Friday, September 5, 2014

"Can We Talk?"

Comedienne Joan Rivers passed away at the age of 81 yesterday. Oh what, you think 81 is old? Why should we be surprised? As Andy Cohen said on the Today Show this morning, "You don't hear people talking about how shocked they are about an 81-year-old passing away, but that's how much of a relevant life force she was to so many generations."

Over the last few years, I made her show Fashion Police a regular part of my week. As a girl who likes fashion but isn't wrapped up in the scene, I could devour the commentary of Joan, Giuliana, Kelly and George when I couldn't stand listening to other fashion "experts." Joan's jokes were crude and just wrong most of the time, but I was always laughing out loud. She could deliver a joke that no one else could get away with. (Heck, I've been saying for years that I would love to be a writer for the show, maybe I should take some comedy writing classes!)

Many Friday nights I stay in, mostly because there is an early Saturday morning yoga class that I like to go to, but also because Fashion Police was on, and since it wasn't on On Demand (no, we don't have DVR like the rest of you), I had to watch it in real time! And let's be honest, the events and jokes are timely, so you gotta stay current! And those awards show specials! In fact her last episode was an epic dual Emmys and MTV VMAs special last Tuesday, just two days before she went into cardiac arrest.

I remember liking Joan a lot when I was a kid, which I thought was really weird since her act was not exactly kid friendly. But there was just something about her, maybe I thought her voice was funny. I must have watched her daytime talk show when I was home from school over the summer. I think it was on before or after the Win, Lose or Draw game show because I associate them together... does anyone else remember that?! The more I learned about her over time, the more I liked her. Her act may have been cutting and nasty, but she seemed to be a really kind person in life.

Last night, instead of watching commentary of everyone crying, I decided that I wanted to laugh--her daughter, Melissa, even said, "My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."--so the fiance and I watched her stand-up special, Don't Start With Me instead.

I think I've gone on long enough, so let's salute one last time, Joan Rangers. To the lady herself--fabulous, confident, trailblazer--may you rest in peace, and where ever you are, make em laugh.

View image on Twitter

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Frequent Flyer Safety

Still in the Lollapalooza spirit, here's a video of Chromeo (who played on Sunday) lending their talents to an airline safety video.


Me in front of the good 'ol inflatable Lolla sign.

So...guess who ended up going to Lollapalooza last weekend. That's right, me. The ten year streak is alive! I just couldn't stay away. Is it FOMO? Maybe a little, but I really wanted to see live music in an environment that I feel comfortable in, and mentally let go for a couple of days. This year I realized that for a lot of people there, especially the young ones, Lollapalooza is something for them to experience, while for me, it's a place I can go to feel at home in my own city. I've spent most of my adult life in this city, and this festival has been an annual celebration for every year that I've been here.

I joined the Chicagoist-team on Lolla coverage and this year we did something a little different. It was a time-stamped write-up of band reviews and general festival experience. It ended up being a really cool post that provides different perspectives and let a little bit of each person's personality and approach to the festival come through. Nice job, team!

Read about Friday here, Saturday here and Sunday here. Oh yeah, I also got to see Spoon at Metro on Friday!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Missing Lolla?

Moving along and Lollapalooza is upon us. This is the first time in the ten years that the fest been in Chicago that I'm not going, and it feels kind of weird. I have mixed feelings about not going. The lineup isn't all that great, especially compared to past years (and it sold out before any bands were even announced!), and I'll be going to some parties and concerts in the Lolla vein anyway, but there's something about being in that atmosphere, watching a band's set outside... I'm going to miss it.

BUT, Riot Fest's lineup is much more amazing and it's just over a month away! I'll look forward to that!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fest Surprises

Grimes by Jessica Mlinaric
It was more play than work for me this weekend since I wasn't officially covering Pitchfork Music Festival, but that also meant getting to stumble onto some great bands. Usually when I cover a fest, I do my diligence and listen to and study up on every musical act. Sure I was adequately prepared and discovering new music, but I really missed the experience of stumbling on a band in a live setting. With the atmosphere and mood of an outdoor festival, it almost feels like you won something by walking by at the right time.

I was excited to have some of those experiences this weekend, especially since I wasn’t as familiar with the lineup as in years past. Here are some of the bands that caught my attention:

Schoolboy Q
Heavy hooks, melody and obviously rhythm had this hip-hop artist’s debut record at the top of the Billboard 200.

She’s a babe, and that was a high-energy dance party.

Wild Beasts
Rich sound that’s mellow enough for me to listen to at the office. 

Cloud Nothings
This one’s kind of old for me. I wrote about his debut back in 2010, but didn’t follow much after that. This was my first time seeing him live, and the kid’s got chops. Even after listening to all of their albums, I still got more of an impression of how wide his influences are in a live setting.

Even though I wasn’t officially covering the fest, I did sign up to review Jon Hopkins’ set for Chicagoist. Somebody told me a long time ago to check him out, and I was pleasantly surprised to see an electronic dance set that wasn’t one dumb bass drop after another.

Not a discovery, but a highlight: After releasing a super mellow Sea Change-esque album, a lot of us expected Beck’s set to be a snooze, but he proved us all wrong with one hit after another. I had seen him once before a few years ago at the Aragon, but this set was more memorable for me. Maybe it’s that outdoor, closing a festival feeling, but one thing is still for sure: I’m still kinda pissed at my parents for not letting me go see him at Pointfest back in ‘97.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Great White Buffalo

"its like the international sex and the city"
In the movie Hot Tub Time Machine, four middle-aged guys go back to the ski resort where they had one of the best trips of their young lives and they continuously mention, in a whisper, the illusive Great White Buffalo. They never really explain what the Great White Buffalo refers to, but you just know that whatever it is, it was totally epic.

Many of my girlfriends and I speak this way of the summer of 2008. "Best Summer Ever" we'll say under our breaths. And it truly was. It's like all the stars aligned that summer, and a truly great group of people crossed paths for a season. The weather was absolutely perfect, we sat on the MCA lawn for Tuesdays on the Terrace every week as our spreads grew more and more elaborate (I'm pretty sure they enacted the "no outside food or drink" rule because of us--sorry), we had a beach volleyball team and our weekends consisted of us "staycationing" on North Avenue Beach. We hit up music festivals, Movies in the Park and First Fridays (we spent a lot of time at the MCA, that was also the summer of the giant Jeff Koons exhibit). Most of us ladies were unattached which led to some funny nicknames and memorable stories. Not to mention we all had Hope behind the campaign of a local candidate for president and for the end of a recession.

What started out as a very rough year for me blossomed into, well, the Best Summer Ever. And then towards the end I met my now fiance. An epic summer indeed.

We tried to recreate this magic the following summer, and summers after that, but we discovered that you just cant make lightening to strike twice.  You can't force the weather to cooperate with your plans, people couple up, move away, and now my girl Fuji is joining them, leaving the city to meet her man in Nebraska. I'm gonna miss you, Fuj!

Hey, none of us are saying we don't love our lives now, but the summer of '08 will always be our Great White Buffalo.

This Guy Can Dance

So, you think you can dance? This guy can dance.

Fabrice Calmels is a guy I've had my eye on for the last few years as I've been covering Joffrey programs for Chicagoist. He's a downright stunning man, standing at 6'6" he's a head above the rest of the dancers on the stage, but he's also one of the best dancers I've ever seen. Once I heard that he was going to be a guest judge on FOX' So You Think You Can Dance, I thought it was a great opportunity to interview him for the site. It's my first piece focusing on a dancer rather than a company or a choreographer, which is something I've wanted to do for quite some time.

It came down to the wire, but we got the interview just one day before the Chicago auditions episode, and somehow got it transcribed and posted with just hours to spare before it aired. So much thanks to Tankboy putting on his editor hat to help me!

The episode aired on Wednesday, but you can still watch it online. Without further ado, here's the link:

Interview: Joffrey Ballet Dancer Fabrice Calmels