Thursday, March 31, 2005

That's so 2004

I absoluely love iTunes. It's an amazing program that I find utterly fascinating. In the past week I've been furiously ripping cds onto the iTunes library in preparation for the eventual transfer of said songs to an iPod.

Which leads to a dilemma. The other day as I was bringing Sue's dog back downstairs after a walk she said I should go to one of those sites that offers a free iPod- for that matter, a mac mini, Nordstroms gift card, or other trinkets- if I get five people to sign up and do the same. "I heard about it on 'Fox News in the Morning' and they said it works," Sue said.

I'm hesitant to do so, and not because Tamron Hall recommends it between sips of coffee and makeup touch-ups. While it may work, the whole concept reeks of a pyramid scenario. While I crave an iPod I'm not comfortable giving up my friends' e-mail addresses to do so.

People at work, however...

Anyhoo, I've got over two days worth of music filed under iTunes and haven't even cracked the surface of what I want to transfer. Which leads to the next dilemma- what size iPod should I buy? Do I want a small 4GB model, or do I want to just be a total consumer junkie and get the 60GB behemoth?

Toyota Prius or Ford Explorer?

Super size?

Just how much music do I need to take with me when I visit friends in Nashville, or New York City, or Colorado?

Ah, gluttony! Catch the fever!!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Color Of The Day: "Indian Paintbrush"

Spent the day running errands- grocery shopping, getting my laundry together, buying materials for the paint job I have planned for the bathroom. I was walking west on 31st Street when I crossed paths with the fattest dalmation I've ever seen. She had this big round belly, like she swallowed one of those five liter kegs of Warsteiner you see in drug stores every summer. And she walked with a limp. She was leashed to a sixty-something gentleman walking with a limp himself and the assistance of a cane.

The dalmation sauntered toward me (I use the term "sauntered" loosely) and- sufficiently determined that I posed no threat, began nuzzling. I wanted to be certain, so I asked if the dog was pregnant.

"Nope," said the man with a slight Southern accent, "she eats human food."

Damn, I thought, then asked how much to get that big.

"Well, today she ate trout."


"Yup. A whole filet. Some cottage cheese, carrots, and celery."

I asked him if he wonders what that's doing to the dog's health. He said, "She likes it and it's cheaper than buying dog food."

I petted her a bit more then bid my goodbyes, the idle thought of tipping her owner over and stealing the dog persistent in my mind.

"We Knew Him As 'JJ'"

I- and a number of people I'm on familiar terms with- are having a hard time coming to terms with the knowledge that the man we knew as J.J. Jameson was actually Norman A. Porter, Jr., a convicted double murderer who walked away from a Massachusetts prison in 1985. I looked at the front page of the Sun-Times this morning and saw a handcuffed JJ and still can't fathom that this man is the same person who forty years ago killed a sales clerk in cold-blood.

Back in the glory days of the Unofficial Soup Kitchen Poetry Jamboree and Traveling Minstrel Show- and its headquarters at the Wolcott Inn on West Montrose- JJ was one of its many supporters. He lived in an apartment on Logan Boulevard back then; none of us knew that he was bartering his rent in exchange for services as a handyman. He seemed like a New England professorial type without the pretension. Whenever someone would ask if he was from Boston he'd quickly interject, "Maine." We shared words, drinks, and meals with JJ. The man always had words of encouragement for any of us. "Keep writing, Cholly. You're better than half the bastids in heah," he'd say whenever a poem I read at the Soup Kitchen's weekly open mike received a lukewarm response. We thought we were edgy and rebellious. JJ would listen to some of the talk coming from the Soup Kitchen brain trust and let out a bemused laugh, almost saying, "If you only knew."

I hadn't seen JJ in years, but as I looked at those pictures and read the stories I wondered how much of the old Norman Porter is still in there. The man's 65 now, with serious health issues to be addressed, which he certainly knows will happen now that he's back in custody. He got 20 years out of this ruse, and while I'm not a firm believer in the concept of jailhouse conversions, the man we knew as JJ Jameson has spent most of the past 20 years being penitent for crimes we didn't know he had the ability to commit.

God Speed, sir.

Friday, March 18, 2005

You Decide: A Sincere Mash Note Or The Ramblings Of A Stalker?

Found this waiting for the Orange Line Wednesday evening:

"I just had to write to tell you how much I love you and care for you. Yesterday, I saw you walking and laughing with your friends; I'd hoped that soon you'd want me to walk along with you, too. So, I painted you a sunset to close your day and whispered a cool breeze to refresh you. I waited- you never called- I just kept on loving you.

"As I watched you fall asleep last night I wanted so much to touch you. I spilled moonlight onto your face- trickling down your cheeks as so may tears have. you didn't even think of me; I wanted so much to comfort you.

"The next day I exploded a brilliant sunrise into glorious morning for you. But you woke up late and rushed off to work- you didn't even notice. My sky became cloudy and my tears became rain.

"I love you! Oh, if you'd only listen! I really love! I ry to say it in the quiet of the green meadow, and in the blue sky. The wind whispers my love throughout the treetops and spills it into the vibrant colors of all the flowers. I shout it to you in the thunder of the great watefalls and compose love songs for birds to sing for you. I warm you with the clothing of my sunshine an perfume the air with nature's sweet scent. My love for you is deeper than any ocean and greater than any need in your heart. If you only realize how I care.

"My father sends his love. I want you to meet him- he cares, too. Fathers are just that way. So please call me soon. No matter how long it takes, I'll wait- because I love you.

"Your friend, Jesus."

Okay, say it with me. EEEeeeewwwwwwwww!!!

Monday, March 14, 2005

A Little Spring Cleaning...

I don't know who, if anyone reads this. I would say I don't care but sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised when old acquaintances I haven't seen in ages come up to me and say they frequent this page, like when I saw Steve Glabman Friday night setting up to film the Henry Grimes show at HotHouse.

So, I tidied the site up a bit. I left the layout the same for now, although I might change it soon. I've also added a lot of links and removed a couple that either haven't been up for a while or I haven't visited.

Finally, note the e-mail change. I'm not a big fan of having a comments section on the site. It tends to leave the space open for people who prefer to snark either in anonymity or the ubiquitous "guest" poster. In short, if you want to respond to me about something I wrote, you can contact me directly.


Two Dicks... Wow!!

Whitley From Ravenswood would understand that title perfectly and I don't feel like explaining it in detail. If you have the patience to listen to sports talk radio you'll get an inclination.

I don't. But I get it.

Anyhoo, I was reading the Sun-Times as I usually do in the morning. I separated the March Madness pullout and Auto Times section from the main part of the paper, which gave me full access to the teaser headline on the main paper.

"The Boyfriend Becomes The Fiance"

I was given full warning that Mark Brown's column would be pre-empted by Debra Pickett's engagement announcement- an event, even in the narrow confines of her column writing, does not constitute as news (a sentiment echoed by the fine folks at Sun Times Watch.)

Still I felt compelled to read it, like slowing down to inspect the carnage of an automobile accident. And I was particularly drawn to this pssage:

"I was supposed to be the moderator of a panel discussion on how "Women Change America," a big Women's History Month event at the Cultural Center. And, somehow, it didn't seem that wearing the shiny, sparkly ring that made me grin goofily whenever I looked at it was appropriate to the occasion. I didn't want it to seem like my greatest accomplishment in life was finding a brilliant, fabulous man to marry me. Even though it might, in fact, actually be my greatest accomplishment.

So, as I walked up to the podium to begin my remarks, I slipped the ring off my finger and into the pocket of my black blazer."

Three thoughts after reading that passage:

  • If Gloria Steinem could to find a way to marry a man and still further the feminist cause- and she's a woman who changed America, by most accounts- then maybe Debra Pickett could have kept the engagement ring on her finger while moderating that panel discussion. Unless she was afraid of breaking out in the fits of goofy grinning she described while moderating the panel. "I'm so sorry, hee hee, I got engaged!"
  • Wonder what the man thinks about that?
  • Finding a brilliant, fabulous man to marry isn't such a great accomplishment. Some women do it many times over. Hell, my mother did it twice!! And after a couple years her tone on the second man changed dramatically.
I'm only grateful that there wasn't a Paige Wiser column today to really dumb me down. As it stands Pickett's column only cost me two minutes of my life I'll never get back. I can only hope someone refers her to this post so that I can return the favor.

Reserving The Right To Cut Off The Irish

It's no secret that St. Patrick's Day is more of a secular holiday. That still doesn't mean that I have to celebrate. For starters, I have no Irish in me. Second, years of tending bar has made me a near teetotaler with regards to "amateur nights" like New Years' eve, the night before Thanksgiving, and St. Patirck's Day.

Still, I agreed Saturday to accompany Sue, my neighbor downstairs, to Grace O'Malley's in the South Loop for what she said was a "traditional Irish breakfast." With noted Bridgeport regular- and proud Englishman- the Professor in tow we weaved our way through the mass of binge drinkers and plastic leprechaun hat-wearing revelers, wrangled a booth, and were handed our menus. We were very underwhelmed.

Since when did mini pub-style cheeseburgers and buffalo wings become part of a 'Traditional Irish breakfast" menu? To add insult to injury the wait staff was obviously under orders to turn over the booths and tables as fast as they could. Seemed to me that the only shade of green Grace O'Malley's cared about was the minty green of crisp dollar bills.

'Course Sue and I decided to squat in our booth. Sue ordered an Irish Whiskey flight for the table. It was the first time in seven years I drank Bushmills, which I swore off since that time at Julia Forte's where I drank an entire fifth and was possessing some serious sex appeal with two blondes before the lights went out and I woke up the next morning in my own bed with my Levi's on inside out and backwards, the button fly wide open and the ringing of the phone splitting my skull. When I mustered the energy to answer it was my friend Chris Voit demanding I compose myself and get to Julia's to "make reparations." When I got to Julia's I saw that I power puked my sex appeal all over the upstairs bathroom. Years later I've yet to piece together what happened with the blondes.

Anyhoo, back to the modern day. Older and wiser I proceeded to give a lesson on the flavors or Irish Whiskey. The flight included Black Bush, Bushmill's 10 year-old and 16 year-old single malt Irish Whiskeys. I went on for what seemed an hour on the flavors the three of us should be noticing in each whiskey. I tried not to sound like Paul Giamatti in "Sideways" about it, but honestly I could have cared less.

We sat at the booth for a good thirty minutes, savoring the whiskey to the detriment of the waiter who was visibly watching his tips dwindle away the longer we sat. More parade attendees came in and we decided to make our way out. I led the way butting a swath through the drunks, cursing the Irish under my breath the entire way.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


I don't know what to do: applaud this guy's ingenuity? Or marvel at the collective stupidity of the people who've donated so far?

Rabbit tastes good!!

Not In The Face!!!!!

That battle cry from the Tick's trusty sidekick Arthur best epitomizes my week. I came home Friday night- after ten hours of listening to high schoolers read hip-hop influenced poetry- and took the dog out for an evening stroll and some exercise. It was going along swimmingly when Emmy dropped the rawhide bone after a sprint.

I went to pick it up for another toss into the field when Emmy suddenly leapt for it while I was bent down, catching my nose with her skull. I dropped like a stone on the spot, stars in my eyes and a trickle of blood running out my nose. Emmy, great dog that she is, focused on the rawhide and tried to snatch it out of my hand.

While all this was unfolding a group of girls walked by, saw the scene, and screamed. "That dog's trying to hurt you, mister!!" I tried to reassure them that Emmy was harmless, but my bloody nose did little to alleviate their fears.

The next night I started things off by heading to HotHouse to catch My Damn Butterfly as part of a fundraiser for Chicago Indymedia. They didn't disappoint. Neither did the helping servings of Booker's served to me by Jasmine while I was there. I got the chance to speak with Kelly Hogan and ask her about the live album she recorded with the Wooden Leg in August. I also ran into Ted Sirota, so we got a chance to catch up with each other.

From HotHouse I made my way to the Abbey Pub for The Legendary Shack Shakers. The "seeing music with Michelle" curse was still in full bloom, as she canceled out with a migraine. But Peg, McMahon, and the others who confirmed made it. I lied about seeing the Shack Shakers before but will never again after Saturday night.

The Shack Shakers simply brought it (to quote Dave Pavkovic). It was everything I used to love about punk rock and still do about rockabilly. Body fluids were flying everywhere. I couldn't understand a word being sung into either mike (the vocal mike or the ham radio mike vocalist J.D. Wilkes used for his mouth harp) Garbage was making its way to the stage. One got the palpable fear that if Wilkes or guitarist David Lee took up some of the offers for a fight they would have gone into the crowd all elbows and knees. I was spent by the end of the show, a huge ass grin on my face, not wanting to go home. And the Abbey was as smoky as ever, which I'll expound on in a bit.

Anyhoo, contrast all the energy spent by the Shack Shakers with the "blueprint for punk rock" approach taken by opening act The Saps. I just couldn't get into the band and what I think is their cookie cutter approach to punk rock. Peg, however, was ready to give a doctoral thesis on their relevance to me when I expressed my disinterest.

Our main point of contention was lead singer Dan Lastick, who preened his way through the Saps' set with dimpled good looks and ironic lyrics. "The themes of his lyrics are emotionally resonant," Peg contended. For your reading pleasure I'll summarize the breadth of Lastick's lyrics for you: fuck you, fuck you, fuck the world, I hate hospitals, I can't get laid, fuck you, fuck you!!!!

That's a deep emotional well Lastick is tapping. My guess is that Peg was enamored by the admitted hotness of Lastick but simply was too cool to admit it publicly.

So Sunday I woke up and could not get into any sort of groove. I think it was because of all the smoke at the Abbey; it certainly could not have been the alcohol (sarcasm mode turned off). Sluggish and ill all day I should have called in sick to the Ugochi concert at HotHouse. Instead I checked my sense of humor at the door and slogged through the night. I couldn't put faces and names together until the show ended when I realized that Ugochi was at my 35th birthday celebration at Puffer's last summer. By then I was making mental notes to check out Hot Ghetto Mess.

It all culminated with a whimper Tuesday when Emmy bloodied my nose again, this time with an errant toenail that puntured the inside of my left nostril. Walking her around McGuane Park the site of Emmy crawling through the softball fields like swimming in Vietnamese rice paddies followed by me with toilet paper shoved up my nose made for a beautiful vision, especially when Emmy started tensing up at the sight of a poodle and crouched even lower to the ground in an effort to approach the other dog.

I'm surprised the poodles' owner didn't flag down a squad car, have me arrested, and have Emmy sent to the pound.

In the middle of all this I managed to read a little bit of Rosie O'Donnell's blog. Makes me long for the kids to read their poetry again.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

To Clarify: I Only Live In Bridgeport

Found this last night while reading through my e-mail:

"Hey I know you know jokes... I'm supposed to e-mail my teacher by tomorrow morning with a racist joke about latinos. Can you help me out?"

I'm hoping this isn't for a finance class.

Completely missed the Scott H. Biram concert at the Abbey Pub last night as I was wiped out from work, so I stayed at home with some take-in and a night of viewing "Lost" and "The Globe-Hopping Costumed Adventures of Man-Face."

The dog has taught herself a new trick. When she really wnats to go out she'll swing behind me and ram her snout in my ass in an effort to nudge me toward the door. I thought she was just being docile the first time. But Monday nightI turned around and watched as she took a three-step head start and tried to push me forward. I looked down at Emmy and asked what she thought she was doing. Dog just smiled and gave me the green apple quick steps.

I have a dog that qualifies as a member of Mensa on my hands.