Lunch Drawing #35: Ice Bird

Lunch Drawing #35: Ice Bird

About 10 years ago, a few days before Xmas, I spotted one of these birds right outside of Marshall Fields downtown,on top of a mailbox. The birders reading this will shake their heads. This bird at that time would have no business being there,or damn near anywhere south of the Arctic Circle. I was astonished. It could not be a mistake; no other bird looks like this one. I looked around and realized, I had nobody to tell. Cell phones (or at least mine)didn’t have cameras yet. So I just stared at it.

People shoving by me in the bustle of Xmas shopping. . .there was a guy dressed like a Dickens elf pimping hot chestnuts about 20 feet away, and this bird. . .staring around. I wanted to be able to stop the whole city in its tracks and point him out; shout at the top of my lungs, “There is a snow bunting in the middle of downtown Chicago! This is really fucking RARE! Christ, go buy a lottery ticket. This is a sign!!!”
Still, nobody knew it, except me and the bird. And not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of that bird. That maybe it is my grandmother. . .a visitation of sorts, or my father, or the many dead friends, or more likely, just a lost bird that crossed paths with the right guy who needed to be reminded of life’s magic and circumstance. What Paul Auster once called, “The Music of Chance.”

Maybe it was that.

Published in: on January 29, 2014 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Lunch Drawing #29: The Snow Wren

The Snow Wren

It seems like the end and the beginning of every year I draw birds. I always told myself that rather than do anything stupid like retiring, my idea of retirement would be drawing birds and naked women. I don’t mean “nudes.” I mean NAKED WOMEN. There is a difference. I also decided I would just make up some birds. Rather than draw the many existing species, I’d just make up my own. This is one of those. As far as I know, there is no such thing as a “snow wren.” There could be; I haven’t looked it up. There are snow buntings, snowy owls, and snow geese; so it stands to reason that there could be such a thing as a “snow wren.” I don’t care if there is or not. This little bird came to me as I watched my feeder on Xmas morning. All of the colors in this bird were present at the feeder that morning. On a blanket of snow ; the colors of each bird were sharp and lovely and alive with the exigence of a winter feeding and I realized I could distinguish the different kinds of birds because of the high relief of the white ground. I could suddenly tell a purple finch from a red-headed house finch. . .and this is harder than it sounds. The different sparrows, of which there are many kinds, now are distinctive to me. Does it mean I am a better bird watcher? Probably not. It just means I’m still learning how to see; and for this, I am grateful.

Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Wint-O-Green Moth (for Etta James)

Wint-O-Green Moth (for Etta James)“All the good ones die or get murdered.  Jesus: murdered.  Martin Luther King: murdered.  John F.Kennedy:  murdered.  John Lennon: murdered.  Malcom X: murdered.
Ronald Reagan? WOUNDED.”–The late, great Bill Hicks on fate.The great Etta James has died. Her baby face and angel’s voice are gone.

The Sun came up.  The mail got delivered and life goes on, but the world is at least one shade more gray.  If her soaring, soulful rendering of “I’d Rather Go Blind” doesn’t break your heart, well. . .you don’t have one.  If  “At Last” doesn’t bring a sad, mournful smile to your face, then you’ve never been in love.

Miss Etta was the real thing. You know it when you hear it. It freezes you in your tracks and makes you stare at the radio. She was only like herself.

Jamesetta Hawkins faced no small amount of turmoil in her 73 years; addiction, obesity, poverty and finally Alzheimer’s and leukemia.  None of it could dim the thousand-watt smile or the spine-tingling contralto.  If one believed in the music of angels, Etta James was their evidence.

Winter has finally showed up in earnest in Chicago.  Nine inches of snow fell and again my fellow Chicagoans are running around with sparks shooting out of their asses, acting as if they’ve never seen the stuff before–driving like retards, putting all manner of shit in the streets in the name of “dibs” wherein, because you shoveled your own car out.  You now take over ownership of that part of the street; a basic “fuck you” to your fellow citizens and taxpayers.

Myself? I LOVE when people put out folding chairs.  I always need folding chairs.  Some of them even put out step stools which, as an artist, I’m always in need of.  I do like when guys with service industry trucks just run this shit over.  Was that your Lego table?  Sorry. Maybe you shouldn’t put shit in the street, asshole.It’s also fun to watch the Ukrainians swing shovels at each other.  Shoveling your walk in my neighborhood is a big deal.  I have my assistants or a couple of wine-soaked Mexican dudes shovel mine and the old Ukrainian ladies down the street a few houses…some of the Ukie’s get pissed at me.

“Why you not shovel your own fucking stoop, Meester Beegshot?  Why somebody else walking your dog and cutting your grass?  You too good for this jobs, huh?” I get this shit from Uli, who has lived here for 30 years and always shoveled his own walk.

I tell him he is right; I’m way to good to be shoveling snow out there with the cabbage-eaters.  Hell, somebody might see me and think I’m. . .Ukrainian!!!!

He laughs and tells me I’d have to have a bigger dick to be Ukrainian.  That the Irish.  . .”They are hung like fucking CASHEWS.  Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.”

Uli is a funny motherfucker who is also not fond of people leaving stuff in the middle of the street.  On occasion he knocks back six or seven shots of Stoli and grabs his aluminum baseball bat and lays waste to some of the crap left out to preserve parking spots.  It is funny as hell because he shouts and swears while he is having batting practice and nobody tries to stop him.I don’t shovel snow for one reason.  Every year, the first time it snows heavily, all over the nation, there are 50-year old guys, red as a monkey’s ass, face-down in snow drifts, dead like a fucking hammer from massive heart attacks.

No thanks, Bunky.I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully, in his sleep. . . not screaming in terror, like his passengers.

It always fascinates me at the reaction.  This is Chicago.  We get an assload of snow every year, but people still drive like morons the first snow of every year.  Without fail, a senior citizen T-bones somebody at a stop street, or drives up on the sidewalk and kills some poor asshole from East Bumfuck, because they confused the brake for the accelerator.  Inevitably kids go “skeeching,” which is when you gab onto the bumper of a CTA or a school bus and slide down the street with it.  This, actually, requires real balls.  I’ve never done it.  There are a myriad of ways to wind up fucked-up or dead from skeeching.

When I was in high school, there was a kid named Tony Rogles who was the most fearless skeecher I ever knew.  He’d mosey up behind the bus and grab on, riding it a quarter mile until it intersected a really busy intersection, where the pavement had been plowed and therefore no good for skeeching.  I remember he’d go skeeching by as I walked to the corner to hitchhike home. He’s have this crazy smile and a Kool hanging out the corner of his mouth.  I don’t remember another thing about Tony Rogles except this.

On winter days, he looked into the icy face winter–and spit in its mouth.

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: