Tim Furman’s “Notes from the Red Line Tap.”

Came home early from Fred Klonsky’s retirement celebration over at the Red Line Tap in Rogers Park. I know better than to stay late at the Red Line. The last time I closed that place, which is right at the Morse CTA stop, I woke up in Hammond, which in case you forgot is in another state.

Long story.

Anyway, what a tribute. The place was packed, and it was a virtual who’s who of the people who elected Obama and were to one extent or another left behind by that particular President, whose campaign for the White House started at the Heartland Cafe, next door. There was more accumulated wisdom about teaching and learning and the purpose of public education than in all the new ed reform foundations in DC combined. Plus an open bar, which as far as I’m concerned is key.Key. 

It’s just so hard for me to reconcile the roots of the Obama campaign with the presence of Arne Duncan in the Cabinet.

None of that matters. It was a hell of a party. If I ever get to retire, and I get half the crowd Fred got at his party tonight, it will be ten times more than I could have hoped for.  According to my camera, I took 168 pictures. Here are a few.

Back at the Red Line. Why I’m a sucker to Tony.

On Friday I’m back at the Red Line Tap.

There’s Tony at the bar.

Tony is always at the bar, so that’s not a surprise.

“You look like crap,” says Tony. “Let me buy you one.”

“Long week,” I say.

“Seven days, like always,” says Tony, who has no permanent relationship with the capitalist system that I am of aware of.


“So, what are you crabbin’ about now,” says Tony in that mocking voice he has perfected by sitting on a bar stool all day.

“Same old, same old. We were down in Springfield this week. Talking to legislators about Quinn’s pension plan. The trouble is that you talk to those goobers and they don’t know a thing about what you’re talking about.”


“They think we get Social Security.”

“You don’t?”

“No! See! That’s what I’m talking about. We’ve been friends for years and you think it too!”

“Stop whining and buy the next one,” says Tony.

“I’m not allowed to be in Social Security, but I pay 224% more into my pension than you would pay into Social Security. That is if you worked. Which, as everyone knows, is highly unlikely.”


“And Quinn would raise that to 295%. Plus the state saves beaucoup bucks by not having to pay into Social Security.”

“Clever,” says Tony.

“A billion dollars a year clever,” I say.

“But,” says Tony, “they had to pay into your pension. So it’s a wash.”



Again I say, “Ah. That’s the scam. They haven’t paid into my pension. That’s why they owe me $85 billion. The feds would never let them get away without paying their share into Social Security.”

“That’s more than I owe Benny the bookie,” says Tony.

“Hey,” says Tony. “Won’t you get Social Security from the job you had scrubbing river rat shit off the pleasure boats at Greebe boat yard off of Belmont? Back when we first met, before you became a teacher.”

“Nope. The feds won’t give me any of it.”

“Let me buy you the next round,” says Tony. “You are the biggest sucker I know.”