Monday, February 3, 2014 – Homeward Bound – trainspotting Chicago

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Good afternoon.

On the kinda spooky 3:55PM out of the City. The NFI is 3.

I am in the third car from the front. Not the front car, which was my old stomping grounds. Not the quiet car. This car is new to me, but because of logistics, may become my new neighborhood. Let us meet the neighbors, shall we?

I’m already pleased with the new environment. In the other jump seat, there sits a professional painter and his bald friend. The painter reminds me, based on his hair and beard, of Robert E. Lee, but with a decidedly Chicagoan accent. His friend looks like the lead singer for Midnight Oil. Big, tall, bald, older than the guy in the music video for “Beds Are Burning”, and also with a decidedly Chicagoan accent.

I chatted with them briefly about the weather and this evening’s incoming snow. A half-inch. Wet. Stressful for a bad back or heart, but generally same-old-same-old if you are a seasoned shoveller or snowblower aficionado.

They looked at me funny and went back to their conversation about work rules and better pay. Evidently they are not used to talking to friendly brown people. Best to expose them in a neutral environment first. The hipster hat on a goateed fellow who looks like “one of the eleven” and who doesn’t have an accent (unless required for comedy) is disarming to the unexposed. Tensions were lifted when the conductor (a buddy of mine) shook my hand and chatted with me about family.

There is a fellow sitting next to me who reminds me of an amalgam of Fred Gwynn and David Letterman. There was a time, in the late 90’s, when David was starting to gray. He had the brown-blonde hair on top but silver-gray sides creeping up, almost like a toupee. This fellow has that hair color. Yet, it’s not quite gray on the sides and the top is still holding the amber-gold color of his original hair.

He is reading a book (an actual book) which looks a lot like the old dirty magazines you would find at an old-style newsstand. Penthouse Forum. But, on further inspection, it’s Reader’s Digest. How sad. Back in the heyday, Reader’s Digest was a spine volume, novella dimensioned, 100 page glossy mini-mag. Now it looks like a pamphlet put out by the Mormons or something. Where have out institutions gone?

There is a member of Mumford and Sons up top, dressed in a prison day-glow, long sleeved T-shirt. He’s looking out the window, holding a plastic to-go cup with a double Old Crow on the rocks, and wistfully contemplating the bygone days of the hippie movement.

Also here are a young Robert Reich (clean shaven), Grandma Moses, The Big Lebowski, and Aiden Quinn. All are armed.

Happy Monday. Safe Travels.

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