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.
The atmosphere flipped a switch and autumn appeared. You can feel it in the air when you wake and decide to cocoon under the covers for a few more minutes. The morning sky has a pearly opaqueness. The first cup of coffee is a religious experience.
The great forests of the Midwest surrender their greenery for a palette of colors straight from the canvas of Van Gogh. I live in the neighborhood of Caldwell Woods, on the far Northwest side of Chicago. There is a long stretch of Devon Avenue that curves through the forest and for a moment, all evidence of the city disappears. You enter a towering arch of brilliant yellow foliage accented with the rusty deep red of Maple trees. Chicago’s motto is “Urbs in Horto” – “City in a Garden.” Indeed it is. Make this journey throughout the coming fall season and watch the genesis of living art.
As October sets in, let us also complain about the dearth of Halloween sales, Thanksgiving marketing, and the all-too-soon Christmas/Hanukkah orgy of “buy this, right now.” Here it comes! I find it wiser to reflect on the innocence of this season in a melancholy way. We were once children and it was a world of joy and good sweets at the table.
Speaking of sweets, get away from me with the “pumpkin spice!” (One of my all-time favorites is the Pumpkin Spice dog food…tell me how the animal knows.) I will, however, concede to massive amounts of pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Try to stop me, I dare you. Pumpkin pie transcends the individual holiday celebrations and uniformly blankets the season with a five-pound weight gain. Ah well.
Get out and walk, my friends. It’s “sweater weather” and a time for deep breaths of crisp air. We can hope for the occasional tendril of smoke from burning leaves.
I am pleased to introduce a new page from the talented Michelle Jackson Jewell. I anticipate this is the first of many.
…and take us with you! Central Standard Time can be viewed on your tablet or smart phone.
Welcome to the October edition. There is much to talk about and we ask you to join us.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
Please visit the articles from our April 1st edition.
Shortly before the March 24 “March for Our Lives” demonstrations I contacted David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez via Twitter to ask what art (musical, visual, written word) helped keep them inspired and energized. About a week later David Hogg posted this. I’m sure the timing was only coincidental to my query because he likely wades through hundreds of messages every single day. But still, I had to smile.
CENTRAL STANDARD TIME – A SPECIAL EDITION
Are we at a threshold? What is the point of activism if neither rage nor outrage appear to be working. The innateness of good and evil hasn’t changed, so, what are we missing? The battle for social justice needs a new strategy.
These stories of activism and acts of personal strength portend a season of change.
How is a cell phone mistaken for a weapon? Twenty rounds later, another brown person is dead at the hands of frightened policemen. It’s always the brown people. Really… here we are again. It is impossible to narrate the dozens of similar incidents across the country, so let’s review the video of this one, again and again. Stephon Clark committed no crime, possessed no weapon, and, likely, never knew what hit him. End of story.
Can we clarify the effectiveness of activism, because neither rage nor outrage appear to be working.
A significant time approaches and I wonder if our culture is willing to seize the initiative. A succession of events is merging to form a nexus, begging important questions. It’s time to deal in new concepts; a time to make daring plans and not settle for less than what serves us and our posterity. Everyone is involved, everyone.
Bold decisions require action. An effective start is changing the population of our government with the vote. How will we gauge their competence and awareness in the course of events? What will be the litmus test? Specifically, let’s see major progressive legislation, of the daring and audacious type. Why not raise the level of conversation and impose greater expectations, not “what we can get” laws that serve no one.
So many events, so many questions:
What will it take to stop the murder of young men of color? Why are they expendable? If life weren’t already tough, they settle gang affairs with guns, at the same time fighting a war with police. It’s everywhere and never stops. What quality of life includes a percentage likelihood of gun related death? Ask them to vote, I’ll wait.
The web of immigration intrigue entangles huge swaths of society. Add a systemic promotion of fear and “It’s the brown people” mindset. Resolutions to immigration and the flow of labor across the continent are inevitable, and in everyone’s favor. Global economies flourish, limited economies fail.
Women have every reason to take a stand. Statistics point to a wave of female candidacy across the country. Will women vote?
Advocate for the Assault Weapons Ban, demand it.
A group of smart young people in Florida embraced the big-picture from the beginning. They reached out across the country; Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, north to south, and they see a greater malaise. They are not asking permission to make change. Will they vote?
Where is a strategy for future industries to fuel the economy and support our social structure? If we insist on nostalgia to feel secure, let’s borrow from the Republican genius of Eisenhower; the National Defense Education Act of 1958; The International Geophysical Year; the infrastructure titan interstate highway system; it was civics on a grand scale.
The welfare of each citizen is connected to all. Will we vote for social safety nets, will we vote for science?
Then there are the increased white supremacist advocacies… they vote too.
Trump is the old log we kicked over and all of the creatures come pouring out, crawling, scattering, and burrowing out of sight. The cold underbelly of interest and identity politics is laid bare. Fat maggots, tentacled, multi-legged, fast movers, the backdrop of a million tiny beings, all chaos, moving as one.
The lighter view is we are living a cartoon saga. Matt Schlapp versus Tom Perez in “Celebrity Death Match.” Stephen Miller as Grima Wormtongue, whispering in the despot’s ear. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, my god. The con and the marks. The president can’t find a good attorney. Russia!
I have answered my own question. Here is the intent of activism. We must remain vigilant and aware of serious issues in a world mugging us with information. The sideshows will end. The ship-of-state will right itself when we participate.
Education remains the strategic high-ground. A groundswell movement is at the grassroots as teachers across the country are rightfully upset and they are beginning to demonstrate. They march. They speak out. They vote.
The onslaught of information is overwhelming. At various times throughout the day my brain arcs and short-circuits my cognitive processes. Not only the deluge of mind-numbing facts in a world gone mad, but the preposterous takes up equal time. You just have to shake your head and ask “What?”
Objective reality is in competition with the absurd, all of it under the moniker “news.” How do we make informed decisions? Not only has it become necessary to have multiple sources, it serves us well to remember a time when misinformation was not legitimized. Reporting news, regardless of the medium, was a privileged enterprise. My friend, Brule, reminds us that informing the public was a trust left to professionals that did not speak to the lowest common denominator, but communicated to a literate public. We became educated through the news; we read newspapers; we heard a term and made the effort to find its origin or location on a map.
An acquaintance recently posted her decision making process – “Fox News, the Bible, my own thinking, and what my guinea pig says.” I’m not certain what part of that is a joke.
The talented crew at Central Standard Time gives enlightened perspectives on the information battlefield. Who? What? When? Where? How?
Broadcaster Brule Eagan, has been on the front-lines of the information flow for decades. Who better to give a long look at how we arrived in this place. His essay Quo Vadis, Mr. Murrow is a detailed history of the reporter’s profession.
The pre-season in underway! Both the Cubs and White Sox are brimming with new prospects and enduring hope for the season to come. The “Sports Oracle” Tom DeMichael, gives us the skinny in Ahh, Spring.
Our blog shares many stories of diverse interest. No greater subject of discussion is that of our humanity and our common circumstance. Marc Piane writes a moving note to all of us about the value of goodness in Philosophy Meets Real Life.
Chef Janet (my sister!) keeps a legacy intact with the essence of Sicilian soul-food. Check out Food #5 for a family specialty.
Here we go! The Illinois gubernatorial election approaches with an overload of baggage. The term of Bruce Rauner has been an unfolding disaster. We are in massive debt; “downstate” passionately desires Chicago to secede from the rest of the rest of Illinois (up to the point of revenue generation); public education slides toward bankruptcy; Mike Madigan exercises a refinement of “Boss politics” (a Daley family legacy); and the state infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes. Pensions are at risk and no one can figure out how to pass a budget. Every poll I’ve seen ranks Illinois as one of the worst run, most corrupt states in the union. Charming.
We need to stop and reflect on the consequences of being a Blue Dog/Democratic state. It has done the people of Illinois little good. More than the classic tax-and-spend characterization of Democrats, the party, by accident or intent, stumbles over itself at every crooked turn. Springfield is a snake-pit of no-bid contracts, deal making, and kickback opportunism. Four of the last seven governors have been jailed. Rod Blagojevich(D) was convicted of numerous corruption charges in 2011, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. Dan Walker (D), governor from 1973 through 1977, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and other charges in 1987 related to his business activities after leaving office. Otto Kerner (D), governor from 1961 through 1968, spent three years in prison after being convicted of bribery related charges. George Ryan (R) was found guilty and jailed for fraud and racketeering charges as both Secretary of State and governor. A tenured felon.
How can we forget the venerable Secretary of State (’65-’70), Paul Powell (D)? Though his salary was never more than thirty thousand dollars per year, when he died, his room was found to contain eight-hundred thousand dollars in cash and checks kept in shoe boxes, briefcases, and strong boxes, as well as nineteen cases of whiskey and one million dollars in racing stock, leaving an estate of 4.6 million. During his tenure, fees for automobile licensing and registration were made to “Paul Powel-Secretary of State” or simply “Paul Powell.” That made it simple!
Party affiliation pales in the presence of the black hole of corruption that permeates our state. Republican State Rep. Jeanne Ives faces fellow Republican Rauner in the primary. At a recent event, she argued the solution to the state’s gun violence was having “more fathers in the home.” While this is tone-deaf to the complexity of the issue, it doesn’t appear to be color-blind. Some of the Democratic contenders are State Senator Daniel Biss and Chairman of the University of Illinois board of trustees Chris Kennedy. The spigot of campaign spending from candidate J.B.Pritzker borders on obscene. The historic truth is “money does not make for sound governing policy.” Toss in a handful of insignificant and third-party aspirants, you have a circus.
The only event with as much entertainment value is the coming Chicago mayoral election. Big fun ahead!