Saturday, January 29, 2005

Glad to Be Single: Reason #666

An open to all girls

The poster forgot to mention those profiles that insist any man who answers "must be financially and emotionally secure." I always loved those.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I'm taking a plunge and adopting a dog. She's a Carver pitbull breed, currently goes by the name of "poochie." I met her last night and she's on the short list of gentle pit bulls I've encountered.

Actually, she is the list.

I went into meeting her with a bit of trepidation, her being a pit bull and all, with the breed's reputation. Her owner is going through some personal problems and wanted to make sure she gets a good home (an aside: if I were going through some personal issues I would want to have something in my life that loves me unconditionally, like a dog. Or a mother.)

She seemed a bit disoriented during the encounter. It makes sense since the dog is, for all intents, homeless. But I agreed to give her a trial run in my apartment and am just waiting for the call to have her dropped off here.

After meeting the dog I did some reading on pit bulls. What I found was that they tend to be very loyal dogs, great for children, and extremely energetic. They play rough, which is why pit bulls are a preferred choice for the comestains who train them for fighting. I'm also taking her to combat my fear of this breed. I hope it works out.

So I've got chew toys, treats, chow and water bowls set up for when she arrives. Now my only obstacle is the name. Since she answers to "Poochie" I think I'll just take it that name to the extreme and rename her "Dog." It'll be a great conversation piece at the dog park during summer:

"That's a beautiful dog. What's her name?"


"Yes, I know that's a dog. What's her name?"


"No. What's your dog's name?"

"Her name is 'Dog.'"

"You named your dog 'dog?'"


And sometimes I wonder why I'm single.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Zen and the Art of Protecting Your Parking Space In Winter

The following is a list of items I spotted being used to save parking spots in da wunnerful Bridgeport neighborhood this morning:

  • Folding chairs
  • lawn tables
  • milkcrates
  • stolen traffic cones
  • sawhorses
  • laundry hampers
  • trash cans
  • a shell from an air conditioner
  • a hat rack
  • a Weber grill
  • cardboard boxes
  • a dead ficus
  • a wheelbarrow
  • PVC pipe
  • empty five-gallon paint cans
  • An Apple computer
  • a broken computer monitor
  • an artist's easel
  • a crib
  • a bassinet
  • one pair of galoshes
  • velvet rope queues
  • street signs and posts wrapped in police tape
  • a Sport utility vehicle-sized baby stoller nearly the size of the economy-sized car whose spot it's filling
  • beer kegs
  • barstools
  • vacuum cleaners
  • a china cabniet
  • various scrap wood
  • a snow shovel
  • used snow tires
  • three car batteries
  • fruit crates
  • one bag of street salt
  • a school desk
  • various lamps
We don't have much faith in the Honor system here during winter.

Monday, January 24, 2005

White Line Fever...

So now that there seems to be a bit of a thaw in the air and my neighbors are staking claim to their painstakingly cleared parking spaces I'm looking forward to that extra few minutes of daylight each day as we crawl slowly toward spring.

I set a monthly budget for myself , like most people should. What I hadn't considered is that with the lower rent I'm paying in this apartment I'm so far ahead of my projections that I'm actually planning a spring vacation. The plan right now is to participate in Bike New York this year. I rode two years ago and it was an amazing experience; a unique way to get to see the sights of the Big Apple. It's only forty-two miles but you get a workout climbing the hills of upper Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. The ride across the Verazzano Narrows Bridge into Staten Island is worth the registration fee alone.

Thanks to the snowstorm I missed Cornmeal Saturday night. This and the Neko Case fiasco and the previous week could possibly be cosmic indicators that Michelle and I should not be seeing concerts together. But we'll keep trying, since the booze tends to flow freely when we get together.

I did catch two nights of "The Tango Show", an educational tango exhibition, at HotHouse. Very enjoyable and surprising turnouts for the two nights of hard snowfall. My one concern was the drastic makeup choices of female tango fans. Friday night felt like the Night of the Mary Kay Commandos in there.

It led me to thinking that someone should do a sociological study between goth girls and tango fans.

Called Mom yesterday and caught up on the family drama. My brother and his family are planning to move back to Chicago after they get their income tax checks. None of us get along with my sister-in-law: the term "white trash" is too fitting a term for her. She's slightly off-kilter, and that's being generous. So Mom's quietly hoping that their tax return is less than expected. She can tolerate my brother's family with some miles between them. So far the near nine-hundred miles between Wisconsin and Louisiana proves to be at times a bit too close, but sufficient.

My stepfather went in for his six-week post operative check-up. He had lung cancer surgery in November and was complaining about being sore and having shortness of breath. I don't know how this bit of information was lost upon him, but he didn't realize that his surgeon removed half of his right lung.

I wondered to mom when told of that how he could not know. "Well, sometimes we just put bad things we don't want to think about out of our heads," she said.

But losing half a lung isn't just a bad thing, I said.

"He still thinks he's invulnerable." Mom has a rosy outlook toward life that chafes me sometimes.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Maybe I should build an igloo...

The windows in my living room are fogged up- a result of my running both fireplaces on medium for a half-hour. Now my apartment is like Quizno's: mmm, mmm, mmm... Toasty!!!

I knew when I was moving into this apartment that I was getting a working fireplace in the living room. I was completely shocked to find when I did the final walk-through that the landlord had installe a second, hearth-style fireplace in the kitchen. Reading up on these fireplaces I discovered that both of them contain carbon monoxide sensors that extinguish their pilot lights when a noticeable lack of oxygen is detected. How cool is that? I can let them run and not accidentally kill myself. After noticing how quickly they removed the chill in my apartment I think I'll be running them as more than mere decorations in the upcoming weeks.

From the windows that aren't laced with condensation I can see that we're getting a lot of lake effect snow swirling in the air with the shifting wind. I'm supposed to see Cornmeal at Martyrs this evening, but am working an early shift at HotHouse first. It's a tango exhibition that even in this weather is supposed to draw a packed house. I'm genuinely frightened for the safety of many of them getting there. We had 150 people show up for last night's exhibition, and that was before the snow started to drop like it was weighted. The typical five-minute cab ride home last night turned into twenty. I witnessed three spinouts last night- and that was just at the Archer Avenue Metra underpass.

As a rule I can tell how serious the snowfall is being taken by the city if I see the snow trucks idling at Archer and Halsted. Last night there were none, which told me that the trucks were on the expressways and Lake Shore Drive vainly trying to keep the main arteries to the city clear. So I wonder how many of the advanced ticket reservations will actually brave the rough travel conditions to come downtown this evening.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Best... Episode... In... Years...

that was what I thought of last night's episode of The Simpsons. In the space of twenty-two minutes, the writers managed to skewer the prescription drug lobby, corporate America, Conservative Christians, the Department of Homeland Security,racial profiling, and the Fox Network, while also paying homage to classic Disney live action adventures of the 1960's.

The highlight of the episode was a two scene sequence where, after a drug run in Canada involving Homer, Abe, Apu, and Ned, they come across Ned's Canadian Doppelganger. this leads to an extended stereo sequence of "okeley-dokeleys", Perfectly groomed Tom of Finland mustaches, and a tempting offer by the doppelganger which leads to Ned honoring a classic line from "Broadcast News". That segues into a border incident with a turba-wearing Apu that was hilarious.

That more than made up for the mild disappointment of not seing Neko Case and the Sadies Friday night. Well, that and drinking at Ginger Man Friday night. Not really feeling up to the task of looking for spare tickets in single digit cold weather, we opted for the safe comfort of seats at the bar, ogling the same bartender whose breasts seemed to defy gravity. While my partner-in-crime kept pounding back beers, I was nursing Knob Creek most of the evening. Midnight came and I made sure she made it to a cab.

I also had the honor of seeing some wonderfu sketch and improv comedy in honor of the King Day holiday, although what was onstage at times with the "pimprovisation" was just wrong. The sketch comedians did a caustic send-up of the crass co-opting of King's birthday for commercial gain with a Bay Furniture parody ("No payments or interest until 2008. It's like reparations!!") that was amazing.

Friday, January 14, 2005


I was supposed to hae tickets to see Neko Case and the Sadies this evening, but the person who bought the tickets misplaced them. So I'll be heading out to Metro after this to scalp for tickets. In fifteen-degree weather.

On top of that the chicken rice soup I just made has too much dill and not enough pepper in the broth. I'm hoping letting it settle mixes the herbs and spices better.

But I did have a killer bath this evening thanks to my new guilty pleasure: bath ballistics by Lush. I was given one as a gift last week, dropped it in the tub once I was settled, and it was almost as good as having sex. Yes, I said almost. Still waters run deep, alright? So I've bathed, moisturized, fed myself, and am ready to tackle the cold looking for extra tickets to a concert I was supposed to already have tickets for. At least the faint aroma of mangoes will fill my nostrils in the cool night air this evening thanks to the shea butter I massaged into my skin like jerk seasoning.

Ah, well. I can use any form of excitement in my life right now.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Foggy Day In Old London Town... This Isn't London

There's a slight mist rising in the air from McGuane Park this morning, a result of the angry downpour we received last night. It was hitting my windows in sheets with lightning close enough to illuminate the slicked streets for seconds at a time.

Meanwhile I watched the Bulls just spank Philadelphia last night. As popular sports radio contributor Whitley From Ravenswood told me in an IM exchange the other day, "They're playing with a clue for the first time since 1998!!"

And they are. Bill Simmons of had this to say about the resurgence of the Bulls: "Lemme get this straight: It's a good idea to take players who were great in college? So you're saying that, if I'm a GM and I'm following college basketball, and there are certain players who keep dominating games and helping their teams compete at the highest possible level ... those guys might become good NBA players? And I should lean towards these guys over projects who look good in workouts, summer tournaments and one-on-one games?

(Wait, how does this work again?)"

It's true. While it's still too early for the Bulls to start eyeing a playoff berth, they are competitive, play a smothering lockdown D not seen since the days of the "dobermans", are extremely well-coached, and are quickly developing a team identity. It's even more amazing when one considers that the Bulls have four rookies in their main rotation.

They have the cornerstones: Kirk Hinrich with his court smarts and long wingspan; Eddy Curry is finally starting to play in the manner expected of him; General Manager John Paxson has made some shrewd draft choices the past two years in Hinrich, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, Chris Duhon, and Ben Gordon.

These kids are getting a trial by fire. After an 0-9 start to the season they could have folded. They've gone 15-9 since and have peeled off two five-game winning streaks in less than a month. The mindset on West Madison is one of expecting to win nowadays. And it starts at the top with Paxson and coach Scott Skiles. They were no-nonsense, no-bullshit, hard-nosed players who have taken a solid work ethic and patient teaching skills, cleaned the organization of me-first players like Jalen Rose and Jamal Crawford, and revamped the identity of the organization. Both of them deserve consideration for Executive and Coach of the Year.

Moreover, they play the game with fun and excitement.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Cabin Fever... Wish I had It!!

Two Days. 26 Hours total. That's how long I spent in some form of motion or another Sunday and Monday. While I put on my best game face and sucked it up for the good cause at HotHouse Sunday (thanks to those who did come out. We raised $15,000 and had close to 600 people walk through the doors from 2 p.m. through midnight), yesterday was spent running errands, doing laundry, and holding down the fort at HotHouse last night for another round of Yoko Noge's Jazz Me Blues.

I've worked Monday nights at HotHouse for over five years now. And in that time I've memorized every word Yoko sings in English and Japanese; the on-stage banter between her and John Watson; what each band member drinks and when; and when the final set of the evening will consist of two or four songs. I've come to appreciate that kind of stability in the workplace.

Which is probably what made last night even more of a shock to my system.

It actually started three weeks ago when Avreeyal Ra, Yoko's ace drummer, stopped wearing his rainbow -colored knit hat. I have a few theories as to why he did this. Regardless, he looks good without it- he wears his hair in a nice squared off flattop with slightly graying temples that I envy- and as the "band mother" I have to mention that to him in a positive way. But last night yoko had a special guest- a popular comedian from Tokyo who is also a good guitar player and singer.

He walked into HotHouse and immediately commanded attention: clad head-to-toe in black; shades; hair in a crewcut; a small entourage flanking him videotaping his every move and hanging on his every word. Yoko invited him onstage during her second set and he blew up the stage. His first song was all grunts and hard chords. His second song was a monologue apparently inspired by Frank Zappa's "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow." He kept singing in Japanese all night, occasionally throwing a reference to Chicago:

"Ah, bonsainagasakiyoshimibeatsthepinkrobotsCHICAGOPIZZA!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!"

It went on like that the rest of the night. I was dumbstruck; completely in awe. Just when the evening couldn't get more surreal yoko added the cherry to the sundae. She's always been good about reading her audiences, which made her decision to play a chorus of "Sweet Home Chicago" even more daring. A chorus was all she needed, since that's what every other blues musician in the city plays of it, anyway. And the audience was satisfied. I thought I would go to my grave never hearing her play that song, but she made the correct decision and the crowd was cauht up in the rush.

As I hailed a cab last night I felt warm. It felt good to know that after five years Yoko Noge can still surprise me.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Chafed... Metaphorically

So I was up early yesterday to lay posters around the neighborhood for the HotHouse Tsunami Relief Benefit on Sunday and I headed toward the Bridgeport Coffee House. Until I went in there every business I asked to hang a poster had been very amenable to hanging a poster, understanding the gravity of the situation in Southeast Asia right now.

I walked into the Coffee House and askede the owner if I could hang the poster. "Where is the fundraiser being held?" He asked. When I told him that HotHouse was in the South Loop, he hesitated and said, "No."

I was slightly shocked that he would refuse to let me hang the poster, being that it is for a charitable cause; it was his decision and I was content to respect it. Until he felt the need to explain his reasoning, unprodded.

"If the benefit were being held in the neighborhood, I'd say 'yeah.' But it isn't doing anything for the neighborhood."

To add insult to injury, I bought a mocha after he told me that. I was too shocked to wonder if my jaw dropped when he told me that, but went through the rest of the day hanging more posters and arranging for liquor and beverage companies to donate product for the event. I walked west on 31st Street; if I were in my angry days that mocha would've found its way splattered on the door of the coffee house. But I'm not and I was slightly chilly.

Late in the afternoon I sent an e-mail update to the office and realyed the story about the Bridgeport Coffee house in the e-mail. Marguerite responded as she was leaving for the evening about a similar experience she had with the managers of Swedish Bakery in Andersonville. She also said that many upscale boutiques in her neighborhood outright refused to let her hang posters.

Although I appreciated the sympathy, I still couldn't let the Bridgeport Coffee House incident go. Particularly the line: "It isn't doing anything for the neighborhood." My friends will tell you that I'm as proud of my neighborhood as anyone. I patronize the local businesses as often as I can, keeping my money in the neighborhood. But a bullshit line like that is exactly the type of line that people in Bridgeport- for that matter the South Side of Chicago- need to rehabilitate if we expect the kind of growth, transformation, and influx of new residents that we want to see.

Otherwise attitudes like the owner of the Bridgeport Coffee House aren't doing anything for the neighborhood, either. Except getting people ready for the inevitable Starbuck's.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Giving Your Part

I won't give you my deep thoughts on the tsunami in Southeast Asia- what is understood doesn't need to be discussed. I do implore you to help out any way you can- give blood, money, labor; whatever you can bring to the relief effort do so.

To that end, please try to come for this as HotHouse and the clubs working with them have pledged $100,000 for the relief effort. Every penny matters:

Goal: HotHouse’s goal is to raise $100,000 in January for organizations aiding victims of the tsunami. 100 percent of the proceeds from the benefit concerts will go to relief organizations.

Who: Frank Orrall (of Poi Dog Pondering), members of Funkadesi, Sam Prekop (of The Sea and Cake), Kalyan Pathak & Jazzmata, The Goran Ivanovic Group, The Yoko-Tatsu Asian Experience, DJ Warp with Adeesh Sathaye of San Fransisco’s Dhamaal, Hicham Chami’s Trio Mosaic, Raiz Viva with Alexey Lanza, the Pintig Cultural Group, Robert Karimi, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Raul Fernandez and Mitote, Michigan Avenue Cantori, Dance 2XS, and Gingarte Capoeira. Additional Artists TBA.

When: Sunday,January 9, 2pm to 10pm

Where: HotHouse,31 E. Balbo,(312) 362-9707,

Tickets: $25 suggested donation
Purchase tickets in advance at 312.362.9707 or

Monday, January 03, 2005

Small Acts of Kindness

I won't waste any words with regard to last week's tsunami in Southeast Asia as now is the time to act. Give whatever you can- blood, money, time and services. But do something. Contrary to one editorial I read about the tragedy in the Sun-Times today, we still live in the one nation recognized as the lone remaining superpower, and as such we have an obigation to the rest of the world to help in times of need

I received this from work this evening. If you can please show up and give what you can.

When: Sunday, January 9th, 2 p.m.-10 p.m. .

Where: HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo Ave., (312) 362-9707,

Line-up: Frank Orrall (of Poi Dog Pondering); members of Funkadesi; Sam Prekop (of The Sea and Cake); Kalyan Pathak & Jazzmata; The Goran Ivanovic Group; The Yoko-Tatsu Asian Experience;DJ Warp with Adeesh Sathaye of San Fransisco’s Dhamaal, Hicham Chami’s Trio Mosaic, Raiz Viva with Alexey Lanza, the Pintig Cultural Group, Robert Karimi, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Raul Fernandez and Mitote, Michigan Avenue Cantori, Dance 2XS, and Gingarte Capoeira. Additional Artists TBA.

Goal: To raise $100,000 in January for organizations aiding victims of the tsunami. 100 percent of the proceeds from the events will go to the relief organizations.

Cost: A $25 donation is suggested, although we'll take what we can get.

We're also planning a January 26th concert with Funkadesi to aid the relief organizations. So if you can show up and support please do.

And A "Baba-Booey" To You, Too!!

If I had to choose between cold rain and just cold in January I guess this would be the lesser of two evils. Normally I would be manning the bar this this evening, but we're shut down for renovations until Friday- specifically we're re-upholstering the booths and lying new carpet in the main space. So today was a good time to catch up on end-of-year paperwork. And I have to drag that out until tomorrow when the vendors come a-callin' for their money.

The bottom line is that I find myself in the unusual position of having time on my hands on a Monday night. So I've spent the afternoon doing some extraneous cleaning, minor home improvement and web-surfing. I came across this wonderful piece on Salon about the late Reggie White that I highly recommend.

For those of us who've ridiculed the sight of athletes, actors, or musicians thanking God for their worldly achievements and accompanying financial reward, the article is simultaneously heart-wrenching and respectful- sincere, in fact- about White's faith and his evolving relationship with God away from the gridiron. Reggie White was a large reason I flirted with the notion of attending the University of Tennessee after high school before deciding on military service. He seemed like one of the handful of athletes who belief in God was genuine: so much that in retirement he was learning Hebrew so he could study the Old Testament without translation, which frightened his peers in the ministry so much that many distanced themselves from him.

I'm not religious by any means, but this was an unvarnished portrait of a man with unwavering faith. Please read it.

I Will Sell Someone On This Neighborhood Today!! I Will Sell Someone On This Neighborhood Today!!

Actually I didn't have that in mind when Michelle came down to do a walking tour of Bridgeport Friday afternoon. Her search on the north side of the city had been, to that point, fruitless, and I graciously offered to show her around the neighborhood in the hopes that she might be charmed by the peculiarities of the Near South Side of Chicago. We were walking down Morgan, past the Bridgeport Coffee House. I was talking about how the neighborhood was safe when, while trying to cross 32nd Street, a kid driving a beat-up Ford Aerostar minivan came screeching into a turn and the driver's side door flew open about eight feet from us.

"Oh shit!!" the kid shrieked as he fought to shut the door while trying to stay in the van at the same time.

Michelle looked at me, her mouth agape. "Although some of the kids like to test the boundaries of safe driving laws", was all I could muster. The rest of the walking tour went without incident as I took her past the townhome development on Racine and then to Puffer's for a beer. Yesterday I was eating a slice of kugelis at Healthy Food Lithuanian restaurant when Michelle called me on the cell. She'd signed a lease on a two-bedroom in Logan Square that was steps from the Blue Line (one of her requirements for apartment hunting). I didn't begrudge her, but I couldn't help but feel a bit like Anette Bening in "American Beauty": "I will sell this house today! I will sell this house today!"

Which leads me to what's happening outside the window as I write this right now. Streets and Sanitation is fixing a water main leak in front of my house that's left the street slick all weekend and half the block- including my apartment- without water for the past two hours. They just got around to it this evening.

And not a hired truck in sight.