By J.J. Colagrande

02_teflon-jones2Her name was Viviana Glass, my moms. She was born in Chicago, you know, raised in Oak Park, south of the city. My grandmother, Rosa Maria Contros, is Chilean. To this day she designs costumes for the lively Chicago theatre community. Poor Gammy, she outlived her daughter, must be the worst joke God ever bestowed on a soul. My granddad, my Grady, Ernie Glass, he was half-French-American and half-Cherokee Indian. Grady was a thespian at heart too, a lover of the Marx brothers, and later, Martin and Lewis. He worked for the postal service in Chicago. Guess he needed a little comedy after years of dropping off solicitations, bills, Dear John letters, and those we-regret-to-inform-you official United States Vietnam telegrams. Grady had a tattoo of Hermes on his arm. I remember he always said: now junior, don’t-kill-the-messenger. It was his favorite expression, especially when he’d have to tell me the Bulls lost. I always loved the Bulls, especially and secretly when Byron Jones played for the Pistons. Anyway, Grady hit the lotto in 74’, one of the first Illinois State drawings. He started this theatre company in Chicago—St. Marx Place—it specialized in musical comedies. Year after year losses outweighed profits, but my Grady loved the business and felt okay with taking a financial hit. He died a few years before my moms took her life, having spent most of his ducats on the fledgling theatre. To honor him, Gammy established the Ernest Glass Award for Playwrights, a grant given annually to Northwestern theatre majors. Do you see where my moms got the acting bug? My family hails from Chicago. My mom’s spirit rests in Chicago, so does my Grady’s. That’s why, after peeping out the hospital, I’m heading out to Oak Park to see my Gammy. She’s my Family. It’s all about Family. That Keith kid’s cool but he’s not my Family. And if I had to choose between my Gammy and that Melody Rain girl, who disappeared anyway, I’m going to choose Gammy. Gammy always took care of me, word up. And I think my boy Thelonious, I think today he’d want me to be around some Family. He always said it’s all about Family.

click here to learn about Teflon’s mother and father