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07/01 Direct Link
“Glasses broke? Here’s some money. Get that fixed, bro. You’re in a bad place, Dex, very bad. I worry about you. You need to see, and you need to get some sleep, indoors, bro. Don’t you get it, man? I mean in a room on a bed. What did you do with the money I gave you last week? This is important. Your message is very important to me, and I don’t like seeing you like this. Now remember what I told you about Ritter. Remember what they did, who they robbed, and why God is angry with their suits.”
07/02 Direct Link
“Shit. Cop.” Paul stuffed the spraypaint in his backpack and hid the stencil in a newspaper. “Good morning.” No badge, no gun. Security guard, hell.

“Morning? Good night, more like.” The security guard looked at Paul. “Why you up so early?”

“I’m an artist.”

“Artist? So what, You should still be in bed.”

“Then, no reason at all.”

The security guard clomped away, heavy steps in broken, old corframs and polyester work pants. “More clothespins?”

As a train thumped and squealed on the tracks above, Paul slapped the stencil against a steel girder and gave it a fast orange blast.
07/03 Direct Link
Dim, shadowless light filled Sandra’s bedroom. The cats, not free of gravity but fleet enough to ignore it periodically, sprung from cabinet to dresser to vanity and finally into Jason’s lap, which was barely protected by a threadbare comforter. Sarah barely registered the commotion beside her and fell back asleep.

Jason studied the light: on Sarah’s pale shoulder, the walls, nail holes where pictures used to hang, scuffs marking where furniture used to sit and the part of the floor that used to be under a rug, shiny and unscratched.

He pulled the comforter to his chin but couldn’t sleep.
07/04 Direct Link
Interlude: Meditation between Madison and Washington, along the Chicago River

On the east side walls of what was once Insull’s throne, once the Daily News Building, now a decaying reminder of deco splendor, is a series of bas-reliefs depicting the heroes of the written word, culminating in Gutenberg and the Linotype Operator. If one were to continue the building 15 feet into Washington Boulevard, there would be another relief of today’s hero: the Mac Operator. It would feature a giant coffee mug and a one-hitter tucked into his backpack. The font would be Courier. The kerning would be completely fucked.
07/05 Direct Link
Sarah woke up to the sound of hard-soled shoes on a wood floor. “Jason, where you going?”

“I got to go home, get ready for work.” Sarah pulled a sheet around her and met Jason by the bedroom door.

“Is this weird for you?” Jason couldn’t answer.

“What is all this stuff?”

“It’s Paul’s. He’s had three years to collect his things. I can’t get a hold of him anymore. So, it’s off to Goodwill” The living room was filled with boxes, a pile of suits, shoes and a stack of half-finished canvases.

Sarah kissed him. “Call me. OK?”
07/06 Direct Link
Evidence of a very busy night at Jason’s apartment while Jason was at Sarah’s:

3 new pairs of basketball shoes suspended from phone lines, pebbles of auto glass, grocery bags full of empty beer bottles on the front stoop, a freshly painted tag on the mailbox framed by a blue patch of paint that covered last week’s tagging, another one of those clothespins stenciled on the sidewalk (this time in green), various earthy smells in the hallway, a pink-faced red-haired oaf passed out on the sofa, Jason’s bed occupied by two underage girls recently introduced to Long Island Iced Teas.
07/07 Direct Link
“Fatass, wake up.” Jason kicked at the sofa. “Who are you and who are they?”

“Oh shit, you’re Jason, right? I’m Clancy, man, glad to meet you. Woody told me about you. Said you’d be cool with the company. I’ll be staying here til Monday.”

“Woody? Monday?”

“Your roommate” He pointed a plump finger at the shut door with a sketch of Madonna taped to it.

“You mean Jonathan?”

“Is that what he goes by now? Oh shit. Jonathan? JAW-NA-THAEEEEN! Shit, Woody isn’t even real. Then he was Thomas, but never Tom. How many fake names does that fucker have?"
07/08 Direct Link
“Morning Dexter. Come on Dex. Sun’s up. Move it.” Cliff nudged Dexter’s shoulder. “Come on, man. Move it. Dex, come on. I can’t sleep with you passed out on my steps.”

“Ritter, robbers! Devils stole from our savior. And for what? Suits, Cliff. Stuart spelled it out for me.”

“Stuart’s been talking to you again? He give you more money.”

“Yeah, he gave me money so now I got to get my glasses fixed and find a room. I got to get some markers. Where can I get some markers?”

“You’re kidding. Here, man. I got a sharpie. Now move!”
07/09 Direct Link
“And the girls?”

“That’s Woody’s deal, man. We were at a club, right? And he disappeared. It was hours before I realized he wasn’t coming back. I still haven’t seen him. For all I know, his room’s empty right now. But anyway, they were here when I got back last night. Already asleep.”

“Ok, now…”

“Clancy.”

“Ok, Clancy. I’m taking a shower. Make them go away somehow.”

“Alright. Where do you keep the coffee? Don’t worry I’ll find it.”

As the water fell on Jason’s head, the stink of everyone else’s cigarettes was instantly released.. “Christ, who was smoking cloves?”
07/10 Direct Link
As Jason was putting on his bathrobe, the bathroom door partially opened and a chubby pink hand jutted in, holding a coffee cup. “Cream? Sugar?”

“Oh, Thanks Clancy. Don’t worry about it.” The arm left the cup on the toilet tank. Jason completed his morning ablutions and went to his room to get dressed.

“Jason, my man. This is Corrine and Sophie.”

“Bonjour!”

“Get out of my apartment.”

“They’re from France, right? They’re in town for the weekend, then they’re going back to school in…”

“shum pon.”

“Yeah, Champaign, Monday. We’ll go in my car. You want to come?”
07/11 Direct Link
Paul,
S called again and asked if you wanted any of your stuff. I told her I didn’t know where you were, so she’s giving it all to Goodwill and I’m not happy lying. There’s some pot roast and potatoes in the fridge. PLEASE fix the TV so I can watch my videos.
-Mom

Paul spread his map out on the kitchen table. With a pencil, he drew a clothespin mark at Kinzie and Wells, Chicago and Sedgewick, The bridge at Division St., Chicago and Damen. He erased the marks at Superior and Franklin, Huron and Orleans, Chicago and LaSalle.
07/12 Direct Link
Dexter sorted it out carefully. He had enough money from Stuart to get a room for a month, get his glasses fixed, and take the bus downtown each day. He could probably get a little breakfast, too, but would have to walk home tonight. Beyond that, he’d have to beg, work, stand in line at the mission or hope that Stuart shows up again.

“We’ll have a room for you around 11:00, Dex”

“Can I leave my things?”

“Sure. There’s lockers just down the hall. You got a lock? Here’s a lock. Don’t lose the key. I aint got another.”
07/13 Direct Link
“Getting breakfast. You coming?” Clancy, Corrine and Sophie searched for jackets, sunglasses.

“Got to go to work.”

“Awright, my man. We’ll drop you off.”

The French girls climbed into the back seat of Clancy’s Honda and began muttering and giggling in French. “So, Jason my man, what’s up with Jonathan/Thomas/Woody?”

“You’d know better than me. I almost never see him.”

“He’s got a son back in Indiana, you know?”

“No, I didn’t”

“Yeah, before he became JAW-NA-THON he was just another local loser. Then he had to go to art school and that was that. His wife is supporting him.”
07/14 Direct Link
Dexter remembered what Stuart said: He couldn’t go in the building, he had to stay 30 feet away from the front door. As long as he didn’t touch anyone they could arrest him.

He held up his sign:

RITTER CORPORATION ARE DEVIL THEIVES AND HAVE STOLEN FROM MR. AND MRS. JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BURN FOR 1,000,000,000 YEARS FOR THEIR SUITS. DO NOT BUY THEIR SUITS. DO NOT WEAR THEIR SUITS. HELL IS HOTTER THAN THE SURFACE OF THE SUN AND YOU WILL ONLY SUFFER AND NEVER DIE. RETURN TO MR. AND MRS. JESUS CHRIST WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY THEIRS.
07/15 Direct Link
“Jahsawn, Jahsawn, here, take it.” Corrine (or was it Sophie) was holding up a portable CD player and headphones, both fairly new and expensive. “You use them today and have good day."

“Where’d you get these?"

“We got them last night. This weird guy wouldn’t leave us alone. So we took things from him and that’s when we meet Johnathan.”

“JAW-NA-THUNNN” Clancy barked out reflexively, which got big laughs from the girls.

“But yeah, we got that and a gameboy, too. That’s yours for letting us stay. I have CD of French hiphop for you too, if you like.”
07/16 Direct Link
“Morning, Shooter.”

“Hey baby, bang bang. Gotcha, Judy? Debbie? Your cubicle is surrounded come out with your skirts up. pew pew hey Eric! kapow! you have a good night? Looks like you did Chuck! Peeew! Gotcha! Is that pot of coffee fresh? Thank God you don’t want to know about my night last night but it involved these two I dunno Russian or Polish broads hey Stella pew pew looking good new shoes? Jackie, wow, just wow.”

“Hey Jason, click click all out of bullets, partner. Sorry, guy.” He blew on the tips of his index fingers.

“Stuart, go fuck yourself.”
07/17 Direct Link
“Hey partner, that’s no way to talk to your boss. Theoretically, I could fire your ass.”

“Theoretically, you can find someone else to finish everything in time for your 2:00 presentation, too. You got anyone?”

“All right, Jason. Tell you what, let’s get through this crap today. Monday I’ll be in meetings all day. So, Tuesday morning I’ll come in late and you can yell at me all you want. I’ll give you 45 minutes. I’ll sit there and take it.” Stuart leafed through the presentation materials. “Besides, we’ll have the Ritter account by then, man. It’s a cinch.”
07/18 Direct Link
“Why do you do it?” Chef poured Paul a cup of coffee.

“We’ve used up all the symbols. Meaning is inseparable from commodity. I’m taking a symbol and stealing it away from its commodity.”

“You’re also breaking the law. You know, petty vandalism.”

Paul turned the pages of Artforum. “Herring, Basquiat. You know they’re giving these guys shows in galleries now. Graffiti artists, man. People put boards up on walls outside hoping they get bombed by someone famous so they can take the board down and sell it.”

“What was that about commodity?”

“I should be famous in 3 years.”
07/19 Direct Link
“Sarah, hey.”

“You all right?”

“Yeah. Tired, headache. Stuart’s pissing me off.”

“Stay close to him.”

“He’s an ass.”

“Serious, stay close to him. If he ropes in Ritter today...”

“Look, can we get together tonight?”

“Oh Jason I don’t know. I really need to think about… I mean, I’m tired and … I want to see you again, but not so soon.”

“I got… my apartment is… there’s people in my…“

“I’ve got plans tonight. Let’s say Tuesday. Meanwhile, stay close to Stuart. There’s big plans for him.”

“How the Hell do you know all this?”

Sarah hung up.
07/20 Direct Link
“Hey, what’s with the crazy bum with the sign in front?"

“I think it’s more than one guy. It’s been like four days and he’s still at it.”

“I don’t think he’s threatened anybody or come inside the building, so there’s not a lot the cops can do.”

“He’s got to be pretty fucked up to think that we’re a part of some conspiracy or something. I mean just down the street there’s GE and a bunch of military contractors who build real-life spy satellites with digital cameras.”

“I guess this is proof that the new ad campaign is working.”
07/21 Direct Link
“So, yeah, last night I’m talking to these two foreign chicks, I don’t know, Polish or Russian but both fine and they’re dancing with each other and making out and I’m buying them drinks and things are going well so we walk over to my place and, you know it was still early but they wanted to party, right? Right on, man so I go to the bathroom and I come out and they’re gone, my weed is gone, my discman is gone and I look out the window and those bitches are getting in a cab with my stuff.”
07/22 Direct Link
“Recently we’ve seen Ritter’s brand grow, and we would very much like the opportunity to continue what we’ve started, Mr. Ritter. We have lots of ideas for your fall and holiday campaigns. There’s one, however, I’d like to draw your attention to, Mr. Ritter: We would like to put you in front of the camera. We don’t’ think there’s anyone else in the world more qualified to sell Ritter. We’re convinced that, by making you a public figure, “Tailor to the American Man,” we can make a Ritter suit as much a part of our culture as Coke or Nikes."
07/23 Direct Link
“Don’t worry about that, we’ll have the best acting coaches that will teach you how to act natural in front of the camera. We’ll make sure you’re comfortable. You’ll look and sound great, Mr. Ritter. You’ll be talking to whole country like you’re talking to family. Plus, with your face on TV, people will know you and recognize you as the president of a multimillion-dollar corporation. That means that damn near every cocktail waitress in every hotel bar will know that you’re a very wealthy and powerful man. There may be some unintended side benefits to this ad campaign, sir.”
07/24 Direct Link
“Jason, we got comments on the Ready-Tool winter catalog. Mostly piddly stuff. The one thing they really want us to fix is the margins. They said they’re paying for all this paper and they don’t understand why we have 1/4 “ of blank space around every page.”

“That margin’s a safety. You’ll have stuff chopped off if you run copy into the safety. They going to be OK with that?”

“No, God no. We can’t have that. Can you fix that?”

“Not without a safety margin.”

“Look, Jason, I can’t ask the client for anything more. Just fix it, OK?
07/25 Direct Link
“Hi, Sarah? Sarah Muller? This is Brian Clancy. I’m a freelance writer, and I wanted to ask you a few questions about your husband.”

“OK, let’s straighten some things out. You’re a collection agent. Paul and I were never married. I haven’t seen him in three years. His mother doesn’t even know where he is. The last of his things were picked up by Goodwill this morning.”

“Sarah, I’m sorry, please don’t hang up. I’m not from a collection agency. I’m a private investigator.”

“And an inept one. Who’s your client?”

“Can’t say. Look, can we meet for 15 minutes?”
07/26 Direct Link
“How did you swing that? This shit won’t sell suits.”

“Jason, my man, the first thing you need to learn about advertising is that the only target audience you need to worry about is the client. Will it sell suits? Hell, I don’t know. Nobody does. Focus groups, market studies; it’s all bullshit. Our effect on the marketplace can’t be measured. The marketplace can’t be predicted. The only people profiting from that shit are the market researchers.

“So we ‘grow their brand’. ‘You might not see an immediate bump in sales, but, rest assured, your brand is much more visible.'”

07/27 Direct Link
“So, update me. What’s up with the Ready-tool catalog?”

“Stella got comments back. The client wants us to run copy into the safeties and save them paper.”

“Bullshit on that. What’s Stella’s extension? Stella honey it’s Shooter: Listen. I talked to my man over at Rubylith, and he said we can do whatever you like, but it will take special presses and additional setup. He’s drawing up a new estimate for me, but he thinks it will be an additional $85,000. I told him to go ahead with the... OK OK I’ll call him now and tell him to stop."
07/28 Direct Link
“Your guy at Rubylith?”

“No such man, no such place. Jason my man, Sarah Muller. Name ring a bell?”

“Sort of. She’s at Vogel?”

“She is Vogel. Keep this in your pocket: She was asking around about you. Would be a helluva sweet gig to get on her team.”

“Where did you hear this?”

“Sweet, totally sweet. She’s a little old for you, but maybe you dig that. She could be your Mrs. Robinson.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You’ll be working late one night, then you’ll be banging her on the conference room table.”

“Stuart, Fuck off.”
07/29 Direct Link
“OK Clancy, you’re buying me lunch. What do you want to know?”

“Anything you can tell me about Paul Zubrzyck. Do you have anything of his?”

“No. Our last 3 months together he was fading away. He threw out or destroyed most of his things. His books, his portfolio. He started painting again, stopped going to work. Then he’d throw out a bunch of paintings and go back to work. Then he left. I just sent the last of his things to Goodwill. Suits, paperbacks, and unfinished paintings.”

“What of? Abstract?”

“Sort of. A bunch were of a disfigured hand.”
07/30 Direct Link
“Allright, Jackie, What you want to do is select all your background shapes and use the pathfinder.”

“Oh, that figures. Thanks. Hey, who’s Sarah Muller?”

“Fucking Stuart.”

“Yeah, he mentions her name, points at you and sings that stupid coocoocacho song. The old men think it’s hilarious. Oh, he asked me to ask you where you got your headphones from.”

“Huh? Jackass was here 5 minutes ago.”

“Yeah, says you stole them. He’s pissed”

“His were stolen by two Russian girls who wouldn’t spend the night with him. Mine were given to me by two French girls who won’t leave."
07/31 Direct Link
“Paul, you’re drunk.”

“I’m not making this up. He faked his own death and made it look like he was fucking around with rocket fuel in his house. It makes no sense. He had the best lab in the world at his disposal. Why would he have that crap in his home?”

Chef opened another beer. “Dunno, stupid?”

“Not this guy. He’s alive. He’s close, too. Listen, he poured his whole being into changing history, and I mean everything. Trying to summon demons, trying to conceive a moonchild. All this hocuspocus bullshit for nothing. So he’s an ad man now.”