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Peter V. Bella Posts

10 Best My____

Image: PV Bella

There is an eponymous magazine in Chicago. During its heyday, it provided
great articles and features about this city. Sometimes it did a deep dive into
politics and organized crime. It shone a light on the arts and entertainment.
The back of the magazine listed places to go and things to do in the Chicago

That was then. The magazine is a mere shadow of its former greatness.
Most articles are written by kindergarteners with crayons or sidewalk chalk. When
they write anything about this city, I cringe.

Recently, they cited the supposed 10 best hot dog stands in the city. It is
apparent they did not visit these places because they were the usual suspects
that other publications list. Instead, they washed, rinsed, and repeated what
others have been writing about for years.

I would bet the farm they do not even know how many hotdog stands there are
in Chicago. There are too many to count. Some are legacy places being run by
the second, third, or fourth generation of the founders.

When these keyboard muppets try to cite the ten best, they do a disservice
to the rest of the hotdog stands. Like them, ignorant, foolish people read this
crap and rush to these “best” places because they are as stupid and lazy
as the writers.

The magazine’s criteria are pure unadulterated horse manure. “…unpretentious ambiance, natural-casing wieners… stellar non-dog offerings, and a location within city limits.”

These writers are less-ons (Lower than morons). Just about every hot dog stand has not only unpretentious ambiance, most have none. As for the weiners, they sell the same few brands.

Natural casing wieners? Do these dunderheads know what a natural casing is and what part of animals it comes from? Some hot dog producers used a natural casing that is not animal based due to cost. It has the same snap as animal casings.

What does “stellar nondog offerings” mean? The burgers and other sandwiches are good, not stellar. They are intended to fill the belly, not provide a gastronomic experience. If they are late-night or 24-hour joints, the non-dog offerings are used to take the edge off alcohol consumption.

Are these idiots galloping gourmets looking to slum? Within the city limits? If you are writing about the ten best of anything in Chicago, it must be within the damn city limits. Geez, these people make me want to tear my eyes out.

There are no best hotdog stands in Chicago. Most are the same, good. They sell Chicago-style, run-through the garden dogs or char dogs. Many just sell dogs, and Polish sausage. Others have burgers, Italian beef sandwiches, or gyros, and fries. When it comes to hot dogs, there is no difference except price. I should know. I ate at too many of these places over the decades from one end of this city to another.

What are the best hot dog stands in the city? The one(s) that you stop to grab a quick dog at any given time.

It there was such a thing as the best magazine in Chicago, this rag would never be in the running.

Now, if you are looking for late night entertainment value…

I am a Quiet Patriot

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Today is the Fourth of July. We celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that was earth-shattering in the days of powerful European colonialism. In effect, we told the British tyranny run by a lunatic king to leave or we would kick their twit rear ends out. That document was louder than any shot heard around the world.

Today is a day of wrapping ourselves in Old Glory. There will be signs of patriotism, fireworks, celebrations, and drunken puking revelry. We will flex our patriotic muscles and show the world how proud we are to be American.

Over the past few years, a new brand of patriotism emerged, the super-patriots. They wrap themselves in the flag, bearing arms and generally making fools of themselves. They created their own proud stereotype. Hirsute, unwashed, knuckle-dragging, bark chewing, peckerheads. wearing sleeveless upper garments, spouting and shouting unintelligible patriotic chants while waving their rifles.

Mostly men, they are little boys with small penises and no balls.

They formed militaristic and cult-like groups to demonstrate en masse how patriotic they are. They get publicity in the news media and have large followings on social media. People love clowns and they are a clown show.

The definition of patriotism is a love for one’s country. It is not a political stance. It is neither conservative nor liberal, extremist or radical, Democrat, Republican, or any other affiliation or affliction. It is not fervently religious.

There is no need, duty, or obligation to demonstrate or prove you are some clownish form of super-patriot.

I am a quiet patriot. I believe actions are louder than words and brighter than imagery or symbolism.

I do not need recognition for my patriotism- “Oh, look, Wanda, there goes that super-patriot, Pete.” I do not want my mug on television or news media as a nephew of good old Uncle Sam bearing the biggest flag I can find.

I do the things required of all patriotic citizens.

I file my taxes and, when required, pay them. I vote. Every ten years, I participate in the census. I do not have to be evangelical, preaching to the masses like some street corner religious huckster.

Over the past few years, we witnessed the rise of the super-patriot poltroons. They tout a poisonous and toxic form of patriotism. They have a deep belief they must let the whole world know how patriotic they are. If you must prove you are patriotic, you are not. If you join groups that think like you, you are not thinking. You are living in the prison of your mind.

If you espouse violent language, storm political institutions, or wreak havoc, you are a criminal under the guise of patriotism, in effect, a loser.

Patriotism is not a religion. There is no epiphany or conversion. It is merely a love of country that requires very few things of citizens to prove. File and pay taxes (Griping is acceptable), vote in every election (Bitching over the results is expected.), and participate in the census. Service to the country in the military or some other government service is a plus. That is all one must do.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Riding Public Transit

Riding public transportation is a royal pain in the ass. You are constantly annoyed by your fellow riders, especially the oblivious, insensitive, self-absorbed, witless, insufferable, ignorant young Millennial and Gen Z gremlins. I refer to them as Generations Whiner (Generations W).

Generations W rules public transportation in Chicago. The only rule of Generation W is, there are no rules.

I ride the L to go downtown. The trains are usually packed early in the morning. One morning a millennial mamaluke was standing in the door like a boulder in a stream. People had trouble getting off and on the train because he was self-absorbed watching videos on his phone. He wore a large backpack instead of holding it or putting it on the floor like you should.

I get stuck behind this muppet with no room to move in any direction. The doors would not close because I could not move far enough into the car. “Excuse me,” did not move him. A hard shove to his backpack did. It got me a dirty glare.

Every time the train moved, stopped, or jostled, I slammed into his backpack. He kept turning around, giving me dirty looks. He was too obstinate to move in a few steps where there was plenty of room. He was rapt and agog over animal videos on his phone and wearing earbuds, so he did not have to be bothered by the likes of me.

As the train pulled into my stop, I tapped him on the shoulder and said in a loud voice next to his ear, “You really shouldn’t watch child porn on the L.” His head spun so fast I thought it would snap off. The looks on other riders’ faces were priceless. I stepped off the car with smug satisfaction.

There are multiple bag people. They have a backpack, a gym bag, and one or two other large bags. They look like they are going on a multi-week tour of some foreign country instead of work.

Worse are the multiple bag people who put their stuff on seats, taking up two or three spaces. They do not care the fare is for one seat. It is all about them. If I indicate that I want the seat and they ignore me, I start to sit on their crap. They hustle to move it. It upsets them, but what can they do?

Our moron politicians decided to allow cyclists to bring their bikes on the L. These ratbags sit in a seat and take up multiple spaces holding their two-wheeled weapons of mass destruction. People have to stand to accommodate their bikes. If the car is full, you brush up on their filthy bikes or the chain, soiling your clean clothes. If you want to sit, they refuse to move the bike. Bikes should be outlawed on the L. There is no need for cyclists to ride the L with their bikes.

There are ordinances forbidding eating, drinking, and smoking on public transportation. Signs are posted on buses and L trains. Smoking is the only ordinance enforced on public transit.

People eat and drink on buses and trains all the time, ignoring the law. They try to eat or drink with one hand while texting or browsing on their phones with the other, oblivious they may spill something on other passengers. Some bring their carryout meal, laying it on one of the seats, stuffing their maws, taking up space where a standing rider can sit. 

There are the drunken lunkhead bros and their sapheaded sisses on their way to ballgames or other sporting events. They bring six or twelve packs on the L and proceed to drink and party. No one dares to tell them they cannot drink, let alone drink alcohol on the train.

In violation of C.T.A. rules, the yakking yammerers loudly talk about their sex lives, lousy clients, and other inconsequential things, annoying the rest of us. Worse, they do it on speaker, so you hear both sides of the conversation.

If you verbally confront these self-entitled asswipes, the whole train looks at you like you are the problem. Confrontation is not socially acceptable and is considered aggression. You, the victim, may be removed from the train to restore peace and a sense of safety for the whiners.

Where did this entitlement mentality come from? Why can’t the C.T.A. enforce its own rules and ordinances? Just think how much money the CTA could make if they cited and fined all these precious pea brains for their offenses.

If, by slim chance, if there is enforcement, they get on social media, and it goes nuclear. The offender becomes the hero of the republic. The C.T.A. is afraid of being on the end of a negative viral social media blitz, so they ignore the violators. Chicago is a city of cowardly useless bureaucrats.

Common courtesy or etiquette? Forget about it. It is Generation Whiner’s culture. The rest of us are expected to live in it. Being rude, inconsiderate, or in violation of laws and regulations is the new normal. Complaining or standing up to them is deemed criminal.

There is one bright side, if you can call it that. Many Generation Whiners do not drive. If these Millennials and Gen Zers were set loose in cars during rush hours, a twice-daily demolition derby would plague the city of Chicago. It is bad enough they terrorize us with their bicycles.

Hopefully, they will not breed. They would raise the next generation of crotch monkeys to be worse than they are.

Learn How to Walk in a City

Image: PV Bella

Learn How to Walk in a City

If you want to learn about a city you need to walk. Large cities are a walker’s paradise. You experience the city from the ground up. People from other countries know this. Walking is part and parcel of their daily way of life. Tourists from abroad know how to walk. Americans are ignorant toddlers in comparison.

There are worlds of discovery in Chicago from the downtown area, the Magnificent Mile, Old Town, River North, the Lakefront, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast, Hyde Park, Uptown, and other neighborhoods. Even walking off the beaten path of main arterial streets, strolling through side streets in neighborhoods is an adventure.

If you pay attention, you can learn some history while walking. Many buildings have commemorative plaques indicating a historical event that happened on the site or in the building. There are busts and statues of famous Chicagoans and others who contributed something to this city. Sometimes they are in out-of-the-way places, waiting for you to find them.

Every neighborhood I eventually lived in, I walked. I learned the pace, context, and nuances of the community and surrounding areas.

When I retired, I walked some of the neighborhoods I worked. A police officer sees places from the seat of a car, driving in square circles. You miss the uniqueness of the area. I worked in one place for almost ten years. When I walked it several times, I was surprised at what I missed or never realized existed. To this day, I still discover new things there.

I could go to any major city in the world and traverse the streets. I know how to walk on city streets. The first time I went to New York City, it did not take me long to feel right at home walking around. The same was true in other cities I visited, here and abroad.

Chicago was established as a city of commerce and industry. Time is money. Money is time. Chicago’s streets and public transportation system were designed to get people from one place to another and back efficiently. There is a hustle in the way people walk, especially in the business, shopping, tourist, and entertainment districts.

We walk with speed and purpose. Our only objective is to get from point A to point B and sometimes back as fast as possible. We do not have time to waste on lazy slugs who never learned how to walk on crowded sidewalks.

There are Rules of the Sidewalk for walking in crowded urban areas. The number one rule is, WATCH WHERE THE FUCK YOU ARE GOING!

It is not my responsibility to watch where you are going. I have enough trouble watching where I am going. Walking on city streets means dodging all the feral fribbles who do not watch where they are going. If they bump into you, it is your fault. They are the inconsiderate ones. They are in my way.

You walk. Walking means keep moving. You do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk, gawking at something or someone. You do not stop to take a selfie. You walk at the pace of everyone else. If you walk too slow or stop, you should get stampeded and ground into the concrete.

Walk on the right side of the sidewalk, leaving room in the middle for faster walkers who must be someplace yesterday. If you are window shopping, you stand as close to the building as possible, allowing pedestrians to pass by.

Members of the stroller patrol who have those asinine double or triple wide strollers should not walk in a busy area. They screw up the normal flow of traffic as they saunter with their spawns of Satan.

In this age of handheld communication, brainless techno-geeks walk down the street with their faces plastered to their phones. They are oblivious to their surroundings, other pedestrians, or vehicular traffic. It is incredible hundreds are not catastrophically injured or killed every day.

Phones are smart. People are stupid. Apple aptly named their iPhone. The i is for idiot.

If you have to text, sext, or tweet, step to the side, stop walking and do it. Let the rest of us normal people keep on our merry way.

One of the COVID-19 pandemic benefits was a vast reduction of humans in the commercial, shopping, and tourist areas. It was easy to walk and see things when you did not have the mindless masses causing sight blight. Now that restrictions are over, the hordes of pains in the ass are back, annoying us real walkers and making life miserable.

The only good way to learn about Chicago is to walk through it. But learn how to walk in a city first.

We Do Not Live the Ideal of the Fourth

Image: PV Bella

We are heading into the Fourth of July weekend. I see some neighbors loading up their cars to travel. Others are heading to the L with their suitcases, going to one of the airports or train stations.

When I was young, the Fourth of July was a celebration and feast. There was barbeque, all kinds of side dishes, pop, wine, and beer, desserts, and enjoying the company of family and friends.

As I got older, the Fourth of July turned into one of Chicago’s drinking and puking fests. Instead of homemade well-crafted food, people drink and eat all the crap that the ad companies brainwashed them into believing are “traditional Fourth of July fare.

Like St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and other amateur drinking and puking holidays, the Fourth turned into just another day or three-day weekend of drunken revelry.

In the city’s drunken and porcelain bus stupor, we forget the reason we celebrate, the Declaration of Independence. The document that preceded the war and bloodshed against the colonial Brits. The document started us on the road to forge a nation and a noble experiment of governance.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness .”

Since those ideals and words were written and embodied, we have fought tooth and nail to deprive each other of the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are still fighting today, 245 years later. We will keep fighting each other because those were ideals that could never be met. The Founders did not take in the human condition when they penned those noble ideals.

We might be equal in the eyes of God, the Creator, the Great Comedian, or whatever you call them. We have violated those unalienable rights on a mass scale since the formation of this great nation. Sometimes I think the Great Comedian is laughing at his cruel joke. He created some people to thrive and others to struggle and suffer.

To this day, we are still fighting for equality, or the new term, equity. We are fighting the federal and state governments, the two clown show political parties, the City Hall circus, and each other.

We may live in peace, but the only harmony is the cacophony of voices demanding their rights while excluding the rights of others, claiming the bull manure of culture, values, and morals. We are fighting a news media that opines rights are not inalienable. At the same time, they bitterly cling to their right to publish horse manure.

So, people celebrate the Fourth in drunken stupidity. Instead of celebrating the ideal and vowing to do better, they forget the past and present sins. They focus on clinging to the porcelain bus.

The Fourth of July celebrates a noble ideal. Maybe we should start living that ideal instead of squabbling about who has the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

There are only two great equalizers in life. Birth and death. All babies are created equal at birth, naked and wet. We are all going to die. In between, we are clothed and wet-brained.

Musings From the Park Bench

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Last March, when Chicago shut down due to the COVID pandemic, I took a walk every day, weather permitting. Though the weather was somewhat mild, there was still snow on the ground. Once in while some new snow fell.

 I would walk between one and two and one half miles. There are two large parks bordering each end of my neighborhood. There is a decent sized plaza on the main commercial strip too. I would stop at each spot to sit on a park bench for a bit.

As I sat and rested or drank coffee, I observed the people in the area and the activities they did as the weather went from winter’s end to spring. Sometimes I kvetched, daydreamed, ruminated, doodled, or just cleared the cobwebs out of the fine French sieve that is my brain.

I listened to various news stations on these forays. At first, most of the news was pandemic related. It was all numbers. How many people in Chicago were infected, how many died, how many tested. On and on. The pandemic dominated the news cycle locally and nationwide.

I carried a camera and notebook on these excursions. Over the course of eight months, I shot over 6000 photos. I carried a notebook to jot down thoughts or things I noticed.

From those park benches I watched children climb trees and the sculpted lamp post in the plaza. As the weather warmed, hammocks were popular, strung between trees. Some practiced tightrope walking, stringing practice slack lines between trees.

Picnics and parties were held in the park, all social distanced. Some were more elaborate with buffet tables and a table used for a bar, along with the ubiquitous coolers for beer. As spring turned into summer, people were married in the parks and had their “receptions” there.

Children’s birthday parties were held, with inflatable decorations and all the other things parents buy to decorate and celebrate.

During the warm weather, there were live performances in Giddings Plaza. The star shaped stage has electrical outlets for amps and other devices. On some days there were several performances.

During the course of the pandemic, I learned more about my neighborhood than I did during the 13 years I lived here. I made many discoveries about the place I call home. I made cordial relationships with some of the employees working in businesses that remained open.

One thing I noticed was the generosity of my neighbors. There are several birdhouse looking structures on the parkways or peoples front lawns. They were filled with food and personal hygiene products for anyone who needed them. People left bins with canned and dried foods in front of their homes.

Popular bars and restaurants started crowdfunding to assist their laid off employees. One restaurant offered free Thai food to children with a purchase. One of my neighbors knitted large butterflies on coat hangers. She put them on her lawn, with a sign, asking people to take them. This lasted for a few weeks. The butterflies were in front of homes or stuck in lawns all over the neighborhood.

I saw some changes. Older homes being torn down and replaced by new homes or McMansions, raised gardens in the parkways, gardens on patches of grass at corner intersections, and gardeners tending their plots. Gardening became popular.

After a while, I started seeing a few of the same people daily. On their porches, walking by, in the plaza, or the coffee shops. Nods turned into hellos which turned into brief conversations.

While sitting on those park benches, people approached and chatted for a few minutes. I also observed how during the course of a day the changes in people coming and going in the local parks and the plaza.

The pandemic gave me an appreciation for outdoor spaces, which most of us in Chicago take for granted. I made new acquaintances. Most days, I just walked or sat alone but never felt lonely.

A Tale of Two Petes

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Allessio was born in Sicily. He came to America as a young man settling in a postage stamp town in Southern Illinois. He worked in the coal mines. There was a large Scotsman miner, Pete Ross, who befriended him. They became known as Big Pete and Little Pete. Alessio was called Pete for the rest of his life.

Pete married an immigrant Sicilian, whose family owned the local hotel. They eventually had nine children. Pete was an entrepreneurial sort. He had a large personality. Pete could have given lessons to Dale Carnegie about making friends and influencing people.

Pete owned a home and subsistence farm. During prohibition, he made beer, wine, and cooked alcohol, selling it to the locals and shipping some to St. Louis and Chicago. He also ran a white tablecloth restaurant out of the home to provide alcohol with dinner.

There is a story about the Ku Klux Klan. It is a tale best not told. It is shrouded in the smoke and fog of truth, myth, and legend.  The Klan hated Catholics and immigrants, especially if they appeared to be prospering. Suffice it to say the Klan sued for peace with Pete.

After Prohibition, Pete moved his family to St. Louis. He opened a tavern that served food. He was known for his congeniality and compassion. He would feed those who were down on their luck.

Years later, when the neighborhood started turning Black, he only saw one color. The color of money. He served any and all who came in. When crime increased and robberies were prolific, word went out in the neighborhood. “Leave Mr. Pete alone.”

Pietro emigrated from Sicily in 1901. He came through Ellis Island. He settled in Brooklyn. He eventually made Chicago his home. He lived on the 800 block of Cambridge Street. The neighborhood was called, “Little Hell.” It was a horrid slum known for high infant mortality and murder rates. In later years the area would once again become known for violence. The name was changed to Cabrini-Green.

Pietro became a butcher. He started to prosper and opened his own butcher shop at 1823 W. North Avenue. He owned the building. His family lived upstairs. He too helped those in need. He extended credit to those who were short of money but needed to feed their families.

Like Pete, Pietro cooked alcohol, made wine and beer during Prohibition.

During the late 1930’s Pietro developed cancer. Doctors said treatment and surgery would only give him a 50-50 chance of survival. Pietro decided to return to Sicily to see his family one last time.

In 1939, war broke out in Europe. Pietro was refused entry back to the United States, as an undesirable alien. After his family spent months corresponding with the authorities, they received confirmation that Pietro would be notified he could return. Unfortunately, he died two weeks prior to that. He is buried in Sicily.

This tale of two Pete’s could relate to anyone during the early part of the 20th Century. It could be a tale of two Stosh’s, Moishe’s, Clancy’s, or Spiro’s. It could be the tale of Mexicans, Chinese, South Asians, or Southern Blacks, who came to Chicago during the Great Migration.

It is a tale of people who started with nothing, built a life, and owned a small share of the American Dream. They were not rich or even what we consider middle class. More important, they were not poor.

They lived through turbulent times. They were discriminated against. They were hated. They were the other. They came through the Great Depression. In spite of all that, they prospered.

The two Pete’s sons went off to fight for something called freedom during World War II. Their daughters married. The sons and daughters worked hard, raised their families, and had their slice of the American dream.

The American Dream meant one thing to the native-born, the immigrant, and the Blacks from the Great Migration. It was providing for yourself and your family. It meant having a small slice of prosperity. A roof over your head, food on the table, and clothing on your back. It was a steady job or small business.

These people did not ask for much. They were content with the basics of life. Life was simple to them. Work defined what and who you were. People were as proud to be a butcher, laborer, or saloon keeper as a doctor or lawyer.

The American Dream is not a collective ideal. It is individual. It means something different to each and every one of us. There is no one dream, one set of American values, one size fits all.

For some, the dream is nothing more than a job or a paycheck. For others, it is pie in the sky topped with ice cream and a gilded cherry on top.

The two Pete’s were free men. Freedom was a simple concept. Being able to be what they wanted and having the ability to provide for their families. Others like them were no different.

The two Pete’s were my grandfathers. Men I never knew. Because of them, and their lessons passed down from my parents, I am living my version of the American Dream.

The greatest lesson I learned from my parents, they learned from theirs, the two Pete’s. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. Yeah, life and living together in society is just that simple.

Call Center Scams

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 A while back, I received a call from the IRS Criminal Police Division. Before a human answered, a recording played, informing me it was the IRS calling and the call will be recorded.

The human then came on the line and told me the IRS audited my returns for past years and discovered I owe several thousand dollars to the government. I could hear a dog barking in the background. Does the IRS have a canine unit?

The caller then stated that I would have to pay immediately, or they would come to my home, along with agents and local police, to arrest me. I could pay with a credit or a debit card.

I informed the caller that I refused to pay. He repeated the threat about police and agents coming to arrest me. I replied that they should bring plenty of men, guns, and ammo because I am not going down easy.

The caller reminded me that the call was being recorded and asked me to repeat what I said. I did, and he hung up.

Some months later, I received a call from Social Security. The caller said they detected fraud on my account, and I owed a refund. If I did not pay immediately, I would be arrested and deported. I told him the same thing I said to the IRS scammer. The caller became verbally abusive with profanities. He did not realize he was dealing with the master of profanity, obscenity, and vulgarity. He hung up.

Before I installed a scam APP on my phone, I would get multiple calls a day about my car warranty insurance. With the APP, they go to voicemail.

I do not understand something. We have the best cyber intelligence in law enforcement, intelligence, and the military. The Feds can hear a snake farting in the middle of the Amazon and pinpoint its exact location. Why can’t they pinpoint these call centers, and send a drone to destroy them, doing us all a favor?

That would truly be our tax dollars at work.

Thinking About Death

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I read an article about how thinking about death affects the way we age. If they admit it or not, people my age think about death and the process of dying. If we are honest, we hope it comes fast and painless.

Death is inevitable. The reason we are born is to die. God is the Great Comedian. In his omnipresent humor, he created the Earth. Then he created humans. On the seventh day, God rested, packed his bags, and left. He’s been on vacation ever since.

God’s Earth has been trying to kill off the human species since its creation. Poisonous plants, predatory animals, insects, earthquakes, plagues, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, volcanoes, extreme weather, and all of Mother Nature are in an eternal conspiracy to kill off the human race and erase it from this planet. Then there are Mother Nature’s partners, other humans, doing her work through wars, murders, accidents, and other deaths.

God just laughs and laughs.

Experts tell us we should prepare for death. It is healthier than ruminating about it. We should tell our loved ones how we feel about them and why. We should leave behind things to remember us. Prepare our wills and other documents and leave them with a trusted loved one. The list goes on and on. Geez, who wants to work that fucking hard?

Death is a business, a big business. The funeral sector is just one big upsell and hustle. The casket, obit, mass cards, flowers, and other items big and small run up the bill. Then, the church hits you up for some big bucks for a religious ritual. It is all facilitated through the undertaker.

We changed how we talk about death. People no longer die. They transition or pass. What do they transition to? Kidney stones pass, not people.

One thing I do like, we stopped mourning the dead. Now, we celebrate the life of the stiff in the casket. Yeah, yeah, some loved ones will weep, grieve, and mourn. After a short while, they realize life goes on without you. They savor your memory.

Wakes are full-blown multi-media affairs with big-screen televisions, tables of photos and mementos, and music. I guess next, there will be cocktails and dancing or gaming stations.

None of us want to die. All of us are going to die. There is no choice in the matter. Death is the great equalizer.

We die young.

We die old.

We die peacefully.

We die screaming in pain.

We die quick.

We die a slow torturous death.

We get killed by murder or accident.

Death is a fact of life. We are born to die.

I left instructions for my death. I do not want a wake. The last thing I want is people gawking at my pancake-made-up face and coifed hair. You want to see me, do it while I am alive. I want to be cremated, hopefully, stuffed with powerful fireworks.

If there is any money left, I want a party thrown to celebrate my life. A fete with good booze, beer, wine, food, and music to dance by. No one leaves until the last drop of alcohol is consumed.

I want to come back as a ghost. Not an evil spirit, but a bad boy ghost. I want to prank all the stupid people in this city who make living in Chicago so fucking miserable.

As a side note, I read that some funeral homes had postcards available when postcards were a big thing. What a wonderful idea. Mourners can send postcards to people out of town with the usual, “Having a wonderful time, wish you were here.”

The Picasso

Image: PV Bella

But the fact is, it has a long stupid face and looks like some giant insect that is about to eat a smaller, weaker insect. It has eyes that are pitiless, cold, mean.” (Mike Royko/Picasso and the Cultural Rebirth of Chicago)

The image is a digitally enhanced photograph of the Picasso sculpture located in Daley Plaza. The statue was unveiled in August 1967. The statue was fabricated by the US Steel Corporation, with guidance from the then Civic Center architect and engineer. It is 50 feet high and weighs 162 tons.

The piece changed the concept of public art. It was art for art’s sake versus public commemoration. Art is supposed to evoke controversy, and Picasso did just that.

The Picasso looms over Daley Plaza like a perched Pterodactyl sitting on its prey. The statue’s eyes are the eyes of a cruel predator, full of greed, power, evil, and the dog-eat-dog philosophy that intertwines politics, business, and crime in Chicago. They are the eyes of corrupt politicians, and bureaucrats, gang bangers, developers, dope dealers, house flippers, sex traffickers, and all the other people out for the fast buck in this city of scoundrels.

The Picasso represents Chicago values. Get it while you can, as fast as you can, accumulate more, and hold on as long as you can. Chicago values are enshrined in the Eleventh Commandment. Thou shalt not get caught.