Mishegas Master

My journal of life and those lives that surround & influence me, both positively & negatively

Tuesday, April 26

Tales Of Texas-Tale 2 (Growing Pains)

It was 1992.

A good year to say the least. I was working full time in a profession that I loved. Journalism. I was a working journalist, working for a small weekly in Melrose Park, Illinois. Home to ministers and mafia men. Though it didn’t pay me much, it still paid me something. I was in a loving relationship with a woman whom I would have given the shirt off my back to her and anything else for that matter.

I wrote poetry about and to her every single day. I must have written over 500 poems at least. I was a hopeless romantic. To this day, I can barely find a handful of these poems. Most of them are tucked away somewhere, I hope to find them one day.

I’d met her at my last undergrad college I attended, Columbia in Chicago. I was working at the Chicago Health Department in the city of Chicago in the fall of 1988, as part of an internship for my journalism requirement at school. I was still publishing Cops Hate Poetry, my poetry fanzine, in fact she was coming to photograph me for a story an unknown reporter for the Columbia Chronicle on my poetry fanzine had actually written.

In those days I had to dress a bit more proper. Trimmed beard and mustache. Combed hair. Slacks, a collared shirt, sturdy shoes, dark socks and sometimes, a conservative tie. It was just the way of the world. And if I were to represent the city of Chicago, that’s the only way I could.

She came to my office and asked to see me. I looked at her once and know I was in trouble. She was so sweet and nice and kind to me, as she took my photos, but then I always thought photographers had to be in those days just to capture their subjects. I assumed incorrectly.
As I knocked off my internship for that evening, we walked back to the el. I told her my life story and a lot of little stories to boot. She was the first woman who didn’t tire from my stories.
 I was so pleased. She never seemed to tire of them, even when I asked her 30 times a week.

“No,” she said. 

And always like that.

The next school year, in the fall of 1989 up through graduation in 1990, we worked together on the college newspaper, she in the photographer capacity, while I played office manager and eventually switched over to cub reporter, investigative and entertainment reporter. My internship ended with the city and I received a much more lucrative internship with Variety a larger-than-life entertainment weekly, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere in the United States and globally. I wrote film box office stats for weekly Variety in New York and for daily Variety in Los Angeles. Faxed all of my stories in. Sill no Internet at this point of in the universe.
I was a full time student, pulling down 40 hours a week in my internship, while another 40 hours at the newspaper. I was 26.
Even though I was intensely dating a Japanese woman whom I adored at the time and in a 2-year relationship, she, meaning the photographer, remained my closest friend. I knew she was in a relationship dating another photographer on the school newspaper. It wasn’t until spring 1990, when I chose to take her with me on assignment to go cover Farm Aid 4 in Indianapolis, I got a closer glimpse of what was happening. I noticed her belly was out a bit and I guessed on my own that she was pregnant, but with whose baby, I wasn’t sure-certainly not the photographer’s.

Someone else’s.  

She never told me until much later.

But we didn’t talk much about that. We were more interested in covering a major star studded benefit in Indianapolis. It was there she cut her teeth, freaking out when she saw Arlo Guthrie up close and personal. I had met him 5 years earlier at the first Farm Aid in Champaign, Illinois. She clung to me as if she and I were intimate, but I knew we weren’t.

We were just the best of friends. And she was someone I could always talk to. Tell her all my troubles and she found a way to whisk them from me. That was her strong hand. We shared the same room and when the lights went out for the night she always told me not to look when she was undressing. And I never did. Never peeked. Never wanted to. I just respected her, even though there was a tiny slow burn of me wanting to, creeping in ever so slightly.

We did our work and I was glad for it. We bonded well on this trip. And it showed.

When it came time for graduation on June 1, 1990 at UIC Pavilion in Chicago, I remembered well at the point when the college authoritative degree handlers called out my name to receive my bachelor’s degree and I danced across the stage and handed the college president a copy of my “Coloring In Peacetime coloring book in a manila envelope, of all the voices in the building that shouted my name, hers was the loudest.

After graduation, she had moved back to her mom’s in Racine, Wisconsin. Had her baby in late September 1990. I would visit her almost monthly.

At first by bus, and eventually by driving to see her.

At long last in 1992, she would move back down to Chicago, get an apartment and a job, baby in tow and all, first somewhere mid-city and then later, a little further north. She worked as I discovered inside Cabrini Green, teaching photography, on and off. She had gotten a job there sometime during the time of her pregnancy and would work there sporadically.

It was the summer of 1992 when I first set foot in that awful place to teach journalism, get assaulted my first day and the agency I worked for never did a thing, fearing the worst of black verses white crime in a city-sponsored job, even admitting to me they knew the suspect. I remember taking the day off, while she cried her eyes out, wishing she had never brought me into the place to begin with. I told her not to worry, that I would come back. 

And I did come back the day after next.

One day out of the blue, she would invite me in to have lunch with her. It was like old times. I just figured she never wanted to be around me, but I was dead wrong. Soon all students would come up to us both and individually over the next several weeks and ask us if we were dating or married. We both said no, although I realized we were probably giving that emotion off. And at that time in my life, I kind of wish I had been, but that was not to be just yet.

It had been late in the summer when the job ended and I had to go back to whatever I had to go back to, which was my part time journalism job in the western suburbs. We had been out one night-gone to an art gallery where she sought out the director in order to get a job.

I had a strange feeling in my stomach. It had been building up for weeks, now spilling over into days. Then hours into seconds divided into moments. I knew it was coming and I had to ask her before the moment of movement had passed. But instead, the night came to pass and I would only ask her this.
 “Hey, this friend of mine really likes this girl and he wants to ask her out but he’s real nervous to ask her out even though he likes her a lot. What you think he should do?”

And she would answer me, “He should really ask her out and not be afraid to.”

And that night, I didn’t ask her out.

The next night came. We had just come from a gallery opening her and I. I had driven there in my red Geo Prism. The car was parked in front of her new place, somewhere in East Rogers Park. I knew tonight would be that crucial night. I was still in the other relationship with the Japanese woman, but that had gone sourly South sometime ago and I wasn’t thrilled by what it was vast becoming.
And so just as she was about to get out of my car, I grabbed a hold of her left hand, got extremely nervous and I said, “Hey, will you go out with me?”

She held back a bit and coyly responded, “Well, we go out already.”

I think she knew what was coming next, so she waited patiently, when I said, “No, that’s not what I meant.”

“I meant as in dating you.”

All she said, was, “Yes.”

My heart jumped for joy, as we embraced.

She told me in the days that followed when I first asked her that hypothetical question, that she thought I was going to ask her out right then and there and was crushed when I didn’t ask her out, so she kind of planned out the alternative, meaning and hoping that I would ask her out the next night, which I did.

In the week that followed, I broke off a four-year relationship with my Japanese girlfriend, knowing full well what I was getting myself into-a new kind of love, someone that I felt wasn’t going to hurt me so much, someone who I felt would protect me from evil and would support my art in ways I could never fathom possible before. She was my friend first and foremost. We had that much going for us-what would follow would be anybody’s guess.

But like my poetry, which had also taken off that year, in particular that summer, it would prove a hotbed of stormy passion, both in writing and in that relationship; a lot of proving, a lot of fighting for what was right; a lot of kissing and making up and a lot of “Yes, I know” and “No, I don’t know” kind of answers.

It was also during that time period that I was informed that one of my poems, had been published in an erotic anthology out of Austin, Texas, entitled, Apex Annual, #1, Erotic Fun. It was 64 pages long. A pretty big book for a poetry anthology.

A poem I had written initially for two men; a gay couple-friends of mine, but the meaning had changed drastically when our relationship, meaning Wisconsin girl and Illinois boy, grew drastically in leaps and bounds. It was no longer about them; even the words were so obvious.

Behavior Modification
Schoolgirl’s charm
Buys happiness on a stick
70 rigid muscles
For 20 solid minutes,
Satisfaction
Riding up and down
On an old man’s dick.

The meaning had changed overnight, though the words were so vulgar and harsh.

Hardcore.

The way she liked it when I talked dirty to her.

I decided to go to Austin to partake in the performance-not that they would pay my way, but I would go on my own. Stay with a friend and drive up on my own to the venue on Congress Avenue.
It would be my first exposure to written eroticism, no matter how the form. I discovered just how powerful it was written a few years later when I would have to wrestle away a copy away from a friend of mine whom I had lent a copy to, who refused to give it back to me because he got off on the book sexually.

“I lost it. I mislaid it. I can’t find it; “ he would plead with me, when the book was in plain sight on his bed. His personal fetish was pancakes, but that’s another story for another time.

I snatched it up and called him a liar to his face. How could I not? I learned never to lend anything out to him again. A lesson, I don’t ever seem to learn, either with books or CDs these days.

But back to the matter at hand. It was early November 1992, when I flew to Austin, Texas and took part in the reading. I remember how much I milled around the food table, fressing and then backstage, so nervous to read, and had inserted a tape recorder in my coat (or was it down my pants?) to capture the moment.

There had been every kind of performer on hand, from performance artist to poet and then some. I remember vividly the guy who had a small piece of metal shoved inside his pee hole sideways in order to juggle various objects up and down his penis. That was a sight to see. And the lovely girl assistant helping him.

The guy who had been on before me had used salsa as lubricant to shove bananas up his ass as a part of his performance. I was terribly glad at the time that I didn’t have to see that, just hear it described as I paced nervously backstage, because I went on after him.

All I remember him saying was “Ewwww. Butt-juice. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to see this.”
And I’m glad I didn’t.

As a result of that image floating around in my brain, I didn’t touch bananas or salsa for another seven years.

The reading would go off without a hitch. I would be successful, although I would be written up in the Austin Weekly alternative newspaper sometime afterward and described, “as a rather large man who was hanging around the food table all night.”

I wasn’t THAT big. Nor fat. Nor heavy.

Those images would haunt me for the next several years. And it would take me a few more years before I could write about it comfortably. But to that day and beyond within and without our relationship, she never once criticized me for looking the way I did. She loved me for me. She saw beyond what was. 

I wished that the Japanese girl I had once loved but broke up with, didn’t use it as an terrible excuse against me not to have sex with me because she worried about becoming “pg” or pregnant.  


I only wished the rest of the world and the whole of Texas felt the same.

Wednesday, March 30

Tales Of Texas-Tale 1

I should preface this writings by saying my experiences in Texas have never been that great. As a result, for a great many years, I ended up hating Texas and vowed never to return.

The last time I was in Texas proper was 2002 after a long reading and performance tour via Greyhound Bus.

15 states in 14 days.

This summer marks my return to the state I hate for the first time in nearly 14 years and I’m excited at the prospect of its outcome. A completely opposite feeling from a few months ago. Another tale for another time with a good outcome (I hope).

Over the years, my feelings about Texas never changed. Within the last 3 years however, with the advent of meeting fellow performers & friends through social media platforms such as Facebook, returning to and graduating from grad school with students in the program from Texas, and a few close friends who moved there, my feelings toward the state have slowly begun to disintegrate.

I hated Texas because of all the bad experiences I had there. More so, with Jay and Charlie (initially) and a number of related incidents there. Not that it’s all lovey dovey at this point, but it will take time to get reacquainted with a still formidable enemy.

 And now, onto my first Texas Tale…

Tale Number 1-First Time In Texas

In 1986, when I visited Texas for the very first time, I stayed in Spring, Texas, which is a suburb of Houston. Jay’s dad didn’t exactly like me-he was a former oilman, a very rich and successful businessman whose wealth was siphoned from him during the oil bust of 1985. He was bitter and he was hurting. Had to sell all of his priceless artwork and African masks.

He wanted me to earn my keep. That was just his way. Hindsight says he was damn near broke and needed the money. But, he expected me to pay him rent for staying at his home for 2 weeks. I balked at that idea and did chores instead.

His divorced (and alcoholic) mother thought I was Jay’s rag doll for gay sex. That played out very badly one night during a dinner at an area Houston restaurant. A bloody screaming match between mother and son, that by present standards, would have made today’s reality TV show staged fights appear exceedingly normal.

Jay was adopted. Full-blood Hidatsa. Jay had just come out to me 2 years earlier (Summer, 1984) while we were stationed at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois in the journalism program.

I met Jay the summer of 1984 during a residence floor activity in early July. We all went to see the film Ghostbusters at Cinema Twin, near the Hy Vee grocery store. It was him and I who straggled along that got us to talking to each other. I don’t remember much more about that night other than to say we became fast friends.

I didn’t understand much about the gay-lesbian stuff back then. The only moment I recall with him was the phrase he used over and over that summer, that “He has the look.” 
Back in Houston, during the 4th of July weekend, in 1986, a rather hot and humid weekend I should add, we went into a gay leather biker bar one night-on Montrose Avenue-I don't recall which one it was. I do remember they had a backyard and a general store inside.

We get in.

We separate.

Little did I know that he left the bar and planted himself outside.  No way to text him or call him, it was still 1986, after all.

So I wander around and then I go to the backyard, where there's a barbecue and a slave auction with men in full leather chaps in progress.

I'm in the back curiously watching, when suddenly, I hear directly in back of me, a tall lean man with a deep booming Southern voice growling, "This bar is for big boys only," knowing full well, he was talking to me. I got the hint and left. I went to the general store inside the bar and bought a button that read, "I use Crisco." 

I still have that button.

I found Jay outside waiting for me in the parking lot of the bar.

“How long were you out here waiting?” I ask him

“20 minutes,” he says.

“Why didn’t you come and find me?” I asked him.

“I was lazy,” he says.

I shake my head, as we head out into the warm muggy night off and in search of other adventures.


Thursday, November 26

The Day I "Died..."

The day that you die is supposed to be the day that you are remembered in infamy. Your friends, family/relatives and enemies remember you fondly and only have good things to say about you---never bad.

The night I died according to Facebook was completely the opposite. It was mid-Wednesday evening April 1, 2015, I was cabbing it over to the Gallery Cabaret on Oakley, just off of Armitage in Chicago on my way to a Henchmen gig.

I was late coming from school-doing something, like I always did.

 Doing something. I talked to the cab driver about my art. Told him lots of stories. I remember him taking a different way there because traffic was blocked and for some reason he took the Eisenhower, got off at Western and took a straight shot over.

I’ve had my run-ins with cab drivers in 2015; like the cabbie in early March who nearly killed me in his cab driving over a median strip and into the northbound lanes thinking there were the southbound lanes. It was a wonder I was still alive. And then later, when we pulled up to the event I was headed to and hitting the man on the bike and only caring about his cab.

That was wicked.



It must have been about 7:30 in the evening when the cab pulled up to the club. I paid the driver and saw Dr. Nothing and Dennis The Menace out on the sidewalk. Said something to them that I can’t remember and headed inside with them. The Slurve was sitting at the bar.

The open mic was already in progress as I set my gear down and went to unpack the bingo box, the instruments and my costume. I said hello to the hostess who was donning a boring blond wig, because after all, it was April Fool’s Day and the one of the biggest fool in the Chicagoland area was moments away from disgracing the stage.

The rest of the Henchmen filed into the club. I greeted all of them. The poets were already there. Some I recognized and some I didn’t. Even saw the one I screwed one night and found out later she was married but was hot for teacher. 

Yeah, something like that.

On stage at that moment, was anarchist anti-Israeli poet Joffre Stewart. Crowing about it being “Sid Yiddish Day” and oh, who just happens to walk into the club and hears him saying it as if on cue? Moi. I just glared at him, knowing that he would do an anti-Israeli poem in my honor. And of course, that was the very next poem he recited, while I whispered to the host’s husband on how to film the band & I, as we performed the bingo game. I told him that I was going to “put him to work.”

After a long open mic, we were ready to perform. I sent the Henchmen up, to take positions, while I readied my own space and passed out the bingo cards, chips and set up the bingo cage and whispered more instructions to the host, but I knew things were already going to go wrong, as I told the crowd we were going to play “4 corner bingo” and someone else decided to play bingo the regular way and as we played on and the crowd got slightly unruly because someone else did it wrong and they all wanted to win and that’s how it goes when you play bingo. 

No one wants to lose and everyone wants a prize. To try and please everyone, we played a 2nd game and who should win, but Joffre Stewart. His prize? A genuine bar of Swiss chocolate marzipan from Copenhagen.

We do one a couple of more compositions and I decide to end it early because I wasn’t exactly sure on time. As I am packing up and collecting the bounty from generous supporters of our work, Dr. Nothing comes up to me and tells me “Sid, you’re dead.” I have no clue what he’s talking about and go back to packing up my gear, changing out of my costume and talking to the host and wiping the sweat off my face.

I get a ride home from the host’s sidekick, as he lives pretty close to me. I am tired, I say to him as I get settled into the car. The conversation is nothing special between him and I, in fact, it centers on my brother Louie, just like always after I ride with him. I don’t care really to talk about my brother Louie, because my brother Louie is a true asshole; someone I wouldn’t trust with my life even if I were dying, because he’d be the first one to ask for either my Saturn or my laptop or some other valuable material possession I now own.

And with a brother like that, who needs him?

I was pretty tired that night as I turned in. It already had been a difficult week in my life; bad critique at grad school, a canceled spring trip to New York City on top of canceling an important performance gig, which had stressed me out because the last time I canceled an important performance gig I was called “unprofessional” and I would never work in Kansas City again.
 
That’s somewhat true. I haven’t worked there since February 2014. Again, due to the unprofessionalism of my grad school department who didn’t bother to tell its students that the building was going to close that summer due to asbestos removal and only had a week to pack up all of their belongings and have them put into storage.

The same week I was supposed to go to Kansas City. Life isn’t fair but so it went.

I went to bed and thought nothing of it. It was spring break after all and I could sleep in that week.

When I awoke the next morning, I arose to such a clatter; I had 4 voicemails, several texts on my cell phone and a little over 200 notices on Facebook that had declared me dead.

The following posted note on my Facebook page started off the feeding frenzy, a little after 9pm central daylight savings time: “I am sorry and heart-crushed to announce the passing of Sid Yiddish. He collapsed upon ushering his most famous hand signal high E, whilst using audience participation in the game of bingo as a chance parameter to direct his conducting for the first time. He was pronounced dead when the paramedics arrived. Multi Kulti will host a gathering in his memory, details to follow.”

This post appeared on my friend Dr Nothing’s Facebook page. As I discovered later, his account was hacked into. Yes. Hacked. Even the tightest of ITT men can have their accounts hacked into.
In the sickening irony that followed, 19 friends of mine liked the post.

And that’s when the shit hit the fan.

Here are the actual posts that followed, minus the names.

Holy Shit!‬ This better be a Cruel April Fools Joke!

‬

Hoax?
‬
The world just lost some light.
 ‬
‪

‬



‬

I always figured I'd find out about his death on social media, and I'm His BROTHER!!!!!!


‪

‬

 Sounds like the onion headlines
.

Gosh, will he be alright?


Whatttttttttt? Are u serious? Damn I just asked u about him
.

‬

Were his last words "And I would be your leader!"  

He is all right. He is gone to heaven to be with god.

‬
This better not be an April Fool’s joke
! ‬
‪

‬



‬

Just at the hospital to view the remains. Though he appeared much as he did in life, family is still recommending a closed casket. he will be sorely missed, at least through the weekend, and depending upon the weather. Sid always considered me a very dear friend. At times I considered him as well.


And just earlier today he was alive and well debunking everyone's April Fool’s jokes... and now he is gone. He will be missed except on April 1st when he was a bit of a party pooper...


Wooowww.‬ I can't believe this!‬ So Sorry to Hear it happened....


‪‬

Oh man I am in shock and deeply saddened by this news...



‪‬

My brain cannot be alive, it is dead with the memory, and cannot go on
.


‪
Awwwwww I'm sorry to hear this. He was definitely an original. & will greatly missed.


He left this world doing what he loved like a total boss. this is the way he would have wanted it to be.



‪‬

Please tell me this is an April Fool's joke?


‪‬

What???
 I don't believe this shit though.


‪‬

 
I've texted a couple of friends and have not gotten any confirmation that this isn't an April Fool's joke. Being that neither one of them have come to this thread to assure us that this is not a joke has me suspicious
; alright, there’s a message here that is a give away that this is a joke. everyone read his post.
 There should be many people who could deny or confirm it. And for whatever it's worth now posts memorializing him on April 2nd.


‪‬

You had me until the hand signals!!



‪‬

Oh no. and I never got a chance to meet him and always wanted to.


So very sorry for the loss.

Okay, it's April 2nd now. What's the real story?


And that was just the start. Like a long drawn out drizzle, it continued.

What?? I thought at first this was a horrible April fools joke. If true.. RIP Sid Yiddish.I had just thought it had to be an April Fool’s joke. How sad. Don't know what happened. Crazee.

Jesus, I can't believe it. We had such a good time hanging out with him last summer. Check his page,  it's true. Well, there's no obituary or anything. Some fellow claims to have witnessed the whole thing, onstage; it's all very weird, which is why no one knows whether to actually believe it. Especially on April Fool's Day, but it's April 2 now, and where's Sid? I know a lot of his friends are comedians, and they seem to be congenitally incapable of serious discourse.

So sorry Sid...RIP
. ‬

And it continued. From bad to worse. A angry mob looking for blood.

Well fuck you very much for worrying people. Very fucking lousy and triggering prank.

Sid Yiddish is NOT dead. Very bad joke. NOT dead. Very bad joke.

And as the mopping up began and more remarks were made in the process, a pattern began to form and it was an odd pattern at that. There were the usual suspects in the mob; the reactionaries; the truth-seekers, the actual believers and the angry. And then there were those who never actually saw it and had no clue what had taken place.

In particular, there was one guy, whom I’ll deem as an acquaintance, who was so insistent on “my death” that he pushed pretty hard on reasons why, how and where only to discover through a mutual friend of ours, that this guy had staged his own death four years prior to this. It left me scratching my head and wondering, what the fuck!

And there were the ones who privately messaged me; I thought, now if I am dead, how am I supposed to answer their letters? It was enough that I had been off Facebook publicly since late January, 22, 2015 and rarely posted, save for a photo or a gig.

In the days that followed, after getting bullied and pushed around by others who were convinced that I staged my own death online, I ran into friends on campus who saw the post and there were those who didn’t see the post and embraced me as if I had truly died. 

An interesting side-note was that a Google search of my name two days after I supposedly died, turned up at least 54, 400 entries for me, 184,000 less than usual. It was quite evident that the my death put a quash on a lot of things and people.

In the months that followed, there were those who I had emailed about things and situational stuff that I wanted to resolve but for some reason or another, I couldn’t, most everyone said the same thing, “I thought you were dead!”

And then I discovered, quite by sheer accident or perhaps it was sheer coincidence, online in a conspiracy forum, what the name, Sid Yiddish truly stands for and that is:

S=Sid
I=Is
D=Dead
Y=Yiddish
I=Is
D=Dead
D=Dead
I=Is
S=Sid
H=Hoax

Why is it, in life, no one truly gives a shit about one or another’s well-being until it’s too late? Why is it that on Facebook that many people take situations and people for granted until it’s too late? Not reach across the aisle, the pond, the sea, the next city and make that concerted effort and say hello until it’s too late?

I say, do it now, before you miss out.


Put your differences aside. Stop being so sensitive. It’s not always about you. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Be more forgiving. Tell someone you love him or her. And everyday. Life is like a deck of cards, you never know when that Ace of Spades will be dealt. Do it now. 

Don’t wait until the moment is gone.