Essays, Interviews, Observations, Pop Culture, Stories, and other Dodginess

Twerkin’ Urchins and the Russian Café

Posted on December 24, 2017

This past summer I was at the Pilsen Food Truck Social, enjoying a Chocrute Kabob from Dusek’s Board & Beer and reading Chicago reclusive author Clive Javanski’s latest essay, “Am I Some Kind of Asshole?” when Mosquito walked over.

Mosquito, also known as Monkey Wrench or Spider, is a longtime acquaintance who does work on my Jeep and many other friends’ cars. He’s our group’s mechanic. Mechanic of the assholes.

His hands are perpetually dirty but he gets the job done.

He doesn’t go on the Internet a lot but when he does it’s usually odd. Like the time when he found a dead mole in his backyard and was perplexed by it. He said he went online to see if moles have eyes.

Mosquito also likes to talk to girls online even when he’s not sure they are girls and sometimes he sends them money and other gifts . He does this even if they live in Ghana and the entire thing is probably a scam.

So Mosquito interrupts me on this wonderful food truck day while I was chatting up a brainy, long-legged Pakistani girl named Nyya who had cute nose freckles and was eating a Chorizo slider. We were talking about her studies at the University of Chicago, and how she can “smell math.”

“Holy cow,” he said. “My name is on a board in Russia.”

It’s fine. I knew I’d be confused about this.

Mosquito said he got a phone call from a woman in Russia. It was one of many he’s gotten lately. They all want money from him. They offer nude photos, their hand in marriage, or dirty talk. One wanted to send him her soiled panties. One time a man called, and asked Mosquito if he wanted a virtual hand job.

I met Aidan even later that night at my apartment. He had just written a new Christmas song, “Twerkin’ Urchins,” for our planned holiday EP.

I don’t know if it’s along the lines of the classic Christmas pop gem, “Merry Christmas Will Do,” by Chicago’s own Material Issue, but it has potential.

Aidan also had a bag of drugs with him. He said they belonged to one of his girlfriends, Cassie.

“Cassie’s drugs,” he said.

She left them at his apartment last night while they were writing songs together.  As he left my place to return the drugs to Cassie, I yelled out the door that it would make a good song title for the new record. “Cassie’s Drugs.”

As he ran down Medill Avenue he shouted “Cassie’s Christmas Drugs.”

“It’s a fucking holiday album,” he said.

Welcome to Austin, Assholes

Posted on November 11, 2017

Not long ago I traveled to Austin, Texas with my friend Mosquito.

We called it the “Beers, Barbecue, and Biking” tour.

“You guys don’t look ready for biking,” said the friendly bicycle rental man.

“But my man, we are ready for beers and barbecue,” I said.

The man runs Streamline Cycles where Mosquito and I were renting our bikes.  Maybe he thought we didn’t look ready for biking because it was 100 degrees and Mosquito had his bike shirt tucked into his blue jeans.

I had a cotton T-shirt and shorts that only became shorts because they unzipped from the lightweight hiking pants I wore.

We biked along the pea gravel trail around the Colorado River and Lady Bird Lake.

Just off the bike trail overlooking the river was Alta’s Café where I had a fine pint of a local pale ale.

Our first night on the 6th Street Strip kicked off at an Irish pub, of course. Some damn fine fish tacos at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub.

We had some more beers down the street at Easy Tiger. A great selection of fine craft beer and fine men and women of Austin. We shared a few with a friendly black girl who read some of her poetry. Mosquito just wanted to talk to her about working on cars and I mostly talked about writing and shoes.

The three of us made a toast and cheered our good fortune of meeting at this Texas watering hole.

“Welcome to Austin, assholes,” she said.


Streamline Cycles and a damn fine burger joint next door.



A local pale ale at Alta’s Cafe.



Colorado River from a bridge along the bike trail in Austin.



Barbecue in Austin


Sharing breakfast with a friend in Austin.



I’d buy her a beer, not a shot.

Aidan at the Depeche Mode Concert

Posted on October 7, 2017

The last time I was at a concert with Aidan it was a year ago to see Warpaint at Thalia Hall in Pilsen. You can read Aidan’s review of that show here. In August we attended the Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour at whatever-the-hell they are calling it theater in Tinley Park, a southwestern suburb of Chicago. And wouldn’t you know it, Warpaint was the opening act.

I also joined Aidan to see Depeche Mode the last time they were in town. You can read that review here.

So introductory song this year was “Revolution” by the Beatles. It was cool, but the intro song used to be one of their own instrumentals, usually from whatever album they had out that year.

Aidan: I was in line for beer when that shit started. Some dude in front of me thought it was a Pearl Jam song.

Me: The opening song, Backwards, is one of the strongest on the new Spirit album.

Aidan: It was all good. Martin sounded great. I liked his performance and song selection better than the last time they were here. He did “Somebody.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard that in concert since I’ve been seeing them.

Me: I liked “A Question of Lust” but it was more of an acoustic version. I love and it needs that sweeping synth that the recorded version has.

Aidan: “Barrel of a Gun” kicked all our asses. So did “Corrupt.”

Me: Have you ever seen the “Corrupt” video featuring the cast of True Blood?

Aidan: Fuck no.

Me: “Wrong” was great too. But not a big fan of them covering “Heroes” by David Bowie. They could have substituted one of their own songs. Maybe an older one that has rarely been played live.

Aidan: During that entire song I was in line for an $8 warm bottle of water.

Me: How about that opening act though, Warpaint. Talented, great songs, and I’d marry any one of them.

Aidan: I thought it was Haim that opened.

Me: You know damn well it was Warpaint. We saw them last September in Pilsen at Thalia Hall. Great show. Great venue.

Aidan: I really can’t stand World Theater or Bank Theater or Casino Theater or whatever they call that Tinley joint. But it is easy to smoke a joint there.

Me: Cheers.