I don’t suppose that with all that is going on in the world and in the Region that you’ve noticed how wet it’s been the past couple of days. There’s the sound of dripping water outside my window. It’s peaceful at first, then quite annoying.
The radio day started innocently enough. I put on the wireless microphone and earphones and walked out onto Indianapolis Boulevard. I talked about the news. Sometimes I feel like talking about nothing, just gathering random scraps of paper and throwing them into a pile in the middle of the street. It’s a type of stream of consciousness that you can only get from being on the radio, off and on, for 30 years.
I did the radio show, slipping into a sort of smart alecky flow. After a couple of decades, you can ease into the color of breathing with the ease that you might fall into your favorite chair in front of the TV. You’re tired, no doubt, but it’s a lot easier to sit down than it is to continue to fight the world.
Brian Jennings came in and he came up with a great idea – why don’t you just call people live on the air?
Honestly, I don’t know if you should really do that on the air. It’s a great idea, though.
So I called my dad’s phone, live on the air. We got his voice mail.
“Hi, this is Jim…”
His name is Jim also. He was the first Jim. I am the second. If I had a son, I wasn’t going to name him Jim on a whim. I was going to name him Michael. I don’t know why. I guess if you were around Chicago in the 80s and 90s, you were more effected by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant and Kukoc than you would care to admit. At least I was.
Then I called my uncle Danny. He’s my mom’s brother. Danny and his brother Dennis are my personal heroes. Dennis, when he was in high school and then while he was a student at Purdue Calumet, lived with us. One time my mom made him take me to the doctor because I had a ringing in my ears.
“You’re perfectly healthy, Jimmy, “ Dr. Morris told us. “I think the ringing will go away soon.”
He was right. I was playing football outside in the back yard with Joey Chruby and Darrell Woolsey and as I was running down the sidelines – which was actually just the boundary with the Blumenthals next door – Chruby and Woolsey tackled me into an evergreen. I hit the stem in the middle with my forehead and the ringing went away instantly.
I don’t remember what happened for the next couple of hours. Chruby and Woolsey said I just sat on the back stoop of the house and watched them play. And then when it was time for dinner, I went inside and ate chicken and mashed potatoes and corn with my brothers and sisters and mom and dad. At some point after dinner, while I was watching Andy Griffith, I started to remember things again. And the ringing was gone.
Anyways, my uncle Danny didn’t answer the phone either. It just kept ringing. I would, at that moment, thought of calling my uncle Dennis live on the air. But he died a few years ago from cancer. I keep his number in my phone because, as I mentioned, he and Danny are my heroes and that’s kind of hard to let go of.
Oh, I forgot the point of the story, if that’s what you call it. As we were walking out of the Hammond Clinic,, my uncle Dennis had said.
“Jeez, nine bucks. That’s what Dr. Morris charged you. You could have given me the nine bucks to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you. Jeez.”
That was one of the first times I ever thought of the value of money. It’s a concept that I have struggled with mightily over the years. I still don’t entirely get what money is supposed to do. Why do people want it so much? What’s the difference between sleeping in a 300-dollar-a-night hotel room, and your own lumpy mattress? When you wake in the morning, there is still Bukowski and Shepherd and that should be enough.
My mom didn’t trust money. She had this habit of saying the same thing that my sister says – “See how people are. See how people are.” My mom, and my sister today, would say this when someone had screwed us over on a money matter. Or maybe we had just watched someone screw someone else over. Either way, my mom had this theory that money corrupts people. And because of that, every time I have a bunch of money in my pocket, I feel powerful and stupid at the same time. I feel as if I’ve fooled myself into thinking that the money in my pocket makes me more of a man when, in all reality, it might make you less of a man… if you really think about it.
I like brand new Cole Haan dress shoes, especially brown/tan ones.
I like Diet Coke.
I like to read poems by Charles Bukowski. I just read a bunch of them and for some reason I’m writing profusely in a different manner than what I’m accustomed to.
I like to lay in bed and listen to old Jean Shepherd radio shows. Jean understood the nature of the scraps of paper in the middle of a room. Your brain can dance around the room and you can continue to talk, and when you run out of things to say, you pick up a piece of paper from the pile in the middle of the room and you talk about whatever it says. That’s pretty much how Jean Shepherd did his late night radio show in New York in the 1960s, and it’s pretty much about how I talk in the morning when I walk out on to Indianapolis Boulevard. Every time I have a plan, I can’t find the scraps of paper.
Anyways, neither my dad or my uncle Danny answered their phones at 6:22 in the morning. What nerve they have to sleep past 5:30.
So I called my cousin Jimmie Rex. He answered his phone. He was driving on Ridge Road in Gary drinking a coffee. After we spoke, I congratulated Brian Jennings for coming up with such a great idea. I have a general scheme that I won’t just call random people live on the air. I’ll just call my family members. And since there’s like a thousand of them either in the Region or on the face of the planet, I could go a long time before I have to repeat.
After Jennings. I interviewed someone else, but for the life of me, I can’t remember who it was. I could look it up on google because that’s where the show’s calendar is parked, but that would necessitate slowing down the amazing rhythm that I’m having right now. Don’t you agree?
Then Frank Mrvan the third came in. We talked about the cross that used to be at the corner of Indianapolis Boulevard and Ridge Road by the war memorial. Sometime in the 1980s, a woman got all pissed off about a cross being on public land so they moved it to St. James church in Highland.
“And there it sits today,” Frank said.
There was a caller who disagreed. Caller Steve said – “I don’t know if that’s correct. I was told that they moved the cross to the grounds of the Catholic diocese office in Merrillville. Go drive by there and see. There’s a big cross there.”
This was a standoff between Frank Mrvan, the trustee of North Township, and caller Steve. It was over the mystery of the relocated cross. One said it went to St. James. The other said the cross went to the Catholic diocese. Both places have almost identical crosses.
Steve had credibility of sorts. He said that the woman who didn’t want the cross at Wicker Park was the wife of his dad’s partner. They were doctors. Steve seemed to remember the happening quite clearly.
But then again, Frank Mrvan is the trustee of the North Township. And, as an aside, he is related to me. That’s how it goes around here. And if you project this line of thinking further, I could call Frank early in the morning live on the air, per the suggestion made by Brian Jennings. Let’s call it the “Jennings Principle.” This posits that if you call someone live on the air early in the morning, good radio erupts. I hope so.
Frank quited the controversy – “I just got a text from someone who would know. And, yes, the cross that was at Wicker Park at the corner of Indianapolis and Ridge was relocated across town to St. James parish at Kennedy and 45th, not to the Catholic diocese grounds in Merrillville.”
I believe him. Don’t you?
The radio day toppled onto itself for the next few hours after the show. I worked out, took a shower, moved the big blowers around in our house. We just had the carpets done. They look almost new. But the guy left behind these big blowers that sound like jet engines. They’ve been blowing for two days straight. I feel like I’m living under the pavement outside the United Airlines terminal at Ohare. Just stop blowing already. That’s enough.
There was a “blowing” incident on the air today. I read a statement from NIPSCO, which is the power company around here, that they were gonna be fixing a gas leak in Highland and that there would be a “blowing sound” all day.
I asked, innocently, what a “blowing sound” was. Frank Mrvan the third made a hissing sound, and I said, “thank you.”
Then he observantly said – “I’m surprised that you let that alone and didn’t make any inappropriate comments about what a blowing sound could be.”
I was surprised myself, because, as my wife says, I have the sense of humor of an eighth grade boy raging with hormones. When I want, I could make almost anything sexual. Really. There’s a bottle of Pepsi sitting on the counter. I could make a sexual joke about it, if I wanted.
But for some reason, when we were talking about the blowing sound, I was also thinking about my four nieces getting ready for school. My brother and my sister often turn the radio on in their kitchens, and because of this thought I left it alone.
But I didn’t forget about it, obviously.
At 2pm, I interviewed Larry Graham, the head of marketing and public relations for, ironically, NIPSCO, the source of the “blowing sound” reference. I must be off my game, because during the 27-minute interview I didn’t once ask Larry who came up with the term “blowing sound.”
Larry has been working at NIPSCO for 40 years. I thought that was kind of cool, so I asked him in to be a part of one of my “JED in the Money” segments. These are when I interview people that have anything to do with business. It’s not so much about their company or their duties. It’s just about them. I figure that I’m a good enough interviewer that I could get a couple of interesting stories out of each and every person of business who comes through my studio.
Near the end of the interview with Larry, my phone started blowing up. Several of my sources who will go unnamed were telling me that there was gonna be a press conference at the federal building in Hammond to announce the arrest of the “pipe bomber.”
Now this is a weird story. Someone walked into the East Chicago post office and mailed a pipe bomb, according to authorities, to a contractor with the city of Hammond. There was a sketch of the guy that we circulated. He looked like an average white guy in his forties, which he turned out to be.
So after the interview with Larry, I grabbed the tripod, IRIG, XLR cords, a translator, the WJOB iphone, a microphone, the WJOB microphone fan, and a whole bunch of other stuff and I hurried across Hammond to the federal building. I set up my equipment and livestreamed the whole press conference. It was the first press conference for Tom Kirsch. He was chosen by president Donald Trump to replace outgoing US attorney Dave Capp.
Kirsch did a pretty good job. There was local media, including those from public radio, the Valparaiso radio stations, the Post-Tribune and Times. There was also all of the Chicago media there, maybe 12 cameras in all pointing right at Tom Kirsch, who once played forward for the Munster High basketball team.
This was a serious moment. Kirsch confirmed that the woman who was injured when the pipe bomb exploded at about 6pm at the post office was pregnant. I know the people involved with this situation. There have been a lot of frightened people around here.
As a matter of fact, on the way out of the press conference, I ran into Hammond police chief John Doughty. He said that they’ve been calling out the bomb-sniffing dogs every time someone gets a package and that everyone in the city of Hammond has been on high alert.
Kirsch said they had arrested Eric Krieg, 45, of Munster as the pipe bomber. I know this guy. And maybe the three or four of you do too. I don’t really want to talk too much about it right now since I’ve got to talk a whole bunch about it in a few hours. Here’s just a few observations of the press conference:
These are simply haphazard observations about media in general and chicken enchiladas in specific. What I really don’t want to write about because I’m gonna have to talk about it ad nauseum in a couple of hours is that a father from Munster – if what the feds say is true – would pack a pipe bomb in a box addressed to someone who does work with the city of Hammond. There was another alleged threat to another person in the city. The person received a threatening letter with a bullet in the envelope. Evidently, the feds think it came from the same person, Eric Krieg.
He is known, this Eric Krieg. Let’s see how it goes this morning on the radio show. I don’t have a good feeling about it, although I do have a better feeling about it now that I’ve shared 3,000 words with you. That’s your function. You are there so that I can write things out and feel better. That okay with you?