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 – 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 – 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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Chicago – May 1, 2018

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Harold Washington Library Center

Marc Piane and I shared some reading recently, The Stanger by Albert Camus. I read it long ago and he inspired me to re-visit this classic. We then communicated on a thread, joined by a handful of other “nerds” in our Facebook coterie. The core of conversation and reflections from the book were illuminating, as expected. It was a marvel how our virtual seminar of like-minded readers found a time and place to “talk” about what we had read.

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My manner of acquiring the book was also a statement of the modern world. Once the request was submitted to the Chicago Public Library website, within days I was notified by email. The “book” (it seems odd to call it that) was downloaded to my Kindle. At the end of the virtual checkout, it was returned without delay. How effortless the act of using the library has become. How fortunate we in Chicago are to have an amazing resource like our library system.

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This blog remains a strident proponent of the written word. Not just what you see here, but the mindset of expansive consumption of what you read. At various times throughout its existence, there could have been volumes of images, videos, and audio clips… but no. Central Standard Time is in this world for you to read, and be inspired to read more. No end of pride attends this effort.

Every part of our country, every municipality and county, has access to a library. Your inter-connected phone has the ability to borrow or buy books from all over the world. As we celebrated the life of Barbara Bush, be reminded of her signature advocacy, literacy. Literacy is the fuel of progress. So many of the world’s problems will be solved by a literate, informed populace. It’s vital to our survival.

Join us. Interact with the writers on these pages. Ask questions, state opinions, give argument… participate. It costs nothing and the dividends are priceless. Summer is here and I can think of no greater pleasure than being outdoors, relaxing with a good book.

We bring you another edition of contemporary essays for your pleasure.

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Rainee Denham – LEFT Isn’t a Four-letter Word

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John ZielinskiA Creature of Language

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Tom DeMichael Is That All There Is?

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Steve Buschbacher –  What the Hell Happened?

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Brule EaganConfessions Of A No-Talent

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Marc PianeBalance

Chapter 2 of Marc’s philosophical journey.

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Please support Marc’s upcoming fundraiser:

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Glenn EstryFood #7

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Chef Glenn would like to introduce you to a friend:

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“I can tell you that some of the best tasting vegetables I have ever had come from his farm. My annual spaghetti sauce making uses about 35 pounds of their San Marzano tomatoes. The best you can get this far from Italy.”

Chicago – April 15, 2018

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The Palmolive Building

While the rest of the country is on the threshold of Spring, our dear city is in a dog-fight with the elements. My friend often talks about this time of year as the breeding ground for a condition referred to as “Shacky-Wacky.” We’ve been too long inside our incubators and a sort of madness begins to set in. The easy prediction is we will get to summer eventually. Sure, buddy!


Marc Piane has the next Chapter Two of Outside In ready for our May 1st edition. In preparation, this issue reviews Chapter One, and continuity will serve us. What an eclectic talent my friend is… and a damned fine bass player.

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The final entry of Constitutionally Speaking is ready for you at the Publisher’s Desk. How “big” do we want our government to be? The truth is it will always be as large as necessary. We talk about why. Be informed.

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I interview my great friend and mentor, Gary Lux, for the Studio Rat. Gary is one of the most trusted and valued names in audio production, throughout Hollywood. He passes on his experience and philosophy.

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Please visit the articles from our April 1st edition.


Brule Eagan doesn’t mind a bit of detention. We’ll see you in the back row. – The Breakfast Club.”

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Whatcha Gonna Do? While public demonstrations in favor of stronger laws are laudable, the fight requires more. As always, John Zielinski is our guide.

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Rainee Denham brings a story of strength. A Well Directed Production is a conversation with Chicago-based theatre director/adaptor, Lavina Jadhwani.

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Lavina Jadhwani

On December 2, 1970, Richard Nixon’s administration created the Environmental Protection Agency. We can all join together and sing Sometimes All I Need Is The Air That I Breathe with Steve Buschbacher.

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Erin Denk pens an excellent essay on the movement in “Me Too”:  A Space to Listen. Women stand. Will women vote?

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