Archive for May, 2008

Elmont Laundry

Elmont Laundry

Why do I have the feeling that that smokestack used to be just a bit taller?

I Can’t Hear You! I STILL Can’t Hear You!

My ears are ringing.

Last night at the House of Blues the wife and I finally saw the Ministry concert I wrote about getting tickets for a few months ago. At that time it was the first of two final U.S. shows for the band; it became the first of four. For those of you who are interested, there are apparently still tickets available for Sunday.

I must confess, I am getting old. No more jumping around in the pit for this guy. We found comfortable seats along the rail in the mezzanine section, near the bar. We had a great view, and managed to avoid all the crap getting thrown around down on the main floor. Being slightly removed from the action did not stop me from getting up and doing a little headbanging when the moment called for it though. Now, of course, my neck is sore. Like I said, I am getting old.

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A New Holiday, Just ‘Cause

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Yesterday turned out to be Incredibly Awesome Thursday, and I’m determined to make it a weekly occurrence. Essentially, Incredibly Awesome Thursday (IAT) involves saying “yes” to something that you normally wouldn’t, perhaps because it sounds boring, it’s too far away and you’re lazy, whatever. My “yes” last night was to a dance performance at the Chicago Cultural Center featuring Matthew Hollis’ and the Power of Cheer. My mom, a former high school cheerleader extraordinaire, was quite keen on going, so I somewhat reluctantly agreed to tag along…and it ended up being awesome. Incredibly awesome, in fact.

Matthew Hollis, an amazing choreographer, dancer, and performance artist, presented a taste of the work he’s developing with a grant from the Chicago Dancemaker’s Forum, a unique blend of cheerleading, modern dance, theater, activism and a little bit of therapy. Hollis and his troupe of equally talented dancers (did I mention they’re all in short shorts?) act out stories from Hollis’ life, including a particularly impressive number performed on teetering stilettos. The cheer that I can’t get out of my head? “Guns are bad, guns are gross, you might as well eat poo on toast!” Well put.

Before the performance, we popped into the Gallery 37 Store, which was chock full of fantastic artwork by Project Onward artists, from colorful silk screened tees and bags to vibrant pastel drawings. Project Onward is an organization designed “to support the creative development of visual artists with developmental, cognitive, and mental disabilities.” Rock on.

We also had a chance to investigate the Puppet Bike, which, unfortunately, was out of commission by the time we arrived, but even the outside of this happy little cart covered in whimsical paintings of frolicking bunnies and kitties was entertaining. According to the Puppet Bike website, the stage on wheels was created by Mr. Trusty for a bipolar friend who couldn’t hold down a conventional 9-5, but the portable theater offered the perfect solution–work when you want, park it when you get bored. I’ll definitely be heading down to Millennium Park this summer so I can see the Puppet Bike in action. (Metblog’s Fuzzy Gerdes beat me to the Puppet Bike punch in his February post, but I just had to ramble on about it again.)

So that, my friends, is what Incredibly Awesome Thursday is all about. Next week–who’s with me?

Art + Bikes = Rad

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Ooh wee! My calendar just got a little happier with the addition of the Manifest Urban Arts Festival on May 16 and Andersonville Bike Week, May 12-18.

Manifest is a smörgåsbord of artsy amazingness created by Columbia College seniors and graduate students, including a two-hour live broadcast, Going Green For Our Future; an Animation Production Studio Screening; You Gotta Hear This: A Fiction Writing Department MFA student reading; Music! Music! Music!; and so much more.

Andersonville Bike Week packs in Yoga for Cyclists, Bike Maintenance 101 clinics, jazz, hip-hop, and spinning classes, art exhibits and body cleansing, along with tons of discounts at local merchants when you bring in your helmet. You’ll definitely find me heading over to La Cocina de Frida with my bike helmet to receive 15% off their yummy, plantain filled enchiladas. Oh yeah.

Campaign Supernova!, or How Many Democrats Does It Take to Lose an Election

Last night I saw a preview for the new Second City e.t.c. show, Campaign Supernova!, or How Many Democrats Does It Take to Lose an Election. It was Friends and Family night, ’cause that’s how I roll. (Actually, my wife works there.) I have a number of friends who are involved with Second City in some capacity, so I find myself seeing shows there on a semi-regular basis. Last night I saw probably the best SC show I have ever seen.

In the late ’60s my dad went to high school on the South Side and he used to go to Second City shows all the time. He told me once that he regretted never auditioning or taking classes there himself. When he comes into town nowadays we try to get over there and see whatever’s going on. He still loves it, but he has often wondered what happened to their “edge.” I wasn’t sure what he meant. I mean, all of their shows are topical, address current politics, whatever.

Then came last night, and suddenly I think I know what my dad has been talking about.

The lights came up, they grabbed the crowd by the balls and did not let go. It was relentless. I hurt myself laughing. But even better, there were moments when this cast dared not to be funny. One scene involved the female cast members jumping back and forth between a trio of Lincoln Park trixies at a gym and three Middle-Eastern women torn by war and oppression. The overall effect made the whole wide-eyed audience sit up and say, “Yikes.” But in a really, really good way.

The theme of the evening focused on normal Americans’ desire to do good in the world, and how that desire is tempered by the temptations and necessities of living in modern America. A stand-out scene centered on a couple on their wedding day, their relationship strained by the effort of making everything socially conscious, while secretly they yearn for overpriced-yet-useless knickknacks from Crate and Barrel.

The cast worked together with a precision rarely seen in sketch comedy. The musical moments and choreography were sharply executed, and every performer had stand-out moments. The closing moments in particular held moments of poignancy and hilarity combined.

Also, there are paper mache puppets. You know you don’t want to miss that.

Campaign Supernova!, or How Many Democrats Does It Take to Lose an Election officially opens Thursday, May 8. (Yes, I copy-and-pasted the title just then. I’m not typing that beast twice.)

Shock Therapy

For the past few days, I’ve had my head buried in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, a book outlining a process whereby unpopular economic theories (think widespread privatization and drastic cuts in social programs) are instituted following a crisis, be it a hurricane, a war, or the onslaught of an enemy (real or imagined), when the people are too shocked and disoriented to protest. For those of you familiar with something called 9/11, this should trigger disconcerting recollections of the creation of a booming industry in the name of “homeland security,” not to mention the vast sums of money allocated for rooting out the “enemy” abroad, as well as the use of “interrogation techniques,” also known as torture, which were practiced openly by the US government without fear of prosecution, thanks to the rewriting of a few pesky laws.

You may be wondering what in the heck this has to do with Chicago. Well, it just so happens that this wonderful theory of economic upheaval was created by Milton Friedman, the late University of Chicago professor, and he and his ardent followers have been instituting their particularly harsh brand of capitalism around the globe, acting as high-ranking advisors to politicians in Chile, Argentina, Indonesia, and the United States, among others. Pretty scary.

Check out the short film created by Klein and Children of Men director, Alfonso Cuaron, to learn more.

Mmm fast food for vegans

Okay so I love meat. LOVE IT. I mean for heavens sake, my nickname is Bacon. For reals. I love my steak rare and my burgers with bacon on them. I’ll eat any kind of meat at least once. I LOVE MEAT!! I was a vegetarian for a bit in my early years but when my roommates ordered buffalo wings for some reason I had to have one and I’ve been a carnivore since.

Since I work in the neighborhood it is hard for me to not eat out everyday for lunch. And I have to say I complain about it all the time. I’m tired of the same 5 places that I eat at so when I see a sign for a new food establishment I have to say I get giddy. So when I saw the sign for Veggie Bites I was intrigued and excited.

It is an all vegan fast food place. They serve up yummies like chili cheese dogs and gyros and the like. Everything is organic and delicious! And very reasonably priced. I had the pleasure of eating the chili cheese dog and it was served on a whole wheat bun and it was really good. When my boyfriend heard that I had eaten there he said “gross” but I will soon convert him. Maybe, he does love meat as much as I do……

For more info on the place go ahead a check out their website

Three cheers for the hippies!!

So, I started taking percussive dance at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Man. Not only is Old Town totally awesome, the class is amazing!

There is no required skill level for my class, so it’s very diverse and fun. From novice to professional dancers, to hobbyists like myself. I had to dust off my old tap shoes in order to, well, percuss, and it was sooooo much fun. it’s like STOMP!, but I’m the one stomping!

I had so much fun that I didn’t realize how sore I was until a day later! My body is definitely mad at me – I haven’t danced for sport in, ohhhh, a decade or so. Mild pain and discomfort aside, I love this class.

I love Old Town.

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