Rolling Stoned

A Letter Written to a Friend at the End of the 1970s.

Side One


What a beautiful night! There’s a deep purple sky rouged with violet and a new moon setting. The moon’s darkside is a phantom of a shadow. The stars are rocks, bravely bright against strangely dim street lights. Two small, illuminated clouds ghost across the sky.

Mystic but cold.

She’s Like a Rainbow

Meet my new roommate: Rainbow, the Bifrost Cat, Scat Ambassador Extraordinaire to Chicago. Yes, Rainbow stayed here, but I’m not sure the relationship is permanent. It’s been fun so far, but she may be pregnant. (I guess I lost my head.)*


I’ve revived the barbaric custom of wargaming, and G____ has taken an interest. We’ve been playing Panzerblitz; however, I have just purchased two new games. One you may like to play: Stellar Conquest. It does not necessarily involve warfare; there is an economic dimension. But you must expand one way or the other– it will be interesting to see which is more profitable, war or peace. Up to four can play.

Tasting the Big Apple

M____ is thinking of moving to New York. She talked to some people in the crew of Man of La Manche which was playing at the Aire Crown. They told her the market for theatre people is much better in New York (and LA) than it is in Chicago. She [is] going to try to get into the Stagehands Union first, though. (Initiation fee: $700)

Among the Dangs

How are you doing?

Side Two

8 Miles High

It was fun watching the city snow removal crews at work: huge articulated earth moving machines that stood two stories high on monstrous tractor wheels. But the men who ran them ran them like extensions of their bodies. Rapid, fluid motions and precise: No uncertainty of movement or wasted motion, and they came within a foot of snowed-in cars. It should have been to music.

Street Dance

The neighbors were amusing also. The crews were clearing every portion of unoccupied street, but several people stopped them to make sure their personal spots were shovelled. I’m sure you can guess who at least one of them was — the Don Himself. There were several futile attempts to move snowed-under cars. N____ A____’s wife floundered about and C____ the Dealer was unable to even open his doors. The last I saw he was desperately shovelling.

Old Lang’s Sign

Te___ is very sad now that B____ and Th___ are gone. I left her an extra dollar in sympathy.

There are still people pushing grass on the street corner in Old Town.

Happy Lunar New Year


* A notably lame attempt at a joke… For those of you in the 21st Century, Rainbow was a cat and the father was most likely Dapper Dan. Rainbow was not quite Grand Champion material, so the cat-breeder hadn’t planned on showing her (again) or breeding her and that is why she ended up with me. He kept the males caged as they were apt to fight and spray. I suspect this pregnancy was Rainbow’s idea but how she and Dapper Dan managed it… Rainbow gave birth to four kittens: BawanaCat, Ferocious, Punk, and Bellybird. Rainbow and Bellybird remained with me. We found homes for the others.

At the time the letter was written, I was living in the Armour Square neighborhood in Chicago. I discovered the letter while cleaning out the hall closet in preparation for moving. I keep copies of most of my correspondence but I may end up shredding them; I can’t bring to mind just who some of these people are / were. And of course, it’s been years since I’ve received (or sent) an actual physical personal letter.


PS  Photo/Graphic by Roman.

The Rock Island Line Was a Mighty Fine Line

Yes it was, though maybe mostly in memory; the company went belly-up around 1980. Artifacts still remain, however. For the next several years, you’ll still occasionally see freight cars (covered hoppers mostly, but a few boxcars too) left unrepainted for all the years since. They all are in the last paint scheme that touts the railroad as “The Rock”. Brave words even if “The Rock” turned out to be tuft not basalt. IIRC, there’s a 50 year age limit to such rolling stock so congratulate yourself if you see one.

And then there is this promotional ephemera that I rediscovered while cleaning out the hall closet. (Yes, it’s time for that again; I’ll be moving in the next few months as I’m being gentrified… again. Where, you ask? Don’t know yet. Not far I hope.) It’s an eight page booklet with plenty of space for notes on your railroad adventure.

This was given to me by my grandpa, Lawrence Dziekan, probably in the late 1960s though I have no memory of the occasion. Today I feel sad about that but I was remarkably oblivious to adults until I was well on my way to becoming one myself. There’s no changing the past even as it becomes ambiguous with distance.

But one of the things that I do remember about Grandpa is that he was very much into calligraphy. It was Parkinson’s Disease that eventually killed him. This was in the days before l-dopa as a treatment and I have the impression calligraphy was his effort at fighting back. So Grandpa filled a few of the pages with some of his lettering. It’s not his best work but not bad also; I thought it worth preserving and sharing, provided you forgive the one typo.

And there’s mystery as well! Who is “Mrs. Clairie Peiton”, the baby sitter? And those strange feel-good verses! I doubt that I’ll ever know the story nor will you ever know the story. We’ll just have to make one up.

Here’s Grandpa:ldz-1ldz-2ldz-3ldz-4ldz-5

And to end this post, here is “The Rock Island Line” from the Library of Congress’ “Treasury of Field Recordings” with Kelly Pace as the lead vocalist. Now arriving on track 2:

Lost Marbles

Photo / graphics by Roman.

I lost my marbles the other day.

Photo by Roman.

I threw them all away.

Never did play them much anyway.

Photo by Roman.

They were nicked and dusty

And by lost packets interrupted

From the platonic ideal.

Photo by Roman.

Their kaleidoscope magic dimmed

Photo by Roman.

For it was light from other days.


Lost marbles in the light of other days. Photo / graphic by Roman.

Waiting for the Other Shoe

Photo by Roman.

Come to think of it, “waiting for the other shoe” to drop might be an apt description of this past year of 2022. I don’t mean to be discouraging, but waiting for the other shoe might well be a summary for the entire decade of the 2020s: the next plague, the next big storm, the next economic tailspin, the next big / little / escalating war, the next lying politician, the next wave of refugees whether from abroad or from home…

Whatever. May you have a happy 2023 anyway and if it’s not all happy then have it as happy as you can.

My first reaction upon seeing this shoe was not so globally dim. Rather I wondered about the story of how this shoe came to dangle. As the shoe shows no sign of wear, I wondered if the parents could really afford to have their child lose the shoes or whether the shoe display was in some way aspirational, to be someone who can discard shoes without a twinge in the pocketbook. Or was it a case of school yard bullying? Or maybe a disappointed package thief?

I’ll never know and you’ll never know but you can tell my state of mind by what comes to it… The world is an inkblot.


It’s not exactly an imposter syndrome. Sometimes I create something that delights me then later I can’t help but wonder: How did I do that? Were those choices deliberate? What path did I negotiate for the words and such to tumble out as they did?

Ferocious was my cat Rainbow’s larger daughter. One of the kitten’s early bowel movements came as a surprise to Ferocious as she bumble stalked along a wall.

!” said Ferocious, looking wide-eyed above a small, neatly formed dry turd.

I try to keep Ferocious in mind.

It makes my pleasure more plausible.


mooning the bourgeoisie since 2017

Something there is about odometers that fascinates: look at that new number rolling into view. Well, for what ever it is worth, Yip Abides is 5 years old on October 31, 2022. For your humble blogmaster, this seems an utterly trivial observation yet it comes with an amazing weight of ephemera. It’s like discovering that big fluffy cloud above tilts the scale at thousands of tons. Who would imagine… and who has time for it all? And what I was thinking to begin a blog on Halloween?

Five years is not a bad run for a blog though it’s easy enough to find active blogs that are older. I think I can manage a few more years at least though I can’t anticipate how Yip Abides might change. Lately it’s been a photography blog, but really I’m no more of a photographer than I am a poet or storyteller or political commentator or podcaster. Since the blog doesn’t feed me, it could become just about anything.

Or nothing. But a heads up will be posted when it comes to that.

But thank you for your attention, however long or short. Our personal bandwidth is limited so every visit is a birthday for the blog.

In the meantime, feel free to use this occasion as a reason for some merry intoxication or some other gluttony (Halloween candy, perhaps?) as you prefer. You deserve it.

Photo by Roman.

As the Whirled Turns

I am posdef a cat that is in horror of its trip to the vet, in horror of the very prospect of the veterinary. Nonetheless, on Wednesday it was my turn to keep an appointment made some six months earlier. Odin’s day indeed… But I shoved myself, squalling, into the cat-carrier and went.

For once I was running on time rather than early. The office tries to keep the patient density to a minimum so I was promptly escorted to an examining room where a nurse of some sort began with the basics, including the seasonal, senior citizen sized flue shot. The doctor was running late that day, however, so as the nurse was leaving, she asked if I’d like a bottle of water.

No thank you, I replied. I’m a geezer, after all, and we’re as bad as dogs when it comes to watering trees. I’m fine.

In truth, there was nothing particularly gruesome about this visit. It was not so much an examination as a negotiation: What medications would I continue, resume or cease taking? What diagnostic screening tests would I schedule? The doctor and I do not exactly have a unity of purpose. He wants to cure whatever ails me and whatever might someday ail me and whatever might be ailing me without my knowing that it ails me while I would simply prefer not to ail. Interventions that would have seemed perfectly sensible just a few decades ago now seem like maybe an unnecessarily speculative use of time and comfort and … money. But we came to something of an agreement and, on my way out, please stop at the lab for The Drawing of the Blood.

The lab has its own small waiting room though I was the lone patient waiting patiently (how else?) but not long. The phlebotomist, unfortunately, was having an off day so it was a bruising experience. But I got through it and the lab got its blood. And I refrained from making stupid vampire jokes.

My next stop was the immediate care clinic. No, not about the phlebotomist but for my fourth covid vaccination, this one of the new bivalent variety. The generic health care professional administering the vaccine used my right shoulder as my left was already preoccupied by that extra-strength flue shot. The generic health care professional was a delightful nerd, however, and we got to talking about vaccine dosage volumes and such.

But all good things must pass, it seems, and so I headed on home where, despite a cheerful voice mail from the pharmacy about my prescriptions being ready to be picked up, I decided I’d rather have soup: cream of tomato with sautéed onions, maize corns, carrots and potato dumplings… Not all from scratch; I’m not that good a cook nor that industrious. But it turned out well and that was good.

It was not especially cold outside yet I was chilled. The apartment didn’t help matters as management had yet to fire up the furnace.

With the two vaccinations, I was in fact mildly ill for the next 30 hours or so, not so much sick as simply unwell or maybe under the weather or perhaps an aching malaise. It was a fine occasion for a long hot bath and a somewhat early to bed.

Despite that, I did pick up the prescriptions the next day. The one mile walk to the pharmacy was done in slo-mo, it seemed… and sad, sad Touhy Park where now the homeless gather in larger numbers each year it seems and now the Park District has closed its field house there.

It seems entirely plausible that I might join them on that lawn where old man Touhy once had his manor, if not sooner from a World War III catastrophe or a flood of storm refugees then later as the good doctor continues to cure whatever it is that ails me.

“Men in Blues”

The pacing may have been off a bit, but that comes with the territory when just about every alien in the Hollywood movie universe is (are?) after the Blues Brothers. Because I think it is important that we smile in the rising gloom, may I present to you another video mash-up by Fabrice Mathieu.

I remember Blues Brothers being filmed in Chicago. On one of the filming dates, I was on my bike to Chicago’s south side to get a haircut. It was the last haircut I ever got.

Ou La La!

Photo by Roman.

This is another panel from the 2022 Artists of the Wall. This one, I believe, was completed after the event as I do not at all remember seeing it when I took photos there a week after. There are usually a few panels that get completed in the weeks after, but then, befuddled by fumes of THC as I often am, how can I say for sure if this is one of them?

“Ou la la” could be an appropriate title. “La la,” I have read, is something one might say over spilt milk:

It is a dark and stormy night. The rain comes gushing down: A multitude of splats becomes a roar, the air a thousand concussions. A cold wind descends from heaven. Outside flickers with a sick florescent sky. Inside humidity makes the jar slick when returned to the fridge. It slips. It falls. It breaks in pieces: a half pound of coffee.

Oh! la la…

Thus back in the imaginary days of the Moulin Rouge, “ou la la” accompanied the choreographed display of chorus-girls’ underwear as an expression of mass mock dismay over a collective wardrobe malfunction.

Of course, that may all be so much horse feathers as “la la” is not exclusively dismay…