Friday, February 04, 2005

And On the Eighth Day I Named This Dog Emmy, And It Was Good...

And it is good. The dog I adopted last week is now feeling completely comfortable in her new surroundings. A bit too comfortable, at times. I took her for a walk around ten p.m. hoping that it would last her until the morning. After watching the ten o'clock "Twilight Zone/Taxi" exacta- and I cannot state how much I love this new "ME-TV' that channel 23 has become- I went to bed with Emmy dozing off in front of the furnace.

I wake up in the middle of the night to the hard nudging of Emmy moving me away from the far side of my bed to lay down. This is what she does when she needs to go out. It was three-thirty in the morning. So I pulled on some sweats and took her out front, let her do her business, and went back in.

Seven-thirty rolls around and she's back at it, this time jumping all over the apartment. We strolled to the park where I almost killed myself on a patch of black ice and Emmy scared half of a group of elderly Chinese folk going through their tai chi exercises with some playful hopping around the tennis courts.

This dog is an attention whore. I've found that the best way to get some free time is to throw her a rawhide bone once a day and let her have at it. It keeps her out of my head for most of the afternoon and lets me get some things done. Otherwise she'd be under my feet all the time. Overall she's a welcome addition to the place. Much better than a coffee table, anyway; although I still want one.

The thaw of the past two days brings with it a need to stretch out and get away from the apartment. So I headed over to the Bridgeport Coffee House this morning for a pick-me-up. I still believe in frequenting the place, even after my last encounter with the owner, so I went in to do my part to the development of the neighborhood business. I also needed a copy of this week's Reader.

So I walk in, grab a Reader and a Sun-Times and wait for five minutes as this tool makes googly eyes and bold proclamations of purchasing a restaurant to some woman who gifted him with a bottle of wine. When he finally acknowledges my presence only to curtly take my order- as if my being there patronizing his business was a nuisance he was barely able to tolerate. Then he gave me the wrong change twice for my order without apologizing. It's like he wanted me out of the building. I wonder if I might have pissed him off at HotHouse one night and he's holding a grudge.

His attitude almost makes me want to walk in with a cup of Starbuck's one morning. But that would be like giving your soul to the devil.

It's my fault for even going there. Anyhoo, last week's Reader cover story by Tori Marlan about Wicker Park scenester Patsy Desmond really struck a nerve with friends and acquaintences of mine who were around this city in the early 1990's and frequented bars like the Rainbo. Response ranged from the sympathetic ("how tragic"); to the snarky ("so she's famous for going to bars a lot"); to the outright vindictive [ "(Reader 'Chicago Antisocial' columnist) Liz Armstong, meet your future."] Some people I know couldn't finish reading the article, having recovered from their own substance and mental problems, it hit too close to home.

I was deeply affected by the story, having gone through bouts of clinical depression myself. I find a decent measure of comfort in the mundane routine of everyday life- paying bills, buying groceries, cleaning the apartment. To me it works as a barometer for how I'm feeling at a specific point in my life. Patsy Desmond confided the same toward the end of the article. Some of us come into our own at a slower rate than others. Some of us struggle the entire way forward. We all carry the scars to prove it, as well as the lessons those scars bring. Hopefully it makes us better people.

While I'm still on a Reader jag I haven't seen such a polarizing effect from regular letter writers regarding Liz Armstrong's "Chicago Antisocial" column. It seems as though every other week there's a letter to the editor either calling for the canceling of Armstrong's column or staunch support of "Chicago Antisocial."

I don't care either way. The response is only good for the Reader. It indicates- more than personals and futon ads ever can- that people are reading the paper and are placing an emotional stake in it. I was talking with someone at work Tuesday about "Chicago Antisocial" who thinks it's the same thing every week- Liz and her friends get high, go somewhere off the beaten path, and snark. So fucking what, I responded. You're reading it, aren't you? I said. She alowed that she was. I replied, that's all the editors care about. If no one was talking about "Chicago Antisocial" or thought so much one way or another to write to the paper about the column, Armstrong would still be primarily writing music reviews. I then again compared "Chicago Antisocial" to Tricia Romano's "Fly Life" column in the Village Voice- which is "Chicago Antisocial" with harder drugs involved.

I find it amusing that "Chicago Antisocial" is getting the kind of emotional reaction normally reserved for men who righ Presidential elections. When she's on, Armstrong is a solid writer. It's something one can choose not to read. Personally I'd rather read "Chicago Antisocial" than, say, Paige Wiser columns in the Sun-Times.

Which brings me to one of my favorite new websites, Sun-Times Watch. For a paper that claims to be "reporter-driven", the Sun-Times sure does have a glut of shitty columnists. They have a gossip columnist whose so far behind everyone else with her scoops (Michael Sneed) that her last name has become synonymous with someone whose behind the times. Their other primary gossip columnist (Bill Zwecker) outright lifts copy straight from the pages of New York tabloids. There's Neil Steinberg, who tries to make himself the story of his thrice-weekly column. We won't go on about him any further. Jay Mariotti is the sports columnist equivalent of Steinberg, only with more recent- but still lame- pop culture references and an alarming lack of actual knowledge of how professional sports works. Debra Pickett and the aforementioned Paige Wiser have this "Betty and Veronica" dichotomy. Wiser plays the wide-eyed dumb blonde, Pickett the priviliged brunette given to moments of largesse treating her interview subjects to lunch.

And yet I'll still read the Sun-Times over the outright conservative Tribune every day. They have the superior Page 2 columnist (Mark Brown) and one of the greatest sportswriters of the past fifty years in Rick Telander. Greg Couch and Carol Slezak are must-reads, focusing on the subject of their columns and not trying to make themselves stars. Phil Rosenthal makes me want to turn on my television more than once a week with his well-written, witty columns.

I'm also digging Redneck Words of Wisdom, from the people who brought us Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers. Some of the words of wisdom I haven't heard since I left home. I'm sure my stepdad would appreciate it. That is, if I was certain he could read.

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