Chicago – January 8, 2020

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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.”

Amen.


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

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Bits and Pieces – John Zielinski

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Be It So Resolved – Michelle Jackson Jewell

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Making Theater History – Rainee Denham

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Missing And Black – Steve Buschbacher

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

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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…

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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

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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.

Chicago – November 1, 2019

This edition opens with a family favorite, Injun Summer. A copy-friendly version is included as a separate PAGE.

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Welcome to a special time of year. Let’s celebrate for the next six weeks without hesitation. We deserve every moment. Reach out to those you love; leave time for solitude and reflection.

Five Long Years, or so the blues classic says. In the Fall of 2014, a blog named The Chicago Progressive debuted on the ether. It grew in to Central Standard Time. This fall, five years ago, we started a journey with no particular destination in mind…and why not?

Thank you all for the words of encouragement during this long hiatus. We are going to continue Central Standard Time every two months or so. It is relaxed and adds to the quality of what is presented. You may hear from us when topical news arises in any case. We are, after all, a part of the Fifth Estate.

You are invited to comment on the many fine articles found here. We want to interact and exchange views, join us in conversation. Browse the Archives and be amazed at the diversity of thought. Let’s continue to pull at threads of information and ask questions. Be in touch.

In addition to the enlightened prose offered by this month’s contributors, we pay homage to the social foundation of the dinner table. I promise you will find something to satisfy every appetite.


Food for the Holidays! 

Michelle – Browned Butter Pecan Pie, Snickerdoodle Pie

Janet – Stuffed Shells

John, Steve –  French Pastry Cake with Butter Cream Frosting, the “German Turnip”

Brule, Mike – The Christmas Lasagna, Together-Time-Snack

Rainee – Cream of Mushroom Soup, Green Bean Casseraole, Vegan Layonnaise Potatoes

Tom, Joe – Torcinelli, In Praise of Licorice


And now, please join us for some reading matter. As always, your favorite beverage will stimulate the experience.


Oh, There’s No Place Like Home Plate For The Holidays – Tom DeMichael

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Chosen Family – Michelle Jackson Jewell

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The Warmth of Other Suns – Mike Kerr

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Scene Of The Crime – Brule Eagan

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A Giant – Steve Buschbacher

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What’s the Hurry? – John Zielinski

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Injun Summer 

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Chicago – October 19, 2019

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Perhaps my Chicago comrades recall Len O’Connor.

Everybody now “And I…am Len O’Connor.” You did the nasal voice too, didn’t you?

Len was a heavy set gentleman with an owlish countenance. If you turned the sound off, you could tell it was an opinion by watching Len O’Connor speak. He had a trademark delivery. Chicago’s NBC affiliate, WMAQ, gave Len a few minutes at the end of prime time news for an acerbic take-down of machine politics. It was always contemporary and usually newsworthy, but never regarded greater than a commentary. News was news and opinion was opinion. I was not confused.

And now fact and fiction are conditional? Why? I questioned it is a simple case of excess. Pulling at threads, I turned to the legendary “Fairness Doctrine” for a policy history and wandered into the First Amendment, the Telecommunications Act, the FCC, conservative talk radio, cable distribution, and the internet, to mention only a few.

And now revelations at Facebook. The investigation of Facebook is shifting daily and Mark Zuckerberg faces the inevitable. Big change is coming.

We talk about it in the November edition of Central Standard Time.

Chicago – June 1, 2019

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Sunrise on Luna Lake – Nicolet National Forest

Welcome to summer…I think! My sibling asks the rhetorical question “Is it safe to take the ice-scraper out of the car?” Perhaps.

It will be my first summer viewing the world from the 10th floor. This elevation is unique to the area and the vista looking west is that of a lush green carpet thrown across the land, extending to the horizon. Big thunderheads move in with their requisite light-show and sound effects. The sunsets are typically spectacular.

I propose we use all the vacation time we have struggled to “bank.” Isn’t it interesting to find what the word “vacation” means to each of us? The cover photo this month is a favorite. My ideal get-away is an isolated lake and a campsite only accessible by canoe. Did I mention my fishing rod and a flask of scotch?

Celebrate the season, my friends. Join the cast of writers here for your entertainment. Let’s have our morning cup of coffee and read away an hour or so. “Celebrate” is the word.


Quest For Smoke – Brule Eagan

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I Know What I Like – John Zielinski

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The Stroll – Mike Kerr

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A Royal Pain – Steve Buschbacher

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A Tip of the Cap to Billy Buck – Tom DeMichael

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The Publisher’s Desk – Virginia Beach

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Chicago – May 1, 2019

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Bring the rain, indeed.  “Urbs in horto.” I have an elevated view to the west and see a haze of green begin to appear across the landscape. The uniform gray-tan of winter failed to reveal the amount of forest hiding in plain sight. We live in a place of seasons and humidity. Green things fill every space with soil and light. The geography supports rivers and flood plains. Good things begin with the rains of spring.

We see the results of balance and imbalance, don’t we? Yes, it snowed in April; no, the third ice-age did not begin.

I am convinced the little things each of us do, or refrain from doing as a habit, will make a difference in the long run. I now have re-usable water bottles instead of sacks of empties. Durable shopping bags are far better than plastic. Habits to change…conveniences I thought were real for some reason. The waste was just there. It has been the easiest thing in the world to embrace a solution.

We celebrate the rain.


Welcome to Chicago, Baseball Fans… – Tom DeMichael

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The New Imperative – Joe Tortorici

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STUDIO RAT …a frame of reference

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Looking In – Rainee Denham

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Frank Kulak and Fred Hampton: The City Chooses Justice – Mike Kerr

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Radio’s New Wave – Brule Eagan

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Chicago – April 1, 2019

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“Soft Landing” – David Jewell

And so we turn the corner on a notable winter season. There were moments it seemed infinite…but we knew better, didn’t we? It was a time of change and new adaptations to the world.

One of the most significant subjects for thought is our environment as the condition of climate change is amplifying. I worry for my many friends up and down the west coast. Between uncontrollable wildfires and flooding, it’s hard to imagine the greater danger. These incidents happen with more regularity and intensity.

Here in the Midwest, our seasonal changes are commonly dramatic. Yet who ever heard of a “bomb cyclone?” Whatever you call the phenomenon, rural areas across the heartland are devastated, some will never see normality again in our lifetime.

My fantasy of retirement somewhere along the Gulf Coast is now tempered by the reality of a capricious hurricane season. The notion of a “season” has has morphed into “who knows when?” and their escalating power is frightening.

In spite of these concerns, spring is coming into view, literally and figuratively. We understand the issues and regardless of any political chicanery, the coming generation gives me hope for change. A part of the answer will be the accumulated small acts each of us make to improve our planet.

In the mean time, let’s get out for a walk! It will do us good.

Let’s also put the world’s nihilism aside and sit with a good book. The manifesto I repeat every month remains consistent: read! Read everything; read the good and bad news; read fiction and history; read the box scores! Encourage reading with your family and friends. Get away from the smart-phone and computer for a measured time every day and read. It is the greatest civilizing force humanity has ever known. It elevates us.

Many thanks to the talented eye of David Jewell for our banner image. May it be the first of many.

It’s a new month and the writers a Central Standard Time are here for you. We hope to start a conversation, listen to new ideas, and grow for the effort. We’re so glad you joined us.


I am proud to welcome Mike Kerr to the blog. Mike recently published his first novel, The Legman, and it riveted me to a chair from the opening chapter. Without spoilers, let me say it’s a story for every Chicagoan, and every reader that enjoys a mystery. You can find it at Amazon.

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40th Ward Run-off in Chicago – Roxane Assaf-Lynn

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Ruminations of a Reprobate Mind – Brule Eagan

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All Good Things – John Zielinski

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The Void – Michelle Jackson Jewell

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Mike! – Mike Kerr

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An Actor’s Everest – Rainee Denham

Mount Ama Dablam within clouds, way to Everest base camp


Gaze Into the Crystal Baseball… – Tom DeMichael

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Rationalism – Joe Tortorici

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Chicago – March 1, 2019

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What better image illustrates the bone-cracking, sub-zero temperatures we have experienced? My sibling, Joan Tortorici Ruppert, is always on the hunt for a unique vision. This is a bubble freeze, with the help of ultraviolet ink and a black light…add some serious cold and an equal portion of commitment, of course!

We in the Midwest keep an eye on the month of March for schizophrenic swings of weather. Things change, we endure. All the more fortuitous time to jot some notes to ourselves and each other. Central Standard Time exists as a meeting place to share thoughts and ask questions. The daily informational zeitgeist flooding the ether descends into repetition, every space, every second needs to be filled with the drone of someone unable to stop speaking long enough to think. We, however, are here to include your ideas and reflections.

Use the contact page or comment on the articles you read. We love to hear from you.


Central Standard Time is proud to support Marc Piane’s fundraiser for MS. Join us and see an end to this malady in our lifetime.

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Bike MS: Tour de Farms 2019


SpaceX Update – Brule Eagan

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Show Me The Money – John Zielinski

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Definition – Michelle Jewell

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Human Training – Rainee Denham

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Is It Enough Yet? – Steve Buschbacher

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Vegan Gluten/Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes – Michelle Jewell

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