Friday night, 7pm. Theo's Restaurant. Highland, Ind. - Remember to take photos for the blog. That's what I tell myself as I walk in to Theo's with my Nikon D3200. It's pouring out, so as I brush off the rain I snap a photo of the gals at the hostess desk (above). Alexis and I eat dinner with her friend Yvette and husband Ted the longshoreman from California. Yvette's in town for the Bishop Noll class reunion. Her husband tells some pretty interesting stories about operating a crane at Long Beach harbor.
Friday night, 8:00pm - Bottoms Up Bar and Lounge, Lansing, Illinois. Husband Ted and I accompany our BNI grad wives to a get-together for reunion weekend. Alexis and Yvette roam around the room while Ted and I talk about the water shortage in California and how you sometimes have to be innovative in expelling waste as you're stuck in a crane control room 100 feet in the air. Yikes. One BNI grad's wearing a pretty cool Cheech and Chong tee-shirt and I take a picture of that. On the way to pull up the car for Alexis, I step in a six-inch deep puddle and my socks get wet.
Friday night, 9:00pm - St. Thomas More festival, Munster, Ind. I arrive at St. Thoms fest to work the Wheel. It's pouring like hell out still so there's a lot less people than would normally be there. I sell chips, oversee the placing of bets, pay out winnings, pull chips off the board. You gotta pay attention, which isn't all that easy with people coming up and wanting to talk. You gotta yell because the band's just a couple dozen feet away. Some of the people are there because I promoed it on the radio. One guy's missing from all the other years. Mike Dernulc, Hammond fireman. He died in the past year. He would have come if he didn't.
Saturday morning, 12:30am. - After my three-hour shift at The Wheel, I stop by to watch the band do a Black Eyed peas song. Then I walk home along Ridge Road in a drizzle, thinking that I walked along this same road late at night more than 40 years ago. Not that much has changed... same cracks in the sidewalk. I snap a photo of a paper mache dog in front of the Arts Center. That's changed. The Arts Center wasn't there when I was walking along Ridge Road late at night in the rain 40 years ago.
Saturday morning, 9am - Back at the radio station to meet Harold Snure to see if we could get a Barix STL to work. No go. Here's my advice to any radio operators thinking of using the Barix system to connect to a remote studio. Sure, the Barix is cheap. But you have to know a lotta knowledge about firewalls, connection speeds, VPNs, bit rates, gateways and static IPs to get them to work correctly. There are a lot better products out there that might cost more at first but might be cheaper in the long run.
Saturday afternoon, 1pm - Northwest Indiana Arts Center, Munster, Indiana. It was Christina Cortez's graduation party. Mike Puente of of public radio in Chicago was there. He's Christina's uncle and he and I wore the exact same Navy shirt and khaki pants color scheme - "Gotta be prepared for news to break at any time," Puente said. He got his first radio gig with us more than ten years ago now.
I told Puente about Thursday when I entered into a conference call with the CEO of a video streaming company that we might do business with. "Now don't get freaked out by this, but I do have my technical advisor. Her name's Christina Cortez and the party for her graduation is this weekend."
"Congratulations," said the CEO, "What college?"
"No," I interrupted. "Not college. HIGH SCHOOL. But please don't be put off by that. She's entirely competent."
And as the conference call progressed, Mr. CEO understood what I was talking about, as Christina asked about copyright infringements and ad placement and the floating price per gig of bandwidth and storage. She's been with me since she was 15. Quiet, unassuming and a complete whiz kid. Kinda like Angel Jimenez in that regard.
Saturday afternoon, 3pm - Munster, Indiana. Alex and Max Baker graduated from high school. One of the twins is headed to Ball State and one to Indiana. They've never really been apart so could be interesting. Their grandpa, Mr. Baker, told me the story of Baker's Bar, which was an institution in the Indiana Harbor section of East Chicago. It was by The Big House in the 40s and 50s, if you know what that piece of Americana was. Also, Kevin Pastrick of EC political fame was there with his three pretty amazing kids. On the way out I ran in to one of my high school coaches and favorite people in the world - Dave Knish. He no longer teaches and had a heart incident lately. Walks a zillion miles a day and says he listens to me and WJOB all day long. That's a good thought. His wife, the former Piatek, also. Knish congratulated Alexis and me on getting George Noory and "Coast to Coast" all night long.
"Why the heck are you up at that hour?" I asked.
"Can't sleep. Now I've got Coast to keep me company."
And Knish told my wife about scrambling to tune in an Iowa radio station to get "Coast to Coast" in past years. It also reminds me that I'm on a crash course with all night radio. My aunt Irene tells me she wakes up several times a night and gets at most five hours. It's a curse. You either got it or you don't. Like right now. It's 1:16 on Sunday morning and sleep's just a rumor right now. I also run into Norm Houser and wife Sherry, who say they listen all the time in the morning. Sherry likes the traffic, since she drives 40 minutes in the morning.
"And you listen because I'm so funny also, right?"
Saturday afternoon, 5 pm - Highland, Indiana. Samantha Salzeider graduated from Indiana University in marketing and she starts an internship with the Chicago Bears on Monday. I ran in to a woman who says the last time we spoke she told me to have someone call her medical office so they could advertise. This happens a lot. Someone tells me at a party or at a bar to have a salesperson call on their office. I forget almost every time. This time I texted station manager Debbie Wargo and producer Ryan so it'll be their responsibility to remember.
Saturday evening, 7 pm - Dave Gladish's party. My wife shares office space with attorney Gladish and every year he has a huge bash. Gladish comes on the air with me every other week to talk about interesting shit going that involves the law, so a lotta the people at the party listen to the show. Joan Buvala came up to me - "Jimmy Dedelow, don't you remember me? I was your neighbor." And you know and I know that I didn't remember her at first. I thought of all the places I lived and where this woman may have lived in relation to that. But nothing came up.
"You know, you and Joey Chruby running around the neighborhood causing trouble." Oh, that Joan Buvala. From across the street when I was a kid. Joey Chruby is probably the funniest and most mischievous person on the planet. We grew up next to each other and there wasn't a moment that he wasn't thinking about making trouble. If you think of Eddie Haskell, times it by infinit
Joan had with her a guy - Jim - who knew of Joey and his exploits. But equally as interesting, this Jim knew of Leo Chruby. Nobody anymore knows of Leo Chruby. He was Joey's older brother and he spoke with a tough guy lisp - he was a golden gloves boxer - and he was hard to understand. And for many years he was a raging alcoholic. But when he dried out enough to walk around steadily, he would take the train to Chicago and study art at Columbia College. After a while he got a loft on the north side of Chicago and I would go visit him there. I was trading commodities at the time and to kind of get him through the next rent payment, Alexis and I commissioned him to draw something that told the story of the Calumet Region.
"Anything you want, Leo, as long as it tells the story of the Calumet Region."
You be the judge if he got it right. He did this black and white thing with a million times a million dots. There's smokestacks and a view of Chicago and a farm silo and this glove like guys wear in the steel mills and a bunch of other stuff. We had prints made of it but the reproduction wasn't fine enough resolution to pick up that the whole thing's made of dots. You gotta see the original one day to get the full effect.
Anyways, with Leo, as with just about with everyone else in my life, it comes back to radio. I'd go to his house in Munster sometimes to visit him - when he wasn't drinking - and he'd show me his collection of old radio tapes. If you're at all in to the rich tradition of radio, then you'd have been amazed. In a rather unkempt house in a rather unkempt spare bedroom, he had stacked cassette tape after cassette tape of old radio shows. All kinds. Jack Benny, Jean Sheperd, all sorts of old shows with comic book characters like Flash Gordon and Superman. And lots of old mysteries. He really like mysteries. Each tape looked like a work of art, with exquisite calligraphy on perfectly aligned white stickers. All four walls, floor to ceiling, were covered with tapes.
"Leo, what the fuck do you do with all of these tapes?"
"I listen to them, Jimmy, what the fuck else do you think I'd do with them?" But since it was coming from Leo, God rest his soul, it came out like.
"I lithen to them, Dimmy, what the thuck elthe do you think I do with them?" He really was a great artist. I wish, when he died, that I would have bought all of his collection, the art work and the radio work. But as with most times in my life, I'd hit a rough patch and didn't have the money. Someone else swooped in and bought the shit. At least that allowed Joey to pay me back that little, you know, loan from days gone by.
.... Oh yeah... On Gladish's driveway there was also a little "MadMac Haters Fan Club" brewing. Five people - three guys and two women - got into a high-volume rant about "what a dick MadMac is. What a hater." One guy actually got up and started pointing and yelling, saying that he would like to punch MadMac in the face.
So who is this "MadMac" that could draw such ire? He's a longtime caller to WJOB. MadMac will say the most outrageous thing one minute. And the next he'll make a poignant observation that may be so right on that it gets a lotta people really pissed. So it goes, my friend. 24 hours of a radio life. In radio as in Vonnegut, so it goes.