Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fighting for the right to stickers.

I voted, too, but I did not get a sticker.

Yesterday was Election Day across the country, and while I don't usually talk politics, I'm disappointed to hear that my state elected the person I did not vote for for governor.

Moving on to more important issues, when you vote in the city of Chicago, you do not get an "I Voted" sticker. You get this crummy piece of paper instead. This is crazy.

Image from Brandon Wall. That exclamation point does not make us feel better. 

Apparently the Board of Elections stopped handing out stickers twenty years ago because voters would put the stickers on the walls on their way out of the polling place. 

What is this? It's like we're the red-headed stepchild of the US. OHHHH, look at Chicago, they can't seem to handle the responsibility of stickers, so they get pieces of paper that they have to pin on their lapels with safety pins. Safety pins that they have to provide themselves, because if they can't handle stickers, what makes you think they could properly use a sharp object. Maybe give them tape instead. No, wait, they'll just stick that on the walls, too, and it's clear so we can't find it. Paper only. 

Please give us stickers. We will be good. We promise. We will only put them on ourselves and not on walls. (We will even try to remember to remove said sticker from our shirts before placing them in the wash.) Please do not punish us for the missteps of our fathers. 

HEY! Maybe the city could hold a design contest for voter stickers! With all my long-distance friends rubbing their stickers in my facebook, I have seen many clever designs from many different municipalities. It could even take the place of the contest for the car city stickers that the city scrapped! I'm sure they could find some way to monetize that!

Can we petition to add this important issue to the next ballot? VOTE YES FOR STICKERS!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Party Time Excellent

Busy October had me busy, but much happened that will hopefully make it to the blog at some point. What could not wait though is our Chicagoist ten-year anniversary party! Tomorrow night at Emporium! This party has everything: hosted bar, raffle prizes that benefit a place to help kids write good, food trucks, live music, recorded music, and some of the best darn writer people in town.

Be there!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cultural Diversity

From a punk rock music festival to the ballet to a museum exhibit about a starman, it's been quite a week.

Kind of sucks. Would recommend. Appearing in Denver this weekend. Pictures to come.

The Joffrey Ballet's current program. Hurry and go though because this one only lasts through the weekend. Stick around for the last piece, it's a doozy. I wrote about it for Chicagoist.

And Finally: DAVID BOWIE IS...
I got to attend the press preview at the Museum of Contemporary Art this morning. There were Aladdin Sane cookies. The exhibit opens next Tuesday aka David Bowie Day. Also recommend.

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

Riot Fest Tops The Rest

The lineup for this year's Riot Fest was announced this week and it's a doozy. Just when you thought the music festival bubble had burst, that every fest had morphed into the same cookie cutter lineup, this happens. And get this...instead of Perry Farrell playing his own festival's tenth year in Chicago, Jane's Addiction will play Riot Fest's 10th Anniversary. Jaw. Drop. Mind. Blown.

It was a big week for Tankboy and Chicagoist with the initial lineup announcement (yes, that's yours truly posing as "an excited Riot Fest fan"), an interview with the fest's founder, Riot Mike, and this latest announcement that ten of the bands will be playing full album sets in honor of the tenth anniversary.

I don't want to wish summer away, but I'm excited for September to get here!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Engagement Photos

We're pretty excited about getting married, but decided to forgo an engagement party and photo session since our life is pretty much one big party and we got to take pics with these folks the week we got engaged:

Really though, aren't there enough events already involved in the whole wedding process?

Now Playing: Chromeo

We had the pleasure of seeing these guys at a small-ish venue (smaller than these two usually play anyway) last week, and they just released a new album which I've been totally jamming ever since. Can not get "Sexy Socialite" out of my head! Listen to those lyrics, too, they're kind of hilarious.

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.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Community Action: Snow Edition

With the 10 inches of snow on the ground, and another eight expected today... it's time for my annual reminder that shoveling your sidewalk is the law in ChicagoMunicipal Code sections 4-4-310 and 10-8-180 state that property owners and occupants are responsible for keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice. 

Here is a pdf of a friendly door hanger for your neighbors, but you can also pick them up at your alderman's office. Here is a more detailed pamphlet on the specifics of the law, including how quickly you should have snow removed and how to report locations that don't (Basically just call 311). Individuals and business who don't could face fines. I'm not sure how often these fines are actually enforced, but look, this really isn't about city revenue, it's about all of us being able to get around with less of a chance of falling on our asses and breaking something. 

I do want to take this opportunity to thank my Bucktown neighbors who do shovel their walks (one day I swear that I'm going to print up 'Thank You' door hangers), and the city is also practicing some positive reinforcement with the "Winter Wonder" Award. You can nominate a business or organization here

Those who need assistance with snow removal, such as seniors and people with disabilities, can call 311 to be matched with someone to help out through the city's new "Snow Corps" program. The city aims to match volunteers with residents in need by block. To lend a helping hand, sign up here

If you're just super nice and helpful, there's another site called "Adopt a Sidewalk." Maybe you own a snowblower and you don't mind going down the whole street, or maybe you want to brag that your walk is cleared...You can do it all here