Friday, July 31, 2015

Get me some brisket and send me on my way!

Mich has always met me at Lolla on Friday, but this year she's took the day off so she can cover it from beginning to end. Which means this is also the first year she'll be joining me for my pre-show ritual of brisket at Lille's Q. Yay!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lolla starts earlier and earlier every year.

Tonight Mich is going to see MR MS play a pre-Lolla show ... in a fan's living room. Surreal.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"Radio Waves" and lame airwaves.

Somewhere in my basement is a VHS copy of the videos from Roger Waters' Radio K.A.O.S.  I'm embarrassed by how cool I thought this video was. I do maintain the album isn't bad though, especially when expanded with the b-sides and unreleased tracks from the time to create a more full narrative.

Looking forward to giving the just released remastered Amused To Death another listen to see if I still think it's aged well, by the way.

Friday, July 24, 2015

That nose ring looks pretty rad, Rivers.

On the trials and tribulations of dating in the digital age of mobile communication and presenting yourself in the manner that will most attract the appropriate attention from the desired parties you are attempting to communicate with.

Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Why are you hitting yourself?

That title is an internal debate I have far too often.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Last man standing.

This was once a huge steel plant. Soon, if developers get their way and manage to get its toxic grounds re-zoned, it'll be yuppie condos. Progress!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A brief glimpse past the one-way mirror.

"You're asking me to reveal the best bits of my upcoming memoirs." — Sir Ian McKellen to Marc Maron

The above quote is from a recent episode of the WTF podcast and it hints at why so many celebrity interviews end up sucking and why Maron's are so terrific so often. To McKellen's credit he did answer every question and it was a great sport, but that line popped out at me because it's one of the few times a celebrity has been so obviously forthright about the boundaries the old school expects when it comes to submitting to profiles while promoting new work (films / books / etc.).


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

'Ant-Man' proves Marvel can do no wrong (for now).

Mich and I took the day off yesterday after the whole Pitchfork Music Festival shebang to write in the morning and relax in the afternoon. Wee ended up treating ourselves to burgers at Kuma’s. Mich loves the held-sized burgers you can get during the week during lunchtime hours since they’re just the right size for her, while I stuff my self into an induce a meat coma with 10 oz. of ground beef slathered with cheese, bacon and fried egg. I’m getting both sleepy and happy just thinking about it.

As we were walking home we decided to stop by the movie theater and checkout showtimes and what do you know, Ant-Man was just about to screen in the theater with the fancy schmancy sound equipment!

The movie was a delight—though whop knows how much better it would’ve been had Edgar Wright actually directed it—and proved that Marvel Studios is truly on one hell of a streak. This is two summers in a row they’ve taken marginal characters and turned them into blockbuster superheroes though excellent casting and strong storytelling (and just enough wit to be funny without winking so hard the hero topple into the territory of the silly). No spoilers from me, but there are lots of inside nods to stuff even I’d forgotten about from my younger years buried between boxes and boxes of comic books, while still pushing along the larger Marvel Universe narrative that’s slowly steamrolling towards Civil War.*

On the way home I caught myself marveling to myself (no pun intended, seriously) about just how far superhero movies had come. And how I’m still honestly surprised that they’re being executed so perfectly. Which probably shouldn’t surprise since I’d suspected all along the reason many superhero flicks flopped was because they either couldn’t take the subject matter seriously, or changed it too drastically in an attempt to take it seriously. Which just doesn’t make sense when you consider that comic books—sequential art—are almost already ins storyboard form. So previous movies that failed? That’s the fault of Hollywood thinking they know better than the artist that made the strories of these superheroes, um, the hero of their endeavors, in the first place. That’s probably why Marvel threw up their hands and just said, “Fuck it all, we got this.”

And boy do they.

*A storyline I look forward to watching unfold since it occurred after I’d moved on from being a regular comic book reader.

Monday, July 20, 2015

It was a lot of work but it was worth it.

Our coverage of Pitchfork weekend is up, so read all about the action on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I've seen much of the other coverage and can say with great confidence that the Chicagoist writers turned in some of the best, and most comprehensive, writing of the whole weekend. Huzzah!

Friday, July 17, 2015

And festival season officially kicks off.

Pitchfork this weekend, Wicker Park Fest (and f*ck fest at Double Door) next week, Lollapalooza the week after that ... hoo boy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

P4K 2015.

We've been working up our previews for each day and I have to admit when I first saw the Pitchfork Music festival line-up I thought it was nicely done, but honestly I also thought it seemed a little too, well, Pitchfork-y. Meaning I expected to spend great swathes of the day wandering around Union Park just sort of taking in the scene between the handful of acts I really wanted to see while avoiding the more recent buzzy bands. But as I've been digging deeper I think this Pitchfork may have more unexpected delights for me than I initially anticipated. Which is good, since I plan on drinking like a normal human being and not simply downing as much free beer in the VIP as most folks in my position tend to do between the bands they're covering.

I think I'm actually excited!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wherein our hero learns shocking news on just what kind of stress he's been putting his heart through.

The above image show what 10 days of not smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages will do for your resting heart rate. TEN DAYS. ONLY TEN DAYS!

I found this frankly shocking despite knowing deep down just how bad those two particular habits are for one’s health. But that’s always sort of an abstract thought, isn’t it? Yu never think of either of those being particularly taxing on your heart, right? You immediately think lungs or liver and localize the damage you’re doing to yourself. 

But to see how quickly the body is willing to right itself is nothing short of amazing.

I should have known this. I’ve spent plenty of night’s lying on the couch, watching TV, and trying to will my heart to cease trying to thump through my ribcage,out of my chest and leap across the room. But I thought that was just part of getting old. Well, it appears that presumption was certainly not accurate!

Yeah, I think these are gonna have to go.
Of course this leads me to start rethinking those bad habits. Abstinence is certainly one possible route, but let’s be honest and admit that certainly seems less than fun. But then again, dying early or prematurely taxing my heart beyond its limits also seems less than fun.

So, moderation it is.

On the drinking side I think this will be easier. Both slowing my pace when imbibing and skipping the minibar (or actual bar) at social occasions more often will take care of that. The smoking will be tougher, so I may need your help with that. So to that end I have a question for my friends—especially ex-smokers—currently vaping or e-cigging:

Where can I go in Chicago—preferable Wicker Park, Bucktown, or Logan Square—that the staff will help set me up with the right gear for my tastes? I’e smoked Marlboro Lights for decades and wonder if there’s a suitable substitute out there for those. And if you currently vape / e-cig do you have your own recommendations on what most closely approximates the smoking experience?

Help me out, friends. My heart (and lungs and everything else) will thank you.

Monday, July 13, 2015

When relaunches, reunions, and reboots don't suck.

This is excitement and shock, I think. This photo's also 7 years old!
Usually I'm one of those people crying about the fact that everything from my youth is being recycled for a new generation. Reboots and reunions are at the forefront of this qualm, but that's mainly because many of those come across as either lazy or cynical outgrowths of a lack of current creativity. But this last week has seen a fair amount of movement as icons from my own past are rising again in new and really, really pleasing ways. For once this material seems to be coming in for another cycle because there is actual creative juice behind all of it rather than boredom or a fear of innovation. In fact the thing that makes all of these stand out is a mixture combining the embrace of what made all of these things great with a restlessness to uncover new and exciting angles to explore as they come back into the public eye. In my opinion last week's Veruca Salt album helped really kick this off, but things really started churning this weekend.

First, J.J. Abrams removed any lingering doubts there weren't actual thrills left in the Star Wars franchise, becasue there totally is!

And then shortly after that both Batman and Superman proved their own ongoing reboot was going to continue to please. (Well, please me at least. I know some are not fans of the current Man Of Steel, but I still am.)

That was enough for me, but no! Then Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell have to show up and underscore that not only is their upcoming Evil Dead sequel going to be good, it looks to be even sharper and funnier (and maybe scarier?) than its predecessors.

By now, Tankboy at every age was giddily floating on a cloud because for once totems from both childhood and his teenage era were not only coming back, but coming back strong. It couldn't get any better, could it?

Oh yes, it could.

In these cases, I don't mind the ghosts of my youth becoming corporeal. Not one whit.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ready for the weekend? Yeah, me too.

So let's pack this week up and move on to more relaxing pastures, shall we?

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Come ON summer!

Months ago we bought tickets to a baseball game tonight. It's the middle of July. It's Mich's favorite team. And we expected a game where we happily sweat in our seats eating hot dogs and nachos.

What happened instead?

It was 65º F and raining the whole time. That is not summer weather. Hell, I could deal with the rain if it wasn't freaking 30º F below what it's supposed to be at this time of year!

Chicago, are you trying to make me move to the land I hate the most, California?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Sick of all this weather.

The weather is still more summer than fall* and I’m physically under the weather** while personally weathering a litany of bummer circumstances.*** 

It can really wear on a guy.

*I mean, it’s cold and rainy and just generally blows outside! Summer is the only reason we put up with the other 8 months of Chicago and while that time frame might sound like a joke I assure you it is not.
**A hacking cough that won’t stop, massive headaches that feel like a spike is being driven from the base of my neck and into alternating eye sockets, along with chills along my spine. It’s quite lovely.
***Well, these are all of my own making so at least they are the one thing I have some control over as far as making things better.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Is "Good For You" good for Selena?

Photo via Selena Gomez's Facebook page
Selena Gomez’s transition from Disney kid to stadium-ready chanteuse has been a gradual one, and it’s been mostly smartly played. Even alongside the train wreck that is Justin Bieber she’s managed to come off looking poised, and powerful. Her collaboration with (current boyfriend?) Zedd plopped her in the middle of a smart pop EDM track that showed her voice was full enough to hold up against a wall of synths and boom-boom beats. It felt confident.

Which is why I find her first single off her forthcoming sophomore effort a little weird. “Good For you” isn’t a track that features the image of a woman showing her power, it’s sung from the viewpoint of someone who defines her worth by how her man perceives her. Which is actually something I find super weird. I mean, it’s an interesting sounding song—and the mix including A$AP Rocky embedded below is certainly the more sonically interesting of the two versions rolling around out there, even if it does remove any shred of ambiguity about the point of the song or who holds the power guiding the narrative.

Is it just because I’m old that this kind of squinks me out? Because I think it’s mostly the notion of a bunch of Gomez’s younger fans suddenly thinking the move of a grown up woman to attract a dude is to believe in the mantra “I just wanna look good for you, good for you / Let me show how proud I am to be yours” that makes me uneasy, because I’m pretty sure that’s not the best way to show you’re all grown up now. And I don’t think that the song as a whole can be argued as some positive attempt to give a woman agency in this particular exchange. The supplication is just, well, weird.

Or maybe I’m just a prude? Or worse, realizing I may have a daughter in the future and I’m going to have to explain stuff like this to her instead of just being confused by it myself?

Friday, July 03, 2015

It's been a week.

I had a rough-ish birthday this year but Mich more than made up for it by treating yesterday like it was my birthday instead. Maybe we didn't get a balloon ride out o it—it was too windy—but we got to take an adventure date out of the city and had a memorable, fun time. So, yay!

Thursday, July 02, 2015


We're doing this today! Hopefully finally bringing to life a childhood dream of mine. To ride in a hot air balloon!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Current jam: BØRN' "Seeing Stars."

Stumbled across this late night performance by BØRNS a few days ago and I really dig the energy. I also did not know until today the singer was a dude! And his drummer kicks ass. hell, the whole band kicks ass and just looks like they're having so much fun. I'm adding them to my list of bands to see at lollapalooza for sure.