Monthly Archives: February 2012

Hears Birds

vuela vuela 3rdarm

My friend Jonathan fell asleep on the couch when I showed him the governors debate on immigration. I wrote the previous post as he snored nearby. He woke up right as I went live with the “Paroxysm of Eroticism”- titled after the first words from the film Crazy Horse. I showed it to him- He has an open mind. I continued the conversation at work with Chef Mark. He said that one of the faces on the Time Magazine cover, Yo Decido, was a person who just looked Latino. My sister wrote in a comment on the previous post that North America would be a better place with fewer borders. I’m smoking schwag and listening to Santana III. Michael Schennum whose face on the Time cover is right behind the letter M is actually Chinese Norwegian and Irish. He said, “They never told me what it was for or [asked] if I was Latino.”

Paroxysm of Eroticism

Chorizo 3rdarm

Before a film I ate at Taqueria Traspasada. It was my second or third meal at a restaurant in the new neighborhood. The first and second involved falafel and a cuban. This time I got two vegetarian tacos and a chorizo taco. The place is a kitchen and a cane shaped counter to sit. The flames used to cook the chorizo were disproportional to the small amount of meat. They were eighteen inches. The film itself was the 2011 documentary about the chic nude dancing show with Champagne in Paris, Crazy Horse. The film is a perfect trap for people like me. A moving picture of naked women dancing avant garde, directed by an 82 year old man. Growing up in Connecticut, I was told that if you stand in Grand Central Station long enough, everyone you have known in your life will pass by. This film is the Grand Central Station for folks of a like mind to the 82 year old director. Which to me should be a lot of people. I asked the concessionaire how the show was doing in sales. I figured it would be a hit at the Music Box, amongst the filthy types. He replied that it was no big deal. My screening was respectable, in Theater 2. One guy walked out when the bald French artistic director was explaining how women who are naturally beautiful plateau in performance because they reach the level of their self confidence and can go no further, and the less beautiful develops a personality and strategies to go further. I am unsure what upset him- the meaning of the words or the pictures on the screen.

Ribs and fried green tomatoe 3rdarm

While Etta is on the road to the Southernmost Point, I took the time time to watch 5 hours of Sunday morning talk shows the following midnight. My friend tried to get a driver’s license using fake papers when he was 15. After the written test and eye exam, a man in a suit and a man in uniform asked him to a room. He could have been locked up or deported. I asked if that was the scariest moment. He said no, the first time he tried to make it to the U.S. with his uncle was worse. They walked for 8 hours and crossed the river, but were picked up by border patrol and almost separated on the way back to Mexico. The following exchange, the beginning of a debate between California Governor Jerry Brown and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Meet the Press yesterday, seemed prescient about the coming election-

MR. GREGORY: Let me, let me move to a really important issue in Arizona and in this fall campaign and that’s the issue of immigration. As I mentioned, Governor Brown , 34 years ago to the day, you were on MEET THE PRESS and we couldn’t actually find the tape for it, but we have something that you said about immigration which I want to put up on the screen. You said, “I do believe that the Mexican-American has been too invisible in California and throughout the Southwest . It is imperative that we in this country , and particularly in the Southwest , open our hearts and our minds to this culture and that we try to accelerate the melting pot and the assimilation process so that we can live together in harmony.” Here’s Time magazine this week and on the cover it is “yo decidito” — “yo decido,” which is that I’m going to decide. Hispanic-Americans are going to decide who the next president is if you look at the percentage that they occupy the voting bloc . And they are certainly not very happy with the Republican Party . Do you believe even more strongly today what you said 34 years ago?

GOV. BROWN: Very much so. And I was willing — I think — I may be the only governor, but I know I’m the one who signed the Dream, Dream Act in California …

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. BROWN: …that will enable undocumented students who do well in high school to go to college , pay in- state tuition and even get a scholarship. So I know there’s a lot of controversy in that, but you can’t round up 12 million people and ship them back across the border . That’s a disaster. We have to certainly secure the border , but we need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. And I think Obama would — supports that and I certainly do.

Small Brass Nut

Cat head 3rdarm

My cat was exhibiting the signs of cat trauma. He was meowing a lot. It happened right after the move. My sister asked in email how that went. I spoke with Dave on the phone today, told him about the movers. He said that maybe he should ask them how it went. The answer is that was harder on Roly Poly than me. I had to pack / unpack boxes. Roly poly had to survive in his dog crate. In survival mode he went without food, water, or a spot to comfortably relieve himself. After an unknown amount of time, I put his cage in the front / extra bedroom / Etta studio, and opened the door. I moved his litter box, food and water in there. After another unknown amount of time, I opened that door and he crept out to a new, very large place. He was scared.

The first night I was running the bathtub faucet and microwaving a bag of popcorn and the meowing started. He meowed over and again. I checked him for lumps. But it was just he was afraid. Fear was the cat’s lumps. Roly poly was in the grips of the fear. I never hollered at him or called him a bad name, because I know the fear, too. I did splash water at him. He was fine. The second night I paid off the neighbors for a weeks internet. On the computer, I researched cat fear, and emailed my sister the results. She said that Roly poly was a brass nut, but that he probably needed more petting and attention. By this time I had the place put together, the boxes gone, everything near its place. I took out his fine tooth cat comb and brushed him. He meowed excessively right when I stopped.

At that point I considered rushing him to the car and driving straight to a twenty four cat hospital. But we hung in there, and he settled down. When I got home from work the third night, I opened the door to the apartment and met old Roly Poly. He tried to rush past me but I kicked him in. Then I chased him to his tree. He dug his claws in as if to say, “I’m going to get you!” and leaped off to attack a catnip mouse. The last move, for me, way more traumatic. This time around, it was harder on the cat. But I try my hardest to give him lots of extra attention. For instance, the blog post.

Costa rica 3rdarm

I got a message from a family friend who has been in my life since I was tiny, Fran. She said the funeral for Whitney Houston, looking back on a life of achievement and the highs reached, accompanied by songs from the nineties, reminded her of my mom. She said mom was just as special. My aunt, sister and I were on her mind last weekend. The above picture is from 1998. I remember going to Costa Rica with my mom and Aunt Judy to visit Kate. Sitting between them on the shuttle to the airport, I felt so safe. That was pretty cool, our journey to Central America. “Somehow the music, etc. just made me think of her and how great a person she was in spite of all her frailties. I need to tell you this.”

Lover’s Rock

Lovers rock scrubbing and rubbing

Today my friend Emerson’s sister Caitlin wrote on Facebook- “After watching another documentary on netflix I’m left thinking : Wow. I am such a boring person.”

My response- I like to watch documentaries in the theater. It costs more but makes me feel less lonely. It’s a question of balancing feelings. For example, my blood pressure medication makes me feel slightly less anxious to go out in public dressed in a cat-fur-covered fleece sweat suit. It’s not for everybody, but for me, that’s the value in paying for the blood pressure medication, which comes from Delhi, India. I’m typing this in a cat-fur-covered fleece sweat suit, waiting for a documentary on 80s British reggae to begin. The Story of Lover’s Rock, directed by Menelik Shabazz, now playing at Facets Cinema. My hair is slicked to the side except for a noticeable cowlick. There is one other guy in the theater.

Maurie and Flaurie

maurie and flaurie 3rdarm

More on food as the medium for benign connection between human being and human being- It is my last night in the apartment. Not my first apartment in Chicago, but my first in ten years. The movers are to arrive at ten in the morning and I hadn’t started packing yet. I wanted to make sure I mailed all my tax forms to my street attorney in Key West before they were irretrievably lost in the chaos of packing. That was my first priority. I also had to pay the movers in cash, and needed an ATM visit as well. I got in my car to do the chores. Food crept into my mind, and I maneuvered to the highway. I needed superfood for energy: I wanted two Superdawgs. After I ate my Superdawgs, I felt a rush. I cranked up the radio and revved the engine. While driving to jams, I texted my sister, “Hot dogs and classic rock- Doing things.” I texted Etta, “Got a hot dog high.” She texted back, “Careful little cat.”

That was in the early evening. It is now the middle of the night, and I’m eating a green apple. In reflecting on my Superdawgs, and in the grip of procrastination, I read the following story on the Superdawg website and started crying: “We visited your location on Devon and Milwaukee Ave yesterday (5/30/05). Joined with me were my husband and two boys. This was a special visit for me since I had not been here in over 15 years!!!! My father passed away Memorial Day weekend in ’93. I have fond memories of him taking me to the cubs games, chicago museums and the scenic routes of Sheridan Road. We always stopped on the way home in Arl Hts to Superdawg for a special meal to take home. When he had passed away, and I moved further north near Wisconsin, I didn’t visit. Boy, I made a mistake! THere has been NO other location who serves up Dogs and Burgers like you do!!!! Yesterday it was my father’s 12 year anniversary since his death and I along with my family went to go visit him and then take the scenic route on Sheridan to visit his parents in Calvary Cemetary in Evanston. On the way back up we decided to go and visit a fond memory of mine to Superdawg so my husband and my two boys could experience the Superdawg taste!!! As soon as I took a bite out of my hotdog, those memories came back!! Nothing has changed!!! That is a good thing!! It’s perfect!!! I had a chocolate malt and boy was it good!! Just like how it was back then!!! I want to thank You for the fun and bringing me back to my childhood!!! Not many places stay the same or end up closing but I hope the next time I am out that way, it will still be there!!!! If it weren’t for your pure beef heart, your success wouldn’t have brought you where you are today!! My boys loved their hot dogs too and we plan on making frequent stops now!!! They are only 6 and 4 years of age but I am sure they will grow up with Superdawg!!!”

Augies 3rdarm

I used to go for hotdogs with my grandmother, Happy. Sometimes she would take me for a hotdog even if I was at her house because I was out “sick” from school. We would drive the three miles from her house by East Hartford High School to Augie’s on Silver Lane. It was my favorite treat. Food is tied to memory. Restaurants may reveal the ugly sides of human nature but the work has meaning. Food not only touches the tongue and absorbs in the stomach but sometimes, once in a while, plucks the mystic chords of memory that join us to our parents, grandparents, and ancestors, who may be gone, whose food paths we still follow.

Seven Layer Middle Eastern Mountain

Rufus wants a torta 3rdarm

Crescent Dragonwagon: It wouldn’t be worth the bean if they weren’t delicious too. People would never… you know. Food does three things. It nourishes us. It gives us sensual pleasure. And it serves as the medium for benign connection between human beings and other human beings. Between human beings and the earth. Farmers, those who produce it, those who cook it, from the moment a baby takes milk from its mother… It’s that triangle of things, and if food is absent, I believe, in any one of those things, we’re being shortchanged.

Tom Ashbrook (8 minutes sitting in front of cooked beans): I’m getting very ready for that food.

New custom chocolate winnower 3rdarm

Tom Ashbrook (hungry, 8 minutes later): Shelley, we appreciate your call. That sounds like a recipe for eternal happiness. And, and… But I can’t resist anymore. I appreciate your call Shelley, but the board is spread. I want to dive right in here for how many cents a day I don’t know. But when you talk about tasting, we’ve got to do it right here right now. I’m glad you’re getting people into it there in New York Shelley, and thank you for that call.

Crescent Dragonwagon: And grains and beans are a dynamite combination. Cooked in the same pot it simplifies it. Cooked separately you get a whole different range of flavors…

Chef Amado 3rdarm

Tom Ashbrook: Deep feast, on the table. What have we got here? Crescent Dragonwagon. Tell us.

Crescent Dragonwagon: Ok, first thing that we have here… I’m sliding the food towards Tom

Chef shaw in focus 3rdarm

Tom Ashbrook: And it looks like an enormous pie.

Crescent Dragonwagon: It looks like a pie but it is not a pie.

Tom Ashbrook: With black bean something on the top, or sour cream… I don’t know what is it?

Crescent Dragonwagon: No no no! You’re way wrong dude. OK take a chip here… This is a pita chip. And dip down. Go down in.

Crescent Dragonwagon 3rdarm

Tom Ashbrook: Oh this is one of those… seven layer

Crescent Dragonwagon: It’s seven layer Middle Eastern mountain.

-On Point, February 16, 2012, The World of Beans

Reverse Cosmosis

elusive Dan Horne 3rdarm

Over the weekend, I brought home some bolillos from work- it is Mexican bread, baguettes. My coworker/friend Adriana insisted I take them. A few days later, after my 3 days off- 3 days in my apartment leaving only for food and films, I returned to work. I thanked her for the insistence because the bolillos contributed much needed calories to my stay-at-home subsistence. She asked how I prepared them. I said I ate them raw with black coffee. No, no, she said, I should have used the toaster and spread butter or jelly on them. That was too much for me. I told her that I am barely able to care for myself in the absence of my girlfriend. It is sad- I’m debbed out. Black coffee and bolillos, man. I continued on to Adriana that all men are this way, basically babies in grown bodies. And all men are assholes, myself included for sure.

At work I was on the to-go register. We take the customer’s first name for the order. My first customer was named Debra. The second was Debbie. The gas company was supposed to call on their way to the new apartment- to read the meter. I kept my phone in my pocket, on vibrate. It never vibrated. Two hours outside their four hour window, I had a missed call. My blood pressure spiked. For sure I thought those gas fuckers were fucking me over. I was red hot in an instant. Excusing myself from the dining room, I listened to the voicemail in the back. It wasn’t the gas company. The message was from another Debbie, a manager at AT&T, saying the new apartment qualified for internet twice as fast and less expensive than what I pay now. I was the biggest Deb of the bunch.

The bike ride home in light rain was weirdly warm- I did not feel wet. The temperature was in the forties, and I like the forties. I listened to the On Point podcast– Tom Ashbrook was talking about Rick Santorum. Foster Friess, the super PAC financing multimillionaire from Wyoming, was saying awful things. He sounded like a super villain. Rick Santorum is not expected to do well with independents or women, but he does fly high the flag of conservatism/Catholism/being an asshole. I listened to the Beachwood Sparks- who are coming out with a new album before the summer. Last time they released an album I was living in Chicago as well- it was 2002. I tracked my blood pressure pills- they made it from Delhi to NYC in less than two days.

A Chicago Born Feminist in the Deep South

Young hearts 3rdarm

The press called him Slick Willy, and it stuck. The general thinking was- He was dead. Politicians didn’t survive this thing. As many began to abandon Clinton, one person rose strongly to his defense. Bill Clinton’s a smart guy. A very smart guy. But he will tell you that Hilary is a lot smarter than he is. She much tougher than he is. She is more of a pragmatist. If Clinton is a dreamer, Hilary is Miss Reality. She raised him up and said, Look, get that pity out of your body, and all that defeated-ism out of your back, and- Let’s deal with this issue, and- Let’s move on to the next issue.

happy valentines 3rdarm

At the height of the scandal, millions tuned in to see Bill Clinton answer questions on the CBS program, 60 minutes. But it was Hilary who stole the show. You know I’m not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I’m sitting here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together. And you know if that’s not enough for people then heck- Don’t vote for him. By praising him, defending him, attacking the press- She brought Clinton back from the dead. How do you think it went, Governor? Do you think you answered the questions? We did our best, and we feel good about it. The American people are the judges now. We’re gonna let them judge. So you can see why he was so attached to her. Because she had the power to save him.

-Chapter 1, The Comeback Kid, of the American Experience special on US President Bill Clinton, to be broadcast on PBS, February 20 – 21

Groover’s Paradise

Glenn and Et 3rdarm

I did it. The pushups, the Thai food garbage, even replaced the bag. Watered the plants, fed that cat. Apartment smells like Satya Super Hit incense. The album version of Houston Chicks by Doug Sahm playing softly. It’s all good. The old Indian man with white hair and beard was working tonight. A complete list of what I bought at 7-11… 3.5 pound bag of Purina Cat Chow Complete Formula, 2.625 oz bag of 7 Select brand Mini Sticks light and crispy all natural pretzels, 32 fl oz Limon Pepino G series Gatorade, 20 fl oz Diet Coke, 1 banana, 12 fl oz Ocean Spray Sparkling Cranberry flavored beverage (for the morning), Johnson&Johnson brand Reach #1 Selling Mint Waxed Floss, and the very last available Sunday NY Times. I also noticed that they started carrying vegan baklava, maybe some other time.

getting licked 3rdarm

There was a goateed man in an idling pickup truck in the frigid parking lot. He was blasting Du Hast, by Rammstein. My mind was racing as I approached the store. What if they had sold out of Sunday NY Times, I would hate myself all week. I walked up with the truck grinding aggro German music making me a little self conscious and entered 7-11. And there it was, one Sunday NY Times left. The Rammstein guy entered the store a couple minutes later. I was reading the caloric content of El Sabroso Guacachip, Guacamole Flavored Tortilla Chips, made with real avocados. He bristled by. Maybe, just maybe, the goatee man had also come to 7-11 at 2AM on Monday searching for the neighborhood’s last Sunday NY Times. I couldn’t help but think, what if in rocking out to Du Hast, he allowed me to get the last one. Maybe it was true, man, they (the universe) do hate you.

Ice Age Death Trap

3rdarm thingy etta

I am at a place right now where I am having serious trouble, in the early AM hours of Monday, to drag myself out of my Humanscale Freedomchair, do pushups, put on my sneakers and parka, and walk to the end of the block where I hope 7-11 will still have a copy of Sunday NY Times. Also I plan to buy a sparkling cranberry juice for the morning. There are two bags of trash I need to take out. There is incense I want to light. Listening to a disco version of Baby, I need your loving. You wouldn’t know it, but I am preoccupied with entropy and death. My car’s starter was acting funny about a month ago. A baby tooth with no adult replacement won’t last forever. My Sunday was ruined by a violent dream l had about murdering Etta’s first real boyfriend. I stepped on my cat with a heavy boot. I saw John Schlesinger’s 1971 film, Sunday Bloody Sunday, about a dog being hit by a truck.

Be still and know 3rdarm

I watched a show called Ice Age Death Trap. It took place in a basin in Colorado. Tens of thousands of years ago, dire wolves chased sloths and camels and mammoths. Big cats took down prey with their muscular bodies and teeth. Families of mammoths drank in the basin. One day there was an earth quake, and the ground liquified. Its called liquefaction. Now I’m listening to Doug Sahm and feeling a little better. I’m going to do those pushups and take out all the garbage, especially the containers with leftover Thai food juices. The 7-11 is going. The incense is lit. The match, from an ECG matchbook that says, “Mahalo!” almost didn’t light up. The mammoths, big and small, old mammoths and baby mammoths, in the basin at the time of liquefaction, sunk to their knees. The ground re-solidified and they were trapped. They starved to death.

Where do I begin, that’s the question. My sweet thingy watched me eat her Valentine’s candy on internet video from a 1000 miles away. I ordered more pills from Canada, Thai food on the telephone. On the radio, Wisconsin public radio, Orson Scott Card was speaking about first contact with extraterrestrial life. Orson said he would be suspicious if the aliens’ planet was similar to our planet. In his famous book, Ender’s Game, his aliens were ant-like creatures with a hive mind. When Columbus sailed to the Americas, he brought the finest interpreters he could find, but to the best of their knowledge, the natives had no language. I ate a chopped vegetable salad with peanut dressing, wide noodles with mushrooms, and sticky rice with mango.

My older, long grey pony-tailed upstairs neighbor Jim has major respiratory problems. He works at night, sleeps all day. Lately I have heard a woman’s occasional voice upstairs. Today I heard them having sex. I thought it was going to kill him. The weird snoring, rasping, gasping, and awful coughing. But I guess he’s all right. Well, the incense is lit, as they say. And I have a date with 7-11.