Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And the World Goes On

I went over to my late friend Norman's condo today, to check his mail and to see if the building manager had, as he said he was going to, sent someone to pick up Norm's plants. I spent about an hour and a half, mostly cleaning out his utility closet. It is astonishing what one accumulates over the years. Drop-cloths and scrapers and dozens of assorted tools whose purpose is utterly unknown.

The living room is a jumble of boxes full of 39 years' worth of...things/possessions, scattered over and on chairs and tables and armoires and hutches and... I have been putting off calling someone to come take it all away (it pains me that more than $10,000 worth of furniture and things/possessions have no real resale value. I sold a number of things, but, still...).

And when it is all gone, the condo will be...empty rooms with a magnificent view of the City of Chicago spread out to the south, and the waters of Lake Michigan just below and slightly to the left. And Norm will be gone. Really gone. And the world goes on.

What brought this home to me so strongly was finding on top of a dresser--how it got there I do not know, since I'd not seen it before in all the times I'd been there and going through everything he had--a bound booklet of photographs. (If you're "of a certain age" you'll remember them; 8 or 10 raggedy-edged photographs stapled together in a thin but stiff-cardboard cover. This one says "Memories last longer with Snapshots.") And the world goes on.

I opened it to find photos of Norm in what I assume was the back yard of his parents' home in Appleton, Wisconsin, looking mildly self-conscious in his high school graduation cap and gown. He's staring at the photographer with an expression that, across so many years, clearly asks: "Now what?" One of the shots is of him in a suit, one hand hooked into a pocket and the shadow of the photographer at his feet. He was very handsome, and my heart aches for him and for everything that lay ahead of him, ending in a small, polished wooden box containing his ashes. And the world goes on.

So many years, filled with so many experiences and so many heartaches and so much happiness. And the world goes on.

I was one of the many people who were part of his life, and though most came and went, I never really went, and was lucky enough to be part of it for not quite 52 years. For the first six of those years, we were partners, and I am infinitely grateful that despite the trauma of the end of that phase of our relationship, we, despite a rather long and awkward period, were able to remain friends, and I hope that fact meant as much to him as it did to me. We were partners, and then we weren't. And the world goes on.

It happens to each of us, eventually, and it is neither good nor bad, but simply the way it is. So Norm is gone, and his condo will soon be totally empty of every trace of him.

And the world goes on.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Spam and the Turnip Truck

And here we are yet again aboard the turnip truck with a frenzied pack of spammers running wildly behind waiting for someone to fall off. The following are some of their irresistible lures, exactly as received.

"There are more than one good options for getting through rough time...." (Yes, but there are only one good ways to talk English good.)

"Make your dick longer than the Great China Wall with Penis Enlargement drolfr hqjn...." (Well, it's the "Great Wall of China", but I agree with you totally on the "drolfr hqjn")

"Business Proposition - Compliments of the Season, Although you might be apprehensive about my email as we have not met...." (Apprehensive? Perish the thought! I'm always eager to enter into a "business proposition"--I assume I might be expected to contribute a dollar or two?--with someone I don't know from Adam.)

Cherish Arlean: "What women like in a man? more longer penis is better...." (And redundant. What a lovely name, Cherish. And what a charming, literate message.)

"You are a proud Winner of £891,934.00.Contact Mr Newton West with the following information:
Name,Address,Age,Occupation,Tel,Country." (Well, I'm usually the one to determine whether I'm proud or not, but if I won all that money, wouldn't you already know my name? You sent me an email, after all.)

INTERNATIONAL FUNDS RE "Your over due payment -Imf world regulatory office international funds regulatory authority inter-continental debt...." (Yeah, like I'm going to open some pompous-sounding piece of crap from someone who can't even spell "overdue"!)

ComTechService "Why we stopped our communication? 'I expected more, Olga!'" (Notes to self: 1, Buy gun. 2, Look up address for ComTechService.)

Tia Angelita "How can I make my penis longer?" (Uh, if your name is Tia, you probably don't have a penis, so I wouldn't worry about it.)

"From Allyah Queen/Hello My Dear, I am writing this mail to you with tears and sorrow..." (Oh, you poor dear! Say no more!! Here, have a Kleenex. Now go stand in the middle of the freeway and see if you can find someone who gives a shit.)

Kelly Carlena "Can penis pill give you a monster penis? Can it give you rock hard erections on demand?" (Wow, Kelly! That's a tough one. Let me think about it and get back to you. What's your home address and telephone number, again? Note to self: buy LOTS of bullets.)

ComTechService: "russian woman seeking marriage" (Stop the Presses!!! And you're telling me this because...? I didn't care before, I don't care now.)

Member Offers: "Live girls!" (Live girls what? And are they Russian, by chance?)

meet me want to (No, Yoda, meet you don't want to. Drop dead want you to.)

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Friday, June 25, 2010

Epiphany Redux

I went to see the musical Billy Elliot yesterday, courtesy of a generous friend from California. I loved it, of course, but the highlight of the entire show was a scene based on Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, in which the young Billy dances with the adult version of himself, at one point literally soaring above the stage on an invisible wire, and the spirit of the audience soars with him.

But it brought back memories of the greatest epiphany I have ever had, and I feel like relating it again, here.

It all began on July 3, 1978 when I met a beautiful (to me) young man by the name of Ray Lopez in the Silver Dollar Bar in Los Angeles. Ray was a hopeless alcoholic and the story of our relationship is the stuff of which bad soap operas are made. But what I want to address here is the astounding power of epiphany, and how deeply we tend to hide things from ourselves.

When Ray died of AIDS (contracted, I am sure, as a result of his alcoholism) in Los Angeles in, I think it was 1994...that I can never remember the date for some reason probably has significance of some first thought was simply, “Oh, Ray!” I was truly sorry, but it was an oddly detached feeling, and I was proud of myself for handling it far more calmly than I would have imagined. Later, when I thought of his death, the feeling was primarily of frustration and anger: how could he not have saved himself? How could I not have saved him?

I truly consider Ray to have been the love of my life. When he was sober, there was no one on earth more kind, caring, or sweet-natured. (The character of Jonathan in my Dick Hardesty mystery series is based a lot on the sober Ray.) But when he drank...and in the eight or nine years (on and off) we were together the longest he went without drinking was eight months...he became a tortured animal, lashing out at everyone and everything. Knowing that many others who have alcoholics in their lives have gone through basically the same thing didn’t make it any easier.

At any rate, time passed after his death, and while I thought of him and our relationship often, it was still almost always rather as though I were viewing a display case of beautiful (but of course dead) butterflies skewered on a pin. Real but not real.

And then in June of 1999, a friend called me to tell me that PBS was doing an all-male version of the ballet Swan Lake that night, and insisted I watch. I’d seen the Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo group…men with light beards and hairy chests dressed up in tutus and tiaras and toe shoes… a couple of times, and while they were mildly amusing, I have never cared for men in tutus. But since I’d told him I’d watch, I did.

From the minute I turned the program on, I did not move from my chair: I was transfixed…overwhelmed. This was no silly story of men pretending to be women: the swans here were all powerful, fascinating, alternately beautiful and threatening, and the love story between the lead male swan and the prince nearly tore my heart out. It was, I still feel, the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

When the production ended, I went directly to the phone to order the VHS of the performance, which I watched at least a dozen times. And when I heard the production…Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake…was opening on Broadway, I drove to New York for three days to see it: three times! And each time I was overwhelmed by the power and beauty…and ultimately, the tragedy…of it. Because of the sheer physical demands of their roles, the lead dancers could not possibly do eight shows a week, so they had two alternates for both the Prince and the Swan, and I did not get a chance to see the two from the video--Scott Ambler and Adam Cooper--dance together.

So I returned to northern Wisconsin, still enthralled, still watching and re-watching the video.

And then I read that Adam Cooper, the Swan from the video, was leaving the show, that his last performance would be on December 19…and that he would be dancing with Scott Ambler, the video’s prince. I knew I had to be there, and (flying, this time) I returned to New York to see the show four more times, including Adam Cooper’s last performance.

The story of Swan Lake, as you know, concerns the love of a prince and a beautiful White Swan, who later becomes an evil Stranger. The Prince and the White Swan are reunited at the end of the show, but the indescribably bittersweet reunion ends in their death. As one review of the production stated with total accuracy and total understatement: “Simply heartbreaking.” And coupled with Tchaikovsky’s almost unbearably moving score, the result was breathtaking every time I saw it.

And then as I was leaving the theater after the last performance, I had my epiphany...why I had not realized it before, I don’t know. (I’m sure you already know what it was.) But not until that moment did I realize that I was the Prince, and the Swan/Stranger was Ray--my own beautiful, loving Swan when sober, the inconceivably cruel Stranger when drunk. And most significantly I also realized at that same moment that I had never allowed myself to grieve for Ray, and that each time I watched this production I was in fact finally doing so after five years.

Somehow, that epiphany lifted an indescribable weight from my shoulders...and my heart, and I have been able to finally say, maudlin as I'm sure it sounds, "I love you, Ray. Good-bye."

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Broken Compass

As so often happens when I set off to write a blog, I'll head off in one direction and not only end up nowhere near where I intended to go when I started, but have no idea how I got where I did end up. I seem to have a magic ability to unconsciously segue from one topic to another, and generally don't even realize that my mental compass is broken until I go back to read what I've written. What follows--the blog I'd planned for today--is a perfect case in point. I realized I had the choice of just chucking the whole thing and starting all over again, or present it exactly as written as an example of how easily I wander off course.

Yesterday, when I was rehanging pictures after my move, I noted that the brown paper backing on the painting of my mom was in pretty bad shape, so I tore it off and tossed it in the garbage. And just now, when I was putting something else in the garbage can, seeing the torn backing, I realized with a shock that I was sentencing to destruction something that had coexisted with me--granted, all but unnoticed-- for 55 years! I had that picture of my mom painted in Naples, Italy, while I was in the Navy. I'd asked her to have a picture taken and send me a copy, and I gave that to a local artist, who did the picture. It was he who had put that brown paper backing on, all those many years ago, and now I was casually dismissing it. I felt guilty, and sad, and experienced that now familiar sadness of another ending so difficult to explain to anyone who has not experienced it themselves.

For the world is passing strange, and all are mad, save thee and me. That I am constantly throwing out these unrelated little thoughts and reminiscences and then wandering off in another direction before I've adequately dealt with them might indicate that the problem may lie not so much in my compass's being broken as in my tendency not to consult it during the journey. But if I were to stop every few steps and ask myself what these ramblings have to do with anything, I probably would stop writing blogs altogether. I am continually saved from the brink of this decision by getting notes from readers saying they, too, have had experiences and thoughts and feelings similar to my own, and had always felt they were the only one to have them. It appears that life, as my blogs, is made up of tiny things no one else--for reasons I do not understand--seems ever to mention.

Life is so infinitely complex that we all struggle just to keep up with daily existence--work and family and paying bills and making practical plans for practical things. There seems precious little time for acknowledging the little things; the thoughts and feelings, and sensations that dance around us like the tiny bit of dust in a sunbeam. And in fact, there are many who seem never have time to consider them at all.

We speak and communicate largely in terms of those things widely acknowledged to be shared by most of humanity. But within ourselves we in fact live in a universe of the unspoken--the little things we assume to be unique to ourselves. And the less others speak of them, the more we assume we are alone in feeling/experiencing them. This adds to a sense of alienation, of being outside the norm, I suspect most of us in fact share.

Conversely, we also seldom consciously acknowledge the little, off-the-radar things which please and delight us, though interestingly I suspect we don't speak of them simply because we automatically assume that what pleases and amuses us pleases and amuses everyone else.

A few minutes ago, for example, I looked out my window to see a garbage truck in the alley with a decal saying: "Drugs are garbage. Just refuse." I had never in my life made the connection between the word "refuse," as in "reject," and "refuse," as in garbage. Yet they are exactly the same word, with the same root meaning, but with two totally different pronunciations. And while I realize there are any number of similarly linked though differently pronounced words in English, I cannot think of a single one now...a clear case of the "tip of my tongue" phenomenon. I can sense them clearly, dancing just out of the reach of my conscious mind, teasing me. I am quite certain that the instant this blog is posted, they'll all come running happily toward me, arms outstretched like long-lost relatives.

Now, if you were somehow able to follow all that without a compass, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.


New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Moving Experience

I've always wondered why things that happen to me are so much more traumatic than when I hear of the same things happening to other people. Gee, that is a tough one. I've also wondered why I can't see the small of my back or touch my ear with my elbow--not that I've ever really wanted to. Anyway, I have always secretly cultivated my tendency toward melodrama, and it invariably seems that other people going through the same given fraught-with-high-drama events general handle them with an equanimity I find impossible to even approach.

I will not go into the sordid details of how my move came friends and anyone within earshot have heard every lugubrious detail to the point where they hasten to cross to the other side of the street when they see me coming. Suffice it to say that this past Wednesday I was informed that the movers would be showing up to move me at 8 a.m. on Thursday. No, not this coming Thursday; the day following the day I was told.

Since the move was not voluntary (I'm tempted to explain why but will resist), I was assured that I would not have to lift a finger; the movers would take care of every single item in my apartment, from the furniture to the dishes in the cupboard and the canned goods in the pantry. And yea, verily, at 8:30 Thursday morning the movers arrived.

Now, when I moved back to Chicago four years ago, I moved myself. Literally. Myself. I rented a 22 foot U-Haul and when I arrived at my new apartment, I unloaded ever stick of furniture by myself (I did have help with the mattress for the bed, which was just too cumbersome to handle alone.) The movers Thursday--four very large men--arrived with a 50-foot moving van, and filled it! They then took it to my new address--the building next door to where I'd been living, and all of 400 feet away--and hauled everything up to my new apartment. Since I had only seen the apartment once before (again, I'll spare you the details), I wasn't really sure where everything should/would/could go, so I just pointed them to general areas where I thought they'd probably end up, and basically just left everything else sitting in the middle of the floor.

They also made a point of telling me that they were paid $7.50 per hour and relied on tips from those they moved. I had to call my friend Gary to borrow some money, since I was counting on tipping maybe two movers, not four.

I got the idea from talking to the movers, who were very friendly and helpful, that this "they'll take care of packing everything" thing was news to them. The part about the dishes in the cupboard and the canned goods (and the pots and pans, and the cleaning supplies, and the contents of the refrigerator, and the miscellaneous contents of a large closet and....) was not in their job description. Therefore, while they did their best, they left a lot behind--12 trips worth by yours truly and Gary, using a hand-pulled dolly, and spread over the next two days.

I'm really not crazy about the layout of my new apartment. The living room is tiny, though there is a small dining area off the kitchen. Since I don't have a dining room table, this whole area is sort of a lost cause. The kitchen makes the living room look like Wrigley Field by comparison. A full 4 feet, total, of counter space, less than 1/3 the cupboard space of the apartment I just left. However the bedroom is fine, with ample room for my computer desk, which is where I spend the majority of my time. And a very nice walk-in closet (probably about the same square footage as the kitchen), into which I have been piling everything there is no room for anywhere else.

My TV has been hooked up, and my computer service should be (operative words) transferred by Tuesday. In the meantime I give thanks for having a laptop and the availability of coffee shops with free wi-fi...which is where I am headed in a matter of minutes to post this blog.

But I am moved, and I have one more fond memory behind me, to undoubtedly be brought out and savored when I'm in a "you poor kid" mood.

What's that? You would like to hear the whole story of how all this came about? Well, if you insist. It started with the noise from the elevated trains 500 feet from my window, and......

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Friday, June 18, 2010

Our Fathers

This will be an exceptionally short blog today, for a couple of reasons. I moved yesterday--that is to say the movers loosely packed up everything and carted it--well, most of it--from my former apartment to my new one, and dumped it, leaving me to sort everything out and put it where it belongs. I figure I should be pretty much settled in within six or seven months. And I'm offline until Tuesday (thank God for coffee shops with Wi-Fi).

But the main reason is that Father's Day--one of the more neglected of our cultural holidays--is once more upon us and though my own dad, who would be turning 99 this year had he lived beyond the age of 57, is not here for me to share it with, I found a video on YouTube some time ago that I hope you really will take the time to watch. It's in captioned Greed, but the subject knows neither language or borders. The link is a little long, but just go to YouTube and type in "What's That?" (It was at the top of the list when I just checked.) It sums up father-son (and actually all children-parent) relationships concisely.

I hope your own father is still alive, and that are able to celebrate this Father's Day with him, if not in person, then with a phone call. Never forget that without him, you would not be here.

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Friday, June 11, 2010


If you have been following my blogs or my books for any length of time, you know a lot about me, whether you set out to do so or not. You know, for example, that reality and I are barely on speaking terms, which I think is one of the reasons I so love writing. Sitting at the computer, watching as words flow from my fingertips across the white expanse of the monitor with almost no conscious effort on my part allows me, quite literally, to remove myself from the reality of the world around me. I go from a place over which I have absolutely no control to one where I do/say/accept/reject/create/destroy whatever I please.

I'm also fascinated, as you may have noticed, by how the mind--specifically my own--works the way it does. And chaotic as it often is, I've come to accept and, when it is not driving me to distraction with frustration, even delight in it.

For the past couple of years, I've been alternating books between the Dick Hardesty mystery series and the Elliott Smith paranormal mystery series. On Thursday, I finished my 18th book--Caesar's Fall, the latest in the Elliott Smith series, and, after going over it for errors, inconsistencies, flow, etc, got it off to the publisher yesterday. And, like my frequently-used analogy of moving from book to book the same way Tarzan moves through the trees, grabbing the next vine just before releasing the previous, I suddenly realized there was no "next vine," and I did not have a clue as to what the next Dick Hardesty book would be about.

This morning I got up and was going through my normal morning routine of V8 juice/coffee/chocolate-covered-donut/Today Show when, like Venus arising from the sea, I instantly had both the title (The Peripheral Son) and the foundations of the plot. I began writing immediately.

I consider myself a story teller, and the reader a friend to whom I'm telling it. I want very much for everyone to like what I write--it's admittedly an ego thing--but today in the course of an hour I received emails from two loyal readers which underscored clearly a problem facing every writer to whom the reader's reaction is important. Both notes addressed the same book, The Secret Keeper. The first reader pointed out how much she enjoyed the Dick Hardesty series (music to my ears), but how she really wished there had been more focus on the interpersonal relationships and less on the mystery. The second note could have been written on the back of the first one's mirror; he felt that The Secret Keeper spends far too much time on relationships and too little spent on solving the mystery.

The first reader commented on how much she likes Dick and Jonathan's relationship; the second was wondering when Dick was going to stop letting Jonathan put all the work of looking after Joshua on him. So which reader do I try to make happy in The Peripheral Son?

The fact is that I really do strive for a balance in each book, but suggested to each of these two people who were kind enough to give me their thoughts that it might help if they viewed the Dick Hardesty series as I do: not only as individual books which can stand by themselves, but as, in effect, chapters in a continuing book of the development of the characters through the circumstances they encounter in each book. Some books are more heavily plot-focused, some are more character/relationship focused. In the end, I hope it all balances out and that neither of these two good people is disappointed.

As with every book I've written, I am, as I stand on the threshold of Page 1, looking into a thick mist through which I can discern only vague shapes and forms, and while I do not know, as I start The Peripheral Son, exactly what is going to happen in it...or even, at this point, who the killer is going to prove to be...I know that I'm going to love finding out.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Every human being has his/her own identity, formed over the years, which reflects the people and things with whom we ourselves identify. Our earliest exposure to other humans who provide keys to our eventual identity is, of course, to our parents, and we use this identity predominantly in a positive way. As we age we tend to become, with no particular effort on our parts, more like our parents. Rarely, we strive consciously not to be like them. But while it is they who primarily point us in the direction of who we will eventually become, they are not the only influencing factors.

Unlike circumstances beyond our control which shape who we become, the things with which we identify are largely a matter of choice and not some little effort, conscious or subconscious. And we tend to identify with them because at some point and for some reason we wanted to emulate them.

The books we read, the music we listen to, all the things we identify with become parts of our own identity. Each is like the individual colors on an artist's palette, and the portrait of who we are is created by them. The degree with which we identify with something create the tones and shadings of our character.

Just a few of the many things with which I have always strongly identified include:

1) The gay community. I know that one's sexual orientation is only a part of one's identity, but being a gay man (starting out as a gay child) is so much of who I am I cannot separate it from any other aspect of my life. It colors every part of my existence. I so strongly identify myself as a gay man, I am sure, as an act of defiance to those who assume superiority over me because I am not like them.

2) Minorities and a direct result of #1 above, as long as they do not themselves advocate the oppression of others.

3) Truth, honor, beauty, dignity, loyalty, bravery and all those uniquely human qualities which separate us from other animals.

4) As a further extension of numbers 1 and 2 above, anyone with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities; the misfits, the misunderstood; all those who ache with the realization that their dreams will never come true and yet go on anyway, doing the best they can with what they have.

5) Children, probably because I have clung to tightly to my own concept of childhood and I see myself (I would hope with some degree of accuracy) in their wonder and trust and assumption that the world is full of good things.

6) Anyone who clings to hope in face of the hopeless.

I identify strongly with all these things even while being painfully aware of how very far short I fall of really possessing any of them. Though I do take some small comfort in the knowledge that I try. I am eternally the small boy standing on the curb waving a tiny flag as he watches the soldiers and firemen as the parade passes by, wanting so very much to be one of them when he grows up.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Monday, June 07, 2010


Few things are more frustrating or more futile than trying to deal with bureaucracies whose sole purpose is on expanding their own authority through absolute inflexibility and a total disregard for the individual human beings they were created to serve. Bureaucracy is the perfect example of what happens when the servant becomes the master.

Bureaucracies beget bureaucracies and have within themselves subsidiary bureaucracies, and thus was this particular blog born.

I moved into an apartment building owned by the Chicago Housing Authority (a bureaucracy) and managed by Legume & Norman, an independent management company (also a bureaucracy) in November of 2006 and was assigned an apartment on the east side of the building, facing the elevated tracks, 500 feet away, of the Chicago Transportation Authority (yet another bureaucracy). The decibel levels in the apartment from trains roaring by every 3-5 minutes, day and night, may never have been measured by any of the above-named bureaucracies, but since it is not their concern and only mere individual humans are involved, there has never been any interest in doing so. (Whatever the decibel levels may be, I'm sure they approach the limits of human tolerability. In summer, with the windows open, it is impossible to hear a TV while trains pass.)

When the CHA reopened a facility about a mile away and managed by yet another bureaucratic management company, I put in an application for a one-bedroom apartment there and was approved. I was all packed and ready to go when a "quarantine" was placed on my current building due to an infestation of bedbugs. This dragged on for at least six months, during which I sat in an apartment stacked with packed boxes, waiting to move.

I checked frequently with the management the building I was approved to move into and was assured no fewer than four times that a one-bedroom apartment was definitely being held for me. When the "quarantine" was partially lifted, I received a call from them saying that my studio apartment was ready. When I pointed out that I had been assured several times that they were holding a one bedroom for me, I was told the one-bedrooms were filled and that they had no idea I had wanted a one-bedroom. There was no apology for having kept me in limbo all those months of course. I was given the choice of a studio or nothing. I chose nothing.

I then approached the management at my current building, asking to move from the east side of the building to the west side, to escape the noise. The apartment directly across the hall from mine had been empty for more than six months. It had not been cleaned/repainted/repaired since, but the management agreed I could have it as soon as it was ready for new occupancy. Two more months of "next week/soon/maybe by the first of the month" promises from the building's management.

Finally I was able to move in, and was very happy with it. Then, a month or so ago, the building manager came to tell me that the CHA had deemed "construction" had to be done on my just-refurbished apartment, and that I would have to move out--back across the hall to my original apartment and the problems which had forced me to leave in the first place--while the changes were being made. But I was assured that I could move back in when the "construction" was completed.

The building was recently was taken over by another management firm: Habitat Company, which obviously is out to set new records for intransigence and contempt for anyone who dares question their edicts. I was subsequently informed that I would NOT be able to move back into my current apartment when the unspecified "construction" was finished. I said that if I were not going to be able to return to my current apartment, I at least did not want to move back to my original apartment and be right back where I started regarding the problem with the noise, and asked for another apartment on the west side of the building, away from the noise. Despite the fact that there are a number of empty units on the west side, I was told that moving into one of them was not possible...that there are procedures and processes and rules and regulations and waiting lists and forms and paperwork and....

When I mentioned to the new building manager that the previous manager had assured me that I could move back into my current apartment, her response should be engraved on the plinth of the Temple of Bureaucracy. (Get a pencil; you may want to write this down.) She said: "Did you get it in writing?"

No, you insufferably pompous bureaucratic hack. I was foolish enough to think that when I was told something by someone in authority, I could believe them. Silly, silly me.

So I am preparing a letter similar to this blog, to be sent to the management of this building, the Habitat Company, my alderman, my city councilman, the head of the Chicago Housing Authority (noting that when I asked the manager of the building to whom I should address my complaint, she had absolutely no idea), and the office of the Mayor.

I am not quite so deluded as to think that any of this will do one iota of good or result in a single positive action. But I will be damned if I won't let them know how I feel. Not that they give a dung-beetle's ass, of course.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Friday, June 04, 2010

Spam, Part MCXL

Why do I insist on picking at the scab that is my spam folder? The only thing I accomplish by even glancing at the headings of the effluvia in it is to grow furious with the pond scum who perpetrate this idiocy and despair for the future of humanity.

And here we go again!

"Hello, you have a nice picture in the dating site, would you mind to chat? = Hello my name is Marina! I like your pic....." (Hello. I have no picture in the dating site, and yes, I would very much mind to chat. Now go outside and play, Marina. I'm busy.)

"We are actually searching for regional managers all over USA countries...." (That must be quite a chore, considering how many USA countries there are.)

"I am a single Mom, but still deserve love" (Of course you do, my dear. But what do you expect me to do about it? I'm empathetic, but not stupid enough to read further.)

Plumpy "im big and curvy-wanna meet me?" (Take a wild guess, Plumpy....followed by a flying...never mind.)

Miranda "I am a single Mom, but I still deserve love" (Uh, excuse me, Miranda, but that line's been taken.)

Adam "I am a single Dad, but don't I get a second chance?" (At what? Certainly not from me, but I'm sure you and Miranda and what's her face a couple notes above would really hit it off.)

Mojeed Salam - PLEASE REPLY URGENT THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT (To whom, Mr. Salam? To whom? Certainly not to me.)

Becky "I am a single mom, but don't I get a second chance?" (Oh, for the love of God, woman: NO!)

MaxGentleman Size-Enhanc "The penis is a muscular organ, designed to grow with the correct supplements!" (One word response: Bullshit!)

"En1argerPenis 3" in 6 Weeks, see myPenis pictures as proof." (Uh, no thanks...I'll just take your wrd for it.)

Kues Thornberg "claws in the pole. I..." (And tulips in the refrigerator. Your point being...?)

"BareLiftsBra - the ultimate Mother's Day gift" (Were my mom still alive, she'd be 99 years old this year. I'm sure a BareLiftsBra would be exactly what she'd want for Mother's Day.)

"Natural PenisEnlarge Pills: Are 3-inchesGain Really Possible? iwgpq koe..." ("iwgpq koe" is Spamese for "NO!")

"Take us up on it guys.--Calling all men in the world to take our challenge. We challenge you to prove our product is..." (Is this a 'complete the sentence' test? If so, I'll go with "worthless.")

"Tructed us in the latest manner of eating an orange in th -E not be a dearth of poems in the spring? Who then would...." (Would someone please, please explain to me what the hell these people think they're doing or what they think they're accomplishing with gibberish like this?)

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

As you know, I spend my life in one form of bewilderment or the other, my degree of puzzlement varying from mild confusion to being totally dumbfounded at my inability to "get it."

I saw one of those ubiquitous TV commercials for on-line dating services in which deliriously happy couples (comprised--as God commanded--of one man and one woman), relate how some highly-profitable "dating" organization helped them find true love through "29 levels of compatibility." (What in hell is a "level of compatibility?" No matter; it sounds impressive!)

I find it interesting that this wondrous system is available only to heterosexuals. No faggots, lesbos, or other openly acknowledged perverts need apply. This is a wholesome, exclusively nuclear-family-oriented organization, and they will not have it sullied by....those people.

Though I would not qualify to join their ranks even if I were desperate enough to want to do so, I am intrigued by exactly what deep, probing questions might be used in the application to determine the "29 levels of compatibility." (#3: "Do you like puppies? Yes___ No___"; #16: "Have you been convicted of a capital offense in the past five years? Yes___ No___"; #22: "Are you currently under a restraining order resulting from a charge of domestic violence? Yes___ No___")

There are, of course, now dating services specifically for gays and lesbians (an ad for one was refused by the Super Bowl. An ad aimed at faggots? At an All American REAL MAN's game like the Super Bowl? Were they crazy?), but such services are rather like a side-car on a motorcycle; a case of "if ya' can't join 'em, get your own ball and play in your own yard."

The competition between the "straighter than thou" services is fierce, and I love that they have now begun sniping at one another. (One says: "If they're so good about finding me a wife"--the speaker was a red-blooded heterosexual male, of course--"why do I have to join for a year?" Good point. Take that, E-Harmony!)

But sexual orientation aside, the very proliferation of companies set up to take your money with promises of sparing your actually going out and finding someone yourself is an indication of the sad state of our society and our increasing willingness to turn over responsibility for our lives to someone else.

I know, there are a million reasons, some of them valid--the lack of time to actually get out there and look for someone, for example--to resort to dating services to do something which should be done by the individual him/herself. It is largely an exercise in fantasy--and fantasy, when faced with reality, usually comes out second best. I find the fact that many people who use dating services and internet "hook up" sites often lie through their teeth and/or use old or misleading photographs of themselves apparently to gain some obscure advantage truly sad. If the faked come-ons do get a response that leads to a face-to-face meeting, what do the person who posted it honestly think the outcome will be? How does the person responding to the ad feel? A true lose-lose situation.

The desire and need to love and be loved is universal. Luckily, a large number of people are able to fulfill that need in the natural course of their lives. But for all those still looking and hoping to find the someone, the road is paved with frustration and, too often, heartache. Our media bears much of the responsibility for intensifying this need, and does us a terrible disservice in regards to love and romance. Books, movies, and TV shows make it painfully clear that if you are not madly in reciprocal love with some stunningly beautiful 20-something (or worse, if you are not one yourself), you really aren't worth the weight of the dust bunnies under your bed.

Love is not found on the internet. It isn't like a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk you can just walk into the store and pick up. It isn't between the pages of a book or in a magazine, or on the other side of your TV screen. If love has not yet found you, the best thing you can do is put yourself out there in person, just as you are. The best matchmaker for you is you.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at