Friday, April 11, 2014

Finding Love, Keeping Love

One of the very first photos of us as a couple in 2008.

The night he proposed. 
We're getting married!! 

I wrote a little something to put here, but it might be a little too personal, a little too gushy. Perhaps I'll share more later...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On Not Freaking Out

This was supposed to go up like a month ago, but I think I burned myself out from editing all the things that I was working on! I guess I needed a little break. I was covering some pretty crazy things for Chicagoist and well, for myself.  Stuff I never thought I 'd have the opportunity to do, and honestly didn't even think I wanted to do, but when the opportunities presented themselves, when those invites came in, I just said yes. I challenged myself and faced my fear of falling on my face.

The first was was an event for the television shows Chicago Fire and Chicago PD--a panel with the casts of both shows and Executive Producer Dick Wolf complete with a red carpet beforehand. Once I realized this red carpet "interview opportunity" was basically Access Hollywood-style, I was anxious, but I showed up and got through it. I ended up with zero interviews since it was basically one long photo op that I wish I had brought a real camera for, but I made the best of it. I also learned that the business of covering television is a weird place. I now know all the character and actors' names from both shows. I feel like I know a little TOO much about these people.

(Todd Rosenberg)
The following week I got an out of the blue invite from Hubbard Street Dance to observe rehearsals with celebrity guests Nigel Lythgoe and Jenna Elfman. They were in town for So You Think You can Dance auditions, but came to Hubbard Street representing the Dizzy Feet Foundation. I brought my SLR for this one, but ended up with an eight minute interview with the pair instead, that I was of course, unprepared for. It turned out great though, they were both really nice and the conversation went well. The tough part was compiling all the material into a cohesive write-up. I'm still kicking myself for not including one of my favorite quotes from Lythgoe about SYTYCD*, but sometimes when I'm writing something--considering my focus, support points and what quotes to use--all the puzzle pieces don't quite fit together. Sometimes the points I find the most interesting don't serve the piece as a whole (or maybe I need to listen to what I'm saying here and change my approach. Chuck literally said in a note to the Chicagoist staff today, "I've always said if you find something interesting, the readers will.").

I'm learning how to conduct a better interview through experience, too. Sometimes you have zero research or not much time with your subject and have to stick with general questions while others you can get more in depth (like this kickass interview I did with choreographer Brock Clawson). I've even been paying more attention to the interviewer when reading or listening to interviews lately. The most important question I ask myself is...what would I be most interested in knowing about this person? This is your one opportunity to ask them!

I'm also learning that when you get to meet a celebrity or someone you admire, you don't necessarily get as overwhelmed as you might think because you have a job to do. But as a friend said to me one day when I was freaking out.... they're just people doing their job, they just have weird jobs.

*and that quote is: "We have to do something that is much more commercial, we have to appeal to a far wider audience than Kylian or ballet or anything otherwise we'd never get on television. It’s a very niche audience, ballet in particular is very sort of white elite in this country. We've got to appeal to a far greater audience than that so we try every now and again to educate as well as entertain and that’s a difficult thing to do, you don’t want to feel like you’re talking down to anybody, your viewers. At the same time when we talk about a pirouette we always say ‘you know when you did that turn, the pirouette,’ and then ‘when you were there with your leg up there in the arabesque,’ and so we always try and give the right terminology at the same time as helping people understand what the hell we’re talking about. It’s a fine line.”

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ten Years

I moved to Chicago ten years ago today. Groundhog Day 2004. I was 23 years old. 23! An age where you jump without looking and worry about how you're going to land on your way down. Maybe I work best under pressure. Or maybe I was just young, hopeful and naive.

I've had three real boyfriends, two full time jobs, three part time ones, six apartments, two writing gigs, 9 Lollapaloozas and two mayors. I went through some rough times along the way, as any person would over a decade, but I also made some really great memories and great friends, and found the guy that I hope to make the rest of life’s big memories with.

When I moved here from Missouri, my parents wondered aloud why I went north, given that I hate cold weather, but I had my sights set on the big city. I was enamored by any place where you could get everywhere by subway and didn’t need a car. Well, I haven’t owned a car in more than nine years, but I have developed a special kind of detestation for the Chicago Transit Authority. I've also lived through blizzasters, snowpocalypses, thundersnow, snowbrawls and built up an arsenal of winter gear. And you know what, I love it. If it’s going to snow, be record breaking amounts of snow. If it’s going to be cold, let it be so crazy cold that it gets a villainous name like Polar Vortex. I hate that it hurts to go outside, I hate that my fingers go numb, and I get real tired of the bundling up come March, but winters here take hearty folks and create a sense of community like no other.*

So go ahead and visit in the summer months and enjoy the music festivals, street fests, food fests, parks, restaurants, museums, friendly confines, thing we “affectionately call Bean” and beaches that have water on one side and a famous city skyline on the other, but if you want to know what it’s like to really appreciate those things, you’ve gotta spend all four seasons here.

I’ve looked forward to this milestone because somehow I decided that’s the point that get to call myself a real Chicagoan. And how will I commemorate this decadeversary? By doing the one Chicago thing that I somehow managed to miss out on for ten years: going to the top of the Sears** Tower!

*I’ll admit that this winter in particular has been especially challenging, and you know how I know that? Because I’ve been here for ten of them.

**Never Willis.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Now Playing: TLC

While I was stuck in bed sick over the weekend, I must have been to sick to pick up the remote, because I ended up watching a TLC marathon on some cable channel.* Did you know that there's a TLC movie? Like, a legit movie, a dramatization of their careers. And it's not all that bad! I didn't realize that they were pretty much broke throughout the beginning of their career as a result of a shitty contract with their original manager--classic story, right? I also seemed to forget just how many TLC songs I knew even though I never owned any of their albums. They did rule the charts for a while there, and hopefully got a lot of young girls to take pride in themselves. Which also got me thinking... When I was growing up, there were a lot of female musicians making music with empowering, positive messages for women: TLC, Salt n Peppa, even Lauryn Hill. Are there any artists like that for adolescents these days? I mean, Miley and Taylor aren't exactly the greatest role models.

*I guess the surviving members of TLC performed in some sort of VH1 Super Bowl concert countdown in NY last night, which would explain the promotion.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


My bf and I went to see Savion Glover at the Harris Theater on Friday, and let me tell you, 16 year old me wanted to be tap dancing in the aisles the whole time. This is the guy that made tap dance cool in the 90's around the same time as productions like STOMP. He's got award upon award, Tony to Academy, but there's some humility there, too. His homepage links only to his HooFeRz CLub School For Tap, and his bio in the playbill simply read, "Savion Glover (hoofer, father, husband) Praise Almighty God. Please enjoy the evening. Chaney, I love you."

My preview for Chicagoist is here, but it doesn't do the performance justice. (Sometimes for a one-off show, you gotta preview instead of review.) The show, called STePz, had great pacing between show offs, dance offs, even funny nods to those other dance classes you've gotta sit through as a student. They also also drew wonderful parallels between the complexities of jazz music and the sound of tap. Best of all, Glover makes it all look effortless. If you ever get a chance to see a legend like him live, do it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Grammy Hangover

I actually enjoyed this year's Grammy Awards--the performances, appearances and even more, that the awards went to the right groups instead of fueling the label machine. Daft Punk walked away with a bunch of gramophones, including Album of the Year (Random Access Memories) and Record of the Year ("Get Lucky"). Word is that their Spotify plays went up more than 200% after the awards show. A lot of people are learning more about these two French musicians who run around in robot helmets and don't speak, even though they've been ruling the EDM scene for two decades.

I'll be honest though, I hated their new album when it came out. I thought it was too disco (a long night of underground disco with James Murphy ruined me) and not enough robot. But after time and listens, these songs grew on me. When I hear them out in the wild, they sound like classics that I've known for years. I hear the precision and timelessness, even though the genre is so time stamped. Not only do they show us the good parts of disco, they teach us about it, too, by bringing in producer Nile Rodgers, but then having pioneer Giorgio Moroder literally give us a history lesson on "Giorgio By Moroder." Sometimes you just have to throw judgement out the window and trust the pros like Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Now Playing: HAIM

This is a post that I fully intended to write last fall when I was positively obsessed with this album. Not that my love has waned at all... I still light up and dance when I hear any of these songs, and Days Are Gone is still strong in the rotation. So, let's go ahead and say HAIM is Still Playing.

I ended up finally writing this for our Chicagoist Staff Best Of list which went up today.

HAIM - Days Are Gone
There wasn’t a lot of music that grabbed my attention last year, but HAIM’s (pronounced like time) Days Are Gone hooked me hard. I spent the latter half of summer going back and forth between their Falling EP and Spotify Sessions anticipating the full album release in September. With a little bit of heart, a little bit of Heart and a strong 80’s synth pop influence, these three sisters from California gave us catchy songs like “The Wire” and the aforementioned “Falling” that I’m still humming around the house, on my walk to the El and even in the shower. In addition to being the musical guest on SNL last fall, the ladies also gave a slight nod to that 80’s influence with a cameo in the fun little skit “Josie”, bringing the lyrics of The Outfield’s “Your Love” to life.