Thursday March 22, 2018

I came upon this realization today. Well it’s not really so much a realization as it is a theory. Well it’s not maybe so much a theory as it perhaps was an epiphany. ‘Haven’t had one of those since Woodstock. (grin) Most every realization, theory or epiphany that I consider huge happened in those formative high school and collegiate years when my brain was ever-expanding. So you can imagine how happy I was! I actually had a coherent thought today.

And this may be something one might not agree with but this whole, “no man is an island,” concept and the vast de-familiarization that has been occurring with the advent of smart devices sort of makes us all “islands unto ourselves.” No? So that having been said, the realization I’m speaking of may actually be old news to some. Not really a theory either. But an epiphany? Well, for people who are old enough to remember simpler times, perhaps. When there wasn’t 7 billion people living on the planet. Think in terms of rural America, small town and how we address one another.

Yup. That’s it. If you’ll notice most folks don’t use people’s first names anymore. Even after meeting them. If you have occasion to, I’d imagine, in business or intimate social settings using a person’t first name may not feel awkward or disingenuous. “Pete over there looks like he ordered the liver and onions. I’ll have that, too.” In those sorts of situations, it works, usually. But nine times out of ten, we all seemed to have stopped using folk’s first names when speaking directly to them. That’s half of my epiphany.

The other half revolves around surnames or last names. (Beside that point, which I’ll get to in a minute, no one really uses the word, “surname”, anymore. I recently had someone ask me, “What was that word you just used?” And I had to explain, “surname.”) Last names – it seems to me – are strictly used in very specific settings. Locker rooms, police precincts, and certain business or social situations.

“Peterson over there was the first responder.”

“Jablonski’s running the pool this week.”

“Ask Blankenship. He saw the whole thing happen from start to finish.”

It’s a definite phenomenon to me how using last names came about and why that persists in certain circles. But the phenomenon and epiphany of using both names together, particularly when telling a story and particularly in more small town or rural environments or even close knit settings is something that’s completely lost and non-existant during the normal course of conversation in todays’s world. Again, unless you’re introducing one person to another in a business setting. Think of the last garden party, or bar you may have happened to be in when someone introduced you to someone else. First name.

“This is my friend, Gerard. He goes by Jerry.”

No last name.

Introductions at work.

“Phil Dungworth? Rob Smedley. This is, ‘THE’ Rob that we all talk to from our Portland office who’s come to spend a day with us today.”

(Ohhh, that “Rob! Right. He’s just one of fifty voices I speak to every day,” you think to yourself. Then, when the dude opens his mouth to say hi and how nice it is to meet you – you try to remember if he’s that guy keeps calling and saying that their email is down again in Portland day after day after day.)

See? Casual on the phone in business. First name. But both names together for a business introduction.

Tell an old college football story. Having grown up in a college town, for example.

“Steve Shroeder’s on my left. Dan Cressida’s on my right and they hike the ball.”

(Now the last name only.)

“Shroeder and Cressida do the zig zag right in front of me grab Olmstead, their quarterback, one on one side and the other on the other. I salad tongs him around the waist. ‘Next thing you know the three of us are at the bottom of a pile of guys eight high. Smithens, Vernblaut, Kovach are yelling. Poor Olmstead’s got the wind knocked out of him and they have to wheel him off the field. Our only sack that season. We sucked that year.”

Sports stories and bragging rights, usually. Last names.

“Lee Tobin was our coach at the time and well, he went on to Brigham Young about three years later.”

I noticed we had that in the circles I traveled in when I worked at the grain exchange downtown all those years. So much so, that the first name blended into the last. One was seldom used without the other. At times, the last name only. But mostly both first and last together. Familiarity. Not mixing up multiple Jimmys, Dannys or Billys. Small town. Both names.

“Stubyers bought the Dec for Continental. (Pronounced, “deece.”) Johnlinn sold it to him. He was Staley.”

Both names. Oneword. Teachers in elementary or high school did that, too.

But, it seems, no one uses both names like that anymore. You’re either a guy or a dude or someone completely inconsequential to a story.

That’s how I knew Nick Nolte was from Iowa when Marc Maron recently interviewed him on Maron’s, WTF podcast.

“Gavin Eberhardt was a guy at that little storefront theater in those days. he tore tickets. Swept the proscenium before and after shows. Later, Jimmy Bretherton, Mitch Debois and Rob Eagen came into our little theater group and well, you know where their careers went. They’re big stars now.”

(You don’t know who these people are. But the storyteller does and he wants you to know them too!)

No one talks like that anymore.

The rift technology creates between people.

What are you going to do, dude?




Word Count: 1000. Post #1218


Tuesday March 20, 2018

Distance not only
gives nostalgia, but
perspective and maybe

— Robert Morgan

P.L. Travers and Walt Disney clashed when it came to her work, Mary Poppins. The strong, dependable figure that perhaps can be relied on by a child. Having never read Mrs Travers’s books I’m not familiar with any other interpretation than the one in the 1964 Walt Disney movie. As the recent movie, Saving Mr. Banks, showed the cantankerous Mrs. Travers did not make bringing her literary creation, Mary Poppins to life in a Walt Disney movie easy for the man. Disney actually courted Travers for twenty years prior to the Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke movie trying to convince the author to allow the movie to be made. I find the relationship between Travers and Disney depicted in Saving Mr. Banks a paradox because of how contentious Mrs. Travers was portrayed. A true opposing spirit.

I can’t say I have any qualifications whatsoever – for starters – that makes me any sort of critic of the work, either the books or the movie as I have never read P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins books. Still, I remain unqualified to critique either the 1964 Disney movie nor the 2013 movie based on the Disney / Travers negotiations. The credentials I do carry are my curiosity and my journeyman status as student of human behavior. Another interest of mine is what can only be called an inordinate preoccupation with what can only be called, lovingly, “nostalgia.” And the reason I call a thing, nostalgia rather than, “history” is for my affection for the word. History is something you learn in school. Nostalgia is and was a small shop I used to visit on Lawrence Avenue growing up that essentially housed comic books but had a million other dusty things in it that sprang from popular culture of the past.

As an eleven or twelve year old, walking into Joe Sarno’s Nostalgia Shop was tantamount to walking into, “the past.” Little Orphan Annie decoder rings, tin robots whose painted finish had long faded, presidential campaign buttons, movie posters, board games, etc. A vast cachet of old comic books, trinkets and novelties preserving the past, connecting those unassuming few who knew these items from their own childhood (and would wander into the shop to relive the past) to those curious children of the universe – such as myself – craving connections to that and any other pasts that we could grasp back to and see, touch, feel and experience for ourselves in present time.

Such was also the case in J. Fred McDonald’s class at Northeastern Illinois University where the texts were self-authored books, “Touch That Dial” and “Blacks on White TV” both which I still have somewhere in a box. Nostalgia. We lost both Sarno and McDonald in the New Millenium. Which is as, perhaps, they would have wanted as small boys: to live into the 21st century. But, sad as I am to have recently googled them both and found they had both passed, my hope is that they both are surrounded by the historical “touchstones” of nostalgia that attracted each of these great men to things of the past. I have taken some flack myself for perhaps documenting experiences, stories, and remembrances in this very blog but like P.L. Travers, I think I am very happy with Spare Change and Paradigms (like Mary Poppins) to be whatever it is without doing anything with it. Perhaps this archive is all it needs to be – whatever that is. But mostly, “here.”

I’ve also had opposing spirits wanting to change my original concept into something collaborative. Much like Disney wanted with the Travers’s work, Poppins. I’ve turned that idea away on at least one major occasion. And the blog endures. And it abides. It likes being what it is for now. However inconsquential. However maudlin. However identity crises stricken. It is the very fact that this depository contains whatever I want it to on any given day that makes this space, once called by my denied collaborator, Mike’s Unibomber Manifesto. I defy anyone to go through the thirteen years of blog posts and find anything in here that’s political, fanatical, sexual, religious or sports related. I bet there may be as few as one article per each one of those topic areas. I pride myself on that.

Because one thing a journeyman fan of human behavior and motivations knows best is how being curious about all that – including the past – turns me on. In knowing each day, better, who I am, while throwing some attention on the past – I can better decide who I will ultimately become and whom those truly are around me. No? In the words of Dennis Miller, “Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.” Such are the serpentine-like thoughts deposited in Spare Change and Paradigms today.



Word Count: 811. Post # 1217

Monday March 11, 2018

It cannot be overstated exactly how Chicago radio in the late seventies, eighties and nineties influenced, sated and entertained rock-starved, comedy-starved listeners by and large throughout their entire days, evenings and nights. perhaps those allowed to listen to the radio at work were the luckiest. But rest assured, prime-time listening as least as far as 97.9 FM, WLUP was concerned was all day long. This talented FM talk / rock radio line-up – as the pundits have been recently saying – shall not pass this way again. Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, Kevin Matthews, Jonathon Brandmeier, Buzz Kilman, Danny Bonaduce, and a variety of other on-air personalities whom voiced sports, weather and traffic and helped to permeate the WLUP-FM airwaves, essentially made the station this sort of, “audio companion, rock record spinning, stand-up comedian showcasing clearinghouse” that most everyone of a certain rebellious age listened to during those, by today’s standards, long forgotten years.

Some of the other voices were not just merely those soft-spoken announcers / deejays who knew what being a fan of rock and roll meant and knew what being a fan of FM rock radio meant. But rather, many were extremely well versed in the history of the bands they showcased and these evening and overnight programs on WLUP balanced nicely against the gonzo, in-your-face, shock-jock comedy of their daylight colleagues. Bobby Skafish, Matt Bizby, Wendy Snyder, Patty Haze among others come to mind as the hosts of such programming. Each in their own right peddling to the rock masses the auditory fixes they craved most, musically.

The media reviewers and columnists recently, including Robert Feder and Richard Roeper, have stated in their blogs and columns exactly how influential these radio voices were to the listening public for many years in Chicago not for the sake of nostalgia but because WLUP-FM has changed over the weekend from rock and roll music to Christian programming. The programming broadcast across that radio band at the 97.9FM frequency was irrevocably changed over the weekend from what it once was, now a distant memory, to what it is now and will remain: Christian rock – is how it has been described.

I suppose during those transitional years of flower children of the sixties and the Brady Bunch era of the seventies, then on to the eighties and early nineties, most if not all of the Chicagoland consumers of radio programming were well versed in the small but diverse choices for radio and music entertainment at the time and a lot of the people my age now, then, were dialed in consistently to WLUP just as our parents were dialed into WGN for the programming that appealed to them. Consequently, those two differing radio programming styles went head to head in those early WLUP years as something of an anomaly to our parents. WLUP was not your parent’s WGN by any stretch of the imagination. And we loved it! Our music. Our personalities that spoke to, “us.” And the promotional live remotes, telephone pranks, on-air listener games and competitions and give-aways to our favorite rock concerts in the area.

The “Loop,” as they were called, was the grandaddy of them all. And in this media landscape of HD, subscription, satellite, audio-on-demand, down-loadable programming, the giddiness and immediacy of, “never knowing what you might hear (when you dialed in) but you knew it will be funny and great,” will never come again. And that’s a shame for “current radio listeners”, if such a thing even exists anymore. WLUP existed once. And everyone I knew was listening at that time, all the time, every day in Chicago. Thank God for that. Can’t imagine my teens, twenties and early thirties without my Chicagoland radio heroes. As sports broadcaster Bruce Wolf (Chet Chitchat) was quick to point out on the bittersweet sendoff of “The Loop” on the Steve Dahl simulcast on WLS 890AM and WLUP 97.9 FM on Friday, the Jonathon Brandmeier slogan of, “We’re not leavin’ ‘til we’re heavin’,” is being replaced with the slogan, “We’re not leavin’, ‘til we’re believin’.”

Out with the old and in with the new.

Christian rock.

Out of any change that may have ever happened to The Loop, that would have been the last format change I would have ever guessed.

But it’s appropos, I guess.

Heathens have to repent sometime?




Word Count: 747. Post #: 1216

Thursday March 08, 2018

Howling at the Moon #1,953

It’s not an easy thing watching your life go by and feeling like a loser because you’re out of work and looking for a job. It is the most undignified, soul-crushing experience one might have to go through. Particularly if one is beyond the age of one starting out in the work force as a newbie. Add to that the wisdom that supposedly comes from having reached a measure of age where one’s future perhaps might be something of a coast to the finish line rather than the long road ahead.

When I was a boy, I saw that road and the length of it and wondered and hoped and dreamed my life would be this, “thing,” as that of or similar to most people’s lives I saw around and about me. Two point five children. Picket fence. Earning enough to buy a home. Fighting the good fight, as the Rush song goes. A job I was proud of. Side by side with a spouse or mate. A household. Active in my church and community perhaps, time allowing? Now at fifty-six, the dreams of “how” I’d achieve all those things trampled on by circumstance and the luck of the draw. The throughput of my life, the people I encountered, the sheer effort and energy exerted. Not enough.

This is not a cry for help nor is it a plea for sympathy. It is the detail of my life. 10 years ago this year, 2018, the economic bubble having reared its ugly head and having a job with the same firm of twenty-one years absorbed and discontinued, I set myself upon the road they gave me. A small severance package they told me was generous. An out-sourcing management company where with whom I updated my resume, sat in on pep-talks and met a man, seated right next to me, who began and was partnered to a real estate development company who ultimately chose to trim their fat and part company with the man.

I sat next to him in one of the classes I was attending and could not believe the story of what development projects this man had been party to in his telling the class about himself. The numbers he threw out when describing his previous job and company, their earnings and profits rivaled anything I had ever heard bandied about in my wonderful world of commodities in office or at meetings I attended or dinner parties I was invited to. He was not a poor man. And yet his company offered him this three month package attending workshops and meetings and seeking employment; basically having an office to come to, as many of us were accustomed to having before we all were let go.

Turns out not only was I not the only one that the “bubble” imposed itself upon but also too, that no one from any tax bracket was immune.

Numbers as large as this gentleman was throwing around (detailing some of the particulars about the properties he had been involved in developing) never seemed to intimidate me unless they attacked me personally at my previous job. In other words, my measure of an individual was not based on the dollar sign they perhaps stood in front of but rather the moral code or ethic they stood behind.

I felt the gravity of each individual futures trade I checked even though the people trading those contracts felt the gravity much much less than I. I knew the value of a thousand lot in dollars and cents and how much a quarter cent error on something that large would cost our company so I fought with other trade checkers – tooth and nail – to ensure that was was supposed to have happened between brokers in pits was illustrated precisely by the accompanying paperwork and account balances. The rush, rush, rush was key. But the correctness was too. And this was pretty much not a big deal to any of the links in the futures trade chain from customer / hedger to trader to computer operator keypunching the trades into a computer nor the broker assistants or trade checkers. But each and every one was a big deal to me – because this was, “my job.”

Wealth and prosperity did not have quite the same effect on me as others during my days rubbing elbows with the muckety mucks. I saw the difference between my life and theirs. But my version of, “covet” was only from the standpoint that I’d love to be able to say the same things, too.

I always thought a prosperous and successful life making money at a job I loved was going to be the, “thing.” – through all of that, from college to this commodity gig. I thought less so during my search for work for nine months in between the trading pits and the casino job during that bubble.

Since losing the casino gig and taking a job at a local call center, I find all the hopes, dreams, barometers of success slipping away in importance for me and am finding I really don’t care anymore. The call center employment did not pan out for me to make it to their production floor customer service area. Unemployed again. Second time in my adult life.

I have no idea what I’m going to do.

I have spent as much time as as possible between the end of that last job and today researching, picking and choosing something I think I could manage or handle at this late stage in life.

The railing of the landing on the second floor of my sister’s home illustrates my efforts proving unsuccessful thus far.

So here I am again. Documenting. Archiving. Howling at the moon sounding more like bellyaching than recounting the details of my life. If this archive, this blog, platform is to be honest. Let it be just that – good or bad.

Being here again, sucks!

Hopefully, this too shall pass.


Word Count: 1009. Post # 1215

Saturday March 3, 2018

So once you get through the whole Dan Akroyd, Eddie Murphy, Trading Places explanation about cardboard trading cards, buy side, blue, red side, sell, blah, blah, blah and telling them the scene in the bathroom just before the opening clang bing bong of the opening trading bell was pretty much the way it was. And that many a morning your top step bean guy guy was popping TUMS and that guy? Right over there? He had the three Bloody Mary breakfast burps going full force – IN YOUR FACE – when you asked him who sold the wheat on the open and after relating how in the corn you were summarily called a jerk, an asshole and were accused of being a, “rookie” even though you had been there at that point every single weekday of your life for the last nineteen years is about the time the person you’re telling this story to says, “How did you guys do it? Every day, every day?”

And you want to strangle them. (Like sometimes you felt someone would do to you or sometimes you felt like doing, too!) But, no. You step back. Take a deep breath. Realize it’s 2018 and you’ve been gone since The Bubble of 2008 and there’s no reason to respond from the depths of your loins and scream bloody freaking murder at ANYONE! Nope. You don’t need to shake a bad feeling off in the moment and get it off your chest anymore. There aren’t any more reasons to respond in a billionth of a second to some hot shot kid from Wheaton or Wilmette or Kenilworth or Glencoe, Highland Park or Evanston.

This is a kid from Schaumburg who’s parents raised him with those particpation awards telling him how special he is and that the world won’t swallow him whole and he’ll never meet grizzled Joe Trader who’ll slice him a new one for coming into the wrong section of the trading pit and if he plays his cards right and gets that Criminal Justice Associate’s he can settle into a nice patrolman position in Bartlett or Streamwood and live a quiet, decent, well-lived position and life if he or she just stays out of harm’s way.

Which is fine.

But those days of people spitting in your face as you hand deliver a 25 lot wheat order to ABC, firm 123 or VAL or WIN working for the Duke Brothers are OVER. O. V. E. R.!!! Over! Very few dinosaurs exist on trading floors anymore. That snatch and grab as you’re walking off the floor, jerking you around and you’re face to face with either the guy saying, “Go get yourself a cheeseburger and sorry about earlier”, and stuffing a $20.00 into your trading smock pocket. Or the same scenario on your way to the elevator to the office and the same dude, two weeks ago, says, “You know I was in the middle of a thousand lot for Dennis, right? Then why did you ask me who drove the Dec up when I stand in the March?” and gives you one of those Leroy Jethro Gibbs slaps up side your head. No. That slack-jawed Wilmette kid who asked you how you did it, has no idea why you’re riled up telling him trading floor stories – has no idea what you’re talking about and all you can think about is how he’ll never know what hard work is in his life.

You then realize that you’re the dinosaur.

And no one understands the benefit of that pressure. The education you received from the best and kindest of humankind all the way down to the very lowest of the low we as humans can potentially exhibit toward each other – when money is on the line. The zenith and nadir, high and low, the bi-polar aspect of the insanity is not something that can easily be described and for anyone who never saw it or was never smeared all up against its sweaty visage – could ever possibly know what life was like at The Chicago Board of Trade before computers. Being a clerk could never be as hard as trading. We had our own issues. The checking of the trades in the pit during trade hours and the pre-trading checking of trades before the morning bell rang in the trade checking area. An animal all its own. But we had our share of pressure. Guilt. Shame. Stress. We had our cross to bear down there, too. So to make a long story longer than it should be:

I don’t know how we did it. But we did.

Before computers.



Word Count: 795. Post # 1214


Thursday March 1, 2018

I was all over the social network last night on my, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook calling tonight’s episode of The X Files, the “best episode ever.” Were this 1996 or 1997 I would probably not have been blogging that. I certainly would not have used a phrase, like “all over my social network”. Twenty years ago that would have been a foreign language phrase and anachronistic, but now, “all over my social network” is almost certainly a tacit and accepted compulsion. The reason I am calling last night’s X Files the best episode ever is for a lot of reasons. So without further ado, allow me to do another thing that technology created and spoil the heck out of this episode. That’s right. Spoilers follow. So if you don’t want to know what happened in this season eleven, episode seven of The X Files, click away now and if you’re staying, join me in celebrating my top 1,679 reasons this is the best episode ever.

Long before The X Files caught on as this harbinger of what is to come insofar as government’s impeding on our personal lives, or conspiracy theory, or biological, chemical or genetic warfare, there was Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the two characters central to the fictional drama that the Fox Network hung it’s hat upon. The brilliant FBI investigator / profiler with a bent for researching, finding, exploring and attempting to uncover paranormal phenomenon and uncovering, perhaps, the government’s role in shelving the truth of such things. Sort of like the reporter who followed Bill Bixby around in The Incredible Hulk, knew something was up but always seemed to be one step short of Dr. David Banner turning green or the Hulk turning back into Banner.

Much in the same way actual hard evidence that any actual thing that Mulder and Scully ever investigated (in the eleven year run of the television program) could be unequivocally proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. They always came up short. Bupkiss. Nothing. No proof. Zero. Nada. Except the “what” they experienced and “how” they experienced it. Okay, in the movie, Fight the Future, in all fairness, Scully did find a honeybee. But since that movie was released, they have almost become extinct in North America. Co-inky dink? I think not! On cable we’ve received shows on Haunted Houses, finding Bigfoot, documentaries and programs on the staged moon landing, the significance of Area 51 and its cover-up, and finally cable programs on UFO sighting too numerous to even mention. Zero coincidence. All these shows and programs no doubt were created due to the influence of, “The X Files”.

So after some two hundred and fifty hours of television, including the films, out of all the episodes, Monsters of the Week, government conspiracies, paranormal activities, etc. – saying this is the best episode ever is saying a mouthful! What wasn’t a mouthful and noticeably absent from last night’s X Files was dialogue. Another thing about the plot was how modern technology was in large part responsible for that lack of dialogue and the other thing was how digitally through wifi certain technology (silently) speak to each other and try and steer our lives to do it’s bidding. The episode opens with Mulder and Scully seated at the pristine counter top of a swanky Japanese restaurant completely empty except for them and their interaction with the restaurant’s automated, smart service.

By the end of the episode it’s clear how intrusive, all-pervasive and life-threatening it may become to ignore our social network and its recommendations. All allowed to effect the other, the episode warns that someday soon our smart devices, home security systems, robotic vacuum cleaners and robotic automobiles may silently speak to each other through wifi and gang up on us in a strange and horrific way if we do not do their bidding.

Ultimately, for fans of The X Files, the episode comes back around to a satisfying ending to Mulder and Scully’s technological nightmare I won’t spoil for you. (Also I won’t spoil the humor and curiosity of one particular technological device owned by Scully. And I’m not talking about her Roomba here.) So combining all of the above?

Best episode ever.



Word Count: 724. Post # 1213

Wednesday February 28, 2018

DATELINE: Present-Day. Albany Park, Chicago. A tourist-y man and woman walk into one of those “last-of-a-dying breed” mom and pop hotdog stands on the North-side of Chicago named, “George’s.” They are usually on the first floor of any three-story, corner apartment building in any neighborhood west of Lake Michigan and the immediate smell of steamy, fast food goodness hits you in the face on any, pick-a-day-of-the-week you might happen to walk in there.

The boss stands behind the counter and a young man, college-aged is working, slicing the gyro meat on a spit, deep fryer and is currently flipping burgers on a flat top grill. Tom Skilling is doing the weather on a mid-day new broadcast on a deep tube television positioned overhead, near the door to the employee area – back-of-house – adjacent to the long counter top seating area in front of the grill. He lays down a bar towel on the counter and says, to the tourist-y man and woman walking in.


The man and woman look at the billboard menu behind and above the grilling area covering the vents and exhaust fans.

“Hey,” says the man. “We’re not from here. Well, she is. I’m not. Lunchtime. Looking for some Philly food. Cheesesteaks?”

“We’ll make you whatever you want. But that’s not what you want.”

“I don’t want a Philly cheesesteak?”

“Listen. You ever watch them cooking shows?”


“Do you think for a minute anything they’re showing you is even remotely good for you?”

“No. But a Philly Cheesesteak’s delicious.”

“First time in Chicago?”


“You smell that deep fryer?”


“I take special pride. . . Jimmy! Put together an Eyetalian Beef, sweet and hot, dipped with some of them fries for me, k? Run that upstairs to Ma for me. I’m going to give you a sammich we’re known for – here – sort of like your Philly in Philidelphia. . . ., he says eyeing the Italian Beef Sandwich as if it could cure the common cold.

“How about a New York-style hotdog?”, says the tourist-y man.

“We don’t do doze over by here. We have something called a, ‘Shih-cahhhhh-go style dog.’”

“What’s the difference?”

“That’s what I say! What’s the difference? An Eyetalian beef or a Chicago style dog. Either one of those. You can’t lose. Ours is actually healthier than New York. Mustard, kraut and onions? Pffft! We go relish, or pickle-lilly. Green stuff. Good for you. A little sweet. Onion chopped so fine. Mmmm! Sport peppers. One quartered dill pickle. Length-wise. Maybe chopped tomato. Maybe not. A little mustard. A little celery salt. All healthy. Good for you. And Vienna hotdogs!”

“From Germany?”, the tourist-y man says excitedly.

“No, it’s an all beef frank made by a famous company we have here named, ‘Vienna.’ Best dog in the entire world, I’d say.”

“You really know your stuff! And healthy, huh?”

[ BURP! ] “. . .as the day is long. . .” You get one for the little lady there and you snap off a pic to your social network and say you ate it here, I’ll knock off ten percent!”

“Deal! Honey you wanna try one of those Italian beefs?”


“Fries with that? We fresh cut them. See? All healthy.”



“No ice.”

“Gotcha. Dog for you, sir?”

“Hell, yes.”

I don’t know why this entered my brain this morning but it did. Growing up in Chicago there was a place at Montrose and Lawndale named, “George’s.” Another place called, “Byrons,” One in the neighborhood we moved to that summer between sophomore year and junior year named, “Fantastik’s.” All three of these places (and many more I can’t recall right now) did fast foods, fast, fresh, hot and all served the same things. Dog, fries, cheeseburgers, beefs, gyros, maybe cheese sticks, maybe mushrooms, whatever. Basic, hot fresh, fast food.

Since moving out to Machesney Park in July of 2016 I have not found a lot of good, solid places like George’s or Byrons or Fantastiks. (I’m not talking Portillo’s here. That’s a local chain that delivers nationally.) I guess the mom and pop hot dog stands are a thing of the past. And something I’m not only missing from my childhood, but, too, something I’m missing as far as a mid-day snack fix, sort of place. My metabolism can’t work through a quick beef, fry and Coke as quickly as it once did. (In those days, I’d be hungry an hour later.) Or a quick dog, fry and a Coke and you’re on your way. Hungrier than usual? A cheeseburger. Or a gyro, fry and a Coke, then. And you’re off! Running errands, what have you. Going to visit the folks or family in the ‘burbs.

Dang, I miss places like that!



Word Count: 833. Post #: 1212