I first met her on my way home from work. I was walking down the sidewalk; she was showing off her belly. She knew how to get a guy’s attention.

I greeted her by stroking her chin and rubbing that belly. But I had someone else at home and wasn’t looking for anyone new, so I left her on her back and went on my way.

The next day we repeated the same encounter. I would run into her at around the same time over the next six days before I finally decided to act. I just wanted to get her off the street. Fall was coming and the drunks at the annual Oktoberfest were sure to mess with someone as sweet as her.

Linda and I tried to take her to the shelter, but it wasn’t open yet, so we brought her to our vet. I didn’t plan to take her home, but when I checked in on her a few days later, the sight of her in a cage with dogs barking in the next room led me to act.

It was 14 years ago yesterday that I first met Bean.


*   *   *

Good mornin’

Summer passed without telling me. I spent the month of August in a painting fugue, covering wall after wall in the second floor rental apartment of our two-flat in various shades of bland. In my dreams I relived scene after scene of cutting in along the trim.

Labor Day weekend was spent in the stairway patching, sanding, painting. Armed with goggles, respirator, bandana and my iPod, I was sweating to the oldies. The mix was a strange combination; I found myself laughing out loud to no one. At one point, it went from Fugazi to the Moody Blues to the Ramones to the Sugar Hill Gang to Johnny Cash to The New Year. It dawned on me then how old my taste in music has become.

Linda and I finally got out of the house last Saturday night to see You Am I at Schuba’s. As we walked up Belmont to Southport, we came along the band’s singer/songwriter Tim Rogers dressed in a white suit and print shirt. With a shaggy ‘do and scruffy chin, he looked every bit the rock star. I could tell from a half block away who he was, though I’ve only seen the band once before.

You Am I remains a relatively obscure band in this country despite having done the Lollapalooza tour back in 1996. In shorthand, Tim Rogers is the Australian version of Paul Westerberg; a talented songwriter that mixes soulful acoustic ballads with hook-laden power pop and earnest lyrics — and a few shots of Jameson’s. The band that saw its first proper release in 1993, now plays to smaller and smaller venues. But talent is not the equivalent of units sold, which is a shame.

I picked up their latest release that night — a self-titled, independently released gem from last year on a thick slab of vinyl. I’ve been buying less and less music these days, so when I do, I tend to purchase LPs. Even my taste in media is showing its age. As for the record itself, You Am I finds the band still in peak form. Below is a video for the song “Trigger Finger” off their latest release, as well as early hits “Good Mornin'” and “Purple Sneakers.”




The author shamelessly is using this space to plug a free show featuring his band The Ethyl Mermen along with Crackpot and The Right Tidys Saturday, September 17 at Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division, Chicago. 

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About the Author

Tom Long

Tom Long is one-third of the seldom heard Chicago band The Ethyl Mermen. The name Tom Long can be found in the dictionary, Baseball Encyclopedia and a pub in Ireland. Tom Long is not affiliated with any other Tom Long; he won the rights to use his own name after prevailing in a three-way game of Jan-ken-pon by choosing "dynamite!" No Toms were harmed in the making of this blog.

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