Category Archives: Donatas Ludditis

TOP OF THE LIST

by Mark T Wayne

“Admirable!  Superlative!  Top of the list!  Gentlemen, you are indeed fortunate that I invited you here!”  I study the greedy faces of my two compatriots—the estimable Donatas Ludditis (good old Don) as well as the execrable Loop Lonagan and his stinking bull terrier, Clamps.  (Claims it’s a therapy dog.)  We are here as judges, along with a crowd of luminaries from Chicago’s startup community for the finals of the tenth annual POWER PITCH competition.  Today we will hear pitches from a host of exciting new companies.  Yes sir!  The enthusiasm is riveting.

Clamps

Don bows politely and speaks like a gentleman.  “Am glad I come,” he says in his charming Lithuanian accent.

Lonagan leers at me.  “Lemme at ‘em,” he says in his gutter lingo.

The IN2 Accelerator

I scan the ranks of judges and note representatives of the Business Plan Police lurking in the wings.  We want no trouble from them. But I must familiarize my guests with the program.  “This, gentlemen, is IN2—potentially the greatest startup accelerator of its kind in the world, with facilities available at a mere handful of elite universities”  I sweep my arm in an arc to indicate our magnificent surroundings. “Offices here and at the huge 1871 incubator.” 

Clamps releases one resounding bark—basso profundo—and lolls a broad tongue out over enormous teeth.  From a suitcoat pocket, Lonagan produces a hunk of meat.  He tosses it into the gaping maw—just as the teeth snap closed in hungry abandon.  This animal and its uncouth owner make up a last-minute replacement, foisted upon me by the editor.

On stage, Dr. Carl Heine announces the first competitor.  With a cane, I prod my guests and lower my voice to a whisper. “Don’t make me ashamed, you two derelicts.”  Don straightens his back and faces front with all due alacrity and respect.  Lonagan slouches like the slob he is.  The round begins:

IN2 Maker Space

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Flameless

Fifty percent of all residential fires are cooking related. This company uses sound waves—yes, sound waves—to extinguish fires automatically.  It is safe. It is neat.  It does not belch messy fluid or poisonous gas, as do other fire suppression methods.  We watch a video showing the system in action and the audience bustles with delight.   Amazing!

“Five minutes!”  The shout stops the speaker in mid-sentence.  That is the kind of strict discipline that warms my heart.  But even under the gun of limited time, their business plan is complete with financial projections, marketing plan, intellectual property, and go-to-market strategy.  Well coached, sir!  Very well coached!

Moises Goldman – Judge

Lonagan elbows Don and whispers:  “Deeze guys look kinda young, doncha think?”  The response to his juvenile utterance gets cut short when the next company is introduced:

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The Oil Magnet

This is a new technology for cleaning oil slicks.  They disburse magnetic nanoparticles into the spill, and then recover black gold with a magnetic boom.  A demonstration unit elicits gasps from the crowd—the team pulls off this whiz-bang presentation with thoroughness and aplomb.  I believe I’m sensing a rhythm to this event.

Demo

The foul Lonagan leans over to me and mutters with his rank breath and wet voice: “How old d’ya s’pose dem guys is?”

“Shush! You, sir, are making a mistake. Mark your judging sheet.” I thump the document with a finger. “The next company is already speaking.” I cannot abide ludicrous interruptions during business hours.

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Series

Ninety six billion dollars of crops are lost annually due to pests, standing water, and soil degradation.  This company uses drones and GPS to scan farm fields automatically, in both the visible and infrared spectrums.  They scrutinize images against a large computer database and detect damage down to the individual plant.  And they do it cheaply.  Their mentor is DuPont.

Don nudges my arm and leans close to my ear, speaking with hushed tones in his broken English:  “In old country, I not see anything like this.  Is just high school.  Am impressed!”

Judge

Apparently overhearing, Lonagan lets out a shout of desperation:   “Hey, yer sayin’ dis’s a high school?—a high school?” After this inane utterance, he buries his face in both hands and moans as if in deep pain.  “And youse guys dragged me outa bed!  On Saturday!”  His outburst elicits a perplexed expression from the speaker and rumblings of outrage from the judges and crowd.  Clamps leaps against his master and howls.  I am astonished—astonished I say—that the man only just noticed the fact that this is indeed a high school.  True, it does not look like one, but nobody can be that obtuse.

Judge

I am unable to restrain myself from delivering a rebuke, and do not spare any volume:  “Sir, your puerile reaction is entirely inappropriate to the situation!”  I fix my stare until the man squirms.

Clamps wags his tail as I continue:

“This, sir, is THE high school—IMSA—the Illinois Math and Science Academy—the statewide school for the highly gifted!  You may find other schools riddled with dropouts and illiterate stooges that quickly jettison whatever knowledge they accidentally absorb, but these students WANT to lead society! At this fine institution, 99.8% of the graduates go to college!  Many of the businesses you see here come to fruition and these students intern at actual startup companies around the city!” 

Mark T Wayne

As my gaze bores into his soul, the man appears badly stunned.  Dare I tell him that some of these teams are middle school students?  Those around us seem well satisfied with my lecture, but I cannot be certain that any real ideas penetrate Lonagan’s frontal lobe.  From under my shaggy brows, I pin my friend Don with a meaningful glance and tilt my head in the general direction of the foul perpetrator and his dog.

Don immediately comes to my rescue:  “Loop!  Is great place!  Not gangs here!  No drugs!  No fear!”

“Whatsa funna dat?”

Don keeps at him.  “Faculty 47% PhD!”

“Piled Higher ‘n’ Deeper.”

Clamps barks.

Dr. Heine spares us further histrionics by introducing the next pitch.

Judge

iCane

What grandpa is ever without his cane?  This company makes a smart cane with medical reminders, loud SOS alarm location tracking, geo fencing, pedometer, and Bluetooth.  It folds up and is easy to use.  My walking stick seems inadequate by comparison.  What an excellent idea!

Judges

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epilEXPERT

Fifty thousand people a year die from epileptic seizures. It’s a $27.8B market.  This company makes a device that detects the problem, alerts the caregiver’s phone, and keeps a trail of raw data.

Lonagan slurrs out a belligerent question:

“How y’gonna run a business ‘n’ finish yer education at da same time?”  The man has gone from judge to heckler and I find myself acutely embarrassed for him.  The team covered this point in its presentation.  Like most of these companies, it will license its technology—in my view, an elegant and fully reasonable solution.

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Rethink Numeracy

This is a new way to teach numbers to children with disabilities, and the team seems to have cracked the problem.  They’re already working with neuropsychology experts and marketing their methods through a reputable center for the care of children with Downs Syndrome.

Finals

Lonagan scratches his monstrous dog behind the ears and puts another question: “How y’gonna scale a thing like dat?” 

This slurred interrogatory barely precedes the flashing of a badge. “Business Plan Police.  Please come along quietly, sir.”  Lonagan immediately balls a fist and clouts the officer to the floor.

Clamps licks the stricken man’s face. The officer regains consciousness and blows his whistle.

From out of the crowd, three musclebound agents pile onto Lonagan and hustle him out of the room like a roll of carpet.  I catch a glimpse of his feet kicking and hear him spew a few choice and utterly foul invectives as he disappears out the door.  Clamps bounds after them, tail wagging vigorously.

The crowd hushes a moment, then shrugs off the incident and Don lets out a sigh.  “Is bad.  I wonder do we ever see Loop again.” 

I also feel somewhat perplexed about such a questionable privilege.  In any given year, the Business Plan Police arrest a number of startups—never to be seen again—but I have never known them to abduct a judge at a pitch competition.  I can now relax.  It makes me most grateful.

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Finals

Three high school teams will advance to the regionals.  (Lower grades compete and are rewarded, but they cannot advance.)  Last year, IMSA won the top three slots at the regional competition.  Here are the results of today’s event:

Jim Gerry – IMSA

1st Place –  $1500 – award sponsor: Charles Whittaker

  • OIL MAGNET – Marisa Patel-O’Conner, Eden Gorevoy & Sol Hwangbo (Juniors at IMSA)
  • iCANE – Umika Arora (7th grade at St. Catherine Laboure School)

2nd Place – $1000 – award sponsor: Deliciousness

  • FLAMELESS – Sivam Bhatt & Nikhil Madugula (Seniors at IMSA)
  • RETHINK NUMERACY – Akshaya Raghavan (Junior at IMSA)

3rd Place – $500 – Award sponsor: After the Peanut

  • epilEXPERT – Monika Narain (8th grade at Mead Jr High) & Jayant Kumar (7th grade at Grainger Middle School)

Alternate

  • SERIES – Andre Wiedenmann & Tommy Neidlein

Britta McKenna – IMSA

Other Companies (alphabetical)

  • 21 C2 – Maryam Mufti, Erika Ezife
  • ACTIV8 – Anusha Trivedi
  • AMENITY – Sonia Edassery, Milica Barac
  • COMMUTE – Natalie Sanchez
  • BRIDGE TUTORING – Armando Pizano, David Gonzalez, Cain Yepez & Stefany Boyas
  • ENABLE EQUITY – Rachel Mason, Shikha

Adhikari

  • GOGO RIDERS – Rishi Modi
  • IDEAL SUGAR – Maya Wlodarczyk
  • IDROGENY TECHNOLOGY – Sricharan Sanakkayala
  • IMMERSION – Neil John, Samuel Anozie, Samantha Alexis Lehman
  • INSPIRULINA – Meghan Hendrix, Kanika Leang, Harsha Nalam
  • INSTA-VILLAGE – Catelyn Rounds & Julian Kroschke
  • INTELLIFIT – Steven Andreev
  • INTELLI-TEST – Akash Basavaraju
  • PHOCUS – Matthew Selvaraj, Louise Lima, Vaishnavi Vanamala, Eric Errampalli, Arthur Lu
  • POCKET PASS – Ajay Jayaraman
  • PROMETHEA – Ayush Bhalavat, Ian Son
  • SAVE OUR STARVING SOULS – Shreya Parepally, Sofie Heidrich
  • SCHOOLBOARD – Samuel Anozie, Aryan Walia, Mary Ashley Tenedor
  • SHINDIG – Nikita Elkin
  • TAKE HOME – Aliah Shaira De Guzman, Michelle Sia, Aryan Walia
  • TRANSSPEED – Atharva Gawde
  • THINKING CAP – Nishant Bhamidipati, Ryan Talusan, Micah Casey-Fusco
  • VIRTUPEACE – Michael McKelvie, Max Knutson
  • UNITED 5 AEROSPACE – Levi Raskin, Duncan Osmund, Wyatt Funkhouser, Ethan Tse

Dr. Carl Heine – IMSA

IMSA IN2 Contact Info

Address – 1500 Sullivan Rd. Aurora, IL 60506

Website – https://www.imsa.edu/

Dr. Carl Heine – heine@imsa.edu

Britta McKenna – bmckenna@imsa.edu

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Photography – John Jonelis

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, Characters, Chicago Startup, Donatas Ludditis, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, IMSA, Innovation, investor, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, Mobile App, new companies, Startup

JUST WRONG

Remembering the Olympics

by John Jonelis

“That’s just wrong!”  says Loop Lonagan as he grabs his remote control, skips ahead on the DVR, and a major Olympic event flashes by the screen too fast to recognize.  We immediately voice our outrage—all of us: Mark T Wayne, William Shakes, Donatas Ludditis, and me.

T.WAYNE“Go back—go back you idiot!”

ME“What’d we just miss?”

T.WAYNE “The entire race—that’s what we missed!  Execrable!”

Things are usually more congenial.  We like watching the Olympics at Lonagan’s penthouse condo.  And we like the 20 ft. OLED Jumbotron, the glass-wall view of the lake, the Swedish waitresses plying us with drinks and food as we wallow in reclining chairs.  Who wouldn’t?  Every two years we do it—our own private marathon!  AND WE WATCH IT ALL.  Skipping events is not taken lightly.

Loop records every event on every station and presents it all to us in the most excellent way.  He’s a master of the remote!  His skill and judgement add immeasurably to our enjoyment!  We race past the talking heads.  Don’t even stop to hear athlete interviews.  Who has time or patience for such drivel?  There’s always another sport to watch and no shortage at all!  And every one of them is performed with such extraordinary skill!  I absolutely love watching the Olympics this way.

Take figure skating for instance.  Before Loop created our marathon, I’d watch the event live and quickly overflow with indignation at unfair judging. I’d get rowdy, vocal, and loud—probably turn purple—and spoil my appreciation of the skill displayed on ice.  I hate to imagine my effect on other poor souls cursed by close proximity to my fury.  Loop eliminates all that.  Turns out, I find the sport a whole lot more enjoyable if we just watch the excellent skating and wait till the end to see the lineup of winners.

But this time, he’s taken it upon himself to skip an entire event without so much as asking for a vote.

T.WAYNE  – “May I point out, Mr. Lonagan, that your action is entirely outside the realm of polite behavior and unbecoming a host.  We agreed to vote.  Because of that rule, I sat through a flighty ice dancing competition night after night—certainly not an event worthy of Olympic glory like biathlon or hockey—and I held my tongue  (if not my liquor) and filed no complaint!  But this—this is inexcusable!”

LUDDITIS“I agree with Mr. Wayne.  Is not right what you do.  You must go back.”

Albert Einstein

LONAGAN – “Wadda you say, Will?”

SHAKES “Methinks tis sport to race.  To aver smacks pie on thy face.”

With the revolt heated and noisy, Loop’s dog Clamps wakes up and quick as a short track skater, snaps food off plates precariously perched on large bellies.  I hold my shrimp cocktail high over my head, hoping he doesn’t attack.  An 85 lb. Bull Terrier is capable of snapping a 2×4 with his jaws.

LONAGAN“Clamps!  Down!  Okay you guys—if that’s what you’se all want.  I’m windin’ it back.  But yer all gonna be sorry. Just sayin’.”

LUDDITIS“Is better you do right thing.”

T.WAYNE“Here, here!”

Lonagan cues up the recording and the first competitors in doubles luge begin their run.

LUDDITIS – (wiping his glasses)  “Something not right. I see two stiff bodies—piled like corpses.”

SHAKES“Tis a foul sled that slides no good.” 

ME“What’s the purpose of the second guy, anyway?  Looks to me like the one on the bottom gets his stuffings squeezed out. Kinda awkward.”

T.WAYNE“Patently vulgar and preposterous!  Ought not to be allowed!” 

SHAKES“When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools”

LONAGAN “I tried t’ spare you guys all that pain. There’s hardly room fer ONE guy on dem little lude sleds.  And think about it—they practice like that fer four whole years.  Kinda stretches da ‘magination, don’t it? ‘Course, it might be good if just one of ‘em went down holdin’ a greased pig.  Er maybe a keg and see who can empty it the fastest.”

LUDDITIS – “I wonder if parents are proud.”

T.WAYNE“Those men should be taken out and shot!”

LONAGAN“Okay dat’s unanimous. Let’s see what we got next.”

And while we watch the next sport, I attempt to drive the foul image out of my memory.

 

With thanks for inspiration from Jeremie Freund.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel investor, big money, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, investor, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, vc

A STOLEN STORY

by John Jonelis

“Tell me a story, Uncle John!”

“A story eh?” My pal Loop Lonagan got in big trouble telling stories to Jim Kren’s little girl. “Y’know, Princess, in this case, maybe discretion’s the better part of valor.”

“But I always get a bedtime story. I can’t sleep without a bedtime story. Please, Uncle John! Pleeeeeeeeeze!”

How can a guy turn this kid down? “Okay Princess, just lay back and pretend you’re sleepy.”

“Make it a Christmas story!”

“Hmmm.” After a moment, one occurs to me—one I can steal. “Okay Princess, here goes. There’s this bright guy I know. Immigrant entrepreneur. I mean, Princess, he comes to this country and founds a startup company.”

“I know what it means.”

“It’s high tech. Agricultural analytics. Starts it during the dot-com crash around the turn of the century. Despite the lousy economy, it takes off big-time, goes public and makes me and the other investors real happy.

“His two sons work for him to build up the business. They’re his key employees and make fair salaries. The company adds a mobile app, enhanced AI, and thrives right through the 2008 recession. Years later, it’s still strong. Stock keeps going up-and-up.”

“That’s not a Christmas story, Uncle John! That’s business stuff. You sound just like my daddy.”

“Hold onto your red fur hat—I’m just getting warmed up. Papa loves those boys more than anything—wants them to run the company when he retires. Lost his wife years ago and these two are all he cares about.

“Now let’s look at the younger son. He knows he’s gonna inherit a lot of stock some day and can’t want to get his hands on it. He feels trapped and longs to run his own life while he’s still young. So on Christmas in 2006, he announces he wants his inheritance—right now. Like most kids that age, he’s full of himself—not seeing things from his fathers point of view, maybe not considering all the ramifications of what he says. But it’s kinda like telling the old man, ‘I wish you were already dead so I had your money.’”

“That’s not nice.”

“No it’s not and it gets worse. The young buck’s not interested in the company at all. Not planning to stick around. Just wants to cash out and enjoy life.”

“This is a bad boy, Uncle John.”

“Ah Princess, don’t be so hasty to judge. You don’t know what’s really in his heart. Now the company’s listed on Nasdaq, and Papa still owns 40% of the shares. He says to himself in his broken English, ‘That what they want? Okay!  Is Christmas!’ There’s a family trust set up, so he simply transfers his stock—all of it to the two boys.

“Right away, the young colt sells his stock on the open market. With all that loose cash, he feels rich. So he moves to Vegas. Lives the wild life. Gambling all night. Show girls. Maserati. Yacht. Private jet. Hangs around with movie stars. And lots of foolish investments that don’t pay off. He never calls or writes home. Doesn’t visit the next Christmas.

“Now the older brother is still working at the company. But as you might have guessed by now, the old man is really the brains of the outfit. The shareholders—especially that big VC firm that owns a lot of stock with a seat on the board—they all want to keep Papa running the company. The board of directors votes to keeps him on as CEO, with a fat salary—bigger than he ever paid himself.

“Now I want you to notice something: That move wrankles the older brother. He secretly wants to run the show, but there’s nothing he can do about it. So he hoards his shares and bides his time. He stays at his job, working harder and harder, trying to prove himself. Doesn’t like it that his father’s salary is coming out of his share of the company. Can’t wait for the old geezer to croak so he can slide into that big desk.”

“Ugh! How horrible! This brother is worse than the other one!”

“Right Princess. Pappy doesn’t have a clue what’s cranking through this guy’s mind. The kid works hard. He’s dependable. Therefore, he must be a fine boy, right? But he’s so secretive—so sour—never smiles—and for some reason that Pops doesn’t understand, the other one still holds a soft spot in his aging heart.

Back to the younger buck: By the second year, this kid’s portfolio takes a dive, and at the same time, he’s going through money like water. Kid starts looking for work. After all, he was a big executive at a successful company. Impressive LinkedIn resume and all. But now it’s the great recession of 2008 and all he can get are temporary consulting jobs. He forms a startup company, crunching numbers for big investment houses and actually raises some capital. But not enough. Goes belly up within the year. Figures he’s a failure and he’s ashamed to let his father know how bad things are turning out for him. So he doesn’t visit the family that Christmas either.

“By the third year, he’s broke, can’t pay the rent, and gets evicted from his hotel suite. Most of that year, he’s living in his car and scrounging food, feeling mighty low.

“Don’t cry, Princess.”

She sniffs. “This is a terrible Christmas story.”

“Wait and see. Finally, the kid hits rock bottom and comes to his senses. I mean—hey—he’s starving to death. He decides to go home. Even newbies at his dad’s company make a decent living. He’ll confess everything to his father—his failure, his waste—he’ll apologize and beg for a part-time job. Nothing special—maybe an internship or some low-level gig on probation—something like that. He knows it’s more than he deserves.

“Out of the blue, Papa sends him an invite to Christmas dinner and a plane ticket that year, so he texts that he’ll come. Spends the whole flight practicing his confession.

“On Christmas Eve, the old man gets restless; hires a limo and goes out to make a few preparations. Phones his secretary with special instructions. Stops at Mens Wearhouse and lotsa other places. Gets to O’Hare and hangs around for hours. I mean, this guy hasn’t even heard from his boy in three years! When the kid finally walks out the concourse, Papa runs to him, throws his arms around him, hugs him tenderly, tells him he’s glad he’s home. The kid hasn’t changed clothes in a year. Stinks to make your eyes sting. No luggage. Papa leads his son to the limo, arm over his shoulders, and tells his boy he loves him.

“In the back of the limo, the boy stammers out his practiced confession, tears streaming down his face, but his father will have none of it. ‘Stop—no more!’ he shouts. If there’s anything this kid ever learned, it’s to obey his father’s commands. Papa breaks out two tumblers and a bottle of Drambuie and leads the conversation into fond recollections and good times. Does most of the talking and the kid can’t help but laugh at some of the memories.

“Limo stops at the Union League Club and they take in a steam and swim and shower. The kid opens his locker to find a new shirt, jeans, sport jacket, shoes—the works. He can hardly believe it and again stammers out his confession.

Enough already! I not hear it!’ says his father, and the old man’s word is always final.

“When they get home, the place is full of Papa’s close friends and dear customers—maybe 300 people. A twelve foot tree sparkles with a million lights.  A live band pumps out Christmas music.  The aroma of good food fills the house. A caterer lays out an amazing number of enormous turkeys with stuffing and potatoes with gravy, and cranberry sauce, wine and all the trimmings. All that food takes up the big table in Papa’s baronial dining room and they set up a buffet line. People enjoy their meal milling around, indulging in lively conversation. When everybody eats their fill, out comes the pumpkin and mincemeat pies, ice cream, coffee, and brandy. The band leads the crowd singing carols. Take it from me: this is a great party! I for one, enjoyed every minute of it.

“Now the older brother works late at the office that night, as usual. One of the guests notices him out front, pacing in the snow. Papa runs out to him—doesn’t even stop to put on his coat. Begs the boy to come in and join the party. But the kid spits out words in anger: ‘I work for you day and night! I never refuse to do anything you say! Do you ever throw a party for me? But when this worthless bum—this son of yours—shows up, after squandering your money on women and gambling—you celebrate like some kind of idiot, disgracing us in front of all our friends and customers!’

“Papa hugs him and speaks softly to him in his native dialect. ‘On you I depend always. You are good boy. You own all my company stock. But your brother is home! After three years he come home! We must celebrate! Is like he come back from dead!’

“But the older brother won’t be consoled. He curses and shouts, ‘He should be dead,’ and gets in his car and drives off.”

I smile at Princess. She doesn’t look sleepy at all.

“What happens then?” she says.

I sigh. “The old man—Uncle Ludditis, in case you hadn’t guessed already—he eventually retires and opens that bar he always dreamed about.  Rents me the back room for my magazine.  The older brother takes over as CEO and forces the younger one out.

“Uncle John!  That can’t be the way it turns out!  It’s not fair!”

“Why not?  Those are the consequences of their decisions.  The older one holds onto his 20% share of the company so he finally runs that show, a rich miser living alone.  The younger one learns from his mistakes, finds employment elsewhere, marries a good woman, raises two wonderful children.

“And Princess, their father loves them both deeply, no matter what.  His love is all he has left to give and he’s not stingy with it.  Close your eyes now.  Merry Christmas.”

Story credit: Jesus Christ, The Parable of the Prodigal Son –Luke 15:11-32

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More Christmas Stories:

BEST GIFT

A LOOP LONAGAN CHRISTMAS

THE BUM IN ME

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, Big Corporations, big money, Conflict, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Culture, investor, Jim Kren, loop lonagan, Mobile App, Relationships, Startup, startup company, vc, venture capital

KILLER SHILLER

John Jonelis


Robert Shiller TAt Loop Lonagan’s urging, I’m walking his 85 pound bull terrier Clamps down the hard Chicago winter pavement. I don’t mind because it’s an opportunity to road test my two knee replacements.  That’s right; I’m the happy product of the wonders of modern orthopedic carpentry!  And I enjoy the best physical therapy known to man because I own the company!

Old Donatas Ludditis flanks my other side to make sure I don’t slip on a stray patch of ice. Despite my upbeat attitude, I hold Clamp’s heavy leather leash with some trepidation.  In my condition, I seriously doubt my ability to control such a large and volatile animal.

DSC04929e500

Clamps

I ask Loop why he insisted on this excursion.

“Hadda break you outa that place. Dem physical therapy gals is controllin’ yer whole life.  And we got business t’ discuss.  Ain’t that right, Don? ”

Old Man Ludditis slowly nods. “You listen to what he say. In old country we obey elders, not women.”

I can’t imagine anybody more elderly than Don but I object: “Everybody says my recovery is going so well.”

Don lays a hand gently across my shoulder, as if taking me into his confidence. “John, I know you invest big in this physical therapy company…but it not right.”

“Phooey! All the employees of Pavlovian PT are extremely lovely young ladies—” I catch my blunder and quickly shift gears. “I mean highly skilled physical therapists.”

Don sadly shakes his head. “John, it not look good. It seem—how you say—immoral.”

“It does plenty for my morale.”

Lonagan sighs. “Dem females got you completely bamboozled.   Yer prob’ly takin’ enough Norco so’s you don’t notice.  Brain’s like mush.  So lemme lay it out fer ya, okay? 

  • “That nutritionist feeds you fulla nothin’ but vegetables ‘n’ health food supplements. Doncha even notice what yer eatin’? Today, we’s gonna get ourselves some thick juicy steaks. How’s about that?
  • “Then there’s that Asian beauty twists ya into a pretzel twice a day ‘n’ yer too numb ‘n’ googoo eyed t’ feel any pain. C’mon, admit it—yer putty in her hands. So it ain’t yer brains behind this deal. What does that leave us with?
  • “Then that knockout Swedish masseuse gives you a hot bath ‘n’ rub down. Hoo boy, I ain’t sure I can take any more ‘o dis.

“I deeply resent these lewd insinuations.  Nothing improper is going on.”

“Resent away, John. Sheesh—I betcha never give business er economics a thought.  Prob’ly fer weeks.  Get my drift?”

He’s got me there. Economics definitely hasn’t crossed my mind at all.

Clamps lunges at a bright green Lexus sedan.  Probably targeting a tire. I haul back on the leash and quickly lose my balance.  Lonagan grabs the lead and lifts me by the collar before I tip over.  A broad smile spreads over his mug.

“But now we’s free, John boy! Take a deep breath! We can talk ‘bout anything youse guys want.  And get some real food!”

“Yah,” says Don.  “Good talk. Good food.  This is place.”

We’re at Michael Jordan’s Steak House.

“Just hook Clamp’s lead over that post.” Lonagan points toward the curb where cars whoosh past on Michigan Avenue.

“Loop, this is a rare and valuable animal. Somebody will steal him.”

“Can’t take ‘im inside. It’ll be okay.” 

We leave the dog at the curb, get ushered to comfortable red leather seats, and immediately order our steaks.

Loop leans back, takes a healthy sip of beer, and exhales in satisfaction—a clear signal he’s opening up a topic of conversation. “I saw Robert Shiller talk the other day. Big deal economist.  Know the guy?”

Robert Shiller

Robert Shiller – from Wikipedia

It takes me a moment. “Uh…financial guru? Yale, I think.  Nobel prize in econ?”

Don: “He share prize with Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen. They—both of them—University Chicago boys.”

Loop slams his empty glass to the table. “Them guys never agree on nothin’. Fama gave us that crazy Perfect Market Hypothosis.”  He spins his index finger around his temple—an unmistakable and insulting gesture.

I lean back to enjoy the fireworks.

Ludditis raises his voice a notch. “Perfect Market Theory—it settled science

Loop: “Well, I guess a guy’s gotta believe in somethin’. I hate t’ contradict a good Chicago boy but that theory is a load o’ bunk.”

Don: “Big finance thinkers—they all say is true.”

Loop: “Only in universities ‘n’ now Shiller proved otherwise. Da big brokers ‘n’ traders always knew better.  It’s so stupid, it’s—” 

Loop stops. Cocks his head.  Switches to a conciliatory tone. “Okay Don—why doncha explain it to us in simple terms, so’s we understand?”

Don raises himself erect in his chair. “I try. With you, is not so easy.  I give example:  Once upon time, news come out on certain stock.  Investors, they predict it go up.  Everybody buy.  Drive up price.  Stock no longer good value.  Fall again.  Price chart show no logic or reason—what they call Random Walk.”

“Bullshit!” Loop’s thick fist pounds our heavy table and beer sloshes out of my glass.  “Sure they drive up da price.  It’s a determined strategy.  Once that happens, the trade is done, ‘n’ all da smart money is already out with fat gains leavin’ da retail crowd high ‘n’ dry.  Markets move due t’ aggression.  It ain’t some disconnected perfect market.   Real traders profit in real dollars. 

“But now that’s changing too. Da High Freaks—I mean da big brokerage houses—is tradin’ with powerful computer algorithms, in ‘n’ out in miliseconds.  Hell, they make over 70% of the volume ever’where ya look.  They pushed all da floor traders off the edge of the world.  Kaput!  Short term gets killed off by shorter term ‘n’ da universities still say it don’t exist!”

Me: “That’s why you switched to private equity?”

“Yeah, I saw it comin’ years ago.” Loop shows both palms.  “But I still wanna talk about Bob Shiller.

S&P Price Earnings, Div, Int from Irrational Exuberance Shiller

S&P Index Price vs Dividends – from Irrational Exuberance

“Ever’body thinks investors make rational decisions.  Shiller’s a completely different animal.  He takes into account all da crazy stuff goes on. He gave us Behavioral Finance.  He called da internet bubble o’ 2000 right to the month. Then he gave us da Case-Shiller Index ‘n’ called the housing bubble.” 

Loop turns his palms back down.  “Fama never predicted nothin.’   

Loop pauses—for effect I suppose—then goes on: “Shiller says, you can predict asset prices. Fer an economist, dis is big stuff!  How does he do it?  Way too much volatility caused by illogical decisions compared to future cash flow.  Turns out you can measure it.  That shakes up da whole academic world.” 

Home Prices, Irrational Exuberance Shiller

Home prices – from Irrational Exuberance

So this is this the news flash I missed while embroiled in such excellent and enjoyable physical therapy.

Don: “You not correct about Shiller study.  It predict long term only.  To quote famous economist, ‘In long run, we all dead.’”

Loop: “Yeah, Shiller’s model’s limited t’ dividend-paying stocks, so that’s as far as he can go fer now. Maybe someday he gets the resta the story.” 

Our steak is served and we all tuck in. When dinner is done, Lonagan surprises me by paying the bill.

We exit the premises to find Clamps crouched on the pavement, his short, powerful tail wagging vigorously. The dog is happily chewing on an electric green Nike sneaker.  I always thought dogs were color blind.

Loop bends down to inspect the shoe. “Just makin’ sure there ain’t no foot in it.”

READ – THROW THE BUM OUT

 READ SERIES FROM BEGINNING

Sources:

Wikipedia bio on Robert Shiller.

IRRATIONAL EXHUBERANCE – Robert Shiller

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences – Prize in Economice 2013

 

Image Credits –Irrational Exuberance—Shiller,  Bio on Wikipedia

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, Big Corporations, big money, Characters, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Conflict, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Financial Markets, loop lonagan, Nobel Prize, vc, venture capital

SABBATICAL

Tahiti TBy Mark T Wayne

“He’s in Tahiti,” says Loop Lonagan.  “Dat’s where Jonelis is.  Them guys at Heartland Angels oughta know.”

Speaking strictly for myself, I see no excuse for a man like Lonagan and place no weight on his opinions.  I may fire him—I have not yet decided.  After all, Jonelis ain’t here.  He announced a sabbatical and disappeared.  That is correct, sir!  I am in charge!  That is my hat on the hook.  Those are my boots resting on the WWII Air Force desk.  I will take this opportunity to exercise my power as I see fit.  Any fool that criticizes my splendid white suit or magnificent mustache may face instant dismissal!

“I dunno….”  Big Bill Blair’s deep bass rattles the desk drawers.  Mark T Wayne 2“I bet Mr. Jonelis is just…I mean prob’ly just…just holed up someplace on a binge.  That’s duh way I’d play it.  I mean with a bottle and a broad—”  Bill stops, puts his huge hand across his mouth, lazy eyes locked on Janet Case—the only woman in the room.  Perhaps Bill is experimenting for the first time with some form of deep thought.  Then he seems to come to a decision:  “Well he’s just holed up, see?”  He sets his jaw.  I consider it providence that he does not utter any more lewd speculation.  Even a giant must take account of the moral sensibilities of others.

Bill is so big we built a special chair for him out of packing crates and lumber.  It keeps him in one place.  Better that than permit him to roam the office like a rogue elephant, knocking over boxes and squashing feet.  It is true, there is plenty of space in the back room of Ludditis Shots & Beer, but Bill is a large and powerful man and rather clumsy.  Perhaps this is not your plush corner office but while I’m in charge, I insist on keeping it neat!

Albert EinsteinDonatas Ludditis breaks out in a big Lithuanian grin.  “I take sabbatical too, some day.  On yacht maybe—all alone.  Ride ocean waves.  Snooze away in peace.  Fight sudden squalls.  Fish for meals.” He sighs happily and settles back.   “Is good.  I think Yonn think same way as me.”  I grant Ludditis his opinion.   He owns this bar and is technically our magazine’s landlord, but at his age, I would advise him to consider that trip right quick.

The sweetest part of my new situation is that Jim Kren, the insufferable toady, remains Assistant Editor.  Now he is my toady—mine, I say!

“Jonelis isn’t the yachting type—he’s a pilot,”  Kren says peevishly, then points to a photograph hanging from a nail, depicting John’s yellow Stearman biplane in flight.  “He always talked about making a flight across the Atlantic.  That’s what he’s doing now.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

“In that crate?”  Lonagan grabs the photo and studies it closely.  “Where’s he gonna store the extra fuel?”

A feminine voice cuts the air.  “Strike the airplane.  What kind of idiot would cross the ocean in an open cockpit during winter?  The only place to refuel between here and the British Isles is Reykjavik, Iceland.”  This is Janet Case talking, a professional correspondent that Jonelis hired prior to leaving.  She slips off her horn rimmed glasses and speaks in precise diction.  “Put away the sailboat.  John gets violently seasick.  You can forget about Tahiti, too.  I happen to know he won’t be caught dead on a beach.”

Ludditis Shots and Beer

“Maybe it’s one o’ dem nude beaches.  I’d kinda like—”

“Lonagan!”  At my shout, he abruptly stops.  That man is execrable.  “Have the decency to let the lady speak.” 

Janet inspects Lonagan from a distance, as she might a fungus growing in an unexpected place.  “That’s ridiculous.  The man can’t tan.  Twenty minutes in the sun and he’d fry to a crisp.  Ugh!  What a repulsive thought!  I regret bringing it up.”

I shudder at the image as well.  A fully exposed over-plump torso, red as a rotting apple crawling with flies.  Intolerable!

Lonagan plunges into further speculation and the others add their opinions in rapid fire:  mark twain collection“Maybe he’s opening a casino.  Hitchhiking the continent.  Climbing Everest.  Racing the Iditarod.  Spearfishing for Great Whites…”  The room is loud with the shouting of opinions.

For my part, I can think of no better sabbatical than rafting the Mississippi.  Knowing John, I figure he’s in a comfortable houseboat or cabin cruiser, swaddled in a comfortable chair, sipping a hot coffee, reading the collected works of America’s greatest author.

Perhaps one day we will know the truth.   ■

read ROUGHING IT

Photos of bar by John Jonelis.  Stearman from Wikipedia.  Others public domain.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under alcholics, angel, angel capital, angel investor, Big Corporations, big money, Bill Blaire., Bums, Characters, Chicago Ventures, Conflict, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Heartland Angels, investor, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, vc, venture capital

A LOOP LONAGAN CHRISTMAS

Clamps Portrait TJohn Jonelis

This is outrageous.  I’m concentrating on my computer screen when a huge mitt grabs me by the back of the belt and plucks me from my chair.  Next thing I’m dangled high over the desk, arms and legs flailing till I steady my balance and end up nose-to-nose with Big Bill Blair, our urban Paul Bunyan.

“‘Scuse me, Mr. Jonelis,” he says in a slow polite rumble that carries with it a stale smell of corned beef and cigar.

Big Bill slowly chews gum. Looks disinterested.  Acts like nothing’s unusual.

I know he once terrorized jobsites for Boilermaker Local 1, but he’s supposed to be tame now—supposed to be working for me.  Cripes, I even took him fishing this summer!  Yet this guy just reaches across my big WWII Air Force desk and picks me up as if I were a gum wrapper.

Canada 2014-8592p Bill Blaire SMALL A

Fishing with Big Bill Blaire

Abduction at Gunpoint

He turns his lazy gaze to the side. “Whaddayuh want I should do with ‘im, Mr. Lonagan?”

“What else?  Bring ‘im with.  Think yuh can handle ‘im all by yerself er what?”  I turn to see Loop Lonagan holding a huge Glock, giving the orders.  What is this?  Some kind of magazine mutiny?

Bill tucks me under an arm and we swoop out of the office (in the back room of Ludditis Shots ‘n Beer) and into the main dining area.  Between the pool tables, I see Alexander Harbinger, Mark T Wayne and Jim Kren tucking away potato pancakes while Donatas Ludditis polishes the bar.  Nobody glances our way.

ludditis-shots-and-beer-500

My Office

“Hey!  Look sharp!  Youse guys is all comin’ with me NOW!”  Loop makes menacing gestures with the oversized automatic.

First I see four sets of jaws hang wide.  Next they’re lined up behind us.  We move out to the street.

I scan for police.

Nothing.  Loop’s wagging that big pistol around and still nothing.  This is Chicago.

Like any ordinary citizen, I’m feeling a mite indignant by now and I jab an elbow into a tender place.  Bill doubles over and drops me to the cold concrete pavement.  Not wasting any time, I scramble to my feet and glare a challenge at Loop.  “What the—”

He puts two fingers to my lips.  “I’m warnin’ yuh John, don’t start up with me.   I had it up to here!” 

I pause a moment, tantalized by the thought that a clue to this madness might be forthcoming.

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A Clue to the Madness

The others crowd around, probably hoping for a fight while Loop keeps talking.  “Been plannin’ this shindig fer months ‘n’ nobody shows up.  Not a one!  Even set it a week early so nobody’s got an excuse.  My brother Boyle—” Loop’s voice alternates from angry to one pinched in mockery.  “—He’s settin’ up trains for Little Sean.  My sister Bridgett—she finally got an appointment with that oh-so-special hair dresser.  And Brianna ‘n’ her crowd all caught some kinda bug—‘n’ they’s so-so considerate and don’t wanna get me sick.  And Grandma ‘n’ Grandpa Lonagan—they’s way-way too tired after all that shopping.”   

He’s suddenly serious.  “Then my new gal Irene and her family o’ forty cancel out.  That finally sets me off.  I’m tellin’ yuh, da table’s all set—lotsa wine, sixteen waiters, da works.  More fancy food than you can eat in a month.  You guys is all invited!  Wanna come?”  

I’m stunned to silence. Do we want to come?  To a Loop Lonagan Christmas party?  I picture the sumptuous feast waiting for us and my mouth waters!  Hell yes we all want to come! Besides, everybody knows how important this is to Loop.  He cashed in millions and millions on that big deal and for months he’s been planning this huge event.  And now his lousy miserable family—many that he probably supports, the ungrateful louts—they let him down at Christmastime, the poor sweet guy.  And we haven’t seen his new penthouse yet, either.  Sure, we’re all eager to oblige!  A little thing like kidnapping can’t stand in the way of friendship!  (Such is the state of my rationalization.)

Loop abruptly moves down the street.  Blaire herds us along like sheep, but Ludditis, Wayne, Harbinger and Kren all follow grinning at one to another.  This is gonna be good.

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Man on the Street

Mark T WayneThe line abruptly halts.  Loop is talking to a street bum and I move up to hear.  “…Big Bubba?  Great!” says Loop, “and Old Man Percy?  Yeah, he can come along too.”  Then he sees me standing close.  “John, this is Fred.  I told you he’d be an asset to the magazine.  That was a long time ago and it looks like yuh missed yer chance.  He accepted the post as my personal sekertary.”  Fred shakes my hand while Loop keeps talking.  “Fred here rounded up some o’ my old street friends and a couple I ain’t met yet.”  Loop is smiling now.  “And I got Lonny and Lucile to come.  They run that terrific diner.  And Kate and Lafonda, too—they been workin’ at that joint forever.”  Loop spreads his arms in an expansive gesture.  “That makes Sixteen!  We yank all them extra spacers outa da table and it’ll be just right!  There’s gonna be one waiter fer every guest!”

Then he waves an arm.  A bright red stretch Hummer—it must be fifty feet long—slides to the curb sideways with the sound of squealing brakes and tires.  A fine, fat Santa Claus sits behind the wheel.  I think he’s smiling.  A tall, distinguished-looking man in a bowler hat steps out and holds the side door open in a deferential and inviting manner.

Naturally, we all pile in.

Some go straight for the car bar.  I sit back and watch.  Turns out the bowler hat’s name is Meadows—Loop’s new butler.  Loop hands him the Glock, which instantly disappears in his tailored coat.  I wonder how many other weapons he carries in there.

Along the way we stop and pick up various individuals and soon arrive in full celebration at a swank high rise with a view of Lake Michigan.

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Loop Lonagan’s Penthouse

Santa opens a door and we spill out like Cheerios from a cereal box except there’s nothing uniform about us.  I wonder if they’ll even allow us in this place.  True, Loop is wearing a suit that easily cost $2,000 or more and Meadows is impeccable.  Alexander Harbinger always looks distinguished and Mark T. Wayne might get away with his white flannels.  But Lonny and his crew came straight from work at the diner.  That guy still wears a greasy apron over a greasy undershirt.  Then there’s Fred and his friends Big Bubba, old man Percy, and a couple of guys named Pete and Eugene—right off the street.  And of course, Ludditis and me—I’ll leave that to your imagination.

A doorman wearing shoulder boards opens the huge glass entrance and stands at attention.  He doesn’t blink an eye as we file past.  Loop leads us to an elevator.  “This one’s mine,” he says.  The door opens to his key.

It whisks us straight to the penthouse.

Clamps and Bone 500

Clamps

It’s a strange feeling stepping off an elevator directly into somebody’s living room.  Clamps, an 85-pound bull terrier, enthusiastically greets each of us in turn, then disappears somewhere in the recesses of the room, tail wagging.  Turns out, Loop’s condo is the size of a furniture store.  A fifteen-foot-tall Christmas tree graces the room with thousands of tiny white lights and the most amazing collection of individual Christmas ornaments.  It’s flanked by piles of wrapped gifts.  Somewhere off to the side, a Swing band plays loud and lively carols.  Two blondes staff the bar and in no time, we’re all lounging on leather sofas singing along or listening to Mark T. Wayne tell ridiculous stories.  Old Man Percy sleeps in his chair.

Football Santa 500

Football Santa

Putting up my feet, I lean back to enjoy the music for a while.  Waiters rotate among the crowd balancing trays stacked with tall stems and tiny plates.  Ludditis cracks walnuts with his biceps.  He does that any time he gets a chance.  Harbinger is the only one who sits military-straight, a plate balanced on a thigh, a shot of schnapps held between two fingers.

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The Christmas Bash

Then a gorgeous buxom blonde, wrapped in a white towel, peeks out a door, bending low to best advantage.  In a heavy Swedish accent, she beckons to us.  Fred immediately floats toward her.  I’m thinking that guy’s pretty quick on the uptake.  Loop leans a hand on my shoulder.  “Hilda gives real good Swedish massages,” he says.  “And dis place’s got five hot tubs, all staffed.”

I look around and some of the other guests have already left to take advantage of the amenities.

The band plays Glenn Miller’s In the Mood.  Lonny and Lucile, now changed to formal attire, dance and they soon work up an enthusiastic jitterbug.  Kate surprises everybody by nicely filling out a slinky evening gown, bare back, neckline plunged to the waist, and Ludditis sweeps her away even if she’s sixty years younger.  They can cut a rug, too.  Lafonda, still in her waitress uniform, tugs Big Bill to the dance floor.  They make a good couple—she’s nearly tall enough for him, and certainly adequate in girth.

FREE SAMPLES - VODKA OR GIN 500

Open Bar

I’m polishing off my third round of spiced eggnog-and-cognac, when Fred emerges from the bedroom scrubbed clean, looking relaxed from his massage, wearing a big grin and a dark Hart Shaffner Marx suit.  If he’s Lonagan’s new secretary, he looks the part and then some.  After another eggnog, Big Bubba plops down beside me, decked out in spanking new Carhartts and smelling like a flower garden.  Amazing Loop had anything on hand big enough to fit him.  Eugene shows up in camo pants and an Eddie Bauer chamois shirt.  Loop says he can get these guys on the Bears roster.  If not—he just shrugs.

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Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

Now Hilda and the other Swedish bombshells are packing the elevator, followed by a squad of haberdashers wheeling racks of clothing.

Pete sits with his drink, scrunched up, looking sour and desperately filthy.  Einstein 6bFor some reason, Donatas Ludditis is angry with the guy, and he’s waving his powerful arms in wild gesticulations.  Then the shouting starts.  “You not want Swedish massage?” says Ludditis.  “Why you not say?  Why you not give this old man a chance?  Now is too late!  Look, they all go!”

Pete utters a viscous curse and Ludditis gives it back double.  That cuts it and they’re at each other with bare knuckles.

In an amazing display of athletic prowess, Meadows grabs each by the shirt collar and hustles them to the elevator for its next trip down.  That accomplished, he brushes his hands and coughs by way of getting our attention, then announces, “Dinner is served.”

Old Man Percy jogs awake.

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The Feast

We file into a baronial dining room.  Loop must’ve scrounged the wood paneling from the Potter Palmer mansion.  The table is huge with delicately carved legs, fat as tree trunks—the sideboard enormous—the artwork of questionable taste and probably not fit for polite company.  I will not describe it here.

We sit down to an elegant setting, a waiter stationed behind each chair.  Loop asks me to pray and I do.  I thank the Lord for our meal, our companionship, and ask him to give everybody here the guts to rely on the One who paid it all because none of us will make it on our own steam.  Lonagan is already fidgeting.  Kren is clearly perturbed.  A couple others look uncomfortable.  But there are those at the table who echo my Amen.

Then the food comes and keeps coming.  Pheasant, Duck, Goose with dressing and potatoes.  Wine and exotic fruit.  All the trimmings.  This is game harvested by Lonagan himself.  Yes, he belongs to a fancy hunt club.  Owns it for all I know.

I’m happy to see Ludditis rejoin the party and we dig in with enthusiasm.   I ask him what happened and he gives me a cryptic response:  “He called plenty but chose few.”  He gives no other explanation, but the words sound familiar.

After huge helpings of mincemeat pie and ice cream, Loop sets out a mahogany box of cigars.  Fred taps a cigarette from a pack and three waiters snap expensive lighters to life.  I stagger out to the showroom and select a big soft couch for a nap.  Before I nod off, I hear Loop yell, “Presents everybody!”  The band strikes up again and brings me pleasant dreams.

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Overnight Guests

Late next morning, I say goodbye to Santa Claus and his long red Hummer.  All is well and I’m content.  And there’s still plenty of time to recover before for my family festivities get underway.  But the rest of that crowd keeps it going till after the New Year.

Deep in my heart I utter a silent, Merry Christmas to Loop Lonagan.

Ω

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More

For more on Loop Lonagan [click here]

Photography by John Jonelis except for Donatas Ludditis and Mark T Wayne

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Bill Blaire., Bums, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Christmas, city, Derelicts, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Homeless, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, investor, sleeping on a sidewalk, the man with the twisted lip, vc, venture capital

LIES ABOUT PARADISE

Canada 2014-8643ATas told by Mark T Wayne

I recognize a sharp character flaw among outdoorsmen of all sorts—an uncontrollable urge to exaggerate—particularly after an excursion to a wilderness such as northern Manitoba. Permit me to treat you to a few horror stories of the Great North Woods.  I promise to debunk them all.

 Mobs of Tourists

Multitudes of crude drinking-age folk and their dirty urchins shack up in run-down resorts and shabby private cabins. They dot the shores and pollute these once-fine waters. Long, loud lines form at boat ramps.  Rough individuals engage in open hostility.

Mark T Wayne

Huge speedboats, stinking of gasoline and oil, cut across fishermen’s lines. Meanwhile, high-speed suicide boats equipped with 150 horsepower motors shoot up rooster tails of greasy water as they propel themselves gunnel to gunnel at 70 miles per hour in a desperate competition for the rare undisturbed fishing spot.

Canada 2014-8226A

That may be true of many waters one might fish.  But my experience is entirely different. Ours is THE ONLY LODGE ON THE LAKE.  I am speaking of a body of pristine water almost FIFTY MILES LONG with close to 150 islands!  Dense forest surrounds us for hundreds of miles.  NO ROADS.  That is correct sir!  Our magazine staff and I have the place all to ourselves and for a span of four days, we OWN this vast stretch of wilderness paradise.

Canada 2014-8279A

Yes, I must congratulate Jonelis, no matter what anybody says about the man. He picked a plumb spot!  This is the NORTHSTAR RESORT on KNEE LAKE, MANITOBA—one of the newest of Chicago’s startups.

“Chicago Startup?” you ask. “Aren’t you gentlemen thousands of miles north of that distinguished metropolis?”

Canada 2014-8343pAPermit me to justify my claim:

  • Most all the patrons either hail from Chicago, once enjoyed that honor, or pass through O’Hare Field on their way here.
  • This is Northstar’s first full season.

I submit that they qualify as a Chicago Startup.

We are guests of the Cree Nation and they provide abundant hospitality. Canada 2014-8168AThis is Cree water—a protected Trophy Northern Pike Lake.  Professional management handles the lodge.  The Cree handle our boats, chop our wood, fillet and cook our fish.  Most important of all, they bring us to the best fishing spots.  My only responsibilities are fishing, eating, drinking, gambling, and indulging in the time-honored tradition of gross exaggeration.Canada 2014-8722A. 150jpg

One note—Manitoba Law: Barbless hooks.  Artificial lures.  All pike released unharmed. But consider—if we kept them all, our boats would sink from the weight of our daily catch.  These fish live to bite again and according to local lore, some of the largest pike have names.

Canada 2014-8267 500

Pike Set Free

Harsh Conditions

I hear ugly reports of outdoor privies with no walls or roof whatsoever—one’s rump exposed to swarms of biting flies and mosquitoes, and interested bystanders.

My experience is entirely different. No pit toilets here.  The plumbing is all indoors—modern, new and clean.  Hot and cold running water.  Showers.  Facilities that rival fine hotels.

Canada 2014-8467A

Our Cabin

I have heard a typical base camp described as a set of rotting clapboard shacks or moldering canvas tents Canada 2014-8512Adating back to frontier times, swarming with biting flies, mosquitoes, and other vermin, and periodically overrun by man-eating bears.

Perhaps one can find such conditions if looking for trouble, but my experience is entirely different. I find solidly and exquisitely constructed log cabins gorgeously appointed with appropriate and tastefully rustic furniture.  Everything is meticulously maintained.  Tight-fitting screens grace all windows and the roofs do not leak.  We sleep upon firm new mattresses and choose between wood fire and electric heat.  The lodge generates its own electricity.

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Canada 2014-8505A

The main lodge boasts a full commercial kitchen, bar, billiards, and poker tables. Yes, they spared no expense constructing this magnificent facility.

I must admit that a bear pays us a kind visit.Canada 2014-8138A The abundant scent of cooking explains the presence of this noble predator.  The kitchen staff wastes no time chasing the animal off with angry shouts and vigorous gesticulations.

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I hear agonized complaints of Black Flies so thick they crawl across your eyeballs and into your mouth. The Mosquito is called the National Bird and you are out of Deet.

Canada 2014-8600AThat is enough, sir! Permit me to address this repeated barrage of braggadocio regarding swarming insects.  Fishermen love to blather about such things in polite conversation.  I will set the record straight forthwith.  Canada has no national bird.  Manitoba’s provincial bird is the Great Grey Owl.  Canada 2014-8602AOur sightings of flying creatures include the Bald Eagle, the Golden Eagle, and the Blue Heron.

It is true that some fishermen who have not done their research arrive at these shores during Black Fly Season. Such is the price of ignorance!  But a well-designed lodge is strategically perched on a high peninsula where cool lake breezes waft away flying vermin.  I do not require insect repellent on this entire trip!

Canada 2014-8821A

Our Cabin

According to popular wisdom, there is no protection in an open boat. Exposed to the elements all day, one is cold and miserable.  You endure constant driving rain and sleet.  You are constantly wet from head to foot, your energy and spirits entirely sapped. 

Canada 2014-8380AIt is true that on this trip, we experience the full range of weather. One day reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit and finds me decked out in short pants, my pale hairy legs exposed for all the wildlife to see.  The next day brings wind and rain but in my Gore-Tex rain gear, it cannot touch me.  The next day is refreshingly cold, but the simple addition of an insulated sweatshirt turns my rain gear into winter garb.  I laugh at the weather, sir!  Laugh, I say!

 

I am full to the eyeballs with stories of leaky boats with motors that sputter, stutter, then die. Others tell of harrowing canoe romps, paddling until—I suppose until one cannot paddle any longer.  Your frail craft pitches in the waves miles from shore as you frantically bail water from the bottom. 

My experience is entirely different. Canada 2014-8805AWe explore this enormous lake in comfortable fishing boats—ample even for Bill Blaire, the Paul Bunyan of Chicago.  These boats are tricked out with carpeted casting decks and plush swivel seats.  Depth finders and live wells.  Ice coolers and communication radios.  Fine big motors and guides to operate them.

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Horrible Grub

I am told that for breakfast, a surly cook serves up execrable mush slopped into dirty leaking bowls.

Canada 2014-8135AUp here, we awake to the heady aroma of bacon and eggs, flapjacks with real maple syrup, Red River cereal, and piping-hot coffee. We congregate at the well-appointed main lodge and roll up our sleeves to punish that food in a proper manner.  Blaire asserts that bacon is a basic food group and I concur.  He didn’t attain such gargantuan stature eating boiled vegetables.

I am led to believe that, likely as not, we will catch nothing fit to eat. At noon, we may be 20 miles or more from the lodge and will go hungry till supper. “Bring sandwiches,” they say. Then they go on to suggest peanut butter and jelly or cold canned beans shoveled down the gullet in a pitching boat. 

Canada 2014-8153AFirst let me state unequivocally that we suffer no difficulty catching our lunch. The only delay in capturing fat delicious Walleye are trophy Northern Pike that grab our twister tails before the jigs can reach the bottom.  Many times, we hook two of these savage water wolves at once!  To be fair, I must admit that the Walleye grab the Pike baits too.

After a full morning exerting oneself in the raw elements, no food on earth tastes better than freshly caught walleye!Canada 2014-8210A   Walleye is a delicacy served in the finest restaurants but these are not anonymous fish—no sir, these are OUR walleye.  This is an important point if you wish to understand the joys of a wilderness excursion.  An intimate connection with the source of food is emotionally satisfying in a profound way.  I admit it is difficult to convey the feeling in words.  One must experience such a thing to appreciate the bliss it engenders in one’s whole being.

Canada 2014-8208APermit me to expound upon our lunch experience because it gives me a great deal of pleasure. Every day, our boats rendezvous at a different rocky island and we conclave among the jack pine and birch to tell lies and drink beer.  Meanwhile, the guides fillet our fish, chop wood, and start a bonfire on which they will cook our meal.  Yes sir—we indulge in that glorious, overwhelmingly delightful tradition known as SHORE LUNCH.  To those of you lucky enough to experience this ritual please indulge me while I explain it to the uninitiated.

.While the food cooks, we explore the island, beer in hand. Naturally, everyone is in jovial spirits.  Kren casts a line from shore.  Ludditis snaps a photo of Jonelis and Bill Blair.  For some reason they wear camouflage.  Strange.  Can it be that those two actually believe fish cannot see them when dressed in such garb?

Canada 2014-8592p Bill Blaire SMALL A

Jonelis and Bill Blair in Camo

The head guide calls us to table. Our first shore lunch yields deep-fried walleye with onions and potatoes, hot beans and corn. To my tastes, this represents the ultimate in wilderness cuisine.  I am subsequently proven wrong.  Canada 2014-8576AThe next day, we are introduced to Walleye with peppers and sharp seasoning.  The day following that, they roll out Honey Garlic Walleye!  I squeeze my eyes closed to concentrate fully on that exquisite flavor!  I will always remember shore lunch as the pinnacle of life as we know it.

On this particular day, Alexander Harbinger is first to spot a floatplane headed directly to our island. The plane lands on the water and taxies to a rock slab.Canada 2014-8201A  Out the door pops the manager, dressed in his Sunday best, balancing a platter high like a professional waiter.  Martinis in long stemmed glasses!  I tell you sir this is my idea of roughing it!

After a full meal, we lay about on huge slabs of rock, looking perhaps like beached whales. Jim Kren finds sleeping quarters more to his liking.  If this is the wilderness, we lack for nothing.

Canada 2014-8211A 300When traveling to remote areas of the world, one is frequently warned about the dangers of drinking the local water. Consequences are colloquially known as Montezuma’s Revenge.

On this lake, I bring a mug along on the boat and dip it in the freezing water whenever the thirst takes me—no ice cubes required. And I suffer no unseemly maladies whatsoever!

Lousy FishingCanada 2014-8261h 2X3A F-500b

I have it on competent authority that fishermen typically sit in boats all day and return perhaps with a small bass and a couple puny pike of no account. 

Canada 2014-8558AUp here, we are well beyond the habitat of the Bass and Musky. The great Northern Pike is king and grows to prodigious proportions not seen further south.  The lake is virgin.  They do not even stock it!  No sir!  Yet, a man can almost walk on water across the backs of these ferocious predators.

And indeed, our hearty crew experiences glorious fishing with a pike strike about every five casts.Canada 2014-8360A The only impediment to a man landing 150 worthy fish is overindulgence in Canadian beer.  There is no other excuse sir!  And I repeat—they do not stock the lake!  These fish are aggressive!  Large Pike attack anything we attempt to bring to boat, including their own kind!

Canada 2014-8403AThis is akin to pulling pan fish out of a favorite fishing hole one after another. But we are throwing heavy lures on stout lines and steel leaders.  We cast with rigid rods at toothy giants that savagely attack the bait with a jolt that sends a shiver down a man’s shoulder.  These fish splash gallons of water, jump and dance on their tails, roll up in your line, dive under the boat, and generally do everything possible to escape.Canada 2014-8356A  With barbless hooks, it requires only a momentary slack in one’s line and the fish is free!  Repeated tug-a-war matches such as these strain a man’s entire body.

No one can call a pike fisherman lazy!

Canada 2014-8836A

No Night Life

Friends who travel to the wild tell of returning after a day of howling rain to dark leaky quarters buzzing with biting flies and mosquitoes. In total exhaustion and utter defeat, the intrepid explorers crawl under inadequate blankets and share body heat with friendly field mice, marmots and perhaps a snake or two.

Canada 2014-8459A

.I have yet to see these vermin you continually reference, sir!  We are back in the shelter of our fine log cabin. Weary but satisfied, I treat myself to a warm shower and then slip into the white terrycloth robe kindly placed on my king-size bed by the excellent maid staff.

.We all indulge in cocktails while Jonelis grills thick steaks on the deck in full view of the lake.

Canada 2014-8500pA

After a satisfying meal, we repair to the lodge for a night of poker and aggressive wagering. You may criticize such vice, but in defense of the entire group, let me point out that cards provide scant diversion after the experiences of such a day unless real money is at stake.  We trade our petty empires back and forth across that table.  Seated around me are men who know how to live!

Canada 2014-8518A

Sweet Home Chicago

Such experiences often come to an end before reaching a climax. The return flight yields none of the drama of our journey to paradise.  Canada 2014-8883

Too soon we find ourselves in the magazine’s corporate offices—the backroom of Ludditis Shots & Beer where you find the best potato pancakes in town.  Jonelis raises his feet to his battered WWII Air Force desk.  I raise a jigger of Sour Mash and read the words emblazoned upon his shirt:  SURGEON GENERAL WARNING:  FISHING IS EXPENSIVE, ADDICTIVE, AND MAY LEAD TO AN UNCONTROLLABLE URGE TO EXAGGERATE.

.Ludditis Shots and Beer 3

Our Corporate Offices

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The Real Thing

Ludditis discovers an online video that shows, in slow motion, a Northern Pike attacking its prey. I place it here for your edification.

Pike StrikesVideo of Pike Strike [click here]

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Go to – HOW TO TREAT THE OLD MAN

Go back to Episode One – ROUGHING IT

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Northstar Resort on Knee Lake can be reached at northstarresort.ca  Northstar Resort makes no endorsement of the statements and views expressed in this article.

Photographs by John Jonelis and Donatas Ludditis

Video of Pike Strike from Underwater-Ireland.com

T-shirt text ©earthSUNmoon.

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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