On November 29, 2010, for her 61st birthday, I gave my personal assistant Mary my car. Because of downturns in the economy, and in particular the real estate trade, I had not been able to pay her for five months, so the car, a twelve year old BMW 3 series, was a fair (in my mind) trade-off. Although I write poetry, there is no money in that. I am reminded of Robert Graves' statement "There is no money in poetry, but then again there is no poetry in money either." I do not have the patience for college instructing either; the politics are ultra-rough, because the stakes involved in La Academe are so outlandishly small academics do have to do something to amuse themselves. So peddle bricks and dirt I do.
On December 5, 2010 on my 53rd birthday my Illinois state driver's licence expired. I switched over to an ID card, and let the driving ticket go the way of all things. In the same Thompson Center in Chicago, I managed to snag a "Chicago" CTA pass and rode the 146 bus to my home on Marine Drive.
The 146 CTA bus is an express bus that serves Chicago's North Side. It was one I used for many years when I worked in the Gold Coast area. One of the leading lights to ride the 146 was the late author Studs Terkel, who lived a few blocks from me. If I managed to catch the bus right at 10:17 in front of my building, there was Studs, holding court with the regular bus patrons en route to the WFMT studios where he worked. Studs and I became, well, not quite friends, but very friendly. Once, he had me on his radio program to read poetry & talk about the collision between the arts & business. Since I have made the call to walk away from the car world, I have taken the 146 downtown a few times. I half expect to see old Studs, red plaid shirt under brown coat there, telling stories of Bughouse Square, old time radio, and the like. Maybe now it's my turn.
During the course of 2011, I am not going to drive a car. From time to time I will share with you my tales of "Car Less in Chi-Town." What the hell, right.