So, here I am in my office in AZ on a spectacular day, trying to write something for my blog, since nothing has been offered in the previous five days. Just in the last two hours, I have scanned the Kankakee Daily Journal and the Chicago Tribune, read a couple magazine articles, updated myself on the NFL draft, finished the epilogue in a book by my favorite author, Greg Isles, and made a few posts to Face Book. In all that time, not a word has been written, nor a coherent interesting thought has passed through my noggin’ for this blog.
All this time, I could have been sitting in the pool or out riding my motorcycle and looking at the local mountainous scenery or the desert, which is in full bloom and causing havoc with the noses of about half the residents, including my snotlocker. But the weather is the reason I am here instead of Illinois. So here I sit, looking at the computer screen, and ponder…
Given the never-ending feud over the lack of a budget and red ink in Springfield, which everyone thinks is purely political, I thought about writing and placing the blame where it clearly belongs, in the inbound basket of Speaker Mike Madigan. (My thoughts scream out, “The battle is not political, folks – there are no true Conservatives in Springfield, so if it was indeed a political fight, there would need to be an opponent.”) (A blog for another day?) But, as I own a business, it was then that I recalled a famous quote by Mark Twain…” Never miss an opportunity to shut up!” So enough said.
Since Tax Day is only recently behind us, I considered criticizing the IRS, including matters such as needed reform, unreasonable tax rates, Lois Lerner the Fifth and her boss, Lyin’ John Koskenin. But then…see Mark Twain’s remarks above.
Perhaps another memo about how beautiful it is here in the Valley of the Sun, but then I recalled most of my readers are back in Illinois where it is in the 40’s and rainy. That made my knees hurt just thinking about it, so…never mind.
Our son, Zach has a birthday coming up and we will see him this weekend. (He resides in Las Vegas, NV) I could have extolled you all about how we personally have the most wonderful son ever put on the planet, but then when I recalled that he is the youngest of our four children and will be 26 years old, and the mothers of my two grandsons would heatedly disagree, and well...I kind of started getting depressed about my impending age, so let’s not go there.
I suppose raving about the fact that my recent self-induced boycott of Starbucks drove Howard Schultz to his knees and caused him to step down as CEO, replaced by Kevin Johnson on April 3rd. Then I read how much money Howard the Liberal was rewarded on the way out, and that this is not the first time he has stepped down, so my enthusiasm waned quite a bit. I’m starting to think the boycott hurt me more than Howard. Fogetabouit!
One of the articles I perused concerned my secret admirer, Andrea Tantaros, author and formerly hot commentator on Fox News. You see, Andrea has been chasing me for years, but thus far I have successfully held her off, just as Dawn has with both Tom Selleck and Mark Wahlberg. Maybe that article would produce a worthy rant today. But, Andrea, if you are reading this, I have to say I found the Esquire magazine piece disappointing considering your rather pious attitude towards having worked at Fox, which catapulted your fame and made you quite a bit of money. And even more coinage if your $49 million law suit is successful. It appears you do in fact have a price for your exhibitionism, babe, and may not possess quite the Conservative values as you originally presented. But when I thought about delving deeper and shooting my mouth off about it, I had a second thought. This might just become a battle between what men think as compared to how women deliberate, and that’s probably a fight I can’t win, given that I have a wife, three daughters, four granddaughters, and a mom…so we won’t go there either.
I guess my point to all this is, once you have this writing bug, it stays with you all the time and you can’t shake it. It has figuratively eaten on me most of the week while I enjoy Arizona. Once you take on a blog, you can’t just stop it either because it will be difficult to get the mojo going again. (I know about this mojo thing going all the way back to my exercise regime.) And besides, if I don’t keep this up, how am I ever going to get my own column in the Kankakee Daily Journal or be in line to take the token Conservative voice at the Chicago Tribune should John Kass ever decide to retire? Or to be a guest on Tucker Carlson?
Sorry, folks, Arizona is just taking it out of me this week. Perhaps after this weekend I will be able to come up with something more substantial.
The other night I watched Tucker Carlson interview Ann Coulter. If you are not aware, the 55-year-old very accomplished and extremely acerbic Ms. Coulter is a Conservative author, lawyer, syndicated columnist, and political commentator. As far back as November of 2015, she was one of the first pundits to predict that Donald Trump would win the presidency in an appearance on the Bill Mahre show, for which she was rudely laughed at by the panel, audience and the classless Mr. Mahre himself.
She is scheduled to speak at the University of California in Berkeley on April 27th, but the event has been cancelled due to “security concerns.” At this time, Ms. Coulter fully intends to meet her commitment to speak at the university, despite administrations attempts to block her and change various aspects of her attendance, including the date, venue, and time.
Ironically, UC-Berkeley is the home of the Free Speech Movement! Despite this, Ms. Coulter is not the first Conservative to be cancelled at Berkeley this year. Back in February, Breitbart News Senior Editor Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, but that event was halted due to rioting by college students, with the assistance of professional rioters. The campus went on lockdown after the incident due to the obligatory fires and looting that seems to accompany left wing dogmatists. Additionally, both Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro were banned from Chicago’s DePaul University last year. Think about that, the Left and the cowering administration at DePaul banned a gay man and a Jewish man from a public campus.
UC-Berkeley’s actions are only a microcosm of activities being instigated across the US by angry college students whining about a myriad of issues, primarily aimed at opposing and shutting down Conservative points of view. The problem is not that they represent a differing point of view, but it is in the way they are raucously going about demonstrating. Fueled by the highly speculative doctrines of left-wing professors, which encompasses 85-90% of all college instructors, added to the youthful exuberance of young minds that rarely had to work for a living, thrown in with a few paid liberal protestors, and free speech on college campuses is literally and figuratively being shut down. The few Conservative professors on campuses are often afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal. LBJ and Nixon must be rolling over in their graves because that group is getting away with it!
And, to make matters worse, the Leftist agenda has expanded into many believing a college education should now be free, as if that is a right bestowed upon them, completely disregarding who the hell is supposed to pay for that education. That was part of the recent Bernie Sanders presidential platform that managed to gain some steam nationally and even crept into Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, although I doubt she ever had any intention of actually going through with it. And to morph off of that concept, as of this week a group at Western Kentucky University is now calling for free educations for all black students, and to include imprisoned black people, as reparations for slavery 150 years ago, regardless if they had any slaves in their family history. No mention was made of the descendants of the Irish indentured servants being included in this money grab scheme.
Why should you care about it? Because you are paying for this anarchy.
How, you ask? Through your tax dollars and tuition. Those urchins are rioting and coming up with these hackneyed socialist ideas on your dollar!
As near as I can dig up information, if a person makes $1,000 per week, a little over $11 is paid weekly to the Federal government towards higher education, which would include student loans, professor and administrative salaries, grand architectural buildings, etc. Additionally, in Illinois, to use my state, 6% of the money you pay weekly to Illinois in taxes also goes to the state’s public colleges and universities. (There is no way of knowing how much of your money is going towards a football or basketball coach/program, but know that the highest paid state employee in nearly every state either coaches basketball or football…but that is a blog for another day.) Even if my figures are off, the fact is, you still have tax money going to those programs.
So, if you think about this, we have professors being paid salaries well into six figures, encouraging and, in some cases, bullying naïve children (through their grades) with their radical notions and socialist ideals. This in turn has led to a situation in which students, along with the help of paid insurgents and looters, spill into the street, destroying property and closing schools, in an attempt to shut down Conservative thought and speakers such as Ann Coulter, thus taking away their right, as well as the rights of our children, to become exposed to Conservative thought. And we are paying for that? Am I the only one that sees a problem with this? Now the Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves!
President Trump threatened, half-heartedly, to take away the federal funding for UC-Berkeley. Call me a radical, but I believe not only should he do that immediately, but to extend penalties further. I propose that one half of the Federal money budgeted for colleges and universities be cancelled at the conclusion of the next fiscal year. (Hell, I might as well demand it as that is what the college hooligans do, and they seem to get media attention for it.)
We could use the money withheld to pay down some of the national debt for however many years it takes to turn our university problem around. If liberal professors and administrators are going to continue to push only left-wing agenda’s and allow our children to be force-fed leftist ideals, then they need to do so without Conservative money, particularly MY tax dollars. They have no right acting so licentiously on our dollars and it’s time we remind them of that. Let them exist of half of what they have.
After a few years of red ink, administrators will insist on more Conservative professors with an equal voice on campus and that what is being taught to the students becomes apolitical. The students will also be forced to act in an adult fashion, grateful for a college experience and all it entails and rioting will not be tolerated. If they do, they will be expelled from all access to a college education until they have matured into a more responsible human being, worthy of a great education. Or, they always have the option to go to a trade school, of which is sorely in need of more people willing to work.
And as a last rule change, just like I told my son often when he went to college, I propose every classroom and lecture hall must have, in addition to an American flag, a sign that states in large letters to be able to be seen from the back of the room: “Keep asking yourself, who will pay for this!”
This past weekend I read an opinion column in the Kankakee Daily Journal that I took issue with. The original column was written by a friend of mine, Attorney Dennis Marek, and can be viewed at http://www.daily-journal.com/opinion/columnists/local/dennis-marek-it-s-hard-to-become-a-supreme-court/article_468bd44c-6f03-5ac4-90c9-5a4577caa959.html. My rebuttal, which was published in the paper, appears below:
Concerning Mr. Marek's opinion column about the Supreme Court Justice from the April 15th edition of the Journal, I would like to address a couple of glaring injustices.
To be sure, I can never refute Denny without first mentioning how much I admire him personally. He is truly one of the most laudable and likable individuals I know. Unfortunately, just about every journalist in the country seems to have gone completely off the rails with the election of Donald Trump, including evidently, Mr. Marek.
About the column:
* Did anyone notice the names of several presidents were mentioned? The Democratic presidents were addressed as President so-and-so. The GOP presidents were referred to by name only without given the proper title of President. The current President was referred to as "the present guy" or "this guy." The word "Trump" does not appear in the column. That is disrespectful, not only to President Trump, but the 63 million of us who voted for him. It might show some bias as well.
* The non-vote of nominee Garland is mentioned, blamed on the heavy hand of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. This action is not without precedent in American history. Presidents Tyler, Jackson, and Hayes all had nominees ignored. President Fillmore had 3 nominees not acted upon. Additionally, at the time Garland was being passed over, the coronation of Hillary Clinton seemed imminent, so the nomination was really a non-issue that would happen during Hillary's reign.
* Concerning the "heavy hand of Mitch McConnell," I certainly don't want to be in the position of defending Mr. McConnell, as I believe Mr. McConnell is past his prime as well. However, his "heavy hand" also is not the first made of iron. Harry Reid, no novice to political gamesmanship at the expense of the American taxpayer, triggered his own nuclear option in October 2011, extending, if not heightening this tit-for-tat mentality that exists in Congress today.
* "The new guy (code for President Trump) lost the popular vote but won the election with the antiquated Electoral College vote." This was not unprecedented, and was put in place by our Founding Fathers for very good reasons. Do we want California and New York deciding our presidents every election cycle? If the Electoral College was ever eliminated, hopefully it would be after California has seceded given the quality of the people they regularly send to Washington DC.
It is my opinion Mr. Marek would have made a fine judge and we are probably a lesser county, state, or nation because he didn't become one. That is, up until the time that President Donald J. Trump was elected.
Regretfully, I would not be considered a religious man by any stretch of the imagination. Moral…yes, but definitely not spiritual. I am not intelligent enough to comprehend the Bible, and my brain is wired too linear and skeptical to believe in faith without proof. In my mind a child dying of cancer or scenes of gassed Syrian babies, to use as examples, does not compute that there might be some sort of a spiritual, all-encompassing being watching over us. (Neither does voting for Hillary Clinton but that is a blog for another day.)
Having said that, sometimes I contemplate circumstances in history and it is then I wonder if there just had to be some sort of “divine” guidance involved in the outcome. There simply has to be more “there” there. Take the Founding Fathers as an example:
Whether one is referring to the seven key Founding Fathers, (Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, Jay, Jefferson, Madison, and Washington) as identified by historian Richard Morris, or the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, the divinity of the situation would be comparable. For my supposition, and considering my imposed word count from the Misses, we will consider just the seven key Founding Fathers. (As a footnote that has nothing to do with my point today, when researching details I found it ironic that Washington, Jay, Hamilton, and Madison did not sign the Declaration of Independence.)
In 1775, when the 2nd Continental Congress met in Philadelphia PA, these seven sophisticated gentlemen gathered from various points in the thirteen colonies. At that time, there were about 2.5 million people living in America. Life was still pretty primitive in general for folks. Obviously, there were no telephones, fax machines or emails for the men to discuss grand ideas between themselves beforehand. There also happened to be no cotton clothes or even readily available potable water, as everybody drank cider, beer, and wine…including kids. Although there were very few doctors or nurses, people still avoided them like the plague (pardon the pun) as the practice of medicine had literally not been advanced much beyond leech bleeding. There were certainly no anti-biotics and sadly, 50% of babies born did not live past the first year. To truly bring this primitiveness home, people were only beginning to trade their chamber pots for outhouses. You can imagine the rest of their personal hygiene experiences from that perspective...enough said about that!
Not only did these men live in a primeval time, they had their own personal problems to contend with as well. According to Sara Kettler of the website Biography, George Washington, (who, contrary to folklore did not have wooden teeth) possessed a quick temper and was prone to bouts of profanity-laced outbursts. (Speaking of crude, you might want to look up where George really got his teeth.) Thomas Jefferson, who so eloquently penned many of the nation’s most important documents, was tongue-tied, particularly around women, and spoke virtually nothing while sitting in Congress. (Compare that with the blowhards we have in Congress today!) Benjamin Franklin, who had no formal education, often “air-bathed” by merely sitting at his desk naked and cold. He actually thought that accounted for a bath! (He also lived to be 93 years old at a time when life expectancy was just under 40.) John Adams was such a crusty old SOB, nobody liked him. James Madison had a step-son who was a gambler, drunkard, and spent time in debtor’s prison, of which Madison paid the debts, often without Dolly's knowledge. John Jay, the first Chief Justice, hated the job due to the traveling conditions, and quit at his first chance. Alexander Hamilton, born in the Caribbean to a mother that happened to be married to another man not named Hamilton, was considered somewhat political, usurping power from his superiors, including President Adams. Perhaps the reason President Adams was so miserable?
Yet, despite this incredibly hard life and the men’s individual foibles, they cobbled together perhaps some of the greatest documents in history including the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers advocating ratification of the Constitution, and later the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War. Their actions set into place a bloody confrontation against Britain, certainly a repeat of the Biblical David versus Goliath, in which the colonies won against all odds. The result was to create the greatest and kindest nation that has ever existed in the history of mankind. Once set in place, these same men then served the country they put together in various capacities so as to set examples of how this Republic should be run. (Except, evidently, for Hamilton!) And the product of their labors, the United States of America, has lasted an incredible 241 years to date.
Could this have all been created, despite the enormous odds, incredible hardships, and downright primitive way of life, by chance? These people did not understand the basic rules of hygiene and yet were able to set all that we know and love in place for centuries? It is hard for me to fathom that this was just merely historical coincidence. Surely there had to be another hand in this.
For my birthday the Misses gifted me tickets to something called "Rocktopia." Having never heard of it, I had no idea what to expect, although I later learned they had appeared on PBS. So, Friday night we headed up to Joliet with a couple of good friends.
We first went to dinner at The Reserve restaurant at Harrah's Casino. Nice place with an agreeable ambiance and accomplished staff. Food was excellent. Having said all that, the portions were small and over-priced, particularly for a casino. I know what you're thinking, "oh, the big guy thought the portions were too small." Well, the couple we were with also thought the portions were undersized and over-priced. Harrah's needs to bring the prices down or add more food to the entree's. And for the record, I'm pleasingly plump says the Misses.
But I digress. About Rocktopia – it was performed at the venerable Rialto Theater in Joliet, which is my favorite place to see a show or concert. I believe the word “quaint” was invented to define the Rialto, as nothing more needs to be said. Concerning the show, much in the vein of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra of blending various genres of music, Rocktopia has artfully infused both classical and operatic compositions with rock music and then throwing in the obligatory light show. The revelry encompasses the traditional rock band comprising a hard-driving thumper on drums, a bass player to stand desolately in a corner wearing a dumb hat, and a blazing bad-boy electric guitarist, complete with ripped jeans and open shirt, all of whom have played with some of the best rockers in the world. Also featured is a "local" chorus showcasing the Illinois State Chorus from Normal IL for Friday night's performance. There is also the obligatory sexy vocalists and a small orchestra section to round out the musical spectacular. From my vantage point, two things stood out about the orchestra – the kettle drums player looked to be about twelve years of age, which certainly didn't hinder his performance, and a middle-aged balding trombone player who looked like he had little-to-no interest in being there. He adequately filled a void behind the bass player.
Co-creator of Rocktopia, Rob Evan was on hand and capably carried various vocal duties throughout the evening. A great musical talent, but alas, the man would never have been confused as one of the sexy vocalists of the show. Not surprisingly, he had previously been part of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalists himself. No amateur, he has appeared in many world renown plays and performed with a virtual who's who of the music world. Right out of the Trans-Siberian playbook, there evidently is more than one cast for Rocktopia, as another show played in Columbus OH the same night, which featured Randall Craig Fleischer, the other co-creator.
I don't want to get into too many details as to ruin your experience should you decide to partake in this event. Having said that, I was awestruck from the opening melody when tiny waif-like Mairead Nesbitt burst, pranced, strutted and frolicked out on stage playing her violin. At first, the tune is unrecognizable, as one is not quite sure where this melody originates nor where it is going. Gradually you begin to recognize a popular song by the Who and guitarist Tony Bruno joins her in a mock battle of stringed axes. At this point, the music doesn't matter because the diminutive Mairead commands your attention in the way she moves about the stage playing her fiddle, as if it was as natural as only lifting your arms. Even her smile and the way her long blonde hair flowed was almost…mesmerizing. A little research led me to learn she is part of the Celtic Women group that has been touring and recording the world for more than a decade… and that I spelled her name correctly.
The performance included songs from a diverse list of long-dead classical composers, such as Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff, that bled into works of bands such as Journey, U2, Led Zepplin, Foreigner and Pink Floyd, to name a few. At one point, the orchestra started with an overly-lush song from Emerson Lake and Palmer but somehow turned it, with the help of the rest of the act, into an austere but popular Pink Floyd song as flawlessly as if it had been written that way originally.
To spike this musical punch further, Evan and the world renown Ximena Borges would trade opera licks that also blended richly with the classic rock songs remembered so fondly. Yes, I said opera...and it came off superbly. She concluded one well known rock song by effortlessly belting out Beethoven’s Ode to Joy that completely came out of left field on the listener and made the hair on the back of necks stand up. Even the white hairs in the audience, which were numerous (and I suppose included me) were bobbing heads and tapping toes to the songs.
The website for Rocktopia is https://www.rocktopia.com/. They have a few videos to review that, quite frankly, do their show no justice. I checked it before we went and came away not having any better idea of what was in store for us. The website is still highlighting a trip to Hungary in June of 2016 and needs to be brought up to date.
The bottom line is that if/when they come back to this area, it is well worth the $59 per head price tag. If you go, you will more than likely see me there…it was that good.
Equal Pay Day – Did you know there was such a thing? Well, there is and it was this past Tuesday, April 4th. This event is to recognize the inequity of pay for the ladies who work outside the home. And since 2013 Senator Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren has been in the forefront on this matter, even going so far last year as to call it a “National Day of Embarrassment” while pontificating on the Senate floor. This year though, Pocahontas was uncharacteristically mum on the matter. This woman has never been mum about anything in her life. Might it had anything to do with the fact that also on Tuesday (how ‘bout that for timing) it was revealed that the women working for our “Native-American” senator earn just 71% of what the men make? Anyone know the Powhatan Indian word for “two-faced?” Hmmm?
Abortion – Since the highly controversial Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 there have been over 59.3 million abortions in the US. As near as I can find, it appears less than 1% of those US abortions were for rape/incest victims. Sadly 30% have been for black babies. This year alone, Planned Parenthood has performed over 86,000 abortions, on our dime. I understand this is a “hot” topic and some women just don’t want to be told what to do with their bodies, not unlike my visceral disdain of having to pay for those abortions! What I really wonder though, how many of those 59 million aborted babies included the next doctor who had the cure for cancer; or possibly were the next Albert Einstein, Clara Barton, Babe Ruth, Bill Gates, Martin Luther King, etc. Hmmm?
Syria Gas Attack – By now you have all seen those horrific pictures of mostly women and children being chemically annihilated in the Idlib province of Syria by the regime of that SOB President Bashar al-Assad. They were so horrible that even President Trump decided to change his mind and enter into the fray with Syria…Russia be damned. At the time of this writing, the Pentagon is drawing up plans for the elimination of the viscous dictator responsible for the deaths of 500,000 people, leaving millions homeless, and roughly 13.5 million to flee their homeland. Surely there will be a special place in Hell for this ogre, right next to the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Hillary Clinton. And after seeing those pictures, I can’t say I blame President Trump for wanting the removal of Assad, and his skinny oblong head on a post. Having said all that, we done did that. In recent years we removed Muammar Kadafi from Libya and Saddam Hussein from Iraq. And how has that worked out for us? Hmmm? (I have no answers either and will not criticize Trump either way.)
Susan Rice – The Obama National Security Adviser (married to ABC executive producer Ian Cameron) has now been caught lying to us three times that I am aware. (Four if you go back to the Clinton Whitehouse years – yes, she worked there too – explains a lot about her propensity for telling falsehoods!) She went on the Sunday morning talk circus…er circuit to inform everyone that the Benghazi massacre was a result of a video; then followed up that whopper by stating Sargent Beau Bergdahl was a hero captured on the battlefield rather than the deserter we later found out (remember that odd press conference when Obama had his hands all over Bergdahl’s mother?); and now her denying that she was the person who unmasked Trump associates conversations with foreign nationals, then later admitting she did. (After Don Lemon of CNN prudishly told everyone it was Fake News) Is this woman evil, corrupt, or just a pathological liar? How many times is she allowed to lie to us before we just banish her from government or throw her butt in jail? Why does the media interview her anymore? Hmmm?
Congress – if you have read my blog before, you would know this is a favored target. Have you ever noticed, when one of our elites come out to a podium to talk to the great unwashed (that would be us), they have a group of 10-15 of their peeps stand behind them to nod their pin-heads in unison? House Speaker Paul Ryan blessed the ravenous media today by coming out to pontificate, although for the life of me, I can’t remember about what. When He decided that He Himself was done telling us what we needed to know, He and His flock exited stage left in unison. If one of them would have tripped all of them would have all gone down in one big heap.
And are you ready to barf if you hear them use the words, “comprehensive,” “bi-partisan,” or “my good friend from the other side of the aisle” one more time? They use those words in every press conference! All empty words to kick the can down the road again, their favorite pastime on our dime. John McCain is a master at this.
Now Chucklehead Schumer and the gang have their panties in a wad because the GOP is going to use the “nuclear option” to stop their filibuster and ram Justice Neil Gorsuch down their gullets to fill the empty seat in the Supreme Court. (The same guy they all voted on unanimously in 2006 for the 10th Judicial Circuit!) All this shrieking after they had been warned for weeks. Among many Congressional tweets, Illinois senior rocket scientist and part-time senator Dick Durbin bawled in his tweet, “Sen McConnell is now poised to abolish this longstanding rule to achieve his partisan goal. He alone is responsible for this historic change.” Hey Dick, where were you and your clown posse four years ago when Hapless Harry Reid enacted the same “nuclear option” on the GOP to derail a filibuster against some of Obama’s judicial choices? Hmmm?
Obviously, I could go on with this forever as my head is full of this stuff. (I’d love to blog more about the IRS…but am afraid to – is this a great country or what?) But my main squeeze and primary admirer has said I get too windy sometimes and she doesn’t care for so many political polemics. On the other hand, my nephew complains when I write blues reviews or about my dog’s trips. Many of the folks that have complimented me on this blog weren’t even aware there are five other pages filled with other points of interest in case they didn’t like the polemics. So, I’ll just wrap this up on word number 1,099.
My best gal and I went to the Kankakee Valley Boat Club on Tuesday for a blues act that my buddy, D’Arcy Ballinger assured me would be a great show.
As a long-time blues music enthusiast, I have been to a few of the shows promoted by the Kankakee group known as “Friends of the Blues” and have never been disappointed. This was FOB’s opening show for the 2017 season. The reason I don’t go to all of them is the acts play during the week, and well, that’s a “school night” and I have a habit of abusing my liver if not locked up at home. I personally prefer blues music played “live” rather than recorded, and I also prefer it to be played on weekend nights. But D’Arcy, ever the trooper, always makes sure to reach out to me to remind me of an upcoming event. And, given his dogged determination, I felt I owed him one to go last night.
The band was The Corey Dennison Band out of Chicago. I have to admit, I have never heard of them. Evidently, among blues aficionado’s, I must be of a minority as CDB is a Blues Foundation Blues Music Award Nominee for 2017. They have played all over Chicago, including the Kingston Mines and Buddy Guy’s. Many a band would kill for a gig at Buddy’s. Their music is even available on Spotify.
Corey, originally from Tennessee, is about 20 years younger, forty pounds heavier and has one more neck tattoo than me. That, and the fact he can play guitar and sing…and I can’t, is what largely separates us. Having said that, if it would guarantee that I could sing and play guitar like he does, I would get a neck tattoo. The man can flat out play and entertain. It was entertaining watching him walking around the barroom shooting guitar licks out as if he plays there every night.
No lightweight himself with it comes to guitar, bandmate Gerry Hundt, originally of Wisconsin, was equally up to the task and adds an interesting guitar counter-punch to this blues act. How often do you hear a guitar music that sounds like an organ? Other than when using a slide, I can’t say that I am familiar with that ability. (But what do I know, I have three guitars in my man-cave and can’t even tune the darn things.)
Joel Baer and Nik Skilnik, both from Illinois, round out the percussion section of the band superbly, although I got to tell you Nik, show some personality, my man. Your bass solo, as good as it was, needed something in the way of facial expressions. With Corey’s larger-than-life stage persona, he over-shadows you, dude.
D’Arcy was right, it was a good show and a great blues band. If they come through the area again, I would recommend plunking down the $10 per head cover charge and seeing them. CDB has a website, http://www.coreydennison.com/index.html, and among learning more about the band, you can hear a few nice licks on their media page. My advice though is to make it a point to see the stage show for the full act. They traveled to Finland on Wednesday, but it appears they will be back at the Kingston Mines in Chicago by April 10th.
You might also want to check out the Friends of the Blues page on Face Book so that you can follow upcoming acts, which includes local venues such as the Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, the Watseka Elks Lodge (on a Saturday!!), Gilman’s Inside Out, and even the Longbranch down in L’Erable. The folks at FOB do a great job of bringing top notch blues acts to the Kankakee area. You won't be sorry.
My Life As An Over-the-Road Trucker...
My name is Jordy Webber, absurdly named after some overpaid football player. For those of you that don’t know me, I happen to be old man Webber's dog. By now, you are wondering what the hair I would know about being an over-the-road trucker. Well, as it happens, I now possess trucking experience having made a trip this year from Kankakee to Phoenix, and back, as the co-driver in a big rig…mostly because old man Webber was too cheap to buy me a ticket on the plane.
I met my co-driver, Larry, at the Kankakee terminal. Seemed like a nice enough guy... for a human. As it is known I can’t hold my licker, you probably should know Larry tasted just fine. Fortunately for me, or possibly it was just because of my relation to Ms. Dawn, I found out I had been assigned to assist Larry, who is one of the most professional and reliable drivers in the entire Webber fleet. A two-time Driver of the Year recipient, the dude has been with the company for over 30 years.
I’m not real good on dates, but I do remember it being colder than a well-diggers ass that morning. I have no idea how cold that would be, but it was a term I picked up at the terminal. They all talk like sailors at the terminal. Even some of the men do too!
So, after formal introductions, a few cursory smells, and one lick, we made our way out to Larry’s new Peterbilt. Jeez, was that truck big, much larger than that Buick I normally ride in with Ms. Dawn, and it was so nice. I slipped on the battery box getting in and smacked my chin. Hurt like hell. You would have thought that big oaf, Todd, would have picked me up and set me in being it was my first time in a big rig. Once in, I got a good whiff of Larry’s seat, the passenger seat, and then laid down for a pant in Larry’s bunk. It was pretty nice back there. I began to wonder just how hard this job could possibly be.
That notion was quickly dispelled as the first day we drove all the way to Rolla MO before stopping. My teeth were floating by then. I was seriously considering marking a corner of the bunk about the time Larry finally stopped. On the way down, I had pretty much stayed in the passenger seat keeping an eyeball out for any animals running around where they weren’t supposed to be. I figured I needed to watch out for the little critters so that Larry didn’t run over them with our big rig. We settled down for a nice peaceful night at a truckstop in Rolla MO, where I developed a taste for McDonald’s fries. It was remarkably better than that dried fake beef Ms. Dawn has been slopping into my dog dish.
Early, the next morning I was snoozing on the floor of the passenger seat, dreaming of a T-bone smothered in fries, when Larry shook me awake to go outside for business. Hey, living with that old coot I’m not used to getting up early in the morning, so this was kind of a downer to start off my day. Afterwards, we drove to Oklahoma City where we stopped for a lunch break and a run. I don’t know why Larry insisted on running, but he beat me back to the truck by a long way. Oh, and I almost forgot, we got us some of those Mickey D’s fries. I think I’m hooked.
We stopped for the evening at Erick Oklahoma. Larry explained that it was good to stop in the late afternoon or early evening so that we can be assured of getting a parking spot. If you stay out driving too late, there isn’t enough parking available for these big rigs. While I was delighted that he explained this to me, I also had to wonder why the hell he was talking to a dog. Did he expect me to answer? I just gave him a reassuring look and that seemed to settle with him. That look works on the old man too. When I am not busy scratching or licking something, I can be a pretty cute pooch if I do say so myself.
During the night, I heard a knock on the door and I got up to look at what was going on. From my vantage point behind the curtain in the bunk I really couldn’t see much and was still sleepy, but the next thing I knew, Larry was yelling and waving his arms at this poor lady to get the heck away from the truck. I had not seen him so agitated before and it didn’t sound like that lady was too happy with uncle Larry either. He didn’t bother to explain that part of the driving experience or what she wanted so I have no more to relate to you. He seemed irritated, so I got back up in the bunk and slept at his feet that night.
If I thought we left Rolla early, I hadn’t seen nothin’ yet. Would you believe he got up even earlier the next day, must have been at least 2 hours at least? It was still dark for crying out loud. You try to take a whizz, outside in the cold and dark, and let me know how that works for ya. I climbed up in the passenger seat to resume my post watching out for critters, but with the headlights peeking out from that long nose of the cab, it wasn’t too easy to see or have anything to bark about. It was then that I decided to go back to bed and just climbed back into Larry’s warm bunk and rest on his pillow. I thought I saw Larry give me a dirty look but he didn’t say anything.
We stopped for breakfast at a truck stop and attend to some personal business a little later on in Clovis NM. I was miffed that Larry wouldn’t buy me fries for breakfast either. I had to eat that damn crunchy dogfood again. I hate that stuff. Had I been able to talk I might have asked ‘ol Lar to get me some bacon. This mutt loves his bacon. Bacon and fries sounds like a mighty good meal to me. Humans are so lucky that they get to eat all the good stuff and then feed us that crappy dogfood. Believe me, it tastes nothing like you seen those mongrels eat in those television commercials. The way they attack that food I figure there has to be a juicy steak under all that crunchy crap.
When we got back in the truck I jumped up on the dashboard, for no apparent reason. I do things for no apparent reason sometimes…just can’t help myself. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time, and you know what? It was nice and warm up there so I settled in for a while. It was easier to watch for critters too. Later on, when it started to get too warm, I jumped back in the passenger seat where I watched uncle Larry drive for a while. Looks pretty easy if you ask me. He just sits there on his big ‘ol butt and holds on to the steering wheel. Heck, he even put the truck on cruise control so he could move his legs around. Every once in a while, he would pass a vehicle, but mostly vehicles passed us. Not sure why he let them pass us so much because when Ms. Dawn and I are driving the Buick that never happens.
We drove all the way across New Mexico. It’s one big desert with a few hills and a mountain or two way off. We finally stopped at Deming for the evening. I was kind of surprised we stopped that early in the afternoon, but I figured uncle Larry knew what he was doing. I ran around for a while, marking my territory on just about anything growing out back of the truck stop. Afterwards, we went in and watched TV for some time before Larry decided it was time to go back to the truck.
Larry had set my pen on the floor next to the bunk. I guess he didn’t like me taking over his bed all the time, so I slept in there for the evening. I think he was sweet-talking some gal on the phone too – he was grinning from ear to ear and laughing a lot. I don’t mind the pen, but it isn’t as nice as Larry’s bunk. At least he didn’t zip it up the way Ms. Dawn always does. Larry is cool that way.
There I was, sleeping away in my tent, when in the middle of the night I heard Larry rustling around again. I hadn’t heard another knock on the door and wondered what he was up to. Next thing I know, he started up the truck and we were off, in the middle of the damn night. What the hell! I didn’t even get a chance to go back out and check my markings. I couldn’t let him work by himself, so I climbed back up into the passenger seat for sentry duty. Well, it was dark, the road seemed to go on forever, and the truck was kind of warm, and well… you can probably figure out the ensuing result. Next thing I knew we were in Arizona where I was supposed to meet the big guy himself. By just about daybreak we pulled into what I heard Larry telling somebody on the phone that he was at the plumbing customer and waiting for Alan to arrive. I wondered about his use of the singular “he” and not the plural “we.” What am I, chopped liver? I too, had been driving for over 3 days, just like Larry.
We weren’t there very long when the old man himself showed up to get me. That old coot's beard was as white as mine, only longer. Looked like he gained more weight too, if that was possible. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye or lick on Larry, the old fart just threw me in this car and away we went. I hope I get to a chance to see Larry again someday, he was a really nice guy.
The return trip back from Phoenix with Christopher was mostly uneventful other than we traveled a lot further. Instead of going directly back to Kankakee, “we headed over to old El Paso TX, where we got into a great big hassle.” (Sorry, I listen to so much of that there hippy music with the old man I just couldn’t resist a chance to share a line from the Steve Miller song, “Take the Money and Run.”) There was no hassle. Anyway, I got to see the El Paso terminal. Man, that was big and there were trucks everywhere. I stayed mostly in Moe’s office, as I understand that Christopher had to go home to take care of a few items. Don’t tell Moe, but when he stepped out for a minute I did mark the chair in his office. Sorry, dude. Everybody treated me pretty good there, although nobody offered any fries. I could have sworn I smelled fries on Moe’s breath after lunch too.
I looked around for Larry and his truck, since he lives in El Paso, but there was no sign of either. Later that afternoon, Christopher came back and we took off, but we went southeast to Eagle Pass TX instead of northeast towards Kankakee. Evidently, we had to pick up freight there, something that was unknown to both me and the old man. But Chris got the job done and we were off, headed north to Kankakee in no time, except that all this extra mileage added another day to the trip.
Oh, then there was that little incident in Arkansas on the way back that I guess I should tell ya.
Chris stopped at a truckstop and, in my humble opinion, rudely left me in the truck. Well, I had seen another dog go in and wanted to check her out. But no, Chris just shut the door in my face. Reminded me of what the old man does from time to time. Truck was running, so I was staying warm, and there was music on, but it’s just that I had a hankerin’ to get out and stretch my legs. So, while he was in there I was watching out the window and sure enough, here she came back out. She was an absolutely gorgeous black Cocker Spaniel with the cutest little turned up nose. You just don’t see them running around in Bourbonnais Illinois. But she and her human climbed into an ugly old Freightliner and left. Didn’t even look my way and here I was, sporting this beautiful Peterbilt, and sitting in the drivers’ seat. She should have been impressed, as hell I was! I thought that was kind of rude for them to ignore me like that, and well, I guess I got a little rambunctious with my running around the cab and barking about it. Seems like I might have accidentally stepped on the door lock. It took Chris and some other human about two hours of messing with the window to finally get back in. I don’t think Chris was too happy with me for the rest of the day. Other than some angry phone calls, the trip was pretty quiet the rest of the way.
Anyway, that was my trip to Phoenix and back. I can’t wait to go back to Arizona, but next time I’m flying with Dawn! I got all the big rig driving experience I want for this lifetime.