Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Chicago's Mayor Daley basically takes no shit from anybody, at all, ever. And gives every indication that he does exactly as he pleases.

Weirdly, doing exactly as he pleases means declaring today to be Frankie Knuckles Day in Chicago. Frankie Knuckles moved to Chicago around 1977 and began DJing at the famed, gay, black disco The Warehouse on the West side of the loop. The street that runs next to the site of the former Warehouse has been declared to be Frankie Knuckles Way, earning it a little, brown sign that sits underneath the real sign.

It's hard to imagine what sort of political gain that could accrue to Daley...the gay, black, disco vote? Uh, no. He just did it.

Just as people the world over know Chicago as the birthplace of electrified blues, they know us as the birthplace of House. The Chicago record store Dusty Groove is always full of folks (okay Guys, it's a guy thing) of many nations, seeking the real deal, the house sounds.

I needed a note from my boss, I was going to leave all my stuff here at work, come back after tonight's DJ set in the south loop. I began to explain to my boss, an accountant, why I needed after hours access and launched into an explanation of what House music was.

"I know what House music is!" she said, startling me just as much as if she had said, "I like a little bondage, now and again."

It turns out back in the day, she worked for a small accounting firm which, in turn, did the books for The Warehouse.

"They need accounting too," she said, pleased at her unexpected role in a seminal point of a musical genre.

A friend and I went to see Frankie Knuckles spin. He had the final evening in Chicago's Summer Dance program, which I have blogged on and on about earlier so I won't bother again. Oh my goodness but that is a talented gentleman.

Knuckles, wearing a white cap (Knuckles still creases his bill, keeping it old school) with a "K N" in rhinestones in front rocked tonight's DJ set. He's almost as old as my dad which means one long-ass time lining up beats which I suppose explains why he didn't bother putting on any headphones to match beats until about 2 hours into his set.

The evening had it all-casual acquaintences hugging me as if we had survived mortar fire, queeny guys with enormous fans, a bouquet of helium balloons along with a friendly guy who explained that a dear friend of his had passed away after a 20-year battle with AIDS and that the balloons were here since the friend couldn't be and of course beats, beats, beats.

You know how there are some boring parts in most DJ sets? Tonight was not like that.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

In this week's copy of The Onion there is a great interview with Steve Earle. A little bit off roots rockin' country Americana goes a long way with me and while I don't own any of his music, nor do I care to go see him in concert, he does give a hell of an interview. After admirably NOT complaining about the cheez-whiz Nashville music scene he gives this gem:

The real problem with Nashville doesn't have to do with the music business but living in a place with this many fucking Baptists. People come here from New York and LA expecting it to be a safer place to raise their kids. I guess they're under the impression that it's easier to protect their kids from Baptists than gang members. That's not necessarily true.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

From the Birmingham, AL newspaper, regarding the suburb Leeds:

Leeds police forced a hairstylist who dressed up as Jesus and drenched himself in fake blood to come down off a 14-foot-tall cross he set up in front of his hair salon on Monday.

Patrick Conaty, owner of Running With Scissors hair and nail salon in downtown Leeds, got up on the cross about 2 p.m., his bald head fitted with a long black wig and his waist wrapped in a sheet splattered with red stains. He declared it "Salvation Awareness Day."

Workers from nearby businesses stepped outside to stare.

"I think he needs some clothes on," said Reda Wilson, who works at The Warehouse, a bargain store across the street. "I think he needs to get down."

Leeds police Officer Wendell Carter thought so too. He arrived at 2:30 p.m. and persuaded Conaty to come down off his cross, saying he needed a demonstration permit.

"We called City Hall for a crucifixion permit," Conaty yelled down with his arms outstretched on the eight-foot-wide crossbeam. He said a city official gave approval on the phone last week for his religious display, which included a sign in the hair salon window saying, "This is what Jesus did for you. What are you doing for Jesus?"

Police Chief Tony Hudson and City Manager Donnie Womble soon arrived on the scene. They noted that Conaty had blocked off parking spaces by tying a string from a tree to a potted plant to the back of a Ford pickup truck. "Blocking parking - not supposed to do that," Womble said.

"We ain't bustin' Jesus," Womble said. "We don't want to put Jesus in jail."

But city officials did make Conaty clean the fake blood stains off the new sidewalk, which Leeds had spent $381,000 to upgrade this year. Conaty, wearing a crown of thorns, poured bleach on the stains and used a push broom to clean them off. He said he got the blood from a party store.

as a completely off-topic observation...$381,000 for a sidewalk? Goodness.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Today, I turn my attention to the park district of Glenview, Illinois, just north and west of Chicago.

The park district has sponsored "Goldfish Day" on the last day of the swimming season each summer (this year that is August 15th according to Glenview) at their Roosevelt Pool.

Here's how it works-the park district releases hundreds of fish into the swimming pool. Children enter the pool and are permitted to keep all the fish they catch.

This year, a 12 year-old spoil sport named Kevin Pratt suggested that the district dump hundreds of plastic fish into the pool. Kids could then redeem the plastic fish for real fish.

Here's a Glenview community newsletter website from last year discussing the situation:

Each year, Glenview's park district hosts Goldfish Day – releasing hundreds of tiny fish into the chlorinated blue yonder of Roosevelt Pool and allowing local kids the thrill of catching and taking them home. Alas, resident Sharon Pratt discovered that sorrow can ensue. "We just finished burying our 16 goldfish caught by my kids at Roosevelt Pool," she wrote to the Glenview Announcements.

well, yeah. I guess swimming in chlorinated water and then being grabbed by excited children isn't the greatest thing for the fish.

Instead the park district is releasing the fish into 100-gallon tanks and letting the kids catch them there. The Tribune quotes Glenview Park District superintendent of leisure services, Bob Quill

"I think it is unfortunate," Quill said. "Certainly the event won't have the same flavor or excitement." adding, "I think there will be a lot of disappointed kids in Glenview."

In other evidence-that-the-Glenview-park-district-is-staffed-by-morons this community newspaper's site notes that the park had to cancel its "Goodbye To Roosevelt Pool" party due to poor ticket sales. The 65 year-old pool is being demolished at the end of the summer to make way for a new facility.

Diane Vragel, manager of marketing and communications at the park district, was unable to determine if the $75 ticket price accounted for paltry sales

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Trib is all about gross bodily fluids these days:

Gerry McGlothlin, 50, who voted for Keyes for president in 1996, said that although he was outside the banquet hall where Keyes made his announcement, Keyes stepped out to meet supporters, and McGlothlin said he wiped the sweat from Keyes' brow with a napkin so he would look better for TV news cameras.

Later Sunday, McGlothlin listed the napkin on eBay, saying he would donate any proceeds from the auction to the Keyes campaign. By late Monday, 68 people had bid on the napkin, and its price had risen from 8 cents to more than $242.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation conducts boat tours up and down the Chicago River, giving a unique perspective on our city's buildings.

From yesterday's CHICAGO TRIBUNE:

Witnesses said they had just begun the Chicago Architecture Foundation's 1 p.m. tour when they passed under the bridge and a cascade of a "brownish-yellow" substance rained on them. About two-thirds of the passengers seated on the upper deck of Chicago's Little Lady were soaked.

Passengers said they looked up to see at least one, possibly two charter buses rumbling above.
A volunteer tour guide at the boat's helm reassured passengers that they had been splashed with water. But the foul smell prompted suspicion.

There was "stunned silence initially. Then sort of this horrible realization as they began to smell themselves as to what happened," said Steedman Bass, 35, of Boston, who was a passenger on the boat but was not sprayed. "It was horrific."

Fortunately, one of the passengers was able to get the license plate of the bus. Turns out the bus belongs to The Dave Matthews Band.

What would you say?

Sunday, August 08, 2004

The Chicago READER had a cover story this week on John Bingham who is known in running circles as "The Penguin". He lives in Chicago and has written the books No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running and Marathoning for Mortals. Apparently he conducts running groups which emphasize a slow pace, lots of walking (his own gait inspired the "Penguin" nickname)

Interestingly, I am a new convert to going slow with lots of walking. A friend of mine is training for a marathon and she runs 3 minutes, walks 2, runs 3, walks 2. She can go for 20 miles like this. So I tried it using my mp3 a song, walk a song, run a song. And I can go for 60 minutes.

I'm down with the penguin approach, obviously, but what interested me about the article was the number of runners who are really angry about it. The gist of it is that the penguin and people like him are ruining running, marathons, the whole thing.

Which is weird for a few reasons...I mean, if someone wants to run a marathon in 4 hours, how the hell can you NOT praise them for continuing to do something for 4 hours, but secondly, aren't there still people finishing quickly? How does it ruin it for THEM? If there are people who are walking or crawling or whatever it doesn't slow down the winner, does it? Even if the overall average finishing time for marathons has gotten slower (as the article states) how is that bad for the speedy people? Hell, doesn't it make them seem even more speedy?

I was at a dinner party a few years ago and I got stuck across the table with a guy who was getting his PhD in something poetry related at the University of Chicago. I was struggling to come up with poetry-related conversation and at one point he mentioned that he hated that there are so many amateur poets out there.

I suggested that everyone should write poetry, they would probably benefit from the experience, but that I didn't necessarily want to read everyone's poetry. But hey, why shouldn't they write it? He wasn't buying my argument and we changed the subject. But really...if I write something lame about a sunset did I screw something up for Emily Dickinson?

Having lots of mediocre practitioners of something doesn't diminish the achievements of those who are skilled practitioners. It's interesting to think that something could be so fragile...running, poetry, that it could be ruined by people who merely enjoy rather than excel.

I have two thoughts about is that I wonder if you have to feel somewhat marginalized in order to worry about the mediocre folks. Running and poetry are somewhat fringey as it is. Do baseball fans feel like intramural leagues (or worse softball) ruin baseball? It's doubtful.

The second thought is this whole notion that if I say I'm a marathoner because I run a course in two hours or whatever a "good" marathon time is, you say you're a marathoner even though you run it in four hours...does the word "marathoner" become less meaningful?

I don't think so. But clearly some people do. And, weirdly, I feel like I got a bit of insight into the anti-gay marriage opinion.

If a male couple or a female couple can call themselves "married" then what does that mean about a heterosexual couple's marriage?

I would argue "not a thing" but then again I think that people should be encouraged to write poetry and to run, even if they suck at it, because it might make them happy.

Monday, August 02, 2004

a post-Alex weekend lull here, feeling listless, my evening of voguing with my dance instructor Boogie not totally breaking through the malaise.

"I want to teach y'all this arm stuff," Boogie explained, "because those people on Wednesday who are doing this..."

Boogie proceeded to demonstrate some amazing what-most-folks-call "Moonwalking" and she calls "gliding"

"...which is so BORING," Boogie continued, after completing some very un-boring looking moves, "and I want all of y'all to have FIERCE arm moves!"

even fierce arm moves later, I am here, getting caught up on the papers. Rosa Parks has some issues related to her bogus-ass case against OutKast for their song "Rosa Parks". She claimed in her lawsuit that the song went against her trademark rights.

What exactly are those trademark rights, anyway? When, say, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince made a song where the Fresh Prince himself bragged that he could beat Mike Tyson, did this eat into the pay-per-view? What is Rosa Parks selling that this song would fuck her over, exactly?

Anyway, her doctor has said that she is medically unfit to testify in her own defense and the judge had demanded that the doctor get a little more specific. Well Good.