August 19 - A Gaffe For The Gaffers

Today I drove a van full of grips out to Rockford.
It was a location scout on another ice rink.
This is the one we will use.

The grips gave me playful shit when I accidentally took the wrong exit.
My identity would become that gaffe.

It seems this shoot is going to be a flaming bag of shit on a bullet train.
The ride back home was a cacophonous cat's cradle of cellphone stabs - who can get what to where by when now.
It's busier than it's ever been in this city.
That's why I'm on this gig.
No experience, jumping in.
I'm beginning to see how it all comes together.

I got out of Fletcher around 8pm and took a sweaty one-hour nap in the back of the van in front of my moonlighting job.
Here's what I wrote while manning the door of the bar:

The black cowboy brought four matching sandy blonde leather travel cases with him to the bar. He told some women that had he nowhere to stay for the night. One woman, a regular, observed.
"You have nowhere to stay tonight, so you came to a neighborhood bar?"

The jukebox is keeping me awake.
The clientele seems to like their 80s music.
"Eye of the Tiger", English Beat, Stevie Nicks, Talking Heads, Jacko.
Atleast it's "Rock Lobster" this time - wait - that's late 70s.
I put in a weird batch.
Curtis Mayfield "Superfly" - Statler Brothers "Flowers On the Wall" - Misfits "Night of The Living Dead".
Let's see what happens.
My last mix was for me: Little Richard "Lucille" - Kinks "Tired of Waiting" - Stones "Doo Doo Heartbreaker".
This mix is for no one.

They seemed to prefer the no one mix.
Just had a particularly bitter/acrid wet burp.
I can't wait to sleep for more than 5 hours.

Verdict: Win

August 18 - You Don't Bring Us Flowers, LA Whore

I ordered flowers for the receptionist downstairs.
It seems Lyne had chewed her out bad.
Lyne hates Chicago.
I asked Joanie what the message should say.
"Mean people suck."

The flowers helped.
This job is odd.

Verdict: Win

August 17 - Snack Scout

Joanie asked me to arrive at Fletcher at 8:30am.
I carried two large tool kits and a printer up to a rental office.
A thin man named Sven greeted me with caution.
It seemed he was her assistant.
Joanie told me to pick up some sundries from the supermarket, along with a woman named Lyne from a hotel in River North.
She was from LA and enjoyed a Ron Wood haircut.
"I'm pretty green, so I'm not sure what we are doing today," I confessed.
"Scouting locations", Lyne stated.
I dropped her off and ran around town purchasing breakfast, coffee, lunch, more snacks and office supplies.
I didn't get the right type of 8-tab separators.
But I did get the right type of pens.

Lyne's necklace broke.
She asked if I could find some pliers.
I went downstairs by the cliquey gaggle of camera techs.
They were joking about shop.
"The greenest PA in the reddest shirt!" they laughed.
I was wearing a red shirt yesterday.
They eventually but briefly acknowledged my existence and found some tools for me to borrow.
It took two attempts before I found the right kind of pliers for Lyne's necklace.
But I did it!
Is this what I do now?

With a couple of Whole Foods bags filled with fruit, healthy snacks and specific brands of tea and soy milk, I hailed a cab out to the suburbs. Horizontal, I woke up in Elmhurst with the pressured branding of my sunglasses on the left side of my face.
I picked up a rental SUV and headed for the airport to pick up Cody the director.
Over the course of the day, I learned that Lyne was the producer for a commercial that had something to do with hockey. It would be shooting in a week.

I held up a sign with the name Cody on it.
Cody walked past me and called the office to see where I was.
Cody talked about how the word "snacks" was funny.
He was on the phone for the majority of our time together.
I think I was older than Cody.

I was to take Cody to an ice rink near the airport so he could scout it out.
The directions were inaccurate and at one point I had to turn around.
Cody started a second conversation with me during his main conversation.
"Should I just call Lyne to get directions from her?"
We never had another conversation.

Cody joined Lyne and the location scout at the ice rink.
It would not do.
Afterward, Lyne and Cody rode back to the city.
Cody ragged on the storyboards.
Lyne ragged on Chicago.
I drove an SUV.

They took the Whole Foods bags with them to the hotel.
I went to a sporting goods store and purchased hockey gear.
An Italian sausage found its way into my diet.
I got home around 9pm and received a text from Joanie.
"Awesome job today"

Verdict: Win

August 16 - Wimps

Today I began exploring a new direction as a production assistant on the set of a commercial.
I arrived at a residence in Oak Park at 7:30am.
I wore a red cowboy shirt and jeans.
The other PAs wore black t-shirts and cargo shorts.
While many people did several things, I taped cardboard to the walls of the house.
I took garbage out.
I walked around.
I looked for things to do.

It was a commercial for a website that babysits for you or something.
Two kids and a young woman walked up and down a porch forty times.
Then it was lunch.
Protocol dictated that production assistants eat last.
While the cast and the crew ate in the backyard, Ash, a veteran PA, and I took turns eating kabobs and watching all the gear that was laying out in the front yard.
Ash came equipped with a belt of tools and tape and blades.
He told me about a shoot for a local car dealership that lasted over 30 hours.

This job is different.
I have to be ready to improvise.
And create work for myself.
I'm not so good at this.

I have to talk to strangers.
Sometimes I have to tell them to do things.
I'm not good at this either.
But it's change and historically that is supposed to be a good thing.

For one scene, I listened to the action from the steps of the house.
The owner sat next to me and chatted with the talent between takes.
The actor playing the mother had to shush the woman in her own home.

The shoot was easy and done by 3pm.
I was asked if I could help out for the rest of the week on a different job.
Of course.

I went home and wrote a wimpy song.
It's called "Wimps".
Despite the victorious day, it was how I was felt.

Verdict: Win

August 15 - Bile Angels

Today Tom, Thea and I got together to go over some new songs.
The Air & Water Show added in-the-red sky-ripping to our cover of "He Needs Me".
Fuck those assholes.

Verdict: Loss

August 14 - Shithead

Lauren and I went to The Paper Machete.
It was packed to the gills.
The readers were all better than me.
I have to watch that fine line now between jealousy and bitterness.

Drank beer.
Did little else.

Verdict: Loss

Delay Part II

Dear Loser Blog Diary,

I miss writing in you.
The last two weeks have been nonstop with mostly 12-16 work days.
Today is a ten hour day in my new life as a production assistant.
Then I have two hours to rest until my less new life as a tavern doorman.
Then I have another two hours to rest until my newest life as an unpaid production assistant doing a favor job in order to make more connections.
Then I have no hours rest for a wedding band djembe rehearsal.
Then I fall asleep at the wheel and die on Lake Shore Drive just like James Dean and Jayne Mansfield and Nighthawks.

I can't wait to tell you all about in detail two weeks from now.
I'll be in heaven or hell or Taco Bell, whichever place Jesus and The Devil agree on sending me.



"Life weigh more than blog" - Unknown Prehistoric Blogger

Please pardon the delay in Winner or Loser entries as transitions in livelihood take hold.

August 13 - poof

Last day.
For ten years I've worked as a messenger.

On a bike this job gave me balls and a physique.
I took pride in what I did.
Then I lost all of those things in the van.
I fell into a safety of misery.

I let this job give me stress and madness.
I chose to fight a daily battle against inferiority, classist building policies, and an asteroid field of hateful motorists.
Sometimes they were downright cruel, throwing change and garbage at me, swerving toward me on purpose, running me off the road.
Using their lemons as weapons.
Eventually I would become one of those miserable motorists, but I never once took it out on the ole two-wheeled vermin.

There are too many memories.
Mostly from my biking days.
The wet cement on Orleans that ate my bike and flipped me onto its hard pavement.
The box truck that nudged me onto a Volkswagen, leaving a scar on my right hand.
The road rage guy that pulled a knife on me in The Loop.
The CTA bus mirror I shattered with my U-lock.

I didn't think about any of these moments today.
I was more concerned with rest.
My boss paged me at 8am to do the weekly mail run for a logistics company.
This morning I went to sleep around 4am after manning the door at the bar last night.
I asked him if someone else could do it.
Someone else did it.
Around 10am he summoned me for a van job downtown.
Another trip to the bowels of River North, choked by vapors of horse shit.
I watched the Blue Angels goof off in the sky while Yoko Ono's "Coffin Car" blared on the stereo.
Then it was off to Waukegan up there by Wisconsin for a pick up worth close to nothing.
I ate an Italian sausage and got heavy tired in the relentless heat and traffic.
Fatigue became sadness on the way down to the city.
I tried to take a different route back, thinking it would add variety to my dull, bored pain.
It only made things longer and more frustrating.
Yoko Ono's screeching and wailing did what I wanted to do, punishing all within earshot.
I dropped off that last package sometime around 5.
The woman signed it and we didn't say much.
Just like every delivery I had done for the last ten years.
It was over I guess.
The pager stayed silent.
I trudged home in a sleep-deprived, depraved mood.
Driving recklessly over speed lumps and completely blowing side street stop signs.
You want there to be this big moment of closure after you've chosen to devote a decade of your life to something.
But there is nothing.
It's just empty.

So I made tacos and watched Slapshot on my laptop.
I was surprised at how it held up.
I drank.

Lauren got home around 11.
Earlier in the day she went out to see Eat, Pray, Love.
The book had struck a chord with her a few years ago.
The movie did not.
She was disappointed by it.
"Have you ever seen Slapshot?" I slurred.
She laughed at me.

And that was my last day of my life as a messenger.


Verdict: Loss

August 12 - '96 Tears

Lauren joined me all day in the van.
It was the hottest day of the year.
It was also the deadest.
The Blue Angels practiced slicing up the sky for air show this weekend.
We sought shelter in a Starbucks for an hour.
The processed cool air felt lovely and natural.

I took Lauren to an audition.
A woman collapsed on the street by Oprah's fortress.
Her family tended to the swollen shiner below her eye.
Lauren recommended the ice at Subway, then played a fairy godmother at the audition.

We hung out at Starbucks for a few more hours.
I got my fourth and final low-paying run from those T-shirt mopes on Belmont.
After earning that $5, we sat in the van eating sandwiches and celery in the shade.
Lauren had to be at Second City at 4:30.
Tonight was the opening night for the remount of Rod Blagojevich: Superstar at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.
I would have attended but I was manning the door at a bar.

I have a hard time reading at the bar, but I found I could write.
I wrote a short story:

'96 Tears

He made a list.
But first he got another beer.
"Only three more," he mumbled.
He lingered by the open refrigerator. It was another hot night. The swamp coolers helped but not really. They were better at curling his stack of radio resumes.
"RC Cola vending machines" he wrote at the top of the list.
RC was her favorite drink. Her family bought it by the case. She had never seen a vending machine graced with the Royal Crown logo until she visited Chicago with him last winter.
He missed Chicago. It was a real city. A real place. He hated the desert.
"Summers aren't so fucking stupid" was next on the list.
At least that's how he chose to remember them. He had forgotten that most of his summer existence had been spent indoors in front of a television with the air conditioning at 68ยบ. Chicago summers could be just as brutal.
But a Chicago summer had never melted an entire case of irreplaceable mix tapes. Those crimes happened solely in the desert.
If he didn't hear from 91X by next month, he was moving back. He loved working in radio but had to get out of the Coachella Valley.
He wanted Jennifer to join him.
She was on the fence.
"Man or Astroman listed Chicago as one of their top ten cities to live in"
Jennifer already knew this. She read it in a zine.
He turned off Tom Snyder and crumpled the unconvincing list into a little yellow ball. The humidity from the swamp coolers made compressing it a pleasurable task. He pounded his MGD and stuffed the list down the neck.

It was 1am and he still had energy. He wanted to rock out but that would inevitably wake up his landlord. Even though the guest house was tucked away in the corner of the property, John was a light sleeper. He liked John despite his devout Christianity- and he did turn a blind eye to Jennifer's occasional overnight visits.
Sometimes Jen was loud. One time she let out a shrill scream during a particularly passionate tryst. They kept going but he covered her face with a pillow. She stopped fucking him.
"What the fuck, Andy!"

Jennifer was at her parents house tonight. She had an astronomy class in the morning.
He yanked his work headphones from their leather case and plugged them into the stereo. They were nice headphones. He spent $100 on them, half a week's salary.
He put on side two of Legacy of Brutality.
It was the first Misfits record he bought.
2nd Hand Tunes on Clark in Chicago.
Autumn of his junior year in high school.
"Angelfuck" pounded into his head. He clenched his fists. This was the music he wanted to play on the goddamn radio. He staggered around the one-room house swigging beer and being Danzig. He felt alive.
The endless pollution of grunge apes like Brother Cane, Candlebox, Seven Mary Three, Silverchair, Sponge, and 412 other mindless meatheads. Those shitty bands reminded him of the jocks who put on plaid shirts once Pearl Jam made MTV's Buzz Bin and continued to trip him in the halls.
So-called "indie" type bands like Tripping Daisy, Green Apple Quick Step, and For Squirrels. Instead of trying to rewrite "She Don't Use Jelly" over and over again with a different set of slackery dopes, why not just play actual indie rock?
Alanis Morrisette clones like Patti Rothberg and Tracey Bonham.
Why were they even playing Alanis Morrisette?
Beer commercial blues prodigies like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang.
Techno horseshit from Stabbing Westward and God Lives Underwater.
And then King's X and Jars of Clay?
Fucking Christian rock?
These weren't even bands!
They were starry-eyed rubes conned by the cokeheaded henchmen of oily businessmen driven by numbers to sell tacos and Mazdas.
It wasn't even music!
He crooned along with a young Danzig.

Candy apples and razor blades,
Little dead are soon in graves,
I remember Halloween!

He had a hard time justifying playing that payola crap on the air.
But if 91X rang, he'd compromise some of that integrity.
He could handle that scruple in San Diego.
That was a city. That's where a 21-year old should be.
Not wasting away in some sweltering basin where rich golf assholes go to die and meth-headed tweakers race fry-eyed toward death.
At least he didn't have to play Geggy Tah.

Side two of Legacy was done in eleven minutes. So was his beer. Only one left, which put a slight damper on his buzz. On the way to the fridge, his headphones snapped off his head and hit the crumb speckled carpet.
"Fuck it."
He put on a succession of Blues Explosion 7 inches: "Afro" b/w "Relax-Her", "Son of Sam" b/w "Bent". He played violent air guitar and danced like a pinata, like he did in the alley of Lounge Ax when The Blues Explosion came to Chicago three Decembers ago. Underage, he and Ralph listened to a muffled version of their sweaty set from behind the club wrapped in a blanket. They turned shivers into dance moves, kicking the city's grimy grey snow into the air. They stayed in that alley until the band loaded out around 3am, and he bought all the merch his part time pool table salesman job could afford. He missed Ralph.

"Shirt Jac" plopped sloppily onto the turntable. He belted out Jon Spencer's garbled anti-lyrics into his beer. For the flip "Latch On" he introduced high jump stomping to the one-man party.
There was only one 45 left: "Train #3" b/w "Train #1", a thrilling one-two punch of fuck you rock'n'roll.
During one of the many detours on the A-side he leapt onto the thrift store couch and bounced over the thrift store coffee table, creating a rugburn on his knee. The stylus skipped back to the first verse. He leapt on the couch again and inverted the last MGD for its final drops down his throat.

The B-side was a fucking monster.
It sounded more like a truck than a train.
He played air theremin and shook his electrocuted head.
It felt like a real fuck you to the desert.
The miserable, class-ruled, speed-fueled, small-town, small-mind, boring ass oven of a desert.
He charged headfirst into the couch and overturned the floral-printed Goliath. The thud skipped the record forward, sounding like torn pieces of chaos scattered and resewn. The stereo's input jack spat out the headphone cord.
Suddenly "Train #1" was loud as it should have been.
Jon Spencer screamed "HOBOKEN NEW JERSEY!!" over and over again.
New Jersey.
He had sent a resume and an air check tape to WHTG in Asbury Park.
That's where Matt Pinfield got his start.
Never heard a word from them.
He joined Spencer in screaming.
The song finished with a sleaze rock groove, retarding into the opening triplets of meter-clipping drums and direct input guitars. It sounded like big, B-movie bees were stinging those guitars. The only bass sound came from the groaning theremin lurking underneath.
This record was in the red.
He kicked the air and convulsed in the nest of the defeated divan, until the theremin got away and unleashed a murderous slash across the song, immediately ending its short, crazy life.

And then it was over.
He stared at the ceiling, his heart still pounding to the beat like the song's shadow.
A grapefruit crashed through the window pane and landed on his bed. A tiny shard of glass bounced off his nose.
"What the fuck?"
The guest house sat on property surrounded by a trailer park. Apparently they weren't fans of the Blues Explosion.
He got up to investigate.
It was a grapefruit, alright.
On the way to the dustpan he noticed the answering machine was blinking.
He pressed its lone button.
It was Jennifer.
", I was hoping you'd be up."
She sounded weird.
"Can we meet tomorrow for lunch? I want to talk..."
A masculine knock rapped the door.
Jennifer continued.
"...In 'n' Out maybe. Call me when you wake up."
Three more raps on the door, and a concerned Christian voice.
"Andy, is everything okay in there?"


Verdict: Win

August 11 - A Quit-In

So I'm not the only one quitting my job this week.
As most people have heard, a flight attendant cursed out an asshole passenger, grabbed some beer, activated the inflatable emergency chute, and entered the world of unemployment.
Also, a girl used a Subterranean Homesick Blues dry erase board montage to quit her job. People called her a HPOA, which does not stand for House of American Pancakes.
Bummer cuz I'm hungry.
Double bummer because it ended up being a hoax for no reason.

But the world has embraced the flight attendant, hailing him as a hero.
Just like Joe the Plumber and 2 Girls 1 Cup.
I decided I should be a hero, too.
I could create an international internetional buzz!
A buzzolution!!
A celebuzz-tion!!!
Imagine: going from the miserable worthlessness of anonymity to the glory of immediate fame and blind worship!
It's The American Dream.
I had to act now.
After all, my boss hired a new driver to replace me.
And yesterday I only made about $40.
I bet he gave him all the good work.
I don't have to take this fuckin' poop!
It's time for this nation to unite again!!
World Domination could be ours!!
But mostly mine!!!

My plan:
Using a hang glider, I hang glide in a Blue Angels uniform. As I approach the windows of the office, I shoot a bachelorette party penis-pistol in the direction of my boss. The penis-pistol shoots a flag that says "TAKE THIS JOB & SUCK IT". Then I pound a Mickey's Big Mouth and piss "I AIN'T WORKIN' HERE NO MORE" in a graceful cursive onto the sidewalk below. While my boss reads my classy urine, The Jesse White Tumblers arrive by tank and flash him. The Jesse White Tumblers use puppetry of the penis to spell out "I RETIRE" while I do a few outrageous tricks and splits on my hang glider. After I nail a totally awesome vague aerobatic maneuver, the USC Marching Band breaks through a wall and plays the Afroman anti-work song "Fuck McDonald's and Taco Bell". I have saved enough money to pay the real Afroman to sing it. While Afroman jams with the USC Marching Band, The Jesse White Tumblers and I perform a synchronized land and air routine. Then a Blue Angels jet plane swoops down and hands me a contract for the higher-paying position of Head Writer for the Blue Angels.
I place the results onto the internet, get buzz, quit the Blue Angels gig, and live off my royalties as an overnight internet superstar!

But that was going to be a lot of work.
First off I'd have to go to one of those party stores and purchase a penis-pistol.
Everyone would think I'm a pervert or a molester.
Besides, it's getting harder and harder to find Mickey's malt liquor.
So I decided not to do it.

I did go to the office to hand in some paperwork, and stayed to enjoy the novelty of air conditioning.
I noticed the phones were not ringing.
Nor were any orders coming in online.
I sat in the office for a couple of hours.
I emailed my resume to the box office job.
I applied for a bike delivery job on the Potbelly website.
The phones remained quiet.
Still no orders.
I guess my boss wasn't trying to screw me.
He was getting screwed by progress.

The Nurse Novels have a show next month at Schuba's.
I wrote a press release for the occasion:


Chicago needed one more band.

After the demise of Let’s Get Out of This Terrible Sandwich Shop, Thea Lux, Tony Mendoza and Tom Vale recruited Nicole Vitale from Unicycle Loves You to begrudgingly satiate whiny Chicago’s needy, needy needs.

They call themselves The Nurse Novels.

The Nurse Novels have accomplished the recording of 12 original songs, to be released in a series of four singles. The debut single In Poor Tense is happening right now.


“War” was written by Thea. It’s about war and features Alan Scalpone from The Bitter Tears on accordion. “Sea Day” was written by Tony. One time he worked on a cruise ship as an entertainer. That’s Heinz Hackl on the pedal steel. “Make Me Cry” was written by Tom. His caffeinated romantic anxieties are punctuated by Alan Scalpone and recording engineer Greg Norman on brass.

At some point In Poor Tense will be available for theft on computers and phones and all that fucking bullshit through The Roydale Recording Company. But for now it can only be enjoyed on a compact disc-R in a limited edition homemade pressing, which includes two boss bonus tracks.

The Nurse Novels will be performing this new single at Schuba’s on September 11. They have to keep writing that date down because they always seem to forget it.

Also, the band has booked a high profile show for the tenth anniversary of In Poor Tense, which they will play in its entirety for the occasion.

The Nurse Novels
with Unicycle Loves You (record release) and Village
Saturday, September 11, 2010, 10pm
3159 N Southport

Friday, September 11, 2020, 8pm
Jeff Tweedy Pavillion For Charitable Arts, Highland Park
$500 - $20,000

Please send $5 to the return address for payment of In Poor Tense. Thanks!


Because we haven't manufactured the actual CD's yet, I burned a few copies of the single and drew some colored pencil artwork, and that is what I hand delivered to the press.
I like hand delivering press releases.

The security guys at the Tribune dabbled in Dad humor.
The girl at Time Out and the fella at The Reader were both very nice.
The guy in the Sun Times mailroom winked at me heterosexually.
The woman at WBEZ seemed surprised that she didn't have to sign for the package.
The Onion is funny.
They are not listed on the entry buzzer of their building.
This means you have to buzz a different company to get in, or sneak in on the heels of another tenant. This time I went the route of the heel. Nobody was at the reception desk, and when I went back and rang the doorbell, nobody came. I left the package on the front desk.

I didn't get paid for these runs, but they felt better to deliver than all that other crap.

Verdict: Win

August 10 - Tuesdays With Dave

After hibernating in the air conditioned bedroom for the evening, I met Dave for drinks.
Dave and I were roommates for close to six years.
We know each other very well.
Our tastes in food, spirits, music, movies, women...
Most importantly, we know each other's moods.
I was a bike messenger.
Dave was a high school English teacher for Chicago Public Schools.
Both emotionally draining, soul challenging jobs.
Often we came home with black clouds scribbled over our heads.
We gave each other space.
Then we drank.
Sometimes I miss that apartment.
It had central air and a backyard.

Last year Dave quit CPS and moved east to pursue a PhD at U-Mass.
I haven't seen him in a while.
He looks younger, he's wearing less stress.
Good for him.

We goofed on old times and new times, and gave each other liquor-pickled encouragement.
Dave enjoyed dirty martinis, shaken to perfection by the Tiny Lounge's redheaded pro, then switched to a puckery summer bourbon drink.
I stuck to draught beer, as it remained cheaper for Dave to buy me those.

The new bartender, a petite blond, told us she wanted to start a comedy variety show.
I've had experience with this and gave her my sloppy but sincere encouragement.
Suddenly the bar closed.
At the bar next door, a waitress enjoyed a smoke break.
She too was a petite blond, and told us she wanted to teach for CPS.
Dave had experience with that and gave her his loose but sincere encouragement.


Verdict: Win

August 9 - Inspirational Coffee Mug Needed

Last week of messengering.
No matter what.
I cannot go back.

My boss offered me a raise.
40% commission plus 22¢ per mile.
I told him no.
It's still not enough to live off of after gas and maintenance expenses.
He asked me if I could give him an extra week.
I said I couldn't, that I would be starting my new job.
There is no new job.

I posted on Facetown that I am retiring from messengering for real and for good this week.
Many people have typed congratulations to me.
Maybe they're genuinely happy that I am changing my life.
But I feel guilty.
It's easy to quit.
Then again, it's generally easy to get knocked up.
People are all over the internet congratulating that act.

So what are my options?
a) Freelance production assistant work
b) Customer service in an office
c) Entry level box office work
d) Selling stuff
e) Deciding that Ba Le needs a bicycle delivery boy

Wait, wait! Isn't delivering sandwiches pretty much bike messengering?
Shut up.

Verdict: Win

August 8 - Eggs 'n' Superfly with Mr. Goodbar

I can't believe that you can watch movies for free on Netflix.
Friday night I watched Taxi Driver.
You know, to cheer up after not getting the writing job.
This morning I enjoyed Superfly with eggs and homemade lunchmeat turkey hash (my creation).
This afternoon Lauren and I tried Looking For Mr. Goodbar.
For a mainstream Diane Keaton vehicle, this movie is fucked up.
It's not geared for the Sunday afternoon nap.
Unless you find frequent jump cuts to screaming and violent sex soothing.
It's worth checking out as a curiosity.

Lauren's been waiting the occasional table down in Old Town.
Tonight was the last night for three of her co-workers, a rowdy bunch of Irish birds.
We met up with the wonderful Jessica Joy and had a quality night of drinking and advice.
At a discount!

Verdict: Win

August 7 - Holli & Mike's Wedding

Holli and Mike were married today in their backyard.
Holli looked beautiful.
Mike handsome in his banker's vest.
The vest disguised the goofy animal embroidered on his tie.
Holli had given him the tie around the time they met.

It was an intimate celebration.
Family and friends.
Some fiddle from Jim.
A passage from Darwin's journal.
DIY ring bearing.
Brief and beautiful.

The food was amazing.
Mike did the lion's share of it himself.
Prosciutto-wrapped scallops, potato salad, baby back ribs, seared corn, asparagus, lamb lollipops...there was a lot more.
I've never seen a groom wash dishes.

They did it how they wanted to and it was wonderful.
Being witness to it could prove motivational.

Here's to Holli and Mike!

Verdict: Win

August 6 - The Perks of Hell

Sometimes you're so tired it feels like being a ghost.
I got home this morning from the doorman shift at 3am, ate a bratwurst, and went to bed around 4.
The pager went off at 8:21am.
"worked at a bar til close, up soon."

Yet another day of small runs until...
Oh, so that's how it works.
While Herrie's van is running, he gets all the good work.
At this point who cares.
I could use a day where I make more than $100.
It would be like old times.

The first van job was a lot of crates and boxes going to the Westin Hotel.
The dock is in a dark, sewery maze just north of the river, across from The House of Blues.
Large grey-brown puddles dominate the cracked concrete, like an unfinished puzzle ruined by the urine of the dead.
Exposed dormant railroad tracks assure rainy day wipeouts for inexperienced cyclists.
I would actually like it down there if it wasn't filled with the rage of screaming trucks, bull-brained House of Blues thugs, and the stubborn odor of actual horse shit.

The second van job took me to a storage facility on Halsted just south of the river.
A couple of boxes going to Miller Coors.
They were somewhere in the labyrinth of the storage units.
The guy behind the counter shared an irritating quality with this city: the you-should-know-this-without-having-done-it attribute.
"Just walk straight out this door, take a left, make a right, take a right, go straight and it's right in the dock," he said very quickly.
Why do people do this?
Is this his weird power trip?
Making people ask him to repeat multi-step directions?
He said the directions again.
They made no sense to me, as I am not familiar with the storage facility, having never been here ever in my lifetime.
I found the dock on my own.
His directions were inaccurate.
A 7'x4' box rested against the wall.
I was going to need to drive to the dock to load it into the van.
Back at the clerk, I asked if he could open the gate so I could get to the dock.
"Yeah," he guessed, and I walked toward the van.
"I tell you what, you can just let yourself in. The code is 3008*3008#."
Again, he said this almost as fast as his powerful Chicago mind could work.
"That would be easier than you just letting me in," I stated.
"The code is 3008*3008#."
"You said that really fast. I'll try."
I put in what I thought the code was but the gate never opened.
After pressing the HELP button a few times, he eventually let me in.
I don't know.
The gate code for the storage space at 1015 N Halsted in Chicago is something like 3008*3008# or 3008#3008*.

The third and final van job of the afternoon took place at a rock star themed restaurant in River North. I was supposed to pick up a bunch of stuff for a weekly entertainment magazine. The page didn't specify what stuff I was picking up.
The host had his hands full with the phones, but was actually cool.
But he had no idea what I was supposed to pick up.
The contact for the pick up was Mellicity.
I gave her a ring.
She had no idea what I was supposed to be picking up, either.
"You're going to have to figure out what you're supposed to pick up."
I could tell that Mellicity was a cunt by the way she hung up on me.
The host, who was still nice, informed me that the stuff was upstairs.
Up there, a small group of important near-humans were setting things up for an amazing night of talentless, fake rock star douchebaggery.
A short, pudgy, pasty fellow with a headset and a cool guy haircut or wig used his forefinger at me.
"It's over here."
He took me to a back staircase blocked by an avalanche of chairs. Underneath the chairs were seven opened boxes and a litter of loose throw pillows.
"The boxes and the pillows. Get it out of here."

Hey, Rock 'n' Douche Productions.
Learn how to talk to people.
You understand that you're completely worthless, right?

So I gathered the pillows and noticed they all couldn't fit into the boxes.
I do like pillows.
Especially ones embossed with entertainment heroes like Johnny Depp, the Slumdog Millionaires, and the space lizards from Avatar.
The perks of hell.

On my second trip one of the line cooks ate dinner on the emergency staircase completely blocked by chairs.
I offered him a pillow.
"Garbage," he said.

At home I checked my email.
I didn't get the writing job.
It sounds like nobody did.
Sucks for everybody.

Verdict: Loss

August 5 - Bore Man

In 127 miles I delivered a sombrero to a photographer, gave blueprints to a company that makes those miniature models for architects, and got an envelope sniffed by a canine security unit.

Between 4pm and 7pm I attempted to take a disco nap.
But I was nervous.
At 10pm I began my first shift as a doorman for a bar.
Here's what I wrote during a tired, misanthropic lull in the action:

I keep reading page 15 over and over again. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The cue ball just rolled off the table. Tonight is my first night as a doorman. I don't anticipate it being my last night. Maybe my third night will be my last.

This profession doesn't suit me. I took it for the money and the life experience. Right now I'm experiencing that stupid 80's dance pop song that goes "Oh-eee-oh-eee-oh!" It sounds like Prince or some crap that everybody loves but I don't.
It's not that bad. It's just boring. I told myself I would hold out on drinking until after midnight. 12:01!

Hungry - fatigued from driving all day. If the tamale guy is to be believed he'll be here again sometime soon.
"TAMALE! TAMALE!" he shouted to no-takers around 10:16.

I'm not good at carding people. In fact, I loathe doing it. I never did it when I cashiered at a supermarket. When I worked at a gas station at age 18, I sold cigarettes to underage kids all the time. The one time I didn't was because the kid was like 10 or something.
Who am I to tell people what they can and can't do. Do whatever you want.
I give myself about 1.4 seconds to find some sort of date on an ID. I think I've mostly been spotting expiration dates.
People have for the most part been cool.
I like this bar.

"Are you old enough to card people?" he joked.
I did my best to smile. Later when he smoked outside, I had to shoo him away from the door. He made a joke about me having to kick an old man's ass.

Many of the regulars have introduced themselves with kind handshakes. I'm surprised that I've been able to retain their names. Holly - Erik - Catherine - the Asian guy whose name I never got. Ed - the guy who eats sandwiches in the bedroom in the back.

Tonight is like a pilot episode. I can't say whether or not I like it.
I think I've waited long enough for that drink.

The tamale guy never did return.
But I tried something new.
Something out of my comfort zone.

Verdict: Win

August 4 - Beatlemagica, Lady Cops, & SNL Audition Anxiety

The second and final performance of Beatlemagica played to a packed house at The Annoyance. Lauren attended, as did The Bitter Tears gang, a Nurse Novel and fiance, a Timeless Wavelength, and several improv pals. Plus strangers!

Now that it's over, here is the premise of the show:

Four candy factory workers in Gristlepond, Iowa have a bunch of personal problems.
These problems are made worse by their abusive Jethro Tull-loving boss and Stevie, a scary janitor who is the bastard son of a ghost, and always carries a copy of Things Fall Apart.
The four candy factory workers decide to form a Beatles tribute band, called Beatlemagica.
The first thing they do is take a British dialect class.
Then they acquire wigs and instruments.
Nobody can play their instrument, except the Paul, an accomplished right-handed bassist.
But he switches to playing left-handed for the sake of authenticity.
They practice "Help!" one time and enter a Battle of The Beatles Tribute Bands, or a "Beat Off".
Captain 66, a 60's acid casualty radio personality, hosts the Beat Off.
Beatlemagica performs "Come Together".
While accepting the award for 2nd Runner Up, the Paul is stabbed to death by Stevie the scary co-worker, who requests Jethro Tull to a shocked Captain 66.
Everyone in Gristlepond is sad.
But back at the factory, the surviving members of Beatlemagica realize that since the Paul is dead, all of their personal problems have been solved. The boss gives them all promotions because the radio is constantly playing Jethro Tull. Another coworker wins a scratch off lottery ticket.
The mayor declares Local World Peace for the town of Gristlepond.
There is a Beatlemagica reunion on the rooftop of the candy factory.
It becomes a true reunion when the ghost of the Paul returns from the dead and opens the floor to Beatles requests.
Just then, a still-unarrested Stevie invades the stage.
The ghost of the Paul forgives Stevie, and mentions that he met Stevie's ghost mother, and they are now dating.
Stevie requests "Penny Lane" and sings it.
The mayor plays trumpet.
All in twenty minutes!

Somehow the show avoided the dreaded second time blues.
"Help!" was punk rock fast and almost too skilled!
I gave them the note to pick up the pace in the third factory scene.
They did.
Unfortunately, I chose to experiment with adding three dumb sound effects to the scene, which completely hiccuped the pace.
I think I'm better at conceiving ideas than I am at directing.
I think I'm better at directing than I am at operating lights and sound.
Overall, Beatlemagica was a great experience, and I'm glad it happened.

I played drums for Lady Cops, and the girls brought the house down.
Killer show.

I stuck around afterward in order to become drunk.
This was accomplished with Fat Tire brand ale.

My friend Chris has an audition next week in New York for Saturday Night Live.
This is a good thing.
Yes, the show still fucking sucks asshole.
However, it is an amazing opportunity for anyone who wants to do comedy.
It can lead to a great career in whichever direction you want to go.
So I am always happy when one of my friends lands the gig.
Last year my friend Pat got hired as a writer.
It seems he's doing well.

While I was loading up my drums, Chris tested some of his audition bits for me.
I like Chris a lot.
He's always been very cool to me.
This is going to be such a nerve-wracking mindfuck of a week for him.
I hope he gets it.

Verdict: Win

August 3 - Our Hero

I'm going to play with third person again.

Only nine more days.
Our Hero would retire in nine days.
He had nothing lined up, but he knew he couldn't afford to messenger anymore.

He drove down Blue Island Avenue in Chicago. When the pager awoke him around 8am, he had misread the delivery address as being in the city of Blue Island, some thirty miles away. Thinking he had to hurry, he skipped breakfast and headed directly into rush hour traffic. While scribbling the information onto his manifest between bumper-to-bumper lulls, Our Hero realized it was a local run, and could have had breakfast back at home.
At least it's overcast, he thought.

While he considered quick and cheap breakfast options, the public radio station waxed nostalgic about the punk rock shithole bowling alley from his second adolescence. Back when he first started bike messengering at age 25. Now at 35, he was trying to graduate from his fourth adolescence.

Low-paying busy-runs prevented him from accomplishing breakfast. In lieu of an unhealthy Dunkin McGravy Bacon City Slather Platter (Now with Super-Organtic Sea Salt!), a $7 delivery of two heavy bankers boxes took him to the Magnificent Mile.
By this time the sun had come out again. It taunted him and his van's lack of air conditioning.

He hated the fucking heat. It made him sweaty, bitchy, and unproductive. He didn't understand why people liked summer. He grumbled a list of reasons to everybody but also nobody.
"Sitting in your own sweat, like piss, can't sleep, everyone's a fucking asshole..."
It seemed he had declared war on summer, and he was losing.

Every loading zone in the gridlocked radius of 645 N Michigan was taken and therefore stupid. He decided to double park in the alley of the building. An older man knocked on the passenger window.
"There's a big truck coming. You have to get out of here."
Our Amazing Hero didn't like the news, or the way it was presented to him.
"Well, I'm delivering to the same building and there's nowhere to park."
"That's not my problem," and the older man walked away.
Our Awesome Hero moved the van seven feet further, turned off the ignition, and began unloading.
"I suppose that big truck coming is your problem," he said loudly and laconically. His faded red, entry level two-wheeler hit the pavement with a sharp echo.
The older man placed his hands on the hips of his polo shirt.
"I'm shaking in my boots."
Our Rad Hero threw down the worthless bankers boxes onto the two-wheeler.
"You're a cocksucker!" he shouted.
Actually, he sang the word "cocksucker".
The older man chose not to respond.
Our Sexiest Hero enjoyed a few brief fantasies involving pummeling, choking, and inducing comas.
Sometimes he wondered if prison would give him more free time.

Upstairs he dropped the boxes into the tiny cluttered office inhabited by the lump of a lady with a large heavy metal haircut.
"Thank you very much," he mumbled as she signed for the boxes.
"You sound like Elvis." She continued, "My boyfriend that died used to do voices."

The loading dock of the hospital was now home to a large industrial grease trap. To enter the building, he had to step over several greasy puddles and stains. Later, while approaching a red light, his lard-kissed sneaker slipped off of the brake pedal. He didn't collide with the car in front of him, but she almost hit him when she blindly backed up to accommodate a turning cement truck. Our Hero did a lot of yelling.

"I need to eat," he said to the van.
Not yet.

Around noon, an escort was dispatched at 1 North Wacker to oversee Our #1 Hero's retrieval of a couple of boxes. While waiting for the freight elevator he surprised himself by initiating a conversation.
"So do you do anything outside of this?"
"Yes," said the escort.
"...What do you do?" he followed up.
"Clou," he said.
"Clou!" he emphasized.
"I'm sorry, Clu..?"
"CLOWN!" he shouted, and Our Hero noticed he was missing his bottom front teeth.

This week, he hadn't had the opportunity to purchase groceries or make a lunch. So around 1pm he went hunting for Taco Bells. The nearest one on Madison and Ashland had become vacant, painted a drab grey that gave it the look of a WWII bunker. Eventually he found a living Taco Bell and was finally able to eat terribly for under $3.

Arturo, the best, most experienced, and least used dispatcher, gave Our Inspiring Hero the option of a lucrative-ish van job in The Loop, or a less lucrative run picking up from the Indiana border. Since Brian May was the guest on Fresh Air, he decided to take the long run and get cheap gas in Indiana.
At Johnny's Tap in Munster, a neon sign declared MR. FUN IS HERE.
He wondered if Mr. Fun moonlighted as a messenger escort.

Back in Chicago, he found shelter from the ridiculously stubborn afternoon sun in a loading zone on Lower Hubbard. Across the street sat The Billy Goat Tavern. He liked the Billy Goat. The coffee was only 56 cents.
A man approached him for a light.
Thirty minutes later, Our World Class Hero realized he did have a lighter in one of the cup holders.
The man was not still standing there waiting.

He drove 118 miles, earning him $25.96.
He made about $50 in runs.
He spent $30 on cheap Indiana gas.
Maybe he should have taken that almost lucrative van job.
That way, he would have made $60 in runs, $14.63 in miles, spent $40 on over-priced gas, and missed Fresh Air.

Exhausted, Our Hero drove home in the defeating sun. He did a sloppy job of parallel parking, bumping the curb and sticking out on the narrow one way street. To get out of the path of an approaching motorist, he gave the van some gas in reverse and hopped onto the curb. A loud crunching sound happened.
"What the fuck?"
He had slammed into a tree.

Eight more days.

Verdict: Loss

August 2 - My Shorts

Recently I discovered my old work-issued bike messenger shorts.
I've had them for seven years. Who knows how many messengers wore them before me in the decade previous to last.
They are black cargo shorts with my company's jaundiced name crackling off of the left leg. Three of the four pockets contain holes, suitable for losing coins, keys, and wallet-sized items. The velcro pocket fasteners are also useless, with hooks plucked off or choked by lint.
When I was hired they didn't have my size (32), just this pair (38).
The elastic waist band no longer functions. It is a "waste" band. To keep them up I use the built-in nylon belt. Every 40 minutes I have to retighten it.
In the back of the shorts is a 13" vertical tear, exposing the inner lining. It looks like a puppet show of my butt is always about to happen.
A few years ago, the elastic on the inner lining began melting into my beautiful thigh hair. So the inner lining became cut-offs. Sewn into the crotch of the inner lining sits a giant bean of padding, now crumpled into a mushed maxi pad, or an octogenarian's final pair of Depends.
Also, the zipper fly broke years ago. For the sake of decency, I use a Mr. Yuck button to bind the offending orifice shut.
These shorts are beyond tattered.
It's what people laboring in hell might wear.

I wore the shorts while making a pick up from a T-shirt illustrator on Belmont Avenue.
"Hello," I smiled to the woman behind the counter.
She acknowledged my greeting with guarded silence.
"How's it going?" I smiled again.
She wouldn't return it.
"I'm making a pick up for..." I continued, providing all the information.
"How do I know what company you work for?" she sleuthed.
I pointed to my company's dying name on my dying shorts.
Her superior, a hangdog ham sandwich of a woman, slouched over to me with a plastic baggie of illustrated T-shirts.
"Looks like you need a new pair of shorts," she grumbled.
"No. I need a new job."

An uptight guy wanted something delivered to The Chicago Bears.
"Are you going right there?"
Yeah, why not.
Football Drive in Lake Forest is a secret capillary off an artery of man-made lakes, office projects, and a police facility that connects directly to the tollway (like Batman).
The security guard was dressed laid back in a polo shirt, shorts, and Chicago-style moustache.
He signed for the envelope and then stood directly in front of the van, in case I went crazy and started running over footballs and dumping tubs of Gatorade without cause for celebration.
Maybe he saw my shorts.

Verdict: Win

August 1 - A Glimpse Of The Good Life

Somehow four of us managed the rare simultaneous night off.
So Lauren and I zipped down to Mike & Holli's real life house on the edge of town for a real life double date.
Over sips of Irish whisky Mike gave me a tour of the backyard and garden.
It's a whole new world.

Penance: I have never mowed a lawn in my entire life.
I have never chopped dead branches from a tree.
I've never tended a garden.

I grew up in apartments and then a town home community, where it would be a violation for me to do any of these things. My adult life has been spent with a landlord overseeing all green thumbed activities.
I hope to change this at some point.
I would actually love to live in a place that didn't share any walls, floors, or ceilings with a neighbor, and would gladly accept the extra responsibilities that came with that luxury.

In six days, Mike & Holli will be wed in this same backyard.
This, too, is a whole new world.
One thing at a time.

Seared on the fire pit with garlic and seasoning.
Roasted potatoes with little elfin onions.
Singed corn.
More wine.
Wait, are we all turning into Sideways jerks?
Probably not.
We talked about commercial pilots packing heat, hush hush pregnancies, and Three's Company spin-offs.
I suppose it's better than being self-congratulatory Big Chill masturbators.

Before we left the outdoors, Lauren and I compared the sounds of Mike & Holli's backyard to the sounds of our apartment.
Backyard: Crickets, cicadas, air traffic, distant stream of the highway
Apartment: Roaring nearby trucks, sirens, shouting neighbors and derelicts, thinning stream of drunk douchebags
Gee, I don't know.
Could we really sacrifice all that for our own house with a backyard?

Inside we played a 1984 edition of the board game Password.
We were all a bit terrible at playing it.
Your partner has to guess words like "compete" or "dynamic".
For each turn, you get a single one-word clue to give.
After eight rounds of no one being able to guess "dynamic", I gave the clue "Nirvana".
It didn't work.
We switched to my favorite parlour game of all time: CELEBRITY!
I included some of Mike's least favorite musicians (Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen) in hopes that he would have to describe these odious annoyances in full detail. To annoy himself (?) he did the same, submitting Stevie Ray Vaughan in both games.
However, Mike was wrong when he referred to Stevie Ray Vaughan as a worthless blues guitarist that was wonderfully killed in a helicopter accident in Texas.
It was in Wisconsin.

Verdict: Win