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  • My new commuter friend Harry, who introduced himself this morning on the Howard platform when he recognized me as a compadre in CTA frustration, is telling me about last night’s Blackhawks game. All about it. I don’t have the heart to let him know that there are several layers between his take on the game and me generating a response: I’m not from here, so I don’t follow Chicago teams; I don’t follow any teams, actually; I didn’t see the game because I don’t really watch TV. (I do tell him that last one, even though I’ve tried to stop saying that to people because it puts them on the defensive and compels them to justify their own TV-watching to me, for some reason.)

    Harry tells me that most people don’t live a balanced life, and that he gives it his best shot every evening by getting changed, smoking a spliff, listening to reggae, and exercising. From there, the conversation shifts to areas where I have something to contribute. In 10 minutes, we’ve made our way across Bob Marley documentaries, Studio One, Yellowman, Linton Kwesi Johnson, why PBS is worthwhile, classic jazz and where to buy it, and how Lee “Scratch" Perry lost his mind and moved to Sweden.

    In 10 minutes.

    I step off the purple at Davis. Harry leaves me with this parting thought: “The fact that some people don’t have the opportunity to smoke herb,” he says, ”is the greatest tragedy in this world.”

    Image credit: Buddha Bowl via Flickr under the Creative Commons License (
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