Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Stay safe!

Here's to you ringing in the new year safely, and to avoiding Uber surge pricing!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NYE! NYE!

My favorite part of New year's Eve? Indulging in a delicious dinner with a pretty girl at Club Lucky.

My least favorite part? Having to wait another day for that dinner!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fear of great heights.

Despite having done quite a bit of traveling for work, I still get anxious when flying. 

I actually love flying, the whole experience including that weird magical zone that is the airport (even when things are going badly), but it also scares me to have total lack of control of my destiny. I've worked up a routine to deal with it and it involves lots of steps—a certain order at the airport bar, shopping for gum, specific drinks and snacks in flight, anti anxiety medication prescribed by my doctor when needed. This gets amended if i'm traveling for work since that knocks out the booze portion, but the routine structure stays the same. 

When traveling for pleasure sometimes the routine gets away from me and I end up arriving worry free, but more than a little tipsy. Last night I traveled first class (something I have only done a handful of times) and I arrived home WAY more than a little tipsy! Luckily for her, Mich was still at her parents—I returned earlier to work today—and didn't have to deal with me. Luckily for everyone else I eventually ended up on my couch with a box of Dominos pizza (and luckily for the driver I was in a really generous mood tipping-wise).


So what about you? Do you have any travel routines?

Friday, December 26, 2014

I need some stretchy pants.

This holiday season has done me in. If I didn't work out as often as I do I'd be in much worse shape, that's for sure. But even with regular trips to the gym as this holiday snacking and boozing has truly taken it's toll, especially on a guy who has to look sharp in a suit for photos that will forever mark one of the most important days in his life in a few months. So, one more week of indulging and then we get serious about getting back to our summer weight and shape.

And by we I mean me. The rest of you? You look fabulous just the way you are!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Can we talk about the weather?

It was sunny and warm in Chicago yesterday. Absolutely and stunningly wonderful. Two days before Christmas.

I can't ell whether to enjoy this sort of thing or be terrified by it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

United deserves a shout out.

My last few airport experiences have been less than stellar, so I'd like to take a moment to let everyone know that every United employee employee I encountered on a recent trip rocked. The woman who took my checked bag (and even the TSA agent at their station); the gate attendant who gave me an even better seat than the good one I already had; the flight attendant that gave me an even better seat than that—all of these people came together to make my trip one of the more pleasantly memorable ones in years.

Thanks.

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's beginning to feel a lot like...

...it's almost the end of my work week! Sorry, I seem to be pretty singleminded here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

T! G! I! F!

I wish today marked the beginning of my vacation, but it does not. I'm certainly going to enjoy the weekend though!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

All day sucker.


I'm addicted. Stuck on repeat. So sad this didn't actually come out in August when it was supposed to since then it could've been my summer jam. I guess I'll just have to make do with it's heat fighting off the winter chill.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's a SUNBEARS! Christmas!

Jonathan Berlin of SUNBEARS! wishing you holiday cheer!
I've been a fan of SUNBEARS! for quite a while, and I won't pretend one reason wasn't because they sound a lot like a slightly more together version of the Flaming Lips circa 1998. So it didn't surprise me to heat the two bands had become pals. But that's not really germaine to the SUNBEARS! Christmas tunes I'm sharing with you today, although come to think of it, both bands do seem to have a Christmas jones, considering The Lips did a whole freaked out and fucked up movie about Christmas on Mars.

Anyway, SUNBEARS! recorded a bunch of Christmas covers, so play these at the party when everyone is gagging because the host is unironically playing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (unless it's this version of that song). SUNBEARS! also has a new album out that I have yet to get a chance to properly review but it's no letdown and shows the group is only getting better and tighter, compositionally. Maybe all they can pass off that good influence onto their pals The Flaming Lips.


In fact you know what? Here's one of their new tunes to give you an idea of what they sound like when they're not making Christmas songs sound more interesting. And you can download it.

BONUS!
 

Monday, December 15, 2014

A challenge to fellow music writers: save your best of lists for when the year is actually over.

'Did you write your best music of 2014 list yet?"
"No, becasue 2014 isn't over."
"Good."
I know this is an annual complaint of mine, but music "best of" lists should really wait until after year's end to go up.* A few years ago websites started to go into defensive mode and publish their lists earlier and earlier in order to garner the most buzz for their selections. That approach was a dumb exercise in preemptive striking, and it's been made even more so over the last few years, for a number of reasons.

Best of lists have turned alarmingly homogenized. In a time when such a massive amount of material is out there and folks have the power to discover bands not held back by gatekeepers this feels counterintuitive. Leading me to believe most lists are based on a combination combining publicist relationships along with the wish to reinforce readers' believe that their tastes as really awesome. Why rush to release a list that looks like everyone else's?

Artists are increasingly releasing music weeks (or months) after these lists come out. I'm sorry, if you publish your list in November you can't put Beyoncé's December release from last year on a 2014 list. And who just dropped an album at midnight last night? And possibly one of the most anticipated albums since My Bloody Valentine's follow-up to Loveless? D'Angelo. And this trend is only going to grow more popular. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if we saw one or two more high profile surprises drop before Dec. 31, 2014.

How can you call a "best [insert name] of 2014" list before the end of 2014? I mean, aside from my previous two points, this one seems the most glaringly indefensible from the standpoint of people that have already published lists?

This whole practice is sadly outdated, and honestly it's built on a practice that did make sense in the past—most music writers had music through the end of December delivered to them well before December even began so these lists could be built ahead of time. But that practice was rooted in print limitations and those limitations have quickly eroded into pointless habits over the last few years.

It's time for my fellow entertainment writers to get with the times, accept they ain't just a 'changin' but have long changed, and adjust this whole "best of" exercise to actually reflect reality.

I guarantee if you take more time with your lists and don't just cobble them together in hopes of getting them out the door first you'll a) make more selections you won't be embarrassed by in 3 months and b) you identify more unexpected selections that might actually give your readers the pleasure of discovering something new instead of jumping on the bandwagon everyone else already signed up to ride.

*I originally framed this piece to include all entertainment "best of" lists but in some arenas—specifically film, TV and literature—the physical product is still largely limited by mead times music is no longer held back by, so I can see how it's still possible to construct a list for some other sources of entertainment ahead of time in good conscience.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Halfway through the holiday season.

Festive frivolity abounds and while it builds to exhausting levels of time commitments in the end it's all good fun and a good excuse to celebrate friendship and good company.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to handle a holiday party.

I was listening to a story about office holiday parties earlier this week and realized that my company is pretty genius: they allow you to bring a spouse / SO and that generally helps defuse any awkward situations. The upswing? We all have a blast and no one is looking at anyone else with any guilt the next day. Judging from the NPR story this outlay of cash—effectively doubling the bill by allowing guests—seems far more worth it in the long run!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bo and Luke Duke put a whole new weird spin on "Baby It's Cold Outside."


The only thing weirder than the stars of The Dukes Of Hazard—Tom Wopat and John Schneider—putting out an album of Christmas standards together is their taste in song selection. The usually super creepy "Baby It's Cold Outside" is slightly retitled, without losing any of its more unsettling lines, to cast Bo and Luke in an interesting new light. Me? I think it's hilarious that these two dudes have obviously decided to tweak the song by keeping the uneasiness intact, hopefully making apologists for the more, um, traditional arrangement of a man entreating a women to stay the night, squirm as the lyrics stand in a starker light.

I mean, I'm assuming this is intentional on their part, right?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Happy birthday to my favorite girl!

The birthday girl in her natural habitat: warm, summer sunlight.
When she turned 30 I took Mich on a trip to a tropical island because she hates the cold and is always sad her birthday is in the middle of winter. I couldn't do anything quite so grand this year since we're saving for, you know, a wedding and all, but I'm hoping that between dinner, friends and good tidings sent her way throughout the day her heart will know the warmth of all the love coming her way for birthday today.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Party animals of a certain age OR we still know how to have a good time and thanks for all the memories!

This is how we started our Saturday.
Saturday was one of those days and long evenings we should be far too old to fall prey to but manage to do so every couple of months any way.

OUr day time adventures included our annual pilgrimage to the Christkindlmarket for spiced wine and souvenir mugs. We then spent many, many hours tracking down my birthday gift to Mich since no outlet had exactly the color and specifications she desired, and I got it into my head she had to have her gift before her actual birthday on Tuesday. We returned home in victory, gift acquired, but that also meant we had no downtime ahead of what promised to be a busy evening.

The evening began with a holiday party in Oak Park which was in our friends' beautiful new house and had all the trappings of an adult soiree including many toddlers, but also including an incredibly—and deliciously—potent bourbon-based punch. I perhaps had one or two more than I should have before downshifting to the beer.

I left early in order to catch two of my favorite local band play at Metro in Wrigleyville, and of course missed my connecting stop coming back from the suburbs, adding another 30 minutes to my travel time. Luckily I made it to Metro just in time to catch the first bad  I wanted to see. After their set I got another drink and proceeded to take a power nap in the balcony of the club, missing a segment of the set performed by the second band I really wanted to see. Whoops!

Then it was off to a bar on the far north side (all of these stops throughout the evening were separated by great distances but don't worry, I don't own a car so it was all public trans and cabs for this stumble-y dude).

And then of course it made total sense to go to The Corner bar since it is a hundred feet from my back door, whereupon I proceeded to have a generally genial time that I remember through a haze as being a goodnatured time of old fashioned fun (not necessarily fueled by Old Fashions).

Annnnd Sunday ... these party animals are pooped.
The next day? I felt fine but Mich had one of the worst hangovers she's suffered in 2014 so I let her relax and even picked up some carryout for her to help nurse her back to health. A dozen hours of napping on and off through the day and she was right as rain by nightfall so all's well that ends well.

And to everyone whose path I crossed on Saturday night I want to extend my genuine thanks at making it a really fun evening of many stops filled with many people I see far less often than I'd prefer.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Snowglobe.

I am extremely proud of closerlook's holiday video and the team I worked with to make it a reality. I won't say anything beyond that but I urge you to watch it. And then watch it again, because I think you'll want to.

This is awesome.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

"A Quick One..."

This has always been one of my favorite Who songs, and it also holds the status of being the song that I think made Mich fall in love with Keith Moon behind the drum kit via the Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus version. I guess I didn't realize they hadn't played the shong live since the early '70s and while only half the band is even around to bash it out any longer I'm pleased they resurrected it and did it justice, even if it oly ends up being for one show.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Bowling! Yay!

Every week we bowl with the media league, and by "we" I mean Team Chicagoist (adoringly also known as "Team Don't Fuck Up"), and by bowl I mean I sit and drink beer and bourbon and watch Mich and my fellow writers bowl. But this year there's a rule that says all players need to be there by a certain time so I've been getting to the lane's earlier and occasionally actually bowl to fill a space while we wait for other writers to show up.

But last night a fourth never showed up so I ended up bowling all three games. And got really high scores in all three (one of them I think might have been a personal best or close to it, though I think there was once a game a decade or so ago I broke 200, but that might be a wishful dream more than an actual memory).

And Team Chicagoist won last night too! Which, to be fair, this season is shaping up to be one where we're looking pretty competitive.

Anyway, my takeaway was that sometimes I think I actually do like being a participant and not just an observer of things.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Too much negativity. Let's counter that!

It's dark outside all the time and I think that's just adding to my grumpiness, transforming be into a borderline real life curmudgeon! Yikes! I need to counter that, STAT! So here is a cute picture to get you and me through the rest of the day.

As long as we don't look at each other, we can pretend the other one's not there...

Friday, November 28, 2014

To shop or not too shop?

Face it, Black Friday is no longer really a shopping holiday so I have a hard time feeling one way or the other about it. Most sales now extend all through November and anyone really looking for bargains knows to wait a few weeks and pick them up when retailers really start to get desperate. So what's there to get upset about?

Stores opening on Thanksgiving.

That is fucking ridiculous. If doing that isn't going to actually give you a financial jumpstart—and I have yet to see any stat that supports that it does—why drag employees away from a family meal on one of the few days folks might have to spend together as a full family. I don't know what we can do about it at this point? But I do think that just sucks.

Thus endeth my less than persuasive argument without a solution.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving!

2014 is certainly a year I have more to be thankful for than not. I won't go into the litany of positivity, but 2014 has treated me about a million time better than 2013 did.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Quentin Jones and 'Miley' might melt your mind.

Still from “Miley” by Quentin Jones
This one is for those who still doubt Miley Cyrus isn't open to more than a dash of the truly avant, courtesy a video collaboration she did with Quentin Jones (which supposedly plays during her live show, but I must have missed when I saw her play in March).


[h/t SBSG]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This was one of my favorite bills at the Metro.

Yup, I still have the shirt and it still fits!
Mike Watt with Foo Fighter and Hovercraft (Eddie Vedder's band with his wife at the time) at Metro in June of '95 was one amazing bill. Foo Fighters were just starting out, Vedder was in mid-Pearl Jam explosion and really seemed to love playing the act of sideman in Watt's backing band along with Grohl. And Pat Smear is motherfucking Pat Smear.

Here's what they looked like live, courtesy an appearance on the Jon Stewart show during that tour.



[h/t COS]

Monday, November 24, 2014

Who are the people who are Lana Del Rey fans?

Who is actually a fan of Pitbull?
Or Imagine Dragons? 
Or One Republic?
Or Mumford And Sons?
Or Sam Smith?
Or Iggy Azelea?

Just to name a few.

Who are these people?

Like, who really finds any of them interesting?

I try to be respectful of others' tastes, but there mainstream is once again clogged with bands that make dry white toast seem like the choice for an adventurous palate.

Friday, November 21, 2014

TGIF.

The other night I watched Car Wash, at 3 in the a.m., not Thank God It's Friday, and was shocked that I had totally forgotten about George Carlin as the cab driver. Which then led me to wonder, had I actually ever watched Car Wash before, or had I just assumed I did since I was a child of the early '70s?

I honestly don't know, now. And if that's the case, how many other cultural touchstones have I taken for granted that I may not have not actually experienced (or if I have, have no honest recollection beyond the surface belief I've experienced it)?

History is a weird thing when you realize how unreliable it actually is.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Faith No More's new song does NOT disappoint!

Photo via the Faith No More Facebook page
Sounds pretty sweet to me. I can't wait for the new album!

And the motherfuckers had BETTER play Chicago!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The commute from hell.

It's not enough that Chicago weather had to suddenly drop into single digits, our entire transportation decided to go kablooey at the same time.

What. The. Fucking. Hell.

The amazing thing is that due to an 8 a.m. meeting I actually made it into the office on time since that forced me to get ahead of the pack that got mired in the traffic woes of the day! Who would've thought I'd be thankful for an 8 a.m. meeting, ever?!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday Adventure-day!

Due to missing an appointment to begin creating a wedding registry—something it turned out neither of us felt compellingly passionate about to drag ourselves out of bed super early on a Sunday morning—Mich decided to take me on a Mystery Date. Several trains and many hours later we found ourselves drinking beer in a bar off the Flossmoor stop and generally having a great time together. Our trip home was equally epic and by the time we arrived back in the city and made it back through our home's doorway we had left an epic Sunday in our wake.


Here's to more Adventure-days in the future (though I think the next is mine to plan so I'd better start looking for ideas)!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The new TV On The Radio album is kind of "normal."

Photo credit: JUCO
I've started taking notes on every album in a spreadsheet—something I really should have started doing years ago—since it helps me keep track of initial impressions when writing about them. I don't think I'm going to review the new TV On The Radio album, Seeds, but I will share those rough notes I jotted down after listening to it.
Pretty catchy stuff. It says a lot that their sound is the same only the environment around them has changed to the point where this is pretty mainstream stuff. Not quite as adventurous as earlier work but still solid. This is what Genesis would sound like if they formed today?
Sounds about right. Haven't heard it yet? this should help you get a bead on what I wrote.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hello, cold.

We've hit the point where fall, winter and spring are all just basically winter, and summer is barely even cutting it as fall. Chicago weather, you're wearing on my last nerve.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Too many cooks is fucking amazing.

O.K., I admit I slept on this one. It was all over my feeds and I put off watching it because I figured the amount of hyperbole being thrown its way meant there was no way it could be taht good.

Boy was I wrong. This is amazing. And I am jealous of the creative impulse that birthed it was not my own.

Digital gurus.

Yes, David Shing is ridiculous, but EVERY huge agency / corporation has someone like him—folks that talk a LOT and say absolutely nothing and don't actually accomplish anything—as a digital guru / figurehead. Be jealous of these people only if you are jealous of a gig with an expiration date that will leave you nothing but your piggybacking on the hard work and thinking of others to show for it.

I've worked with digital wonks / figureheads like this in the past, and the only remarkable things they did was sell existing clients on stupid tactics while singlehandedly losing every new business pitch they contributed to.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wedding planning.

Just in case you were wondering, it's still moving along. I'm dragging my feet on things like suits and such, but overall Mich and I are handling things remarkably smoothly!

Knock on wood.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Itty bitty Bleachers are just too adorable.

I go back and forth about how I feel about Bleacher's debut—sometimes it feels right and sometimes it feels wrong—but after seeing them lie this summer I have zero doubt as the question whether to Jack Antonoff's enthusiasm about the music he makes in sincere. It absolutely is. So I almost squealed like a little girl at just how he took the band's live set up to—or would that be down to—the next level with this appearance on Conan.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The return of ABBA! Well, more like the reincarnation of ABBA via L.A. courtesy Music Go Music.

Music Go Music, photo by Aaron Ruell
This is the time of year I finally get a little breathing room and get to dig through all the music in my review queue that maybe wasn't time sensitive since it was either a) regional only or b) from a band with no touring plans. Subsequently November is a lot of fun for me since, while there is a fair amount of dross I have to slog through, there is an unusual percentage of gems I totally missed earlier in the year.

One of those gems is Music Go Music's Impressions, 9 songs of insanely catchy electronic pop that channels 1978—only the good parts of that disco pop era—perfectly. The trio of Gala Bell, Torg, and Kamer Maza build songs that sound as if ABBA wrote them, and I mean that as the highest sort of compliment. There's a one-two swirl of the disco ball below to get you out on the dancefloor, and then I suggest you grab the rest of the album ASAP.

Let's boogie.



Thursday, November 06, 2014

Today's assigned reading.

Scott and I agree on many things when it comes to digital engagement and his latest about how banners and social media engagement is currently broken at the brand level is a good read. Take in his high level synopsis and if that piques your interest click on through and read the full piece.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

You've got to fight! For your right! To STICKERS!

Join us!
I'm not going to wring my hands and say the world ended last night, but we certainly took a few steps backward and aren't gonna make any real progress any time soon. So instead I think it's time to re-driect our attention to a change we can make!

Join Mich and me in our fight for our right for "I voted" stickers! 


#VoteYesForStickers

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

70. He'd be 70 today.

Check out that handsome young fellow!
Today is my dad's birthday and had he lived to see it he would be 70 years old. That's pretty mind-bending to me. The fact that I would have had a parent in their 70s? What?!

I don't really know what to write beyond that. I mean, by this point I am able to spend most of my time just not really noticing my dad of gone gone, and can occupy a mental space that leans on the notion that maybe I'm away at school and will see him over the holidays, whenever we both get the time. Days like his birthday force me to once again face that I can't even call to wish him "happy birthday" much less check in on him over Thanksgiving or Christmas.


I'm pretty sure this is as easy as it gets, which is to say not easy at all, but it's a burden or sadness I can at least bear without fear of being crushed by it. And that's a good thing, right? I think my dad would think so.

Monday, November 03, 2014

God bless daylight savings time.

Yes, I think daylight savings time is probably an idiotic concept at this point, and I'm going to curse the fuck out of it next spring when we move the clocks back forward, but for the first time in months—after moving the clocks back an hour—I finally feel like I'm not so rushed in the morning and it's far easier to wake up without being a total grouch.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween is here!

Halloween is my favorite adult holiday. Easily. But as I get older I realize that while I used to spend lots of time and effort planning out what I was going to do party-wise on Halloween night, in recent years I have spent less and less. And at this point literally have made no plans for tonight at all. Does that make me super lame?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What do people want today when it comes to writing about music?

I have a theory. It's a daring theory. But as every band's content is basically available to everyone at every second the idea of people to help you sift through it seems to be rising in importance again. I still say to hell with the gatekeepers of yesteryear since they didn't champion music as much as they espoused opinions to support their own interests. But we've hit an era where writers' personalities are again coming to the forefront of gaining a reader's trust and helping them suss out the tunes that might help them float above the earth's crust / discover sounds to amaze and enlighten. Do I have one of those voices? I would hope so, and judging by the number of people that either write me or approach me at shows I think I just might. And for that, I thank everyone for their trust. And I trust bands will keep on making music that I will dig and in turn, turn other people on to. And to those bands I don't dig? I'm sure there's another trusted voice out there that will dig you, so all you gotta do is touch someone and you'll be just fine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

An album full of guitar heavy indie with songs that stretch on in feeling except most don't pass the three minute mark while staying super heavy with a hard pop edge? Sign me up!

Don't let the photo fool you; this band is good and not a bunch of hipster poseurs.
Happy Diving's Big World is a slice of '90s grunge-worthy indie rock, populated with dudes who probably weren't but barely born at the time yet they strike that stance oh so perfectly. A sample lies below. A full length album lies on and beyond Nov. 4. Your attention is destoined to become entwined. Again, the sample taste follows ... now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

So dark.

It's already dark, all of the time, outside. I feel like I'm living in molasses.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ready for Halloween?


This guy is more than ready. He's so ready he's just chillaxin' in the unexpected heat wave, already oh so ready for Friday.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chicagoist is ten.

We had our anniversary party yesterday and it was amazing. The turnout we tremendous, the music was incredible and the memories are now firmly entrenched. On the occasion of Chicagoist's tenth birthday, many past writers took to the inter webs to pen their own memories of the site and I realized that since I've been in the thick of this thing since almost the beginning I have no detached perspective. But you know what? The site is really great. We were a total outlier when we started and I like to think some of that rebel spirit still beats within our writing even as the site has slowly moved into the realm of not only being "respectable" but actually forming one of the primary foundations of Chicago's media scene. Not bad for a little website that used to pull stunts like only using Slayer song titles for headlines for a day. And to give you an idea of our local bent, my post on Cheetah Gym's suddenly closing still holds the record for most—and some of the most insane—comments in the site's history (even if, sadly, they were lost when we switched commenting systems).

Everybody's posts about Chicagoist have hinged on how the site changed their lives. I know in my time I've brought in many a talented writer who has then gone on to do even more amazing things after using the site as the first stepping stone of their career. And I am more than aware that all the super cool stuff I get to do—the truly amazing life I get to lead, is because of Chicagoist. Hell, Chicagoist played a pretty huge part in introducing me to the love of my life who I'm getting married to in just a few months. So that's something.

So I can't get all teary-eyed and sentimental about my time at Chicagoist, because it's still a very present ongoing concern for me, and will be for the foreseeable future. (As Chuck once said, "Tankboy will probably outlast us all.") But I can take a step back for a second and appreciate what the site has done over the years and celebrate everyone that's been on the ride with me to make Chicagoist the amazing, singular, unique voice that it is.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Not gonna lie...

...I am REALLY excited for tomorrow night. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Schedule readjustment.

Due to the public transit station by my gym being closed until Christmas—thanks for that present, CTA!—Mich and I are working on adjusting our schedules so we can continue work out in the a.m. and still make it to work on time. What does this mean? We wake up between 5-5:30 and are out the door by 6:45. Anything later than that at the commute is impossible since we're dependent on buses and traffic and transfers.

This has a domino effect on my own schedule since I don't sleep much at nights. However even I am human so in order to recalibrate to hit an earlier mark I've been forcing myself to get to bed early. Which for me is by 1 a.m. Which has been tough but so far so good and I presume it'll only get easier (on nights I'm not out at a show in order to write about it, that is).

I'm adapting. Slowly. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Feline therapy.

I miss the healing powers of Betty the Beagle, to be sure, but a purring cat nuzzling against your chest has its restorative properties as well. Perhaps there's some sort of unknown therapeutic effect of the low but fast-paced thrum of kitty purrs as they vibrate against the human system. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

One week away!

Use this square poster layout in your Instagram!
The Chicagoist 10th anniversary party is just one week away! Did you RSVP yet?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Go" is an unexpected discovery and pure joy.


I always assumed the opening theme to Last Week Tonight With John Oliver was just a snippet written as an into to the show, much the same way as Bob Mould wrote the opening bumper for The Daily Show. I was wrong! It's actually just the opening bars of this kick-ass power-pop tune by Valley Lodge! Now I want to hear the whole album!

And I would have never known this were I not subscribed to the Song Exploder podcast, a semi-regular series I highly recommend you also subscribe to if you're a music fan and am curious how songs get constructed, often piece by piece.

Anyway, here's the tune I'm in love with right now. Go!

Monday, October 13, 2014

You should always take a vacation day after a travel day.

I almost always take a day off after traveling, there's just so much you can't control the day of so you never know how you'll feel the day after. However I'm being greedy and don't want to use any more vacation days for a while so I took a late flight out of St. Louis after visiting Mich's family yesterday and went in to work today. Big mistake. By the end of the day I felt like someone scooped my brain out and then filled my veins with pudding, causing me to sluggishly make my way home, feeling as if I was moving through an every expanding water droplet of gargantuan proportions.

So yeah, next time I'm taking the day off.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are you ready to PARTY WITH CHICAGOIST?!


We're turning ten! Well, actually we turned ten a few months ago. But we're finally getting around to celebrating it! Here are all the details. And make sure you RSVP if you're over 21+ and want some tasty drinks at our hosted bar courtesy PBR, Sailor Jerry and Monkey Shoulder!

It's been a while since I was involved in throwing a party, but the soiree me and the other editors teamed up to construct looks to be well worth the effort!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Funk. The good kind!

It's been a heckuva week, but I managed to wrestle some pretty big projects into shape and can look back on the past few days with great satisfaction that hard work truly does produce great results. Yay!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Needs moar robots.

Just my humble opinion, but less Arby's hat and more Daft Punk would make this better. But it's still pretty damn good.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Amanda Blank teams back up with Spank Rock and continues the magic.

Amanda Blank at Metro in 2009, photo by me.
I love Amanda Blank's voice. I saw her live a few years ago and the love I had for her voice easily extended to her stage show. I enjoyed her debut album enough, but thought it missed the edge I'd heard when she guested on other folks' tracks, and while her solo stuff did sound better live I've always felt she and Spank Rock were made for each other and brought the best out of each other when they teamed up. So I was extremely excited when this tune hit my desk last week (and I now apologize for having forgotten to post it the second it did)! Snag the new tune below for the price of an email.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Last Friday the FAA complicated our trip but it was actually American Airlines that almost ruined our weekend.

That is one marked up ticket, huh?
This time last week I was stranded at O'Hare in a rage at the lousy customer service we were getting from American Airlines. Mich and I had been at the airport since 4:30 a.m., had been seated in first class seats (our first time in first class ever!) and had taxied to the runway to take off, only to be called back to the gate to sit for another 30 minutes until our flight was finally cancelled due to a fire at an FAA facility. By the time we deplaned the airport was in a frenzy as people scurried about to figure out what exactly was happening and try to rebook flights. Up until this point everything that happened was to of American Airlines' hands and we understood that.

Our sad plane that didn't go anywhere. :(
As the day progressed though more and more things went wrong, the biggest snafu being the uncoupling of Mich's and my reservations, causing us to be separated—often by 80 or so other passengers—on standby lists for every flight throughout the day.

Every phone call we made resulted in no help and no gate attendant could reconcile the obvious computer fuck up on American Airlines' end.* In the end, through some very persuasive talking on my part (which certainly teetered into begging) that resulted in one miracle worker at a gate getting us onto the only flight that offered even the slightest chance of making our connecting flight in Dallas instead of scuttling our whole weekend trip.**

Writing this out I'm realizing that the two things that infuriated me, that actually made me blind with rage, were digital aspects of the American Airlines' experience. The fact their computer system borked our whole trip (and this carried over to our return flight on Monday since they screwed up our reservations THAT badly, somehow) and couldn't be reconciled by a single human being is beyond forgiveness. But the true rage maker?

Their Twitter handle.

American Airlines needs to learn that customer service via Twitter isn't canned responses triggered by interns or freshman community managers. A constant stream of apologies with no action involved at all, not ever, does not make your company look like it cares, it makes your company look completely tone deaf. What a difference a year makes, huh?

 So to all the human beings we encountered through our ordeal, I'd like to say thanks. I was upset at the time but in retrospect you truly were doing your best to help out.

To American Airlines' computer system, I'd just like to say fuck you.

And to American Airlines' social media team? It's time to rethink how you do things. Either offer something of value to the customers you engage beyond empty apologies you'd do better to just stay quiet.

At least the day made national news.
Wonder if she and B-Dubs are pals.
One gate representative did actually book us on a flight on Saturday afternoon just to get us on the first actual flight with room leaving O'Hare as a back up and we appreciated the gesture even if it wasn't going to actually help us.

** Which said Dallas flight we did make by SPRINTING across that airport, literally from one end to the other, in under ten minutes. The most hilarious moment of that trip was mid-sprint when Mich just held her boarding pass at me (knowing I wasn't running at full speed in order to not lose her) and panted / yelled "Just go!" And I did. And ended up at the gate panting and checking us in. When the attendant asked me where she was I said, "She'll. Be. Here. In. A. Sec."*** 

*** Apparently, possibly as I was saying this, Mich actually ran past the gate. She was running so hard she totally missed the gate number. I wish I'd seen that.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The director's cut of Daniel Wade's 'Fun With Destruction!'

Dan is one of the musical performers at the Chicagoist 10th anniversary party this month on Oct. 23 (full details here, and RSVP now for free booze!) and I am very excited about that. Lisa posted Dan's "Fun With Destruction" as the video of the day yesterday, and then today the video's director clued everyone into the fact that there existed a—and I bet Dan didn't even know this—director's cut!

Check it out. Such a good tune.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Joan Rivers was a badass.


Mich took Joan Rivers' death pretty hard; she had been a fan of the comedienne when she was a little girl and rekindled her love for Rivers through Fashion Police over the past couple years. I don't think you can overstate the importance of Rovers' career, or how she continued to blast open doors and forge new territory even up until the very end, and she was always fearless and irreverent.

Just how cool was Rivers? She was so fucking cool she had Hüsker Dü as guests on her talk show in 1987. How about that?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The plan is coming together...

All the pieces are falling into place for the Chicagoist 10th anniversary party this month. We'll be announcing some of the details later this week!

Soooooo excited.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Here's hoping for better luck.

I keep telling myself there's no way travel could be as bad today as it was Friday—we were up for about 24 hours from start to finish—but that still doesn't stop me from worrying that it will be!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lost and found.

This is awesome. I won't spoil anything for you by saying anything other than that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Apple eats it.

Man, is Apple stumbling and fumbling right now or what? iOS 8.0.1 is an unmitigated disaster—disabling iPhone 6 and 6 Plus key features—and makes you wonder if the company even has a QA department or if they just figure if they fuck up they've got everyone under their thumb already so people will just have to deal.

Less of a big deal in my eye is "bendgate," the tendency for iPhone 6 Pluses to get warped in peoples pockets when they sit down. Look folks, everyone clamored for an iPhone phablet and now you have it. And you're learning phablets are idiotic. I will not be buying an iPhone 6 Plus. I want a phone that's a convenient multimedia platform, not a tablet that's a somewhat convenient multimedia platform that almost but not quite fits in my pocket. Do we really need another form factor between laptop , tablet and phone? No. But people are stupid and will buy the bigger is better notion until they realize that items are designed for particular uses and while it's terrific to push those boundaries in the end things are the size they are for a purpose. Change the purpose and you change the size and design. Bt then you're left with a completely different item.

And Apple's maps still totally suck. How do you fuck that one up? Especially when they hooked everyone on the superior Google Maps in the first place?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's David Bowie day in Chicago.

Photo by me.
This is going to sound curmudgeonly, but I'm glad this is a one-off holiday. The amount of Bowie-mania in this town right now is almost embarrassing ... and this is a statement coming from an avowed superfan like me!

However, to all of you celebrating Bowie Day, I hope you have a fabulous time and use this renewed point of interest to dig through his musical catalog. And of course, don't forget to visit David Bowie is!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lois v Koenig, oh the intrigue!

Julian Koenig and George Lois
George Lois and Julian Koenig were creative partners for a long time and both can be credited with some of the most influential work in advertising. Many suspect Don Draper of being based on Lois though it'd be easier to argue he's a composite of the two men output-wise, but not character-wise.

It appears Lois, who is certainly the more charismatic of the two, has a penchant for taking the credit where the credit is not his. I've been a victim of people doing this to me, and I think it's one of the most vile things one creative can do to another, so if Lois is truly guilty of even half of what he's accused of fabrication, that tarnishes quite of bit of his reputation in my eyes. And that totally bums me out.

Sadly, Koenig passed away earlier this year, so even if Lois ever comes clean he won't get the satisfaction of hearing it. However you can hear a slightly updated broadcast of a This American Life story (reported by Koenig's daughter and TAL producer Sarah Koenig) below and make your own call.

Friday, September 19, 2014

DAVID BOWIE IS awesome.


Mich and I were lucky to be among the first people in Chicago to see the David Bowie is exhibit at the MCA during a press preview earlier today. It is everything I had hoped for and more, though I still need to process it before reviewing it on Monday.

If you're in Chicago before it leaves after January 4, 2015, YOU HAVE TO SEE IT.

UPDATE: My review is up, read it!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A brief crisis of faith.

A colleague whose work I respect asked me if I had any examples of my fictional work to share with him in preparation for an upcoming project and I realized how little on that level I've created in the past few years due to dedicating all my time to either client work or music writing. Heck, this site is primarily an outlet for my personal work just so I have somewhere to regularly practice non-professional writing. So it wasn't until that request today that I realized how much I let that original coil of my brain, the part that wanted to write short stories and films, untended.

I think this was the thing Alex Shakar warned me about over a decade ago when he was teaching me in a writing class. I think because I actually enjoy and am really good at the work I do for clients and for music outlets I thought I could escape the pitfall he cautioned against, but here I am, suddenly facing the fact that I haven't produced any fiction purely for myself in far too long. 

The nice thing about a realization like this is the understanding that it's not a sign of your flaws, but a call to arms to return to that thing you loved in the first place.

It's time to start carving out some time to work out the muscle that writes fiction purely for me again!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

iOS 8, to upgrade or not to upgrade?

Is it, now?
So I upgraded to iOS 8 on my iPhone 5S the second the update went live and the whole thing only took two hours, which considering past iOS upgrades wasn't too bad. My initial thoughts? The tweaks will take some getting used to but overall it seems a little speedier (unexpected!) and worth the time. I'm amused that the much vaunted Health app is DOA, but I'm sure that's just a momentary snag. I do like all the extra encryption running under the hood so that's good.

So overall, kudos to the developers and nicely done. If you have a 5 on up, this seems worth it.* Also, I love the option to view battery usage by app. You can bet a few apps on my phone will get tossed in the dustbin over the next week as I identify the worst culprits with the least return.

There are two gripes I do have, though:
  • Location services by app are no longer a clear toggle but a grayed out choice between "Always" and "Never" and that seems a bit sneaky. There's supposed to be an option for location only working when an app is open, but it doesn't seem to apply, or isn't yet baked into, 99% of the apps on my phone that use location services.
  • Photostream disappeared and now the only way to view all your photos is through the extremely clunky and virtually un-navigable "Collections" view. The only workaround seems to be selecting every photo in the "Moments" view and creating an album that way but it seems so tie consuming as to be not worth it. I can't imagine what Apple's rationale is for doing this but it's fucking annoying.
O.K., that whining aside—and I'm sure those are things I'll adapt to just as I adapt to everything else that changes or gets updated—this is a pretty solid update.

*Sorry, everyone with an iPhone 4S or lower, this upgrade will either kill your phone or simply isn't compatible with it at all. Yay for planned obsolescence, huh?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Things are slowly returning to normal, I think.

There's some pretty meta merch in there. Photo by me.
Slammed at work, but it's all super creative opportunities with a tight turnaround so that just makes it exciting. I'm really glad I took yesterday off since I think returning to the office fresh is of utmost importance. You can't take vacation days and return spent, right? Otherwise what's the point?

I did take one more look back at the amazing weekend we had with some final thoughts, including pictures from both Jess and Me, about the 2014 Chicago edition of Riot Fest. So go ahead and read that.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Everything aches.

Cherie Lily and Mich, backstage just after Andrew W.K.'s set. Photo by me!
We survived Riot Fest. And have spent the whole day on the couch. Originally I wanted to be ambitious and go out and eat somewhere fancy and take advantage of our "recovery day" doing fun staff but I have, in fact, needed the whole day to recover. It was all totally worth it though.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Riot Fest, rain or shine!


It looks to be a soggy kick-off for the 2014 edition of Riot Fest and you know what? Even this rain can't dampen my excitement. We're bringing ponchos and prepared to weather muddy boots and through it all I trust the music will keep me so happy I won't even notice I am soaking wet. So there!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Riot Fest is almost here!

My favorite Chicago music festival kicks off tomorrow, and we previewed a few bands we're most looking forward to at Chicagoist today. To be fair, we could have just re-posted the fest's whole schedule almost verbatim if we really wanted to mention EVERY band we were excited about. Unreal.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Progress report.

Things are mellowing out. Thanks for asking.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

How to "curate" and claim the public's trust without actual artistic responsibility or vision. Le sigh.

Rendering of the finished trail, sans art.
Went to go hear a talk about integrating art into the Bloomingdale Trail (never 606!) and it was so amorphous and imprecise it made me angry. Art should be exploratory, but it needs a starting point, and that point—when you've received the public trust to curate something in a grand manner that stretches over miles and miles—shouldn't be based on "so I'm depending on you to tell me what you want" in front of a room of people with no vision. It reeks of a preemptive attempt to dodge blame so that when our dear curator unveils something uninspired and pedestrian the onus can be said to have fallen on a public that never voiced their desire when no true framework for that desire was ever supplied outside of "innovative use of public space" and "living art that will develop along with the environment around that" sans a single specific example.

Art requires vision, and what I heard tonight was how first year college students talk around vision instead of expanding upon it.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Tired of the drearies.

There's a lot going on right now I don't really feel like talking about. Just some rocky personal stuff, compounded with the usual dumb little things that when piled together can somewhat stress you out. So instead of reflecting on any of that—and hey, that stuff is all temporary anyway and won't make a difference in the long run—let's focus on something a little more up-lifting. And educational!

I give you, Pickle and a book!


Also, Riot Fest is only a few days away and how can I be upset with that so close on the horizon?!


Friday, September 05, 2014

Play ball!

My mood is still dark around the edges but the promise of a sunny baseball game this afternoon is doing it's part to alleviate that.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bad day.

Today is one of those days where the encroaching inky darkness around you just gets deeper and deeper and just when you think it can't get any worse it does.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Some days.

It's been a long day and I started writing a post that was turning out to look like some pretty bad poetry so I decided to do everyone a favor and hit delete delete delete delete until I was at the beginning of the post and then started typing "It's been a long day..."

And now here we are. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Reading books about magazines and specifically 'The Last Magazine.'

I wonder if The Last Magazine would have seen the light of day had its author Michael Hastings not died. It's one of those inside baseball views of the media from someone close to its heart that ends up making sure no one ends up looking good, least of all the narrator. If you want a loose idea of what and who it is about you can suss that all out here (though I'd love to know who the "Sarah Klein" character that supposedly was blogging for Gothamist in the early days is supposed to be).

I really liked the book, even though it deals with a time that no longer exists it is a time that I once did want to be a part of. It's also the only book I've read that does a decent job of catching what the exploding blog scene—even as a small subplot—was like during the early, early aughts without being condescending. I'd say this was purely a mainstream journalists 20/20 hindsight vision if it weren't for the fact that he participated in the Gawker / Gothamist scene back in the day and did so because he realized what future value it held even if his career did continue more in an investigative journalist longform track.

Who knows what would have happened had he lived? I hope that while The Last Magazine was written years after his death he would have had the courage to eventually publish it. It also makes me with he was still around because his narrative voice was strong and who knows what other novels he might have had in him?

This is my long, long way of saying I really enjoyed this book and think you might dig it too. Even if you could not care less about media inside baseball.

Monday, September 01, 2014

No work today!

It's Labor Day in the States, so I ain't doin' nuthin' today. Go outside and get some sun!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bowie's in space!


Mich took me on a mystery date to the Adler Planetarium last week for their Bowie After Dark event. Basically they his little cutouts of David Bowie throughout the grounds, had Heaven Malone DJ Bowei related tunes, and renamed everything to be Bowie themed. It was kind of silly but totally fun. There was a photo booth that we of course couldn't resist utilizing and we took advantage of the opportunity to take the "cosmic" shot above.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My little brother is 40 today.

Read that title. I mean, what?! When I turned 40 I admit I felt kind of confused, because to me 40 was always such an old person adult age, yet there I was, totally not the person acting like an old person adult. So the fact that now one of my younger siblings has hit that mile marker it makes me feel absolutely ancient! Don't you love how i turned your birthday into something all about me, Jason? Kidding!

40's a good age—I hope my brother's enjoying his entry into a new decade.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Photo tips fer yr iPhone!

Thanks to Caleb for passing this along. No arm selfies, here I come!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ughh, Your Parents Are Here have a song!


Last week I mentioned enjoying the hilarious rivalry unfolding between Riot Fest bands Ughh, My Parents Are Here, and Ur Lineup Sux, Bro, and now we have more new music from both bands. Ur Lineup Sux, Bro released a new song this morning building on the single they released last week. But to me the exciting news is that Chicagoist nabbed the premiere of the first single from Ughh, My Parents Are Here!

Dig both new songs below.


Monday, August 25, 2014

When 90% of music blog posts =in your feed reflect press releases that just arrived in your inbox, there's a problem.

The title pretty much says it all, doesn't it? And it explains why I find it so painful to keep up with most music sites nowadays. I wonder if the average reader is aware just how little that's printed isn't directly sourced from publicists and labels. I mean, sure, I refer to press releases to help me craft content but outside a straight up announcement—and jeez, usually even within the context of one—I try to add a little something of additional value. Otherwise what's the difference between a music writer and something like PR Newswire?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ur Lineup Sux, Bro vs Ughh, My Parents Are Here.

I've really been enjoying the (online? IRL?) rivalry between Riot Fest bands Ur Lineup Sux, Bro and Ughh, My Parents Are Here. It's looks like Riot fest has been enjoying it too.
Anyway, it looks like at least one of the two bands has actually released a single! Download it and enjoy some weekend music.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

R2D2 for ALS.

I don't think you can top this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ride the bucking BRONCHO!

Photo of BRONCHO by Jaret Ferratusco.
I thought BRONCHO's last album was nice but it never really sunk it's hooks into me. That changes with their forthcoming new LP, Just Enough Hip To Be Woman. Holy crap is this some white hot rock and/or roll shit. Caught in a timeless inter-dimensional portal where Parker Posey's '70s bully meets her '80s Party Girl, this album brings on the party while throwing up the '70s riffs.

Fuck that wasn't a bad last line. I'm totally using it when previewing their Riot Fest appearance in Chicago. Can I do that? Or would I be plagiarizing myself? Can you plagiarize yourself? is this a whole 'mother discussion? Yes. Yes it is.

Well, BRONCHO is plagiarizing no one. They may be tipping their hat at a misread of influences but this teenage bedroom stadium rock is a blen that is 100% them. The album's out on September 16 and I suspect you'll want to add it to your collection.

Like I said, BRONCHO's playing Riot Fest so I'll see 'em in September, but if they come through your town I recommend seeing them.

Now, rock out to the songs below and tell me they don't both leave you grinning like you did the first time you discovered what happened when you covered fried dough with powdered sugar and shoved it in your mouth.