Friday, April 30, 2010

On performing the Heimlich Maneuver

So I'm sitting there minding my own business, enjoying a nice Nick's gyro, when I notice the guy next to me is turning blue. He's got his hands up to his throat and he's staring all bug-eyed at me. I first thought about some of those claims I'd heard about the Heimlich Maneuver's lack of efficacy in most cases. I thought that perhaps performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Bug Eyed Beef Kabob Bob might just be a waste of time, and little more than something to do while we waited for Nick to dial 911. But then I figured, what the fuck, might as well give it a shot.

After finishing my gyro and washing it down with some tasty beverage, I went around behind Bob and fell back on my extensive Heimlich training. I jerked him out of his chair, spun him around, bear-hugged him from behind with one hand grasping the other wrist just below Bob's solar plexus, and give him a big yank.


I yanked harder.


One more time giving it the old college try, and that chunk of Kabob flew out of Bob's mouth and hit the old "Try our Baklava" sign on the front of Nick's old "Baklava and Other Delicious Greek Pastries! Oopa!" case.

"Holy shit man, thanks!"

"No problem pal."

"Ya know, if Obama has his way, some death panel would have just said to let me die or somethin'. It's like those Tea Partiers say, it's always something with this Obama guy, and now he wants more taxes so he can give our money to poor people, and I know you know who I mean."


"The Tea Partiers! They're totally right. We can't keep going the way we're going or the fuckin' country's gonna go fuckin' broke."

"We're already broke, and have been for some time."

"Yeah well, this fuckin' guy is only making things worse with his fuckin' taxes, and his fuckin' socialized medicine, and his fuckin' bailouts of fuckin' Wall Street. What we need is someone like Palin. She'll put an end to all of this shit. Then we can get back to bein' what made this country the greatest fuckin' country in the fuckin' world!"

"We were already broke."

"Yeah, but at least we weren't passing this shit on to my grandkids. You know what this fuckin' guy is doin' to our grandkids?"

"Your grandkids were already broke too. See, there's this thing called the national debt...."

"Fuckin' A right man. This guy is spending like..."

"Like Bush?"


"You think Sarah Palin might have some answers?"

"She sounds like she knows what she's doing, and I'd rather have her running the place than this fuckin' guy. At least I could feel good about being an American."

"So, I guess you think of Sarah Palin as the candidate of hope and change eh?"


"You know what I'd like?"


"I think I'd like to buy you another Beef Kabob."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An announcement

Since I've been posting nothing but drivel on these boards for the better part of 5 years now, I figure I owe you all something in the way of advance notice, a heads-up, an insider look at what happens in Chicago when something big happens in Chicago. Some people think I mention Chicago too often in my posts, that Chicago is all I post about, or that Chicago has somehow worked its way into my marrow. Chicago, Chicago, Chicago!! Enough about friggin' Chicago!!


Something big is happening tomorrow, it's happening in Chicago, and so I'm telling you first.

At 12:00 noon, Monday April 26, 2010 I'm announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate. I'll be holding my press conference at Oak Street Beach. That's in Chicago. Not entirely sure how big of a crowd to expect. I've been using my old connections in the Chicago media, but I'm not sure how much they're worth any more. Some of the guys on WSCR have been mumbling behind the scenes about showing up. No idea if the Oprah cameo will do any good, but it can't hurt.

This is the announcement speech I've prepared:

Thank you all for joining us here today. The weather sure has been________.

(cooperative/uncooperative)~ pause for laughter.

I see________ has joined us today. Aren't you worried about offending the Chicago Machine?

~pause for laughter.

As much as I'd like to keep joking around on this_____ day, I have come to make what I consider to be an important announcement. Many of you gathered here understand how much I've wrestled with my decision, and so to those of you who don't know me very well I can assure you that I didn't arrive at this juncture without much thought and soul-searching.

I want to be your next United States Senator from the great State of Illinois!

~pause, monitor faces in crowd.

We have come to a great crossroads, and I think it's time we crossed the road!!!!

~ pause for applause

Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi!!!

(pause for effective connection to be made.....)

Remember that name! Hajatoleslam Kazem Sedighi!

He's why you're all here today, the first Boobquake Day in Illinois history.

Let Hajatoleslam Kazem Sedighi take its place alongside the other tyrants of our time, and other times, dating back to time before times like the times we live in today which are trying times!

~pause for applause

I am pleased to see so much beautiful cleavage here today ladies, and gentlemen. Special thanks to BEW for sending us a few electricians to show their solidarity with our Boobquake Day sisters here, and to remind Hajatoleslam Kazem Sedighi that not only do our women have some of the finest cleavage on earth, but that men with loose fitting jeans, heavy tool belts, and a need to bend over are also part of the American WAY!!!!

~long pause

But I don't want you to think that I'm a one issue candidate. While I admit that cleavage and, more specifically, women's cleavage, play a large role in my knowledge of domestic policy, I do have strong views on much broader issues.

I'm in favor of protecting our borders. I support a strong national defense while acknowledging the fact that we are no longer in a Cold War. I believe we can remain the strongest, safest country in the world, without bankrupting you in the process. I moderately support the president's health care program for the simple fact that I felt some steps needed to be taken to solve what had already become a crisis.

Besides my great admiration for women's breasts, I also support further regulation of Wall Street. The crisis that we've all just lived through, and are still living through, cannot be allowed to happen again!

~pause for applause

Both of my opponents also strongly believe in a safe and prosperous America as well, and so it will come down to other issues when you make your voting decision this fall.

Make no mistake about it. Breasts are on my mind, and I think breasts are on the minds of many other patriotic Americans. Men love breasts, women love breasts, babies love breasts. Breasts of all shapes and sizes are two things that make our country great. For too long, we've kept our discussions about breasts confined to our homes, to our bedrooms, to our golf courses.

The time to change that is now! We need to celebrate breasts, not blame them for earthquakes like Hajatoleslam Kazem Sedighi !!!

I know when I'm in a bad mood, I think back to a simpler time of my life, when I was 3 months old. Feelings of fear would vanish as I buried my little face between 2 breasts. If I was hungry, I didn't have to go to grocery stores with their skyrocketing prices, I just popped one of those breasts in my mouth and I was as content as a 3 month old baby could be.

(~pause for long awkward silence.)

When elected, by you, the people of the GREAT STATE OF ILLINOIS (~pause) I promise to make my first piece of legislation the kind of legislation America loving Americans can get behind. I will propose the creation of a Federal Breast Cancer Agency. Breast cancer takes the lives of over 45,000 Americans every year. Over 180,000 new cases are discovered every year. I feel that we should all make it our mission, our national goal, of being the generation who found a cure for breast cancer.

You are about to embark upon a Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these
many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving
people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave sisters-and-brothers-in arms,
we will bring about the destruction of breast cancer.

(~**Please check with Eisenhower's people for clearance before reading that part.**)

I believe that we should set a goal, of curing breast cancer before the decade is out. We choose to find a cure for breast cancer in this decade, not because it is easy but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win. No program like this comes cheaply, and so I'm going to call on the Pentagon to find me some money. Tough decisions need to be made, and they involve downsizing our military.

(~ **clear this & the next passage with Kennedy's people before reading**)

Let the word go forth to friend and foe alike that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.

We are no longer interested in making war before first seeking peace. We know that our greatest assets are ourselves, not our possessions. We believe that with combined effort we can make a difference in assuring that people all over the world can live fuller, healthier lives. More productive lives.

Hajatoleslam Kazem Sedighi would have us think that breasts are a cause of problems within our society, and within the shifting plates of the earth's crust as well. I say Hajatoleslam Kazem Sedighi is wrong, and that's why I want your vote this fall.

(~pause to look at the breasts)

And as we reach out and touch the breasts of the people we love so much, we keep in our hearts the breasts of friends, and loved ones, no longer with us.

Thank you. May your God, if you have one, bless you. And if you don't have one, then may you have a nice day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blago Goes Blagonzo

You just knew it was coming.

Just a matter of time.

Right when you thought you'd seen "Full Blago" we find a whole other dimension of Blagoness.

He has challenged US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to a freakin' showdown.

At a press conference called this afternoon, I'm sure with the full blessing of his legal team, Blago approached the microphone wearing his meanest face. The "this time I'm done screwing around!" face.

Newly released documents are painting a pretty grim picture for Blago. Seems some of the work done on their $900,000...$800,000...$700,000 Ravenswood meh-mansion was paid for with money channeled to Patti Blagojevich from Chicago Construction Services. Chicago Construction Services is owned by,...wait for it...Tony Rezko. Something like $40,000 of the Rezko kicker came complete with a friggin' paper trail of checks made out to Patti. First to a shadow corp, then to Patti, then into Patti's personal checking account.

Home improvements for the Governor, done by shadowy contractors, as a way to launder money?

I'm shocked I tell you. Shocked.

Not sayin' I would have, but I could have come up with a better way to move that 40K than that, but then again, so could Coco that chimp who does sign language.

A 3 step paper trail?

The wife as the cover?

I'm picturing Anthony Stabile telling Jimmy O'Donnell that the brand new Caddy is registered in his mother's name.

So how does Blago react to this most recent bit of news? How does he handle further newly released evidence that seems to suggest that some of his oldest cronies have been cooperating with the feds for quite a while now?

He calls a press conference, and challenges Patrick Fitzgerald to meet him tomorrow at the Federal Courthouse to discuss the tapes that are being withheld from evidence,. Tapes which, Blago claims, will clear his name. Time to defend the family name. Time to stand up fer his gal!

"Tomorrow, noon, in front of the old courthouse. I'll be there, and if you don't show up, you're nothin' but a yella-bellied liar and a cheat and a coward too!"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

zbrodnia katyńska

On September 1, 1939, just a week after the Molotv-Ribbentrop Pact, the Germans invaded Poland from the north, south and west. Both Britain and France had assured Poland that any aggression by Germany would be met with attacks by both of those countries against Germany. (Polish-British Common Defence Pact, Franco-Polish Military Alliance) Instead, Britain and France did essentially nothing to defend Poland, and that inactivity has come to be known as the Western Betrayal.

The Polish army retreaded to the east.

Two weeks later, on September 17, the Soviets came in from the east. When the dust had settled, Poland had been overrun, and the Germans and Soviets controlled the entire country.

The Soviets had rounded up something like 250,000 (estimates vary) military POWs in Poland, but had released around 200,000 almost immediately, those being Ukrainians and Belarusians. And so by March 1940 the Soviets held around 40,000 Polish military or "intelligentsia" POWs. These POWs were then "interviewed", the interview being essentially an audition to save your own life. If you were seen as something of a "nationalist" or a "counterrevolutionary" were sent to a camp in Ukraine or Belarus.

In March 1940, Levreniy Beria, prominent member (eventually head) of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, sent a letter to Joseph Stalin suggesting that 26,000 or so Polish prisoners of war be executed. Beria argued that such action should be taken in order to deplete a future Polish army of leadership, although in addition to the Polish military officers and soldiers being held in Western Ukrainian and Belarusian prisons, Polish "itelligentsia" such as lawyers, doctors, authors. poets, writers, teachers, priests, and journalists were included in the list of those who were to be whacked.

Stalin agreed as did the Politburo.

The executions began in April, and took place simultaneously in prisons, camps, and in one case a forest.

The Katyn Forest lies about 12 miles west of Smolensk, Russia. It was there some of the 26,000 were taken, and shot. It is said that one man, Vasili Blokhin, of the NKVD, personally shot 6,000 men over the course of 28 days. The killings went on day and night, and they only took a break for May Day.

For a long time, the Soviet Union denied any "Katyn Massacre" ever took place. They covered it up, and then tried to blame the Nazis. In 1989 Russian scholars had dug up enough shit in the old archives to confirm the truth, and in 1990 Mikhail Gorbachev finally admitted that the atrocity had indeed taken place, and acknowledged the existence of two other mass grave sights, Mednoye and Piatykhatky.

The Katyn Massacre was a rallying cry for the Solidarity Movement. I have heard stories of the Katyn Massacre for years. Stories that make you want to fucking puke. Imagine Soviet soldiers lining up 3 or 4 Poles front to back, and shooting the man in front in an attempt to save bullets. 4th guy still standing? Well, he becomes the front man for the next stack.

The horror of Katyn is part of them. You need only say that one word, and faces grow very sad. It's like "Pearl Harbor" or "9/11" to Poles.

It was 70 years ago, and Katyn was the reason Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 96 others were flying to Smolensk. They were going to visit Katyn memorials.

Chicago has the largest population of Poles outside of Warsaw. Up on the northwest side, well, trust me, there are lots and lots and lots of Polish people living up here. In early May, on Constitution Day, these maniacs run up and down Milwaukee Avenue with their horns blowing and their flags waving. 5-6 people jammed into a sedan, and having a hell of a time just driving around waving that red and white flag with the eagle on it. You'd think a wedding was going by with all the horns, only they're just sitting at a stop light laying on the freaking horn. It's kinda cool to see. These cats know how to party, and they are proud of their heritage.

Back in 2000, at St. Adalbert Cemetery, about 5 blocks south on Milwaukee Avenue, a monument was erected to the victims of the Katyn Massacre. The work was done by a Chicago sculptor named Wojciech Seweryn. Serwyn's father was one of those murdered in Katyn Forest. Wojciech was one year old in 1940.

I stopped by St. Adalbert this morning, and paid my respects along with dozens of others. The Polish flags were at half mast, and there were flowers all around the base of the monument.Hundreds and hundreds of people had been coming since yesterday, not only to remember the 70th anniversary of the massacre, but to honor Wojciech Seweryn, who was also on that plane.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

"Wow" doesn't quite cover it.

You almost had to be here.

It started with a light show to the west.

As it came closer, thunder began to accompany the lightning.

Right around here, I started to get a little nervous.

Normally, I'm a huge fan of extreme weather.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Trash Talk

As they passed my open door, they paused and stared across Milwaukee Ave, dumbfounded, slack-jawed. They didn't know I was listening. It was only 7:45. One of their companions was shouting the bad news from across the street.

"What did he say?"

"They're fuckin' closed!"

"You gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me! Fuckin' closed? Why?"

Their companion dashed back across Milwaukee Ave. and rejoined his crew near my open door.

"Da guy says dare remodeling da interior. Believe dat shit? A fuckin' White Castle closed for fuckin' remodeling?"

"Day oughta at least put up a fuckin' sign or some fuckin' ding."

"There's a sign on the front door....'bout dis big."

"Yeah fuck dat shit, they oughta put it up on the big White Castle sign where they give da specials."

"I had a fuckin' taste fer a sack o' sliders goddamiit! Awwww fuck me! Now what?"

"I dunno. Wanna get some donuts?"

"Ah dem fuckin' (racial epithets) don't know what dare fuckin' doin'!"

"Good coffee doe."

"Yeah, day do got good coffee..."

"Let's just get some fuckin' donuts. Fuck."

"And some coffee..."

"Yeah, and some coffee. Day do make good coffee,"

"I might pick up a bag o' da coffee. What da fuck! Fuckin' White Castle!"

As their angry voices trailed off, it occurred to me that the usual smell of grilled onions, so powerful in the morning that the aroma actually overpowered the exhaust smell from Milwaukee Ave. was indeed absent.

I looked out the window, and across the street. As the three angry men strode past the front door of the White Castle, they paused and stared at the closed front door with the small sign announcing the temporary closure for remodeling. Shaking their heads in disgust, they proceeded across to the east side of Harlem Ave., and in to the Dunkin' Donuts.

When they returned with their coffee and donuts, I could tell morale was low. They stood around their vehicle and discussed the morning's events, and the news of the day.

"How's dat coffee?"

"It's pretty good. Real fuckin' hot too."

"Ya remember that story about the old lady dat burned herself with some of that McDonald's coffee?"

"Yeah, what a bunch o' bullshit dat was. Fuckin' coffee's supposed to be fuckin' hot fer god's sake. Fucking lawyers...."

"Catch that Hawks game yesterday?"

"Da last period. Dare playin' good again...."

"Dat fuckin' Hue-ay bastard. Dis Niemmmy's better dan Hue-ay. Q better just stick wit dis guy."

"Let's get the fuck outta here..."

"Yeah, let's go."

By 8:15, they were gone.

And by 8:30, the next wave arrived. The driver chose a more appropriate parking spot.

The three person crew made the long trudge across my parking lot. I didn't have the heart to tell them that the fucking White Castle was closed. I watched as they too reached the front door of the fucking White Castle, only to find a small sign informing them of the interior remodeling that fucking White Castle was doing.

One of them, in an act of pure desperation tried to place an order at the drive-thru window, only to be informed that one must actually drive up to the drive-thru window. No walk ups allowed for insurance reasons. He glanced back across the street, and obviously came to the sad conclusion that their truck would not fit under the drive-thru canopy.

This team made no pretense of accepting fucking donuts as a replacement for their morning White Castles. They hung their heads and made the slow walk back across Milwaukee Ave., across my parking lot, and silently climbed into their vehicle.

As the driver pulled away from the curb, I could see the disappointment on his face.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Rounding The Horn

On April 14, 1916 six men climbed into a 22 1/2 ft long whaler named the James Caird and set out for South Georgia Island. South Georgia lay 800 miles or so to the northeast, in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.

After being stranded on Elephant Island off the Antarctic coast for months, Ernest Shackleton, Tom Crean, Frank Worsley, Harry McNish, Tim McCarthy, and John Vincent decided (well, Shackleton decided) that the voyage must be attempted if the lives of the entire crew of the wrecked Endurance were to be saved.

Shackleton chose Crean because he was a rock, Worsley because he was a navigational wizard, McNish (ship's carpenter) because the Caird may have needed repair during the voyage, McCarthy and Vincent because they were the most able sailors. (Shackleton despised McNish because of repeated insubordination during the first part of the attempted Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and additional acts of near-mutiny during the months on Elephant Island. But Shackleton knew that McNish's skills may have been needed, and so he included the mouthy Scot.)

In studying the expedition, watching the above NOVA (which is excellent), and in reading Shackleton's book SOUTH! it became clear to me that among the greatest hardships faced by the crew of Endurance was the boat trip. The voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia. It was an act of complete desperation. The odds of those 6 guys finding their way through 800 miles of open ocean were slim at best. Shackleton spared no praise for Worsley's navigation skills, such as using a sextant in 50 ft. rolling seas. If Worsley's calculations had been off by so much as a degree, they'd have blown right by South Georgia, and been lost for good.

If you notice on that map, the trip from Elephant Island to the tip of South America would have been shorter, and much more likely to have resulted in landfall of some sort. Either the Falkland Islands or Deception Island would have seemed more likely choices for Shackleton, but Sir Ernest knew that he'd have been sailing into the prevailing westerly winds that whip through the Drake Passage and around the southern tip of South America.

The Horn.

Sailors have long celebrated "Rounding The Horn" as it is seen as the "Mt. Everest of sailing." When approaching from the west, sailors must first take it far south of course, and that means cold. It also means stormy seas.

What lies ahead, and what confronted Shackleton, Crean, Worsley, McNish, McCarthy and Vincent is the vast Southern Atlantic Ocean, which can be notoriously rugged depending on the time of year. Winter is the worst.

Back in January, Abby Sunderland set off from California aboard the 40 foot yacht Wild Eyes and headed south. After some mechanical difficulties halted her progress, she got back underway last month.

Now, Abby has the benefit of modern GPS technology, and as opposed to the 22 1/2 foot James Caird the Wild Eyes is about as nice as it gets when it comes to open ocean yachting. She's got a little kitchen, and a bed, and wireless internet so she can keep me updated on her progress (well, me and about 37,000 other people.)

It's worth noting however, that Abby is 16 years old, and she is attempting to become the youngest person to ever sail around the world solo.

The reason I'm boring you with all of this shit is that according to her blog, yesterday, March 31, 2010 Abby Rounded the Horn.