Friday, March 11, 2005


Apparently my latest radio essay aired while I was teaching open yoga to 14 people (one pregnant, one of whom hightailed it out of there before giving her last name)..... which just about covers the $30 parking ticket I received from a one-legged man the minute the meter expired, just after class ended (I also slipped on some snow-covered ice just before class, and tumbled down a half-flight of stairs, injuring my right hip, wrist and shoulder....Even worse, Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" is now lodged in my brain... and, hopefully, yours too):

We were a bit short this morning, so your essay will be on around 10:30 this morning!
Sorry for the short notice…its unfortunately the nature of the business.  I do have a copy of Online Dating for you and will also get one for this essay as well.
Manju C.

The essay in question........

By Satya Cacananda

I was driving on the tollway towards Chicago when my brother called to tell me -- again -- that I had to leave the city and move somewhere decent.  He still lives in our hometown of McHenry out in the northwest suburbs , and calls me on my prepaid cell phone every time there's a scandal in the city.   Which is often. 

This time he was hopping mad about Jeffrey Boyle, the Chicago fire lieutenant suspected of setting fires. But he was also incensed with another Boyle brother -- John "Quarters" Boyle, who was charged last year with taking payoffs in the Trucks for Hire scandal.

Our conversation turned to Quarters' nickname, which he got  after being  convicted  of stealing $4 million in change from the Illinois Tollway Authority.

I told my brother I’d opened two rolls of pennies for this trip on the tollway, and was preparing to drop all 100 of them into the toll basket. 

I've been tossing pennies into the toll baskets for years out of principle -- the tollways were paid off long ago, and payments from motorists were supposed to be  temporary.   Pitching pennies is my one-woman protest, designed to make it as difficult and as expensive as possible for the state to take -- and transport -- my money. 

But I didn't get serious and start buying rolls of pennies until after the first of the year, when tolls doubled for drivers who paid in cash instead of using I-Pass. 

I brought home one of those  I-Pass devices.  But I don't like being coerced into having my movements tracked, even if it means paying double.  And when I opened up the box and saw how much information they wanted from me,  I decided to put off the transition as long as possible. 

I don't like anyone knowing what I'm up to -- that's one of the reasons I live in a big apartment building on a busy street.  But it doesn't stop there.  I   never use  an ATM card, and pay in cash whenever I can.  I buy magazines at the newsstand rather than subscribe.  The US Patriot Act makes it much easier for the government to track the library books and videos I borrow.   So I get what I can from friends.   "They"  can also track the TV shows we watch and the web sites we visit -- so of course I don't have TiVo or a cable modem. And when it was time to fill out the application for a Jewel Preferred Card,  I used the first two street names that came to mind and created  a whole new identity -- Lawrence J. Wacker.  After all, I don't want The Man to find out I don't eat meat.

My brother warned me that I'd better not put my name on this essay.   He said if I did, Homeland Security would be onto me in no time.

So this is Larry Wacker.  Reporting from corrupt, beautiful, laissez-faire Chicago. 

While she still can.

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