All through the weekend of the Chicago social I felt like a walking incarnation of ZZ Top lyrics. Let's start here:
Jesus just left Chicago And he's bound for New Orleans -- ZZ Top, "Jesus Just Left Chicago"
Jesus just left Chicago... but whether or not he's bound for New Orleans I don't know. Last I saw he was going back to Dallas with Drew. Drew had tried to rid himself of the lovely brooch of faith that was given to him at the Vegas Social by foisting it off on Kenn, but God and fate and a few people whom I won't name conspired to stick it back in his suitcase for the trip home.
Now, since you, dear reader, may not give a diddly about one of the best things that ever came out of Texas I'll provide you with the Wheel of Time-esque introduction you may have come to expect for DFSes:
A wind blew across the waters of Lake Michigan, stirring the choppy surf and sending it crashing against the breakers. It blew across the grasses of Hyde Park, stiff and brown in their winter dormancy, and whistled between the apartment towers where we stayed for the weekend. All this wind came as no surprise, though. We were, after all, in The Windy City. Chicago.
Okay, enough of that. Back to normal mode now.
There are several accounts of what happened in Chicago. I saw these folks post their recollections to the newsgroup and have archived copies here:
This page is adapted from my newsgroup posting "Jesus Just Left Chicago".
Now, if you've just looked at the memoirs from Mike, Kenn, or Steve you may be wondering what new insights my memoirs might possibly offer. Well, those other memoirs give only half the story.
You see, this social was sort of like the coming together of two disparate clans -- sort of a rasfwrj version of the Hatfields and the McCoys getting together for a barbecue. Mike, Kenn, Steve, and Maggie represent one of the sides. Call them the Lakeview clan. They gathered at Kenn's place before and after the main social and had fascinating experiences such as helping Kenn furnish his apartment which the rest of us did not share.
I was part of the other side -- the Hyde Park clan -- which also included Hawk, Pam Korda, John Novak, and Drew Gillmore. We had some things in common with the other clan (namely lunch and dinner on Sunday) but we also had experiences different from theirs which enabled us to continue a blood feud with them for 75 years. Well, okay, our clan rivalry wasn't as bad as that. Our feuding was limited to drawing unflattering pictures of them on the restroom walls. Or not.
So while the North Side Gang was spending hours on Friday night hunting for parking spaces and sitting outside of Kenn's apartment waiting for him to come home from the office, a bunch of us down on the South Side started gettin' it on. Hawk and I arrived at Chez Korda at about 5 and politely accepted our kind host's invitation to make ourselves at home by strewing our personal possessions all over her apartment and putting our feet up on the furniture.
Novak came by about an hour later and was promptly attacked by Hawk's hawk. Hawk's hawk is a plushy hand-puppet of a red tailed hawk. It looks a lot like Hawk, except its butt is so big you can shove your hand far enough up its ass to twiddle its brains around. Or, put another way, you can shove its head so far down its throat that its brains come out its ass. I demonstrated the concept both ways before Hawk saw what I was doing, shrieked, and confiscated the toy. Novak and I shared laughter about my proof of the topological equivalence of head and anus and demonstration of craniorectal inversion.
After a dinner of deep dish pizza, Pam and Hawk drove out to pick up Drew Gillmore from the airport, leaving Novak and me to watch Pam's place. Watch it we did. We even watched the phone when it rang. When it rang a second time, Novak and I looked at each other wondering if we should answer it. I decided the answer to the unasked question was "Yes" and so I grabbed the phone on ring 3. "Hi, this is Pam's apartment. Pam's not here."
"Uh, we're the people who're robbing her place. She's not here right now, but if you'd like to leave a message I'll write it down and tape it to the wall behind where her refrigerator used to be."
"Well, this is Pam's mother..."
...At which point Novak burst out in laughter, ruining any chance I had of fooling Mrs. Korda into think her daughter's apartment was being robbed by inept but friendly burglars. My carefully constructed lie in tatters, I handed the phone over to Novak to take a message.
Another call came before Pam got back. I left it for Novak to answer instead of trying another lie. Hey, Pam, I think Novak gave you the message Friday night, but just in case he didn't: Remember to send some guy named Josh a postcard about something.
Pam and Hawk returned with Drew before I could inflict much more damage to Pam's personal relationships (think The Dinner Game). The 5 of us stayed up late talking, drinking, throwing the hawk around, and trying to sing along with songs Drew played on his guitar.
Somewhere in the course of evening I helped Novak escape from his bondage sneakers. See, his new pair of sneakers had these silly zippers on them, and when he crossed his ankles the zipper pulls tended to get tangled up with the shoelaces, locking his shoes together. I asked Pam to lend me a pair of tinsnips to fix the problem, but Pam objected on the grounds that me going after Novak with a pair of tinsnips would likely lead to violation of her Apartment Rule #1: No Blood On The Carpet. I managed to get the job done just fine with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
Novak bailed at about 1am and the rest of us stayed up until about 2 before hunkering down for the night. We awoke the following morning sometime not too long before the crack of noon and started getting ready for the main event: the DFS lunch at 2pm.
When you get up in the morning and the light hurts your head The first thing you do when you get up out of bed Is hit that street a-runnin' and try to meet the masses And go get yourself some cheap sunglasses. -- ZZ Top, "Cheap Sunglasses"
Saturday was a rough morning for me. I woke up and the light hurt my head. No doubt that was because I'd left my sunglass back home in California and was in the habit of waking up at the crack of noon. We hit the streets a-runnin' trying to catch the train on time but, alas, we were about 60 seconds late. We ended up having to take the city bus. I'll spare you the lyrics from the ZZ Top song "Waitin' for the Bus" since they're so repetitive.
We got to Emilio's Tapas in Lincoln Park a bit before 2 and met
up with the
Hatfieldsdarkfriends from Kenn's apartment. As
we were taking our leisurely time introducing ourselves and
blockading the door to the restaurant, a bunch of people snuck
past us and stole our table. They turned out to be Ken Miller,
Diana Miller, Larry Hughes, Sue Hughes, and Linda(?) Hughes, the
non-clan-affiliated DFS attendees.
Mike Kozlowski's GQ-esque attire drew many comments. Hawk thought it was stuffy and threatened repeatedly to cut off his necktie. I thought he was looking pretty dapper so I summoned my reserves of gaidar to explain to her the finer points of men's fashions and matching colors.
Well I was movin' down the road in my V-8 Ford, I had a shine on my boots, I had my sideburns lowered. With my New York brim and my gold tooth displayed, Nobody give me trouble cause they know I got it made. I'm bad, I'm nationwide. -- ZZ Top, "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide"
Mike certainly looked better than in the picture he posted online earlier this year. I was almost envious. I mean, I was pretty stylin' there, what with a shine on my boots and my sideburns lowered. Just give me a a New York brim (whatever the fuck that is) and a gold tooth to display, and nobody'd have given me trouble because they'd've known I've got it made. But Mike made me want to go all the way (like I did in this picture).
(And yes, I am nationwide, as I've been to darkfriend socials in all 4 timezones this year.)
After pretty much settling our wardrobe envy, we turned our attentions to deciphering the menu. "Tapas" is Spanish for "snacks", I believe. A tapas bar is a place that serves small dishes, and it's expected that each person will order a few and pass them around the table. So it's basically like ordering a bunch of appetizers at a regular restaurant-- except instead of getting stuff like buffalo wings, jalapeno poppers, and cheese bread, you get dishes with artfully sliced peppers, spiced fried chicken, and gourmet cheese sliced onto focaccia.
One of the more popular dishes at lunch turned out to be dates wrapped in bacon. "The cook's back there porking your date," I deadpanned at one end of the table. Nobody so much as smiled. So I went to the other end and tried it again. Maggie, the Millers, and the Hughes all cracked up laughing. Tough crowd back down at the other end.
After lunch we did the typical DFS thing of standing in front of the restaurant arguing about where to go next. By superposition of all preferences we came up with the consensus statement: "We will go to a comfortable bar that has a pool table and isn't crowded or noisy." Yeah, right. A bar that isn't noisy. Well, we found one that was fairly non-noisy -- as far as bars go -- but that wasn't good enough for the crowd who wanted to hear a pin drop. No sooner had Drew and I started a few pints of peer and gotten into the grove playing 8-ball than everyone else was ready to leave and stand in front of the place arguing about where to go next again. It was finally decided that we'd gather back at Kenn's apartment, despite its lack of food, beverages, kitchen utensils, and furniture because, heck, at least it was quiet.
Kenn's apartment is a real trip. Or, rather, it's a great place to have an LSD trip. It's a walkup in a 100 year old brownstone and Kenn's just had the walls painted blood red. There are hardwood floors and trim, but no furniture to sit on... unless you count the coffee table and end table as seats. There's a spare room in back with a hole in the ceiling and extra locks on the door. And the phone rings twice each hour -- at 13 and 43 past. I'm just glad Kenn didn't invite us down to the basement or suggest, "Hey, I know, let's do a ritual!" ...Because in Kenn's apartment building, it would have worked.
During the course of the evening we talked, played card games, smoked ("Hey, Kenn, you going out for another fag?") and drank. After a few hours we realized we needed food, so we set out on the quest to find dinner which has already been hotly debated in another thread. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we ended up in a hotdog/hamburgers/gyros shop. And then we wailed and gnashed teeth while eating. The oddest part of the dinner experience was a game I introduced: non sequitur. The point is to say something as totally unrelated to the previous conversation as possible. Put another way, it's a game of "Tell me what this doesn't remind you of" or "What's the last thing that comes to mind when I say X?" It was funny for about 2 minutes.
If you see me walkin' down the line With my favorite honky tonk in mind, Well, I'll be there around suppertime With my can of dinner and a bunch of fine Beer drinkers and hell raisers, yeah. Uh-huh, baby, don't you wanna come with me? -- ZZ Top, "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers"
After dinner I agitated in favor of making a group trip to a blues club. Remember, I still had a shine on my boots and my sideburns lowered, so I was lookin' to start something. But nobody else was into the idea of clubbing. They all wanted to visit a used book store. Fuckin' geeks.
We retired back to Kenn's place and hung out some more. Drew and Steve threw money at Maggie's margarita glass while Kenn smoked and I drank. Pam and Novak sat in the windows and hocked loogies at people on the street below. Hawk napped (and temporarily provided a target more interesting than Maggie's beverage) while Mike lurked. Imagine all that done up as a still picture of us... and then Richard Dawson shouts, "Let's begin the family feud!" The bunch of us came out of our picturesque poses and split back up into the Hyde Park and Lakeview clans and went home for the night.
Mike was generous enough to give a ride to all of us not crashing at Kenn's place for the night. That was 6 of us, including Mike. That required some creative seating in Mike's car. Drew, being widely recognized as the most creative (and most slim and flexible and the last person to shout "shotgun!") was promptly volunteered to sit on someone's lap. He ended up in the back seat, stretched across the laps of Hawk, Pam, and me.
There were a lot of cops in the area, so I told Drew he needed to lie low lest any of the police see our technically illegal seating arrangement and stop us for questioning. (That would've been great-- the first DFS broken up by the cops.) Drew dutifully put his head down in my lap where the cops couldn't see it. "Is it okay to come up now?" he asked. "Yeah." Then a few moments later: "Here's another cop. You'd better go down again."
A few minutes later we left Novak by the side of the road (lucky for him it was at the parking garage where he'd left his car) so the rest of us rearranged ourselves more comfortably for the remaining drive back to Pam's place. Mike's car is downright roomy with only the specified maximum number of people in it.
The following day, Sunday, Mike was back in cheeseland, the Northside Gang was helping Kenn furnish his apartment again, and Novak came back over to hang out before Hawk, Drew, and I had to fly back home. We played a few games of Get Out (motto: "Your friends are all trying to get lives and you're dumb enough to race them") and Guillotine ("Where chopping off heads is all in a day's work") before hitting the road.
All in all, this was the most fun I've had at a DFS since Vegas. And I really mean that, even though this is the only DFS I've been to since Vegas. Let's do it again!