Monday, December 26, 2005

Jock Straps for Christmas and the Last Man on Earth who didn't know John Wayne was Dead

'Twas four days before Christmas when I finally attempted to do some gift shopping. Three stores and about $200 later the present score stood at Angie:6, Family:0. I had a bad case of shopper's block, at least when it came to other people, and decided the best route would be a stack of gift cards purchased when I got to my hometown for the holiday.

I had visited the local Target the night I got into town, but still felt like I might let some folks down. My inner-Santa was starting to come out. On Christmas Eve morning I went to the Salvation Army with my Aunt Sheila where I spotted a yellowed package containing a jock strap that was likely older than me.

Antique Roadshow? Maybe. Gift for my brother? Definitely. I threw it in my cart along with a Jane Fonda workout video circa 1983, a bar of soap, a pair of black angels, an onion blossom maker, a mini totem pole, a butterfly thermometer, and a Sesame street doll dressed like a mailman (which by the way still had the tag on.) I took my very special gifts back to my Aunt and Uncle's house and wrapped them happily while a couple of cousins eyed me with suspicion.

Except for my poor 7-year old nephew, who looked a little stunned and confused when he unwrapped a worn story book for someone half his age, my family got a much needed giggle while I passed out the real presents. I then declared I would spend the course of each year seeking out the oddest, and perhaps junkiest pieces of crap for their Christmas presents.

The rest of the holiday weekend was interesting. I'm used to living alone and staying at my mom's apartment where it's just the two of us. We were both at her favorite sisters' house where there's constant chatter, TV's blaring with Spanish programs in the background, and the Christmas tradition of my uncle Ruperto strumming a guitar with his countrymen and singing some incoherent Mexican songs about life on the ranchero.

It was all at once brutal and charming.

On Christmas morning while my aunt slaved away in the kitchen making tamales, my uncle came out of the bedroom wearing a bandanna around his neck. He walked in the kitchen and after spotting me making food (it was breakfast for my mom) he said, actually giddy, "Angela what are you making?"

Even though I've known this man since the age of five, I've never ceased to be frustrated at his old-world notions of what a woman should and shouldn't do. My reply?

"Look Pancho Villa, I know you get awfully excited seeing a woman in the kitchen. I'm out of here in five minutes and I'm not coming back."

"Pancho Villa? No, John Wayne."

"They're both dead, whatever."

"John Wayne's dead?" He was geniunely stunned.

"He died like 30 years ago. You really didn't know?"

He didn't. I had to be the one to break the news. On Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Come for the infection, stay for the kidney tumor

Everyone’s favorite T.V. addict, otherwise known as my mom, unwittingly became the star of her very own medical drama two weeks ago. A diabetic who hates doctors, she had an infection that ran uncontrolled and decided to creep into her blood. Apparently the organs of the human body hate when that happens and will begin to toy with the idea of whether or not they want to continue working.

The community hospital in my hometown kept her for 24 hours, then put her on a helicopter bound for a hospital in Peoria where they could handle more than brain freeze and owies. For four nights she was in the ICU where I, my siblings, and siblings-in-law sat and watched a parade of doctors and nurses poke and prod the woman until she was well enough to be transferred to a regular room.

Wanting to have this most dramatic episode of ER ever turn into Scrubs, I was relieved to finally get some comic relief when she was settled into her new bed. This very old, very crazy woman in the bed next to her took one look at my mom and exclaimed, "Wow, what does she have?" The nurse looked embarassed and told her to be quiet, but I laughed like it was the funniest thing I ever heard.

The next morning when I got to the hospital, 'ol crazy pants had literally been tented in on her bed. The alarm that was set to go off when the lady got out of bed apparently didn't keep her down. I asked my mom if she was able to get any sleep with the freak show next to her yelling, "Give me a knife, I'm cutting these IVs off and getting out of here," all night. She just rolled her eyes and went back to sleep.

Over the next few days my mom continued to get better. Her strength improved, and most importantly, the nurse and I conquered her terrible case of bedhead. I headed back to Chicago thinking she was going to be released last weekend.

Not so fast.

Her doctors (she says one looks like Dr. Green on ER and another looks like Benjamin Bratt, I disagreed) needed to find out why after the infection was conquered her white blood cell count didn't return to normal. Turns out there's something on her kidney that doesn't belong there, and it and the kidney will have to come out. And given her health stituation, the surgery is very risky but is unavoidable.

How's that for a Christmas present?

I'm one person who really didn't need another reason to hate this holiday. With a mother who's just 56, who has about 30 seasons of television ahead of her, I'm feeling a bit angry that this something we're facing.

I'm trying to be a big girl and keep that brave face on that I know she needs. And she doesn't need to know about a couple of friends I've been relying upon heavily lately. One's called Marlboro Light, the other is Sleeping Pill.

Postscript: People aren't kidding when they say everyone should have a healthcare power of attorney in order. Do not assume that if you're someone's child or spouse that you're o.k. Get it done. Also, there's nothing like frantically trying to piece together someone's medical history and medications while they're out of it and an ICU nurse is looking like you're the worst child in the world because you don't know what kind of insulin your mother takes. Don’t be crazy enough to assume that doctors and a hospital someone who had gone to for years, would like write it down somewhere.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Baby, it's mothereffin cold outside

Coldest December in Chicago? You don't say.

I was waiting for the bus this morning hoping my eyeballs wouldn't freeze solid when a dog sled pulled up instead of the 60. I had to get to work and Eskimos smell way better than the homeless and junkies so I hopped on.

I'm telling you, I don't care how cold it gets next month, I'm not going to eat whale blubber and I'm not sleeping with short, slanty-eyed, caribou fur-clad butterballs.

Coming soon: Why it took me nearly two weeks to post. Thanks to those of you who noticed. I appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mom, me, and too much T.V.

Friday night I took a little time off from my super-glamorous and always exciting life as a single urbanite to sit home, fight off the Avian Flu, and watch the long-awaited Knots Landing Reunion. The moment I got home, I called my mom to make sure she knew it was on.

A needless call. Of course she knew. This is my mom, afterall. If she had her way Aaron Spelling will be canonized the moment he goes to the big casting call in the sky.

Like many men who use sports as a way to relate to their fathers, my mom and I have decades of television watching to connect us. Knots Landing was a big favorite. And of course there was Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Fantasy Island, Love Boat, a slew of sitcoms, and every police drama to hit the small screen. In a time before VCRs and TiVo it's a wonder how we fit it all in.

My mom's addiction, long thought as a way to unwind or pass time, came to a head during the O.J. Simpson trial. It was during my requisite post-college year to live at home that I figured out that my mom watches way too much T.V. She kept up on every little detail of the trial and gave me a daily update, whether I wanted one or not.

One day some forensic screw ups came to light. Nobody besides the prosecution was more frustrated than my mom.

"Quincy wouldn't have messed up like that," she said, clearly pissed off.

Was she for real? I was hoping against hope she would start laughing. But there was this scarily long pause. I was going to have to go in and pull her out.

"Ha, ha. Good one. Yeah, well Trapper John M.D. and Gonzo would have saved Nicole in the first place! They wouldn't have needed a stinkin trial then," I replied in earnest, then waited.

Mom? Mommy?

She snapped back to her old self and smiled. I breathed a sigh of relief. Crisis averted.

"Gonzo was cute," she said.

"Oh, yeah. Sure was."

Like a child of an alcoholic who knows to tread lightly with booze, I’m aware that I have the genetic predisposition to watch an unhealthy amount of television. I can be a half an hour into Trading Spouses: Meet your New Mommy before I know what hit me. I haven't had cable in 8 years, only because I know I'll become a shut-in 10 minutes after the Comcast guy leaves my apartment.    

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Your cat is never coming back

At 18th and Blue Island there's a sad little sign with the headline:

Donde Esta Jeffrey?

Jeffrey is a black and white cat who went missing a couple of days ago. Judging from the sign (and the English translation) Jeffrey's owners are beside themselves with worry after the little guy decided to bolt out the door the moment they took off his collar to give him a flea treatment.

As an outsider, it seems to me that this cat wasn't too happy in the first place. Why else would he make a break for it just as winter hits? Was he plotting this moment for weeks, or even months? Maybe playing the nice little house cat role was too much for him. He wanted to see what the gritty streets of Pilsen had to offer.

If you're a cat or a dog, I think you'd have quite a time.

One of the first things I noticed when moving here from Little Italy is the number of stray cats and dogs hanging out. And I was struck by how tough and aloof these animals acted.

The dogs scared me a little at first. But when I got closer to a group that was crossing the street up ahead of me one day, it kind of reminded me of something out of Lady and the Tramp. Regardless, steering clear of them seemed like a good idea. I'm also careful never to walk around with a pot roast in my purse, just in case. I'm not taking any chances.

The cats are a different story. They're enormous, rude, and they act like they own the alley when you go to throw away the garbage. I've yet to see a rat; I'm convinced the cats swallow them whole. And they steal.

Really, they do.

The day after the telethon for Hurricane Katrina I realized I couldn't find my debit card. I had taken it out the night before to make a pledge (only because I wanted to see if I could get Brad Pitt on the phone to tell him how skanky Angelina is) and threw it on the coffee table where a bunch of newspapers sat waiting to take their rightful place in a landfill. That morning I was doing my usual Saturday cleaning and must have thrown the card out with the papers.

Hours later when I realized what I did, I went to the alley and got my bag, which had been CLAWED open. I didn't find the card, but I was greeted by a cat giving me a look that said, "Bitch, I got your card and you ain't never gettin' it back." I might be mistaken, but I think he flashed me a gang sign with his paws.

I glared back for a moment and then bolted upstairs to call my bank. If I hadn't acted quickly, I'm convinced that this gang of street-tough cats would have been halfway to Mexico on my hard-earned dime.

So yeah. I think Jeffrey was lured to the streets and is probably caught up in some illicit activity with his fellow strays. Hopefully his owners will come to accept that he wasn't theirs to have in the first place.

Watch your back, Jeffrey. And don't take any wooden nickels.    

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's official: My hometown is a shit hole

When I was a sophomore at Illinois State, a roommate was dating an Environmental Health major. One afternoon, he was over our place talking about how he went on a field trip to LaSalle that day, a small town about an hour’s drive north of ISU.

“You went to LaSalle? That’s my hometown. Why did you go there?” I asked.

“You’re from there?” he asked in amazement. “That’s a Superfund Cleanup Site! Did you know that?”

Yeah dude, I knew that. How couldn’t I? Growing up there you knew that Superfund Cleanup Site meant guys in weird space suits walked around the area of an old factory trying to get rid of these nasty buggers called PCBs. And they dug up the earth within a one mile radius of the defunct plant and burned it right there; a process that took about 10 years. No one seemed too troubled that our junior high school, public park and pool wasn’t all that far outside the mile boundary.

A few years back, yet another dead industrial site in LaSalle caught the eye of the EPA again. An old zinc plant in operation from the mid-1800s into the 1970s left the ground polluted with toxic metals, ground that is uncomfortably close to LaSalle’s wells from where the town’s disgusting water supply is drawn.

Friends from high school who had worked for one branch of the wealthy, eccentric descendants of the original polluters told me one night late at a bar that their boss warned them the EPA was coming, and ordered them to dump barrels of chemicals over the fence onto the land of their cousin. “I want this place to look like Disneyland,” boss man said.

So why this little tale? Am I an Erin Brockovich wannabe? Not so much.  But I’ll tell you that each time I spend a weekend there (damn those holidays!) I leave a little sadder.

The newspaper over the weekend reported that the area leads the state in job growth in bars and restaurants (jobs which yield an annual salary of about $13,000) with some local yokels (I mean officials) saying that’s indicative of the area’s growing tourism industry.

Tourism? What in the hell is worth seeing there? The kids are strung out on heroin (at least a few that I’m related to) so maybe there’s some sort of IV drug user walking tour that I’m not aware of.

“And on the left we have one of our latest crack houses to open in LaSalle,” the guide will boast as the tourists stare in amazement.

Anyway, I’m sure what’s happening there is indicative of thousands of small blue collar towns where people could once get decent jobs and have a decent life.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

And speaking of talentless, anorexic whores. . .

Anyone up for throwing Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff into the mouth of an active volcano?

I caught their shameless performances last night on the American Music Awards. I was hoping for Lohan’s sake she was just drunk, wandered on stage thinking she was in a karaoke bar.

In a word, brutal.

Maybe I’m just out of touch considering I’m old enough to have been either of the girls’ unwed teenaged mother. I think if I asked though, my 14-year-old niece would gladly kick their scrawny asses. I asked her father what she would do if she heard a Lohan or Duff song. He said she wouldn’t be very happy.

On a related note, God appeared to me last night and said he wished celebrities would stop invoking his name in their acceptance speeches. I asked why. He said obviously he has a lot on his plate now and hasn’t the time nor the interest to steward the careers of these freaks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jesus Shmeezus

I’m wondering if my friends and family would have me committed if I said I wanted to sit this holiday season out. A one-woman boycott, if you will.

This year I feel more aggravated than ever. It’s not depressing, but it’s certainly vexing.
The Christmas shit is out sooner (can I get over my Halloween hangover on Novemember 1st please?), we just got a holiday card in the mail yesterday at work, and I accidentally stumbled upon “It’s Beginning to Look A lot like Christmas,” on the radio about five minutes ago.

This morning I couldn’t ignore a co-worker enough when she kept pressing me about organizing a holiday gift exchange and dinner. I tried everything, but then had to engage her.

“When are we going to do it?”

“I don’t care, you guys decide.”

“But when?

“Really, just figure it out and let me know.”

Somebody kill me.

Now I’m not a Scrooge, by any means. I’m capable of warm and fuzzy feelings and I don’t need Bob Marley (or was it Jacob) to visit me in my sleep to show me the beauty of the holiday.

It’s old boy  J.C.’s birthday for Godsakes! And doesn’t the crazy spending orgy fuel our economy? Or at least it used to when some of the stuff was actually made here. (We give our jobs to China wrapped in a big holiday bow and in return all we get are a lot of bad drivers and the annual threat of an apocalyptic plague. Don’t they know how this Christmas thing works?)

I just need to ease into this. Does anyone else feel like there’s a 3-ton Santa standing on their chest, jamming candy canes into their eyes?

Just curious.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Only you can prevent becoming a degenerate alcoholic

The following is the actual text of an email I just sent to Coors.

Dear Coors,

You clever bastards. So you're the ones responsible for that devil's brew, or excuse me Blue Moon, eh? Well that beer fooled me for the final time last night.

Blue Moon is dead to me.

Its delicate flavor and deceptive light color set off by a delicious orange slice repeatedly tricks me into thinking I could drink them like one would drink, say Miller Light or even water.

I couldn't be more wrong. And now I'm beside myself with guilt because I've been pushing this poison on my friends. All of our lives are now on the brink of ruin.

I demand answers from Coors! Or at the very least a committment to post the following warnings on your labels:

Warning: Consumption of Blue Moon may cause women to fall lips first into strange men. Any demons or inner-maniacs will be unleashed if Blue Moon is consumed in excess. Do not operate light machinery with keypads and the capability for two way voice communication while drinking Blue Moon. Blue Moon will most likely render the consumer useless for 16-18 hours after drinking. Do not attempt to dance, especially alone, after drinking Blue Moon.
Deliberately concentrating and inhaling Blue Moon can be harmful or fatal.

OK, so the last one is unlikely but I think Coors needs to cover its bases.

Thanks for nothing. And as they say, fool me once shame on you. . . fool me twice, shame on . . . whatever. It's your fault.


Angie T.

Coors responds. . . a full 48 hours later with a form letter. They're damn lucky I'm not litigious!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Angela Marie . . . Fitzgerald?

Can I call it or can I call it?

People magazine named Patrick Fitzgerald one of the sexiest men alive.

Supposedly he’s dating some lawyer chick from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

Whatever. We will meet again, fall madly in love, and rule the world!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Little aluminum house on the prairie

Oscar winner Hillary Swank grew up in a trailer. Country star Gretchen Wilson did too.

Big deal ladies.

At any given time, roughly 30 percent of my extended family is living in a trailer in some godforsaken corner of America. As a cousin or an aunt leaves one, inevitably there’s another crawling in.

Our little part for balance in the universe, I guess.

I spent the first 10 years of my life in one. From 1972 to 1982 me, my brother, sister, and mother kept it real in the Valley View Trailer Court in downstate Illinois. My grandma and youngest aunt lived in the neighboring trailer.

Over that decade, our two trailers were the anchor for what was to become a sort of Kennedy compound without the money, servants, and spirited political debates. We remained as my six aunts and uncles and their families would move in and out of other trailers as they were down on their luck. That was pretty often.

Now trailer life obviously isn’t glamorous as one would suspect. But as kids you really didn’t know much better. There were always cousins to play with; to say we had the run of the place would be an understatement. There were hills to climb, little patches of woods where the boy cousins could shoot each other point-blank with BB guns, and taverns that would sell cigarettes to a six-year-old. My grandma had like 40 stray cats that she fed, which became a stable of sorts for my ill-behaved cousins to torment. (There was never any actual torture; one would grab the front paws, the other would grab the hind legs and they would swing them higher and higher and then let ‘em go.)

It was like a white trash Disneyland.

Crazy uncles would regale us with tales of their childhood. Never did we hear about walking uphill both ways to school in the snow. They were much too creative for that.

“We were sooo poor,” said one uncle.

How poor were you Uncle John?

“We were sooo poor that we didn’t have blankets. We had to cover up with the cockroaches.”

The other  uncle who took an unexpected leave from the Marines in the late 70s--that I’m pretty sure Uncle Sam didn’t O.K.--would take us on hikes and hunting trips. He would have six or seven of us with him and have us walk ahead, and before we’d know it he’d be out of sight. A couple of the wee ones would start crying thinking we were all alone and lost, but us bigger kids knew he was just a freak and would show up soon enough laughing like he’d heard the greatest joke on Earth. When you think about it, being left in a clearing while an armed, AWOL marine is lurking in the woods uncle or not, probably isn’t the best place for kids to be.

Anyway, I’ve barely scratched the surface on this one. Growing up without a lot of stuff sucked, sure.

But man did we laugh our asses off.          

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Love in the time of Avian Flu

Just saw Pride and Prejudice (loved it!) and now I'm wondering if being a hopeless romantic dooms you to a lifetime of hopelessness in romance.

With the fantastically active imagination that is my own, I've allowed the powerful love stories from books and films I've consumed over the years to have a role in how I think relationships should play out. Now I haven’t thwarted suitors because the gentleman couldn’t or wouldn’t offer his undying love to me at dawn, in an English meadow, wearing rumpled early 19th century clothing, and looking hotter than hot could ever be. That would be nice, to be sure. Usually it was because they were stupid jerks who couldn't hold a conversation, or maybe make an attempt to get their asses off the couch once in awhile. But I digress. . .

I had said in an earlier posting, that I wasn't going to go the route of the Bridget Jones-esque writers. The female need to constantly brood over the opposite sex just doesn't seem appealing to me. When we're in relationships we're dissecting and analyzing the state of the match. When we're not in relationships, we're wondering why we're not in one. Mighty tedious indeed.

That’s not to say I don't step back and wonder what the hell is going on from time to time. What am I doing wrong? What are they doing wrong? Is the universe against me? Can Oprah help?

And yet each time I come to pretty much the same conclusion. . . . Fuck if I know.

I'm still not convinced that there anything wrong with thinking the one, great and ultimate love of your life will cause the rest of the world to fall away, will see you as you should be seen, and ignore wealthy aunts if she thinks he's marrying below his station to be with you.

Married folks will probably say there's plenty wrong. Because real life is where relationships live. Rational Angie would agree, and knows this is true.

But crazy Angie (who's bigger and stronger and usually wins out) is still holding on to her dreams. She's sorry and asks all you practical people to leave her alone.     


Friday, November 11, 2005

The dumbasses at Fox kill Arrested Development

You know how once in a while a really funny, smart, and original T.V. show comes on and immediately hooks you? You try not to get attached though, because you know good shows always die. Especially on the network that brings you the O.C. and Bill O'Reilly.

Goodbye Arrested Development! It was fun while it lasted.

And Fox? Go scratch.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What I did on my two day vacation

With the year winding down, and no where to go to use the rest of my vacation, I decided to take a couple of days off and execute a little holiday without leaving town. While Loop workers slaved away up in their offices, all I had to share the city with was retirees, bored field trippers, and the homeless.

Yesterday I went to the Art Institute. I love looking at art, though I will never pretend I understand it. At least on the level of some super-arty-snobby person. I actually don't think I have to, and I'm quite content with looking at a piece and thinking, "Hey, that's nice," or "Wowza, what was that guy smoking?" It's kind of funny to think the latter; when you're sizing up something that maybe that zany Renoir whipped up on a good buzz.

Art can capture the inner melancholy of man in the face of ultimate destruction or some such nonsense, but when I see countless shots of 18th century boobies, I'm thinking it's possible that one or two of these guys might have been feeling a little frisky. In paintings where women were happy their goods were hanging out. When they were being raped or kidnapped by centaurs their goods were hanging out. When they were just relaxing--yep ya guessed it--their goods were hanging out.

And I, like many other casual observers of art, can't really get into the modern stuff. The Art Institute had a small installation of some Cuban guy's work that I walked through for a kick. One piece was a strand of Christmas lights plugged in and laying on the floor. I wasn’t sure what to take away from that.

Next to the lights was a layer of hard candy wrapped in bright, multi-colored foil wrappers lying on the floor in a perfect rectangle. I walked past it and saw someone take a piece, unwrap it, and put it in their mouth. I was shocked, but of course it took me about two minutes before I did the same. Thankfully it was cool when a volunteer came in and started to explain how the number of candies correspond with the weight of the artist and by us eating the art, the piece is organic like he is. This guy standing there said to his companion, "Whatever, this is art? To me it's a snack," and grabbed another piece. Again, cool. We could have up to four pieces each the volunteer said. One was enough for me. It was the crappy stuff cheap neighbors used to give out at Halloween.

Today was Hyde Park day, home of the University of Chicago. Although my friends thought I was going museum hopping, I was actually on a quest to find a hot, single, Nobel Laureate under the age of 40.

No such luck.

However I did see 5,000-year-old human remains of an Egyptian, the Rockefeller Chapel, a Frank Lloyd Wright house, yet even more art, and I dined at the Medici--a place where the Chicago Seven hung out. From the graffitti on the walls there you can tell the University of Chicago is an Ivy-League caliber school. There were things written in what I think was Latin, and some nerd actually scribbled the question, "Dare I disturb the Universe?"

But the highlight had to be standing on the spot where WMD was born (where U of C scientists pulled off the first nuclear chain reaction). And after asking a couple of students coming out of the Fermi Institute where I could find the Doomsday Clock (started by Manhattan Project scientists who move us closer to Midnight as the world gets crazier) I was trekking to the southern edge of campus to this ramshackle building that houses the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

The door was locked, so I rang the bell. This very unassuming young lady named Joy answered the door.

"Um, I want to see the Doomsday Clock," I said. I was going to make a case for bringing it a couple more minutes closer to midnight.

"You can't. It's in D.C. for our 60th anniversary," she responded very nicely. She then went on to tell me that it's normally up in a third floor conference room, and if it was there I could see it no problem.

She did show me a picture of it. I was anticipating some hulking, gothic looking thing. But it looks like some piece of crap the Bradys would have had in their living room. What a letdown.

Joy sent me on my way with a copy of their magazine (not nearly as boring as I thought it would be) and get this, an Atomic fire ball. Who knew smarties could have a sense of humor?

I popped it in my mouth, thanked Joy for her hospitality and headed out, but not before asking her if they had to set the clock back for daylight savings.              

Friday, November 04, 2005

There has got to be a code violation in there somewhere

A Chicago restaurant is now offering body sushi to diners.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. Eating raw fish off of a someone's body is never a good idea, I'll venture to say. And besides, this is Chicago afterall. To truly capture the market she should have pizzas and italian beefs placed in her strategic areas.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Motivational Man

It’s usually a bad idea for people to write about their jobs on blogs, but it’s hard to resist when your bosses bring in a motivational speaker for a sales meeting. I had the pleasure of sitting through a performance the other night.

Now this guy wasn’t on par with a Tony Robbins but he was brutal just the same. The grandiose gestures, the cutesy anecdotes, and the urging for our sales guys to be lions or tigers or bears (I don’t remember what was the good or bad animal) was too much. Overly energetic and happy people bother the shit out of me as a rule, but when people make a living out if it, I kind of feel sorry for them.

Mr. Motivational had a demure little assistant with him who held his water bottle and paged through his PowerPoint presentation while he spoke. The whole scenario was frightening, and me being the amateur comedienne that I am, leaned over to the guy next to me and whispered, “Hey, I think she’s here under duress. She’s like kidnapped or something don’t you think?”

My co-worker brushed me off. He was paying attention, and didn’t want to get in trouble apparently. Honestly though, I couldn’t believe Assistant to the Traveling Effeminate Motivational Speaker was a real job. Something had to be up. Do I call 911? Do I slip her a note and tell her I’ll help her escape?

Whatever, I thought. Not my problem. But I’ll tell ya not having to be a motivational speaker for a living is enough motivation for me to work a little harder. So I guess he succeeded with this woman.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Politics certainly is Hollywood for the ugly

Well color me happy (and skeptical). The Dems appear to be gearing up for a fight.

The looks on the faces of Schumer, Reid, and Durbin are priceless. Who do these guys think they are?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Most, if not all of the Democratic party is now dead to me

If I was a religous woman, or at least an unemployed woman, I'd be on my knees every day in front of the Dirksen Federal Building praying that Patrick Fitzgerald will succeed in doing what the Democratic party and the American electorate could not do--send the treasonous Bush on permanent vacation.

The Libby indictment is heartening, but nothing is ever what it seems. Trials can be messy affairs, which could be good. Rove may or may not be indicted. Fitzgerald could be some hologram that could disappear at any moment. I just don't know what to think.

However, it would be safe to say at this point Democrats could finally pool some PAC money and buy a few spines for their leadership. With over 2,000 of our soldiers killed in a war started at best, on a hunch, and at worst cuz a few neo conservative dingleberries just kinda felt like it, we need the opposition party more than ever. Yet they keep letting us down. They're relentless wimps.

Case in point: Last week, here's what Chuck Schumer said on Meet the Press. When I heard it, I wanted to climb into my TV and choke him.

TIM RUSSERT: Senator Schumer, there's been a widespread discussion that this is bigger than just Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame and White House aides; that it really goes to the core of the Iraq War, what cases were made to the American people about weapons of mass destruction. . .Based on what you now know today, do you regret having voted for the war?

SEN. SCHUMER: Well, no, Tim, because my vote was seen and I still see it as a need to say we must fight a strong and active war on terror.

Well, no, Chuck. What you actually voted for wasn't a vague referendum on how manly and tough you wanted to be on terrorism, YOU VOTED IN SUPPORT OF THE UNITED STATES WAGING A PARTICULAR WAR AGAINST A PARTICULAR NATION. The Democrats, because they're paralyzed with fear when it comes to being perceived as weak (ironic, eh?) went along with this with no real debate. And hey why not because as NY Times writer Maureen Dowd said so aptly, "going to war because we have to is sooooooo 2oth century.”  I literally lose sleep at night wondering how these people sleep at night.

Anyway, here’s hoping Pat can pull this off. Though I fancy myself a bit of a doomsayer, I am capable of an occasional burst of optimism.

I want to believe in Fitzmas, I really do.    

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sox win and I have Red State cooties

Instead of living in the “city that works,” today I wished I lived in the “city that calls in sick.”

Though I’m moderately hungover, I’m so tired I could cry.

It’s all worth it though. And it’s not like I’m a stranger to working under these conditions. It was a once in lifetime chance last night to watch this town go ape shit over this World Series business.

We started the night out at Moretti’s on the Near West side, one of the few places where we could actually get a table. This table turned out to be conveniently next to an entire CPD SWAT team. Even though I was at the height of my fair-weather fan pennant fever, I couldn’t very well resist the chance to pick up a SWAT team, so another girl and I worked in the word “hostage” as much as possible over the course of the game.

Like, “Where’s Janet at?” my friend Bob asked. Me:“Uh, I think she’s being held HOSTAGE somewhere.” Or, “Wow, where’s our food? ” Me: “I think those Chinese kids over there took it HOSTAGE.”

Surprisingly it didn’t work. Not surprisingly, the on-duty SWAT team which was on a meal break sat there for hours until the top of the 9th when they were called to da streets.

After the game it was off to another local watering hole in Greektown. En route as we were looting our way through Little Italy, we dodged UIC students running the streets in their underwear.

At Dugan’s it was like St. Patrick’s Day--overflowing with drunks and smelling of hurl, sweat, and beer. While watching the party coverage on the big screen, a severely cross-eyed fan with a broom caught my interest on the TV. He had the same effect on this cute guy standing next to me because we looked at each other in amazement, looked back at the cross-eyed dude on the screen, and then back to each other. "Wow, he's really cross-eyed," cute guy said to me. Unfortunately cute guy turned out to be Indiana Republican Cute guy. And Indiana? It couldn’t have been worse.

It took me about two seconds to decide that on a night that only comes once every 88 years, political principles can go out the door.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Don't make me slap you!

Who is this mystery man who slapped and pulled the hair of an Astro player’s wife? Ozzie Guillen says he wants to have some quality time alone with him in the dugout to even the score since the Biggios aren’t pressing charges.

This idiot wasn’t there to watch the game obviously. Getting loaded and knocking a broad around takes time and focus. Was he a disgruntled misogynist Cubs fan off his meds? Or maybe he was some Canaryville wifebeater who sold one of his kids for a ticket. Whatever the case, I think it’s hilarious that this wife chased the guy down and apprehended him herself with the help of her brother.

Sounds like they handled it just fine.

The Astros say that although they know this behavior isn’t indicative of an entire city of nearly 3 million (uh y’all think?) Chicagoans should be embarrassed just the same.

Sorry Houston, I’m not all that embarrassed. I’m certainly not proud either, but I didn’t slap her and it’s not like I’m related to the guy (well at least I think I’m not.) So my conscious is clean. And besides, I’ve got PLENTY of my own drunken antics to be embarrassed about. I can’t be taking on someone else’s.

By the way, there are a lot of awful things that happen every day in this city. Getting slapped by a drunk asshole doesn’t really rank.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I need a wife

Not to have sex with. That would require me being a lesbian, or at least a gal who wouldn't mind the occasional mouthful of, well another gal.

What I'm talking about is one of those wives who clean the apartment, do the laundry, pay the bills, send the birthday cards, and make dentist appointments. It’s the kind of shit you're supposed to do on Saturdays instead of sleep in because you were out the night before drinking yourself silly celebrating a friend's last night before moving in with her fiancĂ©e on the North Side.

I woke up at 10 which is still plenty of time to knock out some of the above. But I was out of coffee, so that meant I had to go to the coffeehouse. And I absolutely had to watch Phil of the Future before going to the coffeehouse, so that slowed me down even more. I walked past a Chicago Tribune box, and had to pick one up on the way to Cafe Jumping Bean, because a girl should always be on top of the news. And then once I was at the cozy and inviting Jumping Bean I had to sit down, read the paper, order a panini, try this amazing chocolate cake, all while pretending I didn't recognize some weirdo guy from a John Kerry campaign trip last fall to Wisconsin.

And then there's email. It doesn't check itself, now does it? And this blog, if I don't update it, who will?

It's been a busy, busy day.

So here it is 2 p.m. and I have leave in a couple of hours to meet friends to watch Game One of the World Series.

Maybe I'll just froogle a mail order bride. My last roommate and I once wished we could get an 18-year-old foster son to act as house boy, but this mail order bride thing might work better (no confusing DCFS paperwork.) There's plenty of room in the basement, I'll pay for some English classes . . . everybody wins.    

Friday, October 21, 2005

Harriet you ignorant slut

This one half-asses her Supreme Court nominee homework and gets a do-over?

I'm no longer horrified by the Bush news of the day. I just laugh the maniacal laugh of a woman who knows she's doomed.

On a related note, our President successfully used the word "opining" in a sentence yesterday. That's worth a couple of points in the polls, in my estimation.

Good job Georgie!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Scent of a Woman

“A lady should be seen and not smelled.” Anonymous

Last weekend some friends and I threw an engagement party for a friend at the home of a pal in the suburbs. Shopping the night before and spending the day getting ready for the party reminded me and the girls of our days as roommates at Illinois State. We ate fast food, watched soaps, took naps, and since we’re oh so comfortable around each other—stunk up the joint when the need arose.

Some of us are better at this than others. That day one friend was expelling gas so obnoxious while she was getting ready in an upstairs bathroom, that I literally stopped in my tracks before getting to the door, ran the opposite way and locked myself in a bedroom. As the party progressed, she left lingering reminders of herself in rooms.

I’d walk in and say, “She was in here, wasn’t she?” Ghost-white friends would nod silently.

Earlier, before the guests arrived, we filled in a boyfriend and a husband on the gastrointestinal disorders of the day. Truly disgusted, the boyfriend remarked how his friends are NEVER as crass as we are.

Yet, Mr. Disgusted has been around for over 10 years and this is nothing new for him. He knows that when we take trips together, we come prepared with enough matches and air freshener for hotel bathrooms. He knows that on occasion, we talk about bodily functions and sex like a bunch of 14-year-old boys.

This past Saturday, it was me and another former roommate heading back from the Bolingbrook IKEA to our hometown for a 30th birthday party. It was an uncomfortable and tense ride for both of us. We do have problems dropping s-bombs in public places (come on, we’re not that gross) so we were literally sucking it up until we got to our respective mothers’ homes.

As we drove into the Central Illinois sunset, she shared the following story with me. Unfortunately it’s true.

A few years ago she said she was on a gin and Squirt kick which didn’t agree with her. Hungover, the next day she was eating a Burger King meal at her house with a friend when she prepared to break wind. Or so she thought. Her lucky companion, who I saw later that night tells the rest of the story like this:

“She shot up and had both hands behind her holding her ass. She then blurted out, “Dude I think I just shit my pants!” While I fell over laughing, she takes  one of the hands holding her ass and TAKES A BITE OF HER SANDWICH before running to the bathroom.”

The guilty party in this said she took that last bite because she knew she was going to be in there for a while. And well, she was hungry.    

Monday, October 17, 2005

Apocalypse Soon

Looks like Chicago just kicked the end time in motion.

To the world I say: Sorry dudes. Better to end it with a World Series in Chicago than the Avian Flu or dirty bombs.

Go Sox!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The UN really needs to lay off the acid

This is what the UN children's fund is using to drum up contributions in Belgium.

Why do Europeans have to be so fucking weird?

Smurfette dies, in case you're wondering.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

This taint your Grandma's magazine

The last time I bought a Cosmopolitan magazine, George W. Bush was just a failed Texas businessman and Seinfeld was still in primetime. It’s got to be one of the silliest publications on the newstands.

Actually, I’ve always thought most women’s magazines of the Cosmo genre aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, and my disdain has nothing to do with my body image or feminism.

I find the sex articles to be beyond ridiculous.

From the day I first picked up a Cosmo at age 15 or 16, I was bombarded with headlines like, “Give him mind-blowing blowers,” or “Please your man one position at a time.” But mostly these articles tried to indoctrinate women about how we’re ignoring the taint, the supposed male version of the G-spot.(I say supposed because I taint met a man yet who supports this theory.)

There was no avoiding the taint. So after my 165th taint article, I decided to solely devote my mind-rotting reading choices to entertainment magazines and tabloids. Over the years, I’d glance at Cosmo’s cover and scan the headlines. Nothing changed.

Last night however, they got to me. I was finishing up my 10-minute grocery shopping challenge at Dominicks where I saw this in the checkout line:

“Our New Sex Position Named 77,
It's as Mind-Blowing as That Other Naughty Number”

The 77? That’s like 8 more! 8 more of what, I had no idea. They got me though. I was kind of embarrassed to buy it, and as I had guessed when I read the article before my aerobics class, it was some stupid, awkward sounding thing that I’d never do.

Or would I?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sunday Bender Anyone?

     With a belly full of Krispy Kremes and enough coffee to jumpstart the heart of a day-old corpse, I spent Sunday morning in Little Italy watching 40,000 insane people run the Chicago Marathon. To me, watching it was exhausting; running it is beyond comprehension.
     I was on Taylor Street which I think was the 19th mile of the race and at this point, when you cheer people by name (some runners put their names on their shirts to encourage this) they’re either so out of it they look at you like, “how in the hell do you know me?” or they’re fighting the urge to strangle you, a person who swears she will run only if chased, sitting comfortably on a stoop eating a cold Italian sausage.
     After the race some cronies and I held court at a bar to start our bloody Mary-thon. We’re weren’t able to drink 26.2, but it was a strong showing indeed. And with one pal demonstrating her ability to smoke a 6-minute cigarette (does anyone really need to run a 6 minute mile by the way?) we ended our day with a real sense of Sunday Bender accomplishment and a fear of Monday morning hangover.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bandwagon forecast: 72 degrees, breezy, sunny

I wasn’t entirely forthcoming with an earlier post where I said the male obsession with “the game” is a bit tedious.

I have a tendency to be a fair weather fan when it comes to Chicago teams making it to post-season play, which we all know ain’t too often. So most of time, it’s true, I don’t give a hoot about sports.

I caught pennant fever a couple of years ago during the playoffs when the Cubs made it within five measly outs of the World Series.  The fever was so bad; I was actually hanging on every pitch of every game during that series. I read the Sports page. I wore a rally cap and drank Old Style. I could even commiserate with actual Cubs fans on subjects such as Dusty Baker’s insistence on keeping his pitchers in until they reached their pitch count, regardless of how the game was going.

It wasn’t all fun and games though. I learned that drinking while you have the fever can produce an incredibly awful side effect: near-blinding beer goggles. That’s probably something guys learn early on, I guess.

Now with the White Sox in the post season, I have what I can only describe as low-grade pennant fever. I’m just lukewarm—the other night I read the paper intermittently while watching the game.

I’m not sure why I’m not as into it as I was with the Cubs. I have lived south of Madison Street for eight of my last nine years in Chicago. And if the Southside would ever attempt to secede from Chicago, I would have no problem taking up arms against the citizens of Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville. I rarely drink on the North side, and except for a couple of friends up there, what do I care?

I guess pennant fever is like many illnesses. You get a bad case of it once and you develop immunity.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Experience Not Needed

Dear White House Hiring Person:

Given the recent nomination of that creepy lady to the Supreme Court who has never been a judge, and that dumbass who headed up FEMA, yet had no emergency management experience, I thought I would throw my hat in the ring for the following posts should they become vacant:

Surgeon General—I’ve been the keeper of the office First Aid Kit for the past 10 months, and I put a huge bottle of hand sanitizer on my desk yesterday, encouraging co-workers to use it at will (flu and cold season is coming!). Back when I didn’t have health insurance I visited WebMD frequently.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—I’ve seen “Stripes” like 42 times.

Secretary of State—I took a Post Soviet foreign policy class at Illinois State back in 1994 earning a gentlewoman’s C. I also took the Foreign Service exam. I didn’t pass, but that’s neither here nor there.

Fed Chairman—Right now Greenspan’s reports to Congress are buh-buh-buh-boooorrring! I could make jokes like I did back in my business reporting class. Example, “Man, I think my credit card debt just surpassed the GNP!”

Secretary of Energy—I once dated a guy who worked for Commonwealth Edison.

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security—I also dated a smattering of first responders and a trained killer.

So as you can see I’d make a great addition to the Bush administration in just about ANY capacity.

Call me, ok?


Sunday, October 02, 2005

No really Mary, why you buggin?

I now have a statue of the Virgin Mary in my kitchen. She's about a foot tall, made of resin, and manufactured in China, presumably with love.

Why you ask, do I have this?

Well if you can believe it, this nun totally made me buy it. I didn't have a choice. She didn't exactly force me, or put some sort of Catholic hex on me, but I think I was coerced just the same.

On Saturday morning I stopped by my neighborhood grocery store for a couple of things. As a rule, there are vendors outside with carts selling all sorts of stuff. I live in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood, and the sundries up for purchase run the gamut from huge pieces of fried pork fat to the latest Tejano CD.

This my friends, is no Super Target.

I've yet to see a nun selling stuff though. She was tucked away in a corner, standing not much taller than the garbage can next to her. She had a couple of crates turned upside down, covered in pillow cases. A dozen or so religious statues were carefully arranged on the cloth. I rushed past her, pretending not to notice she was standing in the shadows.

I wouldn't exactly say she creeped me out, or even elicited some sort of emotional response, but as I made my way through the store I knew I was going to have to buy one of those blasted statues.

Maybe it was her big, sad brown eyes. Or the fact that I still feel a little guilty about cheating on my Confirmation test 17 years ago. Though I tried, I didn't get very far past her when I left the store. I stopped in my tracks, turned back and asked her, "how much?"

My Spanish was about as good as her English, so completing our transaction was a little challenging.

She asked me which one I wanted. I pointed to the biggest statue (that's my champagne tastes for you) and she inturn indicated what I thought was a five dollar price tag.

Five bucks? No problem. I counted out five singles and reached out for my Virgin Mary statue with the baby Jesus sprouting out of the ground at her feet.

Not so fast, Angie. That one is ten dollars.

"Ten dollars?"

"Chess, dee-ez."

Alright sister, I knew where this is going. But I also knew I couldn't very well back out of deal on a Virgin Mary statue with a nun, not over five dollars.

I handed her a five, threw my statue in my bag and walked away, immediately wondering, "Now where in the hell am I going to put this God damned thing?"

Friday, September 30, 2005

You big freakin babies!

To the people I saw shivering yesterday, wearing scarves, hats, wool coats, and the like:

Please tell me you were tourists from sub-Saharan Africa. I’m begging you.

It was SIXTY-TWO DEGREES for christsake!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

An Army of One

The heavens opened up on Chicago yesterday during the afternoon rush hour. I was sure it was Jesus crying for Tom DeLay who had to step down as Majority Leader.

Regardless, the downpour made for a less-than-fun trip home.

First I swam around looking for a phantom UPS drop box on Jefferson Street. Then I had a total blast waiting for a bus that was way, way, WAY beyond fashionably late.

While standing at Halsted and Lake, I sized up my fellow soggy CTA compatriots. We’re all in this together, I thought. Even the folks in cars, stuck in traffic. Were they any better off? Dry, sure, but they weren’t going anywhere either.

Maybe it's not me against the world afterall. (cue the Mary Tyler Moore show theme song)

I’ve lived in Chicago for the last nine years, and it’s been quite a relationship for sure. There are days when this town can throw so much shit your way you have to be the craziest of crazy to stay. Then out of nowhere you can have a moment where you’re reminded that there absolutely cannot be another place on this planet where you feel at home quite as much as here.

And usually the moment comes when you’re soggy, crabby, hungry, standing at the corner of Halsted and Lake, hoping you get home in time for “Lost.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

She-male to peddle U.S. propaganda in the Middle East

Karen Hughes has to be scariest looking broad in America. She terrifies the hell out of me.

Yet somehow she's going to start making nicey nice with the region who hates us the most. They say their beef is with Bush and not the legions of idiots who put him in office (this includes the Democratic party who lost TWICE to a mildly retarded cowboy poser) but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want to come to my place for brunch if I asked.

Talk about being too big for your britches. This administration is good at manipulating the American public, but big fucking whup. . . that ain't tough. Remember the Beanie Baby craze?

Color me dubious on this one. Anyways, um Karen, good luck I guess.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

9th inning Hail Mary pass goes foul in the third period

I don't know, or really care much about sports.

Yeah, not a big surprise considering I'm female. But when you're a woman who feels most comfortable with a beer in her hand in a sports bar or pub, instead of a $12 drink among throngs of metrosexual males in the nightspot du jour, it's inevitable that the "game" is a big deal.

There's no avoiding the game. Football, baseball, basketball, college, pro, whatever. It's all about the infernal game.

Last night I went to a friend's boyfriend's hockey game whose sponsor (team, not AA) happens to be a regular haunt for us. Girls will be girls of course, therefore upon arrival we headed straight for the ice house's bar. It happens to have a large window overlooking the rink, so we grabbed a pitcher of beer and proceeded to pay close attention to every little move the team made. We wouldn't have dreamed of missing an iota of the game.

O.k, so obviously that's a complete lie.

We got drunk, traded gossip, and waited for the boys to finish. We do that at every game we go to. Got expensive Wrigley Field bleacher seats? Consider it a pricey cover charge to a beer garden that happens to have some sort of activity going on. It's kind of a silly event with grown men wearing identical, numbered outfits while running around in the grass after a little ball. Even in college when I won an all-expense paid trip to the Final Four, my friend and I got loaded and talked about the guys we had just met on Spring Break, which had been the week prior. And we also tried to come up with a way for me to get past Secret Service to meet Bubba who was there to watch Arkansas play. The real fans around us had to be seething.

Yeah, we are all about the game.

After a heartbreaking loss last night, the hockey team joined us in the bar. I went up to one of the team members to tell him I was sorry. I was sure he was devastated.

“Did you see us wablahrarara blah ra out there?" he asked.

What? I had immediately tuned out the hockey speak. It sounded like how the adults sound on Charlie Brown. Utterly unintelligible.

"I actually didn't watch a single second of the game. Sorry." He wasn't too phased by my answer.

We all kept on enjoying the evening. There continued to be talk here and there about the games of the day, but nothing too overwhelming.

As the night progressed I was ready to display even more of my boundless charm to the player I had spoken to earlier. This was a game I was very interested in. He was wearing sandals, and something didn't seem right to me.

"Is it just me or do you have an inordinate amount of toes?" I asked. It was his pinkie toes. I wasn't convinced there was just one underneath the straps of his sandals.

He laughed. No, of course he had precisely the prescribed amount of toes. 10 to be exact and he began to count them out. "One. . . two. . . three. . ."

A player's wife interrupted us. "Wait a minute. He's using his FINGERS to do this."

Flag on the play.

She was right! He was trying to throw me off. His fingers weren't in question. This guy certainly was slippery.

"Look, what do you want me to do," he asked, "paint them?" I think my game was losing its appeal for him.

"No, I want you to number them."

Game over? No, game on.

Friday, September 23, 2005

By the numbers: my Friday morning

Minutes of sleep I had last night: 126

Hours spent marinating my brain in Pinot Noir and Marlboro Lights prior to getting such a paltry amount of shut-eye: 5

Large cups of coffee consumed this morning to counteract the above: 3

Times a meathead coworker irritated me to the point that I wanted to kill him: 65

Moments when aforementioned meathead coworker was told to shut up by yours truly: 64 in my head, 1 out loud

Instances when I pitched rambling idea to boss because I was still kind of drunk: 1

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Renaming of Marshall Field’s: Rowland and Marshall share their thoughts

Federated Department Stores CEO Terry Lundgren is persona non grata in Chicago these days. Seems like this guy better watch his back if he decides to come back to town for the big Fields to Macy’s switchover.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on this, but who better to weigh in on this controversy than the stores’ founders Rowland Hussey Macy and Marshall Field?

It took a little leg work on my part but I checked with them, and as I guessed they had plenty to say. And they were pretty drunk when I found them, which was kind of surprising.

Field: Rowland, this Lundgren guy is a dumbass.

Macy: I can’t believe those babies in Chicago are making such a big deal about this. I mean does it matter what name is on the door? It’s still the same low-quality shit that’s made by 6-year-old kids in Bangladesh.

Field: (laughing) Amen, brother. I think they’re paid the same wages I paid my employees back in 1868 when I first opened my store! But I’m telling ya, tumbleweeds will be blowing through those aisles come Christmas.

Macy:(slams his drink down) Fucking get over yourself, Marshall! I thought New York
was supposed to be the ego capital of the world. Where are those big shoulders?

Field: You Quaker scumbag! (Field breaks his bottle of Amstel Light on the bar.)

Macy: (sneers and rolls his eyes) I ate guys like you for breakfast during the Gold Rush. What are you going to do, sick
Potter Palmer on me?

Field: Oh he'll have my back alright. Macy: Well you can tell that fat ass to bring it!

Ok, at this point I had to break the two of them up. But as you can see, it’s a very emotional topic.

Email me at

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Adios Lavenderia!

You were a kind, reliable amigo.

Without you I wouldn’t have had clean underwear for the last year or so. But it’s time to part ways for I have laundry facilities in my building now.

We had fun, didn’t we? Remember when I played Red Light/Green Light with a few 5-year olds (and a particularly bossy 8-year old girl) while my unmentionables dried? Or how about that time that man practiced his English by reading the Tribune’s business section to me? And I think we were both taken aback when that two-year old showed us how he can pick out unmarked police cars? We were in the mix, you and me.

I’ll stop in once in a while. Really, I will. I’ll always have a rug or two that will need washing. And my duvet is awfully bulky. . .


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Ball Scratchers

I saw a group of them on Friday morning, standing in front of a warehouse a couple of blocks from my apartment. A mixture of city workers and what looked to be some construction workers. As I got closer I braced myself for what was to come.

They were in the middle of some sort of verbal sparring. "Fuck you, jagoff," said one laughing to a co-worker. "You're the biggest jagoff," the other replied. I was sure that they were both jagoffs--equally so--and if I wasn't in such a hurry to get to work I would have spent some time with them to help sort it all out.

One stopped and looked at me as if, as Scarlett O'Hara would say, he "knew what I looked like without my shimmy."

"Gooooood Morrrrrning," he said, almost purring.

Quick, what would Gloria Steinem do? How would she deal with this guy? Isn't there like a no- objectification-before-8 a.m.-ordinance in Chicago?

Eh, who cares.

Yes I am a feminist (or at least I think I am). But I try to be honest about it. I've always said that I don't want to fight in any wars nor do I want to carry heavy stuff if I can avoid it. And I reserve the right to be flattered (the degree to which is wholly dependent upon the appearance of the ball scratcher) if some guy ogles me. I also reserve the right to be completely revolted if said ball scratcher is brutal.

That's just the way it is. The rules are always subject to change.

This guy was cute, so I had to stifle the urge to let out a coy giggle. I gave him instead, a very stern, very businesslike, "Good morning."

Susan B. Anthony would not be turning over in her grave on my account.          

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Our little baby's all growed up!

President Bush taking responsibility for the federal response to Katrina is big news. But the bigger news is what prompted him to make such a move.

Essentially oblivious until four days after the storm—because as he boasts he doesn’t read the paper—his aides had to COMPILE A FUCKING DVD of all the worst parts from t.v. coverage to get through to him. (read the Newsweek piece on this here.) He watched it on September 2nd on Air Force One on the way back down to the gulf.

I can see it now. They probably first had to get him out of the cockpit (maybe even off the pilot’s lap) and settle him down. Perhaps he was wearing his favorite Lone Ranger jammies. They hand him a juice box and say:

“Mr. President, we have something to show you,” they tell him sternly.

Bush eyes the D.V.D in their hand. Its shiny surface catches his attention.

“Goodie! A movie! This plane ride is soooooooooooooo boring.” He starts hopping up and down.

The aides exchange solemn looks, place the disc in the machine and push play.

What the man saw changed him, like it did everyone else.

I sympathize with him with the news thing. In journalism school my instructors required us to read the newspaper—several infact—every single day. It was a drag at times.

I understand Mr. President, really. But couldn’t you at least pick up a Weekly Reader once in a while? Ask Jenna to bring one home from school. Or leave the Today Show on in the background during cabinet meetings. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll pick up.

We just really kinda need you in the loop, ok?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My ripe tomatoes

With about a week left of summer it’s safe to say that I’ve spent a good portion of it watering, fertilizing, and gossiping with a couple of tomato plants—Parker and Phoebe—all for what looks like about $3 worth of tomatoes.

Now I’m not complaining. There’s a little satisfaction knowing that I’ve grown something that will actually be edible . . well, uh, maybe edible. The verdict is still out.

Hey, I’ve kept the bastards alive, along with some annoying geraniums in my kitchen windows, and flower boxes tenuously tethered along the front windows of my 3rd floor apartment. Sure I’ve watered a passerby or two, and even a cop on one occasion, (it was like scene from Sesame Street) but all-in-all I think I’ve done my Irish potato farmer/Mexican migrant worker ancestors proud.

And leaning out my bathroom window to water the girls each evening (they sit happily on my fire escape) gives me an excellent chance to keep a close eye on my beloved Chicago skyline, making sure that Osama Bin Laden isn’t rappelling down the Sears Tower.  

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Presidenting for Dummies: A teachable moment

(Part of an inevitable series)

Do not put George Costanza in charge of FEMA.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Gentlemen, place your bets

Ricard Nixon left office because he bugged an office or two and was just an all-around asshole.

Bill Clinton was nearly removed from office simply because he chose the wrong mouth in which to place his dick.

And on November 8th 2006, George "You're doing a heckuva job Brownie" Bush will be sitting on Trent Lott's new porch in Mississippi drinking mint juleps. He'll be amazed (just a little though) at how the Republicans kept control of Congress and his approval rating rebounded after the Category 5 fuck-up that was Katrina.

Oh, and the mint julep will be a virgin mint julep.

God bless America.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

So what in the hell have you been doing for the past four years, George?

"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. (

I know the world has been turned upside down when I read a Newt Gingrich quote and think to myself, "man, couldn't have said it better myself."

Right now President Bush is sitting on a pile of buffoons that has passed for a government for some time. From the blow-hard New Orleans mayor to the Louisiana governor on up, these folks are all culpable for this shit storm.

To Bush, all this is just seems like a total buzz kill. This past week he came off as this highschool kid in his last year of school who caught senioritis a little too early. And then out of nowhere, he gets handed a major assignment. Waging war, that's fun. But having to explain himself in the shadows of thousands of dead Americans and the complete destruction of a major U.S. city, now that just plain sucks. To think that FOUR YEARS have passed since Sept. 11 and the government's performance was what it was is mindblowing.

"Our priorities are clear," he said today. That sounds about right. Our priorities have been crystal clear for some time now.

To anyone who says "well it's easy to criticize" the response of FEMA, DHS, etc, I say yes, it's totally fucking easy. There's nothing easier in the world right now. (And it's my God-given right as an American to bitch by the way.) When you read stuff like this: Thousands of frustrated people waited for help Thursday amid dead bodies, feces and garbage with little food and water, and in 90-degree heat and rain. How can you not be blinded with rage toward our government? And when you hear stories that you hope are just lies like the convention center having no medical personnel going into the storm save for a lone nurse who was an evacuee herself, you can't help but wonder what the local New Orleans officials were smoking when they set that up to begin with? I mean can any Chicagoan go to any public event and not encounter scores of police, paramedics and ambulances just hanging out on the off chance someone might get hurt? And that's just a summer festival where the object is to have fun, not to brace yourself for a catastrophic event.

My god, what the fuck were these people thinking?

And they had this braintrust who thought that putting 20,000 people in the Superdome and not having sufficient supplies to last a few days, let alone a week, was cool. Dudes, 20,000 people=20,000 mouths to feed, 20,000 bladders and bowels to empty, and most importantly 20,000 attitudes to deal with. Here's what the John Wayne dude had to say on this:

"If you ever have 20,000 people come to supper, you know what I'm talking about. If it's easy, it would have been done already." Lt. Gen Russel Honore from the National Guard said.

Real cute, and I'm glad the media has found a star in this story.

For those who want to try and counter with: "Well, they're looting, and shooting at the helicoptors, and raping, and pillaging. . " Go ahead I dare you to try. The vile, unconscionable behavior of these criminals carrying out these acts will never justify us leaving the rest of those folks behind to fend for themselves. When the cops were walking off the job and even committing suicide, how could anyone believe there was a chance to survive.

We were supposed to have their backs.

Friday, September 02, 2005

My two cent's worth

I’m sure a lot of us are thinking about what we would do if we were stuck in New Orleans right now. How would I react? How would my family survive?

This morning on the bus I came to the following conclusion. My family (that is my white family) would be looting the hell out of that town. I can tell you conclusively that T.V. cameras wouldn’t catch them with armloads of birth control, bibles, or the complete works of Tolstoy.

Try, perhaps, raw materials to restart the family meth business that the feds so rudely put an end to a few years ago (hey, the Fords had cars, the Smuckers have jelly. ) Then maybe gardening shears to cut house arrest bracelets, and some really bad outfits. And of course all the booze and smokes they can get their hands on.

Here’s what I think a few of my family members would loot and how'd they fare in anarchy:

My mom: She’d loot tabloids, black hair dye, diet coke and then go find a couch somewhere and chill until the National Guard came. She'd probably hang out with the guys who took the T.V's then be really pissed when they all realized how useless it was.

Aunt Sheila: She’d loot firearms, and lots of them. Then I think she wouldn’t be all that concerned with getting to a shelter. She’d set off an a mad hoochie hunt to find my uncle’s girlfriend.

My Uncle Mark: Now I’d be inclined to steer WAY clear of him during a state of lawlessness. His mind is so fried from the drugs he did in the 70s there’s no telling how he would react. But he did spend some time in the marines before going AWOL and he used to go on these acid/hunting trips for days. He'd come back spinning yarns about seeing Bigfoot in the woods. So I think there are some viable survival skills there. . .

My brother Chad: He’d definitely stock up on assorted Little Debbie Snack cakes. Then he’d round up a group of vigilantes to patrol the streets and carry out “Chad’s Law.”

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I eats me spinach

I don’t think anyone would want to be on the receiving end of a punch administered by Meg White from the White Stripes. That little shit was pounding the hell out of her drum kit last night at their concert at the Auditorium Theatre. Them guns appear to be mighty powerful, especially for such a sprightly chick.

Even from my seat in the last row of the vertigo section, I was totally taken by her. Once I got beyond my hallucinations that she and Jack White were not musicians, but delicious drum and guitar playing baguettes (I was about 36 hours into the South Beach Diet) I kind of forgot that Jack was there.

I think I want to be Meg White.

At 33, is it too late to change my career path? Maybe my 13-year-old niece Kaylla can teach me how to play the drums. She plays them in her junior high band, and I am always trying to prove to her how cool I am. This would do it, I think.

Then I could join the hippies in the drum circles that hold protests in my neighborhood at 18th and Blue Island. Think of the aggression I could get rid of (and the raging weed habit I could acquire.)

Meg, you rock!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina, What the fuck?

Ok, so maybe those survivalist weirdos aren't so crazy afterall. It’s a little unsettling to see a sizable chunk of our country up for grabs.

This is the caption had with this photo.

Residents help clean up a store in Long Beach, Mississippi, that was wrecked by Katrina.

I’m no linquistics expert, but “cleaning up” and “cleaning out” are not interchangeable.

See Operation Red Dawn.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Why I cringe everytime a celebrity is interviewed in the Chicago media

Last night I caught an interview with Vince Vaughn and Susan Carlson from Channel Two.

It was excruciating.

Now Ms. Carlson did everything right I think according to the Chicago school of entertainment reporting. And that is to ask the celebrity the same fucking question as many times as you can, but take care to reframe it ever so slightly each time you ask it. "So how do you like Chicago?", "How was filming here?", "What do you think of the people?", "Chicago has great restaurants, right?" "It's my kind of town, how 'bout you? "CHICAGOCHICAGOCHICAGO!" It's almost maniacal. And they all do it. Janet Davies, Sneed, Roger Ebert, and so on and so on.

Do their editors or producers or whatever think this city is brimming with insecure people who need a celebrity tell them their city is cool? Are we a bunch of portly and homely teenage girls begging, "Do you really think I'm pretty? Really?"

O.K. back to Vince Vaughn. Clearly he has established that he likes it here. He grew up here, he just bought a house, so Susan Carlson could have moved on, my God. But she didn't and I think sexpot Vince was getting a little annoyed. I would have asked him the tough questions if I was doing the interview. Like why does he have to be so hot? Or, would he like to come over to my place and watch History Detectives and drink beer?

I know this happens because these folks basically suck at interviewing and doing something original would cause internal bleeding. So they're taking the easy route. I should feel sorry for them. But I don't. It just aggravates the bejeezus out of me.

Are we supposed to feel inferior to the great NYC, L.A. or D.C? Hell no.

Nelson Algren said that "loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose." I love that! And I'm thinking Nelson would have done a bang-up job when hotshot celebrities came into this city back in the day.

I'm sure old Nelson wouldn't mind if I borrow this and take it further:

"Loving Washington D.C. is like loving a smarmy know-it-all who lies to you and makes you pay for everything."

"Loving L.A. is like loving a sushi-eating pansy who wouldn't think twice about blowing the mortgage on botox treatments."

"Loving New York is like loving a pretentious, $1,000 suit with legs who very likely had drunken oral sex with a fraternity brother once or twice." (Ok, I have no idea where that came from, but for now it seems pretty funny)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My grandmother, the hollerback girl.

Last weekend I headed back to my hometown to attend a wake. My brother-in-law’s mother had passed away and my aunt Sheila was kind enough to pick me up. We both had my grandmother on our minds who had died over 10 years ago.

I have to say Sheila is hands down my favorite among my mom’s five sisters. She’s fun to hang out with, and each time we get an extended period of time alone together, she’ll offer up some dirt from the past if I’m in the mood. I think I have white-washed a few of my childhood memories, and I can count on Sheila to set the record straight.

On Sunday, Sheila was telling me how she used to babysit me and my sister (brother Chad hadn’t come along yet) when my single mom went out on the town.

“Yeah, your mom, and Laurie, Rita (other aunts) and grandma used to go to Al Murdochs.”

“Wait a minute, grandma used to barhop?”

“Yeah,” Sheila said, looking at me like I was the dumbest person on earth. “How do you think she met her boyfriends?”

Boyfriends? Holy shit! I was stunned. I was too small to remember Leo Sloane, Ralph Cummings, Walter Kiefel, and Ray Whatshisnameski, she said.

When I got my mom alone later that night, I wanted to confirm Sheila’s story.

“Uh, Sheila says Grandma Marilyn was a barfly.”

My mom, unlike her sister, doesn’t share much about the past. Probably because she was a central character in many of these adventures. “All I’m going to say is that your grandmother was no June Cleaver.”

So it turns out that my twice-divorced Grandma had quite a social life up until the late 70s. She was an attractive, tall red head who could fill out a sweater. And she was single, so why not I guess?

The grandma I remember, the one I liked before she got a little too bitter for my tastes, let me drink coffee at like age 7, turned me on to PBS and current events, was smart, artistic, bitchy in a funny way, and hated Republicans. When I use to kick her ass at gin rummy she would throw her cards down on the table and yell, “GOD DAMMIT ANGIE!” and storm away from the table. Or she would mock my little-girl voice and say, "geeeeeeinnnnn!" I used to think she was just a shitty card player and a poor sport. But now I guess she was just hungover.

Maybe I’ll contact the History Detectives from PBS to see if they can find out more about this mystery woman.

I can see it now. They’ll come knocking at my door, and tell me:

“We unearthed this 1971 bar tab of your grandmothers,” they’ll say excitedly. “We think, it’s not conclusive however, that she drank all of this by herself. She might have been that rockstar you think she was.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sexual Perversity in the Chicago Reader

(The following was written under the influence of a lot of expired Ibuprofen)

Sure this town is filled with world-class restaurants, hot clubs, and trendy shops. Yet as a girl with simple tastes, all I need sometimes to have an adventure in our city is a cup of coffee and the Reader.

After reading last week’s issue I now can end my search for a methadone clinic that not only offers free methadone during your birthday week, but also has complimentary gourmet coffee. Hey, knowledge is power, right?

But true enlightenment came in the pages of the classifieds. This is the place where the debaucheries of our fellow Chicagoans are documented for all prosperity. . . oh and people are trying to sell stuff, too.

First off, we have the Reader Matches which are your garden-variety looking for love ads. Following the matches are the Adult Services ads. Pretty straightforward. No surprises to be had there.

This leaves the XXX Matches from where I dare say the ad honchos at Leo Burnett could recruit copy writers. Their vivid prose uses few words to successfully describe what they’d like to see happen with the various appendages and orifices of the human body.

Now I have a pretty open mind, but there’s one ad that I can’t begin to understand. One gentlemen rattled off a litany of things he’s into.

“I’m into streaking, (this, that, and the other,) and butt-sniffing.”

I wondered for a bit how he figured out that he was a sniffer. Of course I also am at a loss to see how his sniffees derives any pleasure from this.

In the end I concluded that like any great explorer in history, the sniffer was searching for something else, yet ended up at a completely different destination and decided to stay.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

I totally want to have a three-way with Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot

Now that's an attention-grabber, eh?

Growing up, my brother Chad and I fought quite frequently. Verbal assaults mainly, and our mother would quickly get sick of hearing it and declare, “I WISH YOU TWO WOULD START SAYING NICE THINGS TO EACHOTHER!”

In response, we developed a strategy called “talking in opposites.” Meaning, you’d say something to a person, but mean the exact opposite. That person would know you’re talking in opposites, and thereby feel the full sting of statements like, “You’re pretty,” “I really like your hair today,” or “you have a lot of friends.” I don’t think we ever really felt we put one over on the old lady, but it was fun for us.

By now I think you’ve grasped the direction of today’s posting.

I DO NOT, in fact, wish to have a three-way with the Rock critics from the Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, respectively.

After perusing the day's news, and using our in opposites strategy I have made a few observations:

- I am absolutely shocked that a former Colin Powell-aide is saying that Powell’s famous rally-to-arms UN speech was based on complete crap that Bush's administration called intelligence. I think he's lying when he says, “"It was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose."

-I didn’t for one second think a politically incorrect thought when I read the headline “Poll: Over 40% in Mexico would live in U.S.”

-I think President Bush is totally deserving of a month-long vacation. He works really hard. I hope one day I can go to the western White House.

-After living in Chicago for nearly 9 years, I’m not the least bit upset that I’ll probably never get a ghost-payrolling job with the city. I love having to work everyday. I love eating lunch at my desk, and never getting a chance to sneak out and run a drug syndicate while working for Streets and San. I’m o.k. with it, really.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

No one told me 33 is the new 63

I'm about a week into my 33rd year, and I'm kind of not liking it.
Overnight it has become noticeably harder to get out of bed in the morning, I shit you not.

Has 33 taken me beyond the twilight of my 20s? I’m not sure, but something has changed.

I know women in their 30s are more self-assured, grounded, and have a better handle on life, blah, blah, blah. But I'm thinking I'd trade a little of that togetherness to not feel like death warmed over for the first 15 minutes or so of my morning.

Back in the day when fashion magazines ran pieces on how to look good in your 20s, 30s, 40s, etc., I used to have the luxury of smugly skipping over the old hags and reading the 20s tips. They pretty much amounted to telling you to do whatever the hell you wanted cuz your body, skin, and hair was sooo freaking youthful and glorious. You could withstand rock star booze binges and cold pizza for breakfast, still function and look presentable.

Now this old hag is considering adding soy in her diet. Revitalift is on my Walgreen’s list for tomorrow and I’ve officially included “tweeze chin hair” to my regular beauty regimen.

At least the biological clock panic hasn’t set in yet. I think that stems from my complete disregard for time (I can go years without wearing a watch. Really, I can.) Besides when 40 hits and if I’m totally desperate for a kid, I can always adopt one of those tragic third world orphans.

That's if Angelina Jolie has left some for the rest of us.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Love is. . . Breaking your man out of the joint.

Apparently Jennifer Hyatte didn't read The Rules. Because if she did, in addition to knowing that you never, ever accept a date for Saturday if the invitation comes later than Wednesday, she would know that if a paramour asks you to kill someone, he's probably not the right guy for you.

Hyatte's husband George, that slippery little sucker who has escaped captivity five times, met Jennifer while she was working as a prison nurse (Ahh, what a love story fit for Hollywood.) While he was being transported last week at a courthouse, Jennifer pulled up and killed--at George's behest--a guard. With that out of the way, she and her husband were ready to ride off into the sunset and life happily ever after. (By the way, the guard had survived Vietnam only be sent to his maker by these young lovers.)

Of course it's an absolute waste of time to ask what this girl was thinking. One can go crazy trying to analyze these folks. But time is what I have right now, so here I go. . .

What in God's name would cause a woman to not only MARRY a freaking convict, but also kill for him, and then be idiotic enough to think you're going to get away with it? Aren't there a few red flags that would pop up along the way?

I'm trying to imagine Miss Jennifer sitting around with her girlfriends prior to last week, with everyone dishing about the men in their lives over a couple of beers. Maybe one is upset because her boyfriend is obsessed with sports and leaves little time for her. Perhaps another worries that she and her husband don't have enough romance now that babies are in the picture.

And then there's Jen.

"George made me an awesome shiv necklace for my birthday! Jealous?"

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Trashed Girl

I wasn’t looking forward to a boring train ride alone back into the city last weekend. I had been at a company outing at a Schaumburg Flyers game, and had tried to get out of it with the “I can’t get out there” excuse. It was quickly met with “the train goes right to the stadium parking lot,” rebuttal. So there I was.

Several yards from the train stop, I saw her. An enchanting creature she was, wearing a long sweater and some sort of mismatched shorts ensemble. She had several bags overloaded with crap including a bright yellow, unruly garden hose.

And man, was she ever drunk.

“HAVE YOU SEEN ANY TRAINS GO BY?” Trashed Girl said badgering a police officer standing nearby. “M’am, I know trains DO go through here, but I said I don’t know the schedule,” he answered. When I got close enough, I shot him a reassuring look. I had this one all under control.

I told Trashed Girl that a train should be through shortly and offered her my schedule. Since I had recently, well sorta hopped on the wagon, I was feeling mighty superior to Trashed Girl.

As we stood waiting for the train, Trashed Girl decided to get her act together and tame the hose. It was flopping all over the place, and I was afraid she was going to fall head first onto the tracks.

“Can I give you a hand?”

“Cool,” she said.

I bent down and grabbed the hose and began to wrap it up. Stagnant, foul smelling water started to spill out. Sweet. “Um, are you planning on fighting a fire?”

“Nooooooooooo,” she slurred, laughing. “My dad didn’t need it, and I needed a hose. So I took it.” Trashed girl then explained me that she lives in Wicker Park and was out spending the day with her parents, thus all the bags of stuff. Presumably they were doing keg stands too.

Trashed girl wasn’t drunk enough to forget her manners because she offered me a tomato for my efforts. This after criticizing my hose-wrapping techniques. "You're getting KINKS in it!" Trashed Girl observed.

The train came and I let her go ahead of me.

“S’UP!” she greeted the conductor. He seemed instantly captivated with her. Now normally you’d avoid sitting next to a stranger who would remotely attempt a conversation with you. This is a rule I follow, but not this time. I plopped down in the seat next to her.

“So, do you work downtown?” I asked Trashed girl.

“No, I’m in between jobs, I got fired.” she answered. Shocker. She went on to say that she was working at Burger King but they fired her because she left early. “I had to be somewhere.” Trashed girl now babysits, YES, BABYSITS for dough and lives with her boyfriend. They karaoke (she loves to sing country), but mainly she just goes to support her man’s karaoke efforts.

Hmmmm. What else can we talk about, I thought. Iraq. . . healthcare. . .

“Well Wicker Park is a cool neighborhood, right?” I asked.

“YOU THINK SO?” Trashed Girl wondered aloud, I mean really aloud. Among other things she didn’t like about the neighborhood, living next to a retirement home was less than ideal in her mind. “There’s a bit of an odor from there,” she said raising her drunk eyebrows. Yes, old people do smell, Trashed Girl.

When the train pulled into Union Station I thought I had my fill of Trashed Girl, and let her go ahead alone. As I waited for a cab home I thought about her.

We all have a little bit of Trashed girl in us (some of us have more than others, and at inappropriate times .) Was she sent from above to remind me to chill out after a virtuouso performance at a wedding reception two weeks ago? What does all this mean? Trashed girl, what are you trying to tell me?

I was snapped out of my trance quickly.

“Hey-hey!” It was Trashed Girl and her boyfriend from across Jackson. She smiled and waved while walking toward the blue line.

I waved back. Good night Trashed Girl, good night.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What's good enough for the Pentagon. . .

Last month’s terrorist attacks in London reminded me and my friends of the importance of having a plan if something of that sort happens in Chicago. It was time to dust off an idea we came up with after 9/11. Back then we didn’t wait for Tom Ridge to tell us that we needed to get our act together. And straightaway we knew that our plan had to have a name. . . a mighty good one at that.

Brainstorming time. Howzabout Operation Infinite Justice I thought? No, scrap that. Only Allah can meter out justice, infinite or not. And how can a few drunk chicks and their hangers-on even be so bold? This had to have wide appeal. Think Hollywood . . . think Patrick Swayze. .

Operation Red Dawn was born! (I knew watching that terrible 80s movie about a handful of teens single handedly defeating an invading Soviet Army was going to pay off one day.)

There’s a bit of seriousness to Operation Red Dawn. It does require that no one go near any rubble looking for each other if some maniac or maniacs decide to take a one-way trip to paradise via Chicago’s downtown. At Operation Red Dawn’s inception my friend Jennifer’s Little Italy condo was the central meeting place. Entry to our fortress required contributions of staples including cases of beer, frozen pizzas, Baked Lays, and magazines. We’d lay low, get loaded, have dance contests, and if the shit really started hitting the fan (our code brown) we’d just . . . O.K. I really don’t remember what we planned to do to be honest. But I’m sure it was good and probably had to do with us finding our inner wolverine and kicking some ass!