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Month: December 2022


Image: PV Bella

Today is New Year’s Eve. As much as it pains me to be a humanitarian and good citizen of the world, I am including a PSA- Public Service Announcement- this New Year’s Eve.

 I should not have to say this. Unfortunately, we live in an age where the average adult is a low-information, over-educated intellectual idiot. They think they are smarter and more skilled than anyone else. The problem is they think.

Do not drink and drive tonight. Most of you cannot drive sober on a good day. I am amazed there is not a daily slaughter of the innocents with the way many people drive sober.

I do not care if you have been driving drunk since your high school days. One of the nice things about being religious is knowing facts. Fact, God created cabs and public trans for drunks.

Do not risk your life, the life of passengers, or the lives of other drivers and pedestrians. Take cabs to and from wherever you are going. If you are a miserly cheapskate and chiseler, take the L or a bus. Let the cab driver take you home. Do not literally take the cab. The same holds true for the bus. Buses are a bear to park or will not fit in your garage.

At the very least, if you get caught drunken driving, you will go to jail, where you belong. It will cost you thousands in legal fees, even if, by slim chance, you beat the charge. If they convict you, your total cost will be around twelve to fifteen thousand dollars, including the giant leap in insurance rates. At the very worst, you will catastrophically injure or kill others and/or yourself.

God used to take care of drunks and fools. Having been one, the other, or both on several occasions, I know this to be true. Unfortunately, God has been on vacation for a while figuring out where he went wrong by creating dumb beings called humans. He will not look after you.

Do not drink and drive.

If you make it home in one drunken piece, you will have a hangover. You may wake up hugging a cold stranger, the porcelain throne. There are more cures for hangovers than there are for chicken recipes. Hydration is important. Sports drinks, like Gatorade, help with some symptoms. So does rest. If you do not need to hug the porcelain, hydrate and go back to bed. Eventually, you will feel better. Then, once recovered, on New Year’s Day you can stuff your maw with whatever crap food you normally celebrate with. For some reason, junk food settles the tummy. It is the only health benefit junk food has.

Happy New Year.

Chicago is no longer the city that works


The Chicago Sun-Times published Homicides in Chicago: a list of every victim. It contains the names of the 685 homicide-and counting-victims in Chicago. (It is not known if the homicides on the expressway are included, as the Illinois State Police have jurisdiction over city expressways.) They list some as Unknown. I update the list daily. Readers can scroll through the list or check the data by Year, Month, Cause (Shooting or stabbing), and Race/Ethnicity. There is also a Priority Communities Dashboard.

Homicides are down over last year, 685 deaths are still way too many. While Police Superintendent David Brown hypes how many firearm arrests officers make, it does nothing to stop the slaughter. Aside from murders, armed robberies are a daily occurrence. Teams, spanning neighborhoods, commit multiple robberies each day and night. Carjackings are a daily occurrence throughout the city. Crime is still out of control.

Another issue is the number of defensive shootings by victimized Concealed Carry licensees. With more people licensed to carry concealed firearms, it could get like the Wild West if they become potential victims.

Brown keeps hyping his failing strategies, plans, schemes, and deployments. Nothing seems to work. Chicago police officers are overworked, understaffed, and their morale is in the toilet. Some districts are manned with half the regular shifts and too many one-man cars. Over 1000 police officers retired or quit this year. Police suicides are up this year too. It is not known why suicides are up, but officers get angrier with each one. They believe the department is failing them, and they communicate their feelings on social media.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot seems oblivious to Brown’s failures since day one. Past mayors would have fired Brown before his first year was up. Why Lightfoot puts faith in Brown’s “leadership” is the proverbial mystery wrapped in an enigma.

The two Chicago newspaper editorial boards remain eerily silent over the steep decline in public safety. This is a sea change from how they treated past mayors over leadership failures. They should have demanded that Lightfoot fire Brown after his disastrous handling of the riots, damage, arsons, and looting that accompanied the peaceful mass protests two years ago. The economic damage from May through August 2020 exceeded $125 million dollars. Many businesses, especially on the Magnificent Mile, never recovered.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot wears the hat. Her primary responsibility is public safety. She, like David Brown, failed miserably. His failures are her failures. Yet, she stubbornly clings to him.

As I wrote before, hiring retired mercenary police chiefs is irresponsible. They do not know the city, neighborhoods, cultures, or dynamics in a strange city. They have too long a learning curve. Brown learned nothing. He thinks he is still in Dallas.

The next mayor and city council must change the city ordinance to hire a police superintendent. They must eliminate the nationwide search for a police superintendent. Police Superintendents must come from the rank-and-file leadership. These leaders know the city, neighborhoods, community groups, and how things work. They have all the requisites to take charge on day one. There is no need for a learning curve. They also know they could be fired on day two, so they will do their best or face the consequences.

Lori Lightfoot does not deserve a second term as mayor. Unfortunately, most of those running against her are not much better, and a few would be worse. Too few alderpersons are vocal about the lack of public safety. The few who are vocal pull their punches. The city council should demand Lightfoot fire Brown. Yet, not one alderperson comes forward to speak the unspeakable. They too, failed us.

Chicago is no longer the city that works. The most important city service is public safety. If the public is not safe, the city cannot work.

The New Year is upon us


One down. One to go. Christmas is in the rearview mirror. New Year’s is around the corner. We suffered through a polar vortex with double-digit below-zero temperatures. The only good thing, weather-wise, was the predicted snowmageddon did not materialize.

Monday was downright balmy, with temperatures in the low 20s. By New Year’s, we will be back in the comfortable 40s or near 50s. Some will break the cargo shorts out. Winter is here with all the temperature and snow ups and downs.

I stopped going out on New Year’s Eve decades ago. It is the first amateur night of the year. All the amateur drinkers are out, getting beyond drunk, aggravating other patrons, puking their guts out, and driving drunk. No thank you, I will stay home or go to a house party close to my lair.

I worked many New Year’s Eves over the decades, and they were not pretty. Around 11:30, we would find a safe hiding place. The Chicago Police Department frowned on us bringing the cars in full of bullet holes. At midnight, there were so many gunshots, it sounded like the 4th of July in a war zone. We made dead pools. We would bet on what police district would have the first murder of the year. If we were lucky, we made an arrest before midnight. Then we spent a few hours of the New Year processing the arrestee. Worse were the drunken bar fights near closing times or the early morning drunken domestic disturbances, which had the propensity to turn violent.  

Making New Year’s resolutions began in ancient times when people promised the gods they would live better lives. In the present eras, they range from sincere to ludicrous. People vow to lose weight, join gyms, live a healthier lifestyle, quit what they consider bad habits, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Some are ludicrous because people aim to promise the impossible.

I do not make resolutions. I only strive for two things. Strive being the operative word. One, I try to be a better person and citizen of the world. Two, I will keep learning new things. These are relatively easy, as they are the things I do regularly. Being a better person is the most difficult, as I am old, crabby, ugly, tired, mean, miserable, and ornery. You know, perfectly normal.

I am a lifelong learner. I try to learn something new every day. The more one knows, the better person one becomes. I try to associate with people who have more knowledge than me or are more skilled than I am. I look, listen, and ask questions. One thing I never ever do is seek perfection. Never ever is a long f**king time. There is no perfection in nature. Humans created perfection to enslave them in a maze they can never escape.

I added one other thing for the upcoming year. Since I am no longer a fan of that fake contact sport, football, I will learn as much about soccer- real futbol- as possible. Soccer is a contact sport, but the players do not wear helmets or padding all over their bodies. There is not one NFL player who would last fifteen minutes on a soccer pitch. Soccer players, on average, run approximately 12 miles per game.

Football players are Ken Doll sides of beef pretending to convince the gullible backwood peckerhead fans they are rough, tough, macho men. Professional wrestling is more legitimate than football. At least wrestlers pretend to be trying to kill each other.

I am fortunate. I know people from all walks of life with various talents and skills. Through conversation, asking questions, or observation, I learn from them. I try to improve on what they provide through practice or more research.

My motto for several years is, if you think you know everything, you are wrong.

Happy New Year.

Oh the weather outside is??????

This week’s forecast/Weather App

According to weather reports, Chicago will have a White Christmas along with a polar vortex and snowpocalypse.. A combination of a blizzard and single-digit and sub-zero temperatures are supposed to strike between Thursday and Saturday. The 30-degree temps will supposedly come back by Tuesday.

Of course, the city will demand we shovel their sidewalks or face fines. If they want the sidewalks shoveled, they should have city employees do it. Their sidewalk, their problem. Maybe Mayor Lightfoot could get out there and shovel sidewalks to set an example for other city employees. She could press thousands of city employees into service, shoveling sidewalks or using snowblowers. They live in every neighborhood, so why should we risk heart-a-strokes to shovel CITY sidewalks? If the city wants them cleaned, they should do it. Hell, that is why we pay taxes for city services.

The plows will be out, pushing snow against already snowbound parked cars, making digging out twice as miserable.

Once the weather warms up by Monday or Tuesday, kids can make snow people out of whatever clean snow is left. We witness that pure white beauty turns into gray and black ugliness within a day or two. Then, thanks to the dog owners, there is the famous yellow snow. Do not forget that public safety is non-existent in Chicago. Some of the snow will be stained with the blood of the many shooting and murder victims.

Those who have lived here know winters can be brutal, and complaining about them is useless. We just put up with them as best we can. People get out the heavy artillery clothing and footwear. We suffer the high winds while waiting on overhead El platforms or the streets for buses that may or may not come.

Winter in Chicago can be weird. Back in the early 1980s, I went running on Christmas Day in shorts and a tee shirt. But, by January, we had one of the coldest winters on record, with high double digits below zero wind chill temperatures.

I remember the blizzard of 1978-79 and the arctic temperatures with more snow that followed. There were still several foot-high snow piles in April at vacant lots and parking lots, where trucks dumped the snow. I also remember shoveling snow several times a day during the 1967 blizzard.

Winter is always a big question mark in Chicago. Some are relatively mild, with a few arctic days and maybe one or two major snowstorms. Others are yo-yos, with fierce weather followed by mild, followed by fierce. You can wear a sport coat and sweater one day and dress like Nanook of the North the next.

Chicagoans are a hearty breed. We may complain, but we learned to live with the strange weather phenomena. Our wardrobes run the gamut from skimpy to arctic explorer, all at hand, just in case. The only downsides are the people who live here and forget how to drive when the roads are snowy or iced over. Things can turn into a bumper car demolition derby on those days.

When the weather gets severe, the heroes are out. The various emergency responders. The police, firefighters, EMTs, emergency utility workers, and others who brave the cold and snow to keep us safe, warm, and well-lit.

Stay warm, stay safe, and remember, the polar vortex only lasts a few days. Then, the balmy 30-degree temps will return.

When Christ Came to Chicago

This is my take on a poem Chicago musician Win Stracke recorded, whose title escapes me.

Santa was gearing up for his midnight run through Chicago on Christmas Eve. As the elves loaded the last packages and retired to raid the liquor cabinet, Santa kissed Mrs. Claus, gave her a hearty swat on the ass, and prepared to depart.

Out of the swirling snow, a long-haired, bearded, robed figure appeared. There was a golden aura surrounding him. It was Jesus Christ.

Jesus asked Santa if he could accompany him on his trip to Chicago. The big man in red knew that when the Son of God asks for something, the request should be considered a Commandment, willfully and cheerfully obeyed.

Italian style, St. Nick, put his hands, palms up, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Yeah. Sure.”

The sleigh’s flight path took them into Chicago over the lake from the Northwest.

The first stop was Uptown.

It was not a home but a homeless shelter. Jesus noted the men, women, and children, especially the children. There would be no sugarplums dancing in their heads this eve. By morning, they would wander and panhandle on the cold streets again. Santa left packages with toys, gloves, scarves, toiletries, and other items.

The next stop was the Gold Coast.

Lights twinkled along Michigan Avenue. The streets were festooned with decorations and lights. Santa and Jesus went from home to home, high rises, townhomes, and single-family mansions to drop off gifts. Christ noted the finery of the houses, the best money could buy. He noted an excess of every kind, the gluttony of riches.

They traveled into the city, circling the Loop.

The streets and stores were decorated to celebrate “The Holiday.” Jesus noted that too. Nowhere was Christmas to be found. Not even a sign proclaiming “Peace on Earth. Goodwill towards Men”. Nothing except something called “Holiday.”

Then Santa did something unusual.

Santa went underground. Not literally under the earth, but through the underground Wacker and Michigan Avenues. He knew every nook and cranny where homeless denizens of the underground slept. He left packages for them. These were people who gave up all hope except the will to live, at least another day.

Jesus took in the sight of people sleeping in cardboard boxes, wrapped in layers of clothing, with all their possessions stacked on the ground or loaded into shopping carts. He noticed the pungent odor of the unwashed. Santa saw a look of profound sadness on Christ’s face.

The sleigh then veered into the Loop. It alit atop City Hall.

Jesus noticed a peculiar smell, the perfume of graft and corruption. Santa delivered fat envelopes stuffed with cash to each alderman’s desk. He knew about pay-to-play, the Chicago Way. Santa wanted no trouble from city officials next year.

The next stop was Stroger Hospital, the county medical campus.

Stroger is where the poor seek treatment for their ills, and the seriously injured or wounded are brought for trauma care. Would be patients packed the waiting area for the emergency room to overflowing. In various states of illness and injury, men, women, and especially children were waiting patiently and not so patiently to be treated.

Sirens blared as ambulances delivered more charges. Triage personnel tried to sort out the most serious—the decision of who would get treated immediately and who would wait all night and into the next day.

In the Trauma Unit, heroic doctors and nurses battled to stabilize, patch up, or valiantly save the lives of people who were shot, stabbed, beaten, or victims of other violence and mayhem. Their movements were energetic, but their eyes relayed weariness. Santa left the staff presents in their break room.

The night was wearing on. There was still much work to do.

They flew through the Westside, the Lawndale neighborhood, where hope goes to die and dreams are stolen.

They entered the homes of the poor. Santa left parcels at each one, taking special care to arrange the children’s just right. Jesus noted the lack these people suffered. He saw children sleeping, sometimes two, three, or more, in a single bed. Stoves and ovens provided extra heat.

There was a racket coming through the walls of various buildings and homes, yelling and screaming. The noise of domestic disturbances and arguments by people whose desperation makes them so angry they lash out at the ones they love.

While flying to another block, Jesus noticed blue lights swirling through the snow.

Santa flew the sled lower. Jesus saw a police car parked in an alley, its doors open and blue Mars Lights twirling. Two burly cops were standing over the latest victim of murder and mayhem in Chicago. A teenager whose crimson blood was staining the pure white snow. His dead eyes were staring at the sky. The screams of an ambulance pierced the night air.

Off they flew until Jesus saw red blinking lights and a flurry of activity.

There was a huge orange glow lighting up the night sky. The smell of thick smoke was pungent. There were cold, huddled masses on the street watching firefighters try to put out a blaze and rescue the inhabitants of a large apartment building. Icicles hung from several firefighters’ helmets.

They entered the parts of the city where the working classes reside.

As they went house to house, Jesus noted piles of stuff filling every nook and cranny of the homes. Every child and adult toy or gadget imaginable. Santa lamented that easy credit and rampant consumerism were making his job harder and harder.

Then it was off to the south side.

As the sled approached the Englewood neighborhood, Santa started taking evasive action, zig-zagging. Jesus asked why. Santa replied that for the Son of God, he sure knew little. Santa patiently explained he was dodging bullets. Jesus just shook his head.

Santa delivered gifts, and, like in Lawndale, made sure the Children’s were placed just right.

When they hit the Southside neighborhood known as the “Hundreds,” Santa put the sleigh down.

He guided it through the streets, as it was worse than Englewood to fly through. Then, out of nowhere, an armed group surrounded the sleigh. They interrogated the fat man, ensuring he was not from an outside gang or drug operation poaching on their turf. Once assured he was harmless, they grabbed several packages and let him go on his merry way.

The sleigh detoured to the Southwest and Northwest sides, the outer neighborhoods. Where city workers, cops, firefighters, EMTs, utility workers, and those with good jobs live.

As Santa made his deliveries, Jesus noticed some family members missing, the police, firefighters, and other emergency responders working on this night.

There was something else He noticed it in some of the other homes. It did not escape His attention during all the other stops. Photos. Pictures of men and women in various uniforms, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen, from across the social, racial, and economic demographic spectrum deployed far from home serving their country.

After they landed back at the North Pole, Jesus noticed a single package left in the sleigh’s corner. He pointed it out to the fat man. Santa sighed, grabbed the package, and gave it to Him.

“This one is for you.”

Jesus opened the package. Inside was a can of WD-40, a roll of duct tape, a baseball bat, and a card with various vulgar, obscene words and phrases. He shot Santa a questioning look.

Santa kindly said, “This is my gift to you. Those are the four items Chicagoans use to fix everything. If one does not work, another will. You have a lot of fixing to do.”

Jesus walked off, shaking His head, disappearing into the swirl of Arctic snow.

Futbol vs. fakeball

If you watched the World Cup finals, Argentina vs. France, you saw real athletes playing at the very pinnacle of their game. The game was an exciting nail biter through over 120 minutes of regular play, added minutes, plus two 15 minute overtimes and a penalty shootout because of a tie. Argentina broke the tie during the penalty shootout, winning the cup. France has nothing to be ashamed of. They came from a 2-point deficit to tie and hold on until the very end.

I you watched the Bears yesterday you wasted your time on fake athletes. The McCaskey Ken Dolls lost again. Oh, everyone hyped Justin Fields and his useless stats. Rah, rah, rah, he ran this much, he threw that much. A word to the idiots in sports media, Field’s stats and records are irrelevant and meaningless if the TEAM does not win. Winning is not only everything, It is the only thing. The only thing that counts.

Winning is something the owners, sports media, and the slobbering drooling fans do not care about. They have their one-man god, Justin Fields. He, who does not walk on water because doesn’t want to get his shoes wet.

The Philadelphia Eagles played as a TEAM. It appears they have a SYSTEM. They worked their SYSTEM. They won. The McCaskey Ken Dolls lost. At 3-11, they have the worst record in the NFL this year. But you won’t hear the sports media or the front office say that. To them, losing is success. You know, those useless numbers for the supposed record books.

Today and tomorrow, the Chicago fanboy sports media will gush over how well Fields played. How great he is. They will sing hymns of praise about him. They will write odes to different stats he racked up and his prowess while downplaying the TEAM’s loss.

Coach Matt Eberflus will act like he won too. He will talk about how well his team played and executed plays while glossing over the loss as immaterial. It is how well they played, not winning, that counts to him, the McCaskeys, and the news media fanboys and fangirls.

The McCaskey Bears organization are practitioners of the Chicago Way. “Problem? We don’t got no stinking problem. There are no problems. Everything is going as planned. Wait till next year. We are building. The project is going as planned. Wait, you will see.” They say that every year. Year after year after year. Quarterback after quarterback after quarterback.

Eberflus and his bosses, the McCaskeys, owe the fans a giant a$$ kissing apology for fielding such a horrible team this year. That will never happen. It appears this is all part of their plan. As long as the fan’s a$$es are in the seats, watching television, and buying tons of merchandise, they do not care about winning. The McCaskeys are laughing all the way to the bank. The kachingo$ are all they care about, and they are raking them in big time. They proved you do not have to be a winning team to be a successful. enterprise You just have to own a team and watch those dollars roll in.

When are the sports media and dullard fans going to stop smoking the hopium, wake up, and realize the Bears organization has been shoveling bear scat at them all these years?

When are they going to realize they have been getting ripped off by charlatans and frauds? The NFL is as fake as pro wrestling. The only thing that is real is the money, and it is the only thing the owners care about. Football is a money sport, not an athletic one.

There is no hope for the sports media in Chicago. They are nothing more than cheerleaders. Maybe they are part of the Chicago Way too, the corrupt upside-down system, where wrong is right, right is wrong. Lies are truth, and truths are lies.

When are the fans going to decide enough is enough, abandon the Bears, and become, oh, I don’t know, soccer fans?

Santa Lightfoot’s commin to town

Image: PV Bella

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Lightfoot is coming to town

You’ve heard about the mall Santa? Welcome to the Hall Santa! Yes Chicago, Santa is real. She lives on the Fifth Floor of City Hall. She and her elves on the shelves in the City Council delivered Christmas gifts early this year.

Gift number one out of her sack of goodies? Funding to extend the CTA Red Line to the far Southside of the city. This project, years in the making, is sorely needed, and finally came to fruition with sleight-of-hand tax increment funding, crafted and approved by her elves in the City Council toy shop.

Gift number two from her sack? Santa Lightfoot and her City Council elves finalized bringing a casino along with a temporary casino to the city. The mayor is taking victory laps with her dutiful reindeer, the Chicago news media, who carry her to deliver gifts. All this just in time for the election cycle she hopes will return her to City Hall for a second term.

Look, a shiny new casino and a new El extension! Hallelujah! All Lightfoot needs is a red suit trimmed in white faux fur, boots, and a pointed hat to remind people of her Christmas largesse. Her elves on the shelves, the alderpersons, should dress in green Christmas elfish fashion, while working in Lightfoot’s toy factory.

We are supposed to be oh-so grateful for Santa Lightfoot bringing gifts just in time to crank up her reelection campaign. She will hype these gifts through April, when the election is held. Instead of cookies and milk, Santa Lightfoot’s true believers, those who will profit from these gifts, will leave cold hard campaign cash on Christmas Eve.

Both gifts, coming back-to-back, were wrapped in pretty paper with fancy ribbons. The news reindeer delivered positive hype and love. These gifts will promote Lightfoot’s greatness while ignoring her failures. Public safety? Murder and mayhem? Armed robbery crews? Car jackings? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Image: PV Bella

Another major story out of the City Pole? A Christmas contest to name the snowplows. Yep. You not only get an El extension and Casino under the tree, you get a chance to name a snowplow. Jolly Olde St. Lightfoot is bringing oh so much joy to Chicago. Grief, mourning, and fears of being victimized? Those are not the tale of Christmas. The tale, the only tale, is the largesse of Santa Lightfoot.

Lightfoot, like her predecessors, celebrates bread and circuses. She buries her failures, aided, and abetted by her partners in crime, the Chicago news media and their editorial boards. The media are willfully blind to City Hall’s and Superintendent David Brown’s failures in public safety. Like baby birds, the media eats the supposed data regurgitated daily by City Hall or they cut-and-paste City Hall press releases.

The only sites to find accurate crime news is CWBChicago. For accurate data and data analysis, there is HeyJackass.

People in the neighborhoods and some alderpersons are complaining about the lack of public safety and police shortages in the districts. The complaints fall on deaf ears. It is all buried under crappy, filthy snow piles.

Christmas is nine days away. What other shiny baubles will Santa Lightfoot deliver from her toy shop in City Hall?

Christmas in Chicago

Image: PV Bella

Bang bang bang, bang bang bang
It’s Christmas time in the city
Bang bang bang  hear them shoot
Soon it will be Christmas day

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children dying, people wounded
Meeting scream after scream
And on every street corner you hear bang bang bang, bang bang, bang
It’s Christmas time in the city
Hear them shoot
Hear the screams
Soon it will be Christmas day

Strings of street lights, even stoplights
Blinkin’ bright red and green
As the shoppers get robbed of their treasures
Hear the gun shots, see the kids die
This is the robbers big day
And above all this bustle you hear

Bang bang bang
Bang bang bang
It’s Christmas time in the city

Bang bang bang, it fills the winter air
Hear them shoot, you hear it everywhere
Soon it will be Christmas day

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children dying, people screaming
Seeing wounds and murder
Very soon it will be Christmas day

RIP Joseph Kromelis The Walking Man


Joseph Kromelis.

His name was Joseph Kromelis. Mr. Kromelis is known as the “Walking Man” or “Walking Dude.” He was a regular presence for forty years, walking and peddling around downtown and North Michigan Avenue. Mr. Kromelis was recognizable by his shoulder-length gray hair, prominent mustache, and clothing. Except on the hottest days, he wore a sport coat or overcoat. Sometimes he added a boutonniere.

Mr. Kromelis never bothered people. He was not a panhandler. He rarely talked to people. Once, someone asked him about his meanderings. He merely said he liked to walk.

Chicagoans knew little about Mr. Kromelis until he suffered a beating in 2016 and made the news. He made the news again in May of this year. While sleeping in the Underground Wabash near Trump Tower, a man doused a flammable liquid on him and lit him on fire. Security guards extinguished the fire and called the police.

Mr. Kromelis was not expected to survive. He suffered burns between 50-65% of his body. He survived and after being released from the hospital, they sent him to an assisted living and rehabilitation facility. Joseph Guardia was charged with attempted murder and arson.

On Sunday, the Office of the Medical Examiner reported the death of Mr. Kromelis. Once they reveal the cause and manner of death, we will know if prosecutors will upgrade the aggravated battery charge to murder.

Chicago, like any major city, has and had its share of colorful or oddball characters. Occasionally they made the news or the obits. No one knows what caused their idiosyncrasies. No one knows why Joseph Kromelis, “The Walking Man,” spent his years daily walking around, other than he liked to walk. Chicago knew Mr. Kromelis because of his constant presence, yet we knew little about him. Not who he was, but why he was.

What little is known can be found here.  And here.   

Christmas is about we


“Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we.” (Narrator, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas)

I get nostalgic as Christmas approaches. I remember the Christmases past. My folks, dedicated foodies, prepared days ahead for the feasts on Christmas Eve and Day. I would accompany my dad on sometimes citywide excursions to buy the various food items needed.

I remember the look of pure joy on my parents’ faces as they prepared the feasts. On the two days, buffet tables groaned with enough food to feed an army. The relatives came over and the feasts began. On Christmas Eve, there were trays of clams and oysters, calamari, and cod poached in water and olive oil with garlic.

On Christmas day, a roast or ham, turkey, dressing, salads, lasagna, and other side dishes. After the meal, there was a tray of fruit, fennel, and nuts. Dessert and coffee were served later.

Over the years, I prepared feasts, or we went to others’ homes where a feast was held. During the past few years, we simplified our holiday dinners. We get the best ingredients we can afford, prep and cook. The cooking takes way less time, as there are not as many people taking part. I take the same care and feel the same joy my parents felt all those years ago. I will make gravlax again like I do every year. Christmas Day will be a small roast with some sides. Maybe roasted vegetables and some kind of potato dish.


I no longer decorate for the holidays, except for the Santa doll, plate, a bottle of Bourbon, and a two-pound package of bacon. Screw those little crumb-crunching, nose mining spawns of Satan and their oh so precious parents with their cookies and hot chocolate. I am never disappointed on Christmas day. I made my yearly donations to charity. Just one this year, but one well worth it for what I get in return.

Next week I will start listening to Christmas music from many genres, including punk and metal, to get into the supposed festive joy of the season. My shopping is done, except for the gift I buy for myself every year. All I must shop for is the food.

I worked many Christmases, Eves, and Days as a Chicago police officer. A local restaurant would send pans of turkeys, hams, sides, and dessert to the station. We would come in shifts to eat. The owner was kind enough to feed us every year. I will never forget their generosity or the camaraderie of sharing a meal.

Aside from the religious significance and various traditions, Christmas is about “We.” It is about sharing gifts and meals with family, friends, or co-workers if they must work on that day. People need the “We” in this world, even if it is just one day a year.

As Christmas nears, I think about how fortunate I am. I have a family. I have friends and acquaintances from all walks of life. They are my “We,” and I am grateful to have them in my life.

Buckminster Fuller said it best. “Man was not meant to be alone.”