Pimp to the mouth-breathers

Eating Your Way Through War (Or, How to Cook a Pigeon)


I’m so hungry right now I’m eating my fingers. Chowing down on that particular appetizer reminded me of M.F.K. Fisher’s essay, How To Cook a Wolf, about surviving both wartime and the horrible rations that come with it.

We’re at war right now. Maybe that explains the eating of the fingers.

Anyway, the woman loved the heck out of eating pigeons. And even as a vegetarian, I can’t blame her. It seems like a great idea. There are a million of them in Chicago and a lot of hungry people.

Why, with a few shots from the BB gun and a mess of butter, we all could be dining on roast pigeon a la Logan Square. Here is Fisher’s recipe, note the pigeon is referred to as a “her.” Hmmm.. (Also, if you’re all out of BB gun, feel free to substitute your cold murderous hands)

Roast Pigeon

1 pigeon
1 lemon
2 slices fat bacon (or 2 tablespoons butter or oil)
red wine (or cider, beer, orange juice, tomato juice, stock…) about a cupful
salt, pepper

Melt the fat [if bacon is used, cook it until crisp, and then remove it until time to serve it alongside, over, or even under the little bird.] See that the bird is well plucked, and rub her thoroughly with a cut lemon and the seasoning. Push the parsley into the belly. Braise well in the hot fat. 

Add the liquid, put on the lid quickly, and cook slowly for about 20 minutes, basting two or three times. If you are going to eat the bird cold, put into a covered dish so that it will not dry out. [And if hot, make a pretty slice of toast for each bird, butter it well (or spread it with a bit of good
pâté de foies for Party!), and place the bird upon it. Swirl about one cup of dry good wine and 2 tablespoons butter in the pan, for 4 birds, and spoon this over each one immediately, and serve.]

My favorite part of all that is: make a pretty slice of toast for each bird, butter it well…and place the bird upon it.

Like little coffins for a pigeon funeral. Why play with your food when you can give it last rites instead?

Ode to Llewyn Davis


Oh Llewyn Davis!
If only you were more interesting and less long
And those songs, my god.
The ears can only take so much T-Bone Burnett
same sounding folky music
Jerk off
Before blood begins its merry journey down the lobes.

I love T-Bone Llewyn Davis, don’t get me wrong.
He’s a big juicy steak that usually tastes like Oh Brother Where Art Thou? and The Big Lebowski and that great Johnny Cash movie with the brunette Reese Witherspoon.
But this time my teeth met an overcooked hunk of someone whose fat must have been sapped away by other, better-arranged movie soundtracks.

And why, Llewyn, the lackadaisical David Mamet homage?
Were words other than “fuck” busy that night?
Were their dance cards all filled up?
And what about talented writing?
Did its vacation coincide with all non-fuck related words?

And finally sweet, sweet Llewyn
That random ass John Goodman car scene
That made neither good nor man of anyone doomed to grace its frame
The many rambling mumblings
The opposite of saying something
The synonym of suck.

A scene, Llewyn, which like the movie’s other parts
Drives the lonely road to nowhere-ville.
Indeed, it was the finale’s cowboy ass-kicking
For which I did greatly pine.
For any enemy of yours, Llewyn
Is sure a bosom friend of mine. 

Conversation with a Shampoo Bottle


Today the Herbal Essences bottle was saying all this stuff about Ancient Greeks believed roses became red from the blood of Aphrodite, who pricked her feet on a thorn trying to save her beloved Adonis.

Wow shampoo bottle, I said back. That’s heavier than the usual rinse when ready. What gives?

But that must have hit a nerve because then it started back with all that jazz about rose hips and jojoba.

And Jesus Looked Down Upon ChiBeria

in chicago
we live in igloos

but I’m pretty sure we’re not alive. 
surviving. is more like it.
like jesus christ get me out of here

only jesus is like, man, it’s freezing
i’m not touching that scene

like, you may have the face of god,
but you sure chose a goofy ass place to call home.

that’s what the almighty silently thinks at Chicagoans as he sets another blizzard cloud on a crash course with lake michigan

shit man, even the devil’s got that warm thing figured out.

i’d sell my soul for 10 degrees
i’d get on my knees

but they’re buried two feet deep in ice

instead i’ll just fall backwards and watch the white stuff blow
tell the lord to take a hike
and make my angels in the snow.

Time is finite for all of us, whether one of us goes or everybody goes, each of us only dies once. We may be having a party on the Titanic but it’s still a party.

—The insatiable, ingratiable, Robyn Hitchcock

New year

I bought some flowers yesterday with the last $5 in my wallet. Out with the old yellow moldy flowers, in with the snappy purple ones. I’m not particularly religious, but I’ll take a healthy dose of symbolism any day. Last night I was at a party where people were writing their 2014 wishes on pieces of paper and burning them. Then some of them laced their drinks with the ashes.

I’m not doing that, said one girl who spoke fluent french and held a poorly made Manhattan.

She showed me her wish. It said something truly merry, like out of Dickens. “A happy new year, and all our health in 2014,” or something. A wish for us all.

But I don’t really remember. It was her secret wish after all and anyway, I’d had a whiskey or two. 

Bathrooms of Chicago

Well there’s the northshore sect, the many mirrored one at that asian place along Broadway and Belmont. So much self staring, angling, turns and double turns and faceted figurings out while pretending to scrub soap off one’s hands, but instead just hitting the air dryer for effect.

There’s the pulley doors on the far north north side, clark and much norther of Foster. Weighted doors with white string that snap back into place in order to keep out the strollered mothers, ipods strapped to their hands. Maternal women wishing hard for older days, longer hair, less babies. The little sinks and stacked paper rolls. The smell of breakfast creeping in and mixing, familiarly, with the smell of shit.  

And there’s the very small one, that matchstick Milwaukee place, an angled loser of a street which leads and gives up and then leads again in the wrong direction. Bathroom bigger than the place, crawling over misfitted drop out people who beg to tell you stories and then, insisting anyway, hurl ex-wife wonders and tales of times without the phones, without the boxy brief computer, the better days, they not-so-silently weep.

Sky high ones whose floor length panels block waitresses keeping pace outside, fingering credit cards belonging to men whose names are memorized with passion. And gross ones with bad lighting and bad-er heat, gas stations and pan asian places where food smell and bathroom wall are one, a zen-like fusing, veritable yin yang of in and out holes, life and death creeping up from the sewage tanks we all eek out of in the end. 

All on the northside it seems. So point taken back. Not the bathrooms of Chicago, just the safely lit lovely bathrooms of the north. It seems my life experiences are not as mirrored as the bathrooms I frequent. The shit boxes I shut myself into are one too many.  

Big Whales

Last night I dreamt of whales in the aquarium. My old boss wasn’t in the publishing industry anymore, her family owned a zoo and she gave me the tour. In one cage, a snake had been accidentally set up with a lizard. The lizard ate the snake. In another room, a large tank contained a killer whale and a shark. They didn’t bother each other. Another cage had a five foot tall Trex.

Like the tornado and large wave dreams before it, the good old reoccurring whales in the aquarium dream seems to be about uncontrolled big, looming things. There was a point last night where I woke up from the dream and didn’t know where or when I was. I saw a room unfamiliar and strange. A life that I didn’t want to claim as mine.


"Yeah, da moon is full," says the black woman with the Jamaican accent in the emergency room. "My daughter, she always say, ‘Mom, mom, look at da moon. She want me to be careful. Yeah, I tell ya, the emergency room is always more active when it’s full. More accidents."

She says this because my dad is nervously talking about the full moon that morning as we wait for my mom to be wheeled in from a cat scan she needed after the car accident she and my sister were in. A woman, attempting to cross two lanes of traffic, plowed into the side door of the car holding the two of them.

My sister Tess sits next to me, uninsured and holding a hurt right shoulder.

They roll my mom in and she is disoriented and shaking. I feel sick and then so happy to see her I could just die. I had colored her hair at the house days before and I make some attempt at lightness on this, telling her it’s good I colored her hair so she can look pretty at the hospital.

And it strikes me how pretty she does look. She looks beautiful. She’s 60, but laying there she could be 40 or 20 or any age, or no age.

She’s shaking because she’s cold and so I take off my down coat and lay it over her in the gurney.

The Riley’s are a superstitious bunch and so we all start exchanging stories about how we knew this was going to happen.

"I dreamt Tess died a couple of days ago," my sister Fiona says.

"Chloe, didn’t you dream about mom dying?" my dad says.

And that was true. Earlier this month, I dreamt my mom had died suddenly. She was wrapped in a sheet and I wanted to look at her but couldn’t. My dad and sisters and I sat stunned in the other room. Then, by the end of the dream, she came back to life. Or had never died in the first place. And we all jumped and laughed and cried and sat around the table, just like a family again.

My dad’s nervous and we’re all nervous and so he starts quoting Titanic. “Now we wait,” he says. “Wait to live, wait to die.”

And then I repeat that really loudly and my dad’s laughing and telling me to keep my voice down, for god’s sake we’re in a hospital and then we’re all laughing and so happy that no one’s dead or badly hurt. That, for the moment, we wait to live.

My Legs

The left one has a purple-y brown spot the size of a big quarter just below the kneecap from falling off my bike junior year of college. I had attached the bike lock too close to the handlebars and it flipped the thing. My knee was bleeding. An older man saw and helped me walk the 20 feet or so to my door. I started crying because I felt so vulnerable, sprawled and bleeding and trapped under the bike.

If I straighten that leg as much as I can, you’ll see a little imprint on the upper kneecap, closer to the thigh. That’s from climbing on the rocks behind my family’s old house with my friend Alane when I was six or seven. My dad came, picked me up and put me right in the bathtub, blood and tears swirling everywhere. 

On the right leg, just above the inner ankle, there is the very faint brown circle from boarding a motorcycle with exposed legs. This was sometime after college with my friend Steve’s dad in Rockford. There was a ton of pain when it happened, but I was embarrassed to say something to his dad and so waited until after the thirty minute ride to tell Steve. 

A few freckles and several tiny mystery scars make up the rest of the landscape on the right. 

Strong, firm, olive colored. A little more weight on the upper thighs than years past.

My legs.