Monday, December 22, 2008


I know this blog has become a shell of its former self. To be honest, it never really got off the ground. Well, it was intended to be fun blogs about things directly or loosely related to things in Chicago, and I thought this exchange of emails would be perfect. They are between myself and my good friend, who if you're a long time reader, you may know him as Heterosexual Life Partner (HLP).

HLP: Do you remember the name of that italian restaurant that you went to on Ashland? May try that place Tuesday night.

GANCER: Fiorentino's, like Linda Fiorentino, the chick with the husky voice from Jade, Men in Black, and Vision Quest, the 80's wrestling movie with Matthew Modine where he is working out, trying to drop weight, and they play that Lunatic Fringe song in the background that we used to hear on 103.5 The Blaze on our drive to high school.

Why can't I use these powers for good instead of evil . . .

Oh, and the movie and the love affair therein was also featured in the video for Madonna's Crazy for You.

ANYWAY, the restaurant is super good, family owned, the staff is great, and they have a gorgeous heated outdoor area. Also, you can park your car by the radio shack.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

27 Skillets!?

My writing partner and myself have been getting together every Saturday to work on the play (The Loitering Hole) we're writing, and we have been alternating buying lunch for one another. Today, we decided to grab a late breakfast before the Bears game started, and I decided to show him the beauty of S & G at 3000 N. Lincoln. They have 27 skillets, or egg casseroles, as they call them. Off the top of my head, there's one called The Godfather with Italian sausage, one called the Athena with gyro meat and feta cheese, and one called the George Bush, named after the more competent of the Bush presidents. I don't remember what's in the Bush.*

A former roomy and I used to throw out a number before we would even sit down, and eat that bad Oscar no matter what was in it, be it liver sausage, anchovies, or spam.** I don't remember what mine today was called, but it had corned beef hash, which I can't resist. My partner in egg casserole crime had the Popeye, which had spinach - what else?

If you're in the Lakeview area of Chicago, pick a number, and stop in. Better yet, go 27 weeks in a row and take them all down. They don't have an official promotion for accomplishing such a feat, but send me your receipts, and I'll be sure you get a t-shirt for bragging rights.

*Did any of you say, "That's what she said?" Shame on you!

**None of them have any of those ingredients, but if there were a change in the menu, and one suddenly had all three, you have to eat it if you picked that number. If it has meat and eating meat is against your religion, too bad. That's how the skillet game works, so play by the rules.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Your Life Blows, Sir

Today, on Damen Avenue, while riding after having having picked out two prize-worthy pumpkins to bring back to my girlfriend's apartment, I was saddened to see some loser trying to start his car with a hearty breath of air into one of those court-ordered contraptions. It's the first time I've seen one of those things, and I thought I'd get more of a kick out of it. It's kind of like seeing one of those guys with a cigarette smoke induced, Darth Vadar, electric talking boxes in their throat. Both are real funny in movies and television, but when faced with these poor souls in person, it's just kind of pathetic. What they've done, effectively, is let their addictions make their day-to-day life a huge pain in the ass.

I've heard that when you have one of those blowy ignitions, you can't just have a friend blow in there for you to start it, unless that friend is willing to blow in there for all the random tests*, in which case he would just drive, right? What a tremendous pain in the ass and a constant reminder of how badly you've let a controlled substance dictate your life.

Sure, alcohol dictates my daily life, but only Friday through Saturday, and sometimes Sunday. Well, Thurday through Sunday if I have a volleyball game. Actually, Thursday through Monday if I really over do it, and get me one of those two day hangovers.


*If you have any interest in reading more about how one of these doohickies works, here's something I cut and pasted without permission from Guardian Interlock of Arizona, of all places. I read somewhere else that some parents buy these to be sure their kids are safe, which I at first thought was hyper-controlling, but really it's not that bad of an idea. I mean, they're living under your roof and driving a car that you probably paid for, so you have a right to make it a safe ride for them. Jeez, I sound so old. Anyway, here's that info:

Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) is a breath alcohol analyzer with computer logic and internal memory that interconnects with the ignition and other control systems of a motor vehicle. The purpose of the BAIID is to measure the bodily alcohol concentration (BAC) of an intended driver and to prevent the motor vehicle from being started if the BAC exceeds the .025.

The offender can only drive in a vehicle with an ignition interlock device installed. The device will ask for a random retests while driving. If you acquire three startup test violations within a monitoring period, one rolling retest failure, or the device detects tampering, the device will be required to be brought in immediately or will lock out the driver from further operation. These test violations will result in further extensions of the one year period or the denied/revocation status to be reinstated.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sons a Bitches!

I was south bound on Western avenue the other day, and I saw a business called SOB. Evidently, it stands for Shirts Our Business, but most everyone would first think of Son of a Bitch, no?

Follow this link to the site, and you'll see that the little cartoon fella kind of does look like a summa'-ma'-bitch. He looks like his business involves beating your ass if you don't buy one of his shirts, which is kind of a son of a bitch move, if you ask me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Rose for Rose

On Lincoln Avenue, between Wrightwood and Diversey, you will find one of Chicago's coziest dives: Rose's Lounge.

Nothing has changed in this place since it opened in the early 1970's, especially the tables with chairs on wheels, which look like they were lifted from a Howard Johnson lobby from that time period. The jukebox knows nothing of what transpired in the world of popular music during the 1990's or 2000's. As far as it's concerned, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash are still burning up the charts, and that's all right by me because they provide the perfect accompaniment to such a place. There's tons of ancient junk haphazardly displayed behind the bar: ceramic animals, plates that weren't tacky in their day, old beer signs, and a movie poster for a Pacino movie I've never heard of.*

Last night, as I sipped my Old Style draft, Rose, the elderly, Macedonian owner and namesake, and I discussed the Summer Olympics, which was showing on the archaic television set. We then got talking about her memories of the 1936 in Munich, which then turned into a discussion of World War II.

On another trip there with Classy, I tried to convince her to work on the facade out front, since people could easily drive right by, thinking it was condemned. Classy even let her know that the city would help fund such a project. We were right, but it was evident that a project of that nature was nowhere near the top of any of Rose's to do lists.

Yet another time I was there, when the men's room was occupied during a serious code yellow for this guy, Rose came out back to yell at me for peeing in the garden out back, yet she didn't throw me out.

If you come by, be sure to belly up to the bar, be kind to Rose, and enjoy a place like this while you can because a lovable, time capsule dive in the heart of Chicago's ritzy Lincoln Park neighborhood, sadly, isn't likely to be there too much longer.


*It turns out it's for a play called The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel (1977).

Sunday, July 20, 2008


It's been fun while it lasted... but I am retiring my membership in the Liar's Club. Why? On the blog side of it... it's clear I have little time to even keep up with my own blog. On the social/ awesome side of it... with a little Niner on the way I don't see the likely hood of doing it up Liar's style any time soon.

It's been fun... and hopefully the Liars can bring someone new in to fill my shoes.

Word to your mother.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"There you go, Liver Breath," he said as he dumped the contents of a "wet food" packet into a bowl, where it was immediately slurped up by the eager cat. Moments ago, he was awakened by that very animal crawling onto his chest and meowing directly into his face, but he wasn't mad. Truth be told, he liked the thing. He'd always hated cats, but this one was impossibly cute and had a sweeter nature than the cats of his previous girlfriends; You could just look into its innocent face and see that it wasn't one of those selfish asshole cats. She was the perfect size right now, being almost full-grown, but still very kitten-like and playful. He'd half-jokingly told his lady that he'd like to slip some of that caffeinated water into her water dish, hoping to stunt her growth a touch.

Crawling back into bed, he nestled into a spoon with his sleeping lady, who's perfect, left, bare shoulder was poking out of the sheets. Looking past that shoulder, he could see the cat in the window sill, moving her ears to catch all of the morning's city sounds: A garbage truck backing up, at least two types of birds making distinctive calls, and a bus' recorded voice calling out "Belmont." The two of them eased back to sleep, both content with the comfort of the sounds, one with the woman he loved, and the other with her belly full of liver.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Po Po's Can't Fade Me, Even If They Have a Hunky Eric Estrada Vibe

Let me preface this brief tale by saying that the City of Chicago seems to write an ungodly amount of parking tickets. It's staggering to think about how much revenue they get from this and where it all goes. Anyway, that's the little tie in to justify posting this on our Chicago related blog, but really it's an excuse to show just how awesome I really am.

On Friday, having just wrapped up a hellacious week of work, I drove my car directly to my girl's place, and parked it across the street. Now, it was around 5:20pm, the sign said no parking until 6pm, but I was feeling too tired and lazy to search elsewhere. Besides, what are the odds Johnny Law is going to come by in the next forty minutes, on a Friday, no less. When I got upstairs, I went right in for a long awaited, much needed hug from my girl. As I hugged away, something made me look out the window, and sure as shit, there was a damn cop strolling towards my car, ticket in hand.

I blurted out, "I gotta go." To which she said, "What?!" She had a tone that suggested I was leaving for good, but not even I have ever bolted out of a relationship quite that fast.

Down the stairs I went with a technique hitherto unknown to this area*, whereby I was running down the first four stairs or so, and jumping down the remaining stairs of each of the three flights. I made it to my car when he was about three steps away from sinking me fifty bucks in the hole. This conversation ensued as I opened my car door:

Cop: (With a thick Latin accent of some kind) Oh, you're smart guy, huh? You're watching to see if you get a ticket, right?
Me: Uh, yeah. I guess.
Cop: (Walking back towards his squad car, tucking his ticket away, speaking in a threatening tone, especially for a beat cop, meter reader loser) You keep playing the game, man. We'll catch up with you.
Me: Ummm, OK.

As I moved my car, I was feeling a sense of pride having outwitted the Latin Beat Cop, essentially saving myself fifty bucks, and evidently, really getting his goat.

Anyone else feeling above the law, not unlike a young, pony tailed Steven Seagal?

*Extra credit and a sticker goes to anyone who knows where that phraseology came from.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It Ain't No "Walk in the Park."

I drove by a "park" in a not-so-nice neighborhood today, there was a sign that said Such and Such Park, but behind that sign there was no baseball diamond, no see-saws or play equipment of any kind, just a field of dead grass peppered with drug dealers.

Chicago seems to be sinking everything into tourism and getting the Olympics here in like 20 years, and they are doing nothing to improve areas like this, which are everywhere, sometimes only blocks away from "nicer" areas.

How about this, if Mayor Daley wants to have the Olympics here so badly, why don't we say that if he can survive a night in Such-and-Such park, then he can have whatever he wants?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Partial List of Comments Made During Semi-Annual Meeting of the Liar's Club

Occassionally, we at the Liar's Club get together to discuss official business, like planning for the upcoming Pony Blegger (downgraded from a simple Blegger). But most of the time, nothing really happens at these meetings except drinking and bullshit. Below is a list of just some of the comments made by the Liar's Club through the course of the evening last Thursday at Cody's:
  1. I love the poon. Yeah, I thought The Pooner was a serial rapist when I met him, but he's a good dude.
  2. Who are all these douchebags in your photos?
  3. There was partial chocolate lovin'.
  4. I would rather have someone throw-up in my mouth than shit in it.
  5. I haven't read The Liar's Club in about 6 months.
  6. I need to get laid at the Pony Blegger.
  7. This is the part of the conversation where I just concentrate on my beer.
  8. I'd go to a culinary school where you only use Velveeta.
  9. I can probably buy one baby for $500 and get a deal on two for $850.
  10. There's nothing like a cheesy rod.
  11. I can just retire now and collect my Poon Pension.
  12. You have two chemistry tutors?
  13. I never realized Jet Magazine was the size of TV Guide.
  14. The tamale fairy has been here!
  15. You know what kind of movies he likes? Lady movies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cubs Wristbands.

Each February my pal Jason and I do the same tradition we've always done since I've lived in this city... we go get our Cubs wristbands. Yes, you read that right. Cubs wristbands. I am a White Sox fan - but this tradition is more about the hope that Spring is right around the corner, and the smell of baseball season is in the air.

The Cubs are so popular (like the Yankees and Red Sox) and so is Wrigley Field, which means most games sell out, or good tickets are hard to find for an affordable price. So for the sale of single game tickets to the general public they do this sort of lottery system in which for two days they give out numbered wristbands and then on Friday morning at ass-early-thirty (6:00am) they announce on the radio the winning number. That number is first in line to buy tickets. Sure you can go online - but it is almost impossible to get through.

If my wristband number won I would buy tickets for the White Sox series and also good tickets for the Giants series. But I am never ever close. Last year my number was off by 10,000. It is just a fun thing to do during a lunch break to get excited about the upcoming baseball season. Go Sox!

This has nothing to do with Chicago, being that it's from a British game show, but it's damn funny. Besides, I was tired of looking at my last post. Come on, contributing Liars, post something, or I'll keep putting random things like this on our rag.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On a Downtown Train. Shit. Why'd I Go With That Title? I Hate That God-Awful, Rod Stewart Song!

Every day one steps onto The El (short for elevated trains, for our 3 readers not from Chicago) anything can happen. Here are three things that went down during my rides in the span of one week:

1. During rush hour, when you can rarely get a spot to sit, I noticed a car that was inexplicably almost empty. It should have dawned on me that something like that is too good to be true, but one has so little time to think before those doors close. Well, when the doors shut I immediately knew why so few people were riding that car: It smelled like shit, and I don't mean that figuratively. Most everyone had their shirts over their mouths and nose, which should have also tipped me off before I got aboard, except for one sleeping, homeless-looking guy, who was more than likely the culprit, since not even he should be able to sleep through that kind of stink (must have been immune to his "own brand"). It was the coldest day of the year, so maybe he decided to stay warm by riding the train all day and shitting himself. Does he know how to have a good time, or what!!

I couldn't take another second of it, so when the train came to the next stop, I darted out of the stinky car, said, "That car stinks" to a man about to board, and ran to the next car. Just before the doors of the breathable car closed, the guy who I warned thanked me, and I said, "Yeah, I think he pooped himself." Then another guy said, "That was rough. I changed cars too."

2. Okay, no more doody stories, I promise. Yesterday I was listening to my ipod on a high, going to make me deaf some day, but who gives a shit level, something by Pavement I believe, but I could still make out a phrase that the doo-wop, street performer group was singing. Although they had reworked the song nearly to the point of being a different melody, and even with Stephen Malkmus' slacker vocals belting it out into my ear drums, I still made out this phrase: "I'm not happy when I try to fake it." I knew if was from a song I like, but I wasn't sure which. I took my headphones off to realize that it was an excellent rendition of Easy by The Commodors. As I slipped a buck into whatever it was they were using as a tip jar, the one guy doing back-up harmonies sang a quick thank you to me. Then, as I boarded the train, they started up a killer, reworked rendition of Stephen Stills' Love the One You're With. In fact, I've never cared for that song too much, but I loved the version by this overqualified group of Chicago street musicians. If I see them again, I'm asking them to play my birthday party, and you'll all be there, along with lots of balloons.

3. As I'm riding to work the other day, again, bumping my ipod, a Black kid, who's age I would guess to be around 11-years-old, but the sex was undermined at this point, tugs at my shirt to get my attention to ask me how many gigs my ipod held. I told her twenty, and she showed me her ipod, portable game system, and a few other devices. I said, "Man, you gotta be careful walking around with all those electronics." To which she said, "I'm a girl." Oops. I tried to explain that I was using the word "man" as an exclamation. She must not have been too offended, because she then showed me her Tupac book, which was pretty damn, cool. It had compartments inside with all kinds of lyrics he had written, and they looked like the originals, because they were on notebook paper. As I got off the train, I said, "Alright, this is my stop. Be good." I've been saying "be good" a lot lately, and it is a stupid habit that doesn't make much sense. Although, this kid seemed really sweet, and I hope that she will "be good."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Food, Bar, Coffee, Records.

A little sharing about some new spots I went to this past weekend. Chicago has so much to offer that I try not to get into a routine of eating at the same place... drinking at the same place... shopping at the same place. I always tell myself that when employees know my name that is not a good sign (especially if it's a bar).

The Spot: My vote for worst bar in Chicago (on N Clark near Montrose). It has so many things going on that none of it works. It's part 1950's Italian Restaurant, part dive bar, part hipster hang out, part sports bar, part bad 80's music, part swanky... and so on. The clientele is white boy wanna-be frat dudes that are more pathetic which does not make for good people watching (it's too sad). The place has no vibe, no comfort, and no class. The Spot is sooooo not the spot.

Painted Lady: Once called the Bleeding Heart bakery (which I've never been to, but it moved and actually still owns this little cafe) this is the little organic cafe that could (on W Chicago at Damen). A great vibe (not too earthy / hippie) and some fantastic coffee. The food was good - not spectacular. LP had the vegan chili which tasted more like salsa, but was not bad. My mac&cheese was very tasty... but how hard is mac&cheese. That fact that they are offering completely organic ingredients is stellar. The food is not cheap, but the price is fair for what you are getting in return. Well worth checking out especially over a conversation about flax seeds.

Atomix: A block away from Painted Lady is a little hole of a coffee shop called Atomix. A friend of mine practically lives there since it is close to her house and it has free wi-fi. And for students free wi-fi is a big plus. The coffee is good... maybe even a bit more than good. But the place is boring. There are no comfortable places to sit. The two women behind the counter where more into looking at their computer than acknowledging my presence and helping me. Sorry Atomix... you are just ok.

Premanent Records: Another block or so east on Chicago Ave is a little record store that spews charm. I've heard a lot of good things about this Permanent Records shop and have always meant to check it out. Sure it's not the greatest find in the world, but I did find a few pieces of vinyl I've been searching for. The store cat ads a great little touch to the place, and the owners are super. I'll be going back there to support a good part of the Chicago music scene.