Thursday, July 23, 2015

No Guns Allowed?

"No guns allowed." I noticed the sign on the doorway to my doctor's office.  These signs have been popping up a lot lately.  I guess they're a small gesture against the epidemic of gun violence.

 I went into the waiting room ready to take my stress test. Suddenly, a man in one of the offices started screaming threats and obscenities.  We couldn't see what was happening but it sounded like a fight or an effort to subdue him.  A nurse came out and asked us to wait outside.  "We've called 911," she said.  The man was still screaming.

I left.  I could schedule my stress test for another day.  Stress indeed.

And what would have happened if the man had a gun?  Was the sign enough?  I'm pretty sure no one would have frisked him.  So that's how it is now.  Your in school, in a movie theater, in church, at the doctor.  You're there and then you're dead.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Out of the Bubble

David Raup and Bumble Bee Bob died this week.  I was friends with them at one time or another along the long and winding road.  Raup was a famous paleontologist at the University of Chicago. When I knew Dave, he was eager to prove that an asteroid killed off the dinosaurs.  I helped him with a few sentences and he was generous enough to acknowledge me in one of his books.

Bob Novak was a funky musician and popular artist -- Chicago through and through.  Marguerite has one of his paintings.  I'm sure his life will be celebrated now at bars around town.

As an oldster,  I joke that I live life in a bubble.  My friends and I seem to look at life through the same lens. Yes, there are a few other-minded men in some of my classes, but nothing too challenging.

Last week, my friend Trudy posted this quote on Facebook:  "Become friends with people who aren't your age . . .   people whose first language isn't the same as yours . . . who don't come from your social class. . ."

Thanks Elsa, Shelby, Soo, Gerry, Helena, Molly and of course Dave and Bob for some good times out of the bubble.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Oak Lawn Memories

I woke up this morning thinking of my detour years in Oak Lawn.  Before I lived there, I thought of it as the place where south siders moved when real estate hucksters knocked on their doors crying: "the blacks are coming . . . the blacks are coming" and the homeowners scurried away.

By the time I arrived things were built up:   ranch homes, Catholic churches, great park facilities. It was the good union middle class life we yearn for today.  I loved it.  Probably because I was in love with Gerry -- the man who had brought me there.  And probably because his friends were so welcoming of this exotic north sider.

On Sundays we would go to one of the many golf courses.  He played, I struggled.  I say now: "I loved everything about golf except the golf:  the early morning quiet, the grass and trees, the sunshine and the big breakfast after.

There were comedy clubs, dance clubs, diners and steak houses, many on and around 95th Street.  The joke was: "on the north side it's "sauce."  On the south side it's "gravy."  Oak Lawners loved to jitterbug and drink.

Gerry and I (and Oak Lawn) lasted for about 5 years.  Then the impossibility of it all caught up with us.  That impossibility was definitely personal, not geographic.  I'll always have Oak Lawn.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Sandra Verthein's post about reading stats caught me off guard.  80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.  42% of college grads never read another book after college.  This puts a new slant on "best sellers," doesn't it?

My friend Kathy always said that reading great literature was the best form of therapy.  If you agree that reading expands our place in the universe and inspires empathy you understand what she is getting at.

Maybe health care professionals should start book clubs among their patients.  I'll always take the written word over popping a pill.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sky High

Watching Million Dollar Listing: New York, the Bravo reality show, isn't any fun anymore.  The millions have gone as sky high as the buildings.  The real estate and the people who buy it are way too "special" -- even for a natural voyeur like me.

New York is going the way of Venice and other "trophy" cities: only affordable for global oligarchs and other billionaires who often don't even live there but touch down every once in awhile and boast of the precious address.

So where do the squeezed out New Yorkers -- especially the creatives --  go?  Brooklyn has been mined, as have Harlem and Queens.  Some are in eastern Pennsylvania.  Others are snapping up depressed real estate as far away as Detroit.

Bill says many are coming up the Hudson River to Kingston, New York, where he has his office.  It is a delightful little town.  I especially liked the big comfortable independent book store and the little pizza place next door.  Delicious!

Artists always seem to find a way.  Just like Bill and Elsa.  They landed in wonderful Woodstock after their cross country adventure last summer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Keeping Them in Mind

When your family lives elsewhere it's crucial to have an image of where they are. The house, the rooms, the yard, the road.  A place to put their faces.  This helps to keep them in your mind and heart.  I realized this upon returning from a visit to upstate New York, where Bill, Elsa, Natalie and Diego moved last summer from Los Angeles.  The gap in imagining their surroundings was stressful.  Yes, mental pictures are important.

So, how was Woodstock?  Lots of t-shirts, jeans, sandals, beards, and everything organic.  No chain stores, malls, fast food, or tall buildings.  Gorgeous trees everywhere.  Two-lane roads.  It's so appropriate that the Grateful Dead grabbed the headlines while I was there.

I loved the week in Woodstock territory.  And, the view from the 26th floor looked good upon my return.