Monday, November 29, 2004

Finally! An Idea Not Influenced By Bourbon Consumption

So I posted a teaser last week about the Make Magazine benefit this Friday. Here are the details. I'd have posted sooner but Friday night I ate a spoiled bowl of chili which would have felled a lesser man for days. I managed to struggle through my best friend's baby shower and make it home by 5 p.m., where I spent the next eighteen hours in bed with cold compresses and Charley Patton records on repeat. By the time Desperate Housewives came on last night my appetite was back enough to have a small bite of leftovers that hadn't turned. But I still needed another eight hours of sleep.

But I digress. Friday night at Gunther Murphy's at 9 p.m. we're finally holding a musical extravaganza to benefit Make: A Chicago Literary Magazine. The $8 suggested donation will go towards production of our inaugural spring issue and the production of our media kit for securing advertisers and financing. The line-up reads like a who's-who of the local indie-rock scene:

Dead Horse Hill
The Like Young
Devin Davis

And your emcee for the evening is the ubiquitous Marvin Tate. So bring a friend or three, enjoy some great music, play our mad libs, and help us out. If you're really nice I'll buy you a Simmitch's Ale. I'll be drinking ginger ale all night. Business, y'know.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Christ this weather's miserable...

I'm just glad I have central heat for now, 'cause it's a toasty 64 degrees here in the BS command center and we have sleet on the near south side. I'm meeting friends for a screening of "Sideways" later this afternoon so I thought I'd try to get some posting in and work through some writers block at the same time.

I'm quickly meeting my first deadline for the jazz page I'm putting together for I've been given a template to work with and was instructed to follow it pretty closely, which really brings out the anarchist in me. I impulsively want to do the exact opposite.

It also makes me wish I had applied for the wine expert page, as well.

The other day I was talking to the night floor manager at work who said he had a couple complaints about the new house red wine I bought for the bar. "Maybe you should keep an eye out for these complaints," he asked.

"You only had two complaints about the wine?" I asked.

"Yeah, they didn't like it."

"Two complaints out of how many people in the house?"

"Two hundred ninety-six."

I furrowed my brow. "That's slightly more than one-half percent of the customer base for the evening."

"But they didn't like it."

"What about Friday night? DId anyone return the house red last night?"

He shook his head. "I can't recall."

I shook my head. "I know no one complained on Thursday or Wednesday. So that's two documented complaints in four days."

He finally adjusted his complaint. "Well, I don't like it."

"That's why we have more than one choice of red wine," I answered. "Pick one."

And I wonder why I'm watching "Sideways" this afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

In A Better Life

I've been playing around the past day with the free web browser and mail programs from Mozilla and think I'm at the point where I'm ready to remove Internet Explorer and Outllook Express from my computer.

I absolutely love the Firefox browser. It allows you to import your old bookmarks, browser history, and cookies from IE while customizing the browser to your specific work specifications. A neat feature I wasn't sure would work with Windows 98 is the ability to open new windows in tabs on the same browser page.

The Thunderbird mail program is an absolute must. You can train the program to filter out junk mail, which is handy for me currently since my work e-mail is brimming with fake Rolex and penis enlargement offers. I don't wear a watch but I can't wait for the swelling to subside and get a better look at the sleeping giant I've got. The next time I have sex it's gonna be World War WOW!!

What I love most about the programs is that they are not susceptible (knock on wood) to the viruses and worms specifically bred for Microsoft products, which- coupled with my anti-virus and spyshield, is a godsend since this cpu qualifies as a museum exhibit. This also furthers my theory that Microsoft and some hackers are in colluding to get our money with patches and software upgrades.

The next two weeks will be hectic. I start trial period for a freelance opportunity that comes along at just the right time. If I make it through the trial period I'll be kept on a retainer. And any money is good money during the holiday season.

Keep checking back for details of a fundraiser for the long-awaited Make Magazine start-up. I will tell you that it's at Gunther Murphy's on December 3rd and the bands we have lined up are all great live and gracious for donating their talents to the cause.

That should do it for now. I'm off to reheat some chili then it's up north for movies. Not sure which yet; either "Sideways" or "The Big Red One: the Reconstruction" at the Music Box. A Sam Fuller movie of a fleshier Virginia Madsen. It's a toss-up.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Insert Your Egg Drop Soup Joke Here...

Cooking With Cum

(With regards to Warren Ellis' wonderful blog)

Waste not, want not, I guess.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What's Your Best Line?

I was accused of flirting the other night, though I still protest my innocence since I didn't get the girl. It reminded me of an exchange I was privy to hearing a couple years back:

A jeweler acquaintence of mine was working some last-minute holiday sales when this drunken goofball sidled up to her table and drooled all over a set of earrings priced at $75. She was completely professional, replaced the earrings and engaged the drunk in her sales pitch.

The drunk was struck by her beauty and suddenly decided that what he most wanted under his tree at Christmas was her. "Wassyername?" He slurred.

"Oona," she replied.

The dude scratched his head, slackjawed the entire time. "Thassa pretty name. Thassasame name as Cholly Chaplin's wife, ainnit?"


"Ssso ya sspell dat 'ooh-ooh-en-ay', right?"

To this day I still wonder what would have happened if she said no.

Monday, November 15, 2004

A Balance of The Sacred and Profane

So last Monday evening I'm playing some classic raunchy R&B behind the bar- what they used to call "race records" back in the old times- and one of the songs that pops up is "Big Ten Inch Record" by Bull Moose Jackson. Great song, the lindy hoppers love it every time it's played.

I'm sipping coffee with Yoko Noge when the song starts playing. Yoko asks me again if I can lend her the cd so she can burn copy, which she's done numerous times before. I bring her the case and a bottle of Vermeer Chocolate liqueur for my coffee and say, "I think this would be a great song for Jimmy (Ellis) to sing." Yoko begins to concentrate to Bull Moose's vocal style, looks up at me, offers a sly smile, and says, "You're right!" Suddenly she's off in a rush to the stage and conferring with Jimmy. I move on to washing some glasses and rotating stock in the cooler.

A few minutes pass and Jimmy is asking for his usual quaff- a snort of brandy, just enough brandy to fill the bottom of a rocks glass. Jimmy calls it part of his personal "mental science." He drinks it this way so as not to get too drunk too quick. Never mind that by the end of the evening he's downed one-fourth of a liter of brandy. Anyhoo, he askes, "Why would you think I'd want to sing that nasty song?"

"I think your vocal tone would be a great fit for it," I answered.

"But that's a nasty song, Chuck! I'm a religious man! I go to church, you see, and if people I go to church with find out I'm singing that song they'll start talking about me."

I'm standing there wondering if Jimmy's having some fun with me, so I start to tread carefully. "How old are you, Jimmy?"

"I'm seventy-four years old, Chuck."

"And by all accounts you've told me you don't approach religion from a traditional standpoint- you go to church but realize that your body is the temple, right?"


Here's where I turned the tables. I leaned over the bar and said, "But you do believe that man was created in God's image."

"Now I wouldn't speak for God, now," Jimmy answered, "I believe in dinosaurs and evolution, but we all have some of God's handiwork in our makeup."

"Okay, then," I said cautiously. Remember, I still didn't know whether he was genuinely insulted at my suggestion or not. "If we carry that logic out to it's inevitable conclusion, would it be beyond the realm of possibility to believe that god would have a big ten-inch record that plays the blues?"

Jimmy looked up from his glass, met my eyes, and grinned like a cheshire cat. "You a crazy individual, you know?" Jimmy laughed. "But you're right!!" Then he asked, "Now what if you believe God is a woman?"

"Then she's got a little honeypot," I snapped back. "Bottom line is, it's just a song. It isn't gonna condemn you to Hell for singing it."

Jimmy couldn't stop laughing. "You're just crazy. 'God's got a honeypot!' Just when I thought I heard everything from you!!"

I'm bringing him the lyrics this evening to "Big Ten Inch Record."


I end today with words of wisdom from the philosopher Julius Henry Marx (1890-1977), aka "Groucho":

Here I am talking to parties.

I cam down here for a party.
What happens?
not even ice cream.

The gods look down and laugh.

This would be a better world for children
if the parents ate the spinach.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Finished Business

I put in some extra effort yesterday to complete outstanding commitments to Jazz Review, and the results are posted in the form of interviews with rising pianist/singer Peter Cincotti and Latin jazz/hip-hop/barrio rock style-mashers Ozomatli. They both have wonderful new records out on Concord, and I cannot recommend Ozomatli's Street Signs highly enough.

Caught the season premiere of "Arrested Development" this evening, and it was worth the wait to hear David Cross' sexually ambiguous therapist/actor say "It's been a while since I've been in a queen."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

One Nation Under God... Like It Or Not!!!

One of the problems of a socialist work environment is that when things don't happen the way we expect we tend to look for blame when there is none to assess. So it was yesterday morning when we heard the news that John Kerry had arranged a press conference to concede the election.

In the gallery artists were installing an exhibit dedicated to the Black Panther activist and exile Assata Shakur. When news broke about the Kerry press conference the professor in charge of the exhibit began railing about the disenfranchisement of blacks in Ohio. "They were intimidated to stay away from the polls."

"I have to respectfully disagree," I said. "If anything the state broke down into two power centers- Democrats and people of color voted for Kerry; the rural families voted for Bush."

"No, no. I read reports of blacks being disenfranchised."

"I'm sorry you think that way and I wished I could agree with you, but even the cases of vote fraud listed on Michael Moore's website were due more to the voters' negligence and lack of common sense than any attempts by the GOP."

We went on for a bit in this manner; the discourse civil and respectful but still disagreeable. But the simple fact is that more than 55 million people nationwide voted in favor of a second term for George W. Bush Tuesday. With memories of Florida in the 2000 election still fresh in the minds of voters, politicians, and election judges across the country this election was scrutinized like none other.

It hurts to ponder the prospect of another four years of Bush/Cheney, especially with Cheney throwing around that often misused word "mandate" yesterday: even though Bush received more votes than President in history Kerry received more than 51 million votes. Even though the man I voted for didn't win, Tuesday the democratic process worked. It's a hollow victory, but a victory nonetheless.

What does frighten me about the Bush victory were reports that the most important issue among voters who supported him was "moral values." Evangelicals, faith-based organizations, and families who espouse more taditional values across the country came out en masse for Bush. Karl Rove said that their were four million evangelicals in the country who did not vote in 2000. Coincidentally the difference in the popular vote was 3.5 million.

This concerns me greatly as I feel this issue is a violation of the separation of church and state. I wrote the other day about the evangelical program that urged its viewers to vote for leaders who espoused Christian values, saying that not doing so would be a sin since the right to vote was a "blessing handed to us from God", conveniently forgetting that the American Revolution was fought for the freedom of man to do as he wished, including not worshipping a God, if he so chose.

If one takes a look at the electoral map and sees the blood-red swath across the middle of the nation notice that one thing these places have in common- besides being rural- is the firm establishment of religion in the community. In many communities churches, faith-based groups, and evangelicals are the only groups providing social services to their communities. Ultimately the people they service will espouse their beliefs and thinking.

To my eye it reads like a large scale version of ministering: proselytizing to easily swayed people grateful for a small amount of relief. So it goes without saying that they should preach to the people they help conservative viewpoints on issues like abortion, stem cell research and same-sex marriage because of the homogenized nature of their communities and their lack of life experience outside of them.

What offends me most about these groups is that they feel the need to foist their beliefs on us, like the ministers who frequent my neighborhood, going door-to-door to rustle new members to their flock. But it isn't enough to bring along the newly converted. They must remind those of us whose thinking is a tad more complex that we're "sinners" and need protection from our own perverse thoughts. Their one nation under God is a Christian deity who gives non-believers their just desserts. There is no room for atheism, agnostics, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, or even Catholicism. This nation was built on the foundation that every voice, every thought- no matter how contrary- has some merit and can be voiced without consequence.

Tuesday showed with perfect clarity that the line separating this country from the fundamentalist religious states of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian sub-continent is a fragile gossamer at best, if not completely broken. We must be ever vigilant to ensure that every voice has an opportunity to be heard. We must take the hope of those 51 million Kerry votes and let those voters know that it wasn't all for naught. Otherwise we regress further and have a hard time getting people to the polls in 2K8, which makes the 19 million evangelicals the most cohesive and influential voting bloc in the country

Update: As if this fire need any more tending, consider that in Illinois Alan Keyes' carpetbagging campaign for Senate managed to garner one million votes, or 26% of the vote. Keyes' platform was nothing more than excessive quoting of Scripture, crazed comparisons of abortion to terrorism and slavery, and vicious slurs against Barack Obama. Yet it connected with one million voters. I don't want to think of what would've happened if the Illinois GOP had any efficiency to its operation. Keyes might have made it a tough race.

Then we would have had to rely on the "Saturday Night Live" theory of race in America: Obama won because light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark-skinned blacks.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Well At Least The Vodka's Rewarding...

It's shortly after 11 p.m. and the way things are developing it looks as though Ohio is the new Florida. Well, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks so, at least. Between checking Michael Moore's website for updates of possible voter disenfranchisement in Ohio and Anna Marie Cox's protestations at Wonkette that the person feeding her overly optimistic exit poll data from the Buckeye State may have been Karl Rove, that's what I initially want to believe.

The fact remains that over 120 million registered voters made it to the polls today, and Ohioans are still waiting in line at some precincts to have their say. That's not exactly the revolt I was hoping for when one considers that both the popular vote and electoral count are, to quote Dan Rather, "thinner than turnip soup." The call to action was heeded, and for everyone who understands the danger another four years of Bush/Cheney poses to the world, there's one who thinks he's the proverbial shit.

I got a kick out of watching The Dukes of Hazzard as a kid. But in the real world it seems Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane always prevail.

An aside: Rather is on top of his game this evening with the kooky metaphors. "This race", he said at one point this evening, "is hotter than a Times Square Rolex." During a Presidential election year Rather is much more entertaining and than Gilmore Girls.

Anyhoo, FOX News has already chalked up Ohio to Bush, with NBC following suit shortly after. If Kerry wants to win he needs to run the table on the swing states currently in play at this writing, including Ohio. If Bush wins Ohio and Kerry runs the table in the other states, the tiebreaker goes to the House of Representatives.

And we know what party has the majority there.



Speaking of candidates who believe they are mandated by God to win political races: Alan Keyes got a million votes as the sacrificial lamb to Barack Obama. In his concession speech Keyes was quoting so much scripture that I thought he should've just started at Genesis. So it was essentially a concession speech where he conceded nothing. But that's expected for a man who felt that God would grant him a victory today. What a silly Negro.

We interloping sinners instead voted for Obama, who made history as the fifth African American to serve in the Senate and only the third elected. Illinoisans across the state can pat themselves on the back: in the past twelve years we've elected two of those three.

Obama's star can only go up from here. His reputation as an orator grew this evening with his victory speech. The centerpiece was a story about a 104-year-old woman who voted for him via absentee ballot. And he had the crowd hanging on his every word. I wonder how he will mesh with the Republican-controlled Senate to draft legislation. Contrary to his talking points, Obama's election is not going to be a "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington"- style story. His campaigning in other states for other Democrats is an indicator that he's eyeing a greater prize.


Melissa Bean unseated the porcine Phil Crane in the 8th Congressional district. Crane looked like he'd rather be anywhere except at the Sports Bar he rented out for his victory party when he conceded. He was all phlegmy and cranky, smacking various microphones while snapping, "Do I talk into this one?" I half-expected him to talk about these new "internets" his grandkids have been talking about.

Bean's victory is notable, as well. She unseated a 35-year incumbent Congressman who got so lazy and insulated in his position that he lost touch with his constituency. Between Phil Crane and the House of Lords-like maneuver by the outgoing Bill Lipinski to have his son take his place on the ballot (note: if you live in the 3rd Congressional District like I did I want to hear from anyone who wrote in Krista Grimm so that I know I wasn't alone) I have two convincing cases for term limits for congressional term limits.


Picking up my take-out from Punky's this evening I almost jumped down the throat of a de la Salle high school student who wanted Bush to win because "KerrywantstotakethetroopsoutofIraqandthen-Osamawouldattackagainandbesides-Bushdidlikeanokayjobhisfirstyearandshould-getanotherchancetomakethingsrightyouknow."

I thought about recited her yesterday's post word-for-word then relented, realizing it would fall on dumb ears. I promise not to eat at Punky's again. Or until I run out of food in house. Whichever comes sooner.


I wanted to write about this yesterday but couldn't find the words: Sunday while channel surfing I came across one of those evangelical programs that I avert my eyes from like a vampire when they pop up on screen. This one, the Coral Ridge Hour, was pushing hard for its viewers to get out and vote as it was their "responsibility handed to them by God to vote."

This really cheesed me. I know I learned US History in a public school so I only got the winner's perspective branded into my memory, but one of the reasons the revolution was fought was so that man could have the right to choose its leaders and practice whatever religion he chose, or to not practice religion.

A hot button issue for me is the separation of church and state. With CBS cautiously marking Ohio as a Bush victory right now (1 a.m. Chicago time) this gives Christian conservatives rhetorical ammunition to go with the literal bullets they stockpile in militias across the west that that separation should be blurred.

I don't read the same Bible they do, apparently. They can bend Scripture to flesh out their arguments. It's this twisting of rhetoric that has helped them curry influence within the GOP. So can I. And I found a nice little quote from Jesus Christ that, taken literally, is a concrete argument for the separation of church and state:

"Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's; render unto God what is God's."

Simpy put, Jesus was saying of the tax collector that while he walks the earth he must obey and respect the rules of man. Or the government he lives under. But if you choose a Christian life you must sacrifice your soul to God.

Nowhere there does it say that you must foist your beliefs on me or anyone else who finds it offensive.

Personally, my belief is that if religious lobbys want to have such a say in government, we should blur the line completely and tax them beyond belief. Watch them call for that separation where it hurts them most if that happens.


Besides Dan Rather's eupehmisms, the other enjoyable moment of the news shows this evening was hearing Tom Brokaw on NBC say, "Vote or Die."

'Course if the projections hold and Bush is (re-)elected- don't wanna insult anyone here- that means we'll be staying the course in Iraq and the saying can be paraphrased to "Vote and die!"

Thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What now? Now, we wait...

With only minor complications (I was told to remove my KE'04 and "Down With Bush" buttons inside my polling place this morning because I technically was "electioneering"; I resisted the urge to ask if "electioneering" was really a word.) my vote was cast chad-free, unsullied, and unchallengeable.

For the political wonks, concerned voters, and others who want to keep up on the unfolding events head to HotHouse where Chicago Indymedia and Third Coast Press have a command center set up to keep track of updates, voter intimidation, poll results, and maybe some good local hip-hop and punk.

Admission is $10 ($5 with a ballot receipt) but no one will be turned away, which should appeal to the poor, destitute, or the ice water brigade and their grant-funded laptops. Unless, of course, HotHouse meets its legal capacity. Then you're on your own and/or S.O.L.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Final Thought About Election Day And Why You Should Vote

I believe that it was D.H. Lawrence who wrote, "What is understood need not be discussed." At least I read it once in the liner notes of a Van Halen record. In the spirit of that quote I won't go listing the litany of lies, distortions, failures of policy, outright criminal behavior and negligence of the Bush Administration the past four years.

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine Hunter S. Thompson summarized the election as "not whether George W. Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but whether the American people want it that way." I believe that's an accurate assessment. It reminds me of another D.H. Lawrence quote: "Democracy is a process by which people are free to choose the man who will get the blame."

We need to go to the polls on Tuesday and lay that blame on George W. Bush in a rebuke that is swift, certain, and facilitates his removal from office and- hopefully- criminal charges. After all, if getting a blowjob from an intern is an impeachable offense, then surely leading the country into a war it didn't need to fight, leading to the loss of over 1100 soldiers and 100,000 Iraqi civilians, should be worth a slap on the wrist, at least. For this voter, nothing less than the protection of the Constitution is at stake. Another four years of this harsh Executive branch of government will cause irreparable damage to the greatest democratic charter ever written.

The United States Constitution is a revolutionary document in every sense of the word. It was designed to evolve, to live, and to breathe like the people that it governs. It is resilient enough to change with the times in order to meet the challenges of its third century and rigid enough to preserve the ideals that inspired its original articles and amendments. So long as we are willing and able to put in the effort required to defend and nurture it, then I believe with all my heart that it will continue to thrive for generations to come. The past four years have shown that without our active participation the Constitution's future is far from certain. Without the lifeblood of the human spirit even the greatest of documents are only words on parchment, destined to yellow, crack and, eventually, crumble to dust.

Yours for the motherfuckin' revolution,

Chuck Sudo

(With apologies to Steve Earle)