April 16, 2017

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Welcome to a new edition of Central Standard Time. I am pleased to welcome back old friends, regular contributors, and some fresh talent. Grab your coffee and join us for comments, opinions, and interesting thoughts.

My friend Greg King is back with an observation on religion in today’s world with his essay, “Can We Talk?”

The bon vivant of South Texas, Brule Eagan, looks to his local politics for some contemporary perspectives in “The Trouble With Eddie.”

How fortunate we are to live in an urban environment brimming with the creative ethos. It is my pleasure to introduce Rebecca Francescatti. Rebecca’s art graces this issue’s cover.

I met this talented lady at a professional function in which she served as secretary and reporter. Her articles were very good. As I am always on the spy for exceptional writers, this was someone I needed to court for CST. The more you know of Rebecca, the more you see the essence of a complete artist. For some people in the world, the muse descends from Olympus and touches them on the forehead…”This is for you.” Writer of songs and insightful prose, and stunning artist, Rebecca is one of those people.

The SCIENCE page returns. Here is an essay on the fate of our species, “The Solar Federation.” I can promise my favorite page will get more attention in the coming months.

From the Publisher’s Desk, a long hard look at the myth and fate of one particular Arab Spring. “Out of Egypt…” examines the zero-sum game of power in the Middle East.

Here we go! Summer is pulling at our sleeve and the time is right for a moment of leisure and good reading.

 Rebecca “F” Francescatti is a performing songwriter, musician, artist and writer residing in Chicago.  Currently a student in the M.A. Counseling program at Northwestern University, she holds an M.A. in English Literature from DePaul University.  When not moonlighting with her bands Rebecca F. & The Memes or Night Jogger, you’ll find her serving the humanities in the fields of counseling and publishing.  

 

April 4, 2017

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After a long hiatus, we return to the ether  refreshed and ready to rock. This has been a sabbatical of sorts as I dove in the waters of political science. I haven’t read this much in thirty years. It’s not Dickens, either. University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer on Great Power Politics, Paul Collier, Daniel Drezner, a detailed examination of the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the process of our national government. If I intend to bitch about the state of the world in print, a bit of knowledge would be a good idea.

We are going to try for more diverse and frequent postings from our friends and contributors. As the circle of interesting people expands, so too will sharing their views.

Tom DeMichael gets us in the swing (pun intended) with his always salient views on baseball in Chicago and the WORLD CHAMPION CUBS!! How about that?

Marc Piane offers Chapter 3 of his travelogue and the zen of solitude. My brilliant comrade gives even more brain-power with a thoughtful essay about Thinking Less.

From the Publisher’s Desk are some views on the future of the American electorate. Yes, there is much hope.

Thank you for being here and please peruse the archives for more excellent reading.

January –

GettyImages-855728_2640652aWelcome to the January edition of Central Standard Time.

As a child of the Sixties, socio-political awareness was a part of the era’s cultural framework. The best motives of those times are experiencing a re-birth. Through the rigors of daily life, economic survival, the ladder of success, or the “old ennui” Sinatra sang of, we start the new year with an air of activism. It fills the heart. The new generation of advocacy is broad, crossing lines of gender, age, race, faith, income…we are all in this together and it’s time to speak up.

The limit of my “front-page politics” concerns an apolitical epiphany. For decades, my disappointment with our government’s cavalier handling of money always crossed party lines. “Vote the bastards out” has been my rally cry. In general, the whole situation would be better served by some common business sense and capitalist principles. I now feel this is in error, deeply so.

The responsibility of good governance is providing for the least of our countrymen, while cultivating the best we have to offer the world. Tomorrow will surely arrive, and the enemy of that progress is poverty and illiteracy. Those poisons are as diverse as the population. Of all the resolutions made in vain at this time of year, stepping away from the computer and contributing to the betterment of our world is the greatest calling to which we can aspire. Coming editions will shine a light on new avenues of attack. The mindset remains apolitical.

This month’s offering of articles is nothing short of spectacular.

Joan Tortorici Ruppert joins the crew with a conference reflecting on the loss of so many music giants in Broken Records.

Friday the 13th would not be complete without our resident sage, Brule Eagan, and the big question: Do You Feel Lucky?

Always insightful, John Zielinski writes an excellent political essay about the big post-partum, This is Not the Piece I Had Planned to Write. Good stuff.

We begin chapter 2 of Marc Piane‘s “Outside In.” Night Hike takes us to the perfect moon.

Roxane Assaf-Lynn graciously allows us to reprint her latest article as it appears in the Huffington Post. Expose’ or Hip-Hooray is an entertaining journey, from departure to arrival.

The Grand Pubah of the dugout, Tom DeMichael, talks Chicago baseball in But, What Have You Done For Us Lately?

Our favorite blues guy, Steve Buschbacher has some questions about song lyrics in the modern age with They Don’t Write ’em Like they Used To.

And finally from the Publisher’s Desk, a conversation about self-control.

I am so happy you are here. Let’s have a morning or two of respite from the daily grind. Did I say “grind?” That must mean coffee is involved.

December –

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Welcome to the December edition. The seasonal mix of emotions are a study in extremes as we settle in for a few days off.

The normal sense of renewal that accompanies the New Year is tempered by the inexorable march of time…which waits for no one. We are a year older and a year wiser, hopefully. At least for the next few days, I will attempt to avoid political confrontations (though I erred already this morning). There will be time enough for those discussions very soon. Let’s have our holiday and think of the family and friends we hold dear.

In the mean time, here are some articles for you to read in the quiet moments:

Our thoughts dwell on the life of Charley Krebs and his untimely passing. A helluva guy in every regard. A true Chicagoan and gifted artist. His work will continue to grace these pages as often as possible.

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Foreign correspondent (Texas), Brule Eagan, flashes back on Christmas In Niles, 1963. Times were more simple.

David Edward Sims brings his unique spin to some classics of the season.

From the Peoples Republic of Philadelphia, our good friend Steve Buschbacher wishes us a Happy Holidays! and much more.

Regular contributor, John Zielinski, takes a good, long look at the election and asks the salient question, “What Now?

Resident baseball guru, Tom DeMichael, has Nothing More To Say…sure, buddy. At least for now.

With great excitement, this edition of CST brings you Chapter One of Marc Piane‘s much anticipated existential prose, Outside In. It is a singular journey of Zen and atmosphere. Perfect reading for this time of year. In addition, Marc penned an essay that gives thought to how we assess information in “Consumer Beware.”

Have the best holiday ever, my friends. Embrace the peace of the season and hope for its endurance.

November –

GettyImages-855728_2640652aWhat a time to be alive! Let’s take a moment and contemplate the sweep of history unfolding before our eyes. The crystal ball of speculation grows murky as pundits, politicians, and the general electorate contemplate a future full of promise, or the need to stock food and water.

Through the coming weeks take a break and listen to your favorite music, draw a picture, sing a song, dance, sip your best wine, and read for escape and stimulation. Central Standard Time can help with reading part. Here is our new edition and it’s all about you, the reader.

David Edward Sims graces this publication for the first time. I can only hope it is the beginning of many more articles from this exceptionally talented man. David’s beat is the creative muse in all its forms and we are treated to an introspection of the spectacular Carmen McRea and the Triumph of the Lyric. Hear his interview program every Sunday morning at DePaul Radio – radio.depaul.edu

The round-table of political opinion may end up as kindling from the heat generated by our crew. Consider these offerings:

Marc Piane delivers a pair of essays. Marc continues his “Outside In” series with a new chapter, “Time.” Never at a loss for an eye-catching title, Marc embraces the philosophy of politics in “An Attempt at Cutting Through the Bullshit”…and cut he does.

John Zielinski clears away the campaign sensationalism by examining our constitution in “Decide!” Informed observation is John’s realm and it’s never stated better than in his article.

My friend Greg King returns to the pen with his essay “Rigged!” The title goes beyond the media blather and observes some of our election history.

Steve Buschbacher gives us a definitive down-ballot look at the congressional elections and the mandate for change in “Taking Back the Senate.” Steve’s detailed research and comprehensive presentation is second to none. A must-read.

The Zenpundit, author Mark Safranski, takes us to the cradle of self-government for an illuminating look at the writings of Greek historian, Polybius, and the contrast to today’s political atmosphere. Grab a seat for “This Election and the Nature of Republics”.

Regular contributor Brule Eagan can paint a word-picture like few others. Take a stroll through South Texas during the election season with “Una Palanca.”

Had enough? I hope not.

As Game #5 of the World Series goes to the Cubs, resident baseball guru Tom DeMichael celebrates the victory and looks to an exciting week ahead in “And They’re Heading For Home!

What would this publication be without Charley Krebs and his razor-sharp illustrations? Check his page for new drawings.

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And finally, visit the Publisher’s Desk for some obtuse thoughts on Optimism and Psychohistory.

Pull up a chair and pour a cup of your favorite coffee…join us for some good conversation.

September –

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Welcome to the September pages. This month we offer a diverse set of reading material from a lively and talkative group of very clever people. We mark the Equinox with balance and prudence…nah, let’s party!

Marc Piane continues his trek through the forest of self-awareness in a new chapter of “Outside In.” Grab your backpack, turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.

We are treated to more of Steve Buschbacher and his discovery of Philadelphia. Every evidence proves the truism “you can’t take Chicago out of the boy”…or something like that. His question is “Are You Comfortable?”

The Zenpundit, Mark Safranski, offers a wonderful review of  Bob Woodward’s new book “The Last of the President’s Men.” For those of us that lived this crisis in leadership, it’s easy to see the reflection of those times in our daily life. A must-read. More coming from Mark later this month.

The “Sports Oracle”, Tom DeMichael, runs down the state of baseball in Chicago as we head into the post-season. What a year it is turning out to be. Will the Bride’s Maid finally catch the bouquet? Tom gives up the details in “Here They Come, Rounding Third Base…

Charley Krebs graces several pages this month. Look for his current work on the “Publisher’s Desk” and his own page.

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I had the extreme pleasure of visiting with Brule Eagan recently. We are truly fortunate to have his intellect in our midst. That said, his essay speaks to “Writer’s Block.” Don’t ask, just read.

In an adjustment of format, a new page is added in place of my normal blog. The “Publisher’s Desk leaves our front page free to summarize and tag the content for each writer, each month. Navigation will be a breeze and indexing will allow a larger readership. This month is an indulgence in casual conversation: Genius and the Jester, and Great Expectations.

Drop us a line on the CONTACT page and help us improve your reading experience.

Hot

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A mid-summer heatwave in my Chicago neighborhood is a unique event. It’s the hot of concrete and brick radiating thermal energy in every direction…outside, inside, through walls, drifting past my door en route the second floor; a building-sized convection oven is the only legitimate description. It’s the heat of Milwaukee Avenue’s six lanes of baked pavement, compounded by a thousand internal combustion engines. Yes, it is warm.

Many years ago I abandoned air conditioning. I cope with a mechanism involving darkness and hibernation. Simply close the blinds and draw the curtains in my tall Victorian windows in order to eliminate radiant heat. Each of my small rooms has a ceiling fan to roil the muggy air, yet there remains confusion about the optimum configuration of spin. Does drawing cool air from the floor make more sense than driving down the heat layer at the ceiling? Every once in a while I change the direction and it doesn’t seem to matter. Just keep the air moving. “Daylight is a bitch”- Count Dracula.

My morning shower is an experiment in entropy. The illusion of rinsing sweat from my body and enjoying a moment of cool arid pleasure is lost with the realization there is never truly a moment without a drip of moisture creeping down my face, in or out of the spray. The water offers only momentary temperature relief and the bath towel may as well be a plastic bag. We earthlings exist in an “ocean of air”: this is proof. I move from one state of super-saturation to the next. Sweat, water, sweat…it’s all the same mass of wet air with only an occasional change in density.

Dinner is a surreal event. My bachelor regimen stores personal-size portions of food in individual freezer bags ready for quick thaw and prep. Currently, chicken is in abundance. A plan forms for two frozen chicken breasts and a jar of Trader Joe’s Garlic Sauce in the slow-cooker. Almost zero effort and a small heat footprint is perfect for this situation. Upon removing food from the freezer, there is spontaneous temptation. I hold the frozen bags against my cheeks and then massage my temples. I find a smooth spot and gently hold the icy filets against my eyes. With chin to chest, I rub the upper Trapezius muscles of my neck, left and right, up and down, and an involuntary groan escapes my lips.

My prep area looks through an open window and there was my neighbor, having a smoke on her porch, staring. “Hi, Delores.” She extinguished the cigarette and retreated indoors without a word. Carry on.

The key is to limit exertion of any kind. I sit still and catch up on a mountain of neglected reading, make a to-do list (with no hope of completion), and drink cold lemon-water. A check of the weather forecast predicts coming relief, a summer storm, brief and spectacular, within the hour. Let’s hope the neighborhood fares well in the shower, we can both use another thorough rinse. Soon, as predicted, the ambient light dims and the clouds lower in the sky. A stillness falls and in the quiet I can hear the grind of a dozen window air conditioners mixed with the infernal screeching of the cicadas. “Stillness” in the city is a relative concept.

Suddenly, a breeze. The cool gust feels like a kiss on the back of my neck. A shiver runs through my body, travels down the spine to exit the ventilation ports on my Keds. I close my eyes an assume the posture of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, arms spread wide, and allow the new air to circulate my being. At that moment there is a rumble of thunder. Controlling the elements like this will take practice.

  • Joe Tortorici