From the pages of Gastrolater ¥ Fall 1997 (Elizabeth M. Tamny, PO Box 60916, Chicago 60660-0916; $4)

Excerpts from:

A Few Things That Happened This Year for the First Time

I Attended Traffic School to Avoid a Ticket (my first moving violation–I thanked the cop when he was done) and found myself, despite resentment and tiredness, totally involved in the experience, geek that I am. Raised my hand and answered questions too much. bottom line: Traffic school does not teach you how to deal with the psychological issues of driving defensively at all, especially driving in the city. I have some good ideas about how I would run a traffic school. A very UN, cross-sectioned experience. Every possible type of person there. My Apartment Was Robbed–The thing you always wonder about happening to you in the city finally did. Came home late one night to find that some assholica jerks had crowbar-ed open my back door and filled two pillowcases full of things I basically couldn’t afford to replace, even with renter’s insurance (highly unrealistic deductible). Both the Chicago Police and my management company came out of this looking very bad. The police didn’t come until after I called 911 a second time (I thought I saw someone inside my apartment from where I was standing on the street, hyperventilating), although when they came I was never so totally thrilled to see a whole mess of cops in my life. I had to call them from my neighbor’s apartment, which was scary in itself. The cops were straight out of central casting: Irish, smokers, thick nasal Chicago accents, young freckled faces, impossibly cynical, called the perpetrators “goofs.” Two embarrassing things happened with them: 1) when they busted in my place there was something quite embarrassing lying on the floor of my bedroom (I discovered this later) which I know they saw and 2) when they were walking around the apartment assessing damage they looked vaguely at my bedroom in all its untidiness and said, “Well obviously they were in here too” and I had to tell them no, that was the normal mess. I laughed hysterically at that point, in part because I had been holding my breath wondering if they would say that, as if this were a movie. Eventually a wheezing police technician came, carrying gun, nightstick, handcuffs, and his fingerprint testing equipment in a plastic batman lunchbox. He was alternately taciturn and cynically talkative with another marvelously rounded, juicy Chicago accent. After he left, my bra picked that moment to blow an o-ring and totally crap out on me–it literally fell apart–too much psychic disturbance, I guess–and I struggled to put on a new one as my building’s Croatian janitor and his two translators/helpers knocked on my door. I Became Somewhat Addicted to Loveline (how ridiculous), the LA-based radio call-in show. I actually called in once to complain about how Adam always trashes fat people (tres horrible) and got on the air and found myself totally backing down. Larry Flynt was the guest that night, and I think that made me feel somewhat unsafe. I wrote a pissed-off email message to them later. Hrumph. Not a very fulfilling experience.

Send zines to the Zine-o-File, Chicago Reader,

11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): zine cover.