Thursday, August 27, 2009

Portents of Doom

12:03 am

 After 3 days of non-stop screaming, crying, stomping, and other forms of mild hysteria, I finally got the newspaper to the printer, and it was ready for delivery.  I could finally get some rest! 

 Just as I hit that REM sleep phase that always seems to elude me, the clock turned to this evil combination of numbers, and the sound of glass shattering and a huge thud awoke me.  Naturally when I hear glass breaking at 12:03 am, being the genius I am I jumped out of bed, completely naked, barefoot, and without a weapon to confront whatever was happening in the other room.  Yes, I ran full force, naked and defenseless toward a pile of broken glass and whatever caused it.

 As I rounded the corner, I was bewildered to find absolutely nothing.  There was no glass that I could see; nothing seemed out of place.  I do have to admit that at this point I was unable to turn on the lights to investigate thoroughly.  I had left the blinds open to let the breezes come in, and the neighbors who were all awake, had as well.  I was on the horns of a dilemma.  Do I find out what happened by turning on the lights and show my birthday suit to the neighbors, or do I just assume that since there is no immediate danger, it was either:


1.  A dream

2.  The burglar/axe murderer/raccoon managed to escape and cleaned up the mess before they left.

3.  The burglar/axe murderer/raccoon was hiding in the shadows waiting for me to go back to sleep so they could finish me off.


As long as I got to go back to sleep I was fine with any of those options. 


6:03 am

 Another dream shattering crash, but this time I am more prepared.  When I went back to bed after the first incident I decided that if it was option three, I did not want to be found mutilated and naked, so I put on my garden gnome pajamas.  I was also a little more rested, and able to think semi-clearly.  I put on my flip-flops before I went out yet again to face the unknown.

 Rounding the corner to the living room, again, I saw nothing out of place.  No windows broken, no door ajar, nothing.   How can this be? I wondered aloud.  I looked around for Jackson, who was happily asleep as usual on his back, running in his sleep on the sofa. 

 Am I going crazy? Hearing things?

 In the dining room I discovered that two of the four framed photographs above the buffet were missing their glass, and that the glass was shattered in to about 8 billion pieces on the top of the buffet and behind it; not all over the floor, but on the white top of the buffet, almost invisible. 

 How do two separate framed photographs just lose their glass?   I don’t know, but I do watch a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I know things like this are usually portents or signs of doom and evil.  Buffy’s mom once had some trouble with art she hung on the wall, and Zombies began to invade her house.  I didn’t think they could come through the window since I am on the second floor with a security door, and zombies rarely ring the buzzer- I figured I was relatively safe there, so I wondered… “What other evil is upon me?”


7:35 am


The Evil Appears

 I was standing on the Platform waiting for my train.  The “attention customers, an inbound train toward the loop will be arriving shortly” message had just pealed out into the misty morning when I saw the bright lights of the train piercing the fog.

 As the Green Line train to 63rd/Ashland screeched into the stop, it was immediately clear that this would be the ride from Hell.  Apparently there had been a delay at the Harlem stop.  Trains are scheduled every 8 minutes on the Green line, so a 40 minute delay basically means that the car was filled with 5 times it’s normal load of passengers.  

 A diabolical combination of forces had taken over the L-train.  The weather, the delay and the sheer number of people had caused the windows of the train to be completely fogged.  Passengers inhaling and exhaling, sweating, coughing, burping their coffee & cigarette burps, the cacophony of perfume and cologne created a haze that filled the train.  When the doors opened, the haze formed the face of an evil demon and it laughed as it sucked me into it’s gloom bellowing, “The doors are about to close.”

 So, pressed up against the doors that could potentially fly open at any moment and spit me out onto the electrified tracks, I grabbed onto the nearest stationary object to brace myself, and prayed silently to God to let everyone on that train be getting off at the Central stop.  But no, more people got on. 

 Now I am in the middle of the train with nothing to hold onto.  Not that it would have done any good to have something to grab since my arms were at that point pinned at my sides by other people crushed up against me.

 Did I mention that it was about 176 degrees in the train, and it felt like I was breathing through a wet, dirty baby diaper that had been sitting in the sun for a few days? 

 As we jostled on toward our destination, which at this point I was sure was going to be the mouth of hell, the train came to a complete stop and the demon formed its gruesome face in the haze again and shouted “we are standing still momentarily waiting for signal clearance, we expect to be moving again shortly.”

 Demons lie.  We all know this, but I still held out hope that we would in fact be moving shortly.  We wouldn’t.    We sat perfectly still, for no less than 12 minutes.  This would not seem like a long time under any other circumstances, but it felt like an eternity. 

 I chose to be uncharacteristically calm, closed my eyes and thought about strawberry ice cream.  Some of my fellow passengers stood quietly as well, some read books, some texted, one farted, and to my dismay, one decided this was the perfect time to make a phone call to her friend Trina. 

 Apparently, Trina and her husband are going through a rough patch, which was recently compounded by the fact that Trina was newly diagnosed with Chlamydia.  “Oh girl, he gave you Chlamydia? Oh Trina honey, divorce his ass today! Oh, it wasn’t him that gave it to you? All right, but still, damn, Chlamydia.” 

 I begged out loud for the Demon to just take me.  I offered my soul, my first-born child.  I would kidnap a baby and give it to him to eat. “Ask it oh evil one and your will shall be done. Just PLEASE make the torment end” I shouted into the train.

 As soon as I had finished my pact with evil, the red light on the wall began to flash and the demon face appeared in the mist again and shouted “this train will run express and will be making no more stops until Clinton.”   The hell was ending.  In a few short minutes, we were at the Clinton stop, and 80% of the people got off of the train.

 So, now I am a minion of evil, blood pact all signed and sealed.  I hope this is a multi-ride deal, and because I will be tormented for eternity in the afterlife, I get seats to myself, and lots of crazies to write about until I have to pay my debt in hell.  

 When pictures start jumping off of walls, and you see evil faces in the mist, call a priest, have an exorcism and go back to bed, as these are clearly signs of impending damnation.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Favorite Church's between downtown and my Stop on the Green line

Performing Christ Ministries (Perhaps this is where god's career as a mime started)

Renewance Baptist Church (Is that a word?)

Holy Trinity Apostolic Mt. Zion Baptist Church of God's Holy Word (I'm not joking) 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vaseline and Razor Blades


As the train rumbled into the Central Avenue stop, I looked out the window to my right and saw a group of nearly twenty people standing on the sidewalk between the Day Care center and the Liquor store. 


There appeared to be some animosity between them – if you have ever seen Meerkat Manor, you can spot the signs of trouble between rival groups very easily.  They were thumping their feet on the ground, jumping up and down to look more threatening, and I think one or two were scent marking.


I thought it may have been mothers picking up their children who were trying to chase off the drunks, but it turned out to be drunken mothers fighting with each other. 


Come to think of it, the scent marking was probably just the drunks peeing on the wall of the liquor store.


The two leaders of the rival groups were in front and their peeps were behind them gesturing wildly and obviously shouting at each other.  I could not hear what they were saying because I was inside the train, listening to Japanese Avant Garde Pipe Music on my IPOD.   Whatever one of them said, the other clearly did not like it and she proceeded to snatch the other’s weave out. 


Yes, she literally grabbed hold of her rivals’ hair and pulled hard enough to dislodge the synthetic fibers that had been glued to the woman’s scalp.  We have all heard the phrase “gonna snatch your weave out” many times, but I never thought I would live to see it actually happen.  After the de-weaving, it turned into an all-out brawl.  Punching, kicking, biting, you name it.  It was a fight to the death on a street corner, and I’ll be damned if I was going to miss any of it. 


I leaped from the train just as the doors were closing, and took up my ringside spot on the train platform, which was perfectly positioned above the action.


As exciting as it might sound to witness a phenomenon such as this, it left me wanting more.  Not more violence mind you, just more.


What ever happened to the good old days of chick fighting? 


Where have the classy ass-kicking women gone?  Women like Pam Greer as Coffy or Pam Greer as Foxy Brown or Pam Greer in Jackie Brown?  


Coffee, Foxy, or even Jackie would never have lowered themselves to a street fight in front of a day care liquor store.  They certainly would never have done it with a bunch of drunk mothers for back up, and I can guarantee if one of them were planning for a fight, she would carefully have taken her own weave out so that bitch didn’t have an opportunity to pull it out (do you have any idea how much hair costs?).  What I am talking about is planning ahead, and doing it with class!


Coffy would (and did) tease her natural hair up into a big-ass afro.  Then she would (and did) take a package of razor blades and carefully insert them carefully into its dark recesses.


Follow these simple steps and the one that grabs your hair is going to get a surprise, and possibly a severed finger. 


For white girls, dirty hair teases up better (tips from a drag queen I know) so don’t wash your hair for a few days and use a lot of product.  Use the current Miss Texas as your guide, her hair will always be the right size and shape for hiding any number of objects. 


Once you have your hair set, you work your way down.  You take out the hoops in your ears, and if your teeth are removable you take those out too.  Leave nothing to chance.


Next you coat your face in Vaseline so that if that if she does land a punch, it slides right off, drawing her closer to you so you can cut her more easily with the knife you have in your bra. 


Additionally, the fight should ALWAYS take place inside a building of some sort.    Fighting inside gives you several advantages.  First you are less likely to end up in jail than if you do it in front of a day care liquor store; but the main reason is you have access to items of furniture that can also be used as weapons.  These weapons in turn provide you with appropriate segue ways to witty comments. 


For instance, shrieking “Fuck You Ho” at someone who just said something equally nasty to you, and/or pulled out your recently purchased hair is SO not classy. 


Inside a bar, when your opponent says “I got a black belt in Karate and I’m gonna hurt you bitch”, you have the opportunity to take a page from Foxy Brown and crack her over the head with a stool, knock her unconscious and then calmly reply “Well I got my black belt in bar stools bitch”.


I say we should give up trying to “Stop the Violence” in Chicago.  It is pretty much never going to happen. 


Today, I am starting a new campaign called “Keep the Violence Classy”. 


I have taken the first step by ordering the Pam Grier Collection and all 300 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I will turn into a seminar on how to fight with style.


When I write my U.S. Federal Grant Proposal (researchers, operating on a $2.6 million 
NIH grant, are now "training" prostitutes to drink alcohol 
responsibly, to reduce the women's willingness to engage in risky 
sex.  However, the training is taking place in Quangxi province, China.  I think mine is an equally important endeavor) I will list this as the research phase.


I will be soliciting a volunteer corps soon to take the message to the streets.  

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Maybe I'm adopted

Ah, my beloved Green Line, you never fail to disappoint.  Always there when I need a ride, or a solution to a problem.  

Today's problem:  I need my birth certificate to get an Illinois Driver license. Illinois is the only State that doesn't just let you turn in an out of state license and get a new one.   NO, they want real evidence that you are not a ghost or zombie attempting to operate a motor vehicle in the Land of Lincoln.  
Still don't see the problem?  Well obtaining a copy of my birth certificate requires a telephone call to 294 (My parents house).

So I got on the phone to try my best to convince my mom that since I was born in the US after the year 1575 I do in fact have a birth certificate, and she is most likely the custodian of the document in question.  

Thirty minutes into the call, just as I felt the will to live being sucked out of me through the telephone line, the neurons (the one's not killed during her last dance with Mary Jane) started to fire in rapid succession in her brain.  "Oh, you mean your BIRTH Certificate"!?!?!?!?

"Yes mother, my Birth certificate, do you have it?"  

"What do you mean you aren't sure, can you just open the shoebox, bag of flour, loose floor board or jar buried in the yard where you keep important documents and look for it?" 

"Yes, I'll hold." 

"Great, can you mail it to me?"

"Just put it in an envelope and use a stamp"

"First class is probably best, yes" 

"If you want to make a copy that is fine"

"Just send it to my home address"

"hasn't changed, same as before...ok grab a pen so you can write it down again"

"are you writing it in the same address book?" 

"Under the same name...Joey Cleaver?"

"Ok, good, now just look at what is already written there, and write it again right below"

"Yes, I'll hold" 

"Ok, now go ahead and send my birth certificate to that address tomorrow"

"What the hell do you mean WHICH ONE?  How many do I have?"

"I see"

"Spelled my name wrong the first time?"

"No, seems normal enough for a mother to spell her child's name wrong." 

"How about if you send me the rough draft and the final version just to be safe, my name is really Joe right?" 

So I really do believe that most of life's mysteries can be solved by a few rides on the CTA.  Today, as I await my birth certificate in the mail, and ponder the mystery and possibility of my true heritage, I look up  and see an ad on the wall of the train asking "Paternity Questions?" 

And I said "YES." 

I saw "for the alleged mother, father and child" 

And I said "I totally need this."

I realize that the intended market for the Public Transit Paternity Test is not 30-something white boys from Ohio, but it made me realize that I have more in common with my fellow riders than I thought.  

I may not be a 17 year old grandmother looking to find out who my baby daddy is, or if my son is really the father of 'that girls" baby, but after talking on the phone to my "alleged" parents, I think I might order one, and take a little trip back to ohio.  

Can you get a DNA sample from a roach clip?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heat on the Metra

"His old lady set fire to his house while he was in it.  She is on trial for arson."  

No, not a quote from the evening news, not even something overheard on Jerry Springer.  This was one conductor talking to another about a co-worker on the Metra Electric Line this morning.  

These two gentlemen, both in their late 50's or early 60's, both white, one skinny and one portly, were sitting in the facing seats that they reserved by putting their crap in it so nobody else could sit down (I HATE that...they are there to take tickets and keep the god damned train on the tracks, not stretch out and do the crossword) gossiping like two old women at the beauty parlor.  

"DID YOU HEAR about ____?" asked Skinny, to which Portly replied "NO...WHAT?"....I swear one of them said "GUUURRRLLLLL" but I may have imagined it....Gay Pride Weekend is upon us, so you hear a lot of "GUUUURRRLLLLL" these days....anyway....

Apparently Skinnys' friend ____, also an employee on the Metra Trains "blew hot".  Now I know what you are thinking, because I have a dirty mind too, but no, he wasn't doing that.  He may do that, but that is not the point of this particular story. 

___ was suspended from work for 30 days for "blowing hot" during a random alcohol screening.  So the guys were taking up a collection to "buy him a bottle" as a gag gift.  

Neither was concerned that their coworker was working on Public Transportation Systems and would have performed his job that day, and perhaps for the next 30 days while intoxicated, they seemed more concerned that he was caught, and making him feel better with gifts of liquor.  

Ok, it is 3:02, time for me to catch the train into the city....Maybe I'll pay a little extra on my ticket and they can add to the bottle fund.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Word of God

So, today was a pretty interesting day on CTA.   

First, I saw Tony Sarabia from Chicago Public Radio at the Randolph and Wabash stop.  I thought "not exactly a celebrity, but I'll discreetly snap a photo with the last ounce of  battery power in my cell phone in case he ever moves up in the world."  

If I had only known then what I know now....

So Tony Sarabia and I get on the train, and a few stops later, the doors open.  I looked up, and saw a shimmering daydream of a woman.  I am pretty sure she was African American, but it was difficult to say for sure because every exposed inch of skin (and there was a lot of it) was covered in glitter.  In her hair she wore 2 DumDum suckers, one Root Beer flavor and the other was, I believe Cherry.  I somehow knew as soon as she appeared that she would soon occupy the seat next to me, and I was right. 

Now are you starting to see why I am so pissed off that I wasted my battery on a picture of a radio personality?  But I digress.

So Sparkle Jefferson (That's what I named her) sat down next to me and began to rummage through her hot pink Baby Phat bag with gold handles and about 30 safety pins randomly dangling from it.  She mumbled as she went through the many objects found within it until she found the one she was searching for...the Holy Bible.

She opened up the dog eared volume to the book of Proverbs.  Now the Book of Proverbs is so called, because it consists of wise and weighty sentences; regulating the morals of men; directing them to wisdom and virtue.  And these sentences are also called Parables, because great truths are often hidden within them.

Did I mention that on my cell phone I can also record sounds and video?  Well, if I hadn't wasted that battery, along with my description, you would be seeing a video of what happened next.... 

Sparkle Jefferson sat quietly reading from Proverbs, and as the train moved on, passing in and out of the shadows of buildings, I stared at this strobe light of a woman mouthing the word of God quietly to herself.  

As the train approached the Conservatory/Central Park Drive stop, the car became less crowded and the quiet mouthing of Proverbs became a whisper. By the time we reached Kedzie, my side of the car was nearly empty but for Me, Tony Sarabia, and Sparkle Jefferson.

Somewhere between the Central and Austin Stop, Sparkle had "caught the spirit" and was making a joyous noise unto the lord at the top of her lungs singing "Doing the Butt" while reading the King James Bible.  

Unfortunately, I had to get off of the train at the Austin stop, but as the doors closed behind me I heard Sparkle Jefferson scream "I want your butt, your butt, your big ole butt", and then the brightest spot in my day was gone, and all I had to remember her by was a picture of a radio host, and one of the most annoying songs ever made stuck in my head like a skipping record.