Thursday, April 28, 2005

Corner of Lake and State, Please

Tonight, ABC 7 will air an expose on cell phone use by cab drivers. Chuck Goudie got out on the streets and in the faces of some cabbies downtown.

In journalism school (much like creative writing school) they told us to look at our own lives for story ideas. You'll be surprised, they said, how many interesting stories you can come up with.

On his way back from Gibson's, Chuck Goudie takes a cab, and, sure enough, his driver is talking on his phone. Maybe Chuck has to give directions twice because the guy is in the middle of a conversation. Maybe, after a moment of silence, the driver says something. Chuck thinks he's being addressed and answers, "Excuse me?" But the driver continues on, a little wire hanging from his ear. Chuck is embarrassed.

There you go. Instant story idea. Chuck Goudie, leave the cabbies alone. Sure some of them are the worst asshole drivers in the city, but leave 'em alone. Let 'em talk to their buddies or their wives.

How 'bout a story on one the shittiest jobs in Chicago _ driving a cab. Go out there and get behind the wheel. Then you'll have something to tell those students at your next Medill School lecture... "I've chased mob bosses in the court house, I've crossed more police lines than I can count and I even drove a cab..."

If ABC 7 has accepted West Side poverty as inevitable, it should accept cabbies on cell phones as inevitable, too. That's two topics crossed off the list. If they wish hard enough, maybe some Buffalo will run down LaSalle Street.

Up on the Roof

Some writers work best very close to a deadline. They waste away months and weeks of advance time on diversions. But when that date starts to smolder, they clear the desk of beer cans and type frantically.

In much the same way, Humankind responds to environmental concerns. We've had years, decades to fix the oil situation, the greenhouse gas situation, the air quality situation, but only when the deadline looms (oil shortage, child skin cancer rates increase, American Lung Assoc. unhealthy rating for Cook County) do we decide to take action.

I'm talking about this because the gravest threat to America's W.O.L (Way Of Life), high oil prices, has turned mainstream media's attention toward the environment. Look at the front cover of today's Sun-Times _ a woman has planted flowers and vegetables on the roof of her suburban garage. This is supposed to absorb CO2 and lessen heat affects on the atmosphere.

Sure, the Sun-Times is making fun of this woman and her garage _ it's a wacky photo opp. But there's more than a hint of The Future. We've put a noticeable dent on the environment, so now we'd better hurry the hell up and fix it, or it's our ass. Yes, dear readers, THIS could be The Future.

The garage roof garden craze sweeps the suburbs _ a no-brainer tie-in to the do-it-yourself, home-improvement craze. "Cubs baseball is sponsored by Ace Hardware _ get your garage roof garden starter kit at Ace Hardware today."

A writing assignment passes, an editor's ire dissipates and all returns to normal. But the human toll on Planet Earth may stay with Us for a long time _ perhaps permanently. So, get up on your roof, Chicago. Get up on your roof, Downer's Grove... And get to work.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Heh, heh... been having a little trouble with ol' blogspot here. Just a glitch in the---------------not too bad at work today------------------------------writing my book----------------Bulls game-----------uh----------------------I-Pod--------------------------gas prices--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - - -- - - - -- -

Friday, April 22, 2005

Write This Novel...

A scandal-ridden humanities professor, the young heiress to the tensabarrier fortune and a pontoon boat blown miles off course.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Greetings From Bridgeport

UIC celebrated the 50th anniversary of Richard J. Daley's first inauguration today.

Some of the Mayor's greatest hits. See also here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

10th Ring Opened to Accommodate More Damned

I've found my calling! It came to me last night over a beer with Erika at the Rainbo...

What this impending CTA CRISIS needs is a WeBLoG. But not just any WeBLoG _ nothing informative, with protest times and petition pdf's. NO!

What this CTA CRISIS needs is a good ol' fashioned, mocking, non-committal WeBLoG!!! I can make fun of the CTA, the protestors and the riders. I could call it "Hangin' With Frank (Kruesi)!"

"I want to feel sorry for these people, but the smell of urine on the 66 bus makes it difficult to read 'Talk of the Town.'"

Hello book deal! Viva la America!

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Bloke What Came in From the Cold

Dang it! Where's my volume of quotable literary quotes?

I'm looking for the John le Carre line about giving his country second best. The famed spy author once worked in British intelligence. He was always sure to make writing his first job and give his country, yes you guessed it, second best. Just wish I had the exact wording.

Let's just say that last week, I gave my country second best... More specifically, my job second best. I have no regrets.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On a Downtown Train

Today we got a taste of what it's like to live in Buffalo. Those following Western New York news know the Erie County government's problem with keeping services like public libraries open.

In Chicago, the CTA passed its doomsday plan: fare increases, service cuts, layoffs and other nastiness. It goes into effect July 17 unless the General Assembly can create more funding.

It's been intimated in publications like the Reader that the CTA's deficit is the result of mismanagement. That was the problem in Buffalo. I don't know how much it really applies to our situation, but in Chicago you have to figure it's a factor.

Who are the biggest potential losers? Not me. Those with prepaid company plans like the Chicago Card won't pay more. It's the poorer and unemployed riders who'll suffer. The plan raises the cash fare to $2 and eliminates transfers.

It's City vs. Suburbs; Chicago vs. Springfield; Good vs. Evil... My kind of town.

Life on the Lay-Up Line

I recently stumbled across this blog by Phoenix Suns player Paul Shirley. Shirley is a typecast 12th man _ one of the dudes in basketball you see on the sidelines cheering in his warm-up suit while his more talented teammates lead the squad to victory.

Shirley doesn't get much playing time, and he's been shopped around constantly from team-to-team (die-hard Bulls fans will remember him on last year's roster). But he's got the writing gift and an intelligent, reflective eye.

I like his comments in the March 21 entry about the NBA's biggest problem _ too much defense (sorry Detroit fans) _ and the ugly torpor it brings to the game. Also check out the March 22 entry in which he goes to an Interpol/Blonde Redhead show in Atlanta.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Sweeping Away the Ennui

The past two weeks were rough, but I'm emerging from the wilderness. It's time to get back to work! I'm putting another quick polish on my play before I send it out to theater competitions.

If somebody picks "Hammered," I would be very happy, but we must learn to accept rejection as the norm. I had one short play rejected last year. Maybe I should start notching them up somewhere in our apartment to keep track...

(Erika has just finished cutting Mark's hair. She grabs the broom to sweep. It breaks in half.)

Erika: Oh dammit. (examines it closer) Did you put all these little nicks on the broom?
Mark: Yes I did. Every time my play is rejected, I put a notch on there.
Erika: But you broke it. It's all cut up.
Mark: I'm training my expectations. Muting my inner want. Blunting desire. It's going quite well.
Erika: How can I sweep? You broke the broom.
Mark: I look at this pile of hair and I see an opportunity.
Erika: I see a mess... and you're going to clean it up.
Mark: No, look.
(Mark picks up patches of hair and sticks them to his head. They fall off onto his face and shoulders)
Mark: See? Denying false negation. Reuse. Regeneration. This is life, baby.
Erika: (packing bags) I'm going home to mother. (she exits)
Mark: Time for some microwave quiche. (opens fridge)

Friday, April 08, 2005

From the Woundup Political Desk...

State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka will attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Monday for an exhibit at the Thompson Center celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of Cervantes' "Don Quixote."

Topinka is a potential Republican candidate for governor in '06. Maybe she thinks she can cut into Gov. Blagojevich's Hispanic voting base with this stunt. Someone should tell her Cervantes was from Spain not Latin America.

This is the same state party that gave us paranoiac Jim Oberweis, who claimed the number of illegal immigrants entering Illinois each day could fill Soldier Field. They need to start hiring those super-sharp young conservatives the Reader's so afraid of, or their motto will remain: "Illinois GOP: But I Put the Fact Sheet In Your In-Box!"

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Verdict, Verdun...

We won, we won, we won!

The verdict is in: DEFAULT. The mechanic and his Cicero lawyer did NOT show up at Daley Center yesterday, leaving our cranky judge no choice but to rule in our favor. $2900.45 should be coming our way _ should be coming our way. We need some legal advice on how to collect. I'll keep you posted.

The cold's returned to Chicago. I'm happy. I wasn't ready for 70 degrees just yet. The writing machine's collecting dust. I feel like I'm emerging from a crater on a muddy WWI battlefield. The technological struggle begins anew TONIGHT!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Summer Game v.2005

I was dozing off the other night, half-watching the Cubs-Mariners spring training game on TV. It was comforting _ a new baseball season and the promise of more lazy evenings by the tube. But something is different about the 2005 Cubs experience. I couldn't ignore it, not even in my half-sleep, and it saddened me.

Cubs TV broadcasters Chip Carey and Steve Stone were replaced in the offseason by Len Kasper and former Diamondbacks skipper, Bob Brenly. I'd grown to love the Carey-Stone tandem the past two seasons, so it jarred me to hear two new voices chatting over the game.

Kasper is very similar to Al Michaels. I like Michaels, so that's not all bad. But Brenly _ I don't know if I could ever get used to him. He sounds like an affable fellow, but I've come to associate Cubs TV broadcasts with Stone's voluminous insight.

Sometimes, I feel we can get used to anything with enough exposure _ developing affection for whomever happens to be on the air. It's sad if we're this simple. I'll try to always keep a memory of Chip and Stoney in my heart: of 2003, sitting in the basement on a hot July night; and 2004, laying on the couch, no screens on the windows, bugs getting in, bottom of the fifth, one man out.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

My Brother

Please keep a prayer or kind thought of support in your heart for my little brother, Matt Donahue. He just had part of his lower intestine removed. It was infected and had been bothering him his whole young life, so it should be an improvement. I've talked to him on the phone from the hospital a couple times. He's healing up nicely and should be back in good form soon. They have to keep him a few days to make sure his digestive system returns to normal. If you've ever met Matt, you know he's my polar opposite: calm, relaxed and... relaxed. I love him more than anything. I'll post an update when he gets out.

Matt and I are in the same fantasy baseball league this year. I'm taking care of his team while he recuperates. Readers of the old diaryland site know my passion for our nation's pasttime. I love watching an entire baseball game on TV, including pre- and post-game shows. This is truly the woundup experience. Give me a call, and I'll invite you over _ not in October, but in July, when the season seems endless and the games a little lazier.

I know one person who'd take me up on this. It's my brother. Get better soon, Matt.