Saturday, January 29, 2011


I'd rather have a photo of Daley hanging up like everybody else in Chicago does.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Last Moving Picture Show

The Last Moving Picture Show
28 Jan 11

Last week, I appeared in a short film, “The Shadow,” at the Columbia Film College. I took the job for reasons all writers should, both to write about the experience, or at least take notes, including every contour of the girl applying my make-up, as I could only stare straight ahead, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The other reason is the obvious one, to whore myself completely to those producing and directing the film. I know several writers who teach at Columbia, which has multiple campuses in areas both good and dismal. But I thought it was time to make a few contacts who worked in film, and I had the good fortune to talk up my writing to a few guys in the green room, “The Jail Guard,” and “The Tenement Boy.” The waif who put my make-up on was happy to know that two of my books have that evil “e with a hyphen” in front of it, I’d say it made me feel older, but let me just describe how it all came about.

A month ago, I was skimming craigslist for gigs, and I’ve been lucky to find a few focus study groups in the [ETC] section (a few years back, I was paid to give my opinion on Gatorade yogurt, which by the grace of Elvis is not on the shelves at 7-11s everywhere). And there it was: actors, 20 minute film, etc. Send head shot. Well, my resume photo is a shot of me standing in front of Jonny O’s Hot Dogs at 38th & Morgan, near the old Stockyards. Well, it worked. Got the call, a confirmation date, then the sheet with everybody’s name and what they do and who they are in the film. I was “Dapper Old Bald Man Holding Sign.” And with that, I understood how I got the job. Wardrobe gave me period clothes from a hundred years ago, my wool pants had a fly that kept sliding down, the story of my life, really. Then I went to makeup, and had sideburns and a handlebar moustache glued onto my face. Afterwards, the girl about a third of my age put all that powder and non-shiny stuff on my head. Now I know why so many women are so happy: they are stoned on their own makeup. It was like having Kit Kat-flavored smelling salts shoved up my nose. And that stuff had to keep getting applied whenever I was under the lights. All I could eat was croutons because everything else stuck to the moustache glue, so after seven hours of filming and getting my head dusted, I likely had a blood alcohol level that would have my pull my own fly open as soon as I left the building. (Well, I really wasn’t going to do that, we had a minus ten wind chill that day.) And I don’t know how it happened, but I gouged open my fingernail while holding this sign above my head in front of a green screen, and asked if it was going to be a silent film, as I wanted to start crying uncontrollably.

I cut out after that damnable moustache was gone, and shoved as much of the remnants from lunch in my mouth as I could. Salad greens, tinfoil, that seemed to be it. Those jackal film students. It was a stretch back from 16th Street to the Roosevelt el stop, and within blocks State Street goes from industrial to hipster-y lofts where the people walking towards each building have voices that sound as if helium was pumped through their nasal passages. An aside: there is a product sold her for these idiots who live in high-rises and have pets. A chunk of Astroturf and a plastic fire hydrant for the balcony. Yes, I’m serious. After that the neighborhood briefly gets creepy, enough that when I turned onto Roosevelt, I was completely startled by a giant full moon not far above Lake Michigan. I might have shrieked like Nathan Lane, I just don’t know. And I was home ninety minutes later. I had taken some photos in the prop and wardrobe rooms, made some notes of the day as well as working on “A Once-Told Tale,” which will play out as if Shirley Jackson had sneaked into a tea party rally. All good discipline. And I learned that I could get high if I wore women’s makeup. Maybe its weed, maybe its Maybelline.

My January 28th essay for Storytellers Unplugged.

Your Life May Be in Danger if You've Seen William Shatner On a UFO

Just sayin, is all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bicycles & Shopping Cart

These photos are near the Red Line subway entrance, the bikes are there because students at the Art Institute have lofts in the building off to the right. Borders is past that. I really like the ingenuity of the homeless person who thought to chain his cart up. Good on him or her.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Midway Liquors

A few blocks past LA Fitness, there's a small lot with Midway Liquors and a boarded up building next to it. As I was riding down 92nd Street last month, I saw the rubble and you know me. As I took the photos, I saw that gap between the buildings. The first photo has my bike dipping through the gap, no boards or horses blocking the way. Next to a liquor store. Knowing the Oak Lawn police, some missing person would lay at the bottom of that pile for days, no one thinking to look. I honestly can't believe that gap is there.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ghost Hood on The Red Line

Photos from a few Mondays back. Nothing cool, just bus and subway shots. I do like the way the hooded guy is ghosted through the opposite window of the Red Line. And even though I'm standing in a well-lit room as I wait for the bus on the ride home, I still have to contend with an open stairwell that leads to the el tracks and the Dan Ryan Expressway, gusts of frigid air are continually thrust upwards and after awhile, I grudgingly accept that I will have to put up with this for forty minutes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our Weathergirl Ginger Zee

The b&w photo will be signed and mailed for a donation to Childrens Leukemia Society. There are times where I'm not even looking at the temperatures.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Blacx Ice & Books Signed by Dead Authors

This is what is called black ice, and often it will pile up along street corners and turning lanes. I took these two shots after getting off the bus from up on Fullerton. Now, the photo above. I found a beat up old table at the Salvation Army, and now I have a place to display books I have that are autographed by writers now dead. Its a tough call on which one is dearest to me. Robert Bloch signed Psycho when we were on a panel together. He saw the Corgi imprint and joked that he had never known that edition of the book at all. Mr. Bloch was quite the deadpan. A few years later, he signed The Star Stalker and The Scarf, two books that are more like Hollywood mysteries, a phase he had gone through in the late 1940s. Then there is Evan Hunter. I have a signed copy of The Blackboard Jungle and Runaway Black, a very obscure novel from the early 1950s, written under the pseudonym Richard Marsten. (I have both editions, Marsten and Hunter.) With all the hoobajoo about Huck Finn lately, there is no way that this book could be published today without controversy. The title Runaway Black pretty much sums it up. I also have a copy of Author's Choice, Karl Edward Wagner actually bled onto the page, after cutting himself on what he thought was a screw cap on a bottle. I suppose I could clone him. There are a few other books on display by living authors, the most prominent being Richard Matheson's I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

And Now They Come In Threes

That's my driveway and that's the window outside where I am now typing this.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Google Earth & White Castles

Blogger was slow last night, so I'm finishing up now. Its pretty crazy how you can zoom in on the 3D buildings. The Oak Lawn Hilton is the tallest building from 95th Street on for the next 180 miles. The White Castle is just a few blocks away. There are two shots on 63rd Street, one showing the bus and the little cameras, it is when you touch one of the cameras that you then zoom into a giant bubble and you can turn any angle you want. You can see the lime green building in both photos. The last shot is of the three-flat I grew up in, and in this case, cameras were few and far between, so this was the best shot I could get. I have no goddamn clue what to post next. Maybe my obituary.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Google Earth and Times Past

I'm going to try a few more of these over the next few days. The photo at the top--Gangster City--I took that back in 1988.

How I Lost My Winter Hat

So for Christmas Eve, we went to a place called The pit in Hickory Hills and I took photos of this stuff on the outside. After we left, I realized I lost my cap. Mind you, I had found it on the el two winters ago and I was used to it. But my dad goes and mentions that he saw the cap fall from my pocket when I took the photos. So I wanted to say Seriously, Dad? Seriously? So tonight I bought a cap from CVS for four bucks.