Monday, January 31, 2011


Before reading this post you must accept the following disclaimer. Please read the disclaimer, close your eyes and nod to confirm and acknowledge:

I acknowledge whereby reading said blog entry I hereby indemnify said author from any and all thoughts, accusations or premonitions of being anything less than a man’s man.

I certify said author loves to wrestle farm animals, brush his teeth with Johnnie Walker Red, roll his own cigarettes and watch MMA marathons. In fact, said author would rather sit through a symposium on global affairs with “The Situation” and Paris Hilton than watch one minute of Lifetime or the Oprah network.

Thank you.

I hate my clothes.

Not all of my clothes, not all of the time, but I hate my clothes.

I go into the closet each morning and try to fill out the lineup card.  Suits, ties, shirts.  In my next life I'm coming up with garanimals menswear.

A couple of suits are designated strictly for “spot start and long relief.” Don't like 'em, and I'm not sure how they got there.  Most times when I wear them I go ahead and pile on with an "emergency call up tie" and "designated for assignment" shirt.

I don't part with clothes.  Some are icons.  And if it was good enough for the Carter administration it's bound to come back. 

I once owned a suit for nearly 20 years that despite my best efforts always looked presentable, on the outside.  My Rasputin suit.  On the inside it looked like an episode of “Seamstress Gone Wild.”

I don't part with clothes.  Rock bottom was when my daughter, then nine, turned to me at a hockey game and asked “How long have you had that shirt?”  Think break dancing, then add a few years. 

I hate to shop (guy + no shop = redundant).  I'd rather run from a tornado in high heels. 

I've been shopping with the wife.  Twice.  Each time, the salesperson initially turned bug eyed with a joyful, "I just broke the bank" look,  picturing Taina as Gunther Gebel-Williams and me as the hapless lion. 

We all nodded in agreement for a few minutes until things quickly deteriorated.  My problem is that I am the most amenable shopper on earth until I am left to make a decision, at which point I breathe fire and we're forced to add the store to our list of "places we can never return."  

So I learned.

I’ve evolved, and as they say, the only normal people are the ones we don't know very well. 

I use a frames for my posters instead of tape.  I drink from a glass instead of swigging from the bottle.  

And I use duct tape and nod at department stores.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blaze Orange of Glory

Only in Chicago.

Only in Chicago could a visit by Chinese President Hu (Hu's on first?) Jinato be upstaged by Mike Ditka.

Front page news on this frigid Friday is Da Bears, not Da Prez.

We interrupt the earth's rotation for an important announcement.  Ditka speaks, and he (still) hates Green Bay. Spits green and gold, he hates them so much. 

It's personal.  The cheese fiends are coming.  Win or go home. 

I never saw it coming.  In August I thought the Bears would be lucky to win 6 games, their offensive line exactly that, offensive. 

Who knew.  Luck, as they say, is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.  Or better yet, when you play in the inferior conference and have Superman returning kicks.  Devin Hester is indeed ridiculous.  Having a 20 yard head start (if Hester hasn't already scored) makes up for a lot D-league talent. 

It's personal.  Don't like the Packers.  Growing up they were mediocre, just like the Bears.  But they were our team, our Bears.  We gathered on the playground with our Walter Payton iron-ons and orange wristbands.  A 7-7 season was cause for a parade. 

John Brockington?  Chester Marcol?  The Packers were harmless, the Bears more like puppies.

It didn't get nasty until the 80s, when Ditka and Forrest Gregg came along. 

Chuck Cecil.  Mark Lee.  And Charles Martin, who body slammed Jim McMahon like an empty beer bottle.

Bears-Packers is the NFL's oldest rivalry, dating back to 1921.  Over 90 years, but never a game with so much at stake.  The Halas trophy, then the Lombardi trophy.

Win or lose, we'll head back to work in one of the world's great cities, worthy of foreign dignitaries. 

Packer fans? They'll still have stock car races and fish boils. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Vulnerable Place

I found myself with a heavy heart over the past few days. 

My heart goes out to the victims of the Arizona shooting and their families.

My thoughts keep coming back to mental health.   The health of our families and friends. 

Most of us have experienced at some level the pain of mental illness, and the helplessness that often comes with it. 

We are learning more about the shooter, clearly a sick individual. 

And a son.  And neighbor.  And classmate, co-worker and friend.

Estimates are that 10% of our population is on anti-depressants.  And how many of the remaining 90% should be?  How many people on the subway could use meds to "take the edge off" but go untreated?

Our country has changed, and few (hopefully) would want us to go back to institutionalizing across the board.  We're certainly more open about mental health.

But mental health is hardly a political priority.  As budgets bleed, facilities close or lose staff.  

So many of us are teetering. 

We don't know much, if anything, about the shooter's parents or how he was raised. 

I keep coming back to shows like "Intervention" or "Celebrity Rehab."  Shows so predictable in many ways. 

An idyllic childhood.  Smiling pictures in a football uniform or princess dress.

Then a dark secret, and addiction gradually sets in.

Family and friends try for years to intercede.  Glimmers of hope.  Fleeting glimmers.  Helplessness.

If you haven't read Beautiful Boy by David Sheff I highly recommend it.  As a parent I found it both inspirational and terrifying. 

Godspeed to us all.