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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”