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


The Stroll – Mike Kerr

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A Royal Pain – Steve Buschbacher


A Tip of the Cap to Billy Buck – Tom DeMichael


The Publisher’s Desk – Virginia Beach

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Chicago – April 1, 2019

“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.


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


Ruminations of a Reprobate Mind – Brule Eagan


All Good Things – John Zielinski


The Void – Michelle Jackson Jewell


Mike! – Mike Kerr

1986 NBA Playoffs:  Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics

An Actor’s Everest – Rainee Denham

Mount Ama Dablam within clouds, way to Everest base camp

Gaze Into the Crystal Baseball… – Tom DeMichael


Rationalism – Joe Tortorici



Chicago – January 7, 2019


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


It’s the Top 10 Countdown! – John Zielinski


Stage Fright – Michelle Jackson Jewell

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A 2019 Challenge To Myself – Marc Piane


Calm In The Chaos – Rainee Denham

From the porthole window of a vessel in a rough sea

Less Than Two Years To Go – Steve Buschbacher

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The Chill On The Infield – Tom DeMichael


The Publisher’s Desk – Joe Tortorici


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?


Rainee Denham – Get the Ball Rolling Or Not


Brule Eagan – A Giant Dies

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Chef Joseph Gardewin – Food #7


Michelle Jackson Jewell – Violation

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Chef Michelle Jackson Jewell – Food #8

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Marc Piane – Outside In – Connection


John Zielinski – Fear Itself

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Joe Tortorici – A Map Of The Greater Antilles


The Publisher’s Desk – By Definition


Chicago – May 1, 2018

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.


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.


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


John ZielinskiA Creature of Language

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Tom DeMichael Is That All There Is?


Steve Buschbacher –  What the Hell Happened?

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Brule EaganConfessions Of A No-Talent


Marc PianeBalance

Chapter 2 of Marc’s philosophical journey.


Please support Marc’s upcoming fundraiser:


Glenn EstryFood #7


Chef Glenn would like to introduce you to a friend:


“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 – March 1, 2018

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Raft Challenger – by Gabriel Karagianis

In the news…

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?

Our cover art is courtesy of Gabriel Karagianis. Erin Reeves Denk talked to Gabriel as only another artist can, and shares her conversation in Making Meaning In Art: In the Studio of Gabriel Karagianis.

Steve Buschbacher gives us a quick review of the available sources for information in his essay, All The News That’s Fit To Print? 

When confusion reigned, we turned to The Most Trusted Man in America. Regular contributor John Zielinski offers a profile of the reporter that defines his profession to this day.

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.

And from the Publisher’s Desk, we begin a series of plain-language examinations regarding the truth and untruth spoken about our Constitution. This is more than simple civics, Constitutionally Speaking.

Please support Marc Piane’s fundraiser


As always, grab a cup of coffee and have a seat. Don’t hesitate to join in and comment or ask questions. We are here for you.

Reaching into the New Year…

Foggy Mag

Welcome to an update for the February edition of Central Standard Time. As promised, there will be more in the coming weeks.

New contributor, Glenn Estry, joins the crew with a wonderful offering in Food #2… Glenn’s Mussels.

The Studio Rat returns with a memory of mad obsession in “We’re Rolling.” What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Please re-visit the outstanding essays in this month’s edition. I am happy you are here.

February’s cover image is another from Paul Chen. This is what happens when one of Chicago’s finest videographers walks the streets on a foggy day. More of the city can be seen on his page.

The world moves forward on the coattails of the obsessed, the driven, the inspired and tenacious humans around us. Beings unable to put down the pen, the paintbrush, the instrument, the book, the stats; they stay up later than they should and rise early to refine their physical being and mental processes. Here are some of the obsessed and driven people we know. Sit with us, then write your own story.

Marc Piane reflects on nature and nurture in “Origin“.

I encourage everyone to visit and pledge to the Marc Piane MS Fundraiser:


Don’t miss Brule Eagan’s “A Radio Life.” My buddy has too much fun and he’s not finished.

Steve Buschbacher recently underwent a knee replacement. He immediately underwent the best physical therapy, his drum kit and Philadelphia band, Bluestime, in “Feeding My Soul.”

Erin Denk returns! I wouldn’t stop asking (the poor woman rolls her eyes). Though I asked for good reason. Erin’s amazing art is a given and her writing is always a gift of insight. Check out “A Creative Life.”

Billy Denk also relented to my requests and penned “Inspiration.” My first impression of Bill, the musician, will always be remembered as a constant flow of invention, his story reveals how it happened.

We travel with Tom DeMichael through the sacred time of Sixteen-inch Softball, the clincher. The more you played, the softer it became. The farthest I ever saw this powder-puff get hit, Tom was at bat. I don’t know a greater embodiment of the sport, but “Why Baseball?

In Search of the Lost Chordis John Zielinski at his finest. It’s about the need to create.

Uh oh! Chef Geoff has a knife in his hand and he’s headed for the kitchen. We celebrate the return of good meals in Food #1.

Grab a mug of your favorite beverage. I’m down with Kenya AA right now, the world is good. Have a seat at the virtual table and join the conversation. As always, feel free to speak up and let the writers know your thoughts. You can CONTACT me, anytime.

Some nights I lie awake and think of audio signal paths, wondering if anyone else is this insane. Of course… too many to count.