Sunday, June 29, 2008

RIP Dan Dipple

Should have posted this months ago. Joe W. first commented on my blog when I wrote about Dipple's PrintShop, my cop tavern on a dead-end street at Eastwood, because Dan was a huge fan of the Man With No Name. Dan even hung a photo of Ashley in the front window to show off the colors in the photo. Ashley at four, and now she has her driving permit. I've mentioned the cop tavern in a few stories in Twilight Tales anthologies and gave Dan a copy each time, which pleased him no end. Always having a gravelly voice, I guess I wasn't surprised when Joe W. told me Dan had passed away from cancer. I finally hooked up with Joe W. Friday, he printed up the business cards for the novel, and we shared anecdotes on cropping images, running them four-up or eight-up, bringing back a slight nostalgia for the old joint. My leather jacket no longer smells like ink, but at the same time it smells like southern Illinois. Which really isn't that bad. Joe W. and I then walked, well, sauntered over to Taste of Chicago, a huge event here each summer. Ten days of 200 booths of food, from Home Run Inn pizza to Maxwell Street Station's polish (wanna polish, c'mon, you gotta have a polish, you). Watched the girls walk by, I guzzled water as my head came closer to getting skin cancer cells, and the coolest moment came late in the day. We're sitting there on the curb and this black woman, quite lovely with gold eyeshadow and a wonderful laugh, came up to me and insisted I looked like a guy she saw on TV. Of course, I thought it must be some old coot on a commercial for Colonial Life Insurance or maybe as an artist's sketch from AMERICA'S MOST WANTED. Then she admired my blue eyes and insisted it was me in a Dorito's commercial. I guess, I said. She didn't want Joe W. left out, so she admired his buzz cut which he doesn't have and it left him feeling like that Biff in BACK TO THE FUTURE. It was a pretty cool anecdote to keep in my head as I stood on a crowded el train soon after, reading WOLF WOMAN BAY by Doug Allyn. I suppose I could have pursued talking with her, with Biff, I mean, Joe W. as my wingman, but by now you all know how many opportunities I let slip through my fingers. And there you go. Later, gang...Wayne

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm Your Vehicle, Baby

From the song "Vehicle" by IDES OF MARCH, one of my favorite songs. I'm your vehicle, baby, I'll take you anywhere you want to go... And tonight I'm taking you to my monthly post at Storytellers Unplugged. Hope you enjoy my road to crazytown...Wayne

Well, damn it all, I can't cut & paste like I have in the past. You can find the link down on the left...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bubbly Creek Visuals

OK, gang. Here are more visuals since some of you think it makes for a good story setting. In reverse order, Bubbly Creek looking southward as it passes under I-55, the McLean (OK, Adlai) Stevenson Expressway, then shots of beneath the el tracks AND just before the climb up the ice gravel towards the actual bridge. The Archer Avenue Bridge stood out better years ago before I-55 and all the on and off ramps for I-90 and I-94 started winding all around it, making it look like a Gotham City version of Hot Wheels tracks. (This part of the city makes me recall lines from a Three Dog Night Song...four level highway across the land, building a home for the Family Of Man...) The bridge is hard to photograph in its entirety and it has this cool little office cubicle-sized operations center and/or portal to Alpha Centauri at the very top. Then there's the shot of the bridge in winter, and here is a better point than mentioning the bubbles. Every winter, no matter how cold it gets, Bubbly Creek does not freeze over, and I'm hard pressed to say I've ever seen small chunks of ice on the surface. Good for the ghost cows. The standing building is part of hobo town. The first shot is looking northward towards the downtown skyline (I took this photo from the other side of the abandoned warehouse "barrens," and if all goes to plan, expect to see Bridgeport Village townhouses eating up all the space there, which is probably the last vacant parcel of land until you get on the far side of the Loop. And I'm looking forward to a cattle version of POLTERGEIST when the spirits are disturbed by the construction and part of the graveyard is moved. Hey, it could work. They made a movie called NIGHT OF THE LEPUS, with 15 foot rabbits, didn't they?...Wayne

Bubbly Creek Redux

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ashland Avenue Barrens

Steve offered me his old camera, but I'll stick with my disposables. Years ago I owned one of those Kodak Disk cameras and got the film developed at a FotoMat, remember those? Well, this photo was on the same roll as the Alley grafitti photos. At Ashland and Archer, you can get off the el and walk across Leavitt Street to the fenced in South Branch of the Chicago River. It's more common name is Bubbly Creek because of the methane bubbles constantly popping at the surface, the rendered carcasses of cows from the old Union Stockyards still slowly decomposing far, far below the green/grey waters. But if you don't climb the fence to get closer to the waters, you can walk up a bit of a treacherous climb, gravel with few footholds up over the Archer Avenue bridge (which itself has appeared in previous posts on Bubbly Creek), then there's a little hobo jungle on the other side. I've posted the photo of what it looks like from the top of the gravel climb, you can see an old spur for the Amtrak train that breaks apart like an old walking bridge a dozen trestles in. There's an abandoned factory in the background, and everything below is quite isolated. Spindles of barbed wire, gutted appliances including a refrigerator, and in the summer everything smells like piss. Several winters ago, I tried to take this same photo you see here, but there was ice on the gravel and I slipped, my right knee making a cracking noise that echoed the way everything echoes in an open area in Chicago's winter. My leg numb, my camera broken, I slid down into hobo town, thinking, well, as usual, nobody knows where I am. I wasn't afraid of thugs or squatters (the homeless that do not stay in the Loop seem to be more prone to violence the further south one goes), rather I was concerned that my knee was broken. I have a fairly high pain threshold, in 1999 I spwnt an entire day playing ball with my nieces not knowing I had fractured my right elbow in three places. And I realized the last time I was heading downtown that I never did take that photo, and I made a note in my head to come home in exactly the right train car, so I'd be in the right position and would have the photo centered. And here it is, one of the creepiest areas in Chicago, even in broad daylight on a Saturday summer afternoon...Wayne

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Solstice Moon, Last Week

I'll always use a disposable camera over a digital, if anything, as I told Bob earlier, because I'd likely break the digital camera with one of my hand spasms within the hour of my having it in my possession. But there are times which I could take photos of the night sky and last week's full moon the night before the summer solstice would have been something I wish I could have photographed from here. As is, I have two photos, one from Maryland and the other from Greece. Enjoy the beauty, as I did from a different vantage point last Thursday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Alley Behind The Alley, Several Saturdays Ago

This goes back to the Saturday night I watched THE 3:10 TO YUMA with Larry and Tycelia at their pad. They live just down the block from where the Dillinger film was shooting a scene yesterday. I started on my trip north a bit later in the day, avoiding some of the train crowding whenever there is a home game at Wrigley Field. Lots of folks drive to Midway and park, then pile on the train. Hell, its cheaper than going to see the Sox, but I tend to enjoy reading with as little background noise as possible, I've learned to accept *sigh* cell phones, particularly because a fair amount of people on the train have recently gotten off a plane and are headed wherever for whatever reason they came back to the big, bad city. But even sober baseball fans can be noisy. So I left to get the train later and missed all that crap. Bounced around downtown for a few minutes before grabbing the Red Line, a few stops after a guy in Army desert fatigues stepped through the door and I moved a seat over, he thanked me and we then had a conversation about the Skrulls invasion when he saw the comic I had in my hands. I was surprised to hear how up-to-date the comic readers stationed in Iraq were, I don't know why I would have thought otherwise. When I worked at Chaos In Print in the early 90s, several stores put together an effort to send overstock to the guys during the first Gulf War. (I've mentioned in an older blog post on how one of our regular customers had his folks pick up his comics once he went to Kosovo to fight--as a freedom fighter in his native country--and how they came in months later, saying that there was no need to put aside the Captain Americas and the X-Mens because their son had been killed). So it was one of those cool conversations I sometimes find myself stumbling into, and, because I had moved a seat over, next to the window, I felt a familiar crackle and clink when I moved my left foot. Anyone riding public transit here will know that sound to be a pint liquor bottle in a bag. One that costs less than the Avengers comic I held in my hand that day. I snagged it up with my own backpack at Belmont, surprised by the weight. Sure enough (and sadly enough for whoever had dropped a buck twenty), the bottle of Wild Irish Rose had not even been opened. I knew I had a prop now for some photos. I walked towards Clark Street, then went into the alley behind The Alley, a staple of the neighborhood, selling motorcycle jackets, cop jackets, shirts that say CHICAGO HOMICIDE: Our Day Begins When Yours Ends or What Would Jesus Do For A Klondike Bar? To one side, there's a tattoo parlor and a joint called Egor's Dungeon that sells sex toys. To the other, a Dunkin Donuts. Well, I've been having fun running off at the keyboard about my day a month back, so I present to you the photos I took of the icons spray-painted on the back wall of The Alley. I cropped the middle one with Marilyn because it was off-center, Mr. Shaky Hands and all, but I was quite pleased with my effort. And I love the late afternoon glow on that cheap bottle of hooch, which I left behind as a present for someone else who could make better use of the stuff...Wayne

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Hour Before Twilight, Downtown Monday

I went up north earlier to watch a scene from DILLINGER being set up for filming--I took a few photos for a future post--and I talked cop talk with a uniform watching over Roscoe Street. I took my time bumming around, went into Chicago Comics, took the Ravenswood el to the west side of the Loop and looked at more demolition sites, then continued on to the Orange Line to catch the last bus from Midway at 8:15 PM. I had a great rush of nostalgia bordering on deja vu being in the Loop after rush hour but before dusk. The crowd thins, you see more people hugging, more people begging, and the beggars are slowly moving towards wherever they've staked themselves for the night. I saw one guy going to a box behind some Port-A-Pots near the Chicago Theater. In the winter, I've seen people sleeping on top of steam vents above the subway. It was a nice night, mid 60s, so maybe that's why I saw so many people hugging, young college kids from the Art Institute dorms. Usually I'm passing through downtown from a Twilight Tales reading much later at night, or if I have a focus study session--as I do tomorrow at 11:30, $100 to talk an hour about lip balm--it is still well after 9 PM that I head home. (On those occasions, I take the Red Line to 87th & State; I tell everyone my coach turns into a pumpkin if I'm not there by 11:05 PM. So the wind, the sky, the homeless and those in love, they all reminded me of days when I worked downtown and found myself walking around, doing exactly what I reveled in tonight.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strange Mysteries

Through a different discussion with different people in what might be Earth-14, the alternate Earth I seem to visit most often after eating a pint of vanilla ice cream and watching Japanese Bazuke, I had mentioned this specific comic posted. It was one of my vision quests. Most of us have them. Items we have to acquire because of some anchor to the past. In this case, it was Strange Adventures#16, a comic I read in my Auntie Emma's living room in Shelbyville KY back in the mid 60s. And it was the first time I felt ripped off-even though I hadn't even purchased the book and it wasn't mine-because the scene portrayed on the cover NEVER HAPPENED. The two scientists and the googles were integral to the story, but those battling monsters in the foreground were nowhere to be seen. I always remembered that cover for that reason (so maybe, in retrospect, the scam worked), and several years ago, at a mini-convention where you could buy comics in booths next to aging Playboy bunnies, Lou Ferrigno, Adam West, and has-been writers like me, I found a copy of the book in a box some guy had brought in from Grand Haven, Michigan. Since I had talked this cover up to my other inter-dimensional friends on a different vibrational plane, I thought I might just post the whole history of the book's being an anchor to my past. And just because I can never post just one image, here's the back cover of almost every DC comic in the mid 60s, advertising the best models every created by man...Wayne

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Night Fun

To act as a companion to my Friday Night Fights over at Bobby The Mitch Dot Com blog. Next week it will change to Friday Night Fetish, but I think I covered that yesterday with both the creepy Japanese guys AND the Shelly Winters action figure.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Solstice

It's officially summer around 6:15 Friday evening. Celebrate however you wish, I never judge. Unless you plan on sacrificing the Shelly Winters action figure to the BBQ pit in the name of Cthulhu. Then I want in...Wayne

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In Color and Black & White

Bob asked if I owned the Therrio painting, and I told him no, it was sold before I even saw it. Wouldn't have been able to afford it regardless. Here it is hanging at the art show at the old Bop Shop on Division and Hermitage in 1996, that's when the painting had already been purchased. But there are other items I have the originals or at least signed lithos, Greg Loudon had to do a painting of an Aliester Crowley-type vampire, and back in the 80s, he took advantage of my skinniness to use me on the cover (and in an interior shot I am NOT posting) for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Alex Ross, well known for his comic painting in gauche, has used me in several books. Here I am in the UN building listening to Superman. With my finger under my nose. I had posed for photos, and would in real life make an L of my thumb and forefinger and place them over my left jaw if I was truly attentive. Wayne

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Suicide Window

One day I'll write a story called "The Suicide Window." Before Castle Frankenstein was built next door, I could see from my sleeping room to the far end of the block and the apartment buildings on 87th Street. Not quite like REAR WINDOW, more blotches of white behind trees and my neighbors' garages. But one building always had a light on in one window, and it never went off until well after dawn. It might have been a hallway security light, being on the top floor, but it spooked the hell out of me. Before I started my bipolar meds, sleep was non-existent. I would sit and stare at the square of yellow while the 2006 Winter Olympics hummed quietly in the other room. I saw a painting online that made me think of my story, which basically is one where the only people who can see the light in the window are those that commit suicide, and within two pages, I saw the quality of the paintings shown (NOT by the same artists) nosedive. The Nixon one baffles me. I found quite a few robot paintings, and I might post a few at a later date. To end this time, here I am as painted by Rick Therrio, whose link can be found to the left. I actually had a shirt with the pattern Rick painted--he sketched it as I was reading at the Red Lion back around 1996--one of those items of clothing I never wanted to part with. Things happen that involve bleach, sadly....Wayne

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Giant Spider Invasion During Polka Days 1975

First off, Sid, quoting lines from THE BIG LEBOWSKI isn't quite like spouting Heston in, well, pick a film from the 70s. Secondly, DO NOT Google Image the phrase THE THING WITH TWO HEADS because you will see some actual photos of babies with vestigial parts attached, one photo I'm familiar with from when I saw it in a medical manual while researching my novella "Lover Doll" for LITTLE DEATHS. And third, Capcom, the film I mention here is one I caught in its entirety on MST3K, but as a teenager I was royally pissed off. Its really more a giant spider invasion in the sense of lots and lots of spiders, though there is one (sadly seen chasing Barbara Hale in her fancy pantsuit and heels down a rocky slope). Contrary to the poster, which shows TALL BUILDINGS, this thing was filmed in the middle of small town Wisconsin, AND during the middle of Polka Days. Posters are in almost every scene, not like what I've posted, but I love the idea of polka music AND a multitude of axes, all in harmony. Alan Hale Jr. (yea, The Skipper's last role and no relation to Barbara) was the sheriff of the town and in the MST3K version, he never talks, he just orders food or reminisces about food. When his character yells into the phone that people are being chased by a giant spider down main street (during Polka Days!), the voice-over is of his shouting to Domino's that since it's been longer than half an hour, his damn pizza was going to be free! I wish I could've gotten a photo of the giant spider, guys. A black tarp over a Gremlin--as Mitchum is my witness, an AMC Gremlin!--with those pipe things attached so that when the car drove blindly the pipe things would bounce off the ground, as if the spider's legs were moving, and also making it look like the spider's legs had various numbers of joints and it was also epileptic. There was some kind of background love story going on--besides the Skipper and his food order--and there were shots of the guy, his girl wearing Daisy Dukes before there was a Daisy Duke, before he got bitten by a tiny, tiny spider. Romance, terror, big name stars just before they died, and they even made room for Polka Days! And who could forget the AMC Gremlin, which I believe came in two colors, grape and the same shade of green you see in Elvis's Jungle Room at Graceland...Wayne

Friday, June 13, 2008

Trying To Explain Sci-Fi Films of The 1970s

Rev. Lee sent me this cartoon which I found quite humorous, and instead of just emailing it to everyone, I copped it up for the blog. This shows is a great illustration for the generation gap, and it doesn't even mention tag lines from WEREWOLVES WITH WHEELS, ZARDOZ, and Ray Milland at the end of his career film, THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, or THE TERRIBLE TWO-HEADED TRANSPLANT (with Milland and Rosy Grier: tag line by Grier's girlfriend, "Is that all you have two of?") Also the craziest ending in any film, Rosy and his girl and some black dude who probably was like Lamont's friend on SANFORD & SON driving around, playing the radio, and singing "Happy Days Are Here Again." Oh, and let's not forget THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION. I see another post in my future. And, no, that's not a tag line from the film...Wayne

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In Honor Of My 300th Post...

...Henry Chinanski got into a fight with Techno Viking in the alley behind The Orbit Room and they both died of liver failure at the exact same moment, 11:11 PM. They now lie next to each other at Cook County Morgue. In lieu of flowers, please send Wild Irish Rose and Aqua Velva boilermakers...Wayne