Friday, June 29, 2007

Way to go, Bridgeview

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Sunday I was driving early enough to catch a bit of Breakfast with the Beatles, the morning show hosted by Terry Hemmert on WXRT. Usually Hemmert’s drooling devotion to the fab four is enough to make even this fan roll the eyes, but when she had the audacity to play “Ebony and Ivory” in celebration of whatever Paul related shit is going down, well that was too much.

There is no reason to play “Ebony and Ivory”—never, not for gen-ex irony, not for an easy laugh, not while high, drunk or depressed. It isn’t even advisable to play the cover version by Murphy’s Law featuring the singer from Fishbone. Leave the god-awful thing alone and let’s forget Paul’s regrettable ‘80s persona. Granted, had Hemmert trotted out “The Dog Gone Girl is Mine” it might have been worse, but there is something uniquely offensive to “Ebony and Ivory” that no duet with the king of pop can capture. Maybe one can rationalize things by saying that Michael Jackson, inherently odd and quite possibly an alien, infected Paul with the suck virus somewhere between the Thriller album and the “Say Say Say” single. But Stevie Wonder is regarded as being a musical genius, as is Paul. Logistically, they ought to have made magic. They should have, in theory, but they were both past their prime. Stick two revered icons of a vanished musical era in the same room, add some bland production, more than a dash of lazy, simplistic sociopolitical pondering and a really obnoxious metaphor, and the result is one of the biggest pieces of crap ever to be pressed in vinyl. The ‘80s gave us The Police, The Melvins, The Pogues, The Butthole Surfers, Bongwater, Slayer, Metallica (when they were good), Husker Du, My Bloody Valentine, Devo, The Jam, Joy Division, Tom Waits at his prime, R.E.M., The Descendents, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Big Black, Naked Raygun… so much of my favorite music came from this decade, though what is clear is that the ‘80s were not good to previous generations of tired rockers. Paul sucked, Stevie sucked, even the Who were pretty useless (though they had been for sometime). Only the Kinks managed a worthwhile single in this decade with “Come Dancing.”

Hearing this horrible track by Paul and Stevie, a song I was sure I would never have to again endure, made me see just how slavishly devoted Beatles goons can be. Terry Hemmert is a fucking sheep. If she had any real love for the Beatles she would have never allowed that song to air; she would have burned any copy she found in the colon of the studio. And come to think of it, what the fuck is “Ebony and Ivory” doing in the XRT studio? This is the station that has long coasted on its hip credibility, the station that has the ability to draw new “alternative” listeners by highlighting the laughably bad songs from the last three White Stripes records and promoting the bloated excess that is the Smashing Pumpkins reunion while also retaining their older fans with the occasional John Prine cut. Why do they own one of the worst songs of not only the ‘80s but all music history? I could see if they played “Muskrat Love” once in a blue moon just for a larf, but there is nothing good that can come from kicking back and listening to “side by side on my on my piano keyboard, oh lord, why don’t we?”

I love my music। God knows I defend a lot of it. How many friends have had to tolerate my endless lectures on the importance of Japanese Noise? How many have thought me strange for owning Thomas Dolby CDs? Yeah, I can defend any CD I own—you want to know why? Because I don’t own any Paul McCartney CDs released during or after the ‘80s and I don’t listen to crap, especially crap that comes from a once great artist. Once R.E.M. sang “Shinny Happy People” I got the fuck out of there. Once Shane got booted (or quit, depending on which interview you read) from the Pogues, I dismissed not only the band but also the solo efforts of their former front man. Once Sting went solo, he was dead to me. I know when to let go. Terry Hemmert and all the other idol worshipers ought to do likewise. Jesus, let your heroes die with a little dignity.

PS: Though the song “Ebony and Ivory” is one of the biggest piles of crap ever, it did give birth to two of the better TV parodies, the infamous SNL Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra duet and, even better, Gob and Franklin’s immortal song from Arrested Development. “It ain’t easy being white/ it ain’t easy being brown. All this pressure to be bright/ I’ve got children all over town.” Yeah, you’re my bro and my brother.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Judd Apatow of Freaks and Geeks (and, all right, the 40 Year Old Virgin) fame staged this farce in promotion of his new film, Knocked Up, and as a way of pimping the soon to be released Superbad featuring Michael Cera (of the late Arrested Development, greatest show in television history). Watch the funny here:

Even more hilarious is the manner in which Apatow and Cera parody the infamous feud of Lily Tomlin and David O. Russell which yielded this wonderful footage form the I Heart Huckabees set:

It feels good to laugh again.

Monday, June 18, 2007

While we’re on the subject…

An old article about one of my favorite subjects: (Thank you, bella)

It is partially because I am a fan of Rushdie’s work that I post this but my obsession with the fatwa is also rooted in the idea, as the article states, that a book can upset this many people and shake the foundations of a religious belief. Anyone who charges anoher with religious offense or claims to ever be upset by any challenge to their belief only demonstrates their true lack of faith and tenuous grasp on religious philosophy.

Sir Salman

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dude, I just saw Mangum

He’s pissed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Printer’s Row

The first time I went to the Printer’s Row book fair was when I worked for the bookstore. That was fun. It started with me and the manager wheeling boxes of books on a dolly to replenish the stock the boss had brought down to the south loop. Maneuvering through dense foot traffic, we eventually found the tent where book buyers were hovering around like moths to light. Once the boxes were unpacked I was given my second job: buying beer. I must have hit the White Hen on Dearborn and Harrison six times that day. Six pack after six-pack was bought and consumed almost as fast as we were selling books. It is really a task sitting in the hot sun surrounded by scantly clad women and literary geeks and trying to get your beer hazed mind to figure out tax and change. Good times. Later, at the after party, more beer was consumed along with mini quiche and other finger foods, none of which went well with the booze. The man himself left the party before us, heading back in the decrepit Suburban “bookmobile” while the rest of us followed in the rental van. My coworker left his bag at the bar and we had to go back. Good thing we did; we wound a wad of bills on the floor under where the boss had been sitting. It was not uncommon for him to lose money this way. I don’t think the man believes in wallets.

The next time I worked Printer’s Row was considerably less fun. The sun was merciless and I was clad in black. The sales were shit and the spot in which they placed us, the far west corner of the fair on Polk and Clark far from the action and fun, sucked. There was no store then so essentially we were selling off the dregs of the stock that failed to sell during the great going out of business days. It was almost embarrassing. My brother and future sister-in-law stopped by, amazed that I was still standing upright in my black ensemble, sweat falling from my brow like Waterfall Glen. I decided after that weekend that my days of working the fair were over.

Since then I have always hit the fair for fun, not profit. To be sure, I was usually paid in books and beer anyway. These last two years have been especially fun. Last year started with a trip to the Art Institute with mi niña and the little loco King Zion. We meandered over to the book fair where I shopped a bit, as best I could with the King on my shoulders.

This year I hit it early on Saturday, 10:00 AM to be exact. Not wanting to pay for parking, I left the car in Greektown and walked up Jackson to the fair. One friend was already there and we meet up at the Powell’s tent and walked from point A to B, a journey that yielded many books (Soviet plays, 19th Century Russian plays, a book on book collecting, William Carlos Williams’ Patterson, a few other tidbits of interest). By noon I had spent most of my budgeted cash and was lugging around two bags, not to mention the one I had brought on my shoulder. We stop for a slice of pizza and a beer, exhausted already by noon. Before long, he leaves and I sit on a park bench and ponder reading Proust. Before I can crack a book, I get a call from another buddy, tell him where I am and once again walk through the fair in search of books. And after, I return to the same bar for another beer, watching the clock in anticipation.

3:00 P.M. I find a seat in the Heartland tent and wait as Chuck Barris takes the stage. He is being interviewed, promoting his new book The Big Question. Mostly he answers questions about The Gong Show, which suits me fine, though when someone finally asks about the CIA plot of his “Unauthorized Autobiography,” he is dismissive. “Let’s skip the CIA thing,” he says adding a touch of mystery to the event. I was thrilled to see Chuckie Baby in the middle of the big literary festival. He didn’t stay on stage long—“I’ve gotta catch a plane”—but he did sign books, including my recently purchased Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. That alone made it a worthwhile day.

Back to the bar for one more with my buddy and I take off for the poetry tent। Only one of the students in my program showed up (not the one I was looking for, the one I had tentative plans to meet for dinner) as well as one of my instructors, standing with an Author tag around her skinny neck, anxious to go play artist on stage. I decide not to stick around to hear her read. The class is over and she had to have put my grade in, so there’s little reason to kiss ass. I like the woman and I did want to catch some of her poems, but I was exhausted, full of beer and weighed down with books. And I still had to walk back to Greektown in the blistering sun—a walk to the west where the sun sets, down Jackson again where there is little shade. And I realize as I am walking back to my car that I am again wearing black.
An hour later I am driving to Devon and Western with mi niña and her primo। We hit a favorite haunt and have Indian food, a perfect cap to a long day। Now the belly is full of peas, potatoes rice and curry। I drink only water and want only sleep.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chuckie Baby!

Chuck Barris will be at Printer’s Row this year. Goddamn this is going to be a great weekend.

“This is the day your life will surely change”

After a long week of working on final papers and dealing with bureaucratic crap involving the state of Illinois, the city of Burbank and Chase bank, I drove back from my Grandmother’s empty house, having just scrapped an orange pre-tow notice from my car window, having, prior to discovering that violation, waxed pointlessly nostalgic about how, 30 years ago, I walked the same streets on my way back from St. Albert’s school where my aunt’s dog, Fluffy, was waiting.

(Can you tell I started reading Proust?)

I get home, eat cereal and look over the last draft of my paper, stay up late doing so and watching, once I was done, a rerun of The Simpsons I’ve seen countless times. During one of the commercial breaks, I hear a familiar tune which I place as “This is the Day” by The The. I could be wrong, but I think it was a commercial for M and M’s. I was never a huge The The fan, but I like a lot of what they did, though clearly not enough to replace my lost copy of Mind Bomb. I was always a bit leery of admitting that I was even a casual fan, as Johnny Marr was their guitar player and his connection The Smiths always troubled me (even though I had a copy of Meat is Murder stashed all clandestine in the back of cassette collection).

Hearing that song, even in such an inglorious setting, made me all weepy (damn memory), but in a good way. I really had a lousy week, though I got to see family and finish school (for the next few weeks at least). Anyway, I need that song. And a few others, which I’ll list now:

“This is the Day” – The The (claro।)

“That’s Entertainment” – The Jam (claro claro.)

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division (a song I have spent money on countless times. I’ve bought the best of Joy Division twice already and I always lose the CD.)

“Killing Moon” – Echo and the Bunnymen (this is turning into a real Donnie Darko CD.)

“Fallen Angel” – King Crimson (Because Peyton used to play it at top volume when he was painting in the crappy dorm room adjacent to mine and it always awed me.)

“Ruby’s Arms” – Tom Waits (can you believe I don’t have this anymore? It’s the saddest song I’ve ever heard, a real heart wrencher.)

“Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” – Leonard Cohen (an essential for those 2 AM, half drunk, poorly spent nights of folly gazing out the window, smoking and sipping the last swallow of pinot noir and feeling stupidly poetic, then writing, then waking and reading what you wrote and seeing how full of shit you are.)

“Up the Junction” – Squeeze (Somehow I lost my copy of the singles collection. This and “Cool for Cats” are important must haves.)

The first person to get me all those songs on a mix CD wins a prize।

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Churchill and Emerson, New Age Gurus

Read this:

It won’t take you long and is quite amusing. Apparently Oprah learned nothing from the James Frey debacle. And who among her cult is gong to question the anti-logic of this feel good bullshit?

Friday, June 01, 2007

How dedicated are you to your favorite book?