Saturday morning began at Captain Hard Times Dining.
Or is it Captain's Hard Time Dining?
The sign out front says Capt's Hard Time Dining.
But the one on the door says Captain's Hardtimes.
Let's see what our internet says.
The url for the website is http://captainshardtimedining.com.
Though the home page refers to it as Captain's Hard Times Dining.
I guess it depends on where you would like the hard times to go.
And how many hard times are occurring.
I like the idea of a captain embodying the hard times.
A surly, swarthy old barnacle of the sea.
So I like Captain Hard Times.
But nobody seems to call it that.
Most references to the restaurant make the captain possessive of the dining.
That way the hard time or hard times also falls on the dining.
Either way, I admire any business that celebrates hard times in their name.
Rarely do you see Bob Evan's Shit Happens Breakfast Specials.
Apparently there's a chili chain in the DC area called Hard Times Cafe.
Their mascot is a ragamuffin kid in a wash basin.
It feels like it's trying to resonate with NASCAR existentialists.
I don't know.
Zagat gave them a Top 20.
Penthouse seems to like them.
So there's that.
I don't know how to feel about it anymore.
Josephine Wade sat behind a plate of chicken and waffles.
An active force in the community (NAACP, Rainbow/Push, The Urban League, and much more) and a confirmed gumbo champion, she owned the room with humor and power.
Josephine Wade runs a tidy ship.
The director wanted quiet.
So Josephine yelled "QUIET!"
No dinging coffee cups.
No incessant chatter.
No timers going off.
The staff was dressed for Sunday.
They muttered obscenities under their breath.
Hard Time Dining
Chaz and I enjoyed breakfast in a booth.
A table of grey-haired Gradies slid their jibs about old stick up boys and other crazy motherfuckers from back in the day.
They laughed heartily and rapped the table.
Veruca texted me to ask them to keep it down.
A waitress showed me an ad for two types of cellphones.
"Which one would you get?"
I made a selection.
A coffee cup rattled on its saucer.
Veruca texted me again.
Petty Cash Pencil Clash
Saturday afternoon was spent at the Black Ensemble Theater.
I started to snap a photo of Veruca.
"You're going to put that on Facebook and say what a bitch I am."
So I didn't take the picture.
Instead, I did my petty cash.
Taping receipts to scrap paper.
Adding it all up.
A pencil is required.
Jerzy lent me his.
"You call yourself a PA?"
I call myself an unfocused humorist.
I don't know which is worse.
I should have said "I am Chicago."
It was a rainy farewell.
I hugged Veruca au voir.
Jerzy and I returned the vans to Movie Movies, and unloaded them in the rain.
He split without shaking hands.
"Stay funny," he sarcasmed.
Stay fun, Jerzy.
I should have said "Stay funny looking!"
Gripes To Mike Royko At Ray's Tap
Tonight I read at the Ray's Tap Reading Seriers for Gripes To Mike Royko.
In 1993, the Chicago Tribune's Mike Royko responded to Bob Greene's letters of American Optimism, asking his readers to send in their petty complaints. His readers inundated him with pedestrian bile and vitriol about the volume level of commercials, gays in the military, and other delights.
A savvy Wilmette garbage picker scooped up a healthy pile of these letters discarded on Royko's estate, and gave them to Chris Bower, curator of the Ray's Tap Reading Series.
I was asked to select a letter and write a piece about it.
I picked an angry rant about gum.
Last time I read at Ray's, I did a few character pieces.
My comedy comfort zone.
The same shit I'd been doing for thirteen years.
So this time I chose to write prose.
Just a straight story.
I timed it at ten minutes.
I cut a bunch of it to get it down to six.
If I spoke briskly.
I felt good about it.
The first act killed.
Everyone did comedy.
Everyone shone comedically.
The bar hooted in its own stitches.
I felt less good about my piece.
During the intermission, Ray told me how he was looking forward to my piece.
He thought the last one I did was the best.
Because it was so funny.
I told him I was going to try something different tonight.
The second act continued in the spirit of comedy.
To vary from the theme of the evening was going to prove difficult.
And it did.
I read my piece.
It was long.
It got one laugh early on because laughing during a reading had been firmly established.
But it wasn't funny.
And it wasn't meant to be funny.
But it wasn't funny.
I had unwittingly betrayed the night.
My words were less noticed than the smoke in the room.
Even the smoke was bored.
|DO NOT ENJOY|
Eight minutes later, nineteen people had checked their cellphones, and politely applauded when it was over.
Afterward my friend Greg complimented me on how I held my papers.
He pointed out that they didn't shake.
Yeah, I suppose I've gotten used to failure.
It doesn't frighten me anymore.
Maybe Jerzy was right.
I should have stayed funny.
Here's the gripe:
The most aggravating vermin on earth are the gum-chewing cretins who noisily gnaw on their cuds with a single-minded intensity that makes Mike Ditka seem placid by comparison. These people should have their jaws permanently wired shut.