Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dishwasher Pete's heyday

One my favorite underground heroes has gone mainstream. Pete Jordan, a.k.a. Dishwasher Pete, published a book about his quest to wash dishes in all 50 states, Dishwasher. Last week he went on a publicity tour to promote the book, including a stop in Chicago. The man who purposely eluded major media exposure for so many years is now signing autographs and posing for photos.

I am almost finished reading the book. I went into the reading a bit apprehensive, worried that it would be a horribly-embellished re-hash of some of the stories from his 'zine that I read already online. And while there is a little of that, there is also enough fresh material to keep it interesting. Pete does his research and outlines a kind of armchair history of labor, famous dishwashers (including Presidents Reagan and Ford, and Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh), and dishwasher references in literature and popular culture.

But what I like most is the story of Pete. He is a kindred spirit in many ways -- a map fiend, frugalist, avid walker, coin spotter, rebel and, sometimes, raconteur. His unabashedly slacker ways don't quite jibe with my work ethic, but he chooses to live his own way by his own rules. And he lives a non-materialistic lifestyle that allows such freedom.

I recommend the book. It's a breezy, fun, summery read, but it's also a story that should make those with mixed up values about status and owning things take notice.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"The coolest"

The comments I got on MySpace's grade your professor feature. I have an 'A' rating after 8 votes. Yippee. Nothing beats the note a fourth grader at Wright Elementary gave me when I subbed there fall 2005... She wrote, "You are so not-lame!"

English 104 05/01/2007 B+ I enjoyed the class more than I expected. I thought it was going to be a lot of work and I was unsure about Mr. Locascio at first. By now, I enjoy the class. It would be nice to be able to communicate over the internet more and to be able to get our papers back faster like promised. The homework was not bad and the classes were always interesting.

ENGL 104 05/01/2007 A+ Best English teacher I've had yet. He really allowed me to explore myself as a writer, which is what I really wanted out of a college English class. He's also just a cool guy in general. A+++++.

ENG 104 04/25/2007 A+ Greg is the coolest. Best english teacher EVER. [ 103 12/13/2006 A+ i enjoyed this class

English 103 09/30/2006 B I hate having to go to douglas on fridays! i chose our class because it is convenient to my next class...

Engl 103 09/29/2006 B+ Personally, I don't really like the grading system of the checks and check minuses etc. Otherwise, It's ok.

english 103 09/29/2006 A Keep up the good work!!!

English 103 09/25/2006 A Great teacher! Helps explain things that are going wrong with my writing and composition. Is a very fair teacher when it comes to due dates and reading assignments.

Netflix is awesome...

Even though after I signed up everybody told me Blockbuster was better...

Here's my "returned movies" list since I joined. Sound off, all two of you readers, and let's talk movies and such!!!!

Movie Star Rating Return Date
Northern Exposure: Season 3: Disc 4 (6-Disc Series)
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco
The First Year
The Pursuit of Happyness
Northern Exposure: Season 3: Disc 3 (6-Disc Series) 05/14/07
Notes on a Scandal
Northern Exposure: Season 3: Disc 2 (6-Disc Series) 05/09/07
Northern Exposure: Season 3: Disc 1 (6-Disc Series) 05/07/07
Northern Exposure: Season 2: Disc 4 (4-Disc Series)
Northern Exposure: Season 2: Disc 3 (4-Disc Series) 05/02/07
Northern Exposure: Season 2: Disc 2 (4-Disc Series) 04/24/07
Northern Exposure: Season 2: Disc 1 (4-Disc Series) 04/23/07
Who Killed the Electric Car?
The Office: Season 2: Disc 4 (4-Disc Series)
The Office: Season 2: Disc 3 (4-Disc Series) 04/17/07
The Illusionist
The Office: Season 2: Disc 1 (4-Disc Series) 04/13/07
The Office: Season 2: Disc 2 (4-Disc Series) 04/13/07
The Awful Truth
Northern Exposure: Season 1: Disc 4 (4-Disc Series)
Northern Exposure: Season 1: Disc 3 (4-Disc Series) 04/10/07
Reds: Disc 2
Holiday Inn
Grand Hotel
The Life of Emile Zola
Northern Exposure: Season 1: Disc 1 (4-Disc Series) 03/29/07
Tom Jones
Northern Exposure: Season 1: Disc 2 (4-Disc Series) 03/27/07
A Man for All Seasons
The English Patient
The Illustrated Man
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
Nosferatu: Original Version
The Last Waltz
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Cry Me A River

I am going to take a week next month to canoe the Rock River from my hometown, Loves Park, to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Rock Island. It's about 165 miles, and includes some of the most scenic sections of the entire river. In the summer of 2005 I paddled about 180 miles of the river from the source of the east branch (near Theresa, WI) to Loves Park in 2005, discounting the 10-12 mile stretch from Watertown to Jefferson, which I will also make up some time this summer.

I own this book, Paddling Illinois, by Mike Svob. I first met Svob in 1999 when I worked for The Antigo Daily Journal. He was promoting another book, Paddling Northern Wisconsin, and I drove out to his family cabin on the Wolf River to interview him. We hung out on his back porch an hour and I got enough quotes for the article. He stopped in at the office from time to time. Editor Fred Berner knew Svob because he'd written a few outdoorsy guest columns for the paper.

I looked over Paddling Illinois yesterday morning because, in addition to a week on the Rock River, I plan to take a bunch of short (15 miles or less) day trips on various rivers around Chicagoland. Planned day trips include the East Branch of the DuPage River, a series of short trips on the Des Plaines River, the Chicago River, Salt Creek of the Des Plaines River (which flows through Brookfield Zoo), the Fox River, and... Nippersink Creek.

When I saw the route for Nippersink Creek my heart skipped. I love that part of Illinois -- it is the most glacially-altered terrain in the state -- but whoa, oh, I didn't realize it, even now, so much emotional baggage there, and in the river, the water, the spirits there, and the eyes in the fire. I looked up from the book and over to my shelf to the Mythology encyclopedia...the volume of Jack London I still plan to read... and up to the wall, the purple ball with the red tassel hanging off a heat vent handle... and, dammit, the dish rack! Who can forget the dish rack?!

I thought I was over all this stupid nostalgia. I thought this was all behind me... but it's not, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. But at least I can live with my wistfulness, and prosper, and make it through, even if I can't put memory or curiosity behind me, and even if reminders sneak up on me awares and unawares every day.

The last time I was on the Rock River was Oct. 8, 2005. That wasn't that long ago, but it seems a lifetime ago. Before fatherhood. Before divorce. Before the beautiful, stark emptiness. I've kept so, so busy to since August to avoid these ghosts, but they assail me now and I must embrace them.

On Oct. 9, 2005 I ran the Chicago Marathon. The next day I climbed a flight of stairs and my life changed dramatically. I still haven't quite gotten over that particular journey. I don't know if I ever will. That's fine. I'm glad I took it and am on the path I'm on. But it's still going to be tough to canoe the Nippersink.