Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Our tax dollars at work

Try as hard as you may to walk the straight and narrow, life is full of minor annoyances. And like clockwork, it happens unsuspectedly. If you will, free-associate a rotating, swirling bolo flying out of nowhere that hogties your ankles from which, before any instinct can react, cartoon physics apply, yanking the rug from under causing your mug to be smashed flat against the pavement. Case in point:

December 29, 2003

City of Chicago
Department of Revenue
P.O. Box 88298
Chicago, IL 60680-1298

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to contest the parking ticket # 0043884120-14 issued for code violation 9-64-190 (b) Meter Violation, Central Business District.

On the date in question of the supposed violation listed above, I parked my vehicle across from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago located at 280 South Columbus Drive in a metered parking space. The relevant parking meter numbered 900067 was inoperable and/or malfunctioning as indicated by a code “JA 77” which flashed from its display.

Just to avoid any possibility of a meter violation, I consciously pressed the button labeled “right” to indicate which parking space my vehicle actually occupied because another vehicle parked to the left of the meter wrote a note stating that the meter was indeed broken AND, to be doubly sure even sacrificed two quarters into the meter to no effect. In fact, one of the quarters sat in the slot without falling into the chamber.

Imagine my irritation to see a ticket placed underneath the windshield wiper upon returning. I incorrectly presumed that any competent parking meter attendant would notice the broken meter. However, such is always my mistake to give the benefit of the doubt especially to that most treasured of what our wonderful city offers---the civil servant. Again my only evidence to support my defense is the code “JA 77” (the first 7 was actually backwards) on the parking meter display as it is not my habit to lug around a camera to document any perceived parking infractions that I overtly seek to transgress.

Please allow me to thank YOU and the exceptionally wonderful work of your ever-vigilant office. It is, I might add, a pleasure to do business as always.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

On watching Thunderbirds are GO! late night

Time to remember S.H.A.D.O.

Or Supreme Headquarters, Alien Detection Organization, the good guys of "UFO", a long-forgotten Gerry Anderson vehicle from the early seventies that used to air eight o'clock Sunday nights on Channel Nine right before bedtime. Naturally I begged Mom the extra hour just to see Commander Straker and his ultra-secret (super-technological) forces based in a hidden defense base on the moon battle those evil extraterrestials who crave to harvest human flesh as a food source. Not to be confused with its better-known counterpart "Space: 1999" featuring the then-husband and wife duo of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, both cast-offs, of course, from the original cast of "Mission: Impossible" (It seems the two gravitated toward adventure/fantasy series containing colons).

Which differs from S.H.I.E.L.D.

Or Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage and Law Enforcement Division that Marvel Comics issued with Agent Nick Fury, former sergeant of those "Howlin' Commandoes" from the Big One, World War Two and his cronies, Dum-Dum Dugan and Jasper Sitwell to fight the crime syndicate HYDRA.

Childhood heroes like childhood memories never ever die.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Technologically Lazy

Five-eight-eight-two-three-hundred, Empire...

The automated telephone system plus the proliferation of interactive web sites online really equals easy living. Those who thought jumping into your car to drive somewhere quickly ought to know that complete lazy-ass convenience of planting your butt comfortably typing or dialing some numbers away. Why find an excuse to stay home anymore? Real-life "human" contact is overrated. Besides any craving of flesh and blood can be satisfied watching any of the multitudinous "reality" programs on prime-time television. That in and of itself is enough to embrace your keyboard.

Because life as hard as it can be only gets better with machines. A blasphemous sentiment given the cynicism of cybernetic paranoia which foretell of gloom and doom from epic battles of man versus that very dangerous thing, the computer. Beware the circuitry rebelling, becoming sentient to overthrow the weakling that is the frail human race, as every Asimov-to-be whines. Growing up enamored of revisionist, modernist utopias supersleek and abstract begs for the modernity of science and technology that manufactures comic book gizmos into actual, workable gadgetry. Being George Jetson pressing a minimum of buttons, buzzing around in a bubbled flying saucer two-seaters or having a robot maid named Rosie clean your already antiseptic digs is our popular cultural (and technological) birthright.

So damn your lion-clothed Charlton Heston for screaming "damn". Tobor lives.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Frankly speaking

God knows (and He does) I love a hot dog. I can seriously eat one for each meal if left to my own devices. And this from someone who cooked Oscar Meyer weiners for breakfast between the ages of eight to eleven until a classmate perished the thought. Back then, the mush of pig parts and entrails wrapped in casing that functioned as my convoluted pre-adolescent logic basically lumped the frankfurter into the overall sausage family.

Charred, boiled, or even sliced in half to be pan-fried like Mom used to, any way, it matters not so long as these puppies ended up in my stomach. And dressed up, too. My motto is "Drag it through the garden, baby" or Chicago style. First a steamed bun-some say a poppy seed; others plain, either is good- and then the dog. After which follows a long squirt of yellow mustard and narrow furrows of raw, chopped onions, sweet neon green relish, two or three half slices of tomato, several whole but small jalapeno peppers and the piece de resistance, a shake or two of the celery salt. VIOLA! All your major food groups piled in one easy-to-eat packaged meal-to-go. A joint like Byron's even offers additional toppings like shredded lettuce and sliced green peppers for the ultimate choice of "Everything".

But for damn sake, NO KETCHUP (or catsup) ever. That stuff belongs on Coney Island red hots along with grilled onions or sauerkraut. The difference is geographical like deep dish to thin crust pizza. In Windy City hot dogs we trust.