Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Oh CTA bus, shuttle me to my release point with great dispatch. I said with great dispatch. And with fewer passengers, if possible. I need elbow room for my elbows, breathing room for my breath, ballroom for my balls. I have a Chicago Card Plus. Plus calcium for strong bones. You'll find this out the hard way if you enter my elbow room. The easy way is the easy way out.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I haven't smoked a cigarette in four days. Keep me away from knives.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I answered nature's call shortly after lunch time and thought myself fortunate to find today's Red Eye in the stall.

(I don't pick up Red Eye in the morning because it's a vehicle that exists solely to placate ad reps who won't stop bitching about the paltry commissions they get selling into the flagship pub and to inform recent college graduates just how much the News of the Real World resembles a free editorial insert in Lucky. I can't abide that feckless fluff and I'm not going to help empty a rack just so the Tribune Company can go running back to its advertisers with inflated claims of readership.)

But when I'm going to the bathroom and it's sitting right there, I'm like "What the hell?"

So I flip a few pages inward and land on the Mark Bazer column. Never heard of the guy, but it looks like a harmless nugget that will lend itself well to a two-, maybe three-minute skim. Within those few minutes, however, I would vow not only never to lift a Red Eye from its bulbous rack, but never to pick up a Red Eye period. It was that bad. Read it for yourself. You'll see.

I crapped a better column than Bazer wrote. When I was finished, I did what Bazer's editor should have done: flushed it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Coffee kills germs and freshens breath.

Coffee has eleven essential vitamins and minerals.

Coffee fights crime.

Coffee loves you in spite of everything.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Since other people seem to be able to pull this off without incident:

1. "The Cutter" — Echo & The Bunnymen
2. "White Trash Heroes" — Archers of Loaf
3. "Butter of 69" — Butter 08
4. "Pay to Cum!" — Bad Brains
5. "I Want To Help You Ann" — The Lyres
6. "Kundalini Express" — Love & Rockets
7. "Gravity Talks" — Green on Red
8. "Florida" — Grandaddy
9. "Drumheller" — Caribou
10. "Kiss the Devil" — Eagles of Death Metal

Thursday, March 16, 2006

MARSHALL FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — One of those sharp-nosed ladies near the fragrance counter pushed a sample card of Puffy's new essence into my hand. I slipped the card into my jacket pocket and shattered her kneecaps with my umbrella. Now every time I put my hand in my pocket it comes out smelling like a swingers club.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

On the bright side, insomnia gives you plenty of time to think. On the dark side, your eyes might end up three kinds of crossed. Thus begins Day 2 after Night 2 of no, no sleep, none. I tossed my back sore as I twisted and twisted to find my way, find my delta waves, get my dreams in, close my eyes and see some demons, at least. But no. I stared at the ceiling, the walls. I ate a cup of low-fat yogurt at 3 a.m.

I sit here and type and wonder how, if my eyes can barely stay open right now, I will get through the day without crashing into walls and failing miserably. I wonder.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

El vino did flow. We walked the earth. I laughed my lips off.

I shan't soon recover.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Just because you're standing next to me at Subway and we happen to order the same sandwich on the same bread, it doesn't mean we're instant best friends. In fact, it might mean that I despise you.

If I told you how much coffee I've had this morning, you'd shit your pants. And I mean you would really shit your pants. What the hell is wrong with you, anyway? See a specialist. Get that checked out.

I broke my first sweat of 2006 yesterday as I walked the streets looking for a photo I never found. I wanted to take a picture of a loading dock with a majestic row of 18-wheelers backed in, depositing their payloads. Alas, I didn't have time to venture out far enough from downtown proper to find what I was looking for. I broke said sweat and the nascent globules rolled down and collected at the backs of my knees. Hardly a comfort.

Forty-five minutes in, I gave up my search and began to head back toward the office. I darted through throngs of Northwestern med schoolers. They were all so clean in crisp white jackets with stethoscopes slung around their necks. Posture perfect, they strode forth exuding the brand of capableness unique to those who can thwart death with their bare hands.

I considered faking a heart attack. It crossed my mind.

I stopped at McDonald's for a bag filled with lunch. The new spicy chicken sandwich will make you shit your pants.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The vultures of last weekend have given way to seagulls. The night sky boils, rife with fresh scavengers hidden by low-hanging clouds and darkness. I can hear them; they are there. Their conversation suggests movements easterly, toward the lake, where maybe a truck hauling fresh fish has overturned in the drive's S curve.

Warmer climes blow in from the southwest. As we speak.

Some time within the next 48 hours, I hope to be running from the city police with my friends, our arms overflowing with something ridiculous, our legs and feet churning like those of large cats. We will have forgetten to pay a four-digit bar tab, stumbled out on an unfamiliar corner, grabbed as much as we could carry from a curious pile of brand new athletic socks, this as a black & white rolls by. We will run and escape and confound our pursuers, just like in the movies. Later, when the heat dies down, we will deliver the socks to those in need.

This is my dream and I'll have it no other way.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Just so everyone knows, I'm down to two to three cigarettes per day. Sin taxes work, apparently. A pack of cigarettes ran a little over three bucks in Dallas and they're now up to around seven bucks in Chicago. I've met people who buy cartons on-line from Indian reservations for like $25 (there are ten packs in a carton, for those of you who don't smoke and wouldn't know; I haven't the patience to work out the savings). But man, there's an element of depravity in that, buying cigarettes on-line. Waiting by the mail slot, eyelids twitching.

Upon my arrival in Chicago, I opted instead to cut down. About a year ago, I was at about a pack per day — twenty cigarettes or so — and I spent most of my time surrounded by smokers and looking for reasons to smoke (e.g. after a meal, before a meal, every hour on the hour, shoe came untied, swear I heard a cricket, blinked).

Not many people smoke in Chicago. It's surprising. Most of those who do are much older than I am (and maybe they're not much older, but only look much older because they've been smoking for much longer than I have). With due respect, I don't want to end up like them. And since I've cut down I am increasingly aware of the smell of smoke on other people. And how bad that smells. And how I never really thought it smelled that bad before.

Here I am, still smoking a couple every day. The thought of a cigarette makes me sick right now, but in a couple hours the hairs on the back of my neck will be on end. Fucking hell. It was easy to cut down from twenty to two, but it's going to be much tougher going from two to zero. Or maybe it isn't. Maybe the thought of it is tougher than the execution. So many have gone before me and failed, they are a built-in excuse for everyone who comes after and so maybe I'm clinging to that excuse without knowing it.

I hope I'm smarter than that, than to let some fucking smoke get the best of me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I had to lay low this weekend as the vultures migrated northward through the city en route to Cheese Country. I had to stay indoors lest the winged scavengers drop their carrion luggage onto my favorite J-Crew wool pullover. I can't have that shit. I have an appearance to maintain, and that appearance does not lend itself to walking the streets draped in uncured flesh. At least not until the spring season.

I remained indoors; I darned my socks and damned those filthy birds. I wore the softest T-shirts imaginable.

Friday. Saturday. Sunday. A long mosey. Large black shadows flapped across the windows of the front room and the sky crawled with flight. I huddled near the apartment's interior for safety, in the side room with the thin window, I drank a beer or several and passed out in a warm pile of fresh laundry. I did not play video games. I swear. Too dangerous.

The last of the vultures made their way through town late last night. I stepped outside and had a smoke as a rare snow fell. Drops of cold mist tickled my lash tips. Someone allowed a large dog to drop a deuce in our front yard. Steam rose from the evidence. I brushed for prints.

I'm quitting. I am.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Let's for a moment ignore the fact that I hardly slept last night and focus instead on the fact that I couldn't get the hot water running this morning and so I had to stick my head in the shower to wash my hair and the rest of my body remains conspicuously unclean to the point that I fear later today my various pits and regions may begin to smell like midsummer homelessness.

On second thought, let's focus on parrots. What's with those crazy birds?

(The headwind torments me; I have a high center of gravity. My eyes well up, desperate. I cross the streets with fingers crossed. I navigate by sense of smell.)

Let's focus on my bus ride. I like to face east as we head south, but the sun gets into my eyes sometimes and I'm helpless. I refuse to pick up the morning papers, the miniature news, the latest on sidewalk gum and Lil' Kim's exploding tits. I'd rather pretend to read a book, in order that my co-passengers think me a graduate of some top foreign university — one with gargoyles perched vigilant at the top corners of the field house and priests for professors and coeds who walk the quadrangle without underwear. The sun is in my eyes and it's relentless. It doesn't relent. That is, relenting is not done by it. It being the sun. I can't read a word of what I'm reading. I'm holding the book upside down. Co-passengers are taking note, pointing, giggling. "He's trying to look like one of those international geniuses." "He's a lunatic." "A pervert and a murderer!" "Yes. Both."

It's all I can do to remember to pull the cord as we roll up on Hubbard. The cord works half the time. The other half the time I must stagger forward to the front and tell the driver "Hubbard please."

The driver stops and the doors fold open and I disembark, because doing so is more sophisticated than getting off.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What makes a grown man put a sticker of an angry eagle bursting through an American flag in the back window of his Chevy Blazer? And those fake-bullet-hole stickers — what's up with those? Doesn't putting fake-bullet-hole stickers on your windows make you look like more of a pussy than someone who doesn't have them? If you're really hard-core about eagles, flags and ass-kicking, wouldn't you have some real goddamn bullet holes in your windows?

Go drop your kid off at school and for chrissakes remember to take your heartburn pills, tough guy.