Sunday, August 31, 2003

I ask you-is there a better retail slogan in the world than From Wine To Twine?

This would be Honest Ed's which had one window display of only bras, bras stacked and stacked by color, dozens, grosses of bras like so many solo beverage cups next to a keg. Other windows were less mono-product...Back To School! or Visit Our Cafe! But Honest Ed's is a bonafide throwback, an Old Navy, a Costco, a Wal-Mart from back in the day. Ed was (is! is!) a helluva merchant with his three story blinking lightbulbed testament to low prices and high volume but his real love is theater. The store is full of autographed glossies, of pieces of old sets (a pair of volkswagon-sized cuckoo clocks are labeled as being from a production of Into The Woods in a downtown Toronto production Honest Ed had a hand in underwriting, for instance). Honest Ed's was my second favorite retail experience of Toronto.

Number one was The Beer Store. The Beer Store is a real thing, a store that just sells beer. They are owned and operated by the government, much like the liquor stores in Washington State. In Washington State, distilled spirits are sold only from stores operated by the state and while this is a pain in the ass, you can see the state's point of view...not only the taxes but all of the retail markup go to the state's coffers so why in the world shouldn't vice pay for itself in this way? Ontario goes all the way on this one, you can't buy beer or wine in groceries or convenience stores. Gotta go to the beer store. (note to aspiring journalist did Honest Ed's sell any wine or was that just a cute slogan? Shoulda checked that out, dude).

A beer store sells only beer, no wine or spirits, no sodas or chips or lottery tickets or mylar balloons. Just beer (in all fairness I visited a goverment-run store selling the full range of fermented beverages in the Eaton Centre which had blond wood and chambray-shirted clerks and the patrons all had plastic cards giving them bonus air miles with their purchases which was pretty classy) and is as orange on the outside as a Hardees.

Inside there are wooden shelves holding one empty can or bottle of each of the beers sold in the store. The guy in front of me wanted a case of Labatt's. The clerk took his money, gave him a receipt and went into the back.

I don't know the name for this sort of's not a conveyor belt, I don't thnk, but a series of wheels on a series of axles arrayed along a track. They are in factories and used to slide heavy, unwheeled things. I'm not describing it very elegantly, perhaps I'll revisit this later, but a track you slide boxes along. There is one on either side of The Beer Store, along the side walls, next to each cash register. The clerk is going in back and putting a case of brew onto the track and sliding it out, through those hanging flaps that keep coolers cold to the waiting customer.

That's a beer store and they have a new magazine, distributed for free in beer stores called CHILL. Which is cute...not just maintain a state monopoly but have a slick magazine to extort some advertising dollars. There's a recipe for roasting a chicken over a can of beer, an appreciation of Bob and Doug McKenzie and yoga for couch potatoes.

Other cool beer store experience to I'm waiting for my malt-liquors-of-many-nations (Ontario thoughtfully labels each beer with its alcohol content to ensure maximum fucked-up-edness for your buck. Your loonie. Whatever) and a skinny kid barges in with a pair of empty bottles and an Irish accent...he just got a fuckin' $135 fine! For drinking! And then the clerk comes from the back, having slid another case down the conveyor belt and the skinny kid says, "sorry for the swearing just then, I didn't realize you were here." The best part? The skinny, drunk, cussing, Irish kid was wearing a Tennessee Titans jersey.

Toronto was great, huge, big fun and I want to take back all of my snide, Americanist comments about how Canada is a sorry, also-ran of North America. More soon but back in front of my computer...just 36 minutes left of being 33 years old. "What do you like to do after sex?" asks a jokey quiz in the new GQ, trying to determine if you are a nerd (nerds are good according to the premise of the article; damn, who knew GQ was gonna rescue my ass?) and one question asks what you like to do after sex...Cuddling? Smoking? or the winner Blogging.


Monday, August 25, 2003

Forty-Eight hours from now I will be in Toronto and I will be eating me some Tim Horton. I assume that this was once a posessive...Tim Horton's but posessives don't exist in say the doughnut of Tim Horton rather than Tim Horton's doughnut and, because of the whole Quebecois separatist business, it's easier for companies doing business in Canada to call the whole thing off (or Did Somebody Say McDonald?)

I'm fascinated by the whole Quebecois thing...partially because it's hard for me to imagine that french speakers could be lower class, ever. And partially because Canada has dealt with Quebec much differently than, well, we would have. It's as if we sat down in the early 70's and said, "Okay Arizona! New Mexico! California! We totally stole you from Mexico...that's our bad. And we are going to keep you as part of the U.S.A. but we want you to be yourselves! Totally Mex-out, okay?" And these states put all of their signage in Spanish and got kind of cranky if anyone dared to speak English.

On one hand, there is a lot to be said for encouraging multiculturism. Canada is good at this, much better than, I think, the US is. We still think melting pot whereas Canada is much better at the gorgeous mosaic, the salad bowl model. Here's the thing about a salad bowl though...sometimes you end up with a big-ass piece of cucumber and that isn't what you had in mind. Part of the gorgeous mosaic is a willingness to be inconvenienced sometimes. The Chinatowns I've been to in Canada are China Towns with no English signage to help you along. Those subway announcements in Montreal? French only. Multi-culturalism is so much easier to embrace when it's effortless...when the world is one big sea of tasty food and interesting music.

Does multiculturalism mean that I don't get to be strong suit? Does it mean-horrors-that I, as a white male might not WIN? Well, then that's a different story.

As an American I get it both ways...I can talk the talk of loving multiculturalism while knowing that there is no danger that I will call a customer service number and the default language is Vietnamese, press 4 for English.

There is a charming website called An American's Guide to Canada where the author describes what Americans expect because they're Americans:
The Pursuit of Happiness

here is what she describes Canadians expecting because they are Canadian:
Good Government

They make an interesting line by line comparison
Liberty : Order
The Pursuit of Happiness : Good Government.


As a baby journalist, I wish I knew more about the American Expats who fled to Canada during the Vietnam war. What did it mean to Canadians to have such a group in-migrating to your nation? Did the American draft resisters stay and put down roots like those fleeing Hong Kong before it returned to Chinese rule? No guidebooks point me to Americatown. And how would I know Americatown when I found it? And what are the numbers...after there was amnesty for those who fled the draft, how many Americans returned home and how many stayed put?

I've visited Vancouver and Montreal and always imagined Canada to be America Lite. Like us, just less so. I visited Madison, Wisconsin a few years ago and read a profile of a local band in an alternative newsweekly and the band described themselves and their scene as being in complete and total opposition to the bullshit that was going on in Chicago.

Which I thought was so cute. Because Chicago doesn't spend a second of time thinking about Madison, at all.

On the other hand, Chicago spends TONS of time worrying about how we compare with New York and Los Angeles and repeatedly reassuring ourselves that we are actually superior to them. But I don't think the residents of New York ask themselves "okay, how are we stacking up against Minneapolis?"

Canada seems to, in large part, define themselves by being Not American. And, while you can see their point, I don't know that this is enough.

I like to think that I'm fairly well informed about recent history but I was surprised to learn that On This Date In History, The American Hitler was shot and killed in Virginia. Named George Lincoln Rockwell, he believed that Eisenhower and Truman were traitors and should be hanged.

Two things worth noting: 1)Dude was born in Bloomington, IL and 2)attended Brown University (!)

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Even before being name-checked in Bush's Axis Of Evil speech, North Korea had some serious public relations problems. And they are tackling those problems with a classic public relations cure, pretty girls. Let's hear it for the North Korean Cheersquad!!!

South Korea is hosting a series of athletic events that are serving as qualifying matches for next year's Olympic Games. Apparently the cheerleaders were first deployed at some multi-national games held in Busan in 2002. Security is tight, keeping the women away from foreigners although young men have been flying paper airplanes into the cheerleader's section of the grandstands, according to the New York Times.

"Our papers say, `Come talk with us, have a cup of coffee with us, come walk in the park with us,' " said Kang In Ku, organizer of a group called Young Patriots. It is unclear what success the group will have with its come-on line: "Stop being concubines of Kim Jong Il. Come to the arms of freedom."

Friday, August 22, 2003

Tomorrow I'm going to see my friend Sara's art piece. She doing something with The Roof here in Chicago. As far as I can understand there are several big arty billboards being hung or maybe just one arty billboard being hung but for sure Sara has HER arty billboard being hung.

It (Sara's Billboard) is a Salute To Famous Fatties. Sara describes herself as a fat activist and herself as a fatty much as an activist lesbian might describe herself as a Dyke or a black person as a Nigga. It's supposed to be a reclamation. And I'm all in favor of a wider range of bodies being seen as not just acceptable but also attractive and desirable. So I'm all in favor of art that promotes this particular point of view.

I feel weird about the famous fatties. I once worked as a walking messenger in Seattle and it was the only time I had to worry about eating enough calories. Shortly after I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend, an excellent cook, I stopped being a messenger, started working as a dispatcher, and gained 70 pounds.

One of the messengers, my friend Petey, tried consoling me by telling me about Buddha and how his wisdom was measured by his girth...the fatter he became the more wise he was. It was meant in a spirit of kindness but it totally freaked me out. I didn't want to make friends with the idea of being fat. I wanted to cloud everyone's minds so that no one would be aware of me being fat.

This, to some extent, is still true. I want to take the homeless guys aside who address me as, "Hey Big Guy!" and say, "look, do you realize the inherent shortcomings of your pitch here? Call me...strong man. Masculine dude. Whatever. But "big guy" isn't doing it on the spare change front." I don't want Sara to celebrate "From Buddha to Biggie" on her billboard. I want the norm to be me, I don't want to be an activist but a pacifist.

I'm about ten days away from being 34 years old. When I was a kid, kids were skinny except for those who were the fat kids, like me. Today, at least here in Chicago, kids seem to be mostly kind of fat. So maybe I don't have to be an activist. Maybe I can give it some time and the youthful norm will be Plump.

A woman once told me that I was "well-marbled" which is my all time favorite euphemism for being overweight.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

August is ending and the world is a better place.

The biggest and best news is that I finally heard from Betty Jack DeVine, the genius behind the gay NASCAR site She was every bit as charming in her email as she is on the site and I'm looking forward to interviewing her. Especially since that damn New Yorker ran their own article about NASCAR this week. Though, weirdly, the most interesting stuff is not in the article but rather in the Q and A with author Kevin Conley.

Finally started reading The Lonely Planet guide to Toronto this morning riding the el to work.

In 1999, Chicago held "Cows On Parade" with lots of artist-decorated fiberglass cows decorating the streets. Other cities copied the idea (Chicago had copied it from Zurich, Switzerland who did it first in 1998) and in 2000, Toronto decided to fill their streets with Moose. Mooses? Moose, yet plural, that's what they were up to in Toronto in 2000 and fortunately, like cows, there was a ready pun; Moose-eum. Note that they opted not to use this pun and instead settled on Moose in the City which would make a very good Sunday show for HBO-CANADA, I think (Giving the parade a dull name was bad but worse was to make the commercial sponsor not Moosehead Beer).

I should point out here that if your municipality would like to have a slew of whimsical, painted animals on YOUR streets, you might want to check here with the folks at who offer not only unpainted cows but also a frigging ton of other animals including alligators, pellicans, a whippet and three kinds of turtle. If that is too much hassle, you should just go to They offer "A Turnkey Art Event" for cities (Hello Atlanta!) who would like to jump ahead to the snapshots by tourists and the charitable auction, skipping all that tedious "call to artists" business. One call and cowparade does it all.

But back to the many moose(s). According to Lonely Planet's account, some citizens of Toronto (hey, what's THEIR plural? Torontons?) were outraged that the city would spend money on the moose thing and not on affordable housing, education, blah blah blah and began defacing the sculptures. So an emergency hotline was established, along with a website both of which ensured a rapid response to the issue of moose vandalism.

Those of you who are fed up with animals on parade...actually even if you adore animals on parade, you might want to read this excellent piece from the departed but not forgotten And you also might want to take a lesson from Chicago; cows work.

Other stuff????

Chicago's follow up was ping pong. Not whimsical, artistic interpretations of table tennis. Just Ping Pong.

Ping pong tables were put in public places...building lobbies, outdoor plazas, under the Picasso sculpture. An odd choice to follow-up the cows but the cows brought strangers together which was the plan for the ping pong tables. Nope.

After the ping pong fiasco, Chicago tried a parade of fiberglass...sofas. Yep. Sofas. "Suite Home Chicago" had 1) the fiberglass and 2)the cute pun. But no one gets excited about having their picture taken next to a sofa. ("There's a sofa with wings!" "There's a sofa balanced precariously on something!" etc.)

By last summer, the city had more or less given up and settled on "Music Everywhere". In this press release, Mayor Daley threatens that municipal musical chairs could be among the attractions while Cultural Commissioner Lois Weisberg insists that Music Everywhere will amuse and delight both visitors and Chicagoans while featuring value-added incentives and special hotel rates.

This year Chicago got the All-Star game and managed to completely blow exploiting the game in a fiberglass manner by using All-Star Bobblehead Dolls situated on a few (33) street corners. They looked like spraypainted store mannequins with poorly attached heads. They were hard for kids to reach and adults weren't that curious about making their not-unusually-proportioned heads bobble so they just stood there, unwhimsical and desperate looking.

Listen people. If you want a parade, I say "Cow." "Moose" is actually a really good choice for Toronto since it's Canadian and it offers a lot of surface area to work with and "Moose" is a funny sounding word and presumably they too got some mileage out of the difficulty-with-plurals schtick...nice work Toronto! Other cities-if you have something big and tenuously associated with your city ("The Big Pig Gig" was the event for the Area Formerly Known As Cincinnati...hey I don't recall any prior Americana celebrating the pork of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky but I try very hard to not think much about Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky so that's probably my bad) you might consider it. But please keep in mind that cows have both proven public art fair cred but also enormous popularity in greeting card shops.

Weirdly, another greeting card shop staple, Angels, were not such a hit when they paraded in (duh) Los Angeles. This site explains the A Community Of Angels project ("In 2001, over 170 Angels graced the streets of the Southland. This year, our goal is to expand that to 200 angels. If you don't know what A Community of Angels is all about, keep reading!") The deal sounds perfect-artists would make angels, communities would display them, citizens would bid on the angels with the proceeds going to charity (after, presumably, the organizers got their cut for running the whole thing), new angels would appear in the neighborhood and the delighful process would begin again.

Sadly, the splash page ( today blares


The store and project close down at the end of December.


and shows a warehouse of angels lined up like giant pigeons if giant pigeons had been airbrushed like conversion vans of the 1970's.

A nice email today from s6myfl702 who came across this very blog and, after saying nice things, Blogrolled me. I take it blogrolling is like logrolling...where I give, say, David Sedaris a nice blurb to put on the back of his book and then, in turn HE gives me a nice blurb to put on the back of my book. Logrolling.

Considering that I got my first ever cell-phone last week, I'm unlikely to manage a full-on blogroll right now, I'm afraid. However I would like to encourage you to check out s6myfl702's blog which is called Precision Blogging. Many droll observations and some useful facts

The right way to wash dishes rarely:
You say you want to leave dirty dishes in the sink for days at a time? You’ll be happier if you don’t encourage the anaerobic bacteria that create the worst smells. When you stack dishes, put a utensil between every pair to let air in. The worst smells develop in airless pockets between dirty dishes.

See? Here's my plug:

Watch out Andrew Sullivan! There's a new blogger in town and his or her name is s6myfl702!

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

This just in...Illinois House Bill 3086, recently signed by Governor Blagojevich prohibits tongue splitting.

While I am generally opposed to the government interfering in the non-violent-yet-peculiar actions of private citizens, I'm not gonna go to bat for tongue splitting.


Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Today I want to talk about gerbils. Specifically the Giant Gerbils (16 inches long) that are infesting north-western China.

These giant gerbils (scientific name Rhombomys Opimus which means "Rich Rhomboid Mouse") eat lots of vegetation and make complex burrows underground. They are so numerous that they are causing the grasslands where they live to become desert. The area they have screwed up so far is 11 million acres which the BBC points out is the size of Switzerland.

The BBC News site also describes the gerbils as being "the worst rodent disaster to hit this region of Xinjiang in 10 years". Alas, we aren't given details on other rodent disasters in Xinjiang so that we might compare.

Reuters talked with Xiong Ling, described as "an official with the region's headquarters for controlling locusts and rodents" (and who presumably is tracking these various other rodent disasters yet is not giving up the info, at least on the web anyway. Come on Xiong Ling, get with it!) in a story saying that the Chinese intend to solve the problem with both poisons and by training eagles to prey on the giant gerbils.

I appreciate that these folks want to attack the problem using natural predators but how many giant gerbils can eagles eat anyway? Wouldn't you need a frigging ton of eagles?!? And then do you end up with an eagle problem to go with your giant gerbil problem? Short sighted, I think.

If all this talk of gerbils and their habitats has you, like me, thinking of Habitrails, here's a site that offers product reviews of the various items in the Habitrail line.

If all this talk of gerbils has you, unlike me, contemplating the urban myth that some gay men stuff gerbils up their butts, you're on your own link-wise.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Walking home tonight from the train I saw a woman in a hijab eating an elote from a pushcart vendor parked underneath the grocery with the cambodian signage outside.

I'm writing all of this down to remind myself that it's actually a happy, multi-textured world out there. Because inside my head it's all August.

What's wrong? Nothing. Things are objectively fine...not only is there groovy, multicultural action going on right outside my door but work is going well, I'm about to go on vacation, I have money in the bank, food in the fridge and messages on the answering machine. Still, I feel like a big, cranky baby.

Last year I got an astrological explanation for all of this...something planetary is happening to me in August, shortly before my birthday and it puts me off. My friend Lillian is an astrologer and, as peculiar as this may sound, a no-bullshit sort of astrologer and once when discussing it with her I decided that astrology was kind of like punditry. For an astrologer to declare that my celestial alignment is such, therefore XY and Z will occur is much like the talking heads who point out that the midterm elections normally result in a loss of seats for the party who controlls the white house. It's not an ironclad rule, it's just an observation. And the Astrological pundits have declared that while Leo is out galivanting around, this particular Virgo is on the dormant side.

So I'm holed up here, eating corn chips and blogging. One day soon, Lillian's web presence(s) will be back up and running and I will link to them and delete this sentence.

Today I heard an interview with author Mike Stanton who wrote The Prince of Providence about the corrupt, mobbed-up mayor of Providence Rhode Island. The New York Times gave it a mediocre review but the detail that made me want to go buy the book in hardcover was that the mayor kept several different toupees depending on the occasion. For instance, he had a tousled toupee for fires, accidents, tornadoes, events when he didn't want to look too slick.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Chicago has heaps of homicides, we just do. New York and Los Angeles have more in terms of raw numbers but Chicago has the most per capita.

So it was interesting to read about neighbor-to-neighbor hostility in the UK. Since May, two different men have died in disputes with their neighbors over the hedges that separate their properties (only one of the deaths was gun-related; the other was a man who had a heart attack after a neighborly fistfight).

"Members of Parliament are so concerned about the issue of hedges, that they are grappling with the complexities of drafting legislation on the subject.

"Not only do they cause bitter, long-running disputes between neighbours, damaging people's health and happiness, but they damage people's enjoyment of their gardens - one of the principal pleasures of our lives in the United Kingdom," said Wirral MP Ben Chapman in the week after the shooting of Mr Wilson. "

If you are buying property in the UK you might want to hire a private detective to check out your prospective neighbors. For 395 Pounds (can't make that little pound-symbol thingy, sorry) a detective will spend 7-10 days snooping around the neighborhood, chatting up mothers in the playground, noticing if the nighttime is quiet or noisy, running credit checks on the people in the neighborhood (if they are deadbeats they are unlikely to be good neighbors) and so forth.

I wasn't able to find anyone in the Chicago area who offers such investigations. I did, however find a site that offers to teach you how to become a Private Investigator (there is a nice picture of Tom Selleck as Magnum P.I.)

This learn-to-be-a-detective information is part of the Fabjob website ("From drab job to FabJob!" says their perhaps under-focus-grouped slogan). Other fabjobs on offer include Become A Pop Star!, Become An Archaeologist! (a picture this time of Indiana Jones), and, why the hell not, Become An Olympic Athlete !

It might surprise you to know that no matter how old or out of shape you are right now, there are a number of Olympic sports you could successfully compete in if you start preparing now.

Only $14.95 which seems cheap for such valuable information.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

At home with my quarterly strep throat.

Annie Lamott writes about having her tonsils removed because of frequent bouts of strep throat and this thought has me oddly psyched...having my tonsils removed! Fun and retro...I have good health insurance right now so that won't be a factor, it's invasive enough to be a bit of a hassle but mostly in the Have To Eat A Lot Of Ice Cream and Mashed Potatoes sort of way and then I wouldn't get this fucking strep throat all the time. Here's the thing about being fun and retro...I was way too early with the whole trucker cap thing, wearing mine back in the early 90's in Seattle. Being too early trend-wise is the same as being wrong, really, and I think it would be unwise for me to get my tonsils out as a hipster move since it doesn't seem properly zeitgeisty. Being a reformed poser, I wanted some evidence to back up my pro tonsillectomy stance.

The web is relatively low-key on the topic of tonsils, as compared to, say, foreskins. The reason it sounds retro to have my tonsils taken out is because it IS retro. Old school thinking is that tonsils are useless and just sit there waiting to get infected. New thinking is that tonsils act as a fleshy filter, capturing bacterial sludge before it gets further into my body.

While I get strep seemingly all the time, I have to get it twice as often to qualify for a tonsillectomy. Also they have to swell waaaay up so that they not only hurt and impede ordinary swallowing and breathing but also my speech is muffled (a condition the sites all call "hot potato voice"). Anyway I've decided to be modern about it and figure out a better approach, not to scold my tonsils but to support them, give them the tools they need to get their job done.

All of this revisionist thinking on tonsils got me wondering about the appendix-do we dig that one as well now? Indeed we do, says Scientific American's Expert (as in "Ask an..."). The appendix holds lymphoid tissue which busies itself with recognizing "foreign antigens in ingested material". Again, it gets clogged, inflamed, becomes a pain in the ass but it's just doing its job.

I'm going to Toronto in a couple of weeks and there is a part of me that feels I should be diligently searching the web for interesting, idiosyncratic Toronto things instead of tracking down unpopular bodily organs on the web. On the other hand, now that I have spent all this time contemplating the appendix and tonsils I'm thankful to have a blog to put it and not just blurt it out to the next person I see. Nerdiness is always better when it can fill up a reservoir and not just leak everyplace, dripping and annoying.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Before the power outage, my favorite news story of the day was about the failed thumb reattachment for the little girl in Romeoville who had her thumb chewed off by a pit bull.

I should explain that Romeoville is the companion city to Joliet kidding.

I think this story is fascinating for several reasons...there's the grotesque horror of the dog chewing the 8-year-old's thumb off, of course. But also the fact that the dog's owner, a 55 year old man, came in contact with a group of kids in the first place. And why was that? Because the kids' family invited him over TO GET A PLATE OF MACARONI AND CHEESE becasue his own mother was in the hospital and therefore apparently not cooking for him. Anyway, he shows up to fetch the food and the kids want to see his exotic lizards. He brings them back home, shows them the lizards and when they see the lizard food (which is giant cockroaches) they start screaming, apparently freaking out the dog who goes for the nearby 8 year old.

Dude can't make his own macaroni and cheese? He's 55 for god's sake. That was, I thought, practically the whole point of macaroni and cheese, other than being really cheap was that it's easy, just as easy as Ramen and certainly something that a loser guy like the dog owner should have been able to manage on his own.
Also it's a nice touch that this idiot doesn't blame the dog and, presumably, not himself either. Which just leaves the 8-year-old to take the heat.

Finally, as a white, well intentioned liberal it always makes me uncomfortable when people make racist remarks about non-whites behaving carelessly so I'm oddly relieved when white people do dumbass stuff like this, as if it somehow makes everything even (you can't see it in this link but if you register at the Chicago Tribune site you can see the dog owner is indeed a white guy).

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Worm gone now. Whew.

I was so proud of myself for having downloaded the patch a few weeks ago too.

Big thanks to my co-worker Randi who passed along this tip-by resetting the calendar on my computer to the past, I could fool the worm into lying dormant until I could get online and download a fix. Woo hoo Randi!

Other than the dumb worm thing it's been a fairly cranky day overall. I'm catching a cold which makes me both feel self pity and also buy one of everything in the drugstore around the corner from work that offers to heal me or just make me more comfortable.

So not much in the way of blogging today. High hopes for tomorrow though.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I may not be posting much for a home computer is giving me a weird error message when online and shutting everything down. EVERYTHING everything. I'll run some diagnostics tonight when I get home but it isn't as though I know how to do much troubleshooting. So feeling cranky about it.

Monday, August 11, 2003

More on Ecuador. Remember, the tastiest guinea pigs are those fed on grass.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Lots of folks out and proud this weekend. It's Ecuadorian pride, apparently and my neighborhood is awash in the flag. This is how you demonstrate pride in big-ass flag tucked into the hood of your car, flags off every passenger window and antenna, a big flag attached to a mast on the trunk, tiny flags on the windshield wipers, and maybe a guy leaning out the window with a flag.

I have a flag tattoo, it's the Tennessee flag. "Tennessee" is as much ethnicity as I can claim...I'm white but I don't know what varietal I am. I kind of wish it wasn't red, white and blue. A guy at the pool on Friday asked me if it was an Aryan nations symbol. Sigh.

Also the Korean street festival a few blocks from my house. Folks might get excited about St. Patrick's Day, Puerto Rican Pride, gay festivals, but I didn't get the sense that people traveled from the metropolitan area to see the Korean street festival. Mostly older folks manning booths with younger, bored kids on their cellphones.

I went to the big Market Days street festival yesterday and today and I saw the greatest prop in the world. A man was carrying a Labrador puppy. Who doesn’t want to stop and scratch a puppy? Excellent choice.

The utilikilt people had a booth. If you’ve ever wondered why no one has combined the functionality of cargo shorts or carpenter’s pants with the freedom and breeziness of a skirt, your journey has ended. Never having worn a skirt, I’m skeptical. The website encourages us skeptics to not underestimate the power of “an un bifurcated garment”. Judging by the folks at the utilikilt booth, it’s mostly the leather folks who are enjoying the power of un bifurcation. “Bifurcate” is the sort of word that doesn’t get used very much in conversation and it seems like wearing a kilt is already enough pretension without using that sort of language.

To sum up; Labrador puppies? Yes. Kilts and their attendant lack of bifurcation? No.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Why blog? asked my friend Todd Y who lives in the sticks, bless his heart.


Well, partially because of what I said about my brother who creates independently of those who consume.
And partially because, when I google myself online, I don't find me.

I gotta say, I have no beef with the other Andrew Reynolds-es out there.

In a Tony Hawk video game, there is a scenario called Chicago and a skater named Andrew Reynolds. I can't make the link work but here's a url:
Anyway, Google shows you lots of fans saying things like "I scored 30,000 points with Andrew Reynolds in Chicago!"

There is also a book called The International Idea Handbook of Electoral System Design by "Andrew Reynolds, et. al". This seems really cool to me. Apparently this Andrew spent some time in South Africa since he has also written books about their political system(s). Since I named my blog "blogojevich" after our governor here in Illinois, Rod bl*A*gojevich (say "bluh GOY uh vitch") it pleases me that other Andrew Reynoldses out there, when not skating in Chicago are coordinating teams of folks doing deep thoughts on electoral systems. Go fellas.

This, then, is why I blog.

Today is the first of two North Halsted Street Market Days which is a street festival held in the neighborhood Chicago calls Boystown. This festival is oddly popular outside of Chicago...I was chatting up fellows in Toronto in advance of my trip later this month and some of them had attended, others just hoped to attend one day. Arent there any outdoor events with fried dough and sunglasses vendors in Canada?
I'm attending with a few guys from my book club and I'm hoping the rain holds off long enough so that we can see the band Super 8 Cumshot tonight at 9 p.m. They are loud, catchy and have a punk rock sensibility even though the lead singer is also the musical director for the Goodman Theater's annual A Christmas Carol.

As you might expect, the whole festival acts like one enormous, cruisy, outdoor bar. Which leads me, sort of, to The Pink Nun who was profiled on the cover of The Chicago Reader this week. Alas, the Reader doesn't post their stuff online except for a fee but the nun herself has an extensive site. She's a woman, trained as an artist who also describes herself as both a feminist and a Christian and she has a No Sex Outside Of Marriage position. It's oddly complex...I think of a no sex outside of marriage stance to be humorless and unpleasant and it's tough to reconcile that with a woman who has a pierced tongue, a pick up truck decorated with flames and who wears a pink habit while doing her pro-chastity raps she calls Hymen Rhymin'. The world seems more understandable when stereotypes remain stereotypical...a performance artist who sells Purity Panties and isn't being ironic takes some getting used to, I find.

Anyway, considering that this festival is largely about cruising and looking for sex, it was interesting to take a moment to think about the pink nun's belief that sex outside of marriage is demeaning and unhealthy. In The Reader piece, a young gay man points out that he can't get married so what is he to do? Her response was that, while she generally believes that God's plan is for men and women to be paired up in marriage, she wasn't sure about gay people and was not currently making any art to address that. Which I thought was a pretty decent, straightforward way to answer-she feels she can't offer an endorsement but she's not going to give someone a hard time. This shows a good sense of priorities...if you genuinely believe that heterosexual heavy petting is a real problem, as bad as, say, racism or global warming, then why waste your time pestering us sodomites?

The nun is friends with Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Jay runs a site called Revolution which features the world's smallest font but is otherwise devoted to applying a punk sensibility to a Christian ministry. Jesus was considered a drunkard who was friends with scum notes the site, adding that they want to emphasize the Jesus," that never gives up, the one that is always hopeful, the one that never demands his own way, the one that loves till the end." They never come right out and say "The Emo Jesus" but hey, if Jesus can't be emo, who can be?

I feel slightly ahead of the emo curve thanks to my brother. Josh has spent a good chunk of his life touring with his bands. They often don't play in bars but in people's houses at parties. I feel like talking about it with him is doing cultural anthropology, our worlds are so different. Deep down inside I don't think I'm well suited to riding in an old van for months at a time, hoping I have enough money to buy a can of beans but there is still a part of me that envies this about Josh. His bands and their scene seem very pure...not a purity of enforcement (here's a long list of what it means to sell out-don't violate anything) but a purity of wanting to make art because making art is satisfying in and of itself. No one yearns to get picked up by Interscope, no one dwells on their place in history, it's all about the present. In the present it's fun to make music together, in the present it's fun to zigzag the country in a van, it's the doing that counts.

Maybe I've got it wrong, like I say I'm observing from a long distance. But I did ask him to describe his genre for me several years ago..."punk" sounding under-nuanced. He told me they were emo. These days "emo" seems a little perjorative, at least from what I read in SPIN, emo is like the Hair Metal of hipsterdom. But my brother is old school emo, one of the original OEs so you better come correct.
Last night I finally got around to seeing the English TV show Metrosexuality. I am not a fan of Queer As Folk, not even the English version so I approached with trepidation. It's pretty much a delight, though. Extended-narrative television is my favorite dramatic form lately and I especially like it on DVDs rather than broadcast so this is a whole new media thing...watching THE SOPRANOS or 24 or SIX FEET UNDER in huge batches rather than doled out in little dollops as originally broadcast.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Dogs, like me, can be somewhat introverted at times. It's not that we don't find it stimulating to be with others of our own kind, it's just that if we don't also have opportunities to be quiet and reflective we get cranky and neurotic.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Today is the first day of the rest of my blog. I spent a decent chunk of my day trying to figure out why someone had a receipt from this company in an expense reimbursement folder.