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 – 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 – February 1, 2019

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Intuition – Jerry Siegan

Welcome to the big chill! Despite any conditioning we Chicagoans may have for such weather, it never fails to test our resolve. We have been fortunate for the past few years with relatively mild winters. This was overdue. We endure.

While the political world, local and national, continues to assault us with hubris and marginal ethics, the real world of human interaction reminds us of the dividends when we leave good things in our wake. The scope of support for federal workers throughout the “shutdown” was magnificent and exemplary of the true American spirit. Furloughed individuals manned the bread-lines and food banks to serve those in need. Chef José Andrés showed us all what faith and courage looks like. There is ample hope for mankind after all.

Grab your coffee, have a seat and join us for a few moments of escape. This month we talk sports, food, art, media, global affairs, and much more. Interact with the writers, ask questions and debate issues. I am so pleased you are here.

February’s featured image is the work of local artist Jerry Siegan. Jerry represents the best example of our quest to discover hidden gems in the visual arts. Visit his page for more work and be amazed.


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


When All Sundays Were Super – Brule Eagan

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An Artistic Intersection – Jerry Siegan

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Chef Janet – Stuffed Shells

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“Never” Is A Really Long Time – John Zielinski

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Cafe au Lait – Michelle Jackson Jewell

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When Do We Stop Listening – Steve Buschbacher

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Going to the Head of the Class – Tom DeMichael

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A Map of the Greater Antilles, Part 2 – Joe Tortorici

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The Publisher’s Desk – This Is Not Theater

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Chicago – January 7, 2019

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Welcome the New Year! Renewal is a worthy theme.

From a personal perspective, I recently celebrated a milestone birthday. Something about the Obsessive/Compulsive personality makes much ado about round numbers and my 70th year stimulates both joy and angst. I will never be the child prodigy my mother hoped for. Still, I’m here and able to have a few moments of fun with my friends. It all worked out rather well. My daughter counsels “Own it, Dad.”

Retirement from the music business is a curious change. It has been an adult lifetime in the studio working with some of the best in the business. I’m grateful. Perhaps it’s time to be a critic! If Neil Tesser and Howard Reich are reading, I promise you will be a part of the greater dialog!

Most of all, let’s resolve to be a kinder to one another and enjoy every day. Get a walk in. Leave good things where we pass. This month’s gallery of writers does so with their usual aplomb. We are so happy you are here.


List-O-Mania – Brule Eagan

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It’s the Top 10 Countdown! – John Zielinski

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Stage Fright – Michelle Jackson Jewell

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A 2019 Challenge To Myself – Marc Piane

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Calm In The Chaos – Rainee Denham

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Less Than Two Years To Go – Steve Buschbacher

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The Chill On The Infield – Tom DeMichael

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The Publisher’s Desk – Joe Tortorici

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Chicago – November 1, 2018

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Photo by Ellen Harder

My thanks to Ellen Harder for her cityscape photo. “Great view from my rooftop, simultaneously beautiful and ominous…” A magnificent capture by any measure.

Something tweaks the air. The cold weather is coming. In the Midwest we give it names, “Alberta Clipper” is a thing. The ebb and flow of the seasons in these latitudes is a blessing to all humanity. The freeze culls out the old and weak so the species stays strong. Push me on to Lake Michigan in a rowboat with no oars. Abandon me on the ice for the polar bears to eat.

The truth is my complaints are small. Retirement affords me limited direct engagement with the elements. I can remember waiting on the El platform under the radiator lights, the top of my head burning and my feet numb with cold.

Our shorter days promote “seasonal affective disorder,” a term that produces the acronym SAD. Dare I say dark humor? I find the opposite emotions at play. The big city is a different kind of light and never really dark. Whether you love or hate the classic holiday season, it is an explosion of artificial illumination, a good deal of it joyous by intent. It’s time to plan an after-dark visit to the center of the city.

It’s also a perfect time of year to read. Get comfortable with a hot beverage and exercise the brain, open new vistas, envision other thoughts. Central Standard Time is pleased to bring you one of the finest writing guilds on the internet. Join Steve Buschbacher, Tom DeMichael, Rainee Denham, Brule Eagan, Joseph Gardewin, Michelle Jackson Jewell, Marc Piane, John Zielinski, and yours truly, Joe Tortorici, at the round-table for conversation. The floor is open.


Please like and share your favorite articles. Comment to the writers, we love that. Be sure to visit the Central Standard Time and Contact pages.


It cannot be said enough…VOTE. If you are able, reach out and help others vote. We, the proletariat, are given the opportunity to shape the government. Let’s do it well.


Steve Buschbacher – Functioning On Blind Faith

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Tom DeMichael – Where Did We Go Wrong?

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Rainee Denham – Get the Ball Rolling Or Not

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Brule Eagan – A Giant Dies

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Chef Joseph Gardewin – Food #7

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Michelle Jackson Jewell – Violation

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Chef Michelle Jackson Jewell – Food #8

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Marc Piane – Outside In – Connection

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John Zielinski – Fear Itself

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Joe Tortorici – A Map Of The Greater Antilles

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The Publisher’s Desk – By Definition

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