Keeping retirement weird. Get well, Karen.


“I don’t want to see any picture of this on your blog, Klonsky.”

I promised there would be no picture.

It was a classic hot and muggy early summer day in 2012.

A couple hundred of my closest friends were eating free food and drinking free beer at the Red Line Tap.

It was my retirement party.

Matt Farmer and Steve Doyle were rocking it. The Carpenter Ukulele Society (of which I was a member) had performed their set.

It was CTU President Karen Lewis who had issued the warning to me.

She had arrived with a bunch of friends from the CORE caucus who had been having a backyard barbecue a few blocks up the street.

The historic Chicago teachers strike was still six months away. But Karen was already locked in a fierce battle with The Mayor and the mainstream media was not entirely friendly towards CORE, the CTU or to Karen personally.

Big name columnists were demanding she resign as president of the CTU.

Karen was a little gun-shy about the media.

And had every reason to be.

But she was a rock star to all of us at the Red Line Tap that evening.

So I helped her climb up onto the stage.

She spoke a few words to the crowd.

And then Matt and Steve broke into a red hot version of The Weight.

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead.
I just need some place where I can lay my head.
“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “no” was all he said.

And, holy shit,  there I was singing back up on the chorus.

With Karen Lewis.

Take a load off, Fanny.
Take a load for free.
Take a load off, Fanny.
And you put the load right on me.

The news of Karen’s illness – “serious” CTU VP Jesse Sharkey called it – has made for a shitty week for all those who care about the City. And more importantly – far more importantly – care about Mrs. Lewis.

Unlike some of the ghouls in the Chicago media, I fully understand the request for privacy.

Karen’s job now is to get better.

I never did post the pictures of us singing back up.

And I never will.

Get well, Karen.

2 thoughts on “Keeping retirement weird. Get well, Karen.

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