Monday, August 31, 2009

City After Dark

Should have saved more early evening shots that I took in the 90s, but what's done is done. The bottom two from Google Images, the last a shot of Lake Michigan. Its damn cold now, yesterday night dropped to 39 degrees. So tonight's walk home and various waits on trains/buses from the readings had me still despising this crazy summer, as it is barely in the 50s now. A week ago the readings were in a different location, closer to the lake, but the weather was in the 80s, and we will see that again by Wednesday. But last week the reading was on the lakefront, and so buses were the easiest way southward was by the No. 22 Clark Street bus, and I rode down with Not From Michigan Mike most of the way, then finished the ride to the Loop. I actually had time to catch the Red Line, at first I expected to be taking a cab from Midway. I kinda miss the days when I could screw along more in the Loop on a warm night. The Orange Line opened in 1993, so for years the route was No. 62 Archer to catch the No. 53B Pulaski, which would get me within a few blocks of my house until about 1 AM. Not that there was much to do in recent years, the days of used book stores and arcades open all night, the Mammy's Restaurant that served breakfast all night that was next to the Trailways station, even the theaters are gone. And, yea, it was a cheap thrill to be playing some pinball game and looking down at street level for a half hour or so. Granted, taking the bus to Pulaski wouldn't help much now, but even still, the routes are long shortened. Before I moved in 99, the last Pulaski bus from the Orange Line was at maybe 11:15. So I'd have to get gone from the Loop by 10:30 tops. There's a certain coolness to the desolation that gradually descends, not like how everyone scatters at once during the evening rush hour. Kids will hang out in front of the Art Institute dorms, smoking, then going back in, another group popping out. I'm just, well, no, last week I was feeling nostalgic about the loss of the transportation routes because it just so much fun taking a bus to the Loop instead of going almost immediately underground as soon as I leave the readings. The subway swings back above ground at Chinatown, so the Loop is missed completely (unless of course I was on the Orange or Brown lines). There likely won't be a warm night like last week (I'm talking for coming home from a reading) until next April.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Do the four legged fox trot again

That was the title of a nice little spam, I just had to save because of it's sheer poetry. But first, the real world. You'll find the crazy little wordage afterwards. Its like performance art.

What a nice photo I took. The Trump Tower. The Hancock Building. Tourist boats. The Wrigley Building. The clock on the Wrigley Building. The time on the clock on the Wrigley Building. I'm better off taking photos in the subway.

I hope you don't schedule an apointment for Vi@gra. It's overpriced.
you know if you need it! More
Have I got the right house?
With a roar of pain
and rage, she reared up and fell backward upon the ape-man.

That means alot
to me.

Don't ride on the sidewalk.
They will not oblige me to bring her home as
my bride.
The prince said she should remain with him always.
The bus fare is
fifty cents.

Still Another Place I Shouldn't Be at 1:15 AM

I figure, if I'm gonna take the dirt nap, might as well get a few photos. I'm actually at Roosevelt and...some alley, I don't know the name. I'd seen that building during the day and you know me with my doorways and fire escapes. That first shot came out pretty nice, you can see the el train windows. I caught the next one, the Orange Line, to Midway and then grabbed a cab home for $15.00. Sometimes you gotta do that. Sucks to live south.

Friday, August 28, 2009

When Whitney Regains Consciousness

Pancakes to The Bone

This place is over by the bus terminal at 78th & Western. Odd slogan, there. The place I miss used to be at the other side of the terminal, maybe 79th & Claremont. Little Miss Muffet. One crazy looking place. These were taken on my way to Lithuanian Plaza. If it wasn't so hot that day, I had planned to walk down to 75th and see what was left of Woodmar Lanes, but it seemed that I'd only be able to get a photo from the front of the place. Anyways. Here's to pancakes by the bone!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

But Do They Still Play Organ Music?

A few more photos at the bottom taken right on 69th Street. In my old neighborhood, 85th & Pulaski, there were quite a few business fronts with that wedge-shaped look. State Farm Insurance, some glass company, a travel agency. I like how, in that second to last photo, you descended some steps to get in.

Bob and Rich are correct in assessing this neighborhood, roughly three miles west of my home, and I'll get to the other photos in a second. Sadly, the younger generation pisses me off because they're all so effing angry at something. Doesn't matter if they're white, black, or Mexican, I'll get a hello or even a nod from someone my age or older. And this goes back ten years, I'm not just saying it to sound old. The northside is different, but the south side of Chicago, it's like we just co-exist. And part of that is because the south side was so racially divided, white/black and now, black/Spanish. For decades, the big yellow viaducts along Damen Avenue marked the dividing line, then Western. White people running off for no reason back then. Well, you know what I mean, No good reason. By 1995, there were black families living on my block, Western having turned to Kedzie (going in one mile jumps in our grid of a city) and finally Pulaski. Different times. Single moms, kids selling crack from the house where I bounced a ball with Jimmy Leonardi and a whole bunch of adults stood out in front of one summer night in the 70s to get an unobstructed view of a lunar eclipse. In 1995 I was chin nodding cops in an unmarked Ford Vicky on my way home from the bus stop. This girl on the corner, Kiyah, one of those kids you just know is going to be a heart-breaker one day, kept running away from home. Because all the girls at Bogan High wanted her to join a gang. Wm J. Bogan, my school, "The Great White Hope" prominently spray-painted on one white wall in 1977. In 1978, there were two blacks and, inexplicably, one Chinese kid there, but I had graduated. She finally went to another school at 55th and Kedzie and did quite well, even taking French classes. Yet my neighbors stared at me because we talked at the bus stop or ON the bus, and it wasn't because of the age difference. Even now, I hope that she is working at a French embassy in some other place than here, or teaching or training to be on the space shuttle. One by one the houses were put up for sale, blacks buying the corner homes, making the middle of the block implode. I learned that the difference between a brick home and one of wood and siding meant that one home could ricochet bullets. We moved in 1999, a year after some dude started beating on a guy's van with a bat and the owner came out of his house with an automatic in his hand. 3 PM on a Tuesday afternoon. Across the street from Kiyah's mother's house.

My neighbor JoJo told me about his old neighborhood, the one described here yesterday. The fact that so many old Lithuanians stayed on because they were refugees from WWII, and nothing would or could compare to that. That gives it a certain perspective.I suppose even here in Burbank I know the change in a neighborhood better because I take the bus instead of zooming around inside a car 100% of my time away from the block I live on. The wind does blow green, but only in certain areas. No whites are moving back into the places they fled, the south side will always be polarized in that way. Now black people are selling to Mexicans.

Which brings me to 63rd and California. Not even a mile north from the old Lithuanian taverns in a black neighborhood, and almost everyone here is Spanish. Well, Mexican. I'll just say it. One thing I will say about the south side compared to the north side, ast least here we keep the nutty buildings and awnings. That bakery is closed, but at least it isn't torn down. And I loved looking at the oddly named 66 Night Club, as the number corresponded to nothing at all.An Old Style sign, just like at Clowns Alley.Check out the notice on that awning. Organ Music Every Night. I doubt that's still the case. Unless the place is haunted.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Woman With The Cognac-Lidded Eyes & Hitler on The History Channel

Lithuanian Plaza is not what it used to be. Between 68th and 70th, it runs from Marquette Park to Western, not that far at all. One side is a huge church and a credit union next to Holy Cross Hospital, that Deli is/was directly across the street. I took photos between California and Rockwell, and since it was about 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, it was hard to tell if a few of the taverns were still doing business. Seemed that way, though I'm no longer certain of the clientele. I got the stare from more than one black guy in basketball shorts and dago tee. But my story is about the Plaza Pub.

I was with Critical Mass Chris and Citizen Nick and Chris was taking notes for a pal on some south side bars. I remember it was cold, but then probably 8 out of 10 of my adventures occur when it is cold. I need to get out of this town. It's dark in the place, empty for a Saturday afternoon in January, maybe five years back, but the place slowly filled up and I was hit by cold air every few gulps from my drink. The TV above the window (the one on the right in the third photo) had some show on The History Channel about Hitler and some malady he might have had. Film was examined. We all watched because that's what you do in a neighborhood tavern. Somehow several of us got on the subject of words that started with 'hemo.' I'm sure that in the comments tomorrow, Scott (AKA C.N.) will have the conversation verbatim. It was centered around hemotoma and hemophilia. The woman who tended bar, and likely owned the tavern, had that ageless look women have when they are past middle age, kept themselves in shape, and had a glow about them because they carried gigantic half-filled snifters of cognac. I was thinking how she looked like Lili St. Cyr if she had been alive. You just knew she'd been sexy, and was probably still sexy. She could have been 45, she could have been 60.

The lady felt the need to get the answer to what hemophilia was in her own manner, and she went to the other side of the bar and grabbed the BIGGEST hardback dictionary I had ever seen in my life. It had been a chore to lift it up, but she had the arm muscles to work it. One of those volumes where the cover is fuzzy and looks like felt with leather edges.. A guy who sat next to me got in on the discussion. His name was Stan. The only time I have ever met a guy named Stan in my life is inside of a tavern. So there she is, talking through her cigarette at us, her perfume exquisite, with all the other regulars, who easily had twenty years on, well, Chris and Scott, were staring at the bartender's ass. Black slacks and a coral sweater, I can still remember, though Scott has the conversation down, I know that much. Not much more to the story than that, we stood there looking at the black and white images of Nazis on the television and were clear on the definitions, then we finished our drinks and went back into the cold twilight. All the regulars maybe thought it was odd that we had been there, and we were really the only ones surprised at the size of that thousand page dictionary. But it was something talking to the woman, wondering if she and the others talked about us after we left.

Then we went to a bar named Clowns Alley, by the old Colony Theater on 59th and Troy.

Advertising, Then & Now

Well, I'm as up to date as can be on any photos I wanted to put on the blog instead of Flickr. Tomorrow, I'll run the huge set of old Lithuanian taverns near Holy Cross Hospital. First, a few others. I actually got off the bus at 63rd & California (this was an hour or so after the tavern shots), and backtracked a bit for the car wash sign. You can always tell a neighborhood by the amount of pedestrians out at 11 AM on a Tuesday morning. Back near my house, I took this photo of this poster for, I think, US Cellular, and it came out just about how I wanted. Aside from being beautiful, the girl is in focus (in the original ad), with some type of Ferris wheel behind her. It looks even more faded and (purposefully) tilted, so I call it a success. Plus, another photo of a pretty girl I will never, ever meet. And so it doesn't seem too sexist here, for any women taking a looksee, I'm adding one of the (to me) coolest advertisements for my old nemesis Canadian Club. So now everyone should be happy. Some guy from the 70s, a car wash from the 80s, and a modern day girl and a Ferris wheel.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Last of The 16th Street Bridge

A few more shots from the reverse end, this time looking north and east from near the Cermak Bridge. I talked to those geese, sat right up there on the rocks with them. Gave me something to do, the whole trip the only people we passed were a couple of old Chinese guys who were either saying to us that, no, there were no fish, or, no, we don't understand you. My pantomiming using an 8mm camera instead of a fishing rod likely didn't help.

The thing about the photo in last night's post is that any house all lit up like that gives me the willies. I can imagine walking up to the window...and seeing a shivaree of clowns playing Twister. Yes, that image is actually in my. They see me and, really, where the hell can I go? I'm dead.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thoughts, Please?

Personally, I think the damn house is scarier than anything else...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Universal Monsters Monday V

I know I skipped last week, but I hadn't finished my homework assignment. As I did with UMM IV, I'm skipping a bit, this time to the last set in the run, which is somewhat inexplicably THE SHRINKING MAN, which came out in 1959 or 1960, depending on the source. It is also the set with the least amount of cards that I own, not even the title card, and what I'm showing you is about half of what I have in the way of cards. But I have more in the way of story, as the film was based on Richard Matheson's THE [INCREDIBLE] SHRINKING MAN, his second novel after I AM LEGEND. The film is true to the book, much more than any of the three treatments given IAL, but for one key point. As seen in the first card, Scot Carey was on a fishing boat out near Catalina Island when he is engulfed in this white cloud. Even as a kid watching the film, I was like, but no one else was affected. Even his wife was on board, albeit down below. The book handles it well, and it attests to how thought out Richard Matheson's works are in the way of logic. In the book, Carey has the cloud pass over him and he's just fine, really. Then he walks home from the bus one day and is hit by some fertilizer spray, and it is that which triggers the shrinking. So much of Matheson's work involves individual tragedy. How many of you knew he wrote DUEL for Playboy, the film starring Dennis Weaver and that crazy trucker which was the first film directed by Spielberg? Yup. I've been very lucky to get famous, lucky to be sharing the same time in time, writers, and I have books autographed by Matheson, Robert Bloch, and Evan Hunter, amongst others. Matheson is the only one of the bunch still living, thankfully. Back when I had him sign my copy of TSM, it bemused him that I had a library copy from Farmingdale, LI, more along the lines of if I swiped it or not. Good-naturedly, of course. No, I have Kurt & Amy Wimberger to thank, and I believe it involved swapping books, with me giving the library in their hometown another pb. Though I'm still befuddled by TISM (and THIS ISLAND EARTH) being part of the Universal Monster set, though I guess a shrinking guy and a brain-shaped robot could be considered monsters, I think its more me associating the Universal Monster era with black and white films. Regardless, I encourage everyone to watch the film. The star, Grant Williams, died of toxemia when he was 47. And read Matheson. When I'm not telling people to read Philip K. Dick, I'm telling them to throw some love at Richard Matheson.

I'm Gonna Go With the Rabbit

Yep. Lots of reading material. But I'm going with the rabbit.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A True Story Involving Me Working For A Mafia Guy

OK, so I'm working on this story HOLLOWPOINT with Horatio Salt, the guy who hooked me in on @joymotel. I tell him this story, back in 1978 I'm washing dishes at Sam A****ino's Sandwich Shop. Well, it was really called Pa's, but no one called it that. Same had a wife who looked like Carly Simon and they had just bought a new apartment in this huge building that is actually still behind the Red Lobster at 95th and Southwest Highway. One Monday near the end of July, he heads out to Mirabelli's Furniture on 103rd and Cicero to look at couches. Rush hour on a Monday. Three guys get out of a van and shotgun him away. No witnesses. Sam had the place as a front for a chop shop. After about a month of closing the place by myself and riding my bike home at midnight down SW Highway, which just about led to my backyard, I quit, because there were always (or so it seemed) suspicious looking cars parked across the way, when there was no reason for there to be any vehicle parked. In front of a bridal shop? a martial arts studio? I quit in August and before the end of the month, the place was torched. I want to say it was a month to the day of the killing, but I honestly can't recall. The photos above show what is now taking up the place the furniture place once stood, so yeah, no witnesses. I don't blame anybody, though. The third photo is simply there because I like old buildings that actually have a name. But that strip mall between Rosie's and Pluto's is where Sammy got his. It wasn't too long after the place was torched that I started working with the Elvis band.

The Place With the Paintings & The Mannequin With Her Butt Exposed

Awhile back, I posted a photo of this art store on 93rd & Cicero with a mannequin standing up to look as if he was painting on a canvas. Well, I took the time to actually walk around the place and peek inside. The place is always closed, there are business cars and phone numbers listed in various spots on the door and windows. I was surprised to find the other mannequin, the female one, and bottomless in the way of apparel. The building is one of my favorites in the area, the art place wasn't there until a few years back. I love the fans in the upstairs apartment windows, plus the fact that it looks like they never really bothered to paint the entire building, quitting as they saw fit. From where I took the photo, there was a Denny's behind me, and on the next block, blocked by the art building, is a Hooters. Yes, indeed, I live in one classy suburb. Check out the painting of the woman with the harp. If it wasn't in the window, I would never have stopped to look at the place. (I remember the moment clearly, as I had to walk from 95th to 87th in the dead of winter, having missed the bus. Snowplows had dumped everything on the sidewalks and I had to stop every few mounds to catch my breath. The valley between two of those mounds was the part of the window that had the harp painting. It was well below zero with the wind chill, making the scene even more surreal.) I would love to be able to walk around inside the place, though. Actually, I would love to live in one of the apartments above it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Castle on Wabash

I'm lucky to have kept these photos to scan, they go back to the 80s. The building wasn't being demolished, it was just falling apart. I have heard that it was a brewery about a century ago. In the 90s, the property was razed and there is a stretch of buildings there now. This is kind of a matter-of-fact post but I can't find the art gallery photos, which I'll post tomorrow, and (moreso)I just want to get these shots out there for others to see.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This post is for Capcom. Last Friday, I met Marty Mundt at the usual place, Clarke's on Belmont. It was raining. I had eggs and hash browns. Marty had a milk shake. Then we got down to business. He drove me up to Andersonville so I could riffle through his books and I left with a lot of swag. Got a ton of James Blish Star Trek pbs from the early 70s, a few hardbacks, one of which only interests me because it contains Larry Niven's "All The Myriad Ways," which I have only read in illustrated form, either in OMNI COMIX or Marvel's UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION.

The coolest thing, and as out of place as an accordion map of Istanbul (which I took in case I could learn something from it for when I email my friend Gulnar Ozturk), was this totally fantastic three-fold of the Telstar project. You guys might remember me posting the YouTube of the eponymous song by The Tornadoes about seven or eight months back. I waved it at Marty, asking him if he was absolutely certain. He nodded and then showed me his wife's Hallowe'en room. Marty also showed me the two vials of my blood and bursa fluid that I gave him and Andrea as a wedding gift. I thought they might have started cloning me already, but the apartment was pretty cramped. Marty then drove me to the Western stop on the Brown Line and I zigzagged along with a total of fifteen books. (Included was a volume of Grant Morrison's run on DOOM PATROL and the first hardback volume of Brian K. Vaughn's Y: THE LAST MAN.) Still hard to believe it was 70 and dropping all that day and then it hit 90 while I was on my way to the Comic-Con 15 hours later. Well, there's the story behind the Telstar phamplet. Of course, the first words reflected from the satellite back into our atmosphere was William Shatner screaming "Spock...Must Die!"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Starman & Ana-Lucia

I suppose the joke could be made about Starman's cosmic rod again. There was a reason, I made that Starman post. Saturday I was at the Comic-Con, which, hopefully, will be the last year it is being run by Wizard Entertainment, which I do believe is a subsidiary of FoxNews. But first, the homina homina news. I got to talk with Michelle Rodriguez--who has been in some sort of fast car movie, but I only know her from Google Ana-Lucia Cortez on LOST. I was in an area where I was standing after finishing signing a few copies of FIENDS and Ms. Rodriguez was ready for someone to vacate a seat so she could go out for a 2PM signing, so it amounted to being on a very slowly moving elevator. We made small talk, and since I had chosen to wear my monster (aka lime) green t-shirt with a cool airbrush of Frankenstein on it, all I kept thinking was, great, I'm talking to Michelle Rodriguez and I'm wearing a freaking LIME-COLORED SHIRT. It might have been worse, I could have been wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt. Blah blah blah on the heat inside the Stephens Center, me surprising her on not knowing her from movies before LOST, but, hey, I never knew who Bai Ling was before LOST, either. Then it was time for her to sign a huge pile of glossies from that fast car film. Leaving me wanting to cry. And pee. Then cry some more.

Well, now that that's out of the way, I hadn't gone to a con here since 2003 and I actually had some money that I PLANNED to spend. The bad thing about Wizard running the cons is that the dealer tables cost so much that the dealers will only stock their mint & highest priced product. Fifteen years ago, I bought BLUE BEETLE#6, from 1940, for $5.00. Reading condition. No such thing now. The cheapest BB I saw cost $125.00, same for the Dick Briefer Frankenstein books from the 50s. The GOOD side of all this is that the people who seel the archives and the masterworks put their overstock out at 50% off. So, whereas I spent $125.00, I easily saves $100, plus I got a crapload of stuff I really did want, not an iffy kind of want.

Starman was created not quite two years after Superman, as so many DC (named after its flagship title, Detective Comics, which would star Batman starting with #27) costumed characters came into being between 1940 and 1941, and most formed the Justice Society of America. Starman is a legacy hero, as there were quite a few over the years, as seen in the Alex Ross painting. But the 1940s stories, with the primary colors and no backgrounds are what I love (each plate has been redone for the archive editions). So I was quite pleased to get the second archive, which had a going price of $60.00, and I couldn't get much of a lower price from Amazon.

I'd go on, but by now everyone is tired of my geek-out. Let's face it, I really was using Starman as a flimsy excuse to mention my run-in with Michelle Rodriguez. Me and my lime green shirt. Holding the Starman Archives, because I had just bought it and hadn't had time to put it in my backpack. An archive that has a &#^&* smiley face sun on the cover. I'll stop. I'm only making it worse.