The Pencil Today:


“Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.” — Vaclav Havel. The leader of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution died yesterday in his home at the age of 75.


My old blogging partner, Benny Jay of The Third City website he and I founded, recently wrote about his wife seeing a white owl as she walked along Chicago’s lakefront. The gist of the post was that Benny couldn’t care less about the rare bird; he was busy reading about the Bulls as his bride gushed.

The soulless brute.

I saw a white owl at the lakefront on my birthday back in 1980. The bird was standing on one of those big four-spout concrete water fountains the Park District used to have everywhere. My girlfriend at the time and I saw the owl, stopped suddenly, and gaped. The bird then noticed us and took it on the lam. Swear to god, his (her?) wingspan had to be a three or four feet.

I’ve never forgotten that moment. And I’ve never seen another white owl.

Now, I may get another chance.

The Herald Times reports that Snowy Owls seem to be migrating as far south as these precincts this winter. The last such “irruption” (unusual migrating pattern) occurred fifteen years ago.

I’m grabbing my binoculars and bird book just as soon as I finish with this post.


I try to let very little disgust me.

I can think of only a few examples of things that have actually made me want to retch. I saw the body of a wayward juice loan collector who had his head blown clean off by shotgun blasts on North Nora Avenue back in 1975. I saw Divine eat dogshit in “Pink Flamingos.” And once at the Subway on North Walnut Street, I was forced to listen to Ke$ha’s collaboration with Li’l Wayne, Wiz Khalifa et al entitled “Sleazy Remix 2.0” while trying to eat my Veggie Delight sandwich.

Divine: Screenshot From Pink Flamingos

I remember that incident well. It took three Subway employees to pry out of my hand the pistol that I had pointed at my temple.

Anyway, while reading Michael K‘s indispensable celebrity gossip site, dlisted, yesterday, I nearly horked. (H/T to memoirist Mary Karr for the word.)

Michael K linked to a pep rally at Rosemount High School in Minnesota where — gack! — jocks and jockettes were blindfolded and then forced to make out with their parents!

Force yourself to look at the vid. Check out the mom who starts rolling around on the gym floor with — I remind you once again — her son. And watch another mom move — gluck! — her son’s hand onto her ass.

Sometimes I think I really don’t like kids. But then I realize it’s very often parents who turn my stomach.

And, by the way, should I by some weird chance learn that any of these parents vote Republican because this holy land is not living up to its “Christian ideals” I will personally drive up to Minnesota and kick them in their genitals.


A spamily- and brattle-free zone.

John Spencer Bergman of Chicago was one of my earliest roommates, back in  the days when I had the maturity of an 11-month old. He taught himself how to play bass guitar and turned out to be a pretty good one, providing the rhythmic foundation for the late ’70s cute-boy band Clox. He used to work at a little corner grocery on Clybourn Avenue that sold pig’s ear sandwiches. No lie — the place actually had a big sign out front advertising them. Poor earless pigs.

Anyway, John takes on god’s personal emissary on Earth, the NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who is beloved by, among others, the degenerate gambler Bill Bennett.

2 thoughts on “The Pencil Today:

  1. john bergman says:

    CUTE-BOY BAND!?! Mike, I’m pickin’ my eyebrows out of my hairline. We weren’t as New Wave avant-garde as we thought, weren’t really punks, and in retrospect sounded more Midwestern than I care to admit, but we rocked, we really rocked. At least when the 3 guitars were all in tune together — that was anything but pretty. Anyway, looking at some old pictures now…yeah, yeah, yeah. Yep (gritting my teeth), that’s probably one of the truest things ever said about that band. Nailed it, baby. Probably best you didn’t say it when we were roommates.

    We had jars of pig’s ears. The sandwiches were in a horrifyingly dirty little “sandwich shop” next door, back when folks could do that informally with an affordable “tip” to the health inspectors. The same place that turned my life into a nightmare when, one winter, its water pipes burst and all their vermin found their way through old foundation tunnels to our place. I killed 35 rats in 3 weeks; loathed going down into that basement.

    I take no credit for the Tim Tebow thing, except the duty of passing it along to as wide a dissemination as possible. Have a little more time, so will be checking out the “Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian” site.

  2. john bergman says:

    Ben’s Liquor and Drugs (Yes, kids, liquor and drugs!), where I worked, was replaced by Jaimito’s Burrito’s. According to Jim Tomasello, Jaimito’s, in its original West Side location out where you guys grew up, was the first place he worked, delivering sandwiches at 14 or so. As big as Chicago is, it gets smaller every year.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: