Archive for July, 2004

Literary Fun For Your Weekend

Just a quick reminder that two of the strangely less-known literary events of the summer are on this weekend. First off, you have the Newberry Library’s 20th Annual Book Fair:
Feed your bibliomania at the Newberry’s annual Book Fair! More than 100,000 donated books have been sorted into 50 categories for your browsing convenience. With many books priced under $2, it’s easy to replenish your home library’s holdings on subjects ranging from antiques to zoology.
Admission is free; for information call (312) 255-3510. Parking is available at 100 W. Chestnut Street for $6 for up to six hours with Newberry validation.

To make it even better, just south of the Library are the Bughouse Square Debates. Friday from 6-8 is reenactments of famous Chicago speeche, but Saturday is when the real fun begins:
Then, on Saturday, bring your loudest heckling voice for an afternoon of soapbox oratory, Bughouse music, and poetry. Prizes will be awarded to the best speakers and hecklers. Exercise your first-amendment rights and relive the exciting public debates that immortalized Washington Square Park.
Now if only we could have Debates on every Saturday; how cool would that be? I’m planning to hit both the Book Fair and the Debates this year, so I’ll report back later with the results.

Jonathan Ames reads at Quimby’s tonight

The great Jonathan Ames reads from his new book Wake up, Sir! tonight at Quimby’s… 8pm. You can read an excerpt here.

Update: Lay’s Shuts Up

Heard on NPR on my way to camping this weekend…Lay’s is forced to pull their “Chicagoans prefer” campaign. Turns out the only documentation they had supporting their claim of preference was nationwide testing. I would have loved to have seen the rocket scientist marketers in that meeting…

Rocket Scientist Ad Guy #1: “But all we have is nationwide testing, dude.”
Rocket Scientist Ad Guy #2: “Yeah, that’s why it’s so brilliant. Well over half the country doesn’t even get Jay’s chips, so we win by, like, default. See?”
Rocket Scientist Ad Guy #1: “Smart. But won’t someone figure that out?”
Rocket Scientist Ad Guy #2: “No man. Coz we rock and our company is way bigger. No one will ever know.”


A little touch of home

Town Hall found picture

So today’s edition of NTK (a techy news & gossip newsletter from the UK) has a reference to an archive of found pictures. I’m browsing the dozens of pictures from all over the world and then I said to myself, “Hey, I know that sign… and those tattoos. That’s the Town Hall Pub.”

The Town Hall has four things to recommend it: plenty of Grateful Dead in the jukebox (if that’s a good thing to you), friendly staff, cheap shots, and… it’s close to a theater (and theater people like their drinking).

The Town Hall is just down the street from the old WNEP Theater space, so it was our usual hang-out after shows (and I believe Town Hall is still the sponsor of WNEP’s Theatre League Softball team). And now that The Playground is in that space, it’s become that theater’s post-show spot.

And one of the Town Hall’s patrons needs to be a little more careful about which directory of their harddrive they open up for P2P sharing.

Town Hall Pub, 3340 N Halsted St, Chicago


There were fireworks at the end of the alley last night around midnight. Neither me nor my roommate slept well. That or the wind noises…those are less annoying by far. I wonder, why it is that people illegally pop off firecrackers like that? This is downtown Evanston and there is supposed to be a noise ordinance…why else could neighbors of Northwestern students call the cops and complain about the noise they make?

“It gets dimmer.”

That's it -- that's as much light as there was.

Danny’s Tavern in Wicker Park is a house that’s been converted into a bar. It still has the comfortable feel of hanging out at a house party (though evidently back in the day you could hang out in the “kitchen” or on the back balcony). It’s also the the site of a monthly reading series. A couple weeks ago, my old Kids Around the World teammate John Beer emailed me and asked if Bare, my two-man improv group, would be interested in doing a special comedy version of their reading series. “Sounds great.”

Shaun and I (and Erica) showed up last night promptly at 6:45 to discover that place was still locked, so we had some chicken (a little dry, but tasty. excellent mashed potatoes) at Nick’s Pit Stop around the corner.
Back at Danny’s, we met John’s co-host (whose name I unfortunately can’t remember). “Here,” he said, pointing to a small area beside the DJ booth, “is where we usually put the readers. Will it be enough space?”

I looked around. It was enough space — one of our first shows was on a stand-up club stage that was about 5×10′ — but I was a little concerned about how dark it was — candles and two lamps with yellow bulbs and a single yellow-bulbed track-light were all the light in the room. It was hard to make out his face. “Can it get any brighter in here?” I asked.
“Actually,” he said, “it gets dimmer.”


And, actually, the show went fine. John and his co-host managed to swing one more track light at the “stage”. We kept the jumping around to a minimum and concentrated on verbal humor. And the audience was very attentive to our mangling of the life of James Joyce. And we got to say hello to Jessa.

But still. “It gets dimmer.” Lordy.

Why I don’t go out anymore

6 months ago I decided that I was going to stay in more. Working in the music and entertainment industry during the last 4 years, I found myself out 4-5 nights a week, hitting 2-3 clubs a night, and I was sick of it. Sick of the late nights, lack of rest, the chaos and unpredictability, the bullshit, the people, the same shit everywhere you go, the assholes, the club hoes, the alcohol, just sick of it all. Being away from it all I feel a lot healthier, well rested, and in tune spiritually again.
However, in my line of work its hard to stay away because the nightlife is part of the industry. Last week because of a large amount of artists releases, company events, and client projects I was forced to be out, and I didn’t like it one bit. Saturday night was the final straw.
My best friend/co-worker and I met up at Darkroom, a tolerable favorite of ours in this jaded state of our lives. It was around 12:15 am, Dj Fathom was spinning, the music was dope, there were lots of gorgeous women in attendance and it wasn’t uncomfortably crowded. Yet we were still bored, after hanging around for about 20 minutes and speaking with friends of ours who work there we left, and headed to Buddha Lounge. As usual it was crazy outside of Buddha, line down the block, and traffic at a stand-still. I pulled up in front of the club and spoke with a good friend of mine who bounces there, he offered to walk us in but we declined, we just weren’t interested. Just then the manager who’s also a good friend of ours walks out, she notices us and walks over to the vehicle and offers the same, again we decline. So we roll off to Ice Bar, to check out a friend of ours night as he’s a promoter. We get there, speak to people we know on the way in, go upstairs, mingle with friends for a bit, and then I bump into one of my ex’s. Nothing serious, I noticed her sexy ass dancing with some lame on the dance floor, interrupted them long enough to give her a hug, and process the thought “damn I wanna fuck you again” only to give her the look which coincided and step away. Minutes late my best friend and I left yet another venue.
Its now about 1:15 am and we’re driving over to Allure to check out our boy Artek who’s supposed to be spinning there. On the way we pass Dragon Room and think we see people going inside. Dragon Room sucks, it always has, i’ve always hated it, and we were shocked to think that people still went there, so we doubled back to find out. This ladies and gentlemen is where the shit hits the fan.
We roll past the front of the venue slow enough to see who’s who and what’s what. Just then we notice an old friend of ours who’s a bouncer, one that we haven’t seen in a while. He walks over to the vehicle and we embark on a brief conversation. Just then he shouts out “hey *Mark*(name changed for this post)” look who it is” A guy standing against the wall looks up and I instantly recognize him along with his name. I throw the car on hazards, put it in park and hop out as there’s no traffic on this small local street at the time. I run over to *Mark* and give him a huge hug. *Mark* was a great guy who worked in the industry as well, till he was diagnosed with Cancer and basically disappeared for 2 years while undergoing therapy. He used to work at one of the clubs I managed years ago, and we had become good friends. He’s just one of those genuinely good people, the type which you rarely find in life, and even more rarely find in this industry full of opportunists and assholes. So we are standing by the entrance catching up and Im not concerned about my vehicle because the Valet’s are watching it and there’s really no traffic.
Then suddenly, I hear the screeching of breaks and tires, I turn around toward the street and see the valets running for their lives and a huge white Dodge conversion van attempting to stop before it slams into the rear of my brand new Infiniti. Somehow he slows down enough to curve around the rear end of my car, but he doesn’t get enough clearance and his bumper as it sticks out a good 4 inches on the sides clips mine. His bumper falls off after scratching a good portion of my cars rear up, but he doesn’t stop. Instead he floors it through the intersection, my best friend takes off on foot after him, I hop in my car and speed down the block chasing him as well. By the time I cross the intersection I hear sirens and see blue and whites in my rear view. I think “damn that was fast, the cops are here already” then it dawns on me, thats why this guy was driving the way he was, he was running from the cops, and now Im in the middle of this chase. The guy apparently didn’t know the neighborhood as he drove straight into a gated residential area with one way in and one way out. We lost sight of him in the chaos but knew he had to be near. There were 3 squad cars and 2 vans full of cops now on the scene. The cops in the van got out and fanned out , the squad cars blocked the entrance and exit. My best friend and a bunch of cops went down a driveway on the edge of the community, I put my car in reverse and headed for the opposite end with cops running along side. We found the van and realized the guy or guys were on foot, I sped down the driveway in order to cut them off. As I reached the end my headlights illuminated him trying to hop a fence, then I hear the police shouting “Freeze! get on the ground man, get on the ground now!” as they approached him with guns drawn.
So much for a simple night out on the town.

Jay’s to Lay’s: Put Up or Shut Up

Do Chicagoans prefer the tast of Lay’s over Jay’s? Apparently, Jay’s disagrees and has challenged Lay’s to a duel. They have until high noon today to turn over documentation proving that we do, in fact, prefer Lay’s over Jay’s.
I personally prefer Jay’s, but just because it makes me all reminiscent of “Hot Dog Day” from grade school. However, Lay’s is also the maker of Ruffles, whose sour cream and cheddar chips may be the finest chip concoction since Dorito’s. Yeah, this is SO worth arguing about.

80s Girl, Where Are You????

Normally I ride my scooter to work every day, but due to a nail puncture wound, my tire is history and I’ve been forced to take the Western Avenue bus. The night my tire died, I was slogging my way home, and at Fullerton and Western, slumped at the bus stop, was the most glorious retro eighties girl.
At first I wasn’t sure if she was a girl. All I could see was a shock of brownish green hair sticking up randomly from a headband wrapped around her forehead and long zebra skin clad legs thrust petulantly out in front of her. She was slumped over with her hand covering her face. She looked like a rock star. Except rock stars don’t usually take the bus.
Two days later, I saw her again. It was about 9:00AM and I was on my way to work, mindlessly staring out of the window of the bus, when I caught a glimpse of that green, mega-gelled hair once again at Fullerton. This time, she was dressed just like Josie Cotton in the prom scene from Valley Girl, complete with mini skirt, skinny wrap around belt, high heel short boots and fishnet stockings. She still had the headwrap on. She was glorious.
I don’t know what it is, but I’m dying to know what her story is. Is she a musician? Does she just like to dress up every day? Is she really a man and very good at eighties drag? Why was she so sad at the bus stop that one night?
I haven’t seen her again, though I look for her at Fullerton and Western every time I pass that intersection. Maybe she was just passing through Chicago on her way to bigger and better things. Maybe she’s out on tour. Who knows?


So I’ve decided what my new “what the heck?” project is going to be for living in Chicago – figuring out the church that’s down the street from me. Usually, I wouldn’t be that interested in a random church, but this one fascinates me for a very specific reason: how the congregation dresses.
You see, every weekend, the congregation gathers in the most gorgeous African-style robes and dresses, complete with hats. Colors of every hues, wonderful patterns, lovely fabrics, and the children seems to always be dressed in white; it’s a beautiful thing to see on a late Sunday morning as I’m pedaling off somewhere.
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to dig up any information on this church – the sign says “Christ Apostolic Church,” but to a lapsed Roman Catholic with little knowledge of the more obscure Christian denominations, that could mean almost anything. A bit of web research seems to indicate that Apostolicism is an offshoot of Pentecostalism, but it doesn’t seem to explain the lovely outfits. Anyone have any more information on them?

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