The Pencil Today:

More Thoughts On Boston

  • Get ready, kiddies, to learn more about Chechnya than you ever, ever, ever wanted to know.


Chechnya Is Somewhere On This Planet

  • Talking about the developments with Jericho as he poured my coffee at Soma and we each kept an ear open to the NPR minute-by-minute reporting on the manhunt, he observed, “My money was on white supremacists.” His fellow barista, Lindsay, added, “Me too.” To which I replied, “Let’s be honest, we were hoping it’d be white supremacists.”
  • And, of course, if these two chuckleheads turn out to be Muslims, a lot of those white supremacists and paranoiacs will be proven at least partly right. Damn.
  • Wait, there’s more: Right wing columnist Erik Rush tweeted that we should round up all Saudis. Someone who possesses half a brain commented on the tweet, “Sweet god. Are you ALREADY BLAMING MUSLIMS?” Rush responded, “Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.”


Collective Guilt

  • A guy came into the bookstore Wednesday to buy a gun magazine. He seemed all put out about something or another when he smacked the mag down on the counter. He said, unprompted, “Can you imagine if these people did this with guns? All the nuts would be screaming about it.” Presumably, by nuts he meant people who want to stanch the flow of guns throughout the nation. Call me a nut. Anyway, I resisted the urge to tell him that pressure cookers originally were designed for a purpose or two other than removing the brains from people’s crania or separating their legs from their bodies.
  • Don’t hate me for saying this but I really got tired of hearing about New Orleans after a few years of non-stop eulogizing, post-Katrina. Now I wonder if Boston will get the same melodramatic treatment. Maybe, maybe not, but know this: Next year’s Boston Marathon will be a corporate media orgy of bathos.


My Uncle Tony died this week. He was 96. Anthony Parello, born of Vincenzo and Anna (Lazzara) Parello in Chicago, was my favorite non-nuclear family relative.

Uncle Tony ran gas stations and then, long after retirement, he went to work for his son-in-law’s auto repair business, driving a delivery truck. Dig this: he worked into his 90s, tooling around the Northwest Suburbs in that tricked out pickup, complete with high-rise pipes, metal-flake paint job, and racing stripes. Beautiful.

He was married to Eva, nee Ranallo. Her brother Frank had been a perennial candidate for mayor of Chicago back in the 1960s and ’70s, regularly amassing vote totals in the high two-figures. Eva was most at home playing cards, a stack of chips to one side and her everpresent cocktail and smokes to the other. She had the loudest laugh I’d ever heard. It never failed to make me feel warm inside.

Tony and Eva moved back and forth from Las Vegas, seemingly every six months for a time during the 1980s. She loved to play blackjack and he loved her, so he followed. After a time, Eva’d start missing her kids and grandchildren so they’d come back to the Chicago area. Eva died about ten years ago.

She called her husband “Tone.”

I won’t cry over Uncle Tony’s passing because he’d lived a long life and did many things. The last few years or so, he’d been frail and, I’d imagine, frustrated about not being able to live as he once did.

He earned his rest.

4 thoughts on “The Pencil Today:

  1. dave paglis, illiterate, racist homophobe and now, dumpster diver says:

    Sorry to read about your uncle, Mike. He sounds like a cool guy. I bet he had some great stories.

  2. Susan Sandberg says:

    One of the most elegant eulogies I’ve ever read, thanks for sharing. Never met “Tone” but could visualize him in my minds eye from your words… and immediately liked him. Reminded me of my hands on grandfather who died with his boots on at 92. That’s good writing!

    As to Boston – sending my good vibes their way, but am also dismayed with the constant loop of speculation, misinformation, pontification and rush to judgment. Damn, people, let the police do their jobs and wait for it. Can’t we just wait for it?

  3. Mari Loosen says:

    Okay, now this is getting scary….I completely agree with you again…..

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