I don’t know what it is, but every once in a while I just gotta write a poem. It’s not something I set out to do. It’s something that just has to be done, like going to the bathroom.
Eight is a really cool number,
especially when you make it
with two circles toppled onto
each other, and then tilt it.
Eight is playful, open
Seven, on the other hand,
no matter if you tilt it or not,
is cold and unwelcoming.
Seven says “get the heck
away from me,”
While eight says, “come on,
I really don’t know what to
make of Nine. It has a
circle like eight, and a metal
beam stolen from seven. Perhaps
Nine is just confused, or a really
balanced and well-adjusted
number of society.
It’s almost as if, in a variation
of a joke that aunt Millie
tells every Christmas,
Seven ate Eight to get Nine.
It’s 5;21 on a Saturday morning and I’ve been up for a couple of hours trying to figure out what I should be doing. One of the things about being a morning show host is that you wake up about 4am without an alarm no matter what day it is.
Some days, you just wanna sleep in, because you know that later you will get tired and have to take a nap. This happened yesterday.
Alexis and I went to a Cubs rooftop party that we’ve been going to for 16 years, since it started. The Salzeider family puts it on to raise money for charity. A ton of people from NW Indiana go.
This time, my childhood chump Billy Baker tagged along with Alexis and me. We picked him up about 11am and drove to the Grant Park garage underneath where they’re having Taste of Chicago. And then we took the red line to Addison and walked down Sheffield and then Waveland to the rooftop.
If any of the three or four of you have never been to a rooftop party, you should go. especially on a Friday in July when it’s really sunny out. There’s tons of people wearing blue smashed into a crowded el train, then there’s another sea of blue that’s not drunk yet once you get off of the train. There’s tons of vendors selling stuff and people trying to hand you flyers and a whole lot of strollers.
There were strollers everywhere, by the way. This is a new development. Baker and I had to help a woman in a Cubs shirt and her husband get on the train at Jackson, and when the three or four of us were walking down Waveland, there were several strollers there too.
This is a new development. I remember going to Cubs games after trading all day and there never even being any kids around. Wrigley Field used to be just a huge pickup bar where you could get really drunk to the point where you were falling down, and no one would notice. That dynamic changes when there’s a bunch of kids in strollers and moms in Cubs shirts and dads in cargo shorts. I wonder how alcohol sales have been going since the Cubs got so popular with families.
Anyways, we got to the rooftop a half hour before game time and ran into a zillion people that we know. There was Don and Rose Koliboski. Along with Karen Lauermann, Don runs the Lake County Economic Alliance. Rose works in the Lake County commissioners’ office.
There was Mirko Marich and his wife, Carrie. And Jason Cipowski, who told me a story about taking his in-laws to the fireworks in Whiting and almost getting into a fight with some young punks who wouldn’t get out of the way for his 70-year-old father-in-law. Ciposki is a big dude from Cal City. He’s gonna write a letter to Whiting mayor Joe Stahura about controlling underage drinking along 119th Street during big events.
I talked for a while with a guy named Paul about local doctors. Paulie knows a lot about doctors and hospitals and such and has been a resource when I need to know something about a prospective medical client.
Mara Reardon, the state rep, was there, along Matt Reardon. Robin and John Salzeider hosted the event. I talked to their son Eric, who’s graduating from Highland and going to IU.
“Don’t get thrown out, like I did.” That’s the only advice I could think to give him.
Dave Kusiak and I hung around like we always do when we go somewhere. I have known Dave Kusiak since he was a little punk hanging around our house with my little brothers. My buddy, Joey Chruby, would bully Kusiak regularly. And for the 40 years that I’ve known Kusiak, I have enjoyed almost all of the times we get together to laugh – except when he talks about the Cubs.
Kusiak is a Sox fan, through and through. I get that. But he’s also a Cubs hater. And I don’t get that. I’m pretty sure that it’s so deep that Kusiak would rather see the Cubs lose than watch the White Sox win. It gets a little bit old when he cuts down the Cubs repeatedly at a Cubs rooftop charity event – and it’s just a little disconcerting that he feels the need to wear a black shirt to a Cubs game on a 90-degree day. But whatever the case, and no matter how spiteful he might seem about the Cubs, Kusiak is still funny. And sometimes, that’s all that matters.
Alexis laughed with the girls from her office. One of them, Sam, wanted to meet me.
“She’s been talking for a half hour about wanting to meet you,” Hammond fireman Dan Diombala said when I walked up.
“I warned her what a disappointment it was gonna be.”
And it was, no doubt, a disappointment for this young woman named Sam to meet me. I’m not nearly as large in life as I may seem on the air, and I’m not nearly as cool as my wife must have been making me out to be.
“You better appreciate what you have. Your wife is so sexy and funny and you better appreciate that.”
Don’t you know it. I would like to add that not only does Alexis entertain me in a Lucille Ball kind of way 24 hours a day, she also cooks great tacos and looks good in high heels. On top of that, she rescued me from a life of drugs, gambling, sluts and no direction. I am appreciative every day. Don’t you worry about that.
I talked with Dave Sutkowski, Vince Soto (Dobbs) and his girlfriend, Mary. Brian Cook, the pride of Hammond Morton was there, with his friend, Michelle. Dave Gladish, the attorney who sits just a few feet from Alexis every day, was there with a whole bunch of people, including Kelli Anne, Dr. Bade and his girlfriend, Linda, Wayne Micka, Lisa Belinski and more.
In all, it was a good old-fashioned Northwest Indiana hootenanny. And this was all fine and dandy until about 3pm. That’s when I got tired.
A morning radio host, as the three or four of your have been warned, wakes up at 4am no matter what. And a morning radio host has to take a nap about 2 or 3pm, no matter what.
So I found a booth on one of the floors of the rooftop building where there was a television. It was kind of weird. You could watch the Cubs game out the doors to the patio while at the same time watch the game on television – only the TV was delayed by about ten seconds. You’d hear the cheer from the stands in Wrigley, and then ten seconds later the action would take place on the TV.
Anyways, people were walking by and sometimes stopping to talk… and the whole time, I started to wilt. I just wanted to lay down anywhere. Just for 10 minutes or so. It’s a strong urge you develop when every day, like a baby, you take a nap at 2:30pm. When it gets to three, you better find a place to lay down or you’re toast.
But there was nowhere in hell to lay down… other than the booth I was sitting in. But it would be a little risky to just lay down where everyone could see me. And besides, there were way too many degenerates there. I was picturing it as a very real possibility that I could wake up with a dick drawn on my forehead.
So I leaned back in the corner and just relaxed for a while, talking to people but at the same time fighting with all my might not to fall asleep. Alexis came by and saw me lazed back on the leather, talking to a few people.
“What are you, the king or something, holding court?”
No, honey. I just have to lie down or I’m gonna expire. That’s how it goes with a morning radio host. You’re like a little baby who needs a nap at precisely the same time every afternoon. If you don’t get it, you’ll scrunch up your face and howl… or shit your pants.
In the ninth inning, Alexis, Baker and I hightailed it over to the train station at Addison. Alexis, the train pro that she’s become, had already bought us tickets so we didn’t have to wait at the machines to buy them. That’s a real drag when train after train keeps coming and you’re still standing behind a couple from Topeka that’s trying to figure out how to buy two one-ride CTA train tickets with their debit card from the First National Back of the Middle of Nowhere.
We made it to the train platform just as the game ended. We could hear the cheer from Wrigley. If we had waited another five minutes, we would have been part of one of the biggest regular mass exoduses of human beings in the world. As soon as the Cubs game ends, you can stand at the corner of Sheffield and Addison and literally be washed away from the throngs of people.
And they’re all, or almost all, headed to the el platform. We made it just in time so that Alexis and I got seats. Baker had to stand.
We decided to take the train to the Loop where our car was and get a drink there. If any of the three or four of you is wondering why we would park our car, get on a train, go to the game, and then take a train again back to our car, then you don’t know diddly about Chicago traffic. And nothing I write here in these 2500 words is gonna help you understand it. Go find the couple from Topeka and hang out with them.
Now, Alexis went to law school at John Marshall around 2000 while I traded a couple blocks away at the Chicago Board of Trade. It was a hectic time, but there were also some good memories. One of them was not the penthouse office on the 42nd floor of the Chicago Board of Trade building.
When it was determined that Alexis was gonna go to John Marshall, as the BTCT that I considered myself at the time, I rented a penthouse office on the 42nd floor with a great view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.
Why did I do this? It was for completely selfish reasons. We had two little kids at home, along with my step-son Steve, and there was very little private time or space for Alexis and I to do what consenting adults do. So I rented the penthouse office, figuring that between classes and between fits of trading on the floor, we could catch up on lost time.
That happened maybe three times. The rest of the time, every time I made the invitation for a rendezvous, Alexis had a test to study for or a paper to write. For the two years or so I had that office, I was there maybe a dozen times. Stupid.
Anyways, one of the good memories is Cavanaugh’s. Alexis likes to eat, even when she’s pressed for time to finish her studies, so we would often walk down the couple of steps to back-alley Cavanaugh’s. It’s got a great bar and some TVs. Alexis, Baker and I actually found the exact same seats where I watched Bryce Drew hit “the shot” for Valparaiso against Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA tournament. I remember it quite clearly. I rushed off my barstool, spilling my beer and my shot, and stood in the middle of the bar jumping for joy.
No one else really paid much attention. It was 1pm or so and no one was really drunk yet and certainly no one else there was from Indiana and cared about Valparaiso. But I did, and still do, and jumping for joy in the middle of Cavanaugh’s is a really good memory.
As are the many lunches that Alexis and I had at Cavanaugh’s. She would bustle in with a backpack full of law books, and I’d be sitting there watching Sportscenter and we’d talk about the kids, classes, the traffic and, of course, I’d always end the session with an invitation to the 42nd floor.
“I have to finish this paper, JED. Sorry.”
Yesterday, I sat in the middle of Alexis and Baker and listened to them talk. Baker cares about things of the world. And so does Alexis. And I was like at a ping pong match, turning my head from side to side to listen to each of them so that I could remember it later and regurgitate it on the air as if it were my own. That’s how I get material for the show. I sit and watch people’s lips move (I don’t have the greatest hearing) and I imprint on my brain what they’re saying. Later, I paraphrase it on the air. Works for me, and it might even work for the three or four of you, too.
After Cavanaugh’s, we walked to the Grant Park garage, amidst, once again, a ton of strollers, and got in the car and drove back to Indiana. We dropped Baker off and Alexis and I had a quick dinner at Bomber’s in Munster. She got a big piece of brisket. I ate their shrimp and lake perch, carefully peeling off the fried coating so as to avoid harsh judgment from my daughter. She’s a thousand miles away in New York City, but I can still see her wagging her finger at me.
There is a lot of good to radio. You get to meet a lot of people, and you get to laugh a lot. But sometimes, I just crave solitude. And that’s what we got right now as the sun comes up and birds chirp like hell and I’ve got a Saturday at home, which never happens. Life goes on, and so does radio, and every day the twain shall meet.