Chicago – January 8, 2020


As I write, our country finds itself on the precipice of another war. How did it come to this? I once believed I had an inkling of how these events unfold, but I was wrong. My voice is just another drunk at the end of the bar, pontificating and moralizing with whoever will listen about subjects well outside my intellectual grasp.

We can only speculate as to the psychology involved in commanding the greatest military in history. The only issue I’m certain of is the core responsibilities must be overwhelming. The current occupant of the presidency is simply one more character in the continuing saga of conflict that dogs our species…it never seems to end.

I demonstrated against war in my youth. I will do so again. War is not the answer.

What better occasion to reflect on the timeless words of Carl Sagan:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”


Welcome to the new year edition of Central Standard Time. These extraordinary writers in our midst offer a new set of essays sure to stimulate conversation. Let’s sit together and talk. The coffee is on.

A Last Backward Glance – Brule Eagan

Wasting Time

Bits and Pieces – John Zielinski

Bits And Pieces

Be It So Resolved – Michelle Jackson Jewell


Making Theater History – Rainee Denham


Missing And Black – Steve Buschbacher


Thank you for joining us. We love to hear from you.

  • Joe

Chicago – January 5, 2020

I hope you will join us this Wednesday, January 8, for the New Year Edition of Central Standard Time. The crew will be on hand for your entertainment and cranial stimulation. Until then…


The Studio Rat – Where goes the musical progressive?

The crystal ball is clouded and unclear. Attach any suffix you like; jazz, rock, folk; and the term is synonymous with new directions and interpretations of a chosen taste in music. Too simple an explanation…no doubt. How do you measure forward momentum? How can you quantify the need to create? What is the creative person hearing when he composes? How does it work?

Time shows it to be a niche taste. The notion never generated big money, in any form. Perhaps there is a balance for every dollar lost, a new fan makes the soul-connection to their music. Nice to think about but no matter, creating continues.

Two very hot gigs are coming this month:

Chris Greene Quartet at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights, Tuesday, January 14.

Dave Gordon Quintet CD Release at Sawa’s Old Warsaw Restaurant in Broadview, Thursday, January 23.

The progressive crusade lives! New music opens our mind.

Chicago – January 3, 2020


by J.Tortorici

John Kennedy inspired me to become politically aware, as many of my age group. Then the administration of Lyndon Johnson caused me to wonder about the legitimacy of what I was being told by my government. Johnson proved to be untruthful. For all of the Great Society gains he made, the mire of Vietnam destroyed his legacy. What began as a limited regional conflict became hell on earth. Campuses across the country exploded with anti-war fever. Nixon’s first term was a referendum and he promised an end to the Vietnam War. It got worse.

On May 4, 1970, the Kent State shootings took the lives of four protesters. On May 15, two demonstrating students at Jackson State were killed by police…all the victims were unarmed. I was in a fog of doubt. These were my peers being murdered by the state for protesting. Still, Nixon won a second term…though not for long. At that point the Republicans could have nominated John-boy Walton, they were going to lose to the next Democrat, Jimmy Carter. Suddenly, the Middle East flared up. The Middle East always flares up.

Over the course of my “boomer” life this keeps happening. Since the Korean conflict, regional proxy wars gobble up young people’s lives and a torrent of financial resources. There is always a reason that sounds good at the outset, but typically devolves into lies, money, and saving face. Never fails.

Here we go again…what the hell! This bad habit cannot be allowed to continue. The current occupant of the Oval Office is only the latest (and pending) disaster we face. Our national issue is about the power to make war, anytime, anywhere, and apparently for any reason. A bad habit to be sure.

“There never was a good war or bad peace.” – Ben Franklin. The original “peacenik” who understood the consequences.

We have now incurred the wrath of an adversary ready and willing to sacrifice their life to kill us in an act of revenge, anytime, anywhere. To say this will not end well is simplistic…of course it will not end well. We Americans must renew the fight for restraint on the process of making war. Of the many issues we will face in the coming election, “war powers” must be prominent.

Act up for peace…our children are at stake.