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Brian Fleck

Some beach, somewhere

Food for Thought

Besides the cast of interesting characters running the Bender’s Fishing Camp, I arrived with two of my favorite Chicago fishing pals: brother Bob and his friend Rob, aka Gonzo.

A wink from Amtrak

“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” the overly officious clerk told Sabra, “but I can’t let you on the train with that ID.” The train was the Southwest Chief, run by Amtrak between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Wings and more wings

Walkin'

No remembrance of hot wings can be complete without a nod to Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW). It started in 1981 when a James Disbrow moved from wing Mecca (Buffalo, New York) to an abyss (Kent, Ohio). Unable to find a decent wing in the Buckeye State, he decided to open his own restaurant. One thing led to another, and today there are more than a thousand locations with a half-billion dollars in assets.

The wing revolution

Walkin'

It is the height of culinary art, pure dining perfection: the hot wing.
Wikipedia fills in the details on how these little limbs of bliss originated in Buffalo, New York, at a place called the Anchor Bar. Although accounts vary, the basic story is the same. Owner Teressa Bellisimo created the first hot wings in a commercial setting sometime in the late 1960s on a whim to use up a surplus of chicken wings. The wings were fried in oil and then coated with a mixture of butter and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.

The patented horse shot

Walkin'

Softball was the sport of choice during the long summers of my youth.
We played it Chicago-style, in the street with a 16-inch (in circumference) ball, a size favored in the greater Windy City area. I don’t believe anyone in the entire neighborhood actually bought and owned a new ball or bat. Instead we used old balls, soft as pillows, and cracked wooden bats, pockmarked from hitting rocks and held together with duct tape.

Bullies I’ve known

Walkin'

Until third grade, I had the protection of my older brothers from bullies. In 1960, however, they were both off to junior high and I walked the 1.8 miles to Jonas Salk Elementary School alone.

Fingerhakeln

Walkin'

Stumbling across a “Fingerhakeln Meisterschaftsbankett” is one of my favorite finds while traveling.

Surprises

Walkin'

Life has been full of surprises lately.
Like the other day when Sabra beckoned with a come-hither voice from the bedroom, “will you please come here?”
It was quite the surprise. After 14 years of marriage, she calls me to the back yard to rake leaves, to the basement to lift salt into the water conditioner or to the kitchen to unfreeze her computer. Calls to the boudoir are mostly distant memories along with a 38-inch waist size and hair on my head in places other than eyebrows and ears.

Roughing it in Mesa

Walkin'

Sabra and I are nearing the end of our two-week getaway to Mesa, Az., today, and the feeling is bittersweet.
We’ve had a marvelous time here visiting old friends, hiking up mountain, playing golf, taking in a couple of Cubs games and simply soaking up some sun and heat while folks back home endure a cold spring to follow the cold winter.
Sometimes I feel sorry for the people back home, but then I lay in the sun until the feeling goes away.

Kismet, karma and clues

Walkin'

Three potholders mysteriously disappeared while Sabra was in the hospital recovering from a stroke. The one and only clue that bears on the case is that over the same time period and in very much the same area of the kitchen I broke three wine glasses.

Fleck’s index

4,086: Number of welfare applicants tested for illegal drug use under Florida legislation passed last year.
108: Applicants testing positive for marijuana use.
2.6: Percent testing positive.
17: Republican Congressman from Florida.
3.5: Grams of cocaine Florida Republican Congressman Trey Radel was arrested for possessing.
5.9: Percent of Florida Republican Congressmen arrested for buying and possessing cocaine.
-20: Degrees Fahrenheit of coldness that must be reached before Alaska school children are held in from recess.

Waiting for spring

Walkin'

My car and I are feeling old this winter.
The Honda Civic’s doors creak no matter how much oil is sprayed on the hinges; my knees ache no matter how much Icy Hot® is smeared on the joints.
I’m a 1952 model; it’s a 1998.
It has 220,000 miles; I’ve drunk as many beers.