Sunday, May 27, 2007


The Hill
Originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

As I said in the notes to this photo on flickr, the city has started spraying this green fuzz on the hill. I assume it's supposed to be sod, but after closer investigation it sure doesn't look like it. It looks like green insulation or, well, fuzz.

Today was spent on the kitchen floor (it hadn't been mopped in months and wound up needing serious scrubbing) and weeding out the backyard to plant these vegetable planters I purchased the other day. I'm also going to buy some herbs and other bulbs, and make a mulch pile for fertilizing. Although, after looking at the planters a couple hours after finishing in the backyard, the alley cats might beat me to it. I'm heading to Custom House in a bit for an evening of meat and beer, then I fire up the grill tomorrow for my more traditional take on steak.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Time for Rememberance

Memorial Day is the time when, among other things, we are supposed to remember the men and women who have died in military service to their country. And we should take the time to commemorate the over 3,400 people who have died in a senseless, criminal war.

We should also remember that these folks fight to defend our country from threats both without and within. No greater threat from within than the President of the United States.

From The Progressive:

(The directives) defin(e) a “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.”

This could mean another 9/11, or another Katrina, or a major earthquake in California, I imagine, since it says it would include “localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies.”

The document emphasizes the need to ensure “the continued function of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government,” it states.

But it says flat out: “The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government.”

Given the Bush administration's callous disregard to the basic tenets of the Constitution, we should be scared. We have 2-1/2 years left of this administration, its criminal, secretive, authoritarian Cabinet, and the Congress' inability to find the fortitude to charge these men and women with treason. The damage they have caused to the Constitution, the most sacred of laws that govern us, has been untold. At this point, any and all references to Nazi Germany, Stalin's USSR, and other fascist regimes is apt and on point.

This weekend, remember the more than 3,400 troops who lost their lives for this thoughtless, criminal military action. And pray for justice for the men and women ultimately responsible for their deaths.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Getting Better

Spring in the Air
Originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

so that camera I bought at the thrift store? Piece of shit. I essentially wasted a roll of film.

Luckily, the Canonet is as good as ever. Emmy's feeling better, as well, as evidenced by her sniffing around in this shot taken at 36th and Lituanica a couple weeks back.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Poetry of Profanity

Definitely NSFW, here's WWF great the Iron Sheik in a shoot interview with RF Video, which speializes in the shoot interview genre.

He says the phrase "piece of shit, no-good motherfucker" with such eloquence that one wonders if this was one of the first English phrases he learned when he came over from Iran. The story of how he carried the eightball over for Jake Roberts is classsic.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More of Me

I could really benefit from cloning right about now. The weekend was unusually busy, with two sold out shows at work, and I had to be up on a few hours sleep each night to attend the National Restaurant Association trade show at McCormick Place for Chicagoist. We'll be filing two separate reports this week on it. I found myself drawn to the seminars on sustainability and organic produce, and a seminar this afternoon with Rick Tramonto and Paul Kahan did not disappoint. From what I gleaned from those two - and the other panelists - the major stumbling block toward awareness on sustainable produce is educating the consumer, since customers largely don't ask questions of their chefs or educate themselves on the subject. I also have enough Cholula samples to last the summer, or the next bloody mary.

From there it was another lazy Sunday brunch at Cuatro with Sue and the Professor. The area around Motor Row is fast gaining some destination restaurants, with Jerry Kleiner's Room 21 just down the street from Cuatro. I might need to check it out in a couple weeks. and that brings us to the eMusic song of the week. And this week, I have two.

The Athens-based band Southern Bitch combines high octane Southern rock with the best riff robbery this side of Angus and Malcolm Young, courtesy of the husband/wife team of Adam and Wendy Musick. Comparisons to AC/DC are apt, as this band plows forward with a "three chords and the truth" philosophy that fuels the best rock and roll. Their 2006 release Strong Medicine is more Southern-fried, putting Southern Bitch in the same territory with contemporaries Drive-by Truckers. For my money, I prefer the intrcacies of their 2005 release Snake in the Grass. There's a guitar interplay on that record between the Musicks that recalls at times Scott Asheton of the Stooges or the more commercial Sonic Youth recordings. I've included two trakcs for you to get a feel for what I have no idea I'm talking about.

Southern Bitch: "Could It Be"

Southern Bitch: "Free Man Now"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Things That Reaffirm My Brief Existence

Duhks 3
Originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

A musical clinic like the one the Duhks put on at Schubas Thursday night. It was the perfect tonic to make the Bulls losing easier to swallow.

After the show I caught a train downtown and connected to the Orange Line for the trip home. But I closed my eyes once I settled in my seat and the next thing I knew, the train was pulling into Midway at 1 a.m. Luckily, the final train downtown was heading out twenty minutes later. Otherwise that would have been one expensive cab ride home.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Only in New York

Douchebag in Utero
Originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

When I read about David Blaine's plans to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, it reminded me that when I was in New York last spring he was immersed in a water-filled bubble in the middle of Lincoln Center.

I used this photo at the time for anyone who thinks hayseed behavior is limited to the flyover staes. Turns out its more an example of gapers block. We love a good accident, especially one we anticipate happening. Anyone remember what happened at the end of Blaine's stay in this bubble last year? He was supposed to hold his breath underwater for nine, ten minutes or something, and had to get dragged out of the bubble around seen minutes in, I think. I'm too lazy to look around YouTube for it, anyway. Besides, I'm trying to score an invitation to Joost and move past YouTube.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Not all Lefties are Dour People

A Moment of Levity
Originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

My bike cleats are still soaked from getting caught in the downpour yesterday. And, since I didn't have the foresight to pack rain gear yesterday in the event of rain, my waterlogged clothes left little to the imagination as they clung to me.

Is it too much to ask for a full night's sleep?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Making Nice With the Neighbors

A couple houses down from where I live is this two-flat owned by a genial Italian man. He spent last summer rehabbing the home, and every spring he plants new blooms in the front planters, covering them when a frost sets in, watering them, nurturing them. He dotes on his grand-daughter, taught her how to ride a bike last summer. It's straight out of Rockwell.

His son, however, is a little bit of a hothead. I found out the hard way Saturday night.

It was an early night, and I was out walking Emmy just before midnight . She's sniffing around as the son and his wife are returning from a night out. He may have been drunk, may not have. It doesn't matter. What did matter is that he saw Emmy sniffing around and asked if I had a bag handy to pick up any mess she might leave. I allowed that I did, told him not to worry, and left it at that.

Or so I thought. we walked past the house toward the park, and he's still at the top of the steps. He asked again, "Do you have a bag?" I replied again that I did. He asked to see it.

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"Let's see your bag," he said.

Alright, now he pressed a button. I'm not some careless prick who just lets his dog shit wherever she wants. I understand the realities and responsibilities involved with owning a pet. So, seeing as how he wasn't going to drop it, I reached for my pocket, puled out the bag, and made sure he got a clear view.

"Satisfied?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said.

Now it was my turn to not let the issue drop. I said, "Good. Now go fuck yourself." And I walked off.

It was a dick move on my part, I'll freely admit. But I never expected him to shove his wife out of the way and chase after me screaming, "Come back here, you punk! Come back and say that again!" Emmy, sensing that I might be in trouble, turned and growled at him, stopping the son in his tracks. I called Emmy over to me and we crossed the street. The son, still needing to vent off some steam, picked up a traffic cone from another neighbor's lawn and hurled it at me. I looked at him like he was insane, reached for my cell, and readied to dial 911. The son started screaming, "Go ahead. I'll wait on the stoop."

Finally, I pocketed my phone and finally continued to the park. The son got in one last parting shot, saying "I see you come past my house again, I'll bash you in the head with a fucking bat!" So, after Emmy finished her business, I walked past the house again. I figured if I was going to get my ass kicked, I'd make the one kicking it work.

Yesterday morning, Emmy and I went for the morning walk, and the old man was out watering his plants. He motioned over to me. "Do you have a problem with my son?" He asked. I told him that I didn't, that what it was was an unfortunate choice of words that escalated a situation that should have been contained, and that I was sorry that he found himself in the uncomfortable position of acting as a mediator between my smartassed mouth and his hothead son.

"My daughter-in-law told me you said a bad thing to my son," he said. I didn't deny it, although I stopped short of actually telling him what I said. The old man then continued, "I tell my son you seem like a nice man, that you are quiet and respectful," in stark contrast to what happened the night before.

You can't expect to get along with all your neighbors. I remember a few years back when I had a neighbor who was another hothead, and a thug to boot; a short, stocky Mexican with heavy tattoos who loved calling everyone but black folks "nigger." His girlfriend owns a pet grooming boutique, and if her dogs were any indication of her handiwork, I'm glad Emmy only needs the occasional bath.

He got it into his head that I was a peeping tom, and the weekend they were moving out he got raging high and threatened to shoot my "fat ass." That night he made it rough, blasting B96 and WGCI at full blast. They were fully moved out by Sunday afternoon, but he kept coming back during the week to just let me know that he knew where to find me.

If I see the hothead soon, I'm going to make it a point to see if we can let bygones be bygones. It's nice to get along with the neighbors.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spring Cleaning

Belly Up, originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

You'll notice that I finally switched to the new Blogger template. If you scope to the right, I also expanded and edited the blogrolls. Some things have changed, some have been removed, and there's plenty of interesting sites for you all.

eMusic Song of the Week

Although their relationship lasted a short time - from courtship to wedding to divorce, it was a little over two years - Betty Davis was the catalyst for Miles Davis' shift from post bop and cool jazz to fusion, from Armani and ties to velvet leisure suits and platform shoes, and from heroin to stronger heroin and hallucinogens. Betty introduced Miles to psychedelic rock and funk, and was the common denominator between Miles and Jimi Hendrix becoming friends (one of the reasons they divorced was that Miles suspected Betty of having an affair with Hendrix, an allegation she long denied). Still, she was an untamed force of nature that Miles correctly kept at arms length, lest he get fully sucked into her whirlwind.

After they divorced, Betty kept her ex-husband's surname and started a recording career of her own. Even for the sexually progressive '70s her frank lyrics and skimpy costumes were too much for the establishment of the time. She was as raunchy as early Prince, as calculating as Madonna in any of her incarnations, and at least ten years ahead of her time. Remastered versions of her first two records come out this Tuesday from Light in the Attic Records, and they're granite hard slabs of uncut funk. The albums are also available at eMusic or from the Light in the Attic website. After three poorly received records, her career fizzled. Today, Betty Davis is broke and living in squalor in Pittsburgh. This is the first time she'll receive proper royalties for her music on compact disc.

I'm sharing the lead track from her eponymous debut, recorded in 1973. For this record, she enlisted in the help of the rhythm section from Sly & the Family Stone, Larry Graham and Greg Errico (Errico produced the album), Santana's Michael Carabello, and both the Pointer Sisters and Sylvester helped out on backing vocals. "If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up" is a five-minute gem of pure sleaze, Davis' lyrics bluntly conveying that she's looking to scratch that itch, as she rasps, "I'm wiggling my fanny, I'm raunchy dancing, I'm-a doing it, doing it. This is my night out."

Betty Davis - "If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up"

Friday, May 11, 2007

From the Archives

Some months ago I purchased a Fujica ST605N SLR camera from a thrift store, and just got around today to putting new batteries in it and loading it with film. Then, after I published my post this morning on Chicagoist, I leashed Emmy and we went for a walk around the nieghborhood, me snapping some shots and getting a feel for the camera as we went along. I loaded it with some high-quality 800 ASA color film from Malelo's camera in the neighborhood.

I have a digital camera, but it has its limitations. Besides, I prefer using film anyway. It's similar to how I prefer driving a stick shift as opposed to an automatic transmission. I feel as though I'm in control of the camera more. With a digital it's easier to use photo editing software to get the desired shot you want. With film, if you mess up, you get the warts, and sometimes some unexpected quality shots.

I took this shot using my favorite camera, a Canon Canonet QL17 rangefinder camera that was a gift from an old friend. It's of Marvin Tate and Gina Black at Gunther Murphys in 2004. Gina was playing with her band at the time, Dead Horse Hill, as part of a triple bill fundraiser for Make: A Chicago Literary Journal. Devin Davis opened and The Like Young headlined. It turned out to be the final thing I did for Make, before we just went along in different directions without talking about it.

Anyhoo, I shoot with black and white film exclusively in the Canonet. With the exposure and aperture settings set perfectly, it takes photos of amazing clarity. All of my Bike New York 2003 photos were shot with the Canonet. After twenty-five miles I was definitely feeling its weight.

Once I'm done shooting the roll of film on the Fujica, I'll start posting some shots from that on the site. Until now, enjoy this shot.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bourbon is My Wife, Coffee My Mistress

Emmy's been showing signs of hip dysplasia for a while, but it's gotten really bad in the past month or so. So I finally let common sense prevail and took her to the vet for an exam, since she had to have her shots updated anyway. Turned out it wasn't her hip at all, but her knee that's giving her problems. $230 and some pain relievers later, and she's starting to feel a bit better. At least she isn't limping as badly; she's starting to lightly trot again without bunny-hopping which I suspect is largely due to the pain relievers. My vet also placed her on a "no stairs" policy, which means I'm hauling fifty pounds of muscle-clad boxer/terrier mix up and down stairs. She doesn't like it, but she's not squirming as much now. Now all I need to do is get a dog license application from the city and she'll be an official resident of Chicago, again.

You are going to see some of the big shows this weekend at HotHouse, right? Ba Cissoko is a kora master who hails from Guinea and has been called the "Jimi Hendrix of the kora." It's a stretch: the effects on his records are largely studio conceits, but he is an amazing player. Tickets are still available. And Wednesday's shows with Les Nubians are starting to sell like hotcakes.

As a diagnosed clinical depressive who refuses to take medication for the condition, I like to stay busy as a means of therapy. But lately I've found myself juggling time and responsibilities. Between my added work pile at HotHouse (where I've been asked to help out with marketing sponsorships again), current freelance projects, and some potential freelance opportunities I've either stumbled into or have as the result of someone calling in a favor, I'm learning the intricacies of time management. What I've learned is that my main tool for work - a computer - can also be a major distraction. It's why I've cut back on posting here to once a week. Some things help discipline me - like getting in my Chicagoist posts days in advance, which also helps me learn the nuances of deadline-based writing for the other concerns. Keep an eye out here in the coming weeks as I revamp the blogroll to reflect my interests and where I'm writing nowadays. Since I write about food and drink elsewhere, it only makes sense that I h
ave some links to where I keep abreast on news.

This brings me to what I'll call the "eMusic song of the week". The Mighty Hannibal (born James T. Shaw in Atlanta, Georgia) is a self-invented demographic of one. He's been a pimp, a junkie, and an elephant jockey over the course of his life. He started singing doo wop as a teenager. Shaw's first group, the Overalls, featured future Pips Melvin Knight and Edward Patten. Somewhere along the line he started wearing a turban and became a master showman, albeit one with stellar arranging and singing skills. His 1966 song "Hymn No. 5" - a song about a black soldier writing home from Vietnam, was ahead of its time in its anti-war consciousness and, compared to what the Summer of Love produced, more genuine. I opted instead to share with you a song from 1970, "The Truth Shall Set You Free," a gospel howler in which Hannibal replaces one opiate (heroin) with another (religion). It's a rare gem of his '70's songwriting; you can download the record here at eMusic or from Norton Records. The Mighty Hannibal is still busy, going into his ... well, however old he is right now. In addition to his own website, he also has a Myspace page. I'm going to log on and send a friend request right now.

The Mighty Hannibal - "The Truth Shall Set You Free"