Archive for August, 2008

We got buzzed

August 18th, 2008

The title of this entry has morphed in meaning for me over the years. These days, it refers to me & family spending Sunday in Wicker Park and getting buzzed by an F-22 Phantom fighter plane during the Chicago Air & Water show.  He tore through the skies sideways above us scaring the dogs and thrilling my kindergartner and me. We saw a few other planes overhead, but that initial flyover really got us going. 

Note to self: take the boy and get to the lakefront for the 2009 Air & Water show.  And bring the camera.

Here is a pic of Blue Angels buzzing Trump Tower (not my photo):

Blue Angels buzzing Trump Tower Chicago 2008

Tiny Tim

August 13th, 2008

Did I ever tell you about the time I, well, hung out with Tiny Tim for a weekend? Yes, the Tiny Tim from the Tonight Show marriage with Miss Vicky, “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” and all that.

He was brought to town for a couple shows and a live recording, Tiny Tim Live in Chicago (with my pals the New Duncan Imperials) that I was involved with in the glorious 1990’s. Among my strongest memories of him and that weekend…

  • Picking him up from O’Hare at like 10am on a weekday, slinking along in the tail end of morning rush traffic, with none other than Tiny freakin’ Tim in the passenger seat, strumming his omnipresent ukulele for a personal serenade. Surreal is an understatement.  Out of body experience is a better description. 
  • His cologne/perfume. He stunk to high heaven with perfumed lotions and powders reminiscent of a crowded funeral home wake. Just an ugly, clashing mix of flowery, powdery air pollution. His main handler, my buddy Kenn, put him up in a Holiday Inn in Skokie and reported the guy going to the gift shop and buying only perfumes and scented powders. He reeked of old lady and the laundry soap aisle at Dominicks.
  • The guy, as seemingly pleasant and kitschy and all, was an unabashed, hard-lined bigot, racist and chauvinist. I mean the guy’s views on women and relationships was among the most oppressive imaginable.  Entitlement, deference, objectification… listening to him talk was both astonishing and sickening – in a watching a car wreck kind of way.
  • Bringing him to WGN Radio in Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue to be a guest on the Spike O’Dell show. It was my first time in that studio and I frankly had a private thrill being there in a place where so much radio history had been made. While sitting in studio one with Tim waiting to be the next featured segment, in walks legendary Farm Report and Noon Show anchor, Orion Samuelson. He is an older man, on the portly side, and today he is dressed impeccably with a striped shirt, tie and suspenders. He is on time as I presume he had always been for the previous 50 years of news updates. He walks in and sits down at what is presumably his usual mic and begins his report on queue. His deep, rich voice starts rumbling the market numbers in an in-person fidelity that took me back. It was like hearing stereo for the first time – he went from mono-AM radio fidelity to in person rumble. He owned that room when he walked in.  So here is Tiny freakin’ Tim sitting to the side of Orion, rustling the paper bag (an apparent trademark of his) that held his ukulele. Orion’s voice doesn’t miss a beat, but it was art to watch him pivot around, while keeping his lips exactly the same distance and relationship to the live mic, and shooting a look that sliced through Tiny Tim with no uncertain meaning: STOP RATTLING YOUR DAMN PAPER BAG WHILE I’M ON THE AIR.  I will never forget that moment.

Tiny freakin Tim!

Dumb and dumber

August 12th, 2008

I heard a couple stories on the radio this week that amazed me:

Story #1: A fundraiser was held in Chicago to benefit starving children of Darfur.  It was an all you can eat buffet dinner.

Story #2GM announces XFE series of fuel efficient trucks …better mileage by 1 single MPG. Here’s the AP story:

GM offers more fuel-efficient pickup trucks, SUVs

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Corp. is releasing new, more fuel-efficient versions of its full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles later this fall.

The XFE — or extra fuel economy — versions of the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks and Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs will get one mile per gallon more in both city and highway fuel economy than non-XFE versions. The boost will give them a total of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway.

Are they kidding?  These behemoths that they claim chug only 15mpg are being pitched as fuel efficient?  Are these people crazy? I can’t believe anyone in their right mind could justify this as any sort of effort at conservation.  

8/8/88

August 8th, 2008

Twenty years ago today was the first scheduled night game at Wrigley Field. Knowing the managers at Cubby Bear and being a totally and completely broke aspiring rock music drummer, I took a one-night only job as a bar back at Cubby for that momentous and festive evening.

Wrigley Field at night

In the weeks leading up to 8/8/88, I saw various stages of the delivery on flat bed trucks of the lighting trusses. I watched as a helicopter hovered over Wrigley as the dangling lights were lowered into place. I watched the park glow for the first few times as they lit up the night sky to test and aim the lighting.  I spent a lot of time in Wrigleyville in those days.

Then the big game came around with much fanfare and bubbly excitement. The neighborhood was teeming more than usual with plenty of folks recognizing a special event was taking place and wanted to be a part of it.  There were blue City of Chicago tow trucks dragging improperly parked cars away. I recall there was an enormous showing from the Chicago Police. These days, there are non-police “Public Safety” people managing traffic control but back then it was all full fledged Chicago Police officers doing crowd control outside the park. Once the game started and the rains came, dozens of police were congregated in the then backstage area of the Cubby Bear, huddled in their rain gear around a dedicated keg of beer for the exclusive use of Chicago’s Finest. Now I’m not saying I saw any uniformed, on-duty Chicago Police officer drinking beer from this keg, but it certainly would not do to have them buying beer out in the club with the public. But I digress.

Yes the rains came, inspiring a few Cubs players to entertain the crowd by turning the field tarp into a slip n’ slide.  I think it was future hall of famer Greg Maddux, along with Steve Trout and a few others that ran the bases ending with a belly flop slide into a splashy home plate, delighting the masses.  I didn’t personally see this either, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The game was called after a few innings, with all the stats washed out. But the memory stands and the 8/8/88 date will always be known as the first night game at Wrigley Field even though it was technically 8/9/88 according to official records.

Air Force One

August 1st, 2008

Here is a pretty cool video (under 4 minutes) summarizing a pool reporter’s experience riding Air Force One with the president to a private fundraiser in Atlanta. This is stuff you never get to see, so I found it interesting…