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"Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others." - Ambrose Bierce

July 29, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)


"Making a living is nothing; the great difficulty is making a point, making a difference — with words." - Elizabeth Hardwick

Hardwick must have said this a long time ago - today, making a point in writing is a lot easier than making a living in writing.

July 28, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

"...a blended whiskey guaranteed four months old..."

As a bourbon drinker, I can't help but appreciate this passage from Steinbeck's Cannery Row:
Lee Chong's station in the grocery was behind the cigar counter. The cash register was then on his left and the abacus on his right. Inside the glass case were the brown cigars, the cigarettes, the Bull Durham, the Duke's mixture, the Five Brothers, while behind him in racks on the wall were the pints, half pints and quarters of Old Green River, Old Town House, Old Colonel, and the favorite - Old Tennessee, a blended whiskey guaranteed four months old, very cheap and known in the neighborhood as Old Tennis Shoes. Lee Chong did not stand between the whiskey and the customer without reason. Some very practical minds had on occasion tried to divert his attention to another part of the store. Cousins, nephews, sons and daughters-in-law waited on the rest of the store, but Lee never left the cigar counter.
The list of whiskies reminds me of my dad who, while avoiding the sort of rotgut that Steinbeck describes, still favored older brands like Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Jack Daniels, V.O. and Old Overholt. I wonder what he would have thought of the recent bourbon revival. I think he might have appreciated an occasional taste of some small-batch variety, but ultimately he would have gravitated back to his old, familiar, and cheaper standbys.

July 19, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2)


"I always knew I was not going to measure up as a literary giant, so from the start I put my hopes on making myself a name as a literary pygmy, that is, one writing one great but undoubtedly odd, sui generis, irreplaceable, one of a kind, modestly immortal book." Jaimy Gordon, in her introduction to Keith Waldrop's Light While There Is Light

July 10, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)


"The rhythm of a café lends itself to the writing and correcting of verses that roll onward as the cigar smoke once did. You can’t write a novel in a café." - Juan Villoro

July 10, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fading Ad: Foamcraft


I can't believe I didn't discover this fading ad earlier. I've been walking around the West Loop every day for almost a year and a half, but only just now did I finally spot this sign. Yes, it's tucked into an alley (947 W. Van Buren) but it's huge - almost half a block long, and impossible to fully capture in a single photo. Foamcraft is a manufacturer of foam packaging fabrication equipment which seems to have been originally located here, although they're now in Brighton Park on the Southwest Side. The Van Buren building is now a self-storage facility. Because when a manufacturer leaves the West Loop, it seems as if its old building can only become one of two things: condominiums or self-storage.

July 7, 2016 in Photography | Permalink | Comments (0)


“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere." - Elie Wiesel

July 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)


"I think art has a right — not an obligation — to be difficult if it wishes. And, since people generally go on from this to talk about elitism versus democracy, I would add that genuinely difficult art is truly democratic. And that tyranny requires simplification." - Geoffrey Hill

Speaking of, have you ever read the transcript of a Trump speech? It reads like the diction of a moderately-literate fourth grader. Talk about simplification.

July 2, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)