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Month: January 2023

Sunday funday

Image: PV Bella
Image: PV Bella

Well, full winter is finally here. Cold, snow, and the temps will drop to arctic degrees. So, as a public service, because I am all about public service, I will drop this message. If you are cold, they are cold. Please do not leave your spouse, partner, bed buddy, main squeeze, side piece, he, she, his, her, they, it or whatever you call them. Bring them indoors.

Friends of mine related bad, terrible, or horrible experiences they had with Uber or Lyft. I have been taking, more Ubers this past year. I only had a few bad experiences. One was partially the driver’s doing, as they got lost, because Uber’s GPS turned off. I have been lucky, as there are four drivers who became regulars if they are near my home. It is almost like having a private car service.

I also use Curb when I need to take a cab. There are some places, like the West Loop and Near West Side, where there are few Ubers and fewer cabs. Sometimes CURB is less expensive than Uber. But the cab drivers have different ways of getting me where I am going. Sometimes they take the really long way. I am never in a hurry. I only have two speeds, slow and stop. They never listen when I tell them the faster way to go. However, their fare is locked in. When they go way off out of the way, they lose two to four times what the fare should have been. Their loss, not my problem.

I always hear, read about, and occasionally experience bad customer service. So, I was surprised at the bank that services my mortgage. I did not get my escrow adjustment refund. The only snag was trying to get a human on the phone. After some frustration, I pressed whatever for something else. Voila, a human. I explained my issue. They did send the check a month earlier. Since it had not been cashed, he canceled it, issued a new one, and said to expect it in two weeks. Three days later, the check was in my mailbox. By the way, this bank was supposedly known for its bad to horrible customer service.

As I write this, I am sitting in a bar, my favorite office away from home. Every Sunday, I have one Bloody Mary before switching to beer. Brittaney, the bartender, makes good ones. Today, she outdid herself, as you can see from the picture below.

Image: PV Bella

The game of fake food ball was on. The Eagles and 49ner Ken Dolls were vying for the phony Super Bowl. I never saw such good choreography outside of a ballet or theater. Geez, they do not even hide the fact the game is one big gazillion-dollar fraud. There are fans in the bar from both sides rooting for their favorite Ken Dolls. What a bunch of backwoods peckerheads. But I hope the Philadelphia Ken Dolls win so they can go to the NFL’s Dancing with the Stars next month.

Image: PV Bella

Last, a bold, brazen crime was committed by the criminals that Superintendent David Brown and Mayor Lori Lightfoot ignore as if they do not exist. Only this time, the victim was the Chicago Police Department. Thieves stole the catalytic converters from five trucks belonging to the Mounted Unit. Their headquarters are at the original stables at the South Shore Cultural Center. With the trucks out of commission, so are most of the Mounted Unit. The horses cannot be deployed until the trucks are repaired. Not even police vehicles are safe in Chicago.

Thank you Mayor Lightfoot, David Brown, Kim Foxx, and Toni Preckwinkle for making Chicago the laughing stock of the nation. I imagine Tex Brown will spew some XXX data porn for the puerile Chicago news media to claim crime is down to historic lows at the Mounted Unit headquarters, like the rest of the lies he tells about crime in this city.

The questions are: How did the thieves get in unseen? Are there cameras in the lot? Was anyone on duty providing site security? Will heads roll? Or will Lightfoot finally realize David Brown should saddle up his nag and ride back to Texas, where he belongs, in a retirement home for mercenaries.

Have a good week. Stay warm, dry, and safe.

Criminal oddities


“You got keys?” one of them asks before agreeing to hold the victim’s pizzas so the man can dig his keys out of his pocket.

“You good?” a carjacker asks, returning the pizzas after the man surrenders the keys.

“I’m good,” he replies.

“All right, thank you,” replies one.

“Thank you, sir,” says another.

“You betcha,” replies the victim as he takes a long drag from a cigarette, then walks away.” (CWBChicago)

The above conversation was a carjacking by very polite criminals armed with handguns and a rifle. This was one of some oddball crimes in this crime-ridden city.

What started as a vehicle theft in Rockford turned into another oddity. The vehicle that was stolen is owned by a funeral parlor. There was a dead body in the rear. Chicago Police recovered the van on the Southside. on the Southside. The body was not in the van in the van. The body was discovered on the street over two miles away.

In another strange crime, a man returned home after running errands. He saw his garage door open and a stranger standing in the garage. The victim did what any self-respecting Chicagoan would do. He grabbed a sword and held the burglar at sword point until police arrived. The police found the victim’s power tools in the burglar’s bicycle basket. (CWBChicago)

In a court case, a public defender described the crime as an act of poverty. The judge who stated the attorney was insulting poor people upbraided the lawyer. The attorney apologized.

Our mayor entered the fray of odd criminality with her solution to prevent robberies. Street vendors in Pilsen and Little Village are being victimized by armed robbers. Our illustrious mayor’s solution was to tell them not to make cash transactions and use other transaction services. She is so disconnected from the city’s communities she does not realize these vendors, mostly immigrants, probably do not have checking accounts.

Most of the other candidates for mayor had no real solutions to crime. Their fairy tale ideas would put more people in danger. Most of the candidate, including Lightfoot, are delusional when it comes to crime and public safety.

The Chicago Police and Cook County Sheriff’s departments are partnering to help citizens to prevent auto and catalytic converter thefts. Police districts will have events to distribute steering wheel locking devices and information on how to protect your vehicle from being stolen. The two departments are working with manufacturers to register people for the Tracked Vehicle Program. You can read more about that in the link below.

As car thefts spike in the Chicagoland area, the agencies offer motorists steering wheel locks, tracking registration and helpful hints on how to keep property secure.

The story behind the movie Heat

Chuck Adamson was a retired Chicago Police Sergeant of Detectives, an actor, scriptwriter, and television producer. He was involved in writing episodes of Miami Vice, and movies Thief, A River Runs Through It, Top Cops, The Stand, Quiz Show. He was the creator of the television Crime Stories, starring his friend and retired Chicago Police Officer Dennis Farina. He consulted on many other film projects.

I came across this video, which outlines how Heat was based on one of Adamson’s more famous cases. The video tells the story better than I or anyone else can.

Chicago is a city of change


“Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,





   Building, breaking, rebuilding” (Chicago/Carl Sandburg)

Carl Sandburg published his poem Chicago in 1914. It was a perfect description of the city at that point in history. He would write several similar poems about his adopted city. The city has not changed much. Chicago is still Sandburg’s “City of big shoulders.”

Most of the smokestacks are gone, as well as most of the famed stockyards. There is no longer a haze over the city from industrial pollution. Various strides in technology and science changed how we produce and build. We can build faster and safer than in the past. Even in winter, as long as the weather is not arctic, construction goes on. Buildings go up.

If you live in Chicago, you cannot be nostalgic about places. Chicago is always razing, building, rebuilding, and repurposing structures.

Former Finkl Steel/IMAGE: PV Bella

Some jobs still require brawn and sweat. That will never change unless or until robots replace people doing dirty work. Construction, destruction, and new construction are cyclic in Chicago. Chicago is still a city of hard work and hard workers. They build, raze, and toil in grit and dust. Some jobs still create the grit and dust of the past. That will never change.


There is still a sign Chicago is a blue-collar construction city. Look at all the cranes reaching to the sky being used to erect tall buildings. Construction sites are all over the city, from small projects to high-rise skyscrapers.  People with hard hats and tools abound.

There is noise. Clanging, crashing, causing, banging, whirring, sawing, and engines running, to name some. Those noises are the sound of money. Money for landowners, developers, architects, designers, construction material companies, tradesmen, and laborers.


Living in Chicago is living with change. We learn to shrug our shoulders and get used to it. Things change so fast that there is no time for nostalgia. Fortunately, there are photographs, leaving a historical record of the past. Preservationists fight many losing battles to keep buildings, small and large, from the wrecker’s ball.

Residential neighborhoods change on a smaller scale. Where single-family homes or small apartment buildings once stood, McMansions replace them. This is ongoing across the city. Neighborhoods gentrify and lose their personality to new inhabitants. Destruction, hole digging, foundation laying, and construction of multimillion-dollar homes are the norm in some neighborhoods. Sometimes life long residents are forced to move out because of economic changes, including higher and sometimes unaffordable property taxes.

Some call all this destruction and construction progress. Others call it greed. Yet, it is an ongoing fact of life in Chicago. Since the city was a trading post on a muddy swamp, people built, destroyed, and rebuilt. It was and is a never-ending process. Most of us shrug our shoulders and get used to it, except for road construction. That is something we never get used to it. It is more infuriating than unplowed streets in the winter.

Fairytale Chicago

Image: PV Bella

Chicago fairy tales should begin with- “If elected, I promise…” Of course, there will be no happily ever after. No happy ending. Chicago politicians make big, bold promises, then break them. Take Mayor Lightfoot, for example.

Lightfoot released a 30-second fairy tale commercial, with a narrator touting her accomplishments to keep the public safe from violent crime. It is all gobbledygook. She failed and failed miserably in keeping the citizens of and visitors to this city safe. Her handpicked Police Superintendent, David Brown, is an abject failure. He does not know what he is doing, where he is at, or why he is here.. Every plan, strategy, scheme, and deployment failed. Since day one, he failed the citizens of this city

Lightfoot is hyping what she describes as a “Whole of government” approach- whatever that means- to criminality. Violent crime is rampant in everyone of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods and citywide on public transportation. We cannot believe the city’s numbers, as they can be massaged to make it look like crime is down. It has been done many times before.

Perception used to be more powerful than reality. In Chicago, perception is reality. People do not feel safe. The mayor does not make the public feel safe. People see the truth in their neighborhoods.

Some mayoral candidates promise to fire Brown on day one. Who ever they appoint will have an almost impossible job of correcting all of Brown’s failures while trying to get a handle on the day to day.

All the numbers and statistics Brown spits out to a press corp. that drools and slobbers over data and data analytics is pure garbage if there is no perception of safety by the public. If people live in fear, even if those numbers are spot on, they will not believe them. People are living in fear.

Even rideshare drivers avoid certain areas after dark, which is why there is surge pricing. They do not want to get carjacked, robbed, or injured. I talk to drivers all the time. Many times, they tell me I am their last ride for the day. More people I know are trying to get Concealed Carry Licenses. Some were the last people I thought would own a gun, let alone learn how to use one.

Postal workers are being robbed by armed offenders on their routes, something almost unheard of in the past. CTA personnel are being victimized. Some El lines are no longer safe to ride. Worse, just by being out and about, anyone can be the unintended victim of a violent crime by being hit by a stray bullet(s) from a pray and spray shooter.

Lori Lightfoot is in trouble. She alienated citizens across this city with her antics. She will try anything to hold on to the Fifth Floor of City Hall, even if it is dishonest or outright false, like the video. The one thing she will not do and should do is fire David Brown and send him packing back to Texas.

Time ran out for Lightfoot. The election is at the end of February. There is no way she can turn the public safety ship around in time. All she can do is hope. Hope enough people believe her lies. Hope some brutal weather comes in and stays around for a while. Hope the criminals give her a break and lie low until after the election. She hopes there is not a murder that will attract national attention and shed a national spotlight on her failures. Hope election turnout is low, favoring the incumbent.

One of her opponents should air their own fairy tale. “Once Upon a Time In Chicago.” Like Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America and Once Upon a time in the West” movies,. They can show the gritty good, bad, and ugly of this once great city.

All we, the citizens, can hope for, is to get through each day without being the victim of a violent crime. Those odds fluctuate by the hour and day. Once upon a time Lightfoot was elected as a mayor and historic figure. If reelected, she promises…

Hitting 70


Today, I start my 70th orbit around the Sun. Much to the chagrin of many, I am still alive and kicking. I plan to stay that way. The only thing that changed is I am older, crabbier, uglier, more tired, meaner, and more miserable and ornery than usual.




The above numbers are the hours, minutes, and seconds in one year. If my calculator is right, I lived 616,200 hours, 36,824,000 minutes, 2,209,032,000 seconds and counting. It is amazing. While I am no longer 175lbs. of rompin, stompin, dynamite, I am older, wiser, smarter, and in a pinch still modestly dangerous- as long as a shock does not bring on the debilitating, heartbreaking, widow and orphan making, heart-a-stroke.

Life has been good, bad, and ugly. As a priest friend once said, life is messy. Looking back, the bad or ugly times were not as bad or ugly as I perceived them. They were just messy.

I survived an almost thirty-year career as a Chicago Police Officer without being killed, catastrophically injured, fired, indicted (Came close), or imprisoned. Being a Chicago Police Officer was the best job in the world. No two days were alike. Over fifteen years ago, I retired. I do not miss the circus. I just miss the clowns.

There are always new things to keep me occupied. I am a constant learner, bookworm, photographer, urban wanderer, foodie, cook, and whatever else my over-curious mind leads me to.

So far, I survived two flu seasons, the COVID pandemic and Chicago’s violent continuous crime pandemic. I take all the precautions to stay well and safe. I do not have to enjoy living like this. I must do it. Self-survival is the first and highest law of nature. I am a survivor.

I am fortunate to have friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, cultural and social strata. The number is not large and gets smaller every year. I am good with that. My friends and acquaintances are people I enjoy spending time with, no matter how often or seldom I see or talk to them.

I do not tolerate anyone. Toleration is a lie. People tolerate unruly pets and impish children. I accept people for who and/or what they are. I treat people the way I want to be treated. The older I get, the more open-minded I become.

I try to believe most people are good, and they do what they can to right the wrongs in my city. Unfortunately, I do not believe most of our politicians are good. If they were, Chicago would be a paradise instead of a shooting gallery. Good people must demand better from our elected officials.

I try to stay occupied and sometimes make a few bucks. Sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me, and I go down hours-long rabbit holes. In June, I had an exhibition of my street photography. It was my first exhibition. I am humbled that I was invited to do this. I am grateful to my pal, the artist Tony Fitzpatrick for the opportunity to exhibit in his Dime Gallery.

I am not the same person I used to be. Life is about change, constant learning, and understanding. Books and schools are not the sole repositories for knowledge. Knowledge is never static. Learning is a lifelong process. Understanding is just as important as knowledge. Learning and understanding are evolutionary processes. When you think you know it all, you are wrong. You are stuck on stupid.

Every morning, if I open my eyes, I thank the Great Comedian for another day above ground. I get another chance to watch the sunrise and set. Another 24 hours on this spinning orb.

No one makes it off this orb alive. I know one day my time will come. Since we apparently die in alphabetical order, I will be near the top of the list. I will have no regrets since I already rued my life’s commissions and omissions. I will not go quietly. I will go kicking and screaming. Hell, I may as well go out the same way I came in and lived my life.

Life is short, no matter how long you keep breathing. Live, love, laugh, and eat the damn sandwich.

As my late friend Shelley Howard used to say:

“Hug someone. Smile more. Tell the people you love how you feel. Paint your tapestry with bold colors and rich designs. Postpone nothing. Establish boundaries. Exhibit patience.”

The Walking Man will be laid to rest


In his poem, “Chicago,” Carl Sandburg titled Chicago “The City of Big Shoulders.” The reference was to the hard working tradesmen and laborers who built the city, making it the industrial center of the nation. Chicago is also the city of big hearts. Before crowdfunding, those big hearts were mostly anonymous acts of kindness.

Several years ago, a toddler died from injuries caused by child abuse. Her mother was in jail, charged with the crimes. There were no other relatives, so her body sat in the morgue. The detectives handling the case decided the child should have a proper funeral and burial.

The detectives and other police officers kicked in some money. They approached a funeral home. The funeral director listened to the story and donated his services. The detectives used their money to buy a cemetery plot. They held a wake for the child, a funeral procession, and a graveside service. None of this made the news. They did it in near anonymity. The detectives and funeral home did this because it was the right thing to do.

Joseph Kromelis, the Walking Man, died last month from injuries caused by being set on fire while he slept in the underground Wacker Drive. His body laid in the Cook County Medical Examiner’s morgue, awaiting cremation and the yearly public burial for indigent and unidentified people.

After a series of donations, he will be laid to rest at St. Boniface Cemetery. The Rev. Scott Donahue, president of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, spearheaded the effort to reach family and coordinate a private burial.

Sullivan Funeral Home donated cremation services. Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Chicago donated a niche at St. Boniface Cemetery. Kromelis, the Walking Man, was famous in his own way. He was a piece of Chicago. It is only fitting he had a proper burial and to rest here.

Once again, people stepped in to do the right thing. They asked for nothing in return. Acts of kindness happen many times in this city. We see people starting crowdfunding pages for crime victims or people who experience tragic circumstances.

The people who coordinate and donate do not do this for publicity or fifteen minutes of fame. They do this because it is the right thing to do. Every day people in this city perform acts of kindness, big and small. They help those in need. When no one else will, they step in to help total strangers.

Joseph Kromelis was homeless, but he was not unknown. He was an icon just for being himself, the Walking Man. He had celebrity status in the Near North Side of the City. Every day, no matter the weather, he walked, making his rounds. His shoulder-length gray hair and mustache made him recognizable. He was photographed, talked about, and pointed out to tourists.

Joseph Kromelis suffered a horrific crime. He died as he lived alone. He did not die forgotten.

The New Year begins

Image: PV Bella

The holidays are over. Yesterday marked the last official day of the season, as most people had the day off. Now, we move forward in a new year, hoping things will be better than last year or we will be better people. Too many of us forget that part of life is trying to improve ourselves.

It is a gray, pouring rain, foggy, and depressing day. I wrote this in my office away from home, my favorite saloon. I am sat at a window and watched the on and off rain pour down. Someone played a lot of Blues songs on the jukebox. It matches the depressing weather. All the usual suspects showed up, as they do almost daily. They are an interesting cast of characters.

We are still recovering from the results of the COVID pandemic, especially economically. With flu season, new COVID cases, and RSV, a new epidemic can break out with possible new restrictions. I still keep masks handy, just in case.

With the holidays over, the municipal election cycle begins. Early voting begins at the end of this month. The ballots will be counted on election day, February 28th. There are nine contenders for mayor of Chicago. Mayor Lightfoot needs 50% plus one vote to get reelected. If she does not get that percentage, there will be a runoff election in April. The three top contenders running against her are U.S. Congressman Chuy Garcia, Paul Vallas, and businessman, and gadfly politician, Willie Wilson.

It will be interesting to see how much voter dissatisfaction there is over Lori Lightfoot’s reign on the Fifth Floor of City Hall. Lightfoot has some deep problems. Public safety is a joke. Her chosen Police Superintendent, the mercenary, David Brown, was a failure from day one. No other mayor in modern history would accept this continuing level of failure. Past mayors would have fired Brown before his first year was up.

Image: PV Bella

The aldermen and women are also up for election and reelection. Several decided not to run for reelection. Most were and still are silent on Lightfoot’s failures. A few speak up, but they are too few. There should have been an aldermanic rebellion over public safety failures in this city.

All I can say is, it is imperative that every eligible voter cast a ballot in the upcoming election. Our lives and way of life in Chicago are at stake. Chicago needs change, on the Fifth Floor of City Hall and in the City Council. I do not know who I am voting for, except it will be the candidate who will fire Superintendent David Brown and demote his equally incompetent First Deputy Superintendent, Eric Carter.

The Blackhawks and the Bulls and Bulls are having disappointing seasons this year. As for that football team, whatever they call themselves, they will put their fans out of their joyful misery this weekend when they lose to the Vikings again. Joyful misery? How else do you describe rabid backwoods rubes and bark chewing peckerheads who think the worst team in the NFL is so great? There is no joy in the Chicago sports world.

A while ago, I submitted a DNA sample to learn my genetic background and create a family tree. I received an email from the lab. It had to do with misophonia. Misophonia is a hatred of everyday noises, like the sound of people chewing. These noises can cause hatred, rage, and/or panic. According to my genetic markers, I have lower than average odds of hating the sound of people chewing. All you loud chewers are safe from me.