Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
This guy usually has a few friends hanging around him, but guitar man sometimes sits with his dog alone, winter and summer. When I took these photos last week, I realized I hadn't seen them since maybe 2006. Of all the "people like me"--as I like to call them--that I've photographed over the years, the only one I'm missing is Tab man. Its a huge kid in shorts, plays a Walkman and sings out loud, but the truly strange thing is that he always has a plastic bag from Jewel/Osco holding two big liter bottles of Tab. Last seen in the vicinty of 55th Street. I'm on the case. (In all seriousness, these guys have been around forever. As Harry Fassl once told me: We are patterns, persisting.)
Here is my June post over on STORYTELLERS UNPLUGGED. I posted a different photo, also taken on a bus, though at 87th and Central Park in the city. The one on SU is of the mannequin in that art shop.
Yearn For A Dream
Wayne Allen Sallee
June 28th 2009
We finally got our mid-90s here, so I’m listening to Cannonball Adderley and Charlie Parker. In the stinking summer subways of Chicago, the best thing you can hear is someone playing a saxophone with a pile of coins inside the case on the floor. One summer I heard a guy playing “I Can See Clearly Now,” and I can still see the moment, maybe fifteen years later, stopped in time. This temperature is great for me, health-wise, though I’m still one fingered, I can type for longer stretches, and this late at night I feel less tormented, as I sweat on the keyboard. Never at peace, just less tormented. Maybe that’s why men play the sax in the bowels of the city.
I am almost finished with a novel I’ve been ghostwriting, 91K out of 94K. I am actually excited, the original manuscript was turned on its head, but the author and I have worked closely so that the book is still his own. I’m sure with all of you novelists on board here, you know that feeling, being able to sit down and immediately be in the moment, know who does what next as the last five or ten minutes of the book’s life ticks down. I could say that I know that feeling from my short fiction, but not in the same way, as I always have the last line and title written before I start something.
I write my best in the evenings, and so I’ve taken advantage of summer, not wanting it to slip away so fast. I hurt from typing, but not everything is fine motor motion. This past week, I went kayaking for eight miles on the Chicago River, with the rains causing the river to be three feet higher and loaded with dead rats. As a kid, I saw a syndicated b&w cliffhanger-type thing on Garfield Goose, “Journey To The Beginning of Time,” which ran about 60 chapters. These guys go canoeing in Lincoln Park after being at the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago, go under a bridge and end up in prehistoric time and there’s some really cool stop action filming. I can only remember two guys’ names, Tony and JoJo, and it was kind of a rip to find out at the end that all 60 chapters turned out to be a dream of JoJo’s after falling asleep on a bench by the T. Rex exhibit. Well, a gyp, as we said back in the day. Also went to Taste of Chicago and had lunch with a few people in the Loop, came up with street talk and story titles as I rode the el. This last mostly comes from people being on their cell phones. I always wonder why the hell people are on the phone all the time, what did they do before cell phones?
What is the deal with the current trends in publishing? Some dude got a five figure advance from HarperCollins for a book that consists of, well, funny “tweets” on Twitter. Thing is, he has an email set up for people to send him these examples, which then leads me to believe that people will just make up funny entries. Now, there are some odd things I come across, the few times I’m on Twitter nowadays, my favorite being my writer friend Maurice Broaddus writing “I can’t believe I’m up this late trying to buy a pool for my son’s frog.” Mind you, no one would get this unless they have nieces who have Webkins. But I contacted my agent about this Twitter event, and suggested he market @joymotel, the Twitter novel I wrote with John Kewley (our hook being the review in the Boston Phoenix and the fact that John and I have never met or spoken on the phone.) You look at, say, Project Gutenberg, and you have bookshelf to ubernet. The new trend seems to be the reverse. Its no longer “What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter.” Another example is HARRY POTTER SHOULD HAVE DIED, which is entirely filled with speculations that had been posted on message boards on said ubernet. So I again contacted my agent, and working with a fellow in Los Angeles, have started writing LOST’S LONG CON, which intersperses a blog about the television show LOST that has been five years running with new material consisting of the two of us doing a Siskel & Ebert routine. The pitches can’t hurt, and for once in my life I’m looking at what’s on the shelves and knowing I have the time to write something that might slip through the window before the next trend hits, presumably “anecdotes involving iPhones,” and yes, you heard it here first, folks.
I suppose that if there is a topic to be discussed here beyond my usual ramblings, it is the net-to-shelf thing going on. I suppose it is a good thing, encouraging people to go out and buy a damn book, yet there is something vaguely insidious about it. If PK Dick were alive today, he’d find a way to write a great novel about it, likely involving corporate mind-control. He would certainly have invented the word UbikNet.
I’ve been taking a mess of photos, I always used to as references, and I have a Flickr account. Always use a disposable camera. Sometimes a multiple shot, but usually I want it to be a karma-like thing. In the last issue of WIRED, Hideki Ohmori talks about disposable cameras. A lot of what he says is right on target with my general feelings towards social networking, and I do have my toes in the water, but don’t really plan on dog-paddling daily on Twitter and Typepad and LinkedIn and Plaxo. Also, though no one asked, Facebook might as well be the Chicago River, in my opinion. I get more emails from FB than I do regular mail, and when I politely reply on FB, I then find myself replying to five or six other friends who have replied to my original reply, even though no one asked. Do I sound like Andy Rooney now, or what? I’m glad I don’t have his eyebrows. Imagine Rooney’s eyebrows on Larry King’s face. Yeah, good luck getting that image out of your head now.
Anyhow, Ohmori closes his interview by saying this. “We do not always want a faithful representation of reality. Sometimes we yearn for a dream.” Hopefully my photo will post; I took the picture while the bus I was on passed 91st and Cicero.
Enjoy July, my unseen friends. Call or hug a veteran next weekend, after you watch YouTubes of what’s going on in the streets of Tehran.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Tonight there is a reunion of the cops who were part of the Dem Convention in 1968, 41 years ago this weekend. There are people outside protesting their peaceful dinner. Judging the cops from then with the cops from now. My father got a double hernia and then a blood clot in his right leg thanks to one of the 1968 protesters, and regardless of how that scene went down as a whole, what you had was a bunch of hippies high on angel dust and weed pissed off at cop and throwing bricks through windows because they maybe had a collective dream where Jim Morrison's giant talking penis tells them to inflict anarchy. It wasn't Kent State, nor was it Rodney King. It was two large groups of people, each equally filled with unease on a hot summer night.
And nowww...we have cops like Anthony Abbate, who deserves his own meme so that we could all put Anthony Abbate Is A Cock-Knocking Piece of Human Shit. Its these cops of today that further cloud the memories of those who want to think the cops of 1968 were truly evil. On March 11th, 2009, this giant dick of a man beat Karolina Obrycka repeatedly after she refused to serve him more beer. Well, in true Chicago fashion, Anthony Abbate, the fucking asswipe that he is, received two years probation. The judge based her decision on the fact that the bartender, who is 5'6", touched Abbatte first and therefore the big cowardly fuck thought that beating on her for 117 seconds was self-defense. This city is as corrupt as fictional Gotham, the Abbate verdict the last real nail in our coffin. I loved the idea of Joker as anarchist in The Dark Knight, because I'd really like to take my dad's old nightstick from 1968 and break every bone is his ugly face. Then shove his balls up his ass. Forget mock tea parties, we need vigilantism.
It's my 600th post, not counting the 121 posts from my first blog, Meanwhile...At Stately Wayne Manor. My buddy Chris, now in Anchorage, sent me an email yesterday, which, in part, read: "...the Chicago of my youth is asleep. Maybe it will rot out like Detroit did and become Nelson's Algren's sandbox again. Perhaps." The blog entry's name is one of my favorite lines of Algren's. Another one comes to mind, but I'm putting it down here, in light of how Abatte beat the Polish girl a foot shorter than him, it's from CHICAGO: A CITY ON THE MAKE. "Loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose." No truer words have ever been written.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Just a few blocks from my house. The storm lasted ten minutes and it hailed but the ground was dry a mile up Cicero towards 95th. Everything got tornado quiet and then a portion of the brick roof of St. Laurence High School was torn off. People I know who live nearby weren't even aware that we had a storm. It's always odd to see Dateline: Burbank (or whatever) on the news and see helicopters hovering overhead. Same thing happened two weeks back, only that time a guy had held his cousin hostage over on 80th & Mansfield, the SWAT team stayed there overnight, the guy let his cousin go and then killed himself.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I love this old currency exchange on Halsted. It's been there since at least 1981, as I would have to wait at Halsted and Archer for the bus to the U of I. Other buildings have been torn down around it, but it survives. These are all photos from my Chinese Maid and Tent Man roll. Another photo of a plane near Midway, this one from on the bus. I sometimes have my camera ready and you can actually see the shadow ahead of the plane as it kind of spills down the bus window onto the street. The last one is of this odd storefront that sells paintings up near the Miami Motel. A few months after it opened, the owners put this mannequin in the window. Looked kinda cool.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Last night I mentioned that weave of interstate ramps, and just before you get to them on the way towards end of Archer Avenue and Chinatown, there are a few "Snake Alleys," some with actual street names, like Green or Robinson, others simply a way to move a car behind a building. Salt Street and Quarry Streets are gone now, but the photos here would be at about where Salt Street was back before the expansions in the 90s. As I was walking towards Chinese Maid, I stopped at a gas station for a bottle of water and, when leaving, I found that I had to detour sideways. In all of three minutes, a road crew had started running fresh asphalt right outside the door. And so it was I saw the man with the cart. I never would have seen him if I had simply left the way I walked in. I was baffled by where he was headed, because there was a fenced in lot, an empty lot, and those goofy interstate ramps. Well, I will say, this fellow had a nice set-up, all things considered. Two tents, bundles of stuff, on what I am assuming is city property (the police pound used to be close to here). I took the photos from the edge of a parking lot, near one of the "snake alleys" people used to get off Archer and into the lot. Decades ago, there was a huge flophouse called the Archer Apartments at the site. Now there is a two story brick building selling condos starting at $300,000.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Last weekend I went to apply for a job at Connie's Pizza for their Taste of Chicago booths. Extra weekend bucks. This post is just photos, the real story is coming up next post or so, with the photos that really tell the story. Connie's is on the ass end of old Chinatown and I got off the el at Halsted to walk the six or so blocks to the place, my quest being photos of the Chinese Maid building. Every time I'm on the el I see that sign and say I'm going to go get photos, and I was pleasantly surprised at how cool the main entrance looked. Don't let it fool you, though, directly across the short street (Wallace, I think), were $300,000 condos. It's an odd place to walk because of the abundance of interstate ramps all ready to converge on downtown. I actually have the photos of Snake Alley I wanted to post tonight, but in typical Wayne fashion, I can find only two of four. So I'm jumping ahead a bit. I really do love that entrance...
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Back when I was working those 12-16 hour overnight shifts at the plant, I discovered many cool things to keep me occupied, as I'd need to stay near my machine to keep it at full production, I'd pretty much just stand and read from the ubernet. I discovered that the L.A.Times was running a blog called The Daily Mirror, which reprinted Matt Weinstock articles from exactly fifty years ago. I started reading the archives off and on in April of "1957," and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the paper doesn't fold (as expected) before my 50th birthday in September. Here's what was posted tonight, though, to be honest, I want to know way more about that headline on the bottom, SID ZIFF LOSES. There's more to that one.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Yea, the Stokers are now a big game of Grip 'N Grin. As mentioned, these goofy certificates mean nothing, though the award itself does look cool, as Bob mentioned. For those not in the know, the first Stokers were in 1991, and when they were a bit more legitimate, a writer had to have a certain pedigree to get on the ballot, a certain amount of stories in print that paid 3 cents a word, something like that. The awards are given out by the Horror Writers Association, and now it is just a joke, unless, of course, you can parlay the joke into getting a book deal you wouldn't otherwise. The closest I cam to winning was with my novella "Lover Doll," from LITTLE DEATHS, which has been in print continually since 1994. I lost out to Stephen King, came in second by about 45 votes. I still get decent royalty checks, mostly because it is about my longest story.
I have a friend, he loves to try and hook anybody in paying dues to join the HWA, even though the news you get each year has dwindled to nothing. When Dean Koontz was running it the first few years, there were a half dozen newsletters a year with columns, news, and everything you'd expect in a world without the ubernet. Well, this fellow really has his own agenda, because the only people who can vote on stories or novels are those who belong to HWA. Someone who does NOT belong to HWA can easily have something nominated, but this is why the Stokers amount to a game of you play with mine and I'll play with yours. The guy I know simply wants people to join so that he can play this up, I can vote for you, and you me, etc. Over the winter, he was babbling over the current awards for work published in 2008, the preliminary vote, which gets pared down, then finally the finalists. He is one of the authors in HELL IN THE HEARTLAND and I asked him, curiously, why he hadn't nominated my story for a Stoker? Actually, no one did, I'm sure its more a new generation of writers who network much better than I ever will. I, of course, said that I couldn't vote for his tale because of not belonging to HWA. So, even though he has denied ever thinking the Stokers were nothing more than what I and everyone who has quit the HWA over the last twenty years know to be, he simply did not have an answer. It was one of those, ah, well..., things people say while they are looking for an escape route. Again, I don't give a shit. But it sure was nice having him by the hairs.
The coolest part about being a five time finalist without ever winning? I have lost five times in five DIFFERENT CATEGORIES. I revel in that.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Well, I'm not in NYC. Not for this circus. (Well, maybe if Kurt Russell was filming there.) Here are my Finalist certificates. I hate awards because you are meaningless to your agent (why I dropped my first one) if you lose. Seems to be no way to capitalize on my being a 5-Time Finalist. Always the bridesmaid...
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Bob, maybe you're right about a walking hallucination. After all, the night was clear, the moon full, yet later it was cloudy. Was I walking through another life and then back into my own? My pain allows me to hallucinate for minutes on end, more often than not I'm thinking it's just me only it's the Earth-14 me and then I'll come back around in a while. As I type this, I'm trying to upload a video. If it works, you'll hear Harry saying the words Hello, Von to Yvonne Navarro sometime in the mid-90s, before I even had a computer of my own.
Rich, the Lithuanian Museum used to be Von Solbrig Hospital, which my father often said that it should be condemned, the 8th District cops getting more than a few calls to go there for well-being checks. I tried to find a photo of the hospital itself on Google but, oddly, found only the new sign for the museum, which moved there in 1986, and a photo of Robert Blake from some Spanish guys TV blog. Go figure.
Well, here goes. My walking hallucination. Because they sure as hell aint dreams.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
After I posted last night, I let my dog out and saw that the clear sky had become more misty than cloudy, adding to my belief that I had dreamt my ride home, that there was no reason to be completely mortified at a stranger who I had, in fact, helped. Another odd moment, I had forgotten to write before, as I cut down Lawler towards the church parking lot, a car dropped this teenage girl off in front of a two-story apartment--far as I'm concerned, they are only flats in the old neighborhoods--and it was just so...quiet. The car drove off, I could hear her keys in the lock, even as I was walking and watching the "tree shadow" walking on the other side of 87th Street. Moments that you know are going to be gone forever even as you witness them happening. I recognized the girl, I'm the lone pedestrian of the neighborhood after all, but hearing her keys as I watched Harry's doppelganger, both senses having such clarity, the kind of detail that makes me hate dreaming because I wake up most mornings like I'm digging myself out of a grave.
Diana, Harry's girl, wrote and mentioned Harry having a phrase, "We are patterns, persisting." If I never ever ever got that before last night, I do now. And now, here are the last of my recent Archer Avenue photos. Earlier tonight, Balzekas officially closed its doors to selling new cars. The place opened in 1933, I can't even imagine what Archer Avenue led to back then, back towards where Chinatown is now, there was the Levee District, the whorehouses, the blind pigs. And for some, Archer was always an artery to get close to Comiskey Park, now US Cellular Field. Archer onto Pershing (39th) and east a few blocks.
These last few are random, all within a block of each other. I thought of just putting them on my Flickr account, but it got me to post about Balzekas and, more importantly, Harry and Diana.
Monday, June 8, 2009
I'm still creeped out as I type this, but in an eerie, calm kinda way. I went up north to hear Not From Michigan Mike read at Twilight Tales tonight and got a lead on some other job involving printing, so that's cool. Then I bought a bag of fries at the McDonalds on Lincoln and Fullerton, thinking the girl in front of me had a Godzilla foot. Turns out her sneakers were the same color as the tiles. Then the older guy who takes my order has a look of sheer and utter terror on his face. Maybe it was because I was wearing a Cleveland Indians shirt I bought at Unique Thrift for $2.00 and is now my favorite shirt.
OK. This is still so weird. I'm admiring the full, yellow moon rising above DePaul University, eating my fries, looking at a girl with long black hair waiting with her bike on the northbound platform, me thinking, man, I am twice her age. I'm on the train then, reading BUTTON, BUTTON, a collection of short stories by Richard Matheson. I hear a guy behind me calling the CTA about how late the 87th bus goes to Cicero. I turn to tell him, because of course, I'm going the same route. But the guy looks just like Harry Fassl. Without the voice. Skull, head, smile. I knew the guy wanted to talk, even when we got on the bus eight miles to the south. I looked at him, thinking, Jesus, he has shoes like Harry, and Harry wore big shoes. As we walked past the Dominicks to points west, he finally turned to thank me again. I really think he was wondering why I was all gibbledy-gibbledy. I told him no problem, standing there under this full yellow moon in a deserted parking lot, thinking of all the times during the summer where I might have seen Harry & Diana...The Red Lion, their house at 1111 Scoville, having burgers at Goldy's before watching crappy movies about giant spiders. This guy of course walked faster than me, being tall and all, and I followed his path, and where I cut through the church parking lot to get home about a half-mile from the bus stop, I could see him several blocks ahead, like a giant tree moving in the shadows between the streetlights. And you know what? Harry would have loved hearing how creeped out I was.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
That's my head. Hearing voices. Seeing Phillip K. Dick. Suicide windows. Nights with two moons. Left right left, which side of my head is fucked up from my cerebral palsy, I don't even know anymore. Is the baby in picture #1 or picture #2? This Place is Death, to borrow an episode title from LOST. Its one of those get me the fuck out of here days, folks. Thanks for coming, we have a matinee on Monday. Try the grilled cheese.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Well, I got tied up posting this a few days, because, well, I couldn't find the damn photos I was taunting Rich Chwedyk--yes, THAT Rich Chwedyk!--with. But one day I do need to get decent photos from around Goose Island, particularly water shots. The previous day I didn't see a lot of comments, and I'm thinking no one watched the video because it only has political asshats on the banner. It was the only one that would load, and I'm not telling anyone to go back and watch it, but, christ, when you see the cop beating the tiny bartender, you have to wonder, well, wonder something. The bartender is healthy, thankfully, and the best quote from the trial was her saying she didn't want to look at the video they showed the jury because she had seen it too many times already. It is amazing how many times that has been played in Chicago, not just in YouTubeland.
Back to Archer. You might recall my saying how I was surprised how everything was bunched up at this intersection. Well, there it is, Rich (he thought I'd be mentioning the Brighton Theater, the vacant lot next to Watra)! I've seen Golden Heart at retro sites and neon sites and diner sites--and for some reason kept thinking it was called Around The Clock--and I'm pointing my camera down after photographing Watra, I turn, and, I was like, what the hell? Then I took an approaching bus a bit closer to Pulaski, the point where the Archer bus meets the Orange Line for the second time. In between Kedzie and St. Louis, Balzekas Chrysler Plymouth. It is officially shutting down. I knew that area of Archer when I worked with the Elvis band. The drummer lived near Ye Olde Place on 46th & St. Louis and the trumpet player's dad worked at Balazekas. We always ate pizza from a place on the south side of the street, near Balzekas, but I can't recall the name of it, even though the building--with a new name--is still there. And Rich might question my not taking a photo of Polonia Grove, but, well, it'd be a pretty dull photo. Even their sign was kinda 70s dull. Whatever that means.