Friday, November 25, 2005

Black (Humor) Friday

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Mine was capped with a bottle of '98 Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon that was the wine equivalent of George Costanza draping himself in velvet.

Or was it velour?

Either way it was great wine.

While everyone's out shoppng I wanted to take time to share this with everyone:

Former FEMA director Michael Brown's new job.

Let's summarize this, shall we. Brown is starting an emergency disaster preparedness consulting business. He's starting a business so that people don't respond to disasters the way he did to Hurricane Katrina.

His balls must hang to his ankles because no one can be that clueless.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's Unconditional... On My Part

So it was a relatively uneventful day. The Tuesday before a long weekend usually is. I checked out of work early this afternoon to cash the check and do some shopping. Mom's been laying not-so-subtle hints all year about how she's never had a real spice rack. She actually laid it down so thick that at one point during the summer I offered to buy her one if she could find out where the hell our baby pictures are stored. When she started crying about the pictures getting lost with all the constant moving I realized I went too far.

So I went to Macy Field's after leaving work to start pricing on them; Friday I head to the Spice House to see what they have to offer. The plan is to talk my brother and sister into pitching in on a bakers' table and I buy the spice rack. That is, if both of them are even speaking with Mom by Christmas. She's been giving them both the cold shoulder for a few weeks. While I'm certainly not a fan of what's been going down among the two of them, they're both grown-ass adults, ostensibly, and should be held accountable to find their own solutions to their problems.

My friend Harry comes into town for the weekend, as well. I'm hoping to pry him away from his wife long enough Friday to get our noses reddened on glogg at the downtown Kriskindlemart in Daley Plaza. Harry's daughter is almost a year old now and it will be nice to see how big Lily's gotten since the birth, and also to see if she's making the transition form a drooling mass of baby.

But back to Macy Field's. The first thing I did was buy a new wallet. I was looking for a nice passcase style one like the one I wore out (an aside: I bought my last wallet at a street festival in New York's Upper West Side after participating in Bike New York two years ago. It survived my capsizing a kayak in the Chicago River, long bike rides and countless sweaty nights behind the bar at HotHouse. When I started contemplating whether or not to piece it back together with duct tape I figured it might be wise to buy, you know, a real wallet. The new one is a Levenger horizontal trifold with lots of space for my identification/credit cards, two money slots, and a lifetime warranty. That was worth having to listen to the salesman expound [or blow smoke up my ass- he seemed really sincere] about how his nephew is United States Senator Russ Feingold). I stopped at the Down Town Dog store in the basement to get some treats for Emmy. Twenty dollars later- for a tin of mints and these organic treats- I headed to the subway for the ride home.

Emmy won't eat the goddamn things. She'll eat grass, pizza crust, and goose droppings in the park, but she turns her nose away from these new treats. I probably shoudl give her some time to get adjusted to them, but I'm not sure. I had that mint in my mouth trying to get her to take it from me and I think it left a blister on my lip.

For Those Of You Who Don't Think You have Anything To Be Thankful For...

Last week we were talking about terrible Thanksgivings. I relayed this story to the Chicagoist staff this afternoon. Basically it's about why I used to go out the night before with friends:

It was 1997, Mom was out running errands when I made it over to the
house (back then they lived directly between Marie's Riptide Lounge
and the pre-Note Blue Note on Armitage, so I could drink to sunrise
then stumble over to Mom's for biscuits and gravy at 5:30 on a Sunday
morning, but I digress).

Anyway, I arrive to find my stepfather passed out drunk in his
Lay-Z-boy with the football game on and the radio set to US 99. The
turkey is in the oven, which is set at 150 degrees. I check to see if
Mom had stuffed the bird; she hadn't, to which I breathed a sigh of
relief that there isn't a pool of bacteria growing in the turkey. I
pull the turkey out, stuff it, set the oven to 425, and place the bird
back in the oven.

Finished with that I turn around in time to duck a roundhouse punch
from my stepdad. He thought someone was breaking into the house.
When I asked who put the turkey in an oven pre-heated to 150 degrees,
he admitted that he did it because he was hungry. So I went to call
Mom but when I picked up the phone my brother was on the line chatting
on a 1-900 sex line. He was living in the basement and tapped
illegally into Mom's phone line.

Shortly after that Mom arrived with my sister in tow. Turned out that
the "errand" she had to run was to bail my sister out at the Wicker
Park police station for tagging fences with grafitti, which depleted
her of the rest of the food money. I went to the store, bought the
rest of the stuff on Mom's shopping list, and proceeded to sit through
the most uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner ever.

Things have improved a bit. Since my stepdad doesn't drink anymore Mom doesn't allow so much as a non-alcoholic beer or sparkling grape juice into the house for fear it
might knock the old man off the wagon. I get to deal with the family sober.

Yay, me.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Case of The Moondays

With god as my witness, I did not expect the Bears to even be competitive with the Panteros, let alone win the damn game.

They beat Carolnia like the proverbial red-headed stepchild.

It's a short week and I should be doing laundry, getting a post ready for Chicagoist, cutting into that work list I posted in the kitchen, anything but letting time slip away here. And yet here I am, wondering if the meltdown in the House of Representatives is an indicator that we may be on the verge of a total meltdown of the Democratic process.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Life Imitating Art

Truly Orwellian, eh?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Viva La Raza!! (Link)

To those who know me it should not come as a surprise to know that I like professional wrestling. It's escapist, tacky, broadly acted and caters to the most basic of human emotions. It's a lot like opera, really. But not as stuffy.

That said when I woke up this morning and found out that Eddie Guerrero passed away in a Minneapolis hotel room I was shocked, and not only because at 38 he's two years younger than me. Guerrero was one of the few who could take something so obviously staged and make you not give a damn; he could suck you in with his ability. He had, as Rush Limbaugh so incorrectly claims that he has, talent on loan from God. He could take the most inane storylines and make them believable or make diamonds out of well-written gold stories. He could take a broomstick and make it a believable opponent and was always willing to make his opponents look better because it was good for business. Guerrero was the second wrestler of Hispanic heritage to hold a major promotion's world title- the ultimate symbol that the powers-that-be believe in your ability to carry a company- and was a major player without it. And his microphone skills, the ability to sell a storyline with charisma and speaking, were amazing.

"Latino Heat" will be missed. Here's hopng that Eduardo Guerrero "lies, cheats, and steals" his way to some peace in the afterlife.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Tidbits

I'm in the middle of two straight weeks at work with no sign of sufacing until next Friday, the carpets need a serious vacuuming, Chicagoist is reaping the whirlwind for satirizing the Amish, I banged up my knee but good, and Emmy pounced on the mail carrier last night- and stepped back once she recognized who it was. This on the heels of recent pit bull attacks in the area and the increased calls for a ban on pit bulls.

How was your week?

I can take solace in the knowledge that Rod Stewart is giving us some sage advice on snorting cocaine. Who knew that dealers were cutting the purity with detergents, baby laxatives, flour, and salt?

Who knew that Rod Stewart was still snorting cocaine in the 21st Century?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I Normally Don't Honor Requests.

But since someone asked, I will oblige. The object here is to ask the following questions while iTunes/iPod is on shuffle, then move to the next question while forwarding the program. The songs that pop up are your answers.

Eh. I altered it a bit, not because I wanted to tempt fate but because the songs that popped up were pretty cool to listen to. And thank God for that because the next thing that popped up was the latest podcast from Winecast, with host Tim Elliott tasting wine directly into his microphone. I've heard better slurping sounds in porn movie orgies. I don't know how "The three great whites" whould go over as the answer to one of these questions.

The iTunes Magic 8 Ball (actually I just used my iPod):

What do you think of me, playlist?
Answer: “My Romance”, Claudia Acuna (Rhythm of Life, Verve, 2002)
Analysis: Simple, ambitious, and quietly optimistic. Upbeat and a bit of a dreamer. I think the iPod also likes my style and range of songs. If, that is, the iPod weren’t a cold piece of machinery.

Will I have a happy life?
Answer: “All Blues”, Oscar Brown, Jr. (Tells It Like It Is, Columbia, 1963)
Analysis: Title of the song aside, this is actually a positive answer: “Some blues are sad, but some are glad. Dark and sad or bright and glad: they’re all blues.” OBJ’s lyrics always balance the circle of life here on this Miles Davis tune.

What do my friends really think of me?
Answer: “What’s Happening Brother”, Marvin Gaye (What’s Going On, Motown, 1971)
Analysis: Basically explains what we do when we do get together since they seem to be more infrequent, and that maybe I should make more attempts to contact them. We’re always catching each other up on what’s goin’ on. (Like the Marvin Gaye pun there?)

Do people secretly lust after me?
Answer: “Autumn in New York”, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (Ella And Louis Again, Verve, 1957)
Analysis: At the very least someone thinks I make good company in autumn. Someone mature with a flair for the nostalgic, perhaps?

What should I do with my life?
Answer: "Sugar”, Miss Rhapsody [from the Brian Page jump blues collection Chitlin’ Switch (Eatin’ and Lovin’ It)]
Analysis: Either this is a “try again later” question or the iPod is telling me to keep on keeping on and one day I will be a sugar daddy. I always wondered if the Viagra triangle was in my future.

Why must life be so full of pain?
Answer: “One Side”, Garrison Starr (Airstreams and Satellites, Vanguard records, 2004)
Analysis: This lyric stands out: “You give me a chance to keep hoping.” That and “How could I resist a chance at impossible?”

How can I maximize my pleasure during sex?
Answer: "Future Shock (Dance Your Pants Off)”, Maceo Parker (The J.B.’s Funky Good Time: The Anthology, 1995, Polydor Records)
Analysis: A variation on that bit of Clintonian (George) wisdom, “Free your mind and your ass will follow.”

Will I ever have children?
Answer: “Voot Nay On The Vot Nay”, Basin Street Boys (From Swing O’ Rama Volume 4: The Roots Of The Swing Revolution, Pet Rock Records, 1999)
Analysis: The Fuck? Maybe if I dance my pants off.

Will I die happy?
Answer: "Just For You”, Screaming Jay Hawkins (from Best of Bizarre Sessions,
Analysis: Well the funeral should be the best party ever!!!

Can you give me some advice?
Answer: "Ten Cats Down”, The Miller Sisters (From The Legendary Sun Records Story box set)
Analysis: Live my life like I’m on a playground and have fun.

What do you think happiness is?
Answer: "Utah Carol”, Marty Robbins (from Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, Columbia Legacy, 1959)
Analysis: Happiness apparently is getting trampled in a stampede of cattle to save a little friend, according to the song.

What's my favorite fetish?
Answer: "Kentucky Avenue”, Tom Waits (from Blue Valentine, Asylum Records, 1978)
Analysis: Apparently storytelling, childlike behavior, and borderline antisocial tendencies. Not necessarily in that order.

Eating Crow in Wrigleyville

Eric Zorn last week wrote a column stating in no uncertain terms that he- a Cubs fan- would be "eating crow" because the Sox won the World Series. This prompted a lot of back-and-forth of the sophmoric variety by fans of both teams.

Leave it to my good friend Whitley From Ravenswood to put it all in perspective. To wit:

"I love how Cubs dopes feign innocence and pull the 'what did we ever do to you to deserve this?' routine whenever exulting Sox fans gloat in their faces. You all might want to think about the garbage that routinely comes out of your mouths, the casual way in which you slur us at every opportunity as classless slobs --and as though there are no drunkards or morbidly obese people living anywhere north of Grand Avenue.

"As a proud Sox fan and proud Northsider, I know better, and I can tell you that to identify yourself as a Sox fan up here is to invite inquiries --really intelligent stuff like, 'The Sox?!?' with an implicit 'eeeeewww!!' in the inflection, as though you just let slip in casual conversation that you hadn't changed your underwear in six weeks. It's the quickest way to get some chick who's chatted you up in a public setting, or one who's liked what she's seen in your online profile, to turn her back toward you and flee (with uninvited groping and loudly passing wind ranking a distant joint second).

"In supposedly 'shared' environments such as call-in sports radio, when the hot-stove topic is 'What would you like to see YOUR team do this offseason,' leave it to Cubs dopes to preface their comments with something brilliant like, 'Let's talk about the only team that matters around here --the Coob!' before suggesting that the benevolent Tribune Company free up the dough to sign every All-Star on the free agent market while trading minor league scruberoos away to the Pirates, Twins, Royals and D-Rays in exchange for their best players. The nerve of you people is truly astonishing.

"And g%d forbid the Sox should do something like trade a slugger for a leadoff man and some much needed middle relief; the ensuing Sox talk on the radio will only prompt some aggrieved Cubbieface to call in and moan, 'Could we please change the subject --all this Sox talk is making me sick!!' As if one radio station and a half of the major in-town newspapers in your pocket isn't enough, you greedy, cocky little vermin.

"Yeah, well. Y'all can choke on it all winter --and, I'd wager, for the rest of your miserable, bad-baseball-loving, ivy-bedecked, sun-kissed, beer-soaked, in-house-scalper-subsidizing, credit-card-flashing, gated-community-dwelling lives."

As a Cubs fan I can say with conviction that he's spot-on. We often talk about the state of baseball on both sides of town without spiraling down to potshots and stereotyping. And I've seen it happen to him. Conversely, I've gotten no more than good-natured ribbing about my team allegiances living walking distance away from Comiskey Park Mach Deux.

It's part of the problem with being a Cubs fan. You know that you're basically in league with a bunch of idiots.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

You Know When They Say That When You Have Sex With Someone You Have Sex With All That Person's Partners?

Well, here's a jackpot for you, via Craigslist New York: Six Degrees From Elvis

Through my Auntie Ann, who as a young girl baby sat both Michael and Mary Gross, I can connect myself to a sizable chunk of Hollywood A- and B-list within six degrees and virtually all members of "Saturday Night Live" from 1975-1985 within three.

But it ain't like the faint tinge of a three way with the King and Ann-Margaret.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Or "El Duderino", If You're Not Into The Whole Brevity Thing

The plan was to dress as the Dude for Halloween. Thankfully the rain and general laziness prevented that.

Tonight is a rare Monday evening off. Mouse on Mars was supposed to play this evening but the show was either postponed or canceled. Either way, I'm here now. Saturday was again spent in Pilsen at Picante Grill. We were due to go to the LaSalle Bank movie theatre in Portage Park to catch a doubleheader of "Bride of Frankenstein" and "Dracula's Daughter." Instead I spent the evening watching Sue muse about how Picante was better when Musio was working there and beating up on the Professor. Luckily I own both movies on dvd so I don't regret it that much.

If you have a Saturday evening free you should do yourself a favor and go see a movie at that theater. They only screen old movies there- horror, film noir, slapstick comedies, and at bargain admissions. The theater itself is one of these old conference rooms that seats about 200-250 people, but the place draws an amazing amount of people. Has been for years. I think the movies are partially programmed by Chuck Schaeden from "Those Were The Days", the old time radio show that airs Saturdays on WDCB-FM. Not far from there is Metro Golden Memories, a memorabilia shop that sells merchandise from the golden age of movies, radio and television. I used to frequent the place a lot as a teenager; it's where I was able to feed my early fascination with the Marx Brothers. Being that it was a straight drop west on the Addison bus from Lane Tech it was easy to reach.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

10... Plus One

So I was catching up on my blog stalking this morning when I came upon this reflective anecdote by the I-can-only-assume-she's-lovely-since-we've-never-personally-met Miss Blaise K. It made me reflect, more so than I usually do. I don't think any of our lives turn out the way we want. It's like Prison Break; you can have a plan where you account for every contingency you can think of, but something comes out of the blue and just fucks it all up.

I came back to Chicago eleven years ago with my mind set on being a comedian and writer. But all the comedy clubs went out of business when I got back. I also discovered that being funny in a social setting and being funny onstage are two completely different things. I went to my first poetry slam at the Green Mill. Ground Zero of the slam poetry movement. Enjoyed watching it, thought I could do better. Asked Slampapi about it. Turned out he's a bloviator: "If you want to be a poet in Chicago then this is the place to learn." Never was a fan of popularity contests or arrogant pricks, so fuck him. Came upon the Unofficial Soup Kitchen by reading a flyer at Blackout Records. Much more my speed. So I wrote and performed poetry with them instead. You can't make a living doing that unless you're Maya Angelou, a tenured professor, or a dealer. And my family essentially defines the term "po'" so I couldn't sponge off them. I had to find a job with a quickness, but having worked in engineering for six years I didn't want to do that anymore.

So Hello, Radio Shack! You sure as shit weren't the answer to my question, except for that one about the paycheck every two weeks. But you were a start. Old friends felt like strangers. Others I hadn't seen since high school became my best friends today. Made new friends, the kind that will say great things about what a stand-up guy I am at my funeral. Remembered I wasn't in the military anymore and let the hair grow. The first time my stepfather saw me with the long hair he said I looked like Lorenzo Lamas in "Renegade". But he was drunk and I was carrying my Navy weight on me.

916 W. Belmont was our epicenter. A party every weekend. Eventually we stumbled into careers and relationships. Some, like me, stumbled longer. It wasn't the booze. It was the insticntive need to keep the party going. Eventually stopped writing. Left Radio Shack. Got a job where I had to cold call factories and mills looking to sell off their old equipment. Wished I was back at Radio Shack for a while.

Bridgeport was the last resort. If I can't make it here, I can't make it. Seeked therapy after receiving an ultimatum from my roommate. Started figuring some things out. Tending bar helped me figure more things out. The idiocy of other drinkers made me cut down on my own. Fell in love with bicycling. Rode from Minneapolis to Chicago one year. Started writing again. Found out I'm actually pretty good at it. At least better than I was years before.

Eventually began to act my age. That brought greater responsibilities. Found out I have the tools to handle them. Started planning for sommelier certification and finally concentrating on the writing. Through it all, the friends stayed. And grew. There was really no need for Friendster or Myspace or Tribe when you can still shake a hand and engage in conversation with people.

In short, like Blaise, everything is better now. Except for the neocons running everything

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Proof That Bridgeport Is The Center Of The Universe

Well there's this.

And this.

This was the first thing I discovered about the neighborhood six years ago.

Can't leave this out.

And of course, this.

Yup, it's gonna be a busy weekend here in Bridgeport

Friday, October 14, 2005

Is God Mad At Us?

No. He's just embarrassed.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Confessions of a Cubs Fan

Between the way the White Sox dispatched of the Red Sox and last night's gift of a win I'm wondering if I've been backing the wrong horse for thirty-six years.

First, let me qualify this by saying that since October baseball games in Chicago happen so rarely you should be enjoying this, regardless of what team you pledged your allegiance toward.

Fact is, this White Sox team plays baseball the way we were taught from t-ball all the way to American Legion leagues: sound fundamentals, never giving up until the final out has been tallied, and hustle. They're also fun to watch. Mark Buerhle threw a 99 pitch gem of a game last night and regardless of the umpire's call deserved to win that game. Couple that with the effort Jose Contreras had Tuesday night and the White Sox are as good as advertised. Now if they can just dial down the nervous baserunning and pick up the situational hitting things'll be alright.

Bottom line is that this team has a legitimate shot at not only making the World Series, but winning it. They won't choke like so many Cubs teams I've poured my heart into ('84, '89, '03) and have that great rotation, solid middle relief, and a loose clubhouse atmosphere. Offensively they aren't the "smallball" that's been bandied about, but they do adapt to their opponent. They can run with the Angels, throttle the Indians with timely hits, and outslug the Red Sox (an aside: Red Sox fans are the only ones more obnoxious than my fellow Cubs fans. They also have in common with White Sox fans the inferiority complex of feeling like the secondary team in a major market).

And that's why I'm enjoying going to game ones at Puffer's, the feeling there is electric, like the Sox are moving with a sense of purpose. It's great to see. And if you're a fan of baseball, you should be supporting it.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Like Ben Gazarra In "Road House"

Thursday night I met up with the Chicagoist staff for dinner at Picante Grill in Pilsen. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. The food was- as always- great and there was a lot of commotion going on around the table with an extended, alarming discussion on the subject of frottage.

I walked to the restaurant and back, which was quicker than I thought. Actually it was about as long as if I had waited for a bus to come and drop me off two blocks too far north of the restaurant. On the way I passed the Pilsen Art District where the Podmajersky artists were preparing for this weekend's Art Walk. The Podmajersky family owns most- some might say all- of the galleries and artists' living spaces in the eastern side of Pilsen. Practically everything on halsted from 18th to Cullerton and on 18th East of Halsted is Podmajersky property, which brings to rise the standard criticisms that the family is taking advantage of its tenants in order to finance the family's yachting habit. Which is true to an extent, if you're a cynic and blind to the realities of gentrification.

There's been a steady influx of artists, writers, and hangers-on in the creative class down here for years now, mainly because they can no longer afford to live in Wicker Park, Bucktown, or even Humboldt Park. Compared to the rents that are being charged in those neighborhoods, they're going with the devil they know. Living as an artist is often a communal existence, so it makes sense to split a $1200 rent between four-to-six people in order to stretch out a budget.

Still, it concerns me to some degree that one family can have such a stranglehold on property in a neighborhood. It almost makes Pilsen feel like a small town within the city, at times. Which is another detriment to the artist lifestyle- it can often be insular and aloof.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

"A Gentleman's Disagreement"

Bill O'Reilly had General Wesley Clark on the Bully Pulpit last night to talk about National Guard mobilization for Hurricane Rita, but still took some time to hit the Fox News/RNC talking points memo to smear Cindy Sheehan. The General wasn't biting (pay attention to the bold and italicized Clark quote):

CLARK: I can't imagine that she doesn't like the country.

O'REILLY: Well, she said we committed murder.

CLARK: She supported her son serving in the armed forces and I can tell ya' there's a lot of people who wear that American flag pin who wouldn't let their children serve in the armed forces so I honor any parent whose son serves in the armed forces - or daughter.

O'REILLY: Alright, Gentlemen's disagreement but just go back and look at the things that she said, General. I don't know if this is the company you want to keep.

CLARK: Lets talk next week. I'll talk about the policy, not the company.

O'REILLY: We'll get - we'll get deeply into that.

CLARK: Alright.

Transcript courtesy of Newshounds

This came two days after Phil Donahue got the better of O'Reilly when their discussion turned to Sheehan. After some heated discussion between staying the course in Iraq and "cutting and running", Donahue brought the hammer down.

DONAHUE: (reasonable tone of voice) Now listen - listen. You wouldn't send your children to this war, Bill.

O'REILLY (very angry, pointing): My nephew just enlisted in the Army. You don't know what the hell you're talkin' about!!!

DONAHUE: Very good. Very good. Congratulations! You should be proud ..

O'REILLY (starts to lose it, shouting, pointing finger, hand shaking): And he's a patriot, so don't denigrate his service or I'll boot you right off the set!!!

DONAHUE: I'm not ... I'm not ...

O'REILLY (very, very loud): That boy made a decision to serve his country!!! Do not denigrate him or you're outta here!!!

DONAHUE (calmly): I'm not Jeremy Glick, Billy.

O'REILLY: That's right!!

DONAHUE: You can't intimidate me!!

O'REILLY: You're a little bit more intelligent that he is!!

DONAHUE: I'm not somebody you can come and just spew all your ...

O'REILLY: Don't tell me I wouldn't send my kids.

DONAHUE: Loud doesn't mean right!

O'REILLY: My nephew just enlisted. You don't know what you're talkin' about!!

DONAHUE: Your nephew is not your kid. You are like ...

O'REILLY: He's my blood!

DONAHUE: You are part of a loud group of people who wanna prove they're tough ...

O'REILLY (shifts angrily in his chair, under his breath): Aw fer ...

DONAHUE: ... and send other people's kids to war to make the case.

Now go back to the Clark quote: "...there's a lot of people who wear that American flag pin who wouldn't let their children serve in the armed forces..."

Now Donahue: "Your nephew is not your kid."

For the record, O'Reilly wears a flag pin on his lapel.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I'm Oscar Dot-Com

Arrested Development is far-and-away the funniest thing on standard broadcast television, and I'm hoping that moving it to Monday nights will get it the audience it so rightly deserves. So stop reading this and head over to the very real and let the laughs consume you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Well at Least They Had A Rap

The FEMA Rap for Kidz (from the FEMA web site. Seriously.), via Harry Shearer's Le Show. I couldn't stop laughing this morning when listening to this on the way to work.

It's only fitting since the former director handled his job worse than an eight-year-old.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Finally, Some Good News

While the politicos and others play the blame game, which I guess must be similar to the name game. Which I didn't play in Kindergarten because of my name: "chuck, chuck, bo-buck, banana-nana-mo-muck, fe fi fo fu-oooOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!"

Anyhoo, here's a list from WWOZ in New Orleans of musicians and bands who are safe in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood that FEMA prophesied but didn't act to protect against.

Something that I wanted to post on last week but didn't- mainly because I was sick of feeding into the negativity of the whole fallout from the flood- was this touching tribute by Harry Shearer from the Labor Day edition of his radio program Le Show. Shearer and his wife live part of the year in the Crescent City and the show was a welcome respite from the zingers and arrows flung by both conservatives and liberals last week. I downloaded the podcast to my iPod and shared it with everyone I could (the whole program is available at Shearer's website, Audible, KCRW Santa Barbara, and iTunes). 59 of the most mesmerizing minutes of radio I've heard in a long time.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

And So It Begins...

as it always does, with a little seed. With care and nuturing it becomes a hearty plant. Or, in this age of conservative spin control, it becomes the truth. They're also tossing about the casual notion that Governor Kathleen Blanco should bear culpability for not federalizing the Louisiana Guard after the levee broke and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin for allowing a welfare culture to fester in his city making the poor too lazy to leave. But, as the President said, "No one knew the levee was gonna break." I mean, criticizing Kanye West for criticizing Our Holy Leader on national television can only get you so far before people remember what we were talking about before.

Meanwhile in Texas a woman who was wife of one President and mother of another says something that is so shocking you have to listen to it again in order to make sure you heard it right, lest you be lumped in with the nutcases, feminazis, communists, terrorist sympathizers, supporters of the welfare state, and general cowards. But I'm assuming that since you're reading this you already are lumped in that corner, the young Republicans at the Reagan Review excepted. And I'm holding out hope that you meet some people in college who show you can convert you to good old Marxism

I was inclined to give Barbara Bush the benefit of the doubt when I heard the sound bite, thinking that maybe she misspoke and was comparing the situation of the Katrina refugees to the squalor they found themselves in last week. I even went so far as to comment about it on Scott Smith's Chicagoist post this afternoon. Then I remembered who we were dealing with. She might as well have quoted Marie Antoinette: "Let them eat cake!"

I remembered that for all of Dubya's bluster about following in his father's footsteps, at least George Herbert Walker Bush knew to keep people like Cheney and Rumsfeld on a short leash. If anything he's his mother's son- a true momma's boy. Barbara Bush is a woman who Richard Nixon admired because she "knew how to hate." She nurses a grudge against her son like she does a vodka tonic- long after the ice has melted.

In his book Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair And Balanced Look At The Right Al Franken writes of a chance encounter with Mrs. Bush that goes horribly wrong after Franken points out some physical quirks of her son, then made a not-so-subtle reference for her son's defeat:

"A scowl flashed over her face. And, dismissing me with an imperious wave of her hand, she issued a stern 'Well, I'm through with you!'

"It was so over the top, I was convinced she was kidding.

"'Oh, c'mon, I'm a Democrat,' I said, in all good fun

'"'I gathered that. And I'm through with you!' Another wave of the hand."

Later at a bat mitzvah in Washington Franken relayed the story to a growing list of Beltway insiders:

"...(W)hat everyone who knew Barbara Bush thought was funniest- by far- was that I kept thinking that she had been kidding.

"I kept hearing things like: 'Oh, no, she's a horrible bitch.' 'Omigod, she's the worst bitch on earth. 'She can be very charming, but Barbara Bush is the Queen Bitch.'"

So knowing that, are we really surprised that she even said that now?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I Can Throw Out Large Numbers Too, Mr. President!

So Mario and I were talking last night after the President's promise to rebuild Trent Lott's house and we got to speaking in dubya. We came up with this nugget:

"Since you all like looting so much we want you to find a sporting goods store or army/navy surplus, get yourself some waterproof matches and purification tablets, and boil yourself some drinking water. And maybe a bowie knife so you can kill an alligator for food. Stop waiting for us."

We're also working on a bit called "Operation 'No Part Of The Pig Left Unused'": free range chitterlings, pork crackling, and mountain oysters.

Embarrassment, or Genuine Frustration?

Kanye West goes off script last night during NBC's Katrina relief telethon. Appearing in a segment with Mike Myers to solicit donations for the Red Cross, Myers reads from the prompter. Kanye... well, he was Kanye. His full comments:

"I hate the way they portray us in the media.

"If you see a black family it says they are looting if you see a white family it says they are looking for food.

"And you know that it’s been 5 days because most of the people are black and even for me to complain … I would be a hypocrite because I would turn away from the TV because it’s too hard to watch. I’ve even been shopping before giving a donation and so right now I’m calling my business manager what is the biggest amount I can give.

"And just to imagine if I was down there, those are my people down there. So anybody out there who wants to help with the set up, the way that America is set up to help … The poor, the black people, the less well off as slow as possible. I mean, Red Cross is doing everything they can.

"We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war now fighting another way and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us."

(Mike Myers tries to get back on prompter, reads from script and then camera cuts back to Kanye. He pauses before)

Kanye West: "George Bush doesn’t care about black people."

(NBC does a quick cut to comedian/actor Chris Tucker.)

To be fair, Dubya doesn't care about anyone who's still stuck in NOLA right now. It isn't just blacks- although the racial divide is certainly heightened in Katrina's aftermath- but also a question of addressing the economic divide, as well. To that end I need to give kudos to Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera at Fox News Channel for absolutely shutting Sean Hannity up from touting the neo-con party line with their reports from the convention center (you can use the same link to view the video). Mississippi native Smith in particular has been very objective in reporting on the gravity of the situation all week, pulling people wading in the water along I-10 out and onto the exit ramp refugee camp, trying in vain to get a police officer to answer questions, and detailing harrowing and unfiltered accounts of the anarchy at the convention center. Should he keep this up Smith might be lookig for another job by years end.

Kanye's comments last night have given the right a much-needed distraction from the failure of compassionate conservatism in the Gulf Coast. Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin- a 21st Century version of Tokyo Rose- catches her readers up on Kanye from what appears to be a passing glance at Wikipedia, filtered with the withering satire of a sorority girl who only gave her husband handjobs when they were dating because she was hellbent on saving herself for her wedding night. Kanye's comments have given kool-aid drinking harpies like Malkin a brief distraction from the realities of compassionate conservatism:

"West may be Time's "smartest man in pop music," but he also happens to be a tinfoil-hat conspiracist who raps about how the government invented the AIDS virus and a petulant sore loser who delivered a tirade at the American Music Awards when he didn't get a trophy."

While West's comments at Live 8 about the AIDS virus were largely uninformed and only perpetuated the theory that HIV was created to wipe out African Americans, Malkin should probably subscribe to the "pot kettle black" theory in trying to punk him out. After all, at least Kanye West isn't a minority advocating racial profiling and defending Japanese-American internment camps during Wold War II, claiming we never had fiscal responsibility under Democratic leadership, smearing Cindy Sheehan, making false accusations of an Ohio organization registering a terrorist to vote, and claiming that John Kerry's shrapnel injuries in Vietnam were self-inflicted.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Give What You Can

It goes without saying- time, money, blood, sweat, labor- give what you can. The death toll in the Gulf Coast could reach 10,000 and it could be 3-6 months before New Orleans is drained and cleaned. And then talks of rebuilding can begin.

And with that, today's Quote of the Day, courtesy of President Bush:

"We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

And just wait'll you see the new slave quarters.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

From The Man Who Brought Us Disco Demolition...

The first tasteless humor about Hurricane Katrina by Steve Dahl.

Unbowed, Dahl waxes philosophic about Katrina on his weblog:

"And I blame the news media too. Everybody in New Orleans was told to evacuate, but when you see Anderson Cooper and all of those other idiots on TV standing out there in the storm, you think riding out the storm must be do-able.

"So what have we learned here form the lessons of 9/11? We were not prepared. We did not get people out of harm’s way. There is no adequate plan to rescue, house, clothe them, feed them, or even get them fresh water. We knew (even The Army Corps of Engineers knew) that the levee system in and around New Orleans was in need of repair, and that a major percentage of our domestic oil supply comes from and is refined in that region. Yet our nations’s big plan is for me to send some more money to the Red Cross. President Bush did fly over the disaster area at 5000 feet yesterday (that’s almost a mile above it). Nice photo op, though. Keep up the good work."

And the situation is dovetailing into anarchy as officials try to evacuate the Superdome, which, while it managed to survive Katrina battered but unbowed, is not the ideal place for a refugee camp. The president is slated to tour the area today, if only to give the impression that he isn't detached from the destruction, unlike some of his Cabinet members.

It's disheartening that we live in a country whose government has the sense of humor to laugh at a Monty Python satire but lacks the irony to realize it is one.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Watching Events Unfold In New Atlantis

Nice to see the President cut his vacation short by two days so that he can get to the business of trying to save New Orleans. As of this evening the Mayor of New Orleans has declared martial law and directed the police to protect the city from looters (hopefully without clumsy orders to "shoot looters on sight"), in addition to the monumental task of rescuing survivors. On a positive note, he now has a valid excuse to not have that coffee klatsch with Cindy Sheehan.

The sight of looters on Nightline last night was appalling. What good do they think all those new clothes, electronics, and other material items are gonna do in a city that has faces a rising health epidemic. Guess a well dressed corpse is better than one without clothing at all. Dysentery is just the beginning. Wait until the bodies of the deceased begin to decompose in the floodwater

Personally I'm surprised that some evangelical nutjob hasn't positioned himself in front of a camera and said that Katrina was God's way of punishing New Orleans- or America- for its sinful secularist lifestyle. They all seem to trip over themselves to be the first whenever one of these natural disasters hits a developing or impoverished nation where Christianity isn't the primary religion.

Then again the Mississippi Gulf Coast was hit hardest, so maybe this is God's way of telling the folks in Jesusland to stop blurring the separation of church and state; to stop lobbying for the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools; to stop praying for the deaths of every Supreme Court justice not named Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas; to not advocate for the assassination of foreign leaders; to stop driving these studio apartments on wheels that emit greenhouse gases, causing global warming and leading to chaotic weather patterns and superstorms like Katrina; and for the love of Him to actually practice what he preached and turn the other cheek once in a while.

And now, the Quote of the Day:

"(A father should) take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger."

- psychologist and conversion therapy advocate Joseph Nicolosi, via Dan Savage in last week's Savage Love column.

Somewhere beyond the cortex is a small voice. It's probably the ghost of Horatio Alger laughing his ass off at the irony of a father and son showering together in order to make the boy a breeder.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Notes For Monday

From the "No Shit!" Department:

- "Poor films explain box office slump", though it probably won't force the major studios to, you know, actually develop original films or put their muscle behind young, talented filmmakers.

Quote Of The Day:

"Friends, mark my inerrant words: soon, Iraq will join America in also being a brittle theocracy so bilious in partisan distain that it too will one day get civilized enough to tear the mothers of dead soldiers to pieces." - From the desk of America's Best Christian, Mrs. Betty Bowers

It's been a relatively slow day. I'm trying to process yesterday's breakfast conversation with Mom. It was all about power of attorney and, the enforcing of her living will should she become incapacitated, and burial arrangements. You're forced to face your own mortality when you're talking with a parent about how he or she wants to die. I vainly tried to shift the focus of the conversation back to the sausage gravy, but Mom felt it was too important to give me tips on how to get the gravy thich and free of lumps:

Mom: I want to be cremated.

Me: That's great, Mom. Do you sift the flour into the pan or do you just spoon it right in there?

Mom: And if you can find a discreet place to scatter my ashes, I'd like you to do that.

Me: Is this sage sausage?

Mom: Because I think the law forbids you to scatter ashes.

Me: Can I get your biscuit recipe, Mom?

With my stepfather's cancer episodes not fully behind him and Mom using a walker more frequently these days I don't fault her for prioritizing her arrangements. The needy child in me doesn't want to think about the day when I can't call my mother to be there (not that I call her these days). Seeing her use sheer will to struggle to move around on a bad hip she can't get replaced, because doctors feel she wouldn't survive an operation between her heart problems, hypertension, and diabetes, is frightening. And yet, as the road ahead comes to a close, she seems content. They both do.

I think evangelicals should look at my parents as an example on how to conduct their golden years with dignity and not with this pious arrogance and hypocritical influence that they're exerting.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

So, Like, Real Blogging, Eh?

Back and rested from the weekend. The wedding was great and it was wonderful to get to spend some time with the family for a weekend. Anyhoo, congratulations Anne & Pete. Sorry I did not make the jam session at Logan's in Freeport.

Quotes of the Day:

"I know people think that this is a vanity job or that I'm the guy that just brings in talent and I'm out of the office three months a year and I only come in once in while, you know, like the real president." - Jay-Z in the New York Times on his day-to-day struggles as president of Def Jam Records.

"Elvis was constantly surrounded by his entourage and I was only 17, and I'm sure they knew it." - Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, on her desire to lose her virginity to Elvis Presley. Instead, she required stitches after being deflowered by the apparently choad-packing Tom Jones.

"There will come a time – whether it’s in five months or 5 years or 50 years, I don’t know – when we’ll all have to answer the question of what we were doing when the Bush-Robertson-Coulter crowd tried to ruin America, just as earlier generations had to explain the mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials or McCarthyism. Cindy Sheehan and New Yorkers don’t need lectures from those that hate the values of a country whose flag they perennially wave." - Former New York Mayoral candidate Mark Green in the Huffington Post, responding to recent comments by psychotic nag Ann Coulter that New Yorkers would "surrender" to terrorists if attacked again.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Before I Leave For The Chapel

Cintra Wilson invades the White House Press Corps (from Salon, you'll have to sit through an ad to read it):

"It seemed somehow related to the Roberts nomination that there was an extra helping of snappy young Republicans humming around the White House on the 20th -- prematurely wide and matronly young women with obsolete cheerleader features dressed like Lady Bird Johnson, with tightly twisted hair and $2,000 handbags, and 20-something guys with that roundheaded military eunuch look: plastic wraparound sunglasses and boxy, off-the-rack navy-blue suits with the periwinkle-blue shirts that have become the uniform of the GOP Youth. The guys have a restless, jacked-up machismo that probably comes of venting the frustrations of abstinence in Krav Maga class, and a thumping sense of the authority and entitlement that comes with belonging to the winning team, which they call "The Party." Superclean motherfuckers -- an abrasive, stinging kind of clean, like they all just got shaken out of an icy tumbler full of Pine Sol, pumice and the New Testament."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Where The Chapel?

So I'm heading out of town this weekend to attend the wedding of my friends Anne and Pete. An wouldn't you know it I forgot to look at the registry until today?

I'm planning on a visit to Mom since she lives just over the border, on the condition that she let me bring the dog up, as well. Barring any unforseen allergies Mom may have encountered it should be alright.

My greatest fear is that my family's neuroses don't rub off on the Emmy and I have to stop every thirty miles so she can pee and run away from this man who came from a crazy family.

Should've tried to +1 the dog for the wedding instead.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Maybe They'll Go The Way Of Latin And Die

The first fifteen minutes of the work day belong to you. even when I was in the Navy I never had a memo sent to me that was time-stamped "9:01". Or "0901" as it were. Those first fifteen minutes belong to you- you get coffee, gossip around the water cooler, have a smoke, maybe a quickie in a broom closet.

It's happened.

Anyway, my fifteen minutes are spent speed-reading the newspaper while waiting for beer and liquor salespeople with their hands out or a new product to sample. Sometimes I come across an article that further nudges me along the slippery slope to atheism like this one. It frightens me not just because it would further blur the already muddied line that separates church and state if Benedict XVI is indeed granted immunity as a head of state, but also allows the Vatican to police allegations of sexual abuse as it sees fit.

We already know how well that's been working.

I also fear that granting the Pope recognition as a head-of-state would further embolden the Catholic church to exert its political influence on like-minded, sympathetic governments- like the current Republican majority in Congress. Furthermore, would granting the Vatican status as an official state therefore raise every Roman Catholic archdiocese around the world to the status of embassiies and consulates? This is murky water, indeed, and I fear the President may use his "hotline to God" and grant Benedict XVI the diplomatic recognition he seeks. It more than likely would be overturned in the courts, but that's never stopped Bush from interfering whenever the name of God is involved, as evidenced by his actions during the Terri Schiavo denouement this spring.

No sooner had Benedict XVI decided to seek diplomatic regognition than he reflected on the state of Christianity in the West. It behooves the organized religions of the world to focus on developing nations to increase their flocks, since developing nations are on a long road to secular enlightenment: an educated population; fair and equal treatment for all peoples; respect for human rights and civil liberties; opportunities for all people to live a richer, freer life; and even (knockonwood) government charters with clear guidelines that lessen the influence of organized religions on how governments actually govern, like our once-unique spearation of church and state.

Protestant religions recognized this decades ago and tailored their rhetoric accordingly. Witness in this country the stranglehold a small number of religious zealots have on the political party that was once defined by its ability to be inclusive and socially progressive. It is nothing short of religious persecution: it's subtle to the point of seeming nonexistent, but persecution nonetheless. The opportunity to worship God without fear of government reprisal was one of the catalysts that brought the early settlers to the Americas from colonial Europe. With no new worlds to flee toward we have no choice but to stand our ground and defend what the Forefathers stood for.

Bad Dialogue... But It's A Start

  • Someone named Rachel Mills weighs in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on her weblog. The comments after the post are what you should be checking out there. About fifteen responses in it turns into a crash course on the underlying tensions in the region so that hopefully the assumed libertarian-minded Ms. Mills doesn't resort to Fox News cliches in future posts on the subject. Maybe the next time she feels the need to write about how Allah took an "advanced civilization at the time of Muhammed to a complete and utter standstill" she would be wise to remember our President's stance on stem cell research, womens' reproductive rights, same-sex marriages, "intelligent design", and his own presumed hotline to God (ten paragraphs in).

  • Must be a slow news month: Conservative "pundit"- a term used loosely- Debbie Schulssel apparently waited until Peter Jennings was unable to defend himself (read: dead from lung cancer) so that she could smear him as a tool of the liberal media and an al Qaeda sympathizer. The columns Schlussel pimped, and was rightly ridiculed by Artie Lange, this morning on Howard Stern's radio show make the mudslinging of Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin appear downright respectable. There's only one reason that Howard Stern allows Debbie Schlussel on the air:

Between that headshot and the Jennings slanders I think Schlussel qualifies to be a Stern Show "wack-packer", don't you? She looks like someone who did her own hair and makeup for a Glamour Shots shoot because she didn't want to look tacky. That's a color I've only seen on strippers and lead singers for 80's hair metal bands.

This photo reminds me of these words of wisdom from the late Frank Zappa:

"I want a nasty little Jewish Princess
With long phony nails and a hairdo that rinses
A horny little Jewish Princess
With a garlic aroma that could level Tacoma."

There's nothing wrong with pundits like Schlussel, Malkin, and Coulter that can't be solved with a little rough assplay.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Price of Fame... Unrealized At This Time

This couple started a weblog in order to enhance their chances of being contestants on "Fear Factor."

That's not a misread.

"Fear Factor."

Mark Lisanti at Defamer summarizes it nicely:

"They want help getting attention for their campaign to win the opportunity to gobble as many rooster testicles, bison boners, and llama anuses as their stomachs can handle in 60 seconds, then suffer Joe Rogan’s smug giggles when they inevitably vomit?” Then we realized it’s not nice to laugh at self-destructive impulses that we don’t understand, so we’ll wish them luck, hoping that the thought of the million dollar prize helps them keep down that nasty goulash of animal junk as they’re being dropped off a skyscraper in a Ford Focus. Godspeed, etc etc."

I say you play to your strengths. If your mind isn't a depository of useless minutiae you don't try out for "Jeopardy."

I also found this wonderful little game through Defamer. Makes me long for those Old "Bob Newhart" drinking games we played in school.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Remember When "Spam" Was An Acronym For "Pork Shoulder And Ham"?

First Item: Dig that fucking caipirinha up there. When made properly that's what it should look like. And it doesn't taste too bad, either.

So this found its way through my e-mail filters this morning. Since I don't have the patience to edit the grammatical errors so we'll just make this message one large (SIC) Those of you who aren't quick on the uptake please DO NOT RESPOND TO THE E-MAIL ADDRESS LISTED BELOW AS THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE "EURO PHIL LOTTERY!!":

From: Euro Phil Lottery.
Ref. Nnumbe: 132/756/4509

Batch Number: 538901527-Bc68


We are pleased to inform you of the result of the Lottery Winners International
programs held on the 13th of August 2005. Your e-mail address attached to ticket number 27-522-46-58-96-6453 with serial number 3772-554 drew lucky numbers 7-14-18-23-31-45 which consequently won in the 2nd category, you have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of US$ 1,000,000 (One Million United States Dollars) CONGRATULATIONS!!! Due to mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential until your claims has been processed and your money Remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants.All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 20,000 company and 30,000,000 individual email addresses and names from all over the world.This promotional program takes place every three year. This lottery was promoted and sponsored by eminent personalities like Bill Gates and the Sultan of Brunei, we hope with part of your winning you will take part in our next year USD50 million international lottery.To file for your claim, please contact our fiducial agent Mr.Tommy Peter AND Assoclates BELGIUM. Telephone :+0032-49-737-9923 GENT. Reply all winning must be claimed not later than 31th of August 2005. After this date all unclaimed funds will be included in the next stake.Please note in order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications, remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers in all correspondence.Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent as soon as possible. Congratulations once more from our members of staff and thank you for being part of our promotional program.Note: Anybody under the age of 18 is automatically disqualified.



Sincerely yours,

MR Tommy Peter.

Lottery Coordinator.

'Course, it's a scam. But that won't stop some mouth breather with the ability to dial thirteen numbers in succession to call the number and give these scammers all of his financial information, only to find that his bank account has been sucked dry.

What amazes me is that the elderly fall for this constantly. The Chicago Sun-Times ran a story four years ago about how former Mayor Eugene Sawyer fell for a similar scam (to be fair, he didn't fall for an internet scam, but it was a confidence game nonetheless). This was the mayor of the third-largest city in the nation and lost over $400,000 to a con artist.

Is this what I have to look forward to when I retire? I'll bust my ass while I'm able-bodied in order to enjoy my twilight with some measure of comfort only to have someone named "MR Tommy Peter" steal my pension because I won a lottery that I didn't remember entering? Or give some hack my savings because I fear I might not have enough should I live past seventy?

I hope not.


Went to Carol's Pub yesterday to catch the Waco Brothers and Devil In A Woodpile at the odd start time of 3 p.m. The only thing missing was a stage enclosed in chicken wire to protect the band if the crowd decided to throw beer bottles at the stage.

I'm still amazed that Wacos managed to fit on that stage. The certainly did not do so comfortably. Langford in particular felt restrained by the tight quarters, but by the end of the set threw caution to the wind like the punk rocking Welsh bastard that he is and was throwing high kicks with abandon. The mannish-looking bartender with wide hips perfect for child bearing and the Waylon Jennings "outlaw" mullet really seemed to be enjoying herself. But that was probably because she wasn't having to break up any fights.

After pounding back bourbon all afternoon in the dank recesses of Carol's when we headed outside we forgot that it was still in daytime. Suddenly two hundred people are shielding their eyes like moles having their first collective encounter with the sun. I think I actually heard someone squeal when the sunlight her eyes, but it more likely was the bourbon affecting me.

Afterward we went to the newly opened Swim Cafe in the East Village, where I had an amazing paniini and coffee. The perfect tonic for an afternoon of drinking.

In hindsight, the whole day felt like I closed down two places at four a.m.


Saturday, August 06, 2005


Via Scott Smith at Chicagoist, check out this link about former Creed vocalist Scott Stapp trying to get some pussy at a Denny's in Gainesville, Florida.

Just received my latest copy of Oxford American in the mail this week. This one was even more special as it was the music issue, which comes with a companion cd. The cd from last music issue I received two years back- the OA has had a couple publishing hiatuses since then- is one of my favorite cds in my library. It's a wonderful hodgepodge of country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, soul, rock, and pop music, featuring Little Milton (a pause for rememberance), Esther Phillips, Willie Nelson, My Morning Jacket, Del McCoury, Swamp Dogg, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Memphis Minnie, and Marilyn Monroe.

The companion cd for this one contains a passionate live reading of "Suspicious Minds" by elvis Presley. recorded August, 1969- roughly a week before "before "Suspicious Minds" was released as a single- it's six-and-a-half minutes of drama as elvis leads the band in the signature rise-and-fall of the song. It's almost as though he and the band were indeed "caught in a trap" and can't get out.

Go buy the magazine. You won't be disappointed.

The image above is of the classical composer Moondog, also on the Oxford American companion cd. He was a ardent student of "perfect counterpoint." Credit of thiat image goes to the "Moondog's Corner" site.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Which stands for "pound it." That's the logo on the back of my brand new Goose Island "312" ballcap, which I received today after a meeting with some folks at the brewery. I had "pound it" on the tip of my tongue but instead blurted "number it" as my answer when asked if I knew what it meant. Goose Island chose that tag line over "#1" ("pound one" for those of you trying to solve the thick algebra). I understand. If I owned a beer company I probably wouldn't want an obvious reference for alcohol abuse as a tag line for one of my beers either. Although it does seems to work for Sam Adams' Jim Koch.

We got to tour the brewery afterward, taste some samples of not yet available product, and left with a half case of soda. Looking into the mash vats reminded me of the trip to the Maker's Mark distillery I took years back with my friends Harry and Monika. We could smell the sour mash for miles before we arrived at the distillery and probably got high on the fumes driving there. At Goose Island that sweet smell of fermenting grain was lost in the haze and pollution of city air. I feared that my sunglasses would fall into the vat for a fleeting moment Hmmm... fresh beer. Any meeting that involves tasting beer is a productive one. it's days like this that remind me of how much fun my job can be.

So it's finally making like a monsoon outside after a whole summer of no rain and excessive heat. I made it through Sunday, but not without a couple scares. I took the dog for a walk before the heat really ramped up, then followed it with some light grocery shopping. When I got back the winds outside popped one of my windows open, wasting all the cold air I built up with my air conditioners. Emmy was panting- it was 85 degrees and humid in the livig room. By the time I had to go to work I managed to make the apartment comfortable again. But when I got to work a freon leak caused the central air unit in the main performance area to pump out only the air from outside.

And we were hosting a wedding. The organizers were gracious about the situation, and we tried to alleviate it as much as possible. But the bride should not have had a melting wax staue glow happening. I myself lost about three pounds of water weight that night. By the time sunset came it was hotter inside than outside. I was glad I opted to not wear a cotton shirt as it would have clung to me like a second skin.

But The Wrigley Field Ivy Looks Immaculate:

The ballfields at McGuane Park are fried, which makes walking the dog an even more arduous task, since Emmy is a fussy shitter. She only wants to drop loads in green patches. Since there are so few left in the park I've taken to walking her farther down 31st Street to a vacant lot where hearty thornbushes are thriving. Emmy isn't too keen on walking there, but her natural impulses take over once she's faced with the challenging foilage.

Still, this is Bridgeport and some things never change, although they do become trends. The tai chi group that meets daily in McGuane have a few new recruits in some middle-aged white folks who've hipped themselves to the knowledge that practicing tai chi helps you live longer. The new folks have even taken to using sticks on days when they practice sword movements. It's a beautiful study in acceptance- the movements of the Chinese flowing effortlessly from years of practice and repitition as they guide the others along a slow but steady learning curve. No judgment is made; no one is ridiculed or dismayed. All that matters is the moment and the tranquility gained from losing oneself in the movements. I especially love watching them when they break out the fans and the exercises gravitate towards something more resembling dance.

In Case No One Has Read I'm Not A Fan Of Whole Foods:

The original point I wanted to make in last week's Chicagoist post was that sometimes there's a feeling that one pays for the privilege of shopping at Whole Foods between its socially conscious mission and commitment to organic produce. I don't know if it was the guttersniping tone of the post or the post's headline (both of which I readily admit to), but it started a whole slew of commentary that- once you waded through the Greek chorus of "Whole Foods Sucks/No, YOU SUCK" that was written- underscored the class divide that's becoming more problematic in urban areas in the early 21st century. Cities are becoming largeer versions of suburbs. As metropolitan areas transform from rundown industrial areas into giant residential areas where everyone is stacked on top of each other, a lot of the melting pot mentality that marked cities is becoming either homogenized or altogether wiped clean. Walk down some streets in Chicago these days and you find yourself passing an seemingly endless loop of sushi bars with expposed brick walls, bar/restaurants, and clubs with soundalike bands on stage. Some readers commented that they welcomed the building of a Whole Foods in the South Loop as they have few options for fresh groceries in that neighborhood, let alone shopping in general. I'm on their side. Thanks to the new Target at Roosevelt and Clark I don't have to go all the way up to Logan Square for seafoam green plates anymore.

Anyhoo, the "boojie" Jewel on Roosevelt and Wabash was redesigned two years ago: although some of their design cues were lifted from Whole Foods, apparently they opted to stock the same mealy produce one finds at Jewel. And Dominick's partnered with Starbucks in their cafes years ago. So residents in the South Loop need some variety. But why can't some of that TIF money go toward an entrepreneurial independent grocery that wants to sell organic without all the bells and whistles of a Whole Foods

But the residents who angrily advocated the building of a Whole Foods in the South Loop are entitled to their opinion. After all, they chose to live a cul de sac subdivision lifestyle in the middle of the city, so they should be afforded all the attributes of modern upper-class suburbia.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Dustier Than My Living Room...

And I'm not really motivated to clean things up around here right now. Suffice it to say that I've been keeping myself busy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

...Six Feet High And Rising

I take pride in my lead sentences as I try, for the most part, to avoid the "Dear Diary" cliches that fall upon most journals- on- or off-line. Still, that doesn't mean that I can come up with a killer lead on a moments notice. It takes some patience.

I'm finding this in the two weeks that I've been posting on Chicagoist. I'm still gathering my bearings over there, but Rachelle Bowden, Erin Johnson, and the rest of the crew (totally unrelated: remember when "Gilligan's Island" was filmed in black and white and the theme songs lyrics went, 'The movie star/and the rest"? That's what that last sentence reminds me.) have been very supportive.

Still, in the upcoming weeks I and the other food contributors will be posting more than usual and, while I'm getting more comfortable with posting, it is a bit daunting. I don't want to overstep my boundaries. But that's what we live for as writers. We long to answer the call when we're needed.

The Chicagoist gig will also help me get out of the bad habit of failing to meet deadlines. That I'm writing about neighborhood eateries on the South Side of the city and utilizing my knowledge of beer, wine, and spirits is a bonus. I'm interested in the subject matter, feel that I can put the South Side in a better light than just "Hyde Park and everything else", and the folks at Chicagoist like the way I write.

Now contrast that with this this interview I did a couple months back with jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany. It was an underwhelming interview. I went through the motions asking Mr. Mahogany questions he'd probably heard numerous times that same day. I just couldn't bring myself to submit the interview. I still might, but writing about jazz doesn't hold the interest in me that it used to. I've had my fill of the avant garde and improv scenes, and the assignments I get from editors for music-related sites and periodicals are all smooth jazz. A subcategory of jazz that I consider safe music for people who want to think they're lovers of jazz. Frankly, I wasn't enthused by the record Mr. Mahogany was supposed to promote in the interview. And I can't bring myself to submit somethign I don't believe in wholeheartedly.


Pod People Of The World UNITE!!!

I went to Taste of Randolph Street Friday night with Michelle. She was all geeked to see Cowboy Mouth (which I likened to a likeable Barenaked Ladies) but the crowd really ruined it for me. We were surrounded on all sides by women who were way too young to be worrying about wrinkles or any sagging body parts and the striped shirt clad pinheads who date them, all ignoring the drummer's call for them to "give him some rhythm." Resultingly, Michelle and I got into a game of counting the number of women with botox treatments (identifiable by their Jennifer Wilbanks-style wide-eyed stares) and collagen lip injections (recognizable by oversized lips shaped in a long-term paralytic frown I like to call "trout pout"). We salvaged the trip to River North Hell at Randolph Wine Center where, over Chimay and a wonderful Hendrick's Gin martini, we enjoyed an amazing crab meat and artichoke dip.

Did I mention that I'm excited to be writing about food for Chicagoist?

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Second Hand Unwinds...

It's late. Emmy, brilliant dog that she is, has taken to lounging on the floor to take advantage of the air conditioning I put in the windows yesterday. I have Cassandra Wilson's version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" from Traveling Miles on iTunes, a healthy two fingers (think devil horns) of Jefferson's Reserve bourbon in my favorite tiki mug, I cleaned my inbox of letters from "Healthy Spermatoza", and I'm an hour away from a long night's rest.

Oh, I also posted my first official entry for Chicagoist today.

"And Mama cooked a breakfast with no hog."- Ice Cube, "It Was A Good Day"

Otherwise, it was an uneventful 36th birthday. Just the way I hoped.

Today stands in stark contrast to ten years ago. When I turned 26, I threw a cigar smoker in the back room of Ten Cat Tavern on Ashland. Of the thirty people who showed up I believe a solid one-third of us either permanently stained our teeth or planted the seeds for a terminal bout with malignant carcinoma that evening. But we didn't care. We were just a large group of people getting together to have a good time.

I thought about that this morning after my mother called to offer her birthday greetings and catch me up on how everyone else is fucking up. This time it's my stepafather. He went for his six-month post-op checkup last week; his doctor found a dime-sized growth- this time on his right lung. So he'll be running through the usual battery of tests to see if and how far it's spreading and likely non-invasive treatment.

Either way, he's been slapped in the face with the reality that his run is nearing an end. And, selfish as he sometimes can act, he fell off the wagon, got drunk, and wound up in the hospital a few days early yesterday, where he's drying out.

If I were to lay down money on his cause of death I would have placed it on cirrhosis- when the man had a pocketful of money he could drink a wet county dry. I forgot all about the harsh cigarettes- Benson & Hedges 100's, Pall Mall Red unfilters- that were his other staple.

I forgave the man for his actions and rtansgressions a long time ago. But I never forgot. When Mom told me about yesterday I wondered what makes a man act the way he does. What makes someone just want to give up and not be a part of the world around him? Mom took it to the logical extreme, begging that when her time is up she doesn't wind up like "that woman down in Florida." Though she tries, she can't hide the fear in her voice.

They'll be married for twenty-six years on the Fourth of July, and it's a strong measure of my mother's character to stay with the man and help him become- if not a better man- at least a more gentler and reasonable one in his middle age.

I hope that he comes to realize that, while he still has some fire left in him, he should treat every breath as though it were his last. I try to envision moments in my life like that smoker ten years ago. Those moments are what make life great. There small moments that pop up like spyware to remind us that we're not without flaws, we should strive for the moment.

Monday, May 30, 2005

How The Other Half Lives

This story reminds me of the time my stepfather sat me down to explain sex when we lived in Tennessee. It was a lesson that combined crass vulgarity with uncomfortable drunkenness and culminated with him offering to enlist the services of a "colored hooker" whom he frequented on the other side of Pickwick Dam he saw on the side to "get my dick wet."

But that's a story for another day, one I've been rewriting for years now because I don't think I've captured the full absurdity of the experience.

Wonder if the hooker looked like the stripper in the news piece?

Goodbye "Mr. Kicks"

Oscar Brown, Jr. 1926-2005

I've had the privilige of knowing Mr. Brown through work and his wonderfully talented daughter Maggie. I routinely play his records both at home and at work (Sin and Soul is a classic, in my estimation- one of my "desert island discs" that I cannot really live without). The term is often overused, but trust me when I say that Oscar Brown, Jr. had an unmistakable aura that drew people to him. Amazingly talented and constantly lusting for life, his passing reaffirms for me the belief that life must be seized by the living.

Please visit Mr. Brown's official website to see for yourself.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Everything Evens Out For Me In The End"

That quote from "Seinfeld" just about summarizes what's been happening the past few days. I've been balls busy at work, here at home, and catching up on soem things before I roll two weeks worth of laundry out of the house.

In a nostalgic moment tuesday I bought a copy of the new Def Leppard retrospective "Rock Of Ages: The Definitive Collection." If you're the type of person who pays attention to music and movie critics in choosing whether or not to spend your moeny, you probably deserve the torment you constantly find yourself in.

So, in an attempt to not steer you worng, just trust me when I say you might be better off going to iTunes, eMusic, kazaa, or whatever torrent/file sharing service you prefer and put amend disc 2 so that "Photograph"and "Stagefright" from Pyromania are represented.

Disc 2 mainly culls tracks from the time in Def Leppard's history when drummer Rick Allen had two arms and the band as a whole had enough "testicular virility" to kill a bull elephant. Songs like "Rock Brigade", "Wasted", and a surprisingly hard-rocking cover of badfinger's "No Matter What" show a hunger the band lacked once Hysteria took off and shot the band into the stratosphere.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

...But When They're Held For Charity They're The Balls That I Like Best

It's nice to see that when once-popular politicians see their approval ratings plummet and the beginnings of a scandal brewing they can take solace in the knowledge that they have "testicular virility."

So what Governor Blagojevich said, essentially, yesterday at a middle school on the near west side was that not only does he have balls, but that they produce copious amounts of semen that threaten to fertilize any and all ovum that make contact.

I think he also betrayed himself as a fan of pro wrestling.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Drinking First; Safety A Close Second

Monday Night I attended a service industry party sponsosred by Absolut Vodka at the Grand Ballroom at Union Station. The main objective was for Absolut to unveil its new peach flavored vodka. My main objective was to make face time with the marketing reps who were throwing this shindig so that I could be fresh in their minds when they have another hundred grand or so to throw around indiscriminately.

I've attended Absolut sponsored events before and lived to tell about it so I knew that I would be confronted by an obscene amount of old men, younger women, workout freaks with steroid-polluted bloodstreams, capri pants, American Spirit cigarettes, greasy hair, Golden Tee junkies wearing their striped shirts with unfastened cuffs, liquor salespeople (the least evil ones in this list), average deejays, apple martinis, subliminal messages for Absolut vodka, spray-on tans, unfortunate piercings, and breast enhancements gone wrong, but Monday night was a completely different matter entirely. After checking in I made my way down to the Grand Ballroom, taking in the spectacle and artifice, trying to wade through a sea of orange goblins and people who don't know when they're being given bad advice, yet still manage to succeed.

Ugh. I knew I should not have been there when I ran into the lead singer from Kill Hannah- a poseur amonst poseurs playing warmed over Smashing Pumpkins riffs. I should have just turned around and left. But instead I started text messaging the people I invited to this damn thing, seeing if they had checked in, then offering to apologize for my lapse in judgment in inviting them.

The whole atmosphere reeked of this group of marketers who sat around trying to figure out what would pass as decadent without actually being so. A giant metal structure was set up, with acrobats and trapeze artists climbing all over to the tune of Creed's "Higher." Scantily clad women danced half-heartedly inside opaque plexiglass booths to "The Way You Move" by Outkast. There were stilt-walking jugglers who couldn't hold on to their plastic bowling pins and drag queens going through the motions.

To the side of the ballroom a lounge was set up with three understaffed bars, one of them ostensibly run by the alliterative "Marvin: Master martini mixer" who had no idea what he was doing. I queued up at one of the side bars and waited twenty minutes while the very gracious bartender loaded us up with drinks so that we wouldn't be waiting all night.

I headed back into the ballroom, toward a makeshift stage and dance floor behind the steel structure. There were rumblings about a "major band" signed to play the event that was supposed to be top secret. This- and the continuous open bar- might have contributed to the ugly atmosphere as to most of these service industry types "major band" meant U2.

So imagine the mass apathy when 11:30 rolled around and They Might Be Giants stepped onstage and immediately tore into "Birdhouse" to the apathetic crowd.

And yet the real drama didn't start there.

Two drunken attendees began dancing on the false stage in front of the band where previously a tightrope walker was performing. Security had a rough time getting these two down from the stage. So the band had to implore what audience that was paying attention to them to not jump on the false floor, as it was dangerous.

But they did it in TMBG style. "We know you're not paying attention to us up here, but just so we can say we warned you: Drinking first; safety a close second," said guitarist John Flansburgh. "Do NOT dance on this stage!! It isn't safe." That was when John Linnell mumbled into his mike, "Dicks."

And I was feeling real bad for TMBG by then, but as they began playing "Alphabet of Nations" I thought that I shouldn't. Hell, TMBG were the ones who agreed to play this gig, they were the ones who took the performance fee. If they were expecting a rapt audience for their brand of ironically humorous music they were sorely mistaken.

Christ, they were playing what amounted to a glorified service industry night to a bunch of club types who may have never heard of They Might Be Giants. So for TMBG to get all pissy because the audience wasn't paying attention to their music was bullshit, really.

I walked away back into the lounge, hit a couple of buffet lines, and then left to hail a cab, thankful that my Monday nights are usually preoccupied and glad that I have better things to do than blow off steam with vapid, clueless club kids.

Monday, May 09, 2005

On-The-Job Training

First I wanted to post this and worry about the future of our world.

As the clouds roll in right now I hark back to Saturday. A friend had extra tickets to ther Cubs game and needed a fourth, so I eagerly accepted his invitation. Now the forecast said that it would be partly cloudy and 75 that day, and as I boarded ther Orange line at Halsted it looked like that would be a fair assessment.

I transfer to the Red line at Roosevelt and settle in for the twenty minute trek to Wrigley Field. Since three-quarters of the trip is underground, I was wholly unexpected for the downturn in weather when I disembarked at Addison.

51 degrees.

And dropping.

I only wore two shirts and shorts. I made it to Murphy's Bleachers jsut as the wind picked up and set nipples rising all around. It got so cold outside that it hurt to hold my beer; I was very concerned about risking frostbite.

The game itself was uneventful, except for the prevailing sense that the fans attending the games are now holding up this team to the level expected of a $93 million payroll. This team is underachieving, but it wasn't built to win a division to start. It's capable of 85 wins, which, given the strength of the NL east, will not earn a wild card.

I was struck by the collective lack of heart the Cubbies were playing with- as though they expected something to happen for them to lose the game. It brought to mind the "lollygagging" rant from "Bull Durham." It is a simple game- you hit the ball. You throw the ball. You catch the ball.

$93 million should buy you at least that.


I had an impromptu evening of drinks at Puffers' with my neighbor and good friend Anne last night. She and two other friends went to the Skylark Friday night and passed this quote to me:

"It was like being in Wicker Park ten years ago."

And it got me to thinking about hipster culture. It always seems to be in stasis. It never changes; never gets too mainstream; never falls too far out of favor. Hipsters ten years ago dressed and acted the same as today's hipsters. It's like they're trapped in a vacuum.

Or, more appropriately, a mass Dorian Gray portrait.