Monthly Archives: September 2002

Big Rain

While the rest of North America sits in a drought, Texas sits in water.  Tropical Depression Fay, who just has self-esteem issues, rather than depression, is puking her watery innards all over Texas from Houston to Austin. 

Austin is humid enough in the summer time, but with a tropical thang, it is now the equivalent of swimming in your clothes while driving your car.  The air is positively thick with water. 

Every few hours the local TV stations broadcast a flash flood warning for the area.  The clouds roll in, dump and inch or two of water in about ten minutes and roll away.  Lightning zips and zaps everywhere, thunder booms across the city, then just as quickly, gives way to high overcast. 

Kelly Wins American Idol

Ok, so Kelly won.  American Idle (spelled correctly to my thinking) Can we all go back to work now?  There are naughty folks out there who want to kill us just for the sheer hell of it and because Mohammed’s buddy Stan, said so.  Cripes Kate and Mel, have we nothing better to do with our time?

The Billy Goat

I’ve been to The Billy Goat Tavern before.  It’s under Michigan Ave., deep in the guts of underground Chicago.  It is always dark down there and perhaps just as well.  The Original Billy Goat Tavern was right across the street from the Chicago Sun-Times, not far from the loading dock where newspapers were tossed to the trucks before the presses finished rumbling for the night.

The walls of the Billy Goat are adorned with clippings and photos going back to shortly after the invention of moveable type.  Walter Winchell is there.  Mike Royko, Larry King, Mayor Daley, on and on, they’re all there, immortalized on the smoke stained walls.  Sitting at a table, you almost wait for someone to feed a dime into a payphone and yell “Get me rewrite! And hold the Front Page!” 

To this day, they sell mickeys of gin, vodka, rum and scotch over the counter, purportedly for those hard-drinking reporters who now punch the speed dial on the cell phone and then press 1 for rewrite and press 33 for composition. 

The Cheesborgers?  Superb.  The Double is the Cheesborger of choice.  Cheeps?  Ya.  Barbecue or Regular?  No Pepsi, Coke.  Served on a slab of waxed paper.  Or you could order a Polish, which is a bunch of slices of kielbasa on a bun.

Is the ghost of John Belushi here?  Sort of.  Are the Ghosts of Old Newspaper Men here?  Oh most emphatically.

McDonald’s Changes The Oil

MickeyDee’s is changing the formulation for the oil that are used to drown the fries and McNuggets and Hash Browns.  It is going to be 30% less Saturated Fat and Transfatty acids. 

Since MickeyDee used to put beef fat in the oil to give the fries that beefy feeling.  Then some Muslims got bent that they weren’t informed that sacred cow bits were in the fries.  Oh and vegetarians got kinda out of joint. 

Since I’m in the head office city of McD, I have done extensive research on this.  The new ingredient in the McD grease is…veal fat and baby seal fat. 

They figured out that they couldn’t BUY free publicity like this, so Phase 2 is revealing the secret ingredient.  I predict that the Muslims, Vegetarians, salad bar freaks, tree huggers and stream tasters will go fully ballistic when this is revealed, generating even more free publicity for McFood.

Incidentally, Soylent Green, is people….


If it took the fall of the World Trade Center for the world to see that New York City has a heart, then Chicago only needs a hangnail. 

To a person, including the street guy who wanted me to give him 10 bucks for a room for the night, Chicagoans are universally nice people.  Doormen, servers, street sweepers, counter people, doesn’t matter.  They’re just nice folks.  They don’t mind giving you directions, or sending you on the right path.  They don’t seem to mind idle chitchat to pass the time.  They also don’t seem to take themselves that seriously.  Baseball, Football and Basketball are Serious.  But the rest of life is more relaxed. 

New York City, in my pre-9-11 experience, was an essentially grumpy place.  There was a move afoot to change the state motto on the license plates from “Empire State” to “You’ve see it, now Fuck Off”  NYC also had too many people per square foot for my liking.  Chicago is just as population dense, but it doesn’t seem as oppressed by it. 

Downtown is a skyscraper canyon like NYC.  A few zillion folks commute in every morning and zoom out every night, but the attitude is more of we want to work here, not we MUST work here.

Besbaw een Cheegagoe

I had a day off and I did what I sometimes do in a city:  Buy a day pass for the transit and go where my nose leads me:  It hasn’t led me wrong yet. 

I jump on the “L” not far from my hotel and take the Loop.  I like the Loop as it is a piece of history from way back in the 20’s.  I was wondering where I might get off when I look out the window and see Wrigley Field.  Never been there.  Never done that.

I bought a seat in the nosebleed section down third base.  It was the second game of a doubleheader between the Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers.  Now, most of you know I don’t follow baseball, but I do appreciate it, having been to Jarry Park wayback when and a few years ago, took in a Lynx game at Jetform Park.  I have even been known to watch some of a baseball game, from time to time. 

So, I went to Wrigley Field.  Bought a beer, a hot dog, a soft pretzel and bag of peanuts.  Got my keester comfy and watched Sammy Sosa and Frank McGriff hand out a pasting to the Brewers.  When I left, in the 7th inning, it was 17 – 0 for the Cubs.  That, to me, is a bad football game score, not to mention a horrendous baseball score. 

Wrigley is history incarnate.  It is ancient, with wonderful sight lines everywhere.  You can see the ghosts of the 50’s and 60’s ball players running the bases in the sun.  Men in fedoras, with their sleeves rolled up, ties askew, rooting on the Cubs and Ernie Banks while Harry Caray called the game on WGN.  Cigar smoke, beer in cups, hot dogs, soft pretzels and peanuts. 

Fifty years later, not much has changed.  Kids still wear the jersey of their favourite player, lonely guys with pot bellies and acne scars still fill out perfect scorecards in the seats, while others hang with their buddies, discussing every nuance of the game in front of them.  Not much has really changed.

Perhaps that is the joy of Wrigley Field.  It is a time machine to a simpler time.  Your team was the Cubs and your mood was tied to their fortunes.  Tomorrow; The Billy Goat.