Tuesday, July 26, 2005

On the bus today I saw a man with a tattoo on his face. It occupied about as much space as a mutton chop sideburn would and it was a line drawing of a rat. The rat's nose was pointed towards the man's ear, the tail curled down towards his chin. The guy was late 30's or early 40's and the tattoo had that blue, blurry quality that aging, homemade tattoos can get.
It seems like a rat facial tattoo is a goal-oriented tattoo. It is there to please a friend, perhaps a gang, or to alienate someone. Maybe he snitched and this was his punishment, to go through life branded as a rat for all to see.
The man was riding with a woman and a little girl in a flowery dress. At one point the girl climbed into the rat man's lap and put her arms around his neck, tucking her head under his chin in that way that kids do when they want to feel secure. I was glad that somebody saw him as safe, not scary. Also glad that I wasn't obliged to be that person, of course. But glad for him all the same.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

This may be my weirdest nightmare ever.
Last night, I had a dream where a brassy woman wearing too much makeup came up to me in a park and said that Karl Rove had told her that I told him she and I met in Tennessee.
I knew that I was in trouble and began trying to spin my way out of the situation. When I was done I looked down to see that the belt had been removed from my pants (which were now around my ankles) and the belt was holding me to a tree.
It had all been a prank by this woman and Rove...the accusation was just a ruse to distract me so that I could be tied to a tree. For no purpose other than simple humiliation.
Fucking Karl Rove.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I missed an important anniversary recently-the 25th anniversary of The Blues Brothers Movie. Which I have never seen. I say that and people are shocked and amazed, like I'm missing out on something truly wonderful. Perhaps I am but so far I'm not feeling the loss.

A reporter from the Chicago Sun Times went to the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, IL which is where the movie's shopping mall sequence was filmed. Harvey was already something of a dump and the mall had been closed for a year when the movie set up shop. The article had all sorts of cool info in it, for instance the extras kept stealing stuff from the sets.
The Dixie Square Mall is still standing and, as you might imagine, is fairly horrifying inside. The story mentioned offhandedly that the mall is beloved by enthusiasts of dead malls.
Dead malls???
"I calmly and politely told them I was working on a website devoted to the decline of retail ventures in suburbia" notes one dead mall enthusiast, writing on deadmalls.com about the cops who wanted to know why he pulled into the parking lot of the Dixie Square Mall. He has lots of pictures and is excited to find some original signage in a Sears.
The site has a map of the U.S. which takes you to dead mall info throughout this great nation. Good to know that 100 Oaks which I remember as a shitty mall in Nashville as evolved into a shitty big-box retailer. And our friends to the North aren't left out either...The Galleria in London, Ontario gets a mention.
Deadmalls.com is not the only game in town. Casino Death Watch, while much less stylish than deadmalls is pretty much what the title suggests. Groceteria looks at supermarkets from the 1920s to the 1970s. And DefunctParks.com talks about amusement parks that aren't here anymore.
I checked out the Defunct Parks site to read about Riverview, an amusement park that used to be on the north side of the city (and which now is, ta da, a strip mall.) Open from 1904 to 1967, I've seen it in documentaries and heard about it with some misty nostalgia.
Laura Flamm, writing in what was apparently an A.P. History paper published on the site, paints a less rosy picture.
One of the midway games that started out as a "Dunk the Bozo the Clown" game in which contestants threw balls at a target that would release a man into a tank of water turned into "Dunk the Nig**r" during the 1940’s.
African American men were hired to sit in the tanks and taunt white passersby, who often would throw the balls at the African American in the tank rather than at the target. The title of the game was later changed to the more politically correct "African Dip" and was eventually closed by Schmidt in the late 1950’s after much pressure from the NAACP.
The game left a lasting effect, as well. It allowed ethnically diverse Chicagoans to define themselves as "white" and to develop a sense of racial solidarity that "obscured the particulars of their own ethnic backgrounds." This development served to further segregate the city.
Fights sprang up more frequently at Riverview after this, and by the 1960’s Riverview required its own police force.
"African Dip"?