Sunday, February 28, 2010

What Would Jesus Do For A Klondike Bar? (My Storytellers Unplugged column for February 2010.)

What Would Jesus Do...For A Klondike Bar?
Wayne Allen Sallee
28 February 2010

I don’t have an answer to that question. But one of the guys at the printing plant used that line a lot, more often than not to keep from beating the crap out of whichever bargain basement press we were running. Hey, whatever works. When my oldest niece was at my home every workday until she was seven, so I had to adapt the way I cussed, an example being if I broke a shoelace as she was watching Barney–damn his eyes–what came out of my mouth was Fuuranklin Delano Roosevelt! But I thought Bart had the right idea with his catch-phrase.

See, I’ve been letting my hair grow since October, so I have a Peter Boyle thing going on, and I use the WWJDFAKB? line since I now have actual hair that I can yank at. I was contracted to write a story for CTHULHU 2012, and I had the idea that Lovecraft’s old pal wasn’t on an island, rather she (in my story) is a gloppy bubble around the Earth, slowly squeezing down and after decades of being kept at bay by the stories by the Arkham House crew. I always try and describe to new writers that, when I’m near the end of a story, I visualize a runway. Sometimes it’s short, in other instances I know I can almost glide to a stop. With this tale, I saw the runway way off in the distance, and I did one of the things I rarely do, more because I am mentally and not physically incapable of doing. I typed the last two thousand words without stopping. Not even pausing to think about the Klondike bar, or how many of them I would eat then and there. The editor loved the story, and told me the last few pages reminded him of an old jalopy rolling down a hill, pieces falling off until there was nothing left. In my head, it was more like skidding along with no landing gear. It is always a wonderful feeling knowing I was in synch with an editor, like we both walked away from the wreck none the worse for wear.

I have embarked on a new project, a novel. An actual novel. My agent read a ghost story I had published in the Tribune last October and he was angry for whatever reason my body wouldn’t let me accomplish much in the way of creativity. One of his other clients, exasperated, wrote me and told me I should just print the words out in an over-sized Moleskin commonplace book and he would find the time to type the pages out. Well, I have had other people type for me in the past, the best example being while I was bedridden after the car accident. Yvonne Navarro listened to me yelp out paragraphs until the Demerol kicked in and I started humming the theme to L. A. LAW.

Its like being in a wheelchair and someone offering to push you, and with this, it was a similar feeling. But as this miserable and idiotic winter continued, I had an epiphany. I could write the novel in real time, my writer friend might get a stack of pages in one envelope, but there would be the logical gaps one would find in my actual life. Explained by me, and because my agent wants a decent hook, I have no moral compass for any of the actions I describe. The guy getting the pages looks up some of the incidents, most seem made up, others horribly real. In the way back times, I had a character called The American Dream, the guy had a heating pad for a cape, wrist braces and Ace bandages. A utility belt that consisted of Baggies filled with Tylenol and Excedrin. He was a complete screw up, and blamed his mistakes on his invisible sidekick, Blind Justice. But he was a product of the Reagan era, and in my book “I” will find his journals and have my friends type them, separating the fictional from the real, with me narrating what it is like to be broke and not having money to buy my meds (I’m really fine, this is for the book only. Don’t cry for me, Al Pacino!) If there is no moral compass in the world, why should I have one? Face it, half the people walking the streets are mentally ill, if judged on certain beliefs or stances, so what is one more lunatic. Maybe I’m mailing the pages to myself, now wouldn’t that be insane? Maybe I should get a little ball and write Wilson on it. I’ve ordered a WWJD For a Klondike Bar from T-Shirts From Hell, so there’s part of my uniform right there. Capes are out this decade, heating pads or otherwise. The book is called REAL TIME WITH THE LAST AMERICAN DREAM. It’s a memoir, an autobiography, a biography, a psychotropic journey with a bunch of dead bodies thrown in at proper moments. Oh, and most important, it’s a slam at our public health system. Too bad the suits in the offices in Springfield won’t die horribly. Or maybe they will. Because I haven’t written it yet.

I haven’t written it in real time.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Through The Looking Glass

Been meaning to put up some artwork by my oldest niece and godchild, Ashley. She won an award for the self-portait and the Mad Hatter was a Christmas gift. She's a great kid, I'd jump in front of a car for her.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ten Days Difference

After having lunch with Greg, I took this shot of the river, just for the angles and the color. We had snow then, and we've had more since. These photos were from last week. That crap melted, more or less. Then over the last three nights, we have had wet snow come down, Tuesday I actually stopped shoveling when I got those chest pings again. Not really annoying snow, it tends to melt some during the day, so its not really accumulating. What is annoying? It's starting to snow right now, and this is the same system that was over Western New York State earlier Thursday morning. Go figure.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ghost Signs, Ghost Buildings

The Cupid Candies Kitchen was across from Fat Johnnie's, and the next block up, at 7721 So. Western, that unreadable sign says Physicians Entrance Only. The other two signs are along Archer, and Capra's I recall from when it was still open. Not from hanging out there, just from hearing polkas on summer nights as the Archer bus went by.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Vintage Street, RIP

Not posting much, I know. Winter and the werewolf claws. But on the upside, I started writing a novel, set in real time and I'm writing when I'm hurting the most, but it has an odd little hook that will either get my agent to sell it or have my name placed on the GooGoo Crazyman List. Either works for me.

Here is what the opposite of Bubbly Creek looks like. I took the Archer bus from the Loop and walked under the viaduct at I think Lock Street. There's this odd little wedge of the city, with different street names like Hillock and Short, bordered on two sides by the river, and one kind of ends in weeds near I-55. I was specifically looking for Vintage Street, just a block long and named for some sort of beer company. I knew they were building those hipster town homes, and sure enough, no more Vintage Street, the lot is demolished, and these days the street numbering will simply continue as Hillock. Or maybe James, I forget. And I'm too pissed off to look now, you know me and those damn hipsters. So I walked as far north as I could, where I'm taking the photo through the fence. This was Eleanor Street, but it now is a memorial drive for some person. Not that as I walked back towards the viaduct, I could have pretty much slid down the hill for a dunk. Man, some days seems like such a good idea. I like the shot with the trees. The two shots of the factory are the side facing east, you've seen the same building only with my camera pointing north from the el platform. I did take one more shot from ground level as I was walking to the Ashland entrance to the el.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Is this like being a stalker? They've taken down the ad for the girl in the straw hat from the bus stall at 87th and Cicero, but I found this other in the kiosk near Greg's workplace. I took this photo because of the cool colors and how crappy the streets looked with all the white streaks and black snow. And the eye? Who can really look away from Sun-Yun Kim's hypnotic gaze?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vintage Vinyl

Well, these are odd. About the craziest LP I ever had was of The Harmonicats. But these are cool looking covers, the last one I really only added for the lame-o songs. Love the jazz cover and evidently the swingers are also bowlers! The music for Mixed Emotions is neat for the colors. Like Batwoman kissing Batman, their outfits covering everything but their Bat-Socks. The one with the two girls dreaming? I'd be dreaming if I was lying prone in a pile of snow, too.

Monday, February 15, 2010

NamelessTaverns, Cool Signs, and Crazy Birds

Still from Western Avenue, between 69th and 73rd or so. I love these nameless Old Style joints. Old Style is the south side's beer of choice. I took a couple of shots of signs for businesses still open, though the cleaners had haphazard signs in their front windows. Yerkes looked like it was going strong. The house is about a block from the cleaners, and honestly, I don't know why there are so many birds perched there. They were actually in two squarish bushes in front and the birds took off as soon as I stopped, never mind aimed the camera. There's likely a bigger bird in the area, and these were his minions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Woodmac Lanes

Just as our movie theaters are disappearing, so are the bowling alleys. Not that I could ever bowl anyways, because of my coordination. But that's not the point. So after I ate my Fat Johnnie's hot dogs, I crossed the street to get the photos of Woodmac Lanes before it, too, is a ghost. I'm sure the bowling pin will go first. You can see where the pin is separated from the main building my a street, my guess is that that used to be the parking lot. The fence is there because there are a lot of cars in the lot for a nearby repair shop. I took the photo of that Impala just because it looked cool sitting where it was.

Lenore's Kitchen, Lithuanian Plaza

These are from my trek to Holy Cross Hospital down Lithuanian Plaza, the same roll of film where I stopped at Fat Johnnie's and its frozen canoe flower box. Last September, I posted shots of the taverns now closed or keeping mysterious hours, but I was unable to take photos in front of Lenore's. A few guys were hanging out in front and it was more a respect thing,as they got that I was taking photos of the old Lugan bars. But, really, just look at the empty lot that is directly east of the Kitchen, the photos almost match when held next to each other. Seriously, what the shit, right? I stood in front of Lenore's and took a photo of the old deli, then an angled shot towards California and the church right before the hospital parking lot that kinda shows how many buildings are boarded up or just plain sad looking.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Favorite Photo of 2010 (So Far)

No, it's not the 11:11 at the Biograph. If you want to know more about 1111, there's plenty of links on my site. This shot is in the alley alongside the Majestic Building, which had been in pretty bad shape until it was cleaned up and now the place is home to the excitingly-named Bank Of America Theater. Anyhow, I like the photo because of the ball. It wasn't there last month. Oh, I should add that I cut through this alley to get from the Monroe Street subway to the bldg. where Greg works. I love it when unseen forces add props to photo locations for me.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fat Johnnie's Hot Dogs

Pardon the quality on these next week's worth of photos, last Friday was a grim day. Having to go to Holy Cross that afternoon, I took time after to take some photos along Western, last time it was Lithuanian Plaza (or 69th Street) about four blocks west. I'll post those later, but here is Fat Johnnie's, an actual hot dog stand! Cripes! I'd seen photos of it, but really had not known it was actually still there. And it has been quite a while since I saw the Dave Berg name on a hot dog sign. The craziest thing, as you can tell, is the frozen waif in the kayak filled with ice. After getting my two dogs with steamed, poppy seed buns, I asked the man who was presumably Johnnie (because of his age), what the dilly-o was on the kayak. He told me it was a flower pot when it warmed up. I liked that he called it a pot and not a garden.

I have taken to posting photos on Google Earth via Panoramino under the name JonnyAlgiers. I put up a few of the 16th Street Bridge, the subway, like that. Oh, and Bubbly Creek. Can't forget that. Saw the Book of Eli film yesterday night and loved it, then I swiped a pair of glasses to see the last thirty or so minutes of Avatar in 3-D. I didn't mind sneaking in because I knew I'd never see the film because I can't see in 3-D, period. But I wanted to check it out past the shots on TV. Well, karma got me as I watched for a bit, my head starting to hurt, then I left and vomited white stuff in the bathroom, and again at 3 this morning. Headache all day, but I get them this time of year anyways. Karma's a bitch.

Friday, February 5, 2010

There might be a connection here...

There is an entire cult out in the real world who can quote from the famous Boner issue of Batman (#66, mid 50s) page by page. But I don't think anyone has ever thought that ten years after that issue came out, those same readers read the comic in bed. Under the covers. With a flashlight. And the Raquel Welch pillow. While their wives were watching the kids or doing the laundry. (Welch Pillow courtesy of Adam Barnett over at Comics Make No Sense.)