We borrowed Our Friend Jo's car on Saturday to run some holiday related errands (OK, really it was to pick up a new TV but it will come in handy over Christmas.) We stopped at our local Dominick's supermarket to buy big bags of cat food and liter. On our way out I beelined for the $5 bottles of wine that are generally stacked just outside the liquor section but stopped short.
There, set up at a folding table, right next to the cheapest wines in the store, was Alpana Singh doing a book signing or something.
I froze. I wanted to shake hands with her, but I also wanted a cheapo bottle of wine and I knew I couldn't conscientiously do both. Because really how do you walk up to sexy sommelier Alpana Singh and say "Hi, wow I'm a big fan of your TV show and your blog" with a bottle of Turning Leaf in your hand? You just can't.
So I didn't do either. I flashed Ms. Singh a confused smile and rushed my cart off, away from the discount wines. and into a check out line.
I felt bad though. There she was with her hair all curly, looking really nice, (she's hot dude.) But no one was asking her to sign anything or talking to her. I really think they should have put her someplace less intimidating because I would have made my The Husband twiddle his thumbs for at least 15 minutes so I could talk to her about wine. Just not that close to the Yellow Tail bottles.
When I woke up this morning it was pitch black. I wake up early, but there’s usually a little bit of light bleeding in. This morning it was still night. I thought I might have dreamt the alarm going off so I rolled back over. But it went off again and I knew it was past time to get up. But why was it so dark?
During the night we had the first significant snow fall of the season and there was about a half inch of the white stuff covering the skylights in the bedroom. Down stairs wasn’t much better and it was much colder. I had hung our new, insulated curtains on Saturday afternoon and in addition to blocking the drafts they also do some significant light blockage. Good when you’re watching TV, not so good when you’re trying to get yourself going in the morning. My grogginess persisted well into the 8am hour.
It probably didn’t help that my morning cup of joe was actually a cup reheated from yesterday. I am mostly unmotivated on mornings like this and it just seemed easier, and you know, conserve-y, since there was still a cup in the bottom of the pot. Shrug. I don’t mind reheated coffee (occasionally.) It reminds me of the “American Style” coffee they served in Greece. I’m not sure if that’s a complement.
Our microwave is pretty slow these days, too. It took three minutes to reheat the coffee and then five minutes to get my oatmeal hot. And yes, I eat oatmeal, most of the time. OK, more like “occasionally.” It would be more often but someone accidentally bought me real oatmeal instead of instant oatmeal. This means I have to actually cook my oatmeal and I get tired of dirtying up pots every morning so sometimes it goes into the microwave. I like to jazz it up with fruit and nuts but I usually end up putting brown sugar or maple syrup in there too. By the end it is barely a healthful bowl of oatmeal. I haven’t resorted to chocolate chips yet but they are tempting, doubly so today with the chill in the air and flurries falling. By the time the coffee and oatmeal were cooked enough to actually ingest I was falling farther behind in my morning routine. Monday is a good day for falling behind though, my The Husband has the day off and I won’t be interrupted by his need to eat, ingest coffee or use the bathroom. So I tend to lollygag on Mondays anyway but I really pushed it this morning.
On top of the snooze button incident and the dying-microwave cooking time for breakfast I have found myself drawn into these goddamn vampire books that I have railed against. Stupid, teenybopper, vampire books. I hate them. I loathe them. They are stupidly full of stupid things and just plain stupid. I can’t stop reading them though. But, I’ll be forced to stop once I’m done with this second book because I REFUSE to buy any of them (these two are on loan from an enabling friend of mine.) And my friend doesn’t own the last two because she REFUSES to buy them in hard cover. We’re trying to stay ahead of this ridiculous addiction. By the time the last two in the series are in paperback we’ll hopefully have forgotten about these first two and just wont care. (Or maybe we’ll find them in a used bookstore.) So anyway, the snooze button, the microwave, the (stupid) vampire book and the snow. It was a slow morning and I ended up leaving about 15 minutes later than usual. No big deal. Although I did miss two buses as they breezed past in an inconvenient cluster so I ended up taking the train. Which I hate, because it’s crowded and there are a lot of stairs and they make me sweaty when I'm in my winterwear.
But I made it to work. And I sat at my desk, and I did my job. And I didn't fall asleep so I guess it all worked out. I mean, it's Monday. You can't expect too much from a Monday, can you?
When Barack Obama won the Democratic Party nomination earlier this year I made a promise to myself. Self, I said, if this guy gets elected to office you’re going to make some changes. He’s telling you to hope and change so listen up. And I did.
In an effort to heed the call to public service that Mr. President Elect has put upon us I signed up to be a mentor to a 6th grade girl on Wednesday evenings as part of an after-school program.
It doesn’t sound like a BIG change but hey, I haven’t voluntarily done anything since the theater company folded up its bag of tricks and that was like, five years ago. So there.
The program is affiliated with the Catholic Church, which is the first weird thing about it for me. I haven’t been affiliated with the Catholic Church for some time. The branch of the church that has its fingers in this pie is Opus Dei. Rationally I understand that Opus Dei is really all about finding ways in every day life to create a more personal relationship with God (at least that's what they tell me,) but all I can associate them with is the creepy albino dude from The DaVinci Code. So I was pretty surprised when the head of the program introduced the priest who runs the monthly Christian Fellowship seminar and hear confessions. He was young (ish, like not green out of seminary but not old and wrinkly either.) And he had a bit of sass mouth to him, which I always appreciate in my clergy. But, I think the biggest impression he left was how uncomfortable he was speaking in front of a room full of women. Which, you know, awww. But then that left me examining the women who are also part of the program.
For the most part the other mentors are all very familiar stereotypes. Mostly they seem to be former Catholic-school girls, like me. But, you know, the cool girls who never let you sit with them at lunch. Their hair is done, they wear slightly too much make up and are somehow still all wearing a uniform. Not the pleated skirt type, the social uniform. There were three women sitting in the back of the room all wearing different sweaters in the exact same shade of pink. They whispered to each other in that affected, nasal voice that always seems to indicate some form of privilege or entitlement issue and waved their fingers around when they spoke.
At least they were aware of their uniformity and sort of chuckled when someone tried to return a pen to one that had actually been borrowed from another. “It’s the OTHER girl in the pink sweater. But, you know, we know her so we’ll give it back for you.”
Standing around at the top of the stairs, waiting to meet our girls was a lot like standing around waiting to find out homeroom assignments. I was already nervous about meeting this girl. I really wanted her to like me, whoever she was. And, as the young girls came up the stairs to be paired up with their mentors that thought jumped to the forefront of my mind. There were a lot of girls and a lot of them looked really hip. Well, you know, still grade schoolers but "hip," wearing sharp jeans and puffy jackets. They had a lot of energy and were greeting their mentors with hugs and smiles. I knew I wasn't going to be getting the same treatment, just meeting my student tonight, but I didn't know what I was going to do if I was assigned one of these girls who was infinitely cooler than I ever was in grade school.
Turns out, that was not so much a problem. The girl to whom I was assigned seems very nice. She just turned twelve in September, she's in sixth grade and comes from a Polish-American home. Oh, and also, she's totally like I was at twelve, with the glasses and the awkward haircut. She needs help with math, reads two books at a time and, when reading, skips the words she doesn't know. If this isn't karma I really don't know what is.
She was all business and we dug into her math homework immediately. Luckily she's still only on identifying polygons so I was at least not stuck trying to relearn fractions like one of the other mentors. The time flew and at the end of the night she flew out the door with her father and not a single look back.
We don't meet again until after Thanksgiving but I'm hoping that when we return to the mentoring center I'm paired with the same girl for the rest of the school year. She seems nice, I'd like to get to know her, maybe help her out. Except with fractions. I'm just no good with fractions.
You know what i hate? When you send a question to a website and they answer you with gibberish or by cutting and pasting the same crap that was unhelpful on their site in the first place.
For example "Dear Target, what is your return/exchange policy on wedding registry gifts which we obviously have no proof of purchase information for?"
"Dear So-And-So thank you for writing. Here is the exact same information you didn't find helpful on our website. And, in case this wasn't unhelpful enough, here's a link back to the page on our website where I cut and pasted this information from. Thaaaaanks buh bye. Target."
And now I must leave you to pound my head against a wall.
When you wake up on your wedding day in New Orleans and have no voice with which to say your vows there's really only one solution: Head down to the French Quarter and find yourself some white magic. Of course, the magic you find in the French Quarter these days is dispensed by white girls with tribal tattoos and probably not as effective as something I might have found in a cemetery on a moonless night 100 years ago (if you believe in that sort of thing.) But was a fun idea and at that point I had nothing to lose. So a Yankee delegation descended upon The Quarter looking for some voodoo.
We went for a big name, Marie LaVeau's, and the woman behind the counter offered me a gris-gris and some advice, "Just relax honey." It was nice advice, I wanted to take it. I didn't feel particularly nervous though. I was a little wound up about throwing a giant party that night but really, not the type of nervous that would manifest itself in some Freudian inability to speak my vows. So, after the voodoo shop we went over to Pat O'Briens to try a little "Irish" cure.
The idea was to get a hot toddy. This is not something a person usually orders in a French Quarter bar though so it seemed like we were out of luck. We sat down anyway and after the waitress listened to my friends discussing what sort of liquor I should be doing a shot of, she took an interest. "Oh chile, I've heard of cold feet before but you take the cake!" And with that she went off to brew me some hot tea. The whiskey and tea made me all warm and tingly for a little while and then my cousin and I decided to head back to the hotel, where I had set up camp for the week.
Everyone spent the day trying to convince me to not try to talk, or even whisper. But it was useless. There was too much going on, too many people milling about and too many things to communicate. Most of my friends resorted to text messaging my phone but that didn’t work with my mom and after a bath and some loud music I resigned myself to croaking my way through the day and the wedding in hopes that not caring about it any longer would make the whole thing go away.
And then I took half a Valium.
The rest of the afternoon was considerably unremarkable, except for a few random panic attacks, (probably just should have taken the whole Valium.) My hair was done, my makeup was done, everyone made themselves really pretty and we all piled into the longest limo I have ever been in. Like a freakin football field I tells ya!
We got to the venue and I think that’s when I really started freaking out. Let me tell you, I am really tired of people asking me if I was/am nervous about marriage. I am not, not at all. The Husband and I have been living together for about four years now. This whole issue of “marriage” isn’t at all the daunting part of actually getting married. What really freaked me out was all of the make up and the hairspray and the fancy dress and the people staring at me.
You may be thinking to yourself “But Jen, uh you’ve been in theater for like ever. What’s up with this stage fright?”
First of all, I haven’t really been on stage since high school. Second of all, being backstage means you get to call the shots and no one knows you exist. Being the bride in a wedding means a lot of having to relinquish control of the event to other, better trained people, or you’ll go mad. Mad I tell you!! It also involves a lot of concentrating on where you are walking in high heels and ensuring your make up doesn’t run all the way down your face when the groomsmen make you cry by tearing up on the alter. (Thanks a lot you tough guys.)
It helped a lot to know that everyone up on that alter was a dear friend, including the officiant. He had been aware of my voice problems all day and tried to artfully angle his lapel mic in my direction during the ceremony. I think I had exactly enough voice left for a harsh little “I Will.” And then it was back to the croak/whisper I had been perfecting all day.
By that time it didn’t matter though. Half of the audience knew I had no voice and the other half thought it was super cute that I was too nervous to speak. Whatever they thought, people laughed through a lot of that ceremony. Which is how we like it.
The rest of the night is a blur of candle light and peoples’ mouths moving. I really have no recollection of what anyone said to me, or what I might have said to anyone else. So, you know, if we had some sort of deep, meaningful conversation at any point after 6pm that night, forgive me, it’s totally gone. I remember maybe five songs that I danced to. I had exactly four bites of food and one bite of cake.
When I came back to work the week afterwards one of the girls in my office asked if the most fun I had were the times I was in the bathroom and I realized that after we left the hotel I didn’t go to the bathroom again that night until the after-party. Is that weird? The girl at the office seemed to think so. I just never stopped moving. Except for that one time I had to stop to take off my shoes. I believe that was after the “New York, New York” kick line my cousins and I improvised. We’ll all try to start on the left foot next time I think.
Overall it seems like we know how to throw a good party. It helps that it was in New Orleans, City Most Likely To Have A Good Party. But it also didn’t hurt that everyone we know is totally rad and were complete champs about getting to know each other, party with each other and all around unselfconsciously be complete lunatics around each other. I would really like to go back and get married again and send my stunt double in to do the dirty work so I could be a guest. The strangest part about a wedding is how completely in the middle of everything you are but, at the same time, completely removed from everything going on around you.
All I really had time to do was catch a couple of quick words here and there and then move on either to the dance floor or some other social group. It wasn’t until the day after the wedding, and the days following our return to Chicago that I started hearing about the side dramas and all of the random shenanigans that, were it not for the wedding, I would totally have been a part of. I can’t really say that I’m sorry I missed all of that stuff. I did, you know, have plenty to keep me busy. It’s just weird. That’s all I’m saying. Weddings are weird.
Also weird? Pirates. But that’s totally a story for another time.
I totally shouldn’t be at work today.I can tell you right now that pretty much nothing is going to get done. In fact, if I leave tonight having remembered to rerecord my voicemail greeting I will consider it a productive day.
I also probably shouldn’t have bought tickets to this Ani DiFranco concert tonight. God knows I love Ani and her new album is pretty bitchin' but I bought the tickets without looking at the date and then I realized it was the night before we leave for New Orleans and figured “Oh well, by Monday night I’ll be all packed anyway.”
I didn’t stop to think about how neurotic I was going to get about stuff I may (or may not) have forgotten to pack. I didn’t think about being woken up at 3am this morning and then not being able to fall back asleep.
On the positive side, this concert means I don’t have to sit through a Saint’s game tonight so that’s good. And I will try to not let my brain explode all over the place while I over analyze the contents of my suitcases from afar or what a freaking hassle it’s going to be to have to get through the airport with 3 bags, a garment bag, The Fiancé and all of his crap. Do they still have skycaps?
I for sure had too much coffee this morning and I feel like I could eat a good sized piece of livestock right now despite having eaten my usual breakfast. And I somehow left the house forgetting to take out the garbage again, for like the 4th time in two days. Oh and also, I lost the list of last minute things I have to take care of today. It flew right out of my hand and into traffic. I could take that as an omen that I need to stop worrying about stuff I might forget or I could take it as an omen that I am totally doomed to forget something important.
Either way, can’t really do much about it right? I’m pretty confident I got most of it taken care of (except the take out the garbage thing.) And, even though I am super worried about turning my hair some unfortunate, Greg Brady color, I believe I will be forgoing the swim cap should I decide to take a plunge in the hotel pool this week. That’s what Clairol is for right? RIGHT?
Yeah, so over-caffeinated, under-sleeped, in desperate need of some hard core mental distractions but also not really willing to do any actual “work” today. What a mess I am.
You know, I was going to compose an entry about how I've lived in Chicago for so long it's totally making me crazy and who the hell would have ever guessed, when I moved here 10 years ago, that I'd still be here now?
And then I was going to complain about the government cronyism and the mismanaged city infrastructure and how completely annoying I find how slowly everyone here moves (Seriously people, "rush hour," look it up.) I woke up this morning with a hangover and I've been sitting here with it all day but I'm still in a fan-freakin-tastic mood. You know, some days, you wake up smelling roses even when you accidentally step in dog shit on the way to the bus stop.
10 years is a ridiculously long time. It's pretty much my entire, independent, adult life and I've lived it all here in this Fly Over State. And yes, it has been a rocky road. And also yes, this place does make me completely cuckoobananas most of the time. But, if I hadn't stuck it out, if I hadn't passively decided to not decide to move away I wouldn't be where I am today, which is 9 days away from getting married, among other places.
That's pretty cool.
I wouldn't have the friends I have now, friends that are family. Friends I share the good times with and help bear up in the bad times.
Friends who over serve me wine whenever I ask nicely.
I never would have become a stage manager, I wouldn't know half as much as I do about theater or have seen as many shows. I wouldn't have sang as much karaoke or developed such intense feelings about pizza and bagels (you don't know what you've got til it's gone.) And in the end I don't know if I could possibly be happier anywhere else.
Listen, don't get me wrong. I miss the hell out of New York. It's my home and I love it and every day, no matter how happy I am here in Chicago, I think about New York but the idea of moving back there scares the shit out of me. Moving anywhere, packing up, starting over, building a new life...it scares me.
But, someone told me once that change is good. I didn't want to hear it then but it turns out he was right (loathe as I am to admit that.) And change wont kill me. And what doesn't kill me makes me stronger.
But, you know, let's just take this whole thing one change at a time please.
For the second time within a week the Blue Line service along the Bucktown/Wicker Park corridor was suspended this morning with little explanation and even less alternative transportation to downtown provided.
With hundreds of people waiting at the Damen/North/Milwaukee corners for a 56 Bus, at least 50 waiting at the Hoyne/Milwaukee bus stop and who knows how many more stranded commuters streaming west in hopes of catching a bus before it filled up along the route I spent 45 minutes watching buses blow past us. Each driver pantomimed a clear message “Sorry, this bus is full. I would stop if I had room to squeeze anymore people on, but I can’t.” This would have been valid except that as the busses passed us it was plainly obvious that it was only the front half of the bus that was full because no one was willing to move back. There was plenty of room on those busses if the drivers had stopped and either insisted that his passengers move back or opened the back doors for us to get on. Instead we were forced to watch and wait as it got later and everyone started calling their offices to let them know they would be late.
Finally, at 9:22am, a full hour after I had arrived at the Six Corners looking to get on the CTA to get to work two busses made their way east on Milwaukee with no one in them. The first one had a Garage listed on its electronic signage even though there were obviously people on it. It did not even stop. The second bus tried to blow past us as well but hit traffic at the light. I ran to catch up with it and when he opened his doors the driver told me and the two other people who were still trying to get downtown that he had been instructed to run express until he got into The Loop.
We bullied our way onto this bus because when there are hundreds of people affected by a blue line stoppage it is unacceptable to have busses running “express” through a busy neighborhood. Not only is it unacceptable it is a completely irresponsible decision made on the part of the CTA. Do you even recognize how many people there are in a 15 block radius in Wicker Park/Bucktown that depend on the CTA every morning and every night to get them to and from work? Can you understand how angry we were at some faceless managerial decision that would leave us waiting for God knows how much longer until some other bus came along? Do you think we hang out at bus stops for our health? No, we have jobs to get to just as much as the employees of the CTA do. In the face of rising fuel costs, environmental impact of single rider cars and an over crowded city more and more citizens are dependent on the CTA to get them where they need to go. What is the matter with you people?
I am thoroughly disgusted with the management of the CTA system and I’m baffled by the fact that despite the CTA’s continual threats to raise fares, cut services and the infighting that prevents anything from being achieved that may possibly benefit the ridership no one seems to be able to guarantee us a transit system that works. A transit system that does not, in the span of a week, leave riders stranded twice with no information on why service has been suspended.
You guys really need to get your act together. This is a horrible display of mismanagement and is totally indicative of why the CTA keeps running up against problems getting measures passed. If you think that you can continue down this path of lackadaisical service and still raise fares you are going to have a city-wide riot on your hands and you will deserve every headache and every indictment thrown at you.
Good luck with all that. Jennifer Maravegias Bucktown Resident
So, the other night I came home from a seeing a show around midnight and turned on the T.V. At that time of night, on a Friday, it's hit or miss on television but I pay for cable and I expect a return in my late night viewing options.
I shuffled through my options on the bottom of the screen while something inconsequential played on low volume (it was probably Sportscenter. Blah blah blah.) Channel 18 is American Movie Classics on our cable and I feel like I should be able to depend on AMC for a good selection of movies. I should, shouldn't I?
Apparently I really can't because otherwise Pinata: Survival Island wouldn't have been what I found on Friday night.
Now listen, I'm as big a fan of Nicholas Brendon as the next Buffyophile (I didn't even make that word up) but Pinata: Survival Island is still quite possibly the stupidest movie I've ever seen. Troll 2 not withstanding. I contend Pinata is barely a movie and is certainly not a "classic," even if they tried to pass it off under their "New Classics" branding. Give me a break AMC!
I can't even say I stayed awake for the whole thing, although I did try. It was just too ridiculous to keep my eyes open for. It was pretty funny though. The evil pinata stalking the nubile, young frat boys and sorority girls through the uh, Caribbean Island's (?) swath of jungle. Ripping apart their dingies and cutting himself lose from his tether to...You know, I don't even know what this thing did. There would be a wide shot of this menacing, CGI beastie and then it would be quick cuts of kids screaming and blood spattering across the landscape. I have no idea how this thing attacked. It might have bitten and chewed people. It might have ripped them apart with it's ugly, red club-like hands. Or, it could have blown toxic boogers all over its victims. The filmmakers obvious just didn't have the money for those kind of effects.
Nicholas Brendon did have a tattoo on his bicep though. That and the cutoff sleeves on his tee-shirt were pretty much the only thing that differentiated this character from Xander Harris. He maybe didn't get thrown into as many walls in this movie. But, I suspect that was only for lack of walls.
Sadly, I fear that this is all I will ever know about Pinata: Survival Island. This is not a movie I am going to seek out, ever again. I wont even recommend it to my friends. I cannot in good conscious tell anyone "Oh, yeah! That movie was hilarious!" Because really, it wasn't. It just made me sad because it was on AMC. And if we're calling that an American Classic I fear for our future.
It’s really no secret that The Fiancé and I are hopeless procrastinators but that sort of thing doesn’t really get a chance to catch up with you until you find yourself one month away from your wedding with a list of things to get done.
I’ve already checked off all of the big, important stuff, but the details are killin’ us right now. And frankly I’m over it. Let’s just have this party and be done with it.
But weddings don’t work that way (apparently.) Everyone’s gotta know everything about everything. By everyone I totally mean my mom whom I suspect is beginning to stew in her own juices up in New York. I suspect that because, as usual, I am the one who put that pot on to boil. To be fair, I’m pretty sure she’s been on simmer since I left New York ten years ago. But that’s another post for another time. Deciding to get married in a place that is completely out of mom’s jurisdiction did not help this situation at all. A dutiful daughter totally would have gotten married in her home town and let her mom shower her with rose petals and hire a gang of wandering minstrels to follow her around on The Big Day.
This was not the route I chose to take.
I like New Orleans. It’s a great place to have a party. It’s really far away though so I can’t poke at vendors in person the way I used to poke at directors/actors/designers when I was stage managing shows so it’s a bit of a job keeping everyone on task.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’m the one having trouble staying on task. I’ll spend 20 minutes checking out limo prices and then get sidetracked by the need for wedding jewelry. My emails to my girlfriends have been erratic unfocused which, while I love me some stream of consciousness, is not usually my M.O. Every day I am making new lists to replace the lists of yesterday and while some people get stressed out and forget to eat I get stressed out and obsess over food. So, over the course of the day my thoughts may read something like this:
Oh crap I have to get those wedding favors picked out….What time did we say we wanted the ceremony to begin?....I wonder if they have a good mirror in the ready room at Rosy’s….I have to make a list of people coming to the rehearsal dinner so we can send them directions….damn, I could eat a pizza right now…..what about that necklace, that’s pretty…what was I saying about a pizza?...Damnit, work keeps getting in the way of all my wedding planning!...I’ll go out at lunch to find a sign in book….Nuts, I have to get those photos printed….Oh man I hope the food at the wedding is good….How are we going to get a bus to the reception hall mom?...Wont someone give me a slice of pizza?!
You get the picture.
My brain is as jumbled as my email inbox right now between wedding planning, election worrying and actually, you know, having to WORK occasionally during the day I have a hard time turning my brain off at night and when it does shut down, it’s gone. I mean I sleep like the dead when I sleep these days, which is cool because I usually sleep poorly. But, it’s freaking me out because I've been having some crazy dreams lately. Not that I can remember any of them two minutes after my alarm clock goes off but I do know I’m out of breath after a lot of them.
So yeah, weddings make people and mom’s crazy. Learn this lesson childrens. With 30 days to go I’m fairly certain my brain won’t explode before we get down to New Orleans but who knows what’s going to happen once we do get there.
To hear the democrats tell it, electing them to office in November will guarantee an idyllic wonderland where all of our country's wounds are healed and we can host some sort of global beach party without everyone trying to blow each other up. It's like some wonderful fairy tale in their rhetoric. Like a cool glass of lemonade after a forced march through the desert.
It's hard to plan big in the way Obama is asking us to after the past eight years. We've tried to plan big and it failed. We've tried to plan small and those plans failed too. I feel like everything has failed. Every system we had in place has been broken, every law we've had to protect us has been tossed aside like so much scrap paper. This has been a rough eight years. There's been a lot of fear and a lot of hate mongering. And it's really difficult to just turn around after a week of speeches and confetti and say "Sure! I believe again! Let's fly to Never Never Land Barak!"
But I'm trying.
I know there is no perfect system. And I know that for all of his promises and slogans, electing Barak Obama is not going to be an instant fix for all of our woes both national and international. I know this is not going to be the Camelot his speech writers are painting for us. But it's got to be better than what we've had, than where we've been.
And even if all of his big plans turn into little plans at least I can feel good about those plans. And even if it takes three years instead of three months to make the kind of headway into reform that this country so desperately needs, at least there will be headway. And instead of feeling like we're falling backwards maybe we can finally feel like we're taking steps forward. As a country we were never meant to go backwards.
I don't do a lot of political pontificating here or anywhere really. I am not, generally, that well informed and I will defer to those who keep themselves politically educated . But this year I don't care anymore. I am maybe not the most politically minded person and I will not engage you in a debate even if you ask me nicely but this year I'm standing strong for the democrats. I'm standing strong for the Obama/Biden ticket. And if you ask me why I might not be very eloquent in my reasoning but in my heart and in my gut it's less about change I CAN believe in, it's about change I NEED to believe in.
*Please note: I’ve been working on this piece for about 3 months now and intend to edit it to include pictures of the titular Hideous Edifice but my camera has been broken and I just got it out of the shop.
The neighborhood we live in used to be fairly unassuming and functional. It shares a border with that hipper, edgier, artsy neighborhood where I used to help run a theater company. And, even in its prime, that neighborhood was pretty unassuming too. A blend of working class, artist and immigrant collectives, Wicker Park and Bucktown were the proving ground for Chicago’s emerging artist scene in the 90s when I moved here. No one but the broke artists really wanted to bunk in with the predominantly Hispanic and Polish working class who dominated the area back then. Rents on retail and work/live loft spaces were cheap and the streets were littered with buskers, itinerant hippies, skate punks and artists peddling wares out of abandoned doorways and backs of trucks. Sure, it was a little dangerous to walk around in the wee small hours back then but when else were you going to get free pickings from the donation boxes left outside the Salvation Army? Or stumble on an after-party that you were too drunk to go to but also too drunk to say no to?
There were liquor stores, convenience stores, coffee shops, thrift stores and used bookstores where you could get a reasonable facsimile of a cup of coffee for a buck while you browsed. (OK, to be fair the bookstore is still there but the employees are way more precious these days.) There was also Furniture Row, which is still in the last throes of being dismantled in favor of chic boutiques and upscale shoe stores. You could pretty much furnish your entire apartment for less than $1000 as long as you didn’t plan on any of the furniture lasting much longer than 2 years which probably worked out OK for a lot of people who found themselves priced out of area apartments after the millennium turned.
You could find prostitutes for all discerning tastes at any hour and Horchata flowed like water. There were no lines to get into The Double Door (unless someone dropped a dime on The Stones playing a secret show) and North Community Bank was the only stash hole for your money.
Ten years later it’s a whole different landscape.
First of all let’s talk about North Avenue, which has been overrun by the Japanese boutique chain, Akira. To be fair, I have no idea if it’s Japanese. I know it’s stupid and expensive and takes up way too many store fronts. Plus, if I keep thinking its Japanese I can continue to use my Godzilla allegory of how it’s taking over the whole damn neighborhood. Really though, how many perfectly good stores have to go out of business to make you happy Akira? Do we really need an Akira, Akira Men, Akira Shoes, Akira Accessories, Akira Men’s Shoes, Akira Men’s Accessories? And let’s not forget about the curtain draped storefront you use as a staging ground. Take your $350 jeans and scram you retail monster!
I suppose I shouldn’t complain about Piece Pizza. If it hadn’t gotten so popular and become such a beloved Yuppie/Hipster hangout it would probably be shuttered right now. Plus, there’s just no way a pizza place that good with such astonishing micro-brewed beer was going to stay under the radar for long. We had a good run though, a good few years when it was still a secret gem in a dodgy neighborhood. We could get free pitchers when the owner spotted us and we knew most of the wait staff. Now it’s just another player in the Friday Night Traffic Jam that makes me not want to leave my house. Luckily, they deliver now so I don’t even have to bother with the over served assholes who crowd the bar.
I can, however, totally complain about what happened to Damen Avenue.Years ago I attended a workshop by an Urban Planning Group which discussed the intended path of Chicago’s gentrification efforts. I sort of laughed it off when they said that the end goal was to have more neighborhoods that look like Old Town. Who the hell wants more Old Town neighborhoods? No one who lives there can afford to shop their neighborhood stores. No one who shops the neighborhood stores lives there and neither group of people cares to stop and give the time of day to each other. Piffle I said. No way was this going to happen to Wicker Park/Bucktown. The Artists would never let that happen. Oh but they totally did.
I feel like it all started with The Real World Chicago but that was just the beginning of the end. A year or so later when my theater company got priced out of the space we were renting (stupid, rotten, shitty nogoodnick slumlord asshole…ahem, I digress.) There were already signs that the neighborhood was on the Gentrification Upswing. First of all; all of the hookers were gone. Second of all; you could count on one hand the number of months it took for storefronts to turn over. Something would open in April and be closed by August. Another store, with a similar look would open in September and not make it through the winter. Spaces were getting pricier but there weren’t enough shoppers coming in to keep these newer, trendier stores afloat. Fluevog somehow abides however. Don’t look at me, I think those shoes are ugly AND overpriced. But, back to Damen Avenue:
Someone, somewhere totally flipped a switch and sent Damen Avenue reeling back to 1987 while I was out of town one weekend I think. All of a sudden walking home from the train is like walking through Roosevelt Field Mall trying to steer grandma towards Spencer’s Gifts. Except I would maybe be OK if someone opened a Spencer’s Gifts in the neighborhood, is that wrong?
Marc Jacobs was first and can someone please tell me why he’s trying to sell me cashmere in the middle of the summer? It ain’t gonna happen Marc. Next was the BCBG next door. All of the fashions and window dressings are straight out my less than illustrious junior high days –neon, simple geometric shapes and lots of cut outs. WTF? Who buys this stuff? Ohhhh right that would totally be YOU Ms. Double-Wide-Stroller-with-a-Venti-Mocha-Latte, and your ear attached to your cell phone. You are far from your North Shore McMansion. Scram.
Now there is also a LeSportSac store (people still buy those?) and the latest addition is – and I am not even kidding – a Dairy Queen/Orange Julius.
Look, I am not one to disparage a nice dish of ice cream by any means but I remember when every other door on this street opened into an art gallery. I remember when you could go dancing at Danny’s on a Thursday. I remember when you could go eat at a restaurant in the neighborhood and not need a reservation on a Tuesday night. I remember being the only table in Silver Cloud and that shit just does not happen anymore.
And I bought an Orange Julius the other day for the first time in probably 20 years (shut up, I’m old. I know.) It didn’t really taste very good which made me sad.
I know I know….Blah blah blah it’s inevitable. Stop complaining about it. It’s just as much your fault as anyone else’s you crazy white girl. But it’s not. I didn’t move into this ‘hood with expectations of better shopping. I didn’t buy a condo a block from a Catholic Mission and then complain about the “undesirables” who gather on the church steps. I didn’t come into this neighborhood and decide to destroy landmark buildings in favor of granite counter tops and Jacuzzi bathtubs. I moved into this neighborhood because it had flavor. It was real. It was, occasionally, very dirty and a very dangerous but it wasn’t all painted in ecru and masked with crown moldings like it is now. Do you know how obnoxious it is to feel like you have to get dressed up to go to the corner store for milk? Do you know how even more obnoxious it is when the corner store is a fancy food market where the milk costs more than $2 for a ½ gallon?
My The Fiancé, who grew up in a bad neighborhood and was not in Chicago during the heyday of Wicker Park/Bucktown doesn’t understand what I’m complaining about. He prefers the safe walk home and the fancy grocery stores. I can’t say I mind being able to buy a nice bottle of wine on my way home but I object to the total obliteration of the neighborhood feel. I am all for gentrification at a reasonable rate but this proliferation of international chains and body waxing salons is ridiculous when you stop to consider how many locally owned businesses have gone out of business in the last three years.
It just makes me mad and depressed that the wonderful little neighborhood I have called home for over 5 years has taken on the look of every other retail neighborhood in every other city, in every other state all over the country. I used to like living here because it was totally cool in its total uncoolness. Just like I used to love hanging out at Piece, and Danny’s, Las Palmas and The Artful Dodger (RIP) before the overdressed masses discovered all of these places. Now, when I go out into the neighborhood I might as well be anywhere. And if I might as well be anywhere, what am I doing here?
K: I got your text this morning. Well, that's stupid that they're not running the train (out of O'Hare.) Does this make things extremely hard for you?
Me: No i'm totally cool. (Your) hotel is at Rosemont and that's where the trains are stopping. Track work. Nothing functions properly in Chicago, this city is such a wreck...I'm just going to head your way when I get off of work at 6:30pm and I'll call you when my train is getting close to the hotel.
K: Yay!! I'm doing some housework and watching a documentary on home births. Yikes. I'll tell you all about it later.
Me: Home births? What about dolphin births? Have you heard about those? Birthing with dolphins? I don't think i'd trust a dolphin to deliver my baby. No thumbs ya know.
Have you seen this yet? It's brilliantly funny. Funnier than most of the TV shows up for Emmys and I don't even mind all of the singing! Why? Because it is so hysterically funny and a little bit sad on so many levels I cannot count them all.
So, while you can totally watch Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog for (gloriously) free on the website, what you should reaaaaaallly do is pay the $3.99 to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. 'Cause, remember that writers strike way back in last TV season? Yeah, this is the sort of thing they were arguing about. The viability of online content.
Would that my home internets were working (curse you AT&T and all of your technical support minions!) I would gladly pay for all three episodes, and then pay for them again when/if Joss Whedon decides to release them on DVD (please please please please?)
Instead I'm watching the weather out of the corner of the window that I can see from here in my cube. It's going to rain again soon I think.
I'm reading The Jane Austin Book Club right now and I suspect it would be more interesting to me if I had ever read any Austin with any amount of seriousness. But, I've never been an Austin fan. I find her comedies of manners boring and hard to follow. At least the characters in this book about the book club reading Jane Austin books are more interesting but I can't fathom hanging out with people who would join an exclusively Austin Book Club.
It's been a fairly random week. To wit, I actually cooked dinner last night. And that NEVER happens. I didn't do too bad, considering I haven't actually cooked a dinner in like a year. How bad can you screw up pork chops I ask you?
June, though, is a busy month. Birthdays and visitors and good weather finally arriving (torrential rains and flooding rivers being the exception this year.) On top of the usual mishegas, we're closing in on 3 months to the wedding and preparations are being stepped up.
I went to Barneys and had my make up done. It scared both myself and my The Fiance. But I did get lots of awesome free stuff and, you know, someone poking at my face for about an hour. Plus, it was pretty priceless getting to wander around the expensive part of Chicago. Me and Amy hobnobbing with the goobersmoochers looking all ritzy and overly made up.
And we finally booked a DJ. But, we have to provide him with a full playlist so yeah...4 hours worth of songs coming up. Requests anyone? And no, there will be no hokey pokey.
In other news, there is no other news. I am working on a longer, more coherent piece about the gentrificational demise of my neighborhood and will post that as soon as I figure out how to take out all of the cursing and get my camera fixed so I can post photos of the ugly buildings they keep putting up.
I'm not sure which is the greater evil on the part of Bank of America: That they've completely overtaken my neighborhood or that they hired Kiefer Sutherland to do voiceovers for their commercials. Because, in so much as I'd pretty much do almost anything he told me, having Kiefer tell me to bank with BoA almost makes it palatable.
I worry sometimes that I lapse into Aramaic or some other dead language at home. Somehow when I say "I'd just like a chicken breast and spinach for dinner tonight please, honey." It translates to "I'd like a pile of macaroni and cheese with bacon, cheddar and spinach in it. And a piece of chicken if you think to defrost one." Pro: It tastes really good. Con: It tastes really good. (Damnit)
Poorly produced anti-smoking PSAs really just make me want to smoke more.
No matter how hard I try to make my salad taste like pizza it will never, ever actually be a pizza. And that makes me sad at lunch. And also after lunch. And sometimes at around 10:30am when I start thinking about lunch.
Although, I have to say, a good splash of pink grapefruit juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper does make for a good salad dressing.
Frozen pizza will never ever ever be good for me but I just don't care.
As much as I could use a million dollars I just don't think either of our cats would put up with a flight to Los Angeles. Scratch that, I don't even think they could stand a trip downtown. Although the Allegro is preeeettty fancy. I bet Beatrice would like that hotel.
Chicago's over-crowded mass transit system would benefit from some horizontal bars for people to hold onto in train cars.
The world is run by monkeys and I am just a pawn in their retarded game of chess that they play on a Monopoly board. Get your hands off me you damn, dirty apes.
They are taking far too long to build out the Dairy Queen/Orange Julius store down the street. How do you build a "green" store anyway? Are they waiting for solar panels or perhaps wind-powered generators to install on the roof? I don't care. I want my Orange Julius!
We might be in way over our heads on this "sure we'll provide you with a complete play list for the wedding Mr. DJ" thing we agreed to. Sigh. Better that than doing The Macarana in a wedding dress I guess.
So I had a couple of wisdom teeth out on Friday, top and bottom on the left side. My Maxillofacial Surgeon (fancy name for Dentist With Scary Instruments & Good Drugs) offered to take out the ones on the right side as well but I figured two gaping holes in my mouth were enough for one week, thank you very much.
I have a slightly irrational fear of dentists. That admission may come as a surprise to some of you, but probably not. I'm pretty tough but there's something about being immobilized while someone sticks their hands in my mouth sends me into fits of anxiety and hyperventilation. Also, it hurts. Possibly even worse than the pain are the noises that happen IN YOUR MOUTH. It totally freaks me out. Man.
Anyway. This whole extraction thing wasn't as bad as it could have been. For one thing I totally paid out of pocket for them to put me to sleep. And that's the pretty much the only reason it wasn't so bad. They put a lovely, vanilla flavored nitrous mask on me. We made a joke about my conveniently placed tattoo and that's all I remember until my friend Megan was standing next to me about an hour later.
It's not like it's painless though. They sent me home with two types of painkillers, some antibiotics and a double-sided sheet on post-op instructions. Allow me to paraphrase:
1. Take pain pills when the ones you took before start to wear off. 2. You wont be able to chew anything so just don't try to eat anything substantial for a while.
The one actual instruction that I really enjoyed though was: 3. Do not make any important decisions. You may change your mind tomorrow.
It's funny because it's true.
I spent most of the weekend doped up on pills and eating pudding cups. I watched/nodded off to at least 5 movies and I couldn't even tell you now what movies they were. I was completely out of action on Friday after the surgery and then on Saturday I felt OK. I went over to a friend's house and helped with the spring gardening and then went to a variety show some friends of mine were performing in. When I woke up on Sunday though, I discovered that they weren't kidding about peak pain and swelling happening 48 hours after surgery. I stayed in bed and dosed myself all day. Blerg. It sucked! No eating on Sunday for Jen. Except for, you know, a couple of pudding cups. I am now pretty officially sick of pudding cups. Not completely though. I'm probably going to eat one later.
It still hurts. Not as badly as it did Sunday, or even yesterday but it's definitely sore. I ate some chicken for dinner tonight though so that's a plus. I'm looking forward to the time when I can enjoy a nice, crisp green bean again. Ahhh vegetables. Who knew I'd miss them though? Today, I was at the farmer's market and the first asparagus of the season were out and they were so lovely looking. But, I know it's going to be at least until the weekend before I can even think about chowing down on some tenderly steamed veg. It will be a good day.
I'm glad those two teeth are gone. When they showed them to me after the extraction I had to admit, they were pretty rotten. I wanted to save them, perhaps as a lesson to any future children. "Look, see? You better brush your teeth. This is what they'll look like if you don't!" My The Fiance was totally grossed out by them and threw them away when the only energy I could muster as protest was "mlaarggfff." So, they're gone now. But trust me, they were diiiiisgusting.
So here's the wisdom I gleaned from this experience:
Floss. When, at the age of 18 or so, your dentist suggests you have your wisdom teeth out, do it.
Chicago - It was revealed last night that lesser known member of The Wu-Tang Clan, U-God (born Lamont Jody Hawkins) is actually the directorial talent behind one of the decade's most celebrated films, "The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." While sources remain unverified at this time, U-God was the topic of extensive conversation at the Fakeo De Cinquo De Mayo Party. And was mentioned in relation to the film. So, that has mean something, right?
U-God has rarely been spotted outside of his secret Shao Lin Chateau in recent years. Although absent from the party he received an unprecedented amount of attention. In an attempt to revitalize the rap artist's career, talks proceeded to sign him onto an endorsement deal for Burgerritos (TM) (C) (Patent Pending).
Burgerritos are projected to be this summer's hot, new backyard barbecue menu item. A grilled cheese burger, topped with black bean dip, guacamole, salsa and rotel dip is then lovingly swaddled in a flour tortilla before being enjoyed.
Some of the key components to the Burgerrito are the American Cheese slice and the rotel dip. However, the ingredients of said dip were not made available for publication.
Party goers are said to have enjoyed an excess of Burgerritos and they were universally proclaimed as "the fucking shit, dude!"
Once a deal with U-God is settled, expect an early summer role out of the product. Which will be available anywhere someone finds a bag of flour tortillas in their fridge underneath the chopped meat they're about the throw on the grill.
You guys I’m totally going to be a married lady in six months! Exactly six months from right…NOW my The Fiancé and I will be standing up in front of a room full of people making the whole thing official. It’s all so wonderful and nerve wracking at the same time. There are so many pieces of the puzzle that is a wedding that are starting to come together and so many pieces that we have yet to even recognize right now. It’s overwhelming and now I know why all of our productions needed a stage manager! Keeping all of the odds and ends all together seems ridiculously impossible. My life is a series of lists right now. Everywhere I go, if I’m sitting still for more than two minutes I’m devising another list of things that need to get done, things that need to be bought, people with whom we need to follow up before these last six months slip away from us much like all of 2007 seems to have slipped away.
I may have lost track of the year but 2007 did teach me some things that I love, and some things that I loathe about this whole getting’ hitched par-tay we have coming up.
Pro: Oooh! Gifties! Con: Feeling guilty about all of the people who didn’t get wedding gifts from me because I was broke at the time of their nuptials.
Pro: Pretty, pretty dress! Con: Working out and dieting to look pretty in the pretty, pretty dress. I’ve never been so bored by salads before. There is seriously a week of nothing but burgers, fries, wings, beer and pizza six months ahead of me here.
Pro: PARTY! Con: Planning. Even a “planner” like me gets tired of the constant vigilance it takes to ensure vendors and suppliers are all on point. Where’s MY stage manager??
Pro: Happily Ever After (!) Con: The walk down the aisle to get there. I am only slightly terrified by the idea of all eyes on me. There, I said it. Mock me if you will, but there is a reason I went into management and not acting and the reason is rushing up on me right now. So, you know, if anyone catches Amy giving me a discreet push down the aisle it has nothing to do with doubts and everything to do with ALL OF THE EYES! THEIR EYES! STOP LOOKING AT ME! And my knees totally buckling out from underneath me.
Pro: New Orleans rocks. Con: Now all we have to do is get everyone we know down to New Orleans. Actually this isn’t that much of a con cause, you know, it IS New Orleans. And, even if you aren’t into gambling, drinking, eating seafood or generally having a great time in a beautiful, historic city, it’s hella cheaper than trying to get everyone to New York or even Chicago. Plus, did I mention the gambling, drinking, eating seafood and generally having a great time? Yeah, you can do that there.
All in all, I suppose we are in a pretty good place six months out. And I think my biggest challenge will be to not worry myself unto death about all of these things over the next 183 days (183 days?? I like the sound of 6 months way better. I should maybe learn to avoid theknot.com or embrace it wholly because this half and half thing I’m doing right now is going to make me crazy I think.) Because it’s the over thinking that is a) part of my genetic make up and b) what will totally make me insane.
I think I’m ready for my drinky bachelorette party now. Can we do that? I need a drink. 183 days? WTF?? Seriously TheKnot, what are you trying to do to me here?
OK, listen up you guys there's something bugging me and I think it's time we opened up a discourse about it. There's a lot going on in the wide world these days; war, famine, genocide, political pandering. It's not like there's a shortage of drama out there. And yet, we seem bent on creating drama where there isn't any, seeing monsters in closets where there are only clothes.
I read a lot. And a lot of what I've been reading lately has really gotten my ire up. It's a pretty useless waste of energy considering I don't know any of the people who have been writing these histrionic things. Nor do they seem like the type of people who can be easily persuaded to see opposing points of view. They seem more like the type of people who project their own mental and emotional issues onto situations where they may, or may not have any basis in actuality.
Poor LeBron. They just called him a giant ape! What the hell?
LeBron James is a badass basketball player. When he dunks a ball that thing stays dunked, dude. He is big and strong and yes, he is a black man. I know that's an oddity on the cover of Vogue but is it really helping matters by putting racial overtones on it? Personally I don't see anything wrong with this photo. I think I would have more of an issue if they put him in a trendy suit and had him sipping tea out of a flowered mug.
This photo of LeBron embodies the spirit he brings to the game. If I could play basketball like LeBron James I would probably roar more often too. But some people out there have raised a ruckus and turned it into the dreaded R Word. Racism. Really? Because I'm pretty sure that if you look at this photo and the first thing you think is "LeBron James is a giant, black ape menacing that pretty white lady" it says more about you than it does about Annie Leibovitz's photo. Gisele Bundchen sure as hell doesn't look menaced in this picture.
People, there is no reason for this hypersensitivity. Like I said, there are enough real world outrages out there for everyone. We don't need to invent offenses. In fact, the more of these things we pull out of left field, the less we pay attention to the real racism facing our society.
So, can we stop talking about this already?
The other thing that's really been bothering me lately is the state of feminism. It's no secret that I've always had issues with the word "feminist." I think that damn word got hijacked somewhere around the second wave because I don't really feel as though modern feminists have a sane grasp on it.
Feminism is about having strength in your own opinions, make decisions independently and knowing that you don't need to depend on relationships to define yourself as a person. Conveniently these are also the criteria for being a, you know, regular old adult human being. Which, in the beginning, was what feminism was all about. Equality. Starting unfounded witch hunts and labeling things as "misogynist" doesn't actually make it so. Nor does it help the cause at all.
Which is why this (via pajiba.com and galleyslaves) made me so mad. I'm just going to come right out and say it: This bitch is fucked up.
And I'm not being a misogynist. I just think she's insane. OK that's maybe a little harsh. She obviously has "issues" and has found a convenient screen on which to project the hell out of them.
Look, I like Joss Whedon. I'm not going to go so far as to proclaim him the next feminist messiah or anything but I'm pretty sure he's not the wife raping, misogynistic monster this lesbian feminist has made him out to be. It is also distressing that she seems to have a lot of people agreeing with her. However, she also seems to have a pretty strict comment blocking policy so we'll never actually know what her readers think. I do know the pajiba.com commenters are having a field day with it.
Reading this makes me wonder what they're teaching in college these days. But, then I remember the Women's Studies classes I took in college and how short lived that curriculum was for me. I almost got kicked out of my Women In Literature class for disagreeing with the professor. I have always disagreed on a fundamental level with a lot of the ideas espoused by the radical feminist sect.
I know that the womyn, wimmin and women of this world are constantly struggling on various levels all across the planet to be held in a greater regard as human beings. I know that there are atrocities committed against women that have been ongoing for generations. As far back as the human language goes, in some cases, if not farther. But, I also know that identifying everything as part of an oppressive, patriarchal conspiracy and venerating women just for the sake of being women isn't going to help anyone.
I recognize that there is validity to a lot of feminist theories. But this contrived piece of thought has little basis in Joss Whedon's actual body of work. This is all about the author and her personal experiences as she filters them through characters on a television show. Which is fine, it's her journal, she can write what she wants. But I still think she's way off base with this analysis.
I guess that's the blessing and the curse of the internet. Free to write, free to read.
...But I digress...
I'm really just tired of every interest group trying to put me on high alert for every shiny thing that catches their eye. You dilute the issues and the message you are trying to convey if everything falls under the banner of your cause. By making irrational statements you invalidate any rational statements you make.
In the case of the Vogue cover, disseminating the idea that it is racist perpetuates racism and is more racist than that photograph could ever be. You're telling us to see it in a racist light and that is irresponsible journalism at the least.
I'm not sure which is worse actually - perpetuating racism or devaluing rape by suggesting that all male-initiated sex is rape, as the author of that journal does.
1. Johnny B Good – Chuck Berry 2. Superstition – Stevie Wonder 3. Hey Jude – The Beatles 4. Joy To The World – 3 Dog Night 5. Get It Together – Beastie Boys 6. Sloop John B – Beach Boys 7. Me & Julio Down By The School Yard – Paul Simon 8. Rock N’ Roll Radio – The Ramones 9. Filipino Box Spring Hog – Tom Waits 10. Untouchable Face – Ani DiFranco 11. Lithium - Nirvana 12. I Love Paris – Les Negresses Vertes 13. Talk To Me Summer – Screeching Weasel 14. Parachute – Something Happens 15. I Don’t Want To Grow Up – Holly Cole 16. Roller Skating Jam Called Saturday – De La Soul 17. Very First Lie – Material Issue 18. Stewart – Dead Milkmen 19. Handle Me With Care – Traveling Wilburys 20. I Don’t Care About You – Fear 21. Baba O’Reilly – The Who 22. Cult of Personality – Living Color 23. Smack Water Jack – Carol King 24. Criminal – Fiona Apple 25. La Croisade Des Enfants – Higelin Jacques
After completing this list I think the hardest part was actually resisting the urge to explain all of my choices. Every one of these songs has a story, or at least a really good reason why it's resonating in my head. I could tell you. But I wont. Unless you ask.
And, for those of you with an unquenchable thirst for archaic music knowledge check out http://dgmusicmachine.wordpress.com/ where a bunch of my work peeps totally geeked out over music together.
A friend of mine asked me on Friday to put together my top 20 list of favorite songs and I've been thinking about it ever since. I'm already preoccupied with the issue of music. I'm having wedding DJ anxiety so, every song I hear is automatically weighted in relation to the wedding reception play list. But now there's this whole other level to it and that's...uh, two levels too many.
Music is hard to qualify. My favorite song is so dependent on my mood and the environment, the list is in constant drift between genres and artists. Once I am able to pare down the thousands to twenty do I need to distinguish their ranking? Does the number one song have to be The Number One Song? I'm a little scared to put that in writing. I mean, at one point in my life "Purple People Eater" would have held that position. I don't know if I can still say that, although it may still have to go on the list somewhere. I love that song. (Can I play that at the wedding?)
I guess I can start by artist. There are some that are on there by default: The Beatles...OK, there is one band that is on the list by default. Hell, The Beatles could be all of my Top 20, and I'm not even kidding about that. I am going to diversify though because, to be fair, I couldn't spend the rest of my life only listening to The Beatles so obviously there are other artists I love.
I love, I love, I love...Tom Waits. I love Ani. Nirvana. The Ramones. But I don't know if I can say with absolute devotion that there are other artists that I would place among the pantheon, above of all others. I really like Chuck Berry. And I really like Carol King. The Doors are sometimes good. And then there's that whole thing about The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys. And how if, you know, you really loooove The Beatles, neither of those other two bands are ever really going to cut it? Sure, they've got some good tracks but they'll never be The Beatles. I guess there could be a song by each of those two on the Top 20. I can't deny them as great bands.
I think De La Soul is fantastic. They always get me up out of my seat. Does that qualify them as one of my favorites? There could be a lot of really sad songs on this list. But should songs that I listen to when I'm sad, or to make myself sad be included in a list of Top 20? I don't think so. That doesn't seem right. God knows I don't need music to be depressed. And certainly depressing music doesn't do much to cheer me up. It's usually music to wallow by, if you know what I mean. Maybe I should stick to the music that appeals to the more rhythmic and upbeat part of my nature. It's good to feel good, ya know? Music should make you feel good. Relaxed, maybe a little loose. Get up on the tables and dance a little bit!
Let's not let me get carried away. Some of the music I like to dance to probably should be placed at least 20 yards away from this list. This list should get a restraining order against some of the music I like to dance to. But, I think it is safe to say that all of my favorite music is music that makes me feel good. And, look at that, it doesn't even knock Depeche Mode out of contention. Sweet.
OK, so The List is doable. I'm going to think about it for a little while longer. Once I get it figured out I'll post it. I know you all must be in a lather of anticipation over this, you multitudes of fans and readers, so I'll try to step on it.
I've already got my gown, so most of the pages in this wedding magazine I have are pretty irrelevant. But the wedding gown advertising is still...frightening.
OK first of all, some of these gowns are questionable. But, even the models in the most elegant of these dresses are completely un-bride-like in their facial expressions. And I'm using that term loosely. Is "anemic" an expression? What about "jaundiced?"
There are some really smug looks going on. As if they know they look better in their gown than you could ever possibly dream. The couple in this Ann Taylor Celebrations ad has this mystical disbelief thing going on. Looking into each others' eyes as if neither can believe they get to walk down this gravel driveway with someone so good looking.
It is, overall, a display of worries, anxieties, fears, boredom and sunken cheeked sultriness.
Most of the bridesmaids look like they're having a good time. Laughing it up, probably at the dresses they're modeling. Well, except for this Thread ad where all of the redheads look sad at being forced to wear every color in the pink spectrum. Although their hair is very shiny.
On the facing page, the Reem Acra model looks like a doped up child bride sold into a sultan's harem.
I don't understand why so many of these women are lying prostrate on the floor. Is it that they have become so overwhelmed by the velvet belt with giant ribbon flower wrapped around the bodice of their gown? Did they fall off the bed trying to get the garter belt on? Should I anticipate being on the floor at some point during the reception? I don't think we're planning on it being "that" kind of party.
There's also a lot of crouching going on in this magazine. As if the brides are, perhaps, trying to hide something, or from someone. That is not the image of a confident bride folks. This Kenneth Pool chick is in her gown, up on a roof, looking like she's going to make a break for it. I am not going to buy a gown from The Runaway Bride.
I'm not even going to discuss the caved chest, eating disorder look going on here. That's just a given in light of the media's unobtainable standards of beauty blah blah blah. But come on advertisers, would it kill sales to put a few smiles on these faces? I've got 265 days to plan what is supposed to be the "happiest day of my life." Perhaps that could be projected a little more clearly in the ads for all of the products, goods and services I need to purchase in order to make that day happen.
Am I the only one who wants to see this movie because I have fantasies about bedding Ryan Reynolds, spawning a perfectly precocious child and living happily ever after until dying an untimely, melodramatic death (do people still die of consumption?)