Thursday, August 31, 2006


How strange, that a storm can "organize" itself.

One can't help but picture Ernesto heading to The Container Store when no one is looking, and filling up his cart.

And the fact he can become a tropical depression at the drop of a hat makes him seem, well, almost human.

Not human-human, but Saddam and his seven co-dependents human.

One used to be so funny.

And smart, too.

Wonder what happened....

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


On Saturday my editor-friend and I braved the Dan Ryan construction and drove 175 blocks to visit the south side's new-ish vegan fast-food restaurant. Yes, vegan. It wasn't all that fast, though. But it was definitely food. And good food at that.

A goth girl and her boyfriend were filling up on chili cheese fries, as was a couple with a baby. Like a pair of lab minkeys we smelled theirs and immediately ordered some for ourselves; quite satisfying. We also gorged on tacos, veggie burgers, and chick-less nuggets. Michael Chiklis Nuggets. Eeeew! When we asked the nice young people running the place -- which is a franchise and hosts monthly vegan meet-ups (meat-ups, ha) and weekly movies -- how the food was made, we were told it comes from a "facility." When I asked where this "facility" is located, I was told that all fast food places have them, even McDonald's. Uh, OK. Although we topped our giant meal off with a couple of massive pieces of cake (sugar is vegan, so it was OK), neither of us felt sick or fell into a food coma.

In fact we had so much energy we drove away from Mt. Greenwood via a hilly, winding road -- unheard of in the square, flat gray grid that is Chicago -- called Longwood Drive. The street was lined with tall trees with huge yards and mansions on one side, and regular homes on the other.

We wound up at my friend Carly's cute little yoga studio on 103rd in Beverly, where she has the ultimate reminder for all of us -- especially male ashtangis -- painted on the wall.

Sunday, August 27, 2006



-Wrapping Paper

-To-Go Container


-Window Cleaner

-Rain Hat


-Packing Material

-Popcorn Box

-Seat Cover

from Caca's 2004 Mysore diary

Thursday, August 24, 2006


From Anthony Lane's August 28 review of Factotum:

"The beautiful joke of “Factotum” is that Dillon is nobility itself. He may also be savage, swiping Taylor off her barstool with a backhand smack, and he is certainly wounded, rising from his bed to throw up and then swig his first beer of the day, yet there is something graven and classical in the brow and bearded chin which speaks of disappointed hauteur; he is like a leftover Roman, beaten up by the places he once aimed to conquer and falling, inch by inch, on his sword. In the words of one onlooker, “You look like you’ve been around. You look like you’ve got class.” Of all the pretty boys of the nineteen-eighties, Dillon has not just ripened most convincingly; he has discovered that the weatherings of age were exactly what he was waiting for. His racist cop was the best thing in “Crash,” and his rescue of Thandie Newton from an upturned car, with the flames crawling closer, has rightly burned a hole in viewers’ minds. A sloppy actor would have made the scene redemptive; he would have smiled upon the woman as he dragged her free, and his enfolding hug would have told of lessons learned. Instead, Dillon was aghast, stiffened with something unredeemable, and he clutched at Newton as if he, not she, had been trapped inside the fire.:

From Lane's review of This Film is Not Yet Rated, in the same issue:

"There is an interview with Kimberly Peirce, the director of “Boys Don’t Cry,” which was initially awarded a tag of NC-17—the mark of the beast, as far as distributors and advertisers are concerned. Of the three reasons given for the decision, the most enigmatic was that when Hilary Swank (disguised as a boy) pleasures ChloĆ« Sevigny, the orgasm of the latter goes on too long. To which the reply must be: How long is too long? Does the notion of a slow train coming, as it were, offend the public sense of due process, and, if so, is that public assumed to be largely and nervously male? Was there something more useful, like ironing or car maintenance, which the M.P.A.A. would prefer Ms. Sevigny to have been doing instead of lying back with cheeks aflame?"

And from an article by William Mullen in today's Chicago Tribune about a 24-year old, 154-pound fish named Bubba that was abandoned (in a bucket) on the steps of the Shedd Aquarium in 1997, survived cancer via surgery and chemo and, despite his dark past and insipid name, was a fine figure of a fish and an inspiration to us all:

"At the time, Bubba was female. Groupers and some other fish may change gender as they mature based on social influences and other factors, and in the mid-1990's, as Bubba grew to become one of the biggest fish at the Shedd, he made the transition from female to male."

Maybe they should have re-dubbed him Bubbo.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


While in Mysore I wrote a post about P's misconceptions regarding Adolph Hitler (he wanted to be like Hitler, because he had come from the bottom of society and made a name for himself). Since then, P. received an earful from me and some less strident info from Jammu, who made him watch Schindler's List. Turns out he had no idea about the death camps and called it the best movie he'd ever seen.

Apparently during WWII some Indian independence leaders were hoping the Germans would kick so much English ass they'd be forced to quit India. I think they also hoped to enlist their direct aid.

On my second trip to Mysore I took a snap of chalk-white Hitler brand sneakers abandoned in the gangway en route to Aunty's. It didn't turn out.

And of course there are Swastikas everywhere in India, where it remains a sacred symbol.

Now there's this Reuters story about Hitler's Cross restaurant in Bombay; apparently it's causing quite the furor:

India’s Hitler-themed restaurant draws fire

Name will ‘stay in people’s minds,’ says Mumbai restaurateur

Aug 21, 2006
MUMBAI, India - A new restaurant in India’s financial hub, named after Adolf Hitler and promoted with posters showing the German leader and Nazi swastikas, has infuriated the country’s small Jewish community.

Hitler’s Cross, which opened last week, serves up a wide range of continental fare and a big helping of controversy, thanks to a name the owners say they chose to stand out among hundreds of Mumbai eateries.

“We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people’s minds,” owner Punit Shablok told Reuters.

“We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.”

But India’s remaining Jews — most migrated to Israel and the West over the years — say they are outraged by the gimmick...

For pictures click here. Go here for a full article.


*Taipei had the Prison restaurant with Concentration Camp murals, and Korea had the infamous 1939 Hitler Bar. Venice, CA has has Mao's Kitchen -- which specializes in cheap, tasty Chinese food. No word yet on any Franco, Hirohito, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet or Idi Amin-themed eateries.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Caca scoops The New York Times. Again.

Neil MacFarquhar's piece in today's paper about Pakistani enclaves in the US is centered on Chicago's Little India, where Saturday's Indian Independence Day parade took place:

CHICAGO, Aug. 18 — The stretch of Devon Avenue in North Chicago also named for Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, seems as if it has been transplanted directly from that country. The shops are packed with traditional wedding finery, and the spice mix in the restaurants’ kebabs is just right.

Businesses on Devon Avenue in Chicago, like an Islamic bookstore, attract a large Pakistani clientele.

Similar enclaves in Britain have been under scrutiny since they have proved to be a breeding ground for cells of terrorists, possibly including the 24 men arrested recently as suspects in a plot to blow up airliners flying out of London.

Yet Devon Avenue is in many ways different. Although heavily Pakistani, the street is far more exposed to other cultures than are similar communities in Britain.

Indian Hindus have a significant presence along the roughly one-and-a-half-mile strip of boutiques, whose other half is named for Gandhi. What was a heavily Jewish neighborhood some 20 years ago also includes recent immigrants from Colombia, Mexico and Ukraine, among others....

Sunday, August 20, 2006


What is it with Tom Hanks and public radio?

A few months ago he did a call-in celebrity turn on the Chicago-based quiz show "Wait Wait....Don't Tell Me!"

His name was the answer today on the weekly Sunday Puzzle posed by puzzle master Will Shortz on Weekend Edition Sunday. The question was: "Name a well-known person in show business who might be seen at an awards ceremony. Take the first letter of this person's first name, plus this person's last name, in order, from left to right. The letters will spell something this celebrity might SAY at an awards ceremony. Who is the celebrity and what might this person say." The answer: Tom Hanks/Thanks.

This morning the former Bosom Buddies star -- who listens via KTCC in Pasadena -- called in to announce the winner and then stuck around to help her win the quiz. He is quite bright -- and surprisingly wittily, I may add. What they would call a good sport.

And here I was dismissing him as an actor.

I suppose I can still dis(miss) his movies though.


Speaking of Shortz, er, shorts-- This weekend's installment of Selected Shorts includes stories by the late Indian writer R.K. Narayan, whose setting of fictional Malgudi is said to be a stand-in for Mysore.

The full program is:

Elizabeth Cox, “The Third of July,” read by Joan Allen
From: Bargains in the Real World: Thirteen Stories (Random House)

R.K. Narayan, “Seventh House,” read by Fionnula Flanagan
From: The Grandmother’s Tale and Selected Stories (Ecco Press)

Timings are here.


In other radio news: The local station is training another local anchor, who has been tripping over each and every word the entire weekend. Is it that he's legally blind and trying to pass for sighted? A chronic stutterer? Is it the Tourette's? The drink? The pipe? The nerves? Or is it simply that Johnny cannot read? Why oh why do they persist in training people ON THE AIR.

Yet.... I suppose it's not unlike the way in which yoga teachers are made: The regular teacher is desperate to find a sub. No one can do it, so a newly-minted 200-hour trainee is recruited. They go. They show up too early. They falter. They kind of suck. They say "left" instead of "right." They are asked questions they cannot answer. They talk too fast, and too softly. They get winded from talking while they demonstrate the poses. Their sequences are bizarre. They're afraid to touch the students. They wait in fear for one of them to point at them and yell, 'Imposter!" They fart.

They go forth anyway and eventually, hopefully, become good teachers.

But at least their ignominy is witnessed by a limited audience....

Saturday, August 19, 2006

and one percent Richard Freeman*

The Indian Independence Day Parade took place today -- four days after the fact.

It coincided with the Air and War, er Water Show, in which 'Merica's military might makes pretty patterns and scares ducks over Oak Street Beach.

I loathe the annual weekend-long ad for the military industrial complex.

They begin rehearsing on Thursday at noon, which involves flying directly over my house. It sounds like a war zone -- Iraq anyone? Afghanistan? Beirut? -- and windows rattle and the cat takes cover in the closet...where he's been ever since.

But this year things are different.

This year a pre-show radio broadcast at some beachfront restaurant resulted in the reconciliation of my favorite radio team of all time -- Steve Dahl and Garry Meier.

If you don't know who they are, well, you know who they spawned; Howard Stern and everyone who came after. Whatever innovations you may think they made, S & G, who teamed up in the late 1970's, were there first.

They broke up in 1993, and it was as hard to take as my parents' divorce. I knew both of them and talked to both of them about it (for one of my first post-college published articles, ever) and was utterly devastated.

They haven't really spoken since.

Due to a dispute over a contract (negotiated by his agent-wife) Garry broke up with his most recent partner, the conservative Roe Conn, in 2004. He's been off the air ever since.

Apparently he *just happened* to be eating at the restaurant where Steve was doing the remote, and decided to go over and talk. He stayed for the entire show.

I'm ecstatic. If this can happen, why, anything is possible.

For the Sun-Times' account of things go here.

To hear Friday's show, go to Steve Dahl's website.


Dorian Black and I went to the Indian Independence Day Parade today, since he lives a block away from Chicago's Little India and I'll use any excuse to dress up and have a dosa or two. I'd asked him to wear the blue khadi kurta I had made for him in Mysore, but apparently the pajama pants don't fit properly. So he wore the black and orange print button-down shirt I had made for him instead. I wore the blue outfit you see in my profile picture, complete with bindi, ankle bracelets, bangles, and a flower in my hair. Either my bindi was upside-down or I was pulling it off, because much staring was there... and later a man at the Palestinian bakery asked whether I was Indian or Pakistani.

"Neither," said I, rolling my eyes. "I'm Bangladeshi."

Dorian was using the cane because his hip has been hurting of late. He was not keen to stand around in the cloying humidity listening to the overamplified music with the subcontinental hordes who'd driven in from the suburbs, and I was craving chai. So we went into Sukhadia's Sweets. After getting the chai ($2.79 for two), he pointed to some stools facing the window. "We should sit there," he said. So we sat in the AC and sipped steaming chai and watched the parade. Awesome. We even had our own, nearly-private bathroom.

It was like watching a Cubs game at one of those rooftop clubs -- except the drinks weren't free.

There were green, saffron and white floats for banks and politicians and Muslims and Hindus and Methodists and politicians and banks and airlines and sweet shops and banks and politicians and people from Kerala and Punjab and a Sikh float topped by a large photo of fedora-sporting revolutionary Bhagat Singh.

At one point I heard my friend, the poet and activist Ifti Nasim, announcing something-or-other at the review stand. I ran to the door so I could go out to say hi to him -- and it was locked. I came back inside and noticed that the entire staff had disappeared.

"Oh, they all left to watch the parade," said D.

But when their float came by, it was empty.

And no, I did not dip into the pani puri or Mysore pak while they were gone.

One of the floats was for an upcoming Indian pop concert, and featured a bunch of young hipster guys in sunglasses jumping up and down. Apparently they were dancing. The float was bouncing like crazy, and it looked like it was about to collapse.

"That's a Frankie Goes to Hollywood disaster waiting to happen," I said, referring to FGTH's 1984 concert at Chicago's old Bismarck Theatre, where the crowd danced so hard the floor caved in.

"More like Frankie Goes to Bollywood," said Dorian, without missing a beat.

Maybe we should get our own radio show, too.


*Some background: Guruji is fond of saying that "Yoga is 99 percent practice, one percent theory," and Mr. Freeman is an excellent senior ashtanga teacher who holds many degrees and is incredibly well-versed in yogic philosophy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


One day things were quite slow at the vegetarian restaurant. The all-white, good-looking, been-to-college staff was wearing the regulation t-shirts with the restaurant's name on the front and the aphorism, in large letters, on the back: "Love Animals Don't Eat Them." We were all hardcore vegetarians -- at least back then. It was so slow that the guys in the kitchen were kneading tofu and slicing potatoes to Led Zeppelin, while we in the dining room listened to Tanita Tikaram and peeled mountains of overripe oranges for fresh juice. There's a trick to it that involves five quick cuts and boom! the thing is peeled.

As usual we got to talking about the poor animals and the horrid customers with their food allergies and special requests and the fat, stupid Cubs fans in white shirts that wandered in by accident and the rageaholic boss who made his own twin cry at the Christmas party and the poor animals and so on.

And then, after some time, we took a poll and came to a horrifying realization: Every single person there had been abused as a child.

Every single one of 'em.

Love the animals, sure.

But beat on your issue all you want.

Use a cattle prod if you like.

Go ahead and have sex with 'em, too.

And then refuse to pay for therapy.

Tell them to get a real job.

If that doesn't create a bleeding-heart vegetarian, I don't know what will.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance .... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again."

-- Jawaharlal Nehru in his Speech on Indian Independence Day, 1947

India became sovereign 59 years ago today -- after nearly 200 years of British rule.

And tomorrow is Pakistani Independence Day.

The British rulers' haste and lack of planning in creating Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan resulted in the bloody period called Partition, when some 14.5 million people crossed the borders between India and Pakistan and communual (religious) violence killed as many as a million people. From Wikipedia: "Based on 1951 Census of displaced persons, 7.226 million Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 7.249 million Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan immediately after partition. About 11.2 million or 78% of the population transfer was on the west, with Punjab accounting for most of it; 5.3 million Muslims moved from India to West Punjab in Pakistan, 3.4 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan to East Punjab in India; elsewhere in the west 1.2 million moved in each direction to and from Sind. The initial population transfer on the east involved 3.5 million Hindus moving from East Bengal to India and only 0.7 million Muslims moving the other way..Massive violence and slaughter occurred on both sides of the border as the newly formed governments were completely unequipped to deal with migrations of such staggering magnitude. Estimates of the number of deaths vary from two hundred thousand to a million.[1]"

For fine fictional accounts of Partition, there's Salman Rushdie's Booker Award-winning Midnight's Children and Deepa Mehta's 1998 film Earth: 1947 (which stars a very young Aamir Khan and has a rather startling ending). It was made by the director of the controversial films Fire and Water and banned in both India and Pakistan -- which means she probably got a lot of things right.

To learn more about the movement for Indian Independence, go here. (And yes, they do mention Hitler). Or see 2002's The Legend of Bhagat Singh. If your'e still bored, today's Times of India has a roundup of Bollywood types -- a more thoughtful group than, say, Hollywood types -- talking about independence.

Me? I'm celebrating by eating half a loaf of multi-grain bread purchased for Rs 200 ($4) at the new Austrian Bakery on Chicago's north side.

And later I may ride my new saffron-colored bike to Mysore Woodland -- which is open Tuesdays and boasts no fewer than fourteen types of dosas.

If that's not freedom, I don't know what is....

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Today's New York Times travel section carried a halfway decent story about high-end ayurvedic tourism in the south Indian state of Kerala. To check it out go here.

Part of the ayurvedic treatment involves cleansing and detoxing......Which reminds me; every time I eat at a raw foods resturant I get gassy and thirsty and crave ice cream. I have a hard time sleeping and the next day my joints ache and I feel hung over.

The last time I went -- on Wednesday -- I went home and immediately had an elimination round.

And the next day I lost control and farted while teaching.


The raw foods people would probably say I'm detoxing, and to give it a little time.

But I think that some raw foods restaurants, in an effort to make the food taste like it's been cooked, put so much oil, seasoning and spices in it -- and process it so much (kale massaged for 30 minutes?!) -- that it ends up making some of us a little sick.

On the other hand, I had two desserts yesterday and today felt completely spacy, nervous and off balance.


The sugar lobby would probably say I'm toxing, and to give it a little time.

Friday, August 11, 2006


They just announced a terror alert in Delhi and Bombay for Indian Independence Day (August 15).

According to an interview with Lebanon / Hezbollah expert Augustus Richard Norton, the Israelis have killed some 20,000 Lebanese civillians over the past 25 years. This includes the over 1,000 that have been offed so far during the current, US-funded war; most, however, died between 1982-84 -- around the time when the Untouchables' song "Lebanon" was released. That tune has been poisoning my brain since I turned on the radio here on July 22 and heard everyone's new pronunciation of "Hez-BOL-lah." Lucky for me I still have that album. On vinyl.

Apart from the humanitarian crisis, there's the massive oil spill in Lebanon caused by the bombing of a power station. It's already over half the size of 1989 's Exxon Valdiz spill -- and no one's cleaning it up.

It's enough to spark one to turn off the radio, turn on the bhajans and make a donation to Doctors Without Borders, which is pretty much the only group administering aid to the refugees despite an Israeli ban on all movement in southern Lebanon.

Fortunately yesterday's "Fresh Air" also included an interview with Over the Edge and Little Darlings star Matt Dillon -- who is smarter than he looks, has a riveting voice, and plays the lead in a new film based on the novel Factotum by Charles Bukowski. The last good Bukowski film was the 1987 Mickey Rourke vehicle Barfly.

In this one, Lili Taylor -- star of 1988's Mystic Pizza -- plays the female lead.

Just like in the times of Reagan, the art (hopefully) improves when the government moves to the right and things look hopeless.

At least there's that.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


In my 27 July post I recounted an inane conversation I had with a health club supervisor after I'd been terminated for being out of town for 90 days (when in fact I'd been gone for just 45).

After much research I learnt that my name had disappeared from the computer because it had been eight weeks since I'd punched in. I agreed to be rehired, in order to keep the class, and last Wednesday I filled out all of the requisite paperwork. Then I went home and waited to find out what my new employee number would be, so I could punch in.

In the meantime, in good faith, I've taught two classes "off the clock." The supervisor said he'd put those hours on my next paycheck.

Now this supervisor is on personal leave. So I called the paperwork person today -- to find out what my employee number is, so I can punch in like a *real* employee. But she confessed that she's still sitting on my paperwork. For a week, nothing has happened! Apparently the supervisor told her he'd completed a Request for Rehire Form two weeks ago. Now it turns out this never happened. So she is waiting to hear back from corporate HQ about the form. In the meantime I'm slated to teach tomorrow. I have no employee number and it would be my third class without punching in.

Yet I promised myself I would only teach two classes off the clock. I'd told myself I could do two "volunteer" classes that I may or may not get paid for. But not three.

For the record I've done this type of "not punching in and being paid later" BS at other places, and it has ALWAYS resulted in months of attempts to get them to pay me. Chasing down the pay inevitably turns into a part-time job, and I already have plenty of those.

To complicate things, some friends are getting married during the class tomorrow night. I couldn't find a sub to cover the class. Now I'm flirting with the idea of simply not showing up.

But that would be bad karma, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Mysore's Cheluvamba Agrahara Neighborhood at Dusk
as seen (and heard) from the roof of the Kaveri Lodge:

Wild Elephants (and Loud Jeeps) at Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarhole)
near the border of Karantaka and Kerala:

Caca at KR Circle
on a silver scooter, wearing a French blue top and bright red scarf:

The View from the Back of Prashanth's Motorcycle
on the way home from the suburban movie theatre:

Monday, August 07, 2006


The following is by my dear friend Queen Elyssia. She's in India for the first time, visiting her husband's family in Mumbai:

I love
cool clean marble floors on my feet
balconies over busy streets
rickshaws and elephants
the many colors of the saris in the alleys
and of garbage on the seashore
bags made of newspaper
men holding hands
3 dollar meals
and lemon water at the end
to wash.

I hate
your endless car horns
and the way your men stare
the bars on the balconies
the rates at hotels for non-resident indians
the architecture
and crumbling, molding cement buildings everywhere.
Your ocean side does not smell like the sea."

Sunday, August 06, 2006


....and it's as slow as molasses.

But my new 2007 Raleigh Passage 3.0 is one of the most comfortable bicycles I've ever ridden.

Not to mention the heaviest.

Before committing, I visited Urban Bikes and Performance and On the Route and looked at Schwinns and Fujis and KHS's and test drove a Trek and a Marin Kentfield and a higher-end Marin San Anselmo. The Trek is, well, a Trek. I could never buy a Trek. T-wreck, I say. The Marins are beautifully designed and pleasing to the eye and feature great components for the price... but aren't all that comfortable. It feels so weird riding that high and sitting upright, although that's the whole point (After coming back from India, where I'd sat upright on the Activa for two months, I got back on the Cinelli racing bike and immediately had pain shooting down my neck. It was then that this former triathlete and mountainbiker decided it was high time to purchase an Old Maidy bike. Can't have our bicycle ruining our yoga practice, can we?).

Perhaps the shock of riding such a tall and dorky bike had worn off by the time I stopped on a whim at At Play it Again Sports, which is a block from my house. There I test drove a (new) $250 grey Diamondback 7-speed something-or-other. It felt far better than the more expensive Treks and Marins. The owner said that Diamondback is owned by Raleigh, and that I should try try the (new) Passage. It felt solid and good and right plus it had front and back shocks. I decided to go with my gut and get it -- even though it's low-end and bright Brahmin orange.

Between Play it Again and Easy Rider (yes, I'm a bike store whore) I had it outfitted with fenders, a removable front basket and a bell, and added the rack and rear basket from the Cinelli. I also removed the quick release on the seat and rear wheel, so that The Bad Men can't steal them.

It takes a lot of pedaling to get from place to place, but it's *so* comfortable. And because of the front shocks there are fewer vibrations shooting up the arms and through the shoulders.

I've taken it grocery shopping a couple of times. The front basket comes off and can be taken inside and used as a shopping basket. After paying, it all goes back into the basket, which clicks into place. At Jewel*, everyone (including the homeless guy outside selling Streetwise) marveled at how cool it is, and wanted to know where I got it.

Of course now I'm worried that someone will steal it.


*I went to Jewel after stopping first at the Osco down the street. Until recently Jewel (groceries) and Osco (drug store) were joined at the hip. I grew up with Osco Drugs, which is far more coherent and orderly than Chicago-based Walgreen's, its main local competitor. Osco is to Walgreen's as White Hen is to the more haphazard 7-Eleven. But apparently the East Coast chain CVS bought all the Osco stores when I was in India. It also seems that they fired all the old staff. Anyway I keep forgetting this, and after getting the work done at Easy Rider I rode up the street to Osco to buy blue bags for recycling.** Only they didn't have blue bags. I was aghast. I made the poor clerk take me up to the front of the store, where we confirmed this. And I said, loudly, "NO BLUE BAGS? THIS IS WHY I'M SHOPPING AT WALGREENS FROM NOW ON" and made a big show of putting away the groceries I was carrying and storming out. C-suckers! How dare those carpetbaggers come here and fire everyone and be civic bad sports on top of it. C--king van Suckers -- that's what CVS stands for.

**Chicago's Blue Bag recycling system consists of making residents buy blue bags, fill them with recyclables and toss them in the trash with all their other garbage --- which is collected in trucks, smashed down, and dumped at Goose Island or wherever. There, workers allegedly pick through the garbage and pull out the blue bags and separate the glass, plastic, aluminum and paper and allegedly send it off to be recycled. Although it's been proven that most of it winds up in landfills (thanks, Waste Management!), we still go through the motions -- kind of like how we vote for mayor even though we know Dick Daley The Second will always win. Anyway my building is too big for city garbage pickup so we pay the nonprofit Resource Center -- which really does recycle everything -- to pick up our recyclables. But they don't take plastic, so I put mine in blue bags and throw it in the church garbage can across the alley. Technically illegal, but what else am I supposed to do with it?

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I've spent my first two weeks back from India running around like a chicken with its head cut off:

--Teaching 23 classes

--Meeting two deadlines

--Recording a radio essay on how to survive the summer

--Gaping dumbfoundedly at the sweaty suburban mob gathered see the Tall Ships at Navy Pier and wondering, "Why?"

--Dealing with two months of mail

--Catching up with friends

--Catching up with Denis Leary (still hot) and "Rescue Me"

--Attending my nephew's wedding fete

--Searching for rednecks in Wonder Lake

--Weathering a heat wave

--Installing three air conditioners

--Losing and reinstating a health club teaching gig

--Filling out paperwork

--Turning 42

--Practicing a dozen times (and not standing up from backbend even once)

--Sorting through and posting over 200 Mysore photos*

--Freezing through "The Devil Wears Prada"

--Drumming up new business

--Researching and purchasing a (hideously shiny, new, comfortable, slow, sensible, upright, orange) commuter bicycle that hopefully won't cause neck, shoulder and back pain


Funny how the body forces you to slow down even as your mind tries to make you keep going.....

Despite going to bed at 10 last night it all caught up with me today in the form of THe WOrst HeadAche oF tHe DecAde. It began in the middle of the night and got worse and worse and worse, to the point where I had to run to the toilet with dry heaves -- several times. A full dose of sinus medication did not cure it. Caffeine did nothing. The liberal application of China Gel to the temples, neck and Third Eye only made the bedsheets smell bad. Gallons of water did not alleviate the pain. Nor did blowing the nose. Trying to sleep made the whole head throb like the engine of a past-its-prime Bajaj auto-rickshaw. Sitting propped up on pillows like the Elephant Man partially remedied the throbbing, but was not conducive to sleep. Nor was watching Nicole and Paris prance around with midgets and a closeted father of five in two episodes of "The Simple Life." Finally I consumed an old migraine cure -- organic, free-range "vegetarian" y'eggs with spinach and feta -- and went back to sleep.

The protein bomb more or less worked; I awakened well enough to write this and yearn some more to go back to Mysore, but not to change the sheets or litter box or catch up on deadlines or post my Mysore videos or even practice.

The good news is that some of the apartments in my courtyard building changed hands in my absence. Neck Tattoo is long gone, and one of my new neighbors is listening to vintage Cocteau Twins at this very moment. Not exactly the Muzza's call to Mosque, but not Phil Collins, either. Definitely a step in the right direction....


*If you would like a link to the Mysore photo album, e-mail and she might just send it to you.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


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