Friday, September 29, 2006


This weekend marks my 20th college reunion.

It takes place on the small liberal arts campus that was dividied -- polarized if you will -- after my satiric rewrite of the Bears' 1985 hit "The Superbowl Shuffle" appeared in the campus newspaper and aired on the campus radio station.

The song addressed the college's questioning of its longstanding practice of giving its best student housing to the "purpose units" -- a euphemism for fraternities and sororites.

My friends from the radio station and I were harassed. It got so bad the adminstration had to call a campus-wide "town meeting" and I faced my victimizers in "court."

Suffice to say that I bought a locking gas cap for my car (which was keyed) and didn't go anywhere without an imposing male escort.

In the end the purpose units got their way; nothing changed, and my lead harasser was given a seat on the Board of Trustees.

So why am I going?

Tonight we plan an informal coup of the radio station (today's students tend to be a bit on the docile side).

And tomorrow there will be an offiical visit at 12:30PM central time. You can listen here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


In order to help eradicate the caste system, some states in India have been paying up to $1100 to upper caste people who marry members of the two lowest castes. The state of Gujarat is at the high end, while West Bengal pays a measly $45.* They don't say whether they get paid to marry Untouchables/Dalits/Harijans, which are thought to be so polluted they are casteless.

Now, legislators want to make the reward $1100 througout the world's largest democracy. Although it would cover just two months at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, this is a significant amount of money for most Indians and is meant to help the happy couple set up a house.

Apparently the marriage is reward enough for the lower castes, who still experience widespread discrimination.

The hope is that if enough people mixed it up, the idea of caste would eventually disappear.

More here.

Perhaps the world's loudest democracy should follow suit and admit that racism is still a problem in America -- call a spade a spade as it were -- and do the same for interracial couples (straight, gay or otherwise) who decide to tie the knot.

If enough people mixed it up, perhaps our conception of race would eventually disappear.

Of course we'd find other ways to discriminate against people.

Like, say, class, age and gender....

*Todays Fun Fact: Over half of the 250,000 Indians living in the Chicago hail from the western state of Gujarat -- which seems to experience more than its fair share of natural disasters, sectarian violence and goverment duplicity in the latter. They got out while the gettin' was good.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


It's not often that one experiences a minor epiphany while reading the New York Times magazine on a late Sunday afternoon, but it happened. It was a story about an oversize poor black child who was raised by wolves in Memphis (ie, his parents were useless or nonexistent). Due to the work of some good Samaritans this gigantic boy was admitted to a small private Christian high school. He was woefully behind, having attended scores of schools. He'd been flunked a couple of times and had been passed the rest of the time so that he would go away and become someone else's problem. He also lacked social skills and rarely spoke; up to that point life had simply been about survival.

After the first year at this high school he narrowly escaped flunking and was allowed to join the football team. Not because he could play, but because he was big and it was a largely white school and if nothing else he would scare the shit out of the other teams.

I didn't finish the story but apparently this kid is now some famous college player and all of the pro teams want him and there will be a bidding war or some such thing. That's why they wrote the article.

When this kid enrolled in the Christian high school he was homeless -- living on people's floors and wearing the same pair of shorts every day. He couldn't afford to eat at the cafeteria. But somehow he made it to school. He showed up.

At some point a wealthy white born-again couple whose daughter was a classmate saw him walking out in the cold in those shorts and asked where he was going. He said he was on his way to basketball practice. After more questions they learnt that he was going not because he was on the team but because the gym was heated. Their hearts went out to him. They took him in. Soon they began to treat him like a member of the family.

(I remember wishing for a similar rescue many, many, many times during my formative years. Not by Christians, though. More like Starsky and Hutch or Colonel Hogan.... which is quite sick when you think about it).

The journalist who wrote the story had amazing access -- one wonders how he gained his subjects' trust -- and there is a certain, well, exploitative feel to to the piece. Which of course induces the reader to devour it.

He managed to get incredible quotes. At one point he wanted to know why this rich couple -- who owned 60 fast food restaurants -- was so generous with their wealth.

The wife's answer actually made me stop reading and start thinking.

And I'm not even Christian.

She said:

"God gives people money to see how [they're] going to handle it."

And all this time I thought it was so you could withhold it from your offspring and give it all to your already-wealthy second wife.

Really, though, just about any noun could be substituted for "money" and it would still make sense:

"God gives people stiff bodies to see how they're going to handle it."

"God gives people felonies to see how they're going to handle it."

"God gives people talent to see how they're going to handle it."

"God gives people cod liver oil to see how they're going to handle it."

And so on.

The full article is here.

Friday, September 22, 2006


There is a new moon today.

There's also a solar eclipse (visible in South America and Western Africa).

Tonight is the autumnal equinox -- known by the pagans as the fake holiday Mabon.

Tonight is also the start of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year)-- a time of self-examination and repentance that leads to Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement (a time of fasting and intensive prayer).

The Muslim holiday of Ramadan -- a time of fasting, praying, contemplation and giving thanks to god -- begins tomorrow.

Tomorrow is also the start of the Hindu Festival of Navatri ("nine nights of Durga"), a harvest festival in which thanks is given to the goddess - and which ends ten nights later with Dussehra (in which the ten faces of evil are destroyed).

And in this primarily Christian nation we have....... nada.

Caca is sick as a dog so she's celebrating by subbing out / canceling her classes and spending her day panting and trying not to throw up between suffering through TV shows like the yoga program Inhale, "Mad About You" (hey, she's really sick!), "Roseanne," Simple Living TV and what has to be the best reality TV series ever -- Breaking up With Shannen Doherty.

God I hope things improve fairly quickly....

Thursday, September 21, 2006


First we had a day without Mexicans.

They didn't go to work, and everyone noticed their absence.

They even made a movie about it.

And now we've gone AN ENTIRE WEEK without spinach due to the e-Coli outbreak.


No spinach in the Bam-Bam's pocket at Pockets; now it looks pal and wan.

Same for the already-mediocre tofu-veggie nori rolls at Trader Joe's.

No spinach in my usually-fabulous salads, which also look a bit pasty.

Gridlife couldn't order his favorite Greek omelette yesterday at the Cult, where it's made with Phil's free-range eggs, and had to settle on broccoli-and-cheddar.

Even Dorian Black stopped from going to Dona Torta for their wonderful veggie burrito because spinach is the primary ingredient. And he's not even anaemic.

Today I found myself looking for something -- ANYTHING -- green to add to my salads and comparing the nutritional value of French green beans and broccoli; for the record the latter has far more nutrients.

It's a rather sad substitute but it'll have to do.

One can't help but wonder what's next, though --

A month without Scrunchies?

Monday, September 18, 2006


I took my feline companion Mr. Kirby Q-Tie to the vet today for his annual checkup. Prior to that his day had been going quite well.

He made cute little "Air! Air!" sounds when they weighed him and poked and prodded at him. Very cute and not the usual "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW!!-she-starves-and-tortures-me-please-adopt-me" sounds he makes when he stands in front of the neighbor's door and begs for chicken.

When the vet asked about any problems, I mentioned his chronic rodent ulcers, which appear during allergy season and consist of sores that make the side of his mouth curl up so that he looks like, well, a rodent (see photo above).

I told them he'd had some sores a few weeks ago but they had gone away. The vet took a look and said,

"Yes, they seem to be going away."

Then he looked at Kirby's chart and said the sores seemed to be coming back and we should give him a shot of cortisone since we already had him there.

I was silent for a minute or two. I nearly went along with it. Why argue and get labeled a bad pet owner?

Instead I said,

"Didn't you just say the sores seem to be going away?"

Uh, yes. But this will make sure they don't come back.

"I'd rather wait and see. If they're going away I'd prefer not to keep shooting him up with stuff (especially stuff that costs around $40 a pop!)."

He backed off and said we could wait, and showed me the receding sores, and asked if I use plastic dishes (I don't) and said that there's an oral cortisone pill that's easier to control and that I could give him myself.

I felt like I'd nearly allowed myself to be played.

And by a vet no less.

It wasn't until later that I realized that I should have just requested the d*mn prescription and had it filled elsewhere.

Like, say, Canada.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Sportmarty and I rode bikes to the Music Box Theatre last night to see Half Nelson, which is about a (chaste) relationship that develops between a 13-year-old girl and her crackhead teacher after she discovers him nearly ODing in the girl's locker room. The poor teacher is on the pipe, it seems, because his parents are ex-hippies who drink a lot and the world is a scary, unfair place. Nonetheless he is hot. Whatever. I like films about miserable single people who live alone, addiction or no.

They kept drinking red wine in the movie, and like a minkey I immediately wanted some, too.

We sat behind SM's ex wife. After the movie I learnt that she just got rid of a slow old Raleigh bike. Later, as we unlocked our rides, I found out that she is also a speed freak who favors a fast silver ten-speed. She says it doesn't hurt her back or neck because she sits up higher by gripping the top part of the drop-bars - where there aren't any brake levers. She says she has enough time to get to the brakes (on the lower part) if necessary. Hmmmm.

As SM and I walked down busy Southport Avenue, which is home to four blocks of fake pubs, mediocre restaurants, frivolous boutiques, empty ice cream shops and so much sidewalk seating that we could barely navigate between that and the drunken Cubs fans and other perfumed white people swarming the area, we talked about the movie and TV shows like Deadwood and Rescue Me. Apparently SM showed his foreign ladyfriend a couple of episodes of the latter, and she got hooked immediately -- and spent the next few days watching all the episodes back to back.

"That's her crack," I said.

Turns out she's into red wine, too.

Then I started to think about what my crack is.

In no particular order:

-The Internet
-The Caffeine
-Corn Chips -- the saltier the better
-Reading everything from package labels to inane blogs
-Writing everything from a media column to an inane blog
-Corn Chips
-Listening to the radio, from Wake up with Whoopie (rarely a good idea) to Opie and Anthony (one of them does a spot-on Howard Stern) to public radio's Living on Earth (a riveting show that the local station sandbags by airing it Saturdays at 6AM
-The Walgreen's discount aisle (reading glasses with case for $5! Lifelike singing bird for $1.49! Carabiner flashlight for 29 cents! 10 bags of herbal tea for 50 cents! A lighted fountain for $1.49!)
-Corn Chips (it's gotten so bad I'm using salted shelled edamame as methadone)
-Bicycles (I have six: my mother's 1940's Schwinn Cadillac -- the heaviest bicycle ever made -- 1970's his-and-her Schwinn five-speeds [a Suburban and a Collegiate]; a Monster Fat [Fat City Cycle] mountain bike with Biopace II chain from the 1980's; the slow, ugly-but-comfortable new Raleigh; and the beloved 1970's Cinelli racer, which is sadly out of commission at the moment)
-Ogling other bicycles, and comparing them to mine as well as all the other bikes in the vicinity. (I tend to salivate when I see Marins or classic bikes with fenders, bells and generator lights.....hmmm -- maybe this one is more porn-y than crack-y).

So much for those yogic ideals of sense-control and non-attachment.

Now, what's your crack?

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I'm in the middle of watching a three-hour PBS documentary about the Nehru-Gandhi* dynasty in India. It's quite good; they interviewed EVERYONE.

Anyway, at one point a daughter of Lord Montbatten (the British viceroy under whom India became independent) talks about the time her family and Jawaharlal Nehru's were staying in a palace (?) in Simla, just before independence. Apparently she was given a message to bring to Nehru, who went on to become India's first prime minster (but is probably better known among today's young hipsters for popularizing the Nehru jacket). Anyway he said, impatiently, "Come in! Come in!" She opened the door and was flabbergasted to find that he was in headstand. "We proceeded to have an rather long conversation with him in a headstand the entire time." She had a very posh accent. They all did (Gandhi, Nehru and Jinna were all lawyers).


*Indira Nehru married a man named Gandhi and that's how she got the name. He was no relation to the white-clad thread-spinning father of nonviolent resistance

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Spot the continuity problem and win a prize!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


When I went to India in May I downgraded my phone/cable/internet package to the cheapest one I could get without having to return the equipment. Since returning I've maintained the status quo -- meaning there's no HBO, Sundance, Showtime or BBC America; using the Internet is akin to tapping out messages on a telegraph,; and I must pay for each and every long-distance telephone call. But it's worth it. Why? Because it saves me $100 per month. In a year that's nearly $1200 which is nearly a plane ticket to India.

The savings means, of course, that I can splurge a little bit elsewhere -- especially since I've been borrowing India documentaries from the library (Did you know that between 273 BC and 232 BC. the Maurya gained control of most of what is now India, plus Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan -- and that after winning a war against the Kalinga in which 110,000 were killed, King Ashoka-the-Great put down his arms, embraced his Buddhism and implemented a ton of social reforms that included protecting animals, promoting vegetariansim and treating his subjects as equals regardless of their religion, politics and caste? Or that freedom fighter and Pakistani prime minster Mohammad Ali Jinna was cornered into demanding a separate Muslim state? Or that in addition to meaning "Land of the Pure" in Urdu, the name "Pakistan" is an acronym for its states, including Punjab, North-West Frontier (Afghania) Province, Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan? Or that "No Full Stops in India" author Mark Tully loves trains, was born in Calcutta and speaks fluent Hindi/Urdu? Or that the rickshaws in Pakistan are white, and their trucks are even more elaborately decorated than the ones in India? The things you can learn by going to the library....).

Anyway I've been saving a bit of money, so today I couldn't stand it any more and joined Netflix.

Yes, I should become a member at local independent film and video gem (and former employer) Facets. And I will. One day. When I have more $$$.

So there I was, re-joining Netflix.

When they asked my birth year and gender I answered "1900" and "male."

This must have confused the computer. When I was deciding what to put in my queue (Raang de Basanti, Friends with Money, Lovely and Amazing, Grey Gardens, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Earth (1947) -- all of which are huge hits among the hundredsomething male set) -- the thing kept making recommendations.

Some of them made sense.

Others, of course, did not (no, I do not wish to see "Grizzly Man" or "Murderball" or "Earth vs. the Flying Saucer" or "Rocky" in Hindi -- even if I am 106).

But I scrolled down to the bottom of the last list of suggestions anyway.

And there I saw the weirdest heading of all:

"Also starring Noam Chomsky"

It was something that had never occurred to me -- that the famed MIT professor emeritus of linguistics, author and social critic is also something of a swaggering leading man.

LIke Patrick Swayze in his City of Joy days.

Or Matt Dillon, nowadays -- only older.

And taller.

And smarter (although Dillon is no idiot).

Makes you think, doesn't it?


For the record, the movies "starring" Chomsky could also serve as titles for his prog-metal albums and / or books about chess strategy:

Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without a Pause
Noam Chomsky: Distorted Morality
Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky: Imperial Grand Strategy

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sonu at the Auditorium Theatre

simply sonu, originally uploaded by bindifry.

Here's Bindi's pic from Sonu's concert here on Saturday (see 9/10 post). He used to look clean-cut and now his hair is shaggy and he doesn't shave and tries to be a bad-ass... but still he has that amazing voice. The term "incongruous" comes to mind.

This is also the case with dandiya singer Falguni Pathak, whom I discovered just today. The MTV Immie Award winner sings like a helium-tinged angel but sports short-short hair and dresses in men's clothes. Look out, kd lang. You can hear Falguni's songs for free here.

John Hancock Center

John Hancock Center, originally uploaded by satya cacananda.

This is the pic that wouldn't post yesterday; the John Hancock Center at noon on foggy, rainy 9/11//06, as viewed from LaSalle Street.

Ha -- that old "if mother says no, ask father" adage holds true for the tech-world: If effing Blogger says no to posting a photo, ask your new friend Flickr.

Monday, September 11, 2006


There was a mildly riveting story on the radio this morning about a woman who lives in the John Hancock Center, which at the moment is the world's largest residential skyscraper. (It also houses commercial enterprises such as The Cheesecake Factory and happens to be for sale, if you're interested). And the 'Cock is right here in Chicago. At least we excel at something -- even if it is being home to two of the world's tallest potential terrorist targets.

I guess that makes us a world class city (a local obsession in this chip-on-its-big-shoulders cowtown).

Anyway.... apparently this woman went through with a planned C-section on 9/11/01. She ended up having to bribe her babysitter $2,000 to stay with her other child on the 84th floor of the 'Cock; no one wanted to be in a high-rise that day -- even serfs.

Although one suspects that savvy nanny could have held out for more.

It's also curious that the woman didn't find it necessary to evacuate her child from downtown. Recently-fired shock jock Mancow Muller boasts here about how he bit the bullet and stayed on the air and continued broadcasting even though his building had been evacuated.

God know you need a shock jock in times of crisis.

Anyway... apparently very few people moved out of the 'Cock after 9/11. It's its own community, according to the people who live there; when they see other residents in the restaurant, they say hello. Sometimes, when they're sick, a neighbor will bring soup. Wow. Imagine: people of the same socioeconomic status being civil to each other.

So.... this woman's child was born 9/11/01, and she says that despite everything they would never leave the 'Cock. They love it there, what with the feeling of community and all.

(My friend and I visited Garry Meier in his apartment there in the early 80's. I remember low ceilings and plush carpet and a dark, cramped feeling. But perhaps my memory is starting to fail).

This woman's child, now five, marks its birthday each year on 9/11. But they can't throw the party on her actual birthday. Nope, the woman has to plan the celebration for a different day -- because no one will let their kid come over to their famous residential high-rise on the anniversary of The Day America Lost its Innocence.

Apparently the bourgeoisie have a clue, too.

Perhaps they're not a bunch of 'Cock suckers after all.


This morning when I came to class (which was sparsely attended) Jammu told me that today also marks the 100th anniversary of Gandhiji's first act of civil disobedience in Johannesburg, South Africa. (When he was told to move from the first class carriage of a train to third class because he was "colored," the barrister refused to budge -- and was thrown off the train, lugggage and all).

You don't hear ol' Bush talking about that, though, do you?


Today is also Gurui's daughter Saraswati's birthday. She's 65.

You don't hear Bush talking about that much, either.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


...Bindifry and I met downtown last night at the 'luxe India House restaurant. We ordered a couple of exquisite-but-expensive North Indian thalis (they were $17 or Rs 800; in Mysore they cost between 35 cents and $1.30). We were wearing bindis of course; Bindi had on a smokin' Indian top that matched her glasses and I wore my black-and-red sequined out-of-control salwaar dress ("Looking very nice tonight Madam"). After eating far too much we took the El ten blocks south to the Louis Sullivan-designed Auditorium Theatre, where I saw Frank Zappa back in '87.... or was it '88? He was ranting about censorship, as was Jello Biafra -- whom I saw the same week. (So was I, as a board member of the Illinois Coalition Against Censorship). Anyway, The Auditorium is an acoustically perfect architectural masterpiece that for some reason has been allowed to remain standing. The sight-lines are great and the seats are comfortable and it's one of the best places to see a show, hands down.

We were there to see superstar Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam -- as were all the other Salwaar and sari-wearing women and Hindu men in dress shirts and boys in baseball caps and Sikh men in turbans. As I wrote in this week's Reader:

"The songs in Bollywood musicals are usually recorded by faceless playback singers and lip-synched by actors. But 33-year-old playback singer Sonu Nigam is a face: he's released his own pop albums, acted in movies, and hosted shows on TV and radio. He's known for matching his baritone to a variety of actors and moods; recent hits include the melancholy duets "Mere Haath Mein" ("When My Hand Is in Yours") from Fanaa and "Tumhi Dekho Na" ("See It Yourself") from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Earlier this year the "Elvis of India" shocked his fans by announcing that he's cutting back on his workload to improve his hit-to-miss ratio--he says only about a dozen of the 300 sound-track songs he's recorded in the past two years have become hits. Last month he self-released a patriotic song, "Yeh Rashtra Prem Ki Bhavana" ("This Land Is a Place of Love"), and he'll record an album he's called "a little more than just semiclassical" after he wraps up a ten-city U.S. tour. His glitzy stage show features singers Sowmya Raoh and his father, Agam Nigam, and 16 musicians and dancers."

Sonu did not disappoint.

The diminutive 33-year old showman with the amazing voice worked the crowd like a Bono-Boss-Elvis dynamo, dancing and gesturing and playing to the upper rafters as much as to the folks right in front of him. There was bhangra and ballads and even one really irritating schmaltzy song that reminded me of Bronski Beat. He also sang the female parts to some of his songs. It really kicked ass -- and how could it not, given that he had FOUR percussionists on stage. The eight dancers (two of which had bellies!) wore some *really* strange costumes but were amazing anyway. At one point Sonu removed his black-and-silver-jacket to reveal a low-cut, almost-feminine black-and-silver sequined tank top.

His massive hit list includes:

Fanaa - Mere Haath Me
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna - Tumhi Dekho Na
Krish - Koi Tumsa Nahi.n
Krish - Pyaar Ki Ek Kahani
Fanaa - Dekho Na
Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham - Suraj Hua Maddham
Kal Ho Na Ho - Kal Ho Na Ho (Title Song)
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna - Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham - You Are My Sonia
Salaam Namaste - Tu Jahaa.n

Like a master showman he stopped here and there to talk to the audience. At one point he told a long story in Hindi that was punctuated by joke-singing and had the audience in stitches. I figured he was poking fun at his early singing career, before he found his "voice" (apparently he used to sound a lot like Rafi). Bindi thinks he was talking about the acts he saw when he hosted Indian Idol. We could both be wrong of course; it could have been a flashback.

After two hours we'd made it halfway through the show and were too tired to stick around for the second half (the life of a yoga teacher and all that). By the end of the first half they had people waving their arms to the ballads, with blinking cell phones in their hands. You read it here first: cell phones are the new lighters.

It made me wonder what it must have been like to see Elvis at his peak.

Afterwards we drove towards Lake Shore Drive and past Buckingham Fountain, which was quite spectacular and still going strong (they usually threaten to shut it off right after Labor Day). As we drove north we passed fireworks at Navy Pier, and at one point the moon came out from behind the clouds and made an appearance over the lake.

And for a few moments at least the Windy City was a good place to be.



I tried to post Bindi's photos of the show but that CSer Blogger wouldn't let me. Click here to see 'em.

Friday, September 08, 2006


A naked couple is on a bed in a room with peeling walls. The floor is strewn with books and clothes, and other items are jammed into plastic milk crates. There's a boombox playing Metallica next to the bed, which has mismatched sheets. The man pumps away on top of the woman for several minutes. Neither makes a sound. The man looks at the clock, stops pumping, and then looks down at the woman.

MAN: Are you about finished? I've got things to do.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Today's factoid:
You can either read books or have a clean house.
Or you can have neither.
But you certainly cannot have both
unless there are servants and/or a small inheritance.

I just finished blowing through Frank McCourt's trio of memoirs (Angela's Ashes, 'Tis and Teacher Man), and boy is my house a mess. Come to think of it, I'm a little depressed, too. . I must follow the lead of Ernesto and remember that one must get organized if one is to pull out of a tropical depression and become a proper hurricane.

But I digress.

The McCourt books are engaging to say the least. And they're irresistible if you're procrastinating on something distasteful.

His first book reads as if it HAD to be written. The followups feel like they required a certain amount of effort.

But not so much effort that McCourt and his editors were able to remove all the inaccuracies and anachronisms.

On the left inner book jacket for 'Tis it says the charming Irishman with the strange manner of his father returned to the US in 1953. On the right inner book jacket it says the writer with black teeth and two eyes like piss holes in the snow returned in 1949. Well, which is it? And who missed this obvious discrepancy -- and do they still have a job?

I bet it was a man.

Near the beginning of 'Tis, McCourt writes about his first landlady, a Scandinavian who is always bemoaning the loss of her late husband. Apparently he had been ill for some time but it was the TV that killed him. Huh? In 1949? Or was it 53? Hello! Either way, TV sets weren't easily available in America until the mid to late-1950's. But McCourt implies that the man has been dead for awhile. Oops

And then he writes about his early teaching experiences, and how he had his night-school students write about their typical day. One of them, a single mother with two (or was it three?) jobs wrote about exercising to her Jane Fonda tape before going to work... in the late 1960's or 1970's. One can't help but wonder how she got ahold of the tape -- let alone the VCR -- when it hadn't yet been made, since it was released in 1980.*

When one reads Mr. McCourt and comes across these discrepancies she can't help but wonder how much of his truth has been invented, and what his brothers think of his prose, and why he gets the Pulitzer while that BSer with the broken teeth James Frey gets a kick in the arse.

Perhaps because he's so charming.

One can't help but also think that she is way too bogged down in the facts, and that she should toss aside her journalistic training and get to work.

That's what McCourt would tell his creative writing students to do.

Perhaps she could start with the screenplay she and Gridlife are trying not very hard to finish.


Caca - (stumbling over) Hey, what's up.

Maura - We were just talking about how the writing is going.

Caca - Oh! How is your book going, Maura?

Maura - (gesturing her drink towards Caca and Gridlife) Not my writing -- yours.

Gridlife - I was just telling her how I got out the script and worked on it Thursday night.

Caca - Oh. Yeah. (rolling eyes). We're working really, really hard on it.

Maura - What are you working on? What is it?

Gridlife - Mallory Loathes Me

Maura - (without missing a beat) Isn't that the same script you were working on last year?

Caca and Gridlife (nodding sheepishly) - Uh. Yeah.

Maura - Oh.

Caca - Actually, I think we started it TWO years ago.

Maura - So what's taking so long?

Caca - Uh, we're just really, really busy.

Gridlife - I'm going to get another drink. You want anything?

Caca - I'll go with you.


*Ms. Jane Fonda, who is not a procrastinator, is heading up an all-female talk radio network thingy with fellow feminist Gloria Steinem; for more go here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Summer, that is.

Everyone is lamenting the end of the season like it's the end of their youth, bemoaning back-to-school and cool evenings and acting like it's time to stop slacking off and get back to business and they can't believe it's already over it was so short and we had all that rain in June after all, and I never did get to go swimming have that BBQ go to Wisconsin and so on.

Not Caca, who has no time for summer and the requisite heat, humidity, insects and proliferation of the insane and stupid on the streets. As Cam often said, "The warm weather brings out the crazies."

And everyone else, too.

Nonetheless Caca took some summer snaps during an end-of-the-day lakefront ride home from the downtown-health-club-that-cannot-get-its-act-together, when the light was hitting the buildings and lifguards and everything else just-so. She then spent many hours uploading them for your enjoyment.

This is the North Avenue boathouse, which was there when Caca's father was a kid (it was rehabbed a few years ago, but it always looked like a big ol' boat). He used to ride the streetcar in from his northwest side neighborhood in the 1940's. Caca used to change clothes in boathouse bathroom back in the early 90's, when she and her triathlon partner would do early-morning mile-long training swims between North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach. One had to be very careful while changing, because the stall walls were sometimes smeared with fresh feces.

Cam always bemoaned the fact that the city of Chicago ruined the lakefront by putting in Lake Shore Drive. She was right of course. But at least they also put in the lakefront bike path, which one and all -- walkers, strollers, joggers, rollerbladers, bicyclists, people in wheelchairs, visiting suburbanites who think it's their own private driveway -- use during the summer. For some reason many bike racers still find it necessary to don their satin jockey outfits and do their high-speed training rides, their mouths shaped like mail-slots, on high-traffic weekend afternoons. Perhaps they find it challenging to dodge everyone else using the path. There are many accidents during the warm weather and occasionally they're fatal.

Lake Michigan is to the east of the city and the sun sets in the west, making for some stunning light as the sun goes down... which the photographer nearly failed to capture here. That thing in the distance is probably a water intake crib. A homeless man once pointed out there and asked us what those things were. When he heard they were cribs, he scratched his head and said, "CREE-ibs? People live out there?"

Yes, we should charge visitors admission just like the suburbs and small towns that dot the lakefront charge us to use their beaches. But no, we don't. And yes, the woman on the right is wearing a sari and walking a few paces behind her male compaion.