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Peter V. Bella Posts

There is No Safe

Image: PV Bella

There is no safe place in Chicago.

Mass shootings are the new normal in Chicago. 1967 was named the Summer of Love. 2021 is the Summer of Murder and Mayhem.

The only safe place in Chicago is the tomb, six feet underground. You can only die once.

Yesterday, there were three mass shootings in Chicago over six hours, including a party bus in Old Town. Violence is out of control. Our dear leaders are dithering over signage ordinances, naming streets, the upcoming disaster of Lollapalooza, and other inconsequential matters.

Tex Brown, the Superintendent of Police, is either out to lunch or dreaming of riding his horse across the prairie. The Chicago Police Department is overworked, over-tasked, over-stressed, and bone tired.

Tex created a recipe for disaster. Cowboys do not belong in a real city. Neither do other mercenary former police leaders. These so-called leaders are one of the reasons mercenaries have such a bad reputation.

It is beyond time for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to admit she made a mistake. Fire Tex, pay off his contract, and let him ride off into the sunset. Ship his cowboy ass back to Texas.

Crime is out of control. People are suffering and dying. Families are grieving and mourning. Day after day after day… There is no end in sight. Every day the headlines lead with bleeding. Every day people- plural- are murdered or shot in this city. They range in age from infants to the elderly. Every neighborhood is affected by this spate of violence.

Nothing is being done. If you, the public, believe the lies coming from Tex Brown and the mayor’s office, then you deserve the murderous leadership you chose. City Hall and Tex Brown are heartless and merciless. They do not mourn the deaths. They show no compassion for the families.

The bodies are piling up faster than a combat zone. The city is in a state of siege and havoc. Violent criminals are holding Chicago hostage. The police are handcuffed. Tex is a legend in his own mind.

There is no shame in admitting failure. It is time for the mayor to admit Tex was the wrong person for the job. It is time to pick a police leadership team that knows the streets and neighborhoods. It is time to focus on ending the Summer of Violence. It is past time to stop blaming gangs, drugs, guns, or the illegal gun trade, politics, and all the other finger-pointing, and start doing something.

It is time for supposed prosecutor Kim Foxx to step up and charge more felonies or quit and go live in her safe leafy suburb. It is time for judges to step in, issue high bonds, stop plea bargaining felonies, end probation, and start sending violent criminals to prison.

Chicago needs change. It is time for the aldercritters and the mayor to step up and create it. It is time for Tex Brown to go. The alternative is not acceptable. In this city of scoundrels and cowards, we are all potential victims. Victims of incompetence.

Branson, Bezos, and a Sense of Wonder

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood, and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.” (Attributed to architect, Daniel Burnham)

“Science fiction can be defined as that branch of literature which deals with the reaction of human beings to changes science and technology.” (Isaac Asimov)

Science fiction is described as the literature of ideas providing a sense of wonder. Space exploration was just one of SF’s sub-genres. SF speculated about possible future events based on actual past and present knowledge and the significance of the scientific method. SF’s popularity during the 20th Century owes in part to the respect of science and rapid advances in technology, innovation, and inventions. SF was a predictor of technological progress.

Space exploration was not only an idea in fiction. People dreamed of going into space, to the moon or mars for much of the 20th Century. The Russians kicked off the space race by putting a person in orbit around the earth. The United States soon followed, then dominated. We put humans in space and astronauts on the moon. We sent rovers to Mars. Now, the Chinese are our main competition.

Before we put humans into space, we were putting satellites into space. There are so many there may be a need for space traffic control soon.

The movie 2001 Space Odyssey was a precursor to the space station and the International Space Station. Life imitated art.

This interest in space was not only by governments. People dreamed of space travel for decades. Men with imagination and/or money dreamed of private space travel or space tourism.

This month two men made private space travel a reality. A third will soon join them. On July 11th, Richard Branson went to space with a crew. The flight was short but historic. On July 20th, Jeff Bezos went into space with the youngest and oldest people to go into the ether.

Elon Musk is planning a space flight sometime this year.

What do all three of these people have in common besides hundreds of billions of dollars each? They are men of imagination, vision, and big, bold ideas. They also have big egos, which drives them to innovate. Hell, one would think they came from Chicago.

Their trips and plans stirred controversy from the say no crowd. There was a petition to refuse Bezos re-entry to earth signed by the ignorant and gullible who sign petitions just because. Politicians, comedians, and wanna-be comedians in the news media heaped jokes and derision on the two men.

Others castigated Bezos, Branson, and Musk for spending so much of their money on space when that money could solve some social issues here on earth. These are people with small minds and smaller ideas.

Bezos is the punching bag of the mobs of ignorance due to Amazon, the business behemoth he created. From the ignominious halls of Congress to the unwashed keyboard warrior wad, Bezos is equated with evil and a relative of Satan. Branson comes into his share of criticism as well as Musk.

These three men are doing what only governments do, going into space. They have bigger dreams for space than mere short larks. Space transport, space stations, even space communities. They are futurists. The critics are Luddites.

By the way, hours after Bezos landed, he contributed 100 million dollars each to Van Jones and Jose Andres for their charities. He was roundly criticized for that.

The naysayers donate nickels and dimes to various spurious causes or, worse, to politicians. They believe they know where their money goes. They are naive. What do they do to make life better? The politicians are all talk and no action. The keyboard warriors are clueless. The professional comedians are the only worthwhile people- they make us laugh.

Branson, Bezos, and Musk are disruptors. Their businesses disrupted traditional models and the tech world. Now, they are disrupting the STEM world, space. All the great innovators were disruptors. Edison, Ford, Carnegie, Gates, Ellison, Jobs, Ma, and the list goes on.

We used to celebrate achievement in this country. Now, we criticize, mock, and rant against it. The same people who believe in science with religious fervor are raging against it because billionaires achieved something.

We are entering a new age of big dreams, big ideas, and innovation. Those take big imaginations, significant risks, and big money. If people can create and accomplish things, sharing them with the world, where is the harm?

Bezos, Branson, and Musk are putting their money where their imagination is. The politicians, comedic news pundits, and keyboard social media warriors contribute nothing but poisonous gas.

That’s My Father

Image: PV Bella

The Chicago Police Chaplain celebrates a Father’s Day mass at the Gold Star Family Memorial and Park every year. The memorial is situated on the lakefront between Soldier Field and Burnham Harbor.

Several years ago, when my daughter was young, we attended. One of the officers took a lot of pictures. At the next regular mass, she brought them for people to take. There was a photo of my daughter and me with two bosses, the Chief of Patrol and a commander.

After lunch, I met up with her mother to hand my daughter off. I worked midnights and needed to sleep. She took the girl to her office. She had a meeting with a real estate broker.

That evening, she called me. The broker was a Chicago police sergeant who had an administrative job in one of the police divisions. She described him as a hot dog. He wore police-related jewelry, and his business cards had an image of a sergeant’s star. He made sure his gun was visible while wearing civilian clothes. He usually double-parked his city car in front of the office instead of the lot.

Sergeant F. came to her office to get some papers signed. My wife was on the phone. My daughter was doing homework at a table. While he was waiting, he saw the photo on her table. He asked my daughter if she knew the men she was standing with.

My daughter never looked up, pointed her finger, and, in a bored voice, said, “That’s Mr. M., and that’s Mr. O’D.” The client asked her who the mean-looking guy is. “That’s my father.” She kept doing her homework, not acknowledging the sergeant.

Sergeant F. was described as antsy and impatient. While my wife was on the phone, he walked around the office.

There was a shelf for my daughter’s school stuff and other things. On top were some pictures and other memorabilia. One was a photo of the Chief of Patrol inspecting the troops with his dog, a bull terrier. The other was a thank you card from the Superintendent of Police.

This sergeant was described as getting nervous. Until that day, he did not know my wife was married to a cop. He was pacing the office while the phone call went on. When the call was over, he shoved the papers at my wife. When she signed them, he flew out of the office like someone put a rocket in his pants.

My wife asked the girl why she was so rude to the man. My daughter told her, “Ma, he asked me if I knew those men in the picture. I might be ten, but I would not be standing with strangers. He did not know who Mister M. is. He is a big boss. Everybody knows Mr. M. Then he said my dad looked mean. My father is not mean.”

We had a good laugh over the whole thing. The sergeant and my wife had a few more encounters until the deal closed. Every time he was nervous around her.

Don’t Listen to Fools Get Vaccinated

Image: Rendering by CDC artist

What do the following have in common?

  • Joe Biden sending out “needle “Nazis.”
  • The federal government is going door to door to create a registry of unvaccinated people and force them to get vaccinated.
  • Biden wants to go door to door to check if you are vaccinated. What next, “knocking on your door to see if you own a gun?”
  • Biden may later use knocking on doors to confiscate guns and bibles.
  • Biden has you on a list and is going door to door.
  • Senior citizens should not get the vaccine.
  • COVID vaccines are dangerous and potentially deadly.
  • The same politicians who legalized spreading HIV are now pushing Americans to take COVID tests or show proof of vaccination to enter businesses.
  • Brownshirts from the government would try to pressure people to vaccinate themselves against COVID.
  • People should be able to sue for discrimination if required to present proof of vaccination to enter entities.
  • Can’t infected people be sent to an island? (Guantanamo)
  • Vaccinating school-age children should stop. Children are not affected or poorly affected by COVID.

All the above claims were made by extremist elected officials, except the last two. The recent former occupant of the White House, the dyed blonde man-tan, the unstable idiot, made those.

The sad thing is there are masses of ignorant people all over this country who believe those politicians. Misinformation and disinformation about COVID, vaccines and related issues are spreading faster than social media can keep up with fact-checking. Even people in Chicago and the suburbs are posting nonsense regarding COVID and vaccinations.

Politicians spreading false information is not only irresponsible and reprehensible but should be criminal. This is wanton recklessness and negligence of the highest order. Public health and safety are two of the highest responsibilities of elected officials. They are failures.

Too many politicians abdicated their responsibilities for cheap political gain. The vaccine rhetoric is killing people. Their constituents who believe them are just as mentally defective as they are.

Modern vaccines came about in the late 1700s with the smallpox vaccine. The rabies vaccine in the late 1800s brought about the dawn of bacteriology. “Antitoxins and vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more were developed through the 1930s.” (Vaccine Timeline)

Mid 20th century saw more advances, including growing viruses in laboratories. These led to the development of vaccines for polio, mumps, measles, and rubella. Science marched on, and vaccines for other diseases and some conditions are being created.

Vaccines are proven safe and effective for eliminating or significantly reducing diseases in humans. Many do have side effects, and a small percentage of people have issues with allergies or other serious side effects. The risks are extremely low.

Why do people believe all the misinformation and disinformation about vaccines? Why do politicians who spread lies want people to suffer and die?

Chicago is a densely populated city. Viruses spread faster due to this density. According to the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Public health, 97% of new cases of COVID, including the Delta variant, are of unvaccinated people. Though the numbers are low, it would not take much to back to full pandemic mode.

Get jabbed if you haven’t. Do not harass the ambassadors. Carry a mask in case entities still require them. Be understanding if you are refused admission to places or must wait in lines to get in.

In essence, be an intelligent humane person versus the primitive lessons (Lower than morons) who spout nonsense, especially politicians, supposed news personalities, or other influencers. Those people are bat shit crazy and should be institutionalized for our safety.

With all the advances in science, the one thing that cannot be cured, curtailed, or vaccinated against is stupidity.

A Modest Proposal

Image: PV Bella

Most people are basically good. If they had a voice or sayso, they would do whatever they could to help solve some of the serious issues we face in Chicago.

The problem arises when these good people become politicians and get elected to office.

Take the Chicago City Council, for example. Listening to most of the aldercreatures or seeing them work is like looking in the mirror, watching a fly die on your face.

The few good aldercreatures are overshadowed by a mob of greedy, power-hungry, two-year-olds stomping their feet, pounding their chubby tiny fists while shitting the floor.

There is supposed to be a Board of Ethics enforcing, well, ethics. When it comes to the alercreatures, everything they determine is kept from public view. It is a big secret. There is zero transparency and less than zero accountability.

Aldercreatures are immune from being investigated by the Inspector General or any other city agency. When it comes to ethics, like other nocturnal creatures, aldercreatures operate in the dark.

Last week, Aldercreature Carrie “Cash and Carry Austin,” was indicted on federal corruption charges. She joins aldercreature, Ed “Hamburglar,” Burke, who is awaiting trial.

The City Council has a long, sordid history of corruption going back to its inception. The corruption is systemic and intractable. Since the 1970s, thirty aldercreatures were indicted, tried, and convicted of various crimes by the federal government.

When it comes to ethics, accountability, and transparency, there are none in the City Council. Too many aldercreatures are adherents to the Eleventh Commandment, Thou shalt not get caught.

It is past time for changes to be made. The Chicago City Council should be put under a federal consent decree and a federal monitor should be appointed. Deadlines must be set for reforms to take place until reforms are instituted, implemented, and codified by ordinance.

Systemic corruption must be wiped out.

This is a modest proposal for reform:

  • Aldercreature will be defined as a full-time job, and they must spend 40 hours per week working in City Hall
  • Aldercreatures will be prohibited from operating a business, practice, or profession during their terms of office
  • Aldercreatures will have the same benefits as city employees and pay the same costs, eliminating their freebies, and Rolls Royce benefits
  • All aldermanic privileges will be stripped away, though their imput will be considered
  • Aldercreatures must report all sources of outside income quarterly
  • The income reports will be made public
  • A new, independent and transparent, Board of Ethics should be appointed- preferably elected
  • There will be an appointed independent City Council Inspector General to investigate and hold aldercreatures accountable
  • Both the Board of Ethics and the Inspector General will issue quarterly unredacted reports
  • All City Council meetings, including committee meetings, must be live-streamed and posted to the internet within one hour of their adjourning
  • Aldercreatures must wear and activate body cameras at all times while interacting with the public, including, but not limited to business people, campaign donors, and favor seekers
  • Live streams and body camera footage will be handled by the Inspector General
  • Aldercreatures must report any offers of corruption to the Inspector General within 24 hrs. They will not be allowed to view body-cam footage before reporting the incident(s)
  • Aldercreatures will be forbidden from having an interest in businesses or practicing professions that create a conflict of interest. They include but are not limited to real estate tax law, zoning law, licensing, city vendors, and others.
  • Aldercreatures will be forbidden to accept campaign contributions from businesses or professions that create a conflict of interest, including public employee unions (Thechnically, they are management and the union contributions are a legal form of bribery)

I had one other proposal, but people told me it was too extreme and may violate the civil rights of aldercreatures. Aldercreatures, not being human, should be caged in their offices and only let out for city council and committee meetings. They must wear inoculation and license tags and be kept on leashes at all times.

There is another issue with that proposal. The city would have to hire zookeepers 24-7 for the care, feeding, cleaning, and training of aldercreatures. Who would want that job?

The Economic Impact of Art and Culture in Chicago

Image: PV Bella

Chicago is wide open, for the most part. Cultural institutions are back. Hopefully, more people will patronize them. Tourism is rising too, though we may not see the past numbers for a while.

Cultural institutions and public art have a direct economic impact on the city. The Chicago Loop Alliance is an organization formed to attract people and investment to the Loop. The Alliance supports public cultural and artistic events that benefit the business community.

The Chicago Loop Alliance projects and programs include beautification and enhanced services, planning and advocacy, placemaking and management, and economic development.

We live in an age where the importance and worth of arts and culture are debated in education and public life. Our supposed betters do not see the importance of art and culture from the perspectives of beauty, luring people to cities and economics, the cold hard cash they leave behind, and the businesses and jobs created or thriving because of art, culture, and their institutions.

In 2018, The Chicago Loop Alliance commissioned the “Arts in the Loop Economic Impact Study.” The study provides a “deeper understanding of the impact the large collection of arts and cultural assets in the area have on the Loop economy.”

The study includes 72 cultural and arts institutions, approximately 120 public art installations, over 50 architecturally significant buildings, adding up to about 250 cultural and artistic assets.

The study showed a direct economic impact on the Loop between art, cultural institutions, architecture, and public art.

Here are some of the numbers: (2018)

  • The arts are responsible for $2.25 billion in economic impact in the Loop and the City of Chicago. This includes $1.4 billion from the institutions, $600 million from visitors, and $250 million from visitors to public art who spend their money on meals and shopping in the Loop.
  • Art in the Loop is responsible for $113.5 million in restaurant revenue, $81.3 million in real estate revenue, $78 million in hotel revenue, $63 million in Loop retail sales, $43 million in parking and transportation, and $6 million in tax revenue to the City of Chicago.
  • Arts in the Loop are responsible for 15,500 full-time jobs.
  • Every dollar spent on arts and culture generates $12 in economic impact in the Loop.

The study covers the economic impact of art and culture in the Loop, including 6000 artists from all fields who work in the Loop. There are also art and cultural teachers and support staff at universities located in the loop. All contribute to the economic impact.

The numbers do not lie. There is a direct positive economic impact of arts and culture on the Loop and the city.

Chicago has world-class institutions, like the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago has old and modern world-class architecture. The popularity of various architecture tours proves this.

Public art, whether it is the Picasso, Calder, or permanent and temporary art displays in the parks, on sidewalks, or other public spaces, contribute to bringing money, jobs, and tax revenue to Chicago.

Image: PV Bella

Some of Chicago’s noted artists, including Tony Fitzpatrick, are shifting to creating public art. Murals are popular, and there are neighborhood mural tours. More artists are creating murals in neighborhoods across the city.

28.4 million people visit the Loop each year. 77,800 people visit or attend art-related or cultural activities each day. (2018) The numbers speak for themselves in attendance, participation, dollars, and tax revenue. The arts and culture are important to this city. Politicians and the public should give artistic, cultural institutions, and the public displays more weight in Chicago. 

Everyone can participate in keeping the arts and cultural institutions healthy. When you visit a museum, become a member. Membership saves you money in the long run through free admission. Plus, you may get discounts or free admission to other institutions.

Donate to our institutions. Even small-dollar donations help. Volunteer to be a docent. Find a way to support local and neighborhood artists either buying or promoting their work.

Spread the word. Become a shameless booster of art and culture for Chicago. Contact your alderperson. Tell them how important art and culture are for Chicago and your ward.

Art and culture enrich our lives, and, as the study shows, have a direct and indirect economic impact on our city. The momentum is moving forward in the Loop. We need more forward momentum throughout the whole city.

It is Time for Tex Brown to Go

Once again, Superintendent of Police David “Tex” Brown blamed the spate of violence, mass shootings, murders, and carjackings on the courts and State’s Attorney.

According to the fast-drawing finger-pointing cowpoke, low bail, no bail, and electronic monitoring are the drivers of this violence, plaguing almost all of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Bail reform and the incompetence of the State’s Attorney are not the main drivers of this violence pandemic.

Brown’s fallback fast draw finger-pointing is at the two-decades-old mantra of guns, drugs, and gangs.

These issues are the only two songs the cowpoke knows. Brown can’t sing, and his guitar is out of tune.

Tex better get a clue. Finger-pointing is not a strategy for fighting crime in a real city. This is not Dallas.

It is time for Tex Brown to ride off into the sunset and let the people in the Chicago Police Department, who know the city and how to handle outbreaks like this, take over.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is doing a great disservice to the citizens by keeping the cowpoke cop on. Her fingerprints are all over this mess. She picked Brown, and like past Superintendents, the mayor controls him. His strategy is her strategy.

Most of the City Council are out to lunch. They are more concerned with insignificant things than life, death, and bloodshed in their wards. People are being slaughtered in their wards, and all they care about are petty nonsensical issues.

This year is one of the worst in recent memory. Criminals range in age from pre-teens to adults. The numbers of mass shootings are unprecedented, as well as carjacking and armed robberies. Criminals have access to more sophisticated weaponry and are using them. One victim, a rapper, was shot 64 times near the Cook County Jail after being bailed out.

Some of the issues driving crime in Chicago are systemic and appear intractable. Poverty, lack of economic development in some areas, and a sub-culture that glorifies violence and criminality.

The shooters, robbers, and carjackers are brazen and bolder. They do not fear arrest, jail, prison, injury, or death.

Before we can address the issues that lead to criminality, we need to curb and prevent more violence, driving the numbers down. Police officers have many legal and constitutional tools in their toolboxes. Unfortunately, the mayor, aldercritters, and Tex put padlocks on the toolboxes.

Sometimes more rigid tactics are called for. That time is now. Unlock the toolboxes, take the handcuffs off the police, and let them drive the numbers down. Once the numbers are down, serious discussions and actions should be taken to improve lives, preventing violence and other crimes. Crime is the alternate economy in too many neighborhoods in this city. That dynamic must change.

The police officers in this city are demoralized, stressed, and wore out. Continuously working twelve-hour days with days off canceled is a recipe for disaster. This so-called strategy is dangerous for the police and the public. Police officers are retiring or quitting. It is estimated that close to 500 police officers this year will have left by the end of the month.

How many bodies will pile up before Lightfoot realizes Tex Brown is not the person to lead a real urban police department. It is time to end the nationwide searches for mercenary police leaders from someplace else. We need police leadership that knows Chicago, its neighborhoods, and the people who live here.

Chicago is a city of retail politics. On the top of the list is public safety. People no longer feel safe in this city. Mayor Lightfoot must change course. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx must stop being an activist and start prosecuting felonies. The courts should put a moratorium on bail reform until this wave of violent criminality abates.

It is time for Tex to ride off into the sunset to his home on the range. It is time for Mayor Lightfoot to face reality. She is losing the city and the voters. Action is needed. She cannot talk her way out of the mess she helped create.

Bridgeport Memories

Image: PV Bella

Sammy’s Dog

I lived in the Bridgeport neighborhood during the early 1980s, in the primarily Italian section on the east side. The neighborhood was inhabited by cops, firefighters, city workers, and members of a noted Italian American business organization. To the north were Croatians.

My landlord was another police officer. He and his wife lived in one apartment and his mother-in-law in another.

The landlord found a stray Irish Setter wandering around the neighborhood. The dog was malnourished, and its fur was matted. He took the dog in, had it checked by a vet, and brought it back to health.

There was one strange problem. The dog was a roamer. He would get out of the yard and follow people to the bus stop, store, or wherever they went. Then he would return. If the dog followed you to the bus stop, he sat and waited until you got on the bus. He walked alongside the mailman on his rounds. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Sammy’s dog.

One day a substitute mail carrier was working the route. The dog came out of the yard. The mailman was terrified. He grabbed a brick from the vacant lot next door and tried to hit the dog.

This part of the neighborhood had people who sat home, looking out their windows. Several people charged out of their homes, chasing the mailman.

The mailman ran to 31st Street, a major artery in the neighborhood. A police car was passing. He threw himself on the hood of the vehicle as the crowd approached. The cops got out of the car as the mob tried to pull the carrier off.

After the cops calmed everyone down, one of the neighbors told the cops, “The mailman tried to hit Sammy’s dog with a brick.”

One cop looked with disgust at the shaking carrier. “You tried to hit Sammy’s dog? I’m sorry we saved your ass.” The cops dispersed the crowd and drove the mail carrier back to his cart.

We never saw that substitute carrier in the neighborhood again.

The Horn Player

My apartment was a few blocks from the former Comiskey Park, where the Chicago White Sox played. Sometimes the night games would go late if there were more than one or two extra innings.

One night the game went later, ending around eleven. The weather was mild. I had gone to bed and left the windows open to let in the cool breezes.

Just as I was nodding off to sleep, I heard the noise of fans walking through the neighborhood and going home or retrieving their cars parked on the side streets. The Sox won, so there was a lot of loud excitement. After several minutes, it died down.

Then, someone started to play bugle or a trumpet. He was playing “Revile” loud. The sound came from the alley. One of the neighbors yelled out, demanding he, “Stop playing that “fucking horn.”

He kept on playing. Again, the gruff voice yelled at him to stop. The guy kept playing, “Revile.” One last time, a gruff voice shouted louder, including a string of obscenities.

The guy started playing “Taps.” The next thing I heard was gunshots. The bugle or trumpet went silent. I never found out what happened to the horn player. No cops showed that I know of. There were no reports of anyone wounded or killed.

I didn’t ask or care. I slept like a baby.

On Aging

Image: PV Bella

“In the morning

After taking cold shower

—-what a mistake—-

I look at the mirror.

There, a funny guy,

Grey hair, white beard, wrinkled skin,

what a pity” (Nanao Sakaki)

I look in the mirror after a shower. I do not see the 180 pounds of rompin stompin dynamite I used to be. I see a guy on his way to being an old man, the graying, thinning hair, wrinkled skin, and few flabby areas. I have aches and pains in places I did not know existed.

In my 40s, I had to keep reminding myself that I was not 25. In my 60s, I keep reminding myself I am not 40 0r 50. I lost the pep in my step. I only have two speeds. Slow and stop.

I take long walks for exercise. I would cycle, but Chicago cyclists are dangerous two-wheeled terrorists. They ride like they are in the Tour de France without considering traffic laws, other cyclists, vehicles, pedestrians, or themselves. Like the bark chewing pandemic deniers, their rights to be reckless trump the safety of others.

There is one ray of sunshine. I know others, slightly younger or older, just like me. They look at the world through the lens of cynicism and skepticism. When I was young, we trusted no one over 30. I trust no one under 40, as the past couple of generations of the human species will always disappoint.

Getting old is no fun. You discover your limitations. No matter how much you want to deny them, you have limitations. You slow down. You think before trying things that were once normal. How much ache and pain will you pay?

You go to bed when you used to go out and wake up to use the bathroom in the wee hours you used to come home. Your clothing changes. You exchange style for comfort, especially with shoes. You do not need to dress to impress.

There are some upsides. You enjoy life more, especially the little things. You have memories to look back on, sometimes with fondness, sometimes with WTF was I thinking? You pay more attention to the obits to see if people you knew died in alphabetical order, like the rest. You also double check to make sure you are not listed.

One good thing about aging is you let go of most preconceived notions you held. You stop caring about things that do not affect you. Things you are ardent about are the few things that have a direct impact on your life. You realize all the rest was pure, unadulterated, steaming horse manure.

People leave you alone. You accost them when they are pests or acting like idiots. For most, confrontation is considered inappropriate in this so-called modern era. When it comes to old, crabby, ugly, tired, mean, miserable, and ornery geezers, people just let it slide. Maybe they think you are harmless or half senile. That is what they get for thinking. They do not realize how damn annoying they are.

Thanks to modern medical advances and the wonders of chemistry, everyone thinks they will live to a healthy, ripe old age and beyond. They are greatly disappointed when the widowmaker or heart-a-stroke takes them out. Death is the great equalizer.

I am grateful for every day. I know one day the lights will go out. I will be worm food. My only wish is to come back as a ghost so I can scare the living shit out of all the annoying pests in this city.

Nosy Busybodies

Image: PV Bella

“The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden history… The subtext is… You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn’t asked any questions.” (Attributed to Frank Zappa)

Eve was a nosy busybody. She and Adam got their asses kicked out of the garden because she could not mind her own fucking business. That event eventually led to a human race of nosy busybodies.

The numbers of nosy busybodies are growing exponentially. They are all over the place. You find them in coffee shops, grocery stores, on the street, on public transportation, or just about every place where they can stick their nose in your business.

Homeland Security’s “See something. Say Something” campaign was a Godsend for the snoops. It gave meaning to their dull, empty, worthless, pitiably small, and meaningless lives. It gave the busybodies license to stick their well-picked noses into your life. They feel like heroes, doing nothing less than saving the free world for humanity. They make people’s daily life a chore. Most people are afraid to stand up to them. Confrontation is considered inappropriate behavior.

Me? I see something. I say nothing. I mind my own business. In Chicago, minding your own business is the secret to a long and healthy life.

One Christmas Day, I went around the corner to the gas station for milk. The people who work there are from India. I bought the milk and wished the clerk Merry Christmas. One of the young, woke nosy parkers accosted me outside. She flapped her soup coolers, saying wishing the clerk Merry Christmas is inappropriate. Indian people do not celebrate Christmas. 

I gave the busybody a look I reserve for the pathetically stupid. I told her she is assuming, stereotyping, and a racist. She looked like I slapped her in the face. I patiently explained to the simpleton that the people who own and work in the gas station are Christians. Christians celebrate Christmas. By the way, I asked if she was deaf as they were playing Christmas music.

Life is not fair. Why should I be?

I was in one of the chain coffee shops, as there were no others open in the area on a Sunday. It is the one with the green logo, Spewfucks, or something like that. I had some trouble getting money out of my wallet. The guy behind me, a snarky nosy, busybody,  loudly stated that it would be faster if I used my phone to pay, waving his idiot phone with a smug look on his face.

I thought to myself, faster for who? I have two speeds, slow and stop. I told him it would be healthier if he minded his own fucking business. The other people in line looked at me like I was a terrorist.

Now and then, I enjoy a cheroot, one of those malodorous Italian dried cigars. They are so bad they leave a yellow streak up one side of your face and a purplish line of drool down your chin. I was walking down a street merrily puffing away. Some young woman sneered that I should take that nasty thing someplace else. My response? “Hey, you want to breathe fresh air, go inside a building.”

There was the mindless nosy, busybody who saw me give a sandwich and soft drink to a homeless man on North Michigan Avenue. She started to scold me. She said I was not helping him.  I was contributing to the homeless problem and a bunch of other nonsensical bullshit. She ranted that I should give homeless people small bags with travel-sized toiletries if I really wanted to help. When she stopped barking, I explained that toiletries do not taste good, are not nutritious, and probably poisonous. She stomped off in angry, self-righteous indignation.

Sometimes people approach me and ask all kinds of questions. I ask them if they are with the FBI and why they are probing me. I do not look approachable and cannot figure out why people are so interested in me. Jeez, if you are that fucking lonely, get a dog.

You cannot avoid these nose mining priers. They are in the grocery store, on public transportation, restaurants, libraries, public spaces, everywhere. They are all genders, races, and ethnicities. They consist of the whole effluent waste of the human species.

Life would be more pleasant if people just minded their own business. What I do is none of your business. What you do is none of mine. See something, say nothing. If not, you will be offended and humiliated by me. It will be your fault. You, and you alone, are to blame for being humiliated for sticking your nose into my business.