October 5th, 2005

i brung you purty flowers

Chicago's proud of you

Thanks to the ministrations of my very fine friend Claire Zulkey, I was able to go to the White Sox game yesterday. It's the fouth White Sox post-season game I've attended, and the first where I've gotten to see a win. And not just a win -- not just the first post-season home win for the Pale Hose in 46 years -- but a key series win (a rout, even) against the extremely dangerous hitters of the Boston Red Sox. It's too soon to get cocky, since the Carmines have proven more than capable of stomping the shit out of good teams even after being down 0-3, but man. The mood in that place after the win, heading to the Red Line with thousands of other Sox fans -- just pure jubilance, sheer joy, and one of the best times I've ever had. Claire thinks I'll badmouth her in this space for leaving early to go to class (ha ha, Claire, what a grind), but I really can't thank her enough for treating me to the experience at a time I really needed some cheering up. My friends are all right.

As if further proof were needed, Claire's boyfriend Steve Delahoyde also invited me out last night to attend a Chicago Underground Comedy show at Gunther Murphy's. I'd love to say that it was unreservedly great, but honestly, it's stand-up comedy. If your hit-to-miss ratio is better than 50-1, you've gotten lucky. But, seeing people stink is almost as much fun as seeing people kill, and there was at least one absolutely terrific performer: the greatest-ever Chicago-by-way-of-Pakistan comic of all time, Kumail Nanjiani. Steve is also always good company, and he was kind enough to help ease my loss by bad-mouthing his own girlfriend non-stop while people were trying to perform. Never have I so enjoyed someone screaming "tarted-up web floozy" so loudly while people told jokes about Empire Carpet.

And as long as I'm talking about my swell friends, I remind all Chicagoans to come out to Logan Square tomorrow and/or Friday night to Vaudeville Underground. It's the excellent monthly showcase of local variety acts, and my pals Lara and Jeff will be performing swell morbid country songs by their band, Urban Inbreed. It's at the lovely Glade Memorial Hall at 2640 W. Altgeld, tomorrow and Friday nights at 7:30PM, and is always a good time. So show up, punks, and see the big man cry.
what the professional fuck?

I get the message, whatever it is

What was written on the front of the unnamed-publication clipping taped to my computer monitor when I got to work this morning:

Sexual harassment discharge upheld -- In a labor arbitration case brought by the IBEW in southern Illinois, an Arbitrator held that the Company had just cause to discharge an employee who spray painted on the parking lot the accusation that a fellow employee is gay. The Company handbook defined sexual harassment to include use of sexually offensive language. The Arbitrator held that the spray painted accusation was sexually offensive, and use of this language created an intimidating and hostile work environment for the fellow employee.

An interesting twist is that the Company argued the writing on the parking lot ("Leonard is Gay") violated the Illinois Hate Crime Statute. The Arbitrator agreed. The IBEW grievance was denied!

What was written on the back of the unnamed-publication clipping taped to my computer monitor when I got to work this morning:



What Lileks said to confuse me this morning:

Last night a neighbor’s house was burgled. While they were home. Sleeping. Money was taken from a purse. What’s the adequate sentence for the crime? Ten dollar or a hundred, it shouldn’t matter; what counts are the intangibles they take away, the feeling of safety in one’s home, of ordinariness. Of course I suppose these feelings will be deemed “privileged” by those who point out that people in bad neighborhoods have this happen to them all the time. True. But the people in poor neighborhoods who burgle are vcastly outnumbered by the percentage who do the burgling.

What I must shamefully admit this morning:

The new Town Hall redesign is pretty sharp-looking.

Luckily the content still sucks.

I could do stand-up, if only I wasn't pathetically unfunny and insecure*

There’s a lot of things I love about professional wrestling. The drama, the athleticism, trying to guess which will be the next guy to drop dead with a two-pound cocaine/steroid speedball cozying up against his heart. I also love the symbolism of it all, how it reflects the things that are important to us as a culture: the need for heroes, the fear of the strange and foreign, the strong desire to hear what a guy named Mr. Ass has to say. But most of all, I guess what I love the most about it is going to a match, a big WWE arena show, and seeing 30,000 red-blooded American males desperately ignoring the fact that they’re witnessing the gayest thing in the entire world. I mean, just on general principles, I love mass self-delusion; seeing huge numbers of people concentrating all their energies on not mentioning something is one of my favorite leisure activities. It’s why I buy tickets to the Special Olympics, why I watch awards shows, why I enjoy Republican politics. But there is nothing in this world comparable to seeing a stadium packed to the rafters with overweight, half-educated homophobes trying as hard as they possibly can not to notice that they’re watching a dozen sweaty, ripped, flamboyant guys wearing makeup, tight-tights and no shirts stand kissing distance away from one another and gaze meaningfully into each other’s eyes, seconds before they start wriggling around and rubbing their bodies together.

As public theater, it’s far preferable to other forms of entertainment, such as, say, jury trials. A jury trial may be fine for televised drama, but for real life, it rates, as an experience, somewhere in between a lynching and a farm machinery auction. Why a trial by jury is considered one of the most sacred cornerstones of a free society is beyond me; it’s the most raw, pure example of democracy run amok imaginable. If you were running a campaign to convince people that democracy was a failure, and George W. Bush wasn’t available, you could do a lot worse than to just carefully explain the workings of a jury trial. Think of it this way: not only are you handing your fate over to a couple of lawyers, and betting your life on the fact that yours did less coke the night before than theirs did, but the ultimate decision doesn’t even rest with some party-hack judge who, even though he got the job by attending more mashed potato dinners with the governor than anyone else in their housing development, is at least a lawyer. No, it rests with what is always called with a false sense of nobility “a jury of your peers”. Hey, have you gotten a good look at your peers lately? I wouldn’t trust twelve randomly selected shitheads to wash my car, let alone decide my guilt in a criminal case where I could go to jail for a hundred years. Keep in mind, the next time you want to praise the right to a trial by jury, that this is a country that votes no on William Gaddis, civil rights, and health care, and votes yes on Taco John’s, the USA-PATRIOT Act, and battery-powered light-up shoes.

Hey, speaking of painfully awkward segues, you know who could have used a pair of flashing Mall-Walkers? Jesus. Jesus would really have gone for all the options available in our consumer society, I bet. He’d be so pleased that the country that makes his teachings such a priority hasn’t quite found the time to feed the hungry, aid the poor or ease the suffering of the least among us, because it’s been too busy developing thousands of variants on “Friends”, collectible trading card games, and the bacon double cheeseburger. But I kid Jesus, because really, it is adherence to his teachings that makes America great. And how much sense does that make? A lot! Honestly, when you live in a 21st-century superpower with global computer networks, intercontinental nuclear missiles, and the ability to put people on a rocket to Mars, you really want it governed according to the teachings of a man who lived in a desert 2000 years ago and may not have even actually existed. That’s the guiding hand you want behind your social policy. But why stop there? Why don’t we see what Gilgamesh wants us to do about progressive taxation? What’s Bellerophon’s stance on abortion? Let’s sacrifice some fresh beating hearts on an altar to Quetzalcoatl until he gives us some guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Okay, that’s enough unfunny comedy for today. Can we at least all agree that this “Two for the Money” thing represents the point at which Al Pacino has stopped being someone to whom America needs to pay attention?

Also, happy 30th to Kate Winslet. I’m available now, Kate, just in case things ain’t workin’ out with Sam Mendes.

*: Although that doesn't seem to stop most other stand-up comedians.