Friday, December 11, 2009


I think in some ways I'm relearning who I am. I was an expert at knowing exactly who I was when I was really sick. When my body and mind were at their absolute bottom. I knew what made me happy. I knew what I wanted. I actually had things about me that made me unique and interesting. I may have been horribly sick behind closed doors, but outside them I was worth a second glance. I never ever thought a few years could drastically affect everything following them. Here I thought, at the time, that getting sick was the worst. Little did I know that everything after would be hell.

In some ways I let myself backslide into the laziness of disease. Degenerate longer than what was necessary. I got comfortable in it. Who the hell am I when I'm not sick? Who the hell am I at 22 in relation to 16? Kinda sick, residual sick? I am a has been before I was ever a been. I’m so lucky they tell me. I smile and nod. I am lucky. So fucking lucky. They believe me. That’s all that matters.

It's leaving me anxious. Nervous. I find myself second guessing and I never ever would’ve done it before. I find myself sans confidence, and it was never like that. Arriving at this 180 I gave up all my self power. You know it's bad when I start to bore myself. Maybe it’s Munchhausen or Stockholm or maybe just plain fucking crazy.
That's the pro and con here. I'm always so observant about everything, including myself. Why didn't I stop myself? Slam the breaks? It's hard sometimes to filter what's coming through the lenses. To break up everyone from myself. From the external from the internal. I let the combo of falling into the routine of post-illness and my lack of focus steer me to this current point. Too bad I don’t know how to turn around or keep going forward.


Chicago offers so many different gay bars in a variety of different neighborhoods. Gay visitors to the city invariably head first to the area of Chicago’s Lakeview and Wrigleyville neighborhoods known as Boystown.

What makes a Boystown bar-crawl so easy is that 99% of the bars run down about a ½ mile stretch of North Halsted Street. Beginning at the southernmost bar and running north, this is Boystown U.S.A.

Spin, located at the corner of Halsted and Belmont, is a dance bar that attracts mainly a younger crowd. Being 42, I’ve only been inside Spin because it’s the place that participants in the annual Halloween Costume Parade register. This is definitely an under-30 crowd.

Sidetracks, at 3349 N. Halsted, is a multi-room, multi-level video bar. They have theme nights like Show Tunes on Mondays, as well as comedy nights and retro music theme nights. In the summer, there’s a relatively new roof deck. Sidetracks is not for claustrophobes – the bar is usually packed.

Roscoe’s, at 3356 N. Halsted, is what TV’s Cheers bar would be if Norm and Cliff were 28, hot, and gay. At times a stand-and-model video bar, there’s also dancing in the back room at night. Roscoe’s can get as crowded as Sidetracks but never feels as closed-in because the bar’s entire “east wall” is glass window looking onto Halsted.

Cocktail, at 3359 N. Halsted, is directly across the street from Roscoe’s – you can see Cocktail if you look out the front windows of Roscoe’s. Often Cocktail gets the run off of people from Roscoe’s. Cocktail has one unique thing to offer – go-go boys.

Buck’s, at 3349 N. Halsted, gets gays of all sexes, shapes, and sizes. The walls are adorned with the heads of real bucks but if that scares you, in the summer, there’s a surprisingly tranquil and festive back patio with its own bar.

Hydrate, at 3458 N. Halsted, is a late night dance club. They get some of the better known national DJs. During the week, the bar has teamed up with some interesting drag performers. Recently, they started a manicure special on Tuesday nights. Hydrate is open late typically till 4 AM.

Little Jim’s, at 3501 N. Halsted, is the neighborhood seedy bar. It’s where you go after everyplace else is closed and you just want to seal the deal and go home. They’re open nightly till 4 AM and 5 AM on weekends. The bar attracts all kinds – mainly men.
There’s always one TV screen dedicated to gay porn. They recently got a digital jukebox which is a major improvement over the old jukebox’s same-old never changing offerings.

Cellblock, at 3702 N. Halsted, is Boystown’s leather bar. It is not as hard core as the leather venues further north like the Eagle and Touché. But recently, they reopened “the Yard” – which is essentially their backroom, so that’s a good sign for the depraved. To get into the back room – open on weekends only – you need to wear a major item of leather. Don’t worry if you don’t own chaps – a leather vest will do (a leather jacket will not however).

Bobby Loves, at 3729 N. Halsted, is – I’m told – where people go who are serious about drinking and getting a bang for their buck. The bar looks like the type of place a lounge singer named Bobby Love might perform but it is a no-attitude environment. They have fun karaoke nights.

North End, at 3733 N. Halsted, is a gay sports bar. Sure there’s karaoke, but there’s a whole room of pool tables, dart boards, and video games and usually a sporting event of some kind on the tube.

All along the way, you’ll find more interesting gay destinations. Predominantly gay restaurants/bars X/O (owned by Hydrate’s owners), Kit Kat Club and Cornelia’s all combine upscale fare with the gay bar environment. And no trip to Boystown is complete without a sojourn to Steamworks, they Disney World of bathhouses. A block off Halsted and you’ll find country-bar and late-night dance club Charlie’s as well as neighborhood bar The Closet – both on Broadway.

Awesome Article!

I found this online while looking up stuff about the 1893 World’s Fair.
“A group of undergraduates at the University has come into contact with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, launching the first archaeological dig of the famed Chicago fair site in Jackson Park. “When I came to Chicago, I didn’t know much about the fair, but this has been a really interesting way to find out more about it,” said John Mullen, a fourth-year student and part of a 20-member class on urban archaeology. “The fair had a huge impact, not only on Chicago, but also on the world, with all the new things that were introduced. “Now, with Chicago vying for the Olympics, it’s like Chicago is trying again to get that kind of prominence,” he said as he sifted small clods of dirt through a wire-mesh screen while looking for artifacts. Some interesting items have quickly appeared through the careful eyes of the student archaeologists and their teachers. As Mullen sifted through the dirt reclaimed from a nearby pit, or excavation unit, he found pieces of white plaster that may have covered the walls of the Michigan or Ohio state buildings, one of the structures that probably sat where he and a student team were digging.
The plaster could be evidence of the White City, whose memory largely remains otherwise preserved in photographs and chronicles. Students in the College are conducting the dig, which began in early April as part of the new Chicago Studies program offered in the College. They are taking a class with Rebecca Graff, a graduate student specializing in American urban archaeology. Graff is writing her dissertation on 19th-century American habits of tourism and consumption based on the World’s Columbian Exposition. Although they probably won’t uncover any spectacular artifacts as they probe the grounds, the students are uncovering material that could provide new clues about life in late 19th-century Chicago. Besides plaster, students have found nails, bricks, pieces of ceramic and shards of glass that could have been from 19th century-mineral water and beer bottles. “The glass pieces are really thick,” said Mullen. “It was probably because carbonation had just been invented and bottlers weren’t sure how much pressure the process would create.” At the site of the Wisconsin building, another piece of evidence is emerging and may show how the state pavilions may have been built. In the sandy subsoil, about 3 feet deep, a team found an intriguing streak of black soil running directly east and west.
“This could have been the base of a foundation for the building. We know they would put down a plank and then build the foundation on top of it. Over time, the plank may have decayed and turned into black organic matter,” said teaching assistant Mary Leighton. The artifacts have been taken to a lab at the University, where they will be further examined along with field notes and measurements from the dig. Graff will try to determine what actually may have been from the fair and what debris was left behind at other times.
The work will add another layer of information to the record of the fair. “We have the plans for the fair, for instance, but we don’t have a map that shows exactly where the buildings were, Graff said. “This will give us some idea where they were actually built.“ Many of the more mundane, everyday aspects of the fair were not included in any of the other accounts of the fair. This is a way to fill in some information about the visitors,” she said. Graff has a personal connection with the fair, as her great-grandfather, Morris Graff, also stirred dirt for the fair. He was on a crew that dug ditches for the exposition. “He was an immigrant and an Orthodox Jew. Most of the other jobs he could find required that he work on Saturday. He took the job at the fair because there were different shifts and not all required he work on the Sabbath,” she said.
“It’s funny to have found out about this family connection. I was interested in the fair before I knew this, but it certainly adds to the experience for me,” she said. “Although my father’s family is from Chicago, I grew up in Los Angeles, so learning about my great-grandfather’s job at the World’s Columbian Exposition has made me feel more connected to the site.”
I find it so fascinating that there can be archeological digs in Chicago and that they can actually find things! Blows my mind thinking about the historical treasures we could be walking over everday!

Mary Stain

Has anyone seen the salt stain Virgin Mary on the wall of the underpass by Fullerton? I have and I remember the fiasco when it was discovered. In 2005 a driver passing by noticed that a stain on the concrete wall looked like the Virgin Mary. The media picked up on it of course and people went crazy! People jammed the underpass spilling into the street. Police had to be called to control the crowds. The Mayor got involved saying that it was only liquefied gunk trickling down through the cracks of the overpass after a long frozen winter and staining the wall. Did people listen? No. They saw a miracle and hung on for dear life.

I went and saw it with my dad one day and even before he was close enough to closely examine it, he started ranting about the stupidity of sheeple. He pointed out the clearly visible gobs and crystals of yellowed road salt in the center. It isn't too hard to figure out the rest of the figure was made of road dirt, exhaust, and whatever flies off the highway.

What freaked me out more then being under a dirty, ghetto underpass were the people who were there. They had left flowers, balloons, candles, greeting cards, teddy bears. It was like the gate outside of Kensington Palace after the death of Diana. A sea of wilting color.

The people were almost worse then the gifts. Crying, wailing, sobbing, hugging, kissing. It gave me wicked second hand embarrassment. When they started to write prayers on the wall in marker, I hightailed it out of there. I am all for people being religious, but it makes me so uncomfortable when it is done so ostentatiously towards slime on the wall.

To this day even after it has been covered up, I will still see people down there taking pictures or see a candle flickering in the wind. Chicago has always been big on the supernatural and a supposed Virgin Mary on a highway wall is no different.


When christened at birth with the name Al, you are either destined to become a plumber or go into the Italian food business. For our sake, thank God that this one Al ended up in the later. I am referring of course to the delectable, delicious, positively divine Al’s Italian Beef on Taylor. My life was changed at first taste. Positively scrumcious!

“The perfect Italian beef sandwich begins with slow oven roasted, perfectly Italian seasoned beef, tender and extremely lean, sliced amazingly thin. Spices and seasonings used in its preparation include only the freshest natural products that ultimately produce our 100% natural beef gravy.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. The gravy is wicked awesome too. You have the option of dipping your beef. All the times I have gone, I have never had my sandwich dipped, but lord was it soggy. I figure if I get it dipped it will have to be served in a pint glass.

Al’s beef sandwiches are the definition of Chicago. Simple, yet totally complex. The everyman’s sandwich. The fries are pretty awesome too. Oh and the cheese. The cheese can be a meal on its own. I may or may not have eaten it with a spoon.


I can't understand the people who sit in an empty row of seats on the train and instead of sliding in towards the window, they maintain their position in the aisle seat. Now this doesn't pose much of a problem on empty trains, but there's been numerous times in the morning when the train is jam packed and there's people standing all around while the lone empty window seat remains unoccupied! All the while the aisle seat elitist appears to not have a clue as to what's going on! Rage!

Move Over. Don't make me crawl over you to sit down. Move Over. Or at least get up to let someone get into the window seat.

Additionally, what happens to people's basic etiquette on the train? When I happen to be seated in an aisle seat (and of course there's someone seated in the window seat) and the window seat occupant's stop arrives, more times than not, instead of a polite "excuse me", "out please" or even "move" all I get is the person pressing his/her body into mine alerting me that they want out. Perhaps I should become the reverse "aisle seat elitist" and instead make people climb over me to get out.


I have never read Saul Bellow before, but his novel “The Actual” won’t incline me to read any others. Obsession, denial, life, dreams, all of these great themes crammed into a story without momentum or even a plot really. Harry Trellman is Jewish, but looks Chinese. Not important to the plot but this information about his appearance is discussed again and again! And I have no idea why! Maybe to illustrate how much of an outsider Harry is to everyone around him, including himself. And Harry is not only in this obnoxious trait of describing every single little physical detail. Every one of the characters is discussed ad nauseum by similar, if not identical, physical specifics. In fact, physical appearance takes up much of the non-dialogue sections of the novella. It happens so much in such a short book, that Bellow must be after some deeper meaning, must have some compelling reason to continuously describe his tiny cast. Whatever the reason, I missed it. So instead of being profound, it was distracting and irritating.

The book starts out very strongly. Harry is an enigmatic character and the reader is caught into the folds when the rich Mr. Adletsky pops up and has a mysterious tête-à-tête with Harry. But 20 pages later, Harry's and Mr. Adletsky are kaput and the focus shifts to Amy Wustrin, who is the center of the plot for the rest of the book. An old flame of Harry's, Amy is the woman he has never forgotten and who he continues to swoon over. The obsession is nice and had lots of potential but it never really develops further than fantasy and back story. The confession which is supposed to be the climax is not really climatic and comes way too late in the game. It would be interesting if the confession came earlier and then to see how the relationship progresses because of it.

In all, there is nothing very exciting or titillating. It is hard to do romance and Bellow gave it a good try, but it just fell flat. Maybe if Bellow kept the story narrated by Harry and quit with the excessive, mind-numbing attention paid to detail such as Harry’s physical appearance and Amy's ex-husband's burial arrangements it would have allowed the story of obsession and love shine through, instead of becoming an endless, pointless yarn about a Chinese looking Jew and his long lost love.