It's 9:54pm on a Sunday night in the middle of June and if you're a morning talk show host in the Central timezone then you know what that means.
You're waiting for the news to start. Your little cheat sheet of all the crap that happened over the weekend. Around here, the big ticket is the Black Hawks. They wound up winning last night in Tampa Bay. Tomorrow night they have a chance to win Lord Stanley's cup for the first time AT HOME since 1938. This city and northwest Indiana are up for grabs. No worries. Hawks are gonna kill Tampa Bay tomorrow night. Book it.
Speaking of up for grabs. Yesterday I was sitting at nephew Jack's 8u baseball game at Community Park when my wife and daughter phoned that they missed the South Shore train home from Chicago. No biggie, I told them, just take the Metra to Homewood, Illinois, and I'll pick you up there.
Pretty cool train station right next to the downtown. You can tell that if you look at the pictures I took that I posted in the photos section on this website. Anyways, on the way home on the border of Lansing and Thornton, all three of us looked up and said it at the same time.
"Look, there's Wampum."
Now that doesn't sound like all that big of a deal, I know. You could look it up on Google that it's a lake with smallmouth bass and it's part of the Cook County Forest Preserve. But it's not non-native fish that Wampum is famous for.
In the 1970s and early 80s, it was one of the largest open-air marijuana markets in the Midwest. I had not been to Wampum in, say, 33 years or so, so it was a bit of an acid-type flashback when we turned off Thornton-Lansing Road into the huge parking lot. That's where freaks from all over south Chicago and northwest Indiana would pull in to a spot, open their trunks, and show their wares. And as long as you weren't secretly selling hard drugs like speed or heroin or acid, then the cops wouldn't do anything. It was one of the weirdest places I've ever been, and I spent three years in the Berkeley underground, remember. A mile of marijuana. Chicks with no bras and guys with snake tattoos. Lots of motorcycles and loud, really loud, hard rock music.
I loved going there, as you can tell if you listen to the show. I'll play some old Led Zeppelin as a bumper (Been a long time, been a long time, been a lonely, lonely, lonely... ) and I'll return live with something stupid like:
"Gee, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that on the way out to Wampum... "
Or, "let's break it up with a little Wampum special." And I'll break in to a little Ozzie... "Finished with my woman 'cuz she couldn't help me with my mind."
Wampum was a state of mind, an experience. So the wife and recently-graduated-from-college daughter and I stopped to take some pictures. There they are above.
........ Also above is a couple ten-minute excerpts of me going off on unions. Producer Ryan is trying to get me to talk more directly to people, without the calls and interviews. So he doesn't schedule anybody at 8:30 on Thursdays and tells me to just freeform it. So I gave it a shot. How do you like it?