Open Water Swimming Was Closed

As you must know by now (since I post constantly about it), I am swimming across Lake Michigan this summer, primarily via laps in our small backyard pool.

Out of sheer boredom, I have been trying to schedule some open water swimming. But Saturday, my attempt to actually swim across the actual Lake Michigan was actually rebuffed as Lake Michigan was actually closed! Actually! I took our youngest daughter to stay with our oldest daughter on Saturday for a sister-bonding sleepover, and we stopped at beautiful Montrose Beach in Chicago on the way for a quick swim.

Montrose is a beautiful urban beach, complete with sand dunes. But on Saturday, it was closed because of a brisk wind from the northeast creating some dangerous riptides. I still wanted to give it a try. Where were the “my body, my choice” anti-vaxxers when I needed them to back me up?

Anyway, we walked and relaxed a bit on the beach instead of swimming. I had already gotten some laps in my pool, and after a half mile on Sunday (that’s 175 laps!), I find myself here in Lake Michigan.

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Is Chicago Dangerous?

In my real life, I have a customer who is terrified of Chicago. I’m guessing he listened to Trump and Fox News as they have framed Chicago like a war zone. My customer would always warn me about staying away from Chicago. We love to visit the city, and have never felt in danger. Chicago is truly one of the great cities in the world. I finally told my customer in no uncertain terms about what a wonderful city Chicago is, and I haven’t heard anything about Chicago from him since then. Good! If I want to hear lies, I’ll tune in directly to Fox News.

Look, Chicago is a big city, and murders happen, mostly with guns coming from deep red Republican Indiana. Damn Hoosiers! Chicago has almost 2.7 million people within its city limits including my 2 oldest children. They live in a neighborhood that 30 years ago was dangerous. Now, that neighborhood is absolutely delightful … except for the rats. The rats chewed through wiring in my son’s car, and my daughter has seen rats in her apartment’s basement while doing laundry. I noticed this rat-related sign during our last visit to see our kids in Chicago.

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Shirts Off, Chicago!

Summer has arrived early in Chicago with temps around 90F/32C this weekend. And you know what that means – shirtless driving! Come on, it’s easy. First step, take off that shirt.

And then jump in your car and start driving or riding.

Flags are totally optional.

Ladies are welcome to participate, too. Just stay legal …

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Lollapalooza Coolness Test

Lollapalooza returns to Chicago in 2021 after being Covid-cancelled in 2020. The line-up for the 3 day music festival has been released. I heard on my transistor radio that you can tell how cool you are by how many rows down the Lolla poster you can recognize acts.

Editor’s Note: The mere fact that this idiot is listening to a transistor radio negates any potential coolness gained by knowing music performers.

Hey, you pompous ass, what am I supposed to do? I suppose you want me to listen to the radio on my phone.

Editor’s Note: YES!

On my new flip phone?

Editor’s Note: Ugh, never mind.

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, the word I hear is that you can consider yourself moderately musically cool if you are familiar with music acts in at least the top 7 rows of the Lolla poster. Let’s take a closer look at those first 7 rows. I have identified the acts I know with red boxes around them.

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The Return of Me & Live Music to Chicago or How I Almost Made a Huge Mistake

On Good Friday last week, we took a drive to meet our oldest daughter on Montrose Beach in Chicago on Lake Michigan. It really is a beautiful beach. How can a beach in a city of millions of people be beautiful? I dunno, but take a look for yourself.

On our way there, we passed an interesting and familiar sight. I swore I had seen something similar to this on Twitter …

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Emily Can Rot in Paris

Deep dish pizza is kind of a Chicago thing. Is it healthy? No. It’s a round disk of tomatoes & sauce on top of a glob of melted cheese packed inside of a delicious crust. Add meats and veggies to taste. There is no more delicious crust than Chicago’s own Lou Malnati’s pizza. It took me a couple of pies before it hooked me. Now, no other deep dish pie comes close for my taste because of the Malnati’s crust. Here’s a pic of a Malnati’s slice/complete meal.

But apparently there’s someone in Paris that disagrees about the deliciousness of Malnati’s pizza. Someone named Emily. Lurking about on Netflix. Here’s the headline …

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Juneteenth

June 19th, known as Juneteenth, marks the anniversary of the official end of slavery in the USA in 1865. It only took a nationwide Civil War for Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to be enforced across the USA by 1865. I often joke that we should have let the Confederacy secede. I really don’t want anything to do with the Southern USA. But the Civil War freed people that were kept in bondage as property, so it was a noble and necessary fight. Here we are, 155 years later, and we still limit freedoms in the USA based upon the color of one’s skin.

I grew up in an all-white Chicago suburban neighborhood. I rarely saw black people except when watching Chicago Cubs baseball on WGN TV. I treasured an autograph from Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, for decades. He was my first hero, and he was black. But in late 1965, 100 years after the first Juneteenth, Dr. Martin Luther King moved to Chicago. He was prominent in the local news for the rest of 1965 and all of 1966, leading peaceful equal rights marches through Chicago’s streets. I got a chance to see him in the summer of 1966.

I was 8 years old at the time. My father had passed away over the winter. It was just me and an overprotective, grieving mother in our family home. We were spending a day on the East Side of Chicago with extended family. How can Chicago have an East Side when it is built on the western shore of Lake Michigan? The East Side is down on the Indiana border where the land starts to curl east under Lake Michigan.

Southeast Side

 

It was a truly awful neighborhood built around now-defunct steel mills in which my maternal grandfather toiled until he died while in his 40s. I always knew when we were getting close to the East Side because I could smell it.

I was one of the younger cousins, and my older cousins who lived on the East Side decided to go see a King march in the area. I followed along just to be with my older, cool cousins. There was no way I could get lost. I was part of a huge throng of white people moving in one direction. I didn’t notice the rocks, bricks, and bottles in their hands until they started throwing them at marchers. I don’t know if my cousins threw anything. I don’t recall throwing anything. It didn’t seem right to me. But I stayed there and watched. That was wrong.

Now I am the father of 2 black young adults. I almost didn’t make it. My mother just about killed me when she heard I was at the march. Not because it was wrong to be there as part of an angry white mob, but because I could have gotten hurt.

My mother advised me and my wife against our first adoption, mainly because the child was black. We had to train my mother not to use racial slurs that she thought were endearing. But I will give her some credit. She loved all her grandchildren.

My mother is now gone, and her black grandchildren are adults that recently marched in a Black Lives Matter protest. The protest was eventually ended when tear gas cannisters were launched at marchers. Is it progress that it was the police lobbing projectiles at marchers? Is it progress that the projectiles were cannisters of tear gas and not glass bottles, bricks, or rocks? We should celebrate 155 years of Juneteenth, but also understand that we still have many years and a long way to go until all are fully free.

 

 

 

Jesus Visits the Second City

Chicago is a world-class metropolitan area, despite New York snobs looking down upon us as “The Second City.” I feel privileged to have lived in various suburbs within a short car ride of Chicago my whole life. One of the suburbs I haven’t lived in is Forest Park. It is close to Chicago as you can see here …

Forest Park

Although I have never lived there, it appears that Jesus does. Take a look …

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New Music for Old Rockers – Special Old Music Edition

So this show came to town last night …

WhiteAlbum_600x600.jpg

Again. It was here a couple months ago and sold out. Last night it sold out thanks to me and a couple friends being in the crowd. We were intrigued by the concept, but were glad our seats were by the emergency exit, just in case the show was a train wreck, and we did think that was a distinct possibility. I was especially skeptical of the inclusion of Jason Scheff who provided bass and vocals for Chicago in the 1980s when Chicago was cranking out sappy love songs.

Boy, was I wrong.

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A Reason to Love Chicago

I am grateful for living my life in the Chicagoland area for many reasons. Winter weather is not one. However, one reason is that we have Lake Michigan, a huge body of water to enjoy, with zero sharks. Take that, ocean lovers! But another is that Chicago is politically cool, sometimes in subtle ways. I was listening this morning to WXRT, still the world’s greatest radio station that you can listen to at wxrt.radio.com, and the big news they reported at 8AM was Trump’s stop in Chicago today where massive protests are expected to cause major traffic disruptions. I would be there except I am preparing to protest a local issue tonight. Anyway, the Trump visit news was followed by this set of music.

  • American Idiot by Green Day
  • Fighter by Joseph
  • Creep by Radiohead
  • Immigration Man by Crosby & Nash
  • Is She Really Going Out With Him by Joe Jackson

When I tweeted the DJ to ask if he was making a political statement, he replied that he was just “rockin’ Chicago.” Sure. Keep rockin’, man.

Concert Concerns

Lollapalooza is one of the great annual music festivals in the world, taking place over 4 days on Chicago’s beautiful lakefront over the summer. Lolla Tip: Don’t wear flip-flops. It can get swampy even if it is not raining at that specific time.

Lollapalooza swampy.jpg

That may not be all rainwater. And if it does rain, well then, just go with the flow …

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Weather or Not to March

I have been on weather-watch all week. Saturday is the day of the Women’s March, but this year there is not going to be a march in Chicago. Leave it to the local progressive women to organize one in the town next to mine.

women's march

Crowds of 500 to 5,000 are expected. How do you plan for that wide of a range? Will there be enough hot chocolate? I was tagged as being an able-bodied male who could act as a march marshal. They obviously haven’t seen my body. And shouldn’t we call a march marshal a marchal?

I was not thrilled when I saw early in the week a Saturday forecast of temperatures in the low twenties (F) plus a blizzard. Predicted temps are now in the high twenties and the blizzard may be Friday night. We may wake up to this Saturday morning.

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Radio > Streaming

My oldest son thinks I’m crazy, but not for the many legitimate reasons that exist that can be used to make a solid case to question my sanity. He thinks I’m crazy because he can’t understand why I enjoy radio more than just streaming songs off a playlist. This post is for him (and maybe a set-up for a new recurring blog feature in 2019), so I hope you will enjoy it, too. We have lots of words and clickable links to come.

I love music. It has been an important part of my life since I was little. I’m not sure how that happened. I have almost zero musical talent and I swear my guitar winces whenever I pick it up. As for my voice, I regretfully admit that I have a voice made for pantomime. Regardless, I have written and arranged songs over the decades. These days I wisely stick to writing lyrics, although I always seem to have opinions about the arrangements. Here’s a favorite song of mine that I released with friends in 2017, and more info about our music is available at www.sunsetsrising.com. Looks like we’ll be releasing some new songs in 2019.

I think streaming is fine. When my son gets into my car, he’ll plug his phone in and stream new music for me that he thinks I may like. Sometimes he’s correct, and I do my best to forgive his grievous breach of automobile etiquette that clearly decrees that whoever drives controls the radio. It is the law.

I streamed (music, in case you were wondering) when we had a houseful of guests for Christmas Eve. I like my quirky Christmas songs, so I made sure my playlist had these holiday classics:

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The Day the Music Died – Part 1, Saturday

There is a line in Don McLean’s song, American Pie, about “the day the music died.” For me, it should have been “the days the music died” which perfectly described this past weekend for me. My 2018 concert summer experience was just showing signs of life with September concerts by Cheap Trick and Rare Earth. This past Saturday, I had a chance to make 2018 a memorable concert summer.

Chicago is a city chock full o’ of summer music festivals, and Riot Fest came to town this past weekend. No, it is not a celebration of the 1968 Democratic National Convention held in Chicago between riots. It’s an incredible 3-day music festival. I could have seen Weezer headline Friday night, and I thought it would be cool on Sunday to see Debbie Harry bring Blondie to Riot Fest to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of their great album Parallel Lines. But I couldn’t believe the line-up of artists I could see on Saturday. I could spend about 7 hours there in music heaven wandering from stage to stage to see favorites. Take a look at this line-up …

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Fantasy Meets Hurricane Reality

Each week I am changing my family league fantasy football team name and logo to tweak my Trump-loving relatives in the league. Last week, this guy’s mug was the logo for my team, the Mueller Marauders.

Mueller grimace

You can read the details HERE.

This week, I was stymied. I had a team name of the Sanders Raised Eyebrows planned, but there is a character limit on team names. “Mine is too long,” I said for the first time ever.

Sarah sanders eyes

However, I am happy with my alternate choice for this week.

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Music is a Cruel Mistress

You may have seen some of my music posts, whether it be a concert review or a new song release in which I had a hand writing lyrics. I love music, but music is a very cruel mistress. She hasn’t yet been too cruel to me, probably because I keep music at arm’s length. I have even come away with a song I wrote that I want played at my funeral. That song release did not make for a popular blog post, but I don’t really care because I just love that song. But I know not to push the musical gods too much. They will chew me up and spit me out.

Just take a look at this poster for the North Coast Music Festival that is coming up over Labor Day weekend in Chicago.

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23 Hours in Orlando – Part 2

The roll of film I shot in Orlando was developed overnight at the corner drugstore, so now I can share some of my travel pics with you. Thanks for coming back for more after a Part 1 blog post of questionable taste. Without further ado, let’s get right back to the tasteless humor.

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Why I Love Chicago

There are lots of reasons to love living in the Chicago area. For example, I loved being able to see the hit Broadway musical called Hamilton this past weekend. We drove. My rule is that if we are headed to Chicago for a big event, we take the train. If no big event is happening that will draw tens or hundreds of thousands of people to Chicago at the same time we are going, we drive. Or if our 10 year old daughter is coming with us, she overrules all and insists on a train ride.

On the day we headed into Chicago to see Hamilton, I knew of a march happening on the actual busiest expressway in the USA outside of California. That would be the Dan Ryan Expressway that often looks like this …

dan ryan

 

Yikes! My oldest son drives that to get to work. The march was to protest gun violence, but I knew it was taking place far south of downtown where we were headed. Here’s a quick look at the march …

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Bush – Cusack – Wonder – Garfunkel – Cetera

RIP Barbara Bush. When I hear liberals and conservatives alike celebrating her life and mourning her passing, I am certain she was a wonderful person. As First Lady and thereafter, she worked tirelessly to promote family literacy. Although there is some irony that the person living in the White House today doesn’t read anything, Barbara Bush and her Foundation for Family Literacy has helped millions.

I wanted to follow some of the news coverage last night including the news of Mrs. Bush’s passing, but there was this movie …

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Is This Really an Edible Thing?

As I traveled through central America on business this past week, I encountered a strange food choice. No, not roasted tarantula.

tarantula

I wasn’t in Central America, but central America. Yes, St Louis again. Sigh! I was at the counter of a Jack in the Box fast food restaurant. Although that is a misnomer as I have found that fast food outside of greater Chicagoland is not really fast. In Chicago, we expect someone to be holding our bag of food next to the counter person BEFORE we even place our order. Once I get outside the greater Chicago area, life slows down a bit and I have gotten used to waiting for my “fast” food.

And wait I did at this Jack in the Box. All hell was breaking loose as I waited for my fish sandwich with about 15 other people waiting for their food. At one point, the counter dude yelled out “Who’s angry and wants a refund?” While I waited bemusedly, my eagle eyes spotted this sign about 10 feet directly in front of me at the counter …

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