Garbage or junk?

My own private blogosphere.

Junk is something you wish you had soon after you throw it away. Garbage deserves to be thrown away.

In Chicago, people put their garbage out to be taken away. Sometimes, they put out old furniture to save parking spaces. Sometimes people have things they no long want in their house because this junk is just taking up space. They want t get rid of it, but it’s good junk. However, they lack the desire or time to give to a charitable organization or sell it on the Internet. So, an alternate solution is putting things out with the garbage in a highly visible place. This way, passersby will see it and salvage it. They’ll bring it into their own home for an undetermined period of time–usually until it becomes their junk, which in turn they must also be put out with their garbage. This is one of the many ways that Chicago recycles. It’s the Chicago Way!

In the past, I have put out old furniture with my garbage because I was tired of it and so I bought new furniture. Once you decide you need new furniture, the old furniture becomes junk. However, there are many other people who would love to have your junk because for them it would be a step up and will be insulted if you call their new living room furniture junk. Nothing is more difficult than restraining yourself from calling someone’s furniture junk. Especially if you’re visiting a neighbor who offers you a seat on your old sofa. How can you say something nice about something you threw away?

Junk Bought, Antiques Sold

Of course, I have also been the beneficiary of Chicago recycling. It’s takes a little bit of luck and timing to profit from something that I refuse to call garbage picking. This reminds me of a sign Mark Twain once saw at a store: Junk bought, antiques sold. So these found objects are either junk or treasures, depending on your perspective. Well, I have found some treasures that I can’t imagine why they were thrown away. Granted, they were exposed for all garbage pickers to see. And see them, I did! Once, I found some treasures of my own. I wasn’t really looking for them, but I couldn’t miss them either. In Beverly, we have to put out our garbage cans out in front of our house once a week for garbage pickup. This is my first Chicago home that requires me to put my garbage cans. At all the other homes where I have lived, our garbage cans stayed in the alley where all garbage cans belong. I still haven’t gotten used to putting my garbage out in front!

Anyway, one night I’m driving home from work. I see everyone’s garbage cans out in front and I realize that I had forgotten to put my garbage cans out. At times like these, I realize that it’s good to keep up with the Joneses. So while I’m making a mental note to myself, I see a garbage can that is oddly shaped. Or so it seems. Then, I notice that there is something leaning against a garbage can. I slow down and I realize that they are oil paintings. But it is dark, so I’m not really sure if I believe my eyes. I stop and inspect them more closely. They are, in fact, oil paintings! I found three oil paintings of flowers. Nothing valuable like a Picasso or a finger painting by one of my sons, but they are still very good paintings. I’ve always thought about buying paintings to decorate my house and suddenly I have some. For free! The wooden frames were made in México.

I keep one by my computer to inspire me whenever I write. Doesn’t that painting look beautiful? I’m thankful to whomever threw those paintings away because they were tired of them. Let’s see how long they remain my treasures!

Vote, vote, vote

My receipt for voting.

Lucky us! We get to vote on Ground Hog’s Day! So if a candidate sees his shadow … Oh, never mind. Ground Hog’s Day is such a silly holiday, anyway!

I got one phone call to vote for Jim Ryan for judge. When I said I would vote for him, the caller asked if I would like to put Jim Ryan sign on my lawn. Then, last week, I get two unusual calls from politicians soliciting my vote for David Hoffman. One was from Paul Vallas who doesn’t even reside in the state of Illinois anymore. And the other was from Miguel del Valle who also solicited my vote for David Hoffman in Spanish. I must admit he spoke Spanish very nicely. I’m not sure if Paul Vallas really wanted me to vote for David Hoffman. Or if, as I suspiciously tend to believe, that he wanted to remind me that he still existed so that I would vote for him upon his imminent return to Illinois politics. But that’s just me.

I also received voting instructions for early voting in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. Okay, I’m not actually sure if it’s Mandarin Chinese, but I wanted to sound knowledgeable. Everyone wants to sound knowledgeable around election time, no? In Chicago, all the polling places are multilingual. If you’re an American citizen, you’re entitled to vote even if you don’t speak English! But this is typical of every election in Chicago.

A Chicago election is always very confusing. For whom do I vote? There are always a few obvious candidates for me. But others, I never even heard of them! I know we’re supposed to vote for candidates intelligently. However, I only seem to be aware of candidates who raised enough money to pay for radio and TV ads. So how do I vote for everyone else? Including the completely unknown candidates? I vote the Chicago Way! I vote for all the candidates I knew from before election day would get my vote.

What happens to my votes for the rest of the candidates? In a general election, if I’m not sure for whom to vote, I vote the straight Democratic ticket. It’s the Chicago Way! In a primary election when I have to declare myself a Democrat, I vote for all the Irish candidates. It’s the Chicago Way! Of course, I once met a Judge Cunningham who was elected as judge because of his Irish name. Judge Cunningham was African-American! So I guess voting for an Irish or Irish-sounding candidate is very egalitarian. It’s the Chicago Way! Next in the pecking order are female names. If it’s a female candidate with an Irish name, so much the better. That was in the old days. Now that we have more Hispanic candidates, I automatically vote for a Spanish name. The election slate is so long for some elections that very few people would know every candidate very well. However, I want to exercise my Constitutional right to vote! Even if it’s the Chicago Way!

The Chicago Way

Picasso Sculpture, Daley Center, Chicago, Illinois

Today, I read the The Chicago Way by Tom McNamee in the Chicago Sun-Times in which he talks about jokes that work only Chicago. Well, I would like to share some of those jokes with you, my fellow Chicagoans. He starts out with “Noel, Noel … So I took the bus.” I remember hearing a different version of this joke at Holy Cross School told by a nun: “Some Christmas carolers are under the El tracks downtown singing, “Noel, Noel …” Along comes a drunk and tells them, “Then take a bus!”

My friend Vito Vitkauskas wrote this Chicago joke that I used to use in my comedy routine: I once broke my arm in three places. Haltsed, Lincoln, and Fullerton.

Ken Green, in today’s Sun-Times, wrote two funny haikus, or as he calls them, Chi-kus:

The CTA bus
a very rare animal
moves in packs of three

In my house we vote
Even my uncle votes
May he rest in peace

Here are some of the other jokes printed in the column:

  1. How many Chicagoans does it take to park a car? Seven. One behind the wheel and six to rearrange the kitchen chairs.
  2. Why is Chicago known as the city that works? Because whatever the problem–a parking ticket or a murder indictment–it can be fixed.
  3. We all know why the chicken crossed the road, but why did the lady duck cross Walton Place? To get to the Drake.
  4. I heard Mayor Daley has a plan to get crime off the streets. Yeah, he’s going to widen the sidewalks.