Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where have all the "Square Pegs" gone?

MTV wants to address issues that contemporary teenagers face in their daily lives so they come up with the show "Skins." The commercials scare me from wanting to raise a child in our ever evolving society. When I taught high school back in the mid 90s, I heard first hand what goes on in the lives of young people. I tried to recall if my own adolescent years were as risque. I know I had a difficult time as a teenager. High school was tough.  All the hardships and adjustments teenagers go through are extremely difficult; do they need to be glorified and brought to life as some form of entertainment?

When I was young I did anything and everything I could to be viewed as "cool." Most of the time I looked to what little bit of television my parents would let me watch for tips. Such an outlook on life lead to a steady stream of bad decisions and poor wardrobe choices. The stimuli from the outside world was nothing like it is in 2011. Being cool took a lot of hard work and imagination. Cable television, in the form of Super TV, did not offer very much. However, I still did manage to break the law, lye, cheat, wear clothes that definitely did not flatter and act like a completely disrespectful jerk...and this came from watching Willie Ames on "Eight is Enough."

As I got older I attempted to become a more quiet and brooding type of detective. Many times I would sneak out of the house to smoke Lucky Strikes in the shadows, but my Miami Vice pastels did not keep me hidden very well. The chicken coop wasn't exactly South Beach either, but it was what it was for a teenager on the Eastern Shore before the housing boom (before Easton Club).

Then came boarding school and most of you know what the result of that was...yikes. Trying to be cool lead me right to the slammer. I can't imagine what I would have done if I had a show like "Skins" filling my head with bad ideas.

If MTV wants to address issues why don't they use the round table format with celebrities? A discussion that confronts problems all teenagers go through would have a much more positive effect than churning out shows that glorify dangerous situations and create more fake celebrities. A few words from Stefani Germanotta about what it took for her to become an accomplished musician might have a very positive effect. Fill your air time with programming that can really move teens forward in life or maybe how about some music videos?

At least some contemporary television is making it cool to viewed as a little "off." I wish there had been more shows like that when I was growing up!

Where have all the standards gone in the entertainment industry? I applaud all parents who have to work so hard to raise a child in this day and age when the outside world does so much to corrupt. It must be one hell of a battle. Maybe you all will be lucky enough to have as wonderful a child as my mother was blessed with!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Would Johnny Unitas Have Done?

What would any Hall of Fame quarterback have done? I just can't shake those kind of thoughts out of my head.
And that's all I am going to say about the game last Sunday...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'm Gonna Listen to Cowboy Mouth All Day...

...because I need a dose of New Orleans. After some good rock and roll I am going to play some Kermit Ruffins and think back to Thursday nights at Vaughn's which was just around the corner from my house in the 9th Ward. I didn't stay up late much but when I did I saw some good music.

I still need to buy a record player. This has been on my "to do list" for the last 8 years. I'll be able to play some great records that I have collected over the years, if they aren't too warped.

Yesterday I was very productive. I worked on the documentary about Street Jimmy. SJ is a homeless crack addict who survives his way through life in and around Old Town in Chicago. When the weather is warm he resides behind the trash cans that line the northern wall of the Old Town Ale House. Street Jimmy looks like a young Miles Davis. I really enjoy talking to him and listening to his tales of day to day living until he starts talking about wanting to get his life together. That song and dance has grown tiresome. Gracie's father, Bruce, blogs about his conversations with Street Jimmy.

The other day I had an idea about taking Street Jimmy on a road trip. I am NOT taking him to New Orleans tho. But it would be interesting to see his reactions to things. Watching him watch TV is like watching a young child watching Saturday morning cartoons. Jimmy has been on the streets too long so everything is new to him.

Enough about Street Jimmy, you will just have to watch the documentary. I'm going to go back to thinking about New Orleans.

Breakfast at Elizabeth's followed by a walk along the levee into the French Quarter. Coffee at the Cafe DuMonde then a Bloody Mary from the Omni Royal Hotel. Drink it on the roof overlooking the Quarter then it's off to the Chart Room for a drink before checking out the books and records on Decatur Street. Soon enough I'll be getting hungry for lunch and that will be a tough decision.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


So it's that time of the year when paychecks are a somewhat distant memory and the mere thought of going for a run along Lake Michigan is the quickest way to keep me firmly planted on the couch. I have had to put a stop on getting film developed. I went a little crazy shooting rolls and rolls of film of Street Jimmy. I had two black and white prints made and now my fun-money balance is at a definite zero. But things are better than they were last year. I actually heard back about a part-time job. Last year I sent out a couple resumes a day and never heard back from a single employer. I applied to work in warehouses and coffee shops, but so did thousands of other people in Chicagoland.

I found several new spaces where I can possibly move my studio to and cut down on some monthly expenses. It is time for a change of scenery. I love the industrial corridor over by Ashland and Hubbard. The space I looked at yesterday had windows that faced east and had an amazing view of the Loop. The Hancock Building was in one window and the Willis Tower was in the other. The owner is willing to barter for rent during the lean months. I like understanding landlords.

Today, I am looking at a space on the top floor of a stand-alone building that borders some railroad tracks. Old Town is getting a little stuffy from an artistic/economic sense. Ideally, I would love to move my studio to Bermuda. Not too long ago I read about a girl from the States who got a job as the official photographer of Bermuda. Where was that listing on Craigslist!!??

The days are getting longer which brings hope for the color green to return to the area. The sun sets at around 4:34 now. As soon as the temperature gets back up to 40 I can go back to spending the unemployed mornings skating the pool at Wilson. Forty degrees shouldn't be too far off in the future thanks to global warming.

Monday, January 3, 2011


My short-term memory is gone. I had completely forgotten about the gulf oil spill until news stations rebroadcasted the biggest stories of 2010 all last week. Months ago, when the story broke, I remember sitting in my mother's living room and watching some of the footage with tears in my eyes. The devastation to the environment was overwhelming. The reaction from BP executives was unbelievable. At the time, I wondered how long the effect would keep hold of my emotions.

I guess out of sight out of mind is how it is. The impact of a tragedy fades quickly unless it is force fed through some media outlet. Over the weekend I watched the news channels thinking to myself did this really happen? Earthquakes, various mine explosions around the world, cholera, mortality: all of it just seemed to disappear like that one sock in the dryer. So the rest of the weekend I spent wondering about myself.  I'll shed a tear over a well-sung rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" so I don't think I am too insensitive to the world around me. The way the mind works is just too damn weird like the way the rent is too damn high.

Back in college I had to withdraw, failing, from Psychology 101. The young lady I was dating at the time said it was because I never repressed anything...whatever that means. Now that I am older I am quite interested in how the brain works; I am real interested in how my own mind works. The impact of the outside world both near and dear to me and miles and miles away has to trigger some crazy functions inside my head. Maybe I might need a tune up, but things seem to be going well. I do what I can to exercise the mind, but I still could read even more than I do.

After watching my Grandmother fall ill to Alzheimer's Disease, I started doing crossword puzzles to try and stay sharp. In the mornings, I take my time reading the Good Book just like Capt. Augustus McCrae did. If I could end up like the good Captain McCrae that would make for some eventful years.

The brain cells that fell prey to years of poor decision making, may they rest in peace, are owed an apology. Those dear ones that I have left are owed good health and longevity. It is a new year and time to take a another stab at living well...or maybe I mean "living correctly." I am not making any resolutions, but I am going to go over some things very carefully. Now somebody pass me the Tabasco for my Bloody Mary...