Chicago – February 17, 2018

Photography by Paul Chen

Welcome to the February 17th edition of Central Standard Time. Grab your morning cup and join the crew for a quiet moment of reading in this week of somber news. The coming March issue will stimulate many discussions regarding all we see and hear in this world of digital media. Stay tuned.

With that thought in mind, Steve Buschbacher penned a moving article about loss and the serious matter of accountability. Please take a moment with “When Is It Enough.”

I want to introduce my Chicago music community to Francis Buckley. My friend Francis is not only one of the top engineer/producers in Los Angeles, he is a Detroit native that brought Midwestern sensibilities with him to the Land of Oz.

Just when you thought you knew all about Marc Piane… wrong. Chef Marc is in the kitchen with a bottle of wine and a dozen eggs. What could go wrong? Nothing! All is tasty in Food #3. Don’t miss this one.

Follow the adventures of a young man in the city as he discovers some hard and valuable lessons about truth. “The Altar Boy” is a message of love from father to son. I hope you enjoy it.

Please stop by the many articles featured throughout February. A summary of Food articles will begin in March. As a wise man once said “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”

In Search of the Lost Chord” – John Zielinski.

Why Baseball?” – Tom DeMichael 

Inspiration” – Billy Denk 

A Creative Life” – Erin Denk 

Feeding My Soul” – Steve Buschbacher 

A Radio Life” – Brule Eagan 

Origin” – Marc Piane 

Photography by Paul Chen

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May 3, 2017

Greetings, and welcome to the May edition of Central Standard Time. This issue characterizes all the diversity and insights one could hope for. We want to tickle your humor and intellect at the same time. As always, we get the conversation started and let you take it from there. This issues line-up of articles and essays is ready for a cup of your favorite coffee.

Our favorite baseball guy, Tom DeMichael, finally gives up his age. For all of us elder pretenders to the baseball diamond, Tom hits it out of the park with “The Game…In Another Way.”

We are so pleased to see John Zielinski return to the blog with his salient insights to the modern world. John examines the coming tech’ revolution in “It’s All Part of the Job.” Buff-up your resume’.

Steve Buschbacher talks Blues history and the recent loss of giants in our uniquely Chicagoan style in his essay “On Those Who Preceeded Us…”

From the Publisher’s Desk, we have a bleated birthday celebration for Edward “Duke” Ellington, born April 29, 1899. He remains one of the world’s greatest composers and innovators. Profiled in a re-print of an article from January 2015 (The Chicago Progressive) “Happy Birthday Duke…”

Current events in our troubled world take the stage in an opinion piece examining the harsh realities of political posturing, “A War of Errors.”

Grab a seat at the table. We are here to talk and entertain each other with thoughts and opinions.

April 16, 2017

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Welcome to a new edition of Central Standard Time. I am pleased to welcome back old friends, regular contributors, and some fresh talent. Grab your coffee and join us for comments, opinions, and interesting thoughts.

My friend Greg King is back with an observation on religion in today’s world with his essay, “Can We Talk?”

The bon vivant of South Texas, Brule Eagan, looks to his local politics for some contemporary perspectives in “The Trouble With Eddie.”

How fortunate we are to live in an urban environment brimming with the creative ethos. It is my pleasure to introduce Rebecca Francescatti. Rebecca’s art graces this issue’s cover.

I met this talented lady at a professional function in which she served as secretary and reporter. Her articles were very good. As I am always on the spy for exceptional writers, this was someone I needed to court for CST. The more you know of Rebecca, the more you see the essence of a complete artist. For some people in the world, the muse descends from Olympus and touches them on the forehead…”This is for you.” Writer of songs and insightful prose, and stunning artist, Rebecca is one of those people.

The SCIENCE page returns. Here is an essay on the fate of our species, “The Solar Federation.” I can promise my favorite page will get more attention in the coming months.

From the Publisher’s Desk, a long hard look at the myth and fate of one particular Arab Spring. “Out of Egypt…” examines the zero-sum game of power in the Middle East.

Here we go! Summer is pulling at our sleeve and the time is right for a moment of leisure and good reading.

 Rebecca “F” Francescatti is a performing songwriter, musician, artist and writer residing in Chicago.  Currently a student in the M.A. Counseling program at Northwestern University, she holds an M.A. in English Literature from DePaul University.  When not moonlighting with her bands Rebecca F. & The Memes or Night Jogger, you’ll find her serving the humanities in the fields of counseling and publishing.  

 

November –

GettyImages-855728_2640652aWhat a time to be alive! Let’s take a moment and contemplate the sweep of history unfolding before our eyes. The crystal ball of speculation grows murky as pundits, politicians, and the general electorate contemplate a future full of promise, or the need to stock food and water.

Through the coming weeks take a break and listen to your favorite music, draw a picture, sing a song, dance, sip your best wine, and read for escape and stimulation. Central Standard Time can help with reading part. Here is our new edition and it’s all about you, the reader.

David Edward Sims graces this publication for the first time. I can only hope it is the beginning of many more articles from this exceptionally talented man. David’s beat is the creative muse in all its forms and we are treated to an introspection of the spectacular Carmen McRea and the Triumph of the Lyric. Hear his interview program every Sunday morning at DePaul Radio – radio.depaul.edu

The round-table of political opinion may end up as kindling from the heat generated by our crew. Consider these offerings:

Marc Piane delivers a pair of essays. Marc continues his “Outside In” series with a new chapter, “Time.” Never at a loss for an eye-catching title, Marc embraces the philosophy of politics in “An Attempt at Cutting Through the Bullshit”…and cut he does.

John Zielinski clears away the campaign sensationalism by examining our constitution in “Decide!” Informed observation is John’s realm and it’s never stated better than in his article.

My friend Greg King returns to the pen with his essay “Rigged!” The title goes beyond the media blather and observes some of our election history.

Steve Buschbacher gives us a definitive down-ballot look at the congressional elections and the mandate for change in “Taking Back the Senate.” Steve’s detailed research and comprehensive presentation is second to none. A must-read.

The Zenpundit, author Mark Safranski, takes us to the cradle of self-government for an illuminating look at the writings of Greek historian, Polybius, and the contrast to today’s political atmosphere. Grab a seat for “This Election and the Nature of Republics”.

Regular contributor Brule Eagan can paint a word-picture like few others. Take a stroll through South Texas during the election season with “Una Palanca.”

Had enough? I hope not.

As Game #5 of the World Series goes to the Cubs, resident baseball guru Tom DeMichael celebrates the victory and looks to an exciting week ahead in “And They’re Heading For Home!

What would this publication be without Charley Krebs and his razor-sharp illustrations? Check his page for new drawings.

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And finally, visit the Publisher’s Desk for some obtuse thoughts on Optimism and Psychohistory.

Pull up a chair and pour a cup of your favorite coffee…join us for some good conversation.

September –

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Welcome to the September pages. This month we offer a diverse set of reading material from a lively and talkative group of very clever people. We mark the Equinox with balance and prudence…nah, let’s party!

Marc Piane continues his trek through the forest of self-awareness in a new chapter of “Outside In.” Grab your backpack, turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.

We are treated to more of Steve Buschbacher and his discovery of Philadelphia. Every evidence proves the truism “you can’t take Chicago out of the boy”…or something like that. His question is “Are You Comfortable?”

The Zenpundit, Mark Safranski, offers a wonderful review of  Bob Woodward’s new book “The Last of the President’s Men.” For those of us that lived this crisis in leadership, it’s easy to see the reflection of those times in our daily life. A must-read. More coming from Mark later this month.

The “Sports Oracle”, Tom DeMichael, runs down the state of baseball in Chicago as we head into the post-season. What a year it is turning out to be. Will the Bride’s Maid finally catch the bouquet? Tom gives up the details in “Here They Come, Rounding Third Base…

Charley Krebs graces several pages this month. Look for his current work on the “Publisher’s Desk” and his own page.

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I had the extreme pleasure of visiting with Brule Eagan recently. We are truly fortunate to have his intellect in our midst. That said, his essay speaks to “Writer’s Block.” Don’t ask, just read.

In an adjustment of format, a new page is added in place of my normal blog. The “Publisher’s Desk leaves our front page free to summarize and tag the content for each writer, each month. Navigation will be a breeze and indexing will allow a larger readership. This month is an indulgence in casual conversation: Genius and the Jester, and Great Expectations.

Drop us a line on the CONTACT page and help us improve your reading experience.

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A mid-summer heatwave in my Chicago neighborhood is a unique event. It’s the hot of concrete and brick radiating thermal energy in every direction…outside, inside, through walls, drifting past my door en route the second floor; a building-sized convection oven is the only legitimate description. It’s the heat of Milwaukee Avenue’s six lanes of baked pavement, compounded by a thousand internal combustion engines. Yes, it is warm.

Many years ago I abandoned air conditioning. I cope with a mechanism involving darkness and hibernation. Simply close the blinds and draw the curtains in my tall Victorian windows in order to eliminate radiant heat. Each of my small rooms has a ceiling fan to roil the muggy air, yet there remains confusion about the optimum configuration of spin. Does drawing cool air from the floor make more sense than driving down the heat layer at the ceiling? Every once in a while I change the direction and it doesn’t seem to matter. Just keep the air moving. “Daylight is a bitch”- Count Dracula.

My morning shower is an experiment in entropy. The illusion of rinsing sweat from my body and enjoying a moment of cool arid pleasure is lost with the realization there is never truly a moment without a drip of moisture creeping down my face, in or out of the spray. The water offers only momentary temperature relief and the bath towel may as well be a plastic bag. We earthlings exist in an “ocean of air”: this is proof. I move from one state of super-saturation to the next. Sweat, water, sweat…it’s all the same mass of wet air with only an occasional change in density.

Dinner is a surreal event. My bachelor regimen stores personal-size portions of food in individual freezer bags ready for quick thaw and prep. Currently, chicken is in abundance. A plan forms for two frozen chicken breasts and a jar of Trader Joe’s Garlic Sauce in the slow-cooker. Almost zero effort and a small heat footprint is perfect for this situation. Upon removing food from the freezer, there is spontaneous temptation. I hold the frozen bags against my cheeks and then massage my temples. I find a smooth spot and gently hold the icy filets against my eyes. With chin to chest, I rub the upper Trapezius muscles of my neck, left and right, up and down, and an involuntary groan escapes my lips.

My prep area looks through an open window and there was my neighbor, having a smoke on her porch, staring. “Hi, Delores.” She extinguished the cigarette and retreated indoors without a word. Carry on.

The key is to limit exertion of any kind. I sit still and catch up on a mountain of neglected reading, make a to-do list (with no hope of completion), and drink cold lemon-water. A check of the weather forecast predicts coming relief, a summer storm, brief and spectacular, within the hour. Let’s hope the neighborhood fares well in the shower, we can both use another thorough rinse. Soon, as predicted, the ambient light dims and the clouds lower in the sky. A stillness falls and in the quiet I can hear the grind of a dozen window air conditioners mixed with the infernal screeching of the cicadas. “Stillness” in the city is a relative concept.

Suddenly, a breeze. The cool gust feels like a kiss on the back of my neck. A shiver runs through my body, travels down the spine to exit the ventilation ports on my Keds. I close my eyes an assume the posture of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, arms spread wide, and allow the new air to circulate my being. At that moment there is a rumble of thunder. Controlling the elements like this will take practice.

  • Joe Tortorici

Look East, Look West…

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The intent of this site is to suggest more than a solitary blogger’s view of the world. Central Standard Time exists to be a catalyst for timely discussions and a showcase for contemporary arts. Impetus for this effort echoes the pivotal era of the Chicago Literary Renaissance.

Rising from the Great Fire of 1871, Chicago embraced the industrial revolution and the fundamental shift of American life from a rural to urban environment. In step with this cultural evolution came a wellspring of creativity spanning the intellectual and artistic spectrum that continued through the mid-twentieth century. It fostered the Literary Realism period in both fiction and non-fiction, and the ascendency of topical columnists writing for the myriad newspapers of the day. The Jazz Age was about to transform Chicago and the world. Art Nouveau gave way to Picasso and Duchamp; the Modern Age was born.

I stand in awe of the diversity during this period and how Chicago helped shape American literature. Henry Fuller and Theodore Dreiser wrote novels defining Midland Realism; prolific commentators and humorists George Ade and Eugene Field gave new stimulus to the daily read; Finley Dunne and his “Mr. Dooley” narrative spoke to social and political issues from a seat in his South Side Irish pub (of course); Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, and the immortal Ben Hecht influenced generations of writers; poets Carl Sandberg, Harriet Monroe, and Gwendolyn Brooks bridged the racial divide; Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” remains required reading in every American Literature course; in our time, Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, and Jack Mabley sustained the gritty narrative of urban life while Erma Bombeck made us smile.

Within this multiplicity were common threads. Each of these intellectual giants created his own world by authoring plays, poetry, political commentary, neighborhood novels, and an enduring slang narrative. The age of compartmentalized sterility was more than a century in the future. Newspapers and periodicals served as incubators for numerous literary careers; The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Post, Monroe’s Poetry, Chicago Journal, Chicago Sun, the South Side Writer’s Group, Chicago Sun Times, and Floyd Dell’s Friday Literary Review. The new millennium offers a unique method for sharing information. We would be remiss to not use this broad avenue for illumination and entertainment.

In this spirit, Central Standard Time hopes to carry on the task of publishing compelling stories, thoughtful opinions, visual and aural beauty, laughter, and everything else that makes us human.

Look East…it is where the engine of our economy resides and our government refines the art of politics. It is the location of Boston and Philadelphia: cities every American should visit. It is a polyglot center of gravity and a destination for the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Look West…the very essence of “pioneer” was born en route to the Pacific. A great Midwestern rite-of-passage is the iconic “road trip west” and one does not cross the Rockies, at any geographical point, and remain unchanged.

Look Within. All roads meet here. Join us.

…Joe Tortorici