to use two of The Donald’s favorite adjectives) peaceful gathering. No pushing, shoving or verbal conflicts took place. The police stood by in relaxed, almost casual poses. I saw one officer hand back a phone to someone who had asked him to snap a photo of her.

The crowd, predominately female, was diverse in race and age. There were toddlers on shoulders and oldsters in wheelchairs. Occasional chanting was heard, homemade signs were displayed and a universal feeling of cheerfulness and sisterhood (and brotherhood) was felt.

Drones and copters filled the sky. Each time a copter flew overheard, a cheery roar would erupt from the crowd. I espied a trio of balloons, one red, one white and one blue, escape and float up into the cloudless blue of the sky. I don’t know why but it made me smile.

IMGA00031That about sums it all up…

 

There were a lot of signs. Here are a few of my favorites:

Our Minds, Our Bodies, Our Power

Democracy is FUN!

Stay Healthy, Justice Ginsburg

Viva La Vulva!

Ho’s Before Bro’s/Uteruses Before Duderuses/Ovaries Before Brovaries

Girls just want to have FUN-damental Rights!

And a very small one, complete with attached small holding stick that read: “Tiny hands, Tiny mind, Tiny man, Tiny sign”.

In a couple of different areas that we had shuffled to, shuffling being the main form of ambulation, the pungent aroma of reefer could be smelled. The three of us that had stuck together had ambled down Michigan Avenue to Van Buren Street. We decided to double back to Jackson as it looked like something was happening there. A lot of the crowd had begun directing their feet in that direction.

As we eventually turned down Jackson Boulevard, which is a canyon between tall buildings, we were engulfed in shade. Despite it being the 21st of January, the cooling shade was a welcome relief from the hour or so spent in relentless sunshine. At times, a roar would erupt from the back and because of the enclosed area, would move over us like a vocal wave all the way to the front of the multitude.

It was buoyant and invigorating. I looked up and espied a boy in the window of one of the highrises holding a sign that read ‘We support our moms’. That, on top of the incredible turnout gave me a glimmer of hope. Perhaps these next years would not be a complete morass of backwardness or worse.

It’ll take vigilance and energy but maybe the future will be, like today, so bright that we’ll have to wear shades.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was The Dick

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