It’s gray. It’s gloomy. And your feet are wet. Amidst such mirth, how is a person supposed to find the bright spot on your radio dial?
- meeting Billy Baker Troublemaker, as caller Ramon calls him, for a Diet Pepsi.
- watching my nephew Jack play his final Little League regular season game. He’s a catcher. They played through the rain because that’s the only way you’re gonna get a baseball game in these days. Jack’s soaked and covered in mud but generally happy. I curse every moment of wet socks.
- the St. Thomas More Fun Fest. Ot’s okay for God to send eight months of rain down on barbecues, softball games, weddings, fireworks, concerts and parades – but it’s out of hand when He washes out the opening night of St. Thom Fest.
I had Patricia Salinas on the show this morning to promote St. Thomas More Fest in Munster. It’s my home parish. I went to school there and so did my brothers and sisters and daughters and nieces and nephews. It is my duty to promote the hell out of the festival and show up and drink beer.
But it’s difficult when there’s a great band playing Santana to a rather paltry – and wet – crowd. This is ridiculous. If God had a complaint line, I’d hit him up.
“Rain all you want, dear Lord, but please spare the St. Thomas More festival. “
… I know what the three or four of you are thinking. I’m just waxing poetic about my childhood grade school because they honored me this year.
This may be true. But I also know how desperately the parish and all Catholic parishes need the money. It’s tough times for private education and extending The Long Rain is overdoing it.
… As the three or four you can tell from the photos above, I have been to a lot of events in the past few days.
Friday – I did the morning show, of course. In the evening, my wife and daughter took me for Father's Day to Dead and Company at Wrigley Field, where, of course, it rained like hell. But they played “Brown Eyed Women” so it was worth it. Alexis, Jackie and I parked at 22ndStreet and took the Red Line to Wrigley. Afterwards, we stopped at White Castle and spread ketchup on a napkin on the dashboard and ate sliders and fries.
If I’m not the luckiest man alive then it’s darn near pretty close.
Saturday morning – “If you’re gonna play, you gotta pay.”
We got home at 2am and by 8am I was on my way to a 25-mile bike ride to Whiting for a 25-mile bike ride to Chicago. It was to raise money and promote the South Shore train. We rode, through a drizzle, along the Lake to Buckingham Fountain. We then rode our bikes through a back door to Milennium station and took the train back to Hammond. Then we rode through Wolf Lake in the rain back to Whiting. Rain, rain.
Saturday evening – We celebrated my dad’s 80th birthday at John’s Pizzeria in Munster. John’s used to be in Calumet City for half a century, but now Phil Bacino runs it on Ridge Road. My brothers and sisters and a bunch of teenagers invaded the place. Loud conversation, boxing each other on the ears, drinking, eating pizza, getting up from the table to shake hands when someone stopped by. Life is good if you let it be.
Sunday – Alexis and I visited her dad, who just turned 90. He is a proud, old Mexican man who once had a lot to say at these gatherings. Now, he mostly listens. But his eyes let you know that he sees everything. Alexis hugged him at the end of the visit and teared up a little.
Monday – I did the show and then skidaddled to Briar Ridge Country Club for the Purdue Northwest athletics golf outing. Sports and college and golf and booze make for a good, if not long, day.
Monday evening – I rode my bike to Community Park to watch two games simultaneously. On the Little League field, nephew Jack played catcher in a tournament game. On the adjoining Babe Ruth field,, nephews Al and Sam played against each other. As both games wound down and were close, I rode my 1989 Trek from field to field. Life doesn’t get any better.
Oh yes. It could get just a little better. It could not be raining. As I write this to you on a Wednesday night, water flows freely through the downspout outside the bedroom window. If it doesn’t happen very often, rain creates beautiful sound. It’s a rhythmic cleaning of the earth and watering of plants.
But if it rains all the time, as it has since October, then it just sounds like wet basement.
… My Tuesday co-host summed it up yesterday:
“Jim, you have people calling you, texting you at all hours. You have to make appearances not just in Hammond but everywhere in the Region. You are the voice of the Region… and it’s like being an elected official.
“You have to go everywhere.”
As much as it pains me to say this, Verlie Suggs is right. I am, for better or worse, the voice of the Region. Billy Baker Troublemaker summed it up this evening –
“You never wanted to be on the radio. And here you are. We can’t even have a drink without half a dozen people coming up. How do you like it? Doesn’t matter. This is your fate. And you cannot leave it.”
I hope not, Baker. I certainly hope not.