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.