Archive for the 'Chicago' Category

There’s A Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

If you live in Chicago you have to weather the weather, as it were.  I actually appreciate the variety.  Blizzards, thunderstorms, sweltering days and freezing nights are all par for the course.  Then again, sometimes you go out on your porch and there’s a rainbow.  Take it, Dean!

Getting Old Isn’t All Bad

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Nancy, one of the engineers on the Guatemala trip, qualified for the “Seniors Ride Free” program offered by the CTA.  Perhaps it’s rude to mention a friend’s age online like this, but I don’t think she’d mind because every time I see her she manages to steer the conversation to free transit, often producing her pass and rubbing it in my face.

One of the nice things about being a student was getting a U-Pass from the CTA that offered me the fun and freedom of being 65 and older, transit-wise.  Unfortunately, that freedom ended in the middle of June and now I’m paying for the train again like a sucker.

If I managed to ride the CTA 1,371 times I could have totally paid my tuition with free fares.  I didn’t.

What Are You (Woo) Doing Here (Woo)?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Yesterday I filled in on bass with Aric’s band, Divebar (minus Aric, who was in Washington.) The show was outside of Cellular Field playing for White Sox Fans as they came to the ballpark. Despite having to kill 2 hours with 90 minutes worth of material and my lackluster bass skills, we had a good time and the show went pretty well.

Our sound guy — a friend from another band — said when they played the same stage, Ronnie Woo Woo showed up. Sure enough, about halfway through our set he showed up for us too. He was probably our best fan, singing along with songs he didn’t know and dancing around. Ladies would dance with him briefly while their boyfriends took pictures. Guys in Sox gear would pose giving his Cubs outfit the thumbs-down while their girlfriends took pictures.

As we were packing up, the lady who booked the show came by to say thanks.

PROMOTIONS LADY: I just wanted to let you know that you were really well-received.
KELLY: Ronnie Woo-Woo seemed to like us.
PROMOTIONS LADY: (A little upset) Oh, he was here again? He comes here a lot.

I don’t know if the Sox folks don’t like Ronnie coming around because he’s so associated with the Cubs (and came dressed in a full Cubs uniform) or just because he can be a little annoying.

PROMOTIONS LADY: I guess he just really likes baseball.

On the way home Kelly asked if Ronnie Woo Woo has a Wikipedia entry. He does.

Help Chicago’s Music Scene Is Okay For Now

Monday, May 12th, 2008

When I lived in New York, I wasn’t so into the music scene. I wasn’t really a musician back then, so that probably explains some of it, but I never really went to shows either. Music in Chicago is much better. So is small independent theater.

City Hall has a new ordinance in the works that would make it more difficult for independent promoters to put on shows at small venues. This is all in response to the H2 nightmare a couple years back when 20 people were trampled to death after a fight broke out at a concert, but I suspect it will do more to hurt small, honest promoters than it will to stop any future disasters. Most promoters I’ve worked with don’t get rich off of small shows or festivals. They put shows together because it’s fun and they like the music. A $1000 fee and required background check would probably be enough to persuade many of them to quit putting up shows. That would be bad for musicians and bad for Chicago.

So If you’ve got nothing better to do, read what Jim DeRogatis has to say about it and write to your alderman. It’s fun. They usually write back. Okay, maybe I am a little political.

UPDATE: Chicago Promoter’s Ordinance to be reworked.  Hooray!  Hopefully the new version will address the actual problem without killing Chicago’s honest music, theater and comedy promoters.  I have to say, I’m impressed with Chicago’s artistic community.  Way to go everyone.

Get Your Own Comedians, New York

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

I work with Nate, one half of Team Submarine. Unfortunately for Chicago, Nate and Steve are moving to New York to make their fortune. I hope they become big and famous because they’re nice guys (at least Nate is) and they’re way-funny. I just wish they didn’t have to move to New York to do so. (So does Jim Croce.) I’m tired of talented Chicago folks packing up for New York and L.A.

Nate actually thinks it’s a good thing. He suggested that keeping the backstabbing fame-seekers on the coasts makes Chicago a more pleasant place to perform — the people here tend to have different priorities. I’m sure there’s truth to that, but I still think there should be more opportunities for Chicago-based performers.

How about this: when Conan O’Brien moves to The Tonight Show next year, whoever takes over Late Night should do the show from Chicago. I think it would be a big hit. Let’s make it happen, folks. I’m writing a letter to NBC.

In the meantime, at least Schadenfreude isn’t going anywhere. I was pleased to see them sticking up for Chicago in the Sun Times over the weekend:

They keep pounding away at the local troublemakers, despite the occasional word of advice from producers in New York or L.A., who insist Schadenfreude will never get anywhere making fun of Chicago.

“But it’s not for them,” Kaufmann says. “It’s for the people who are in Chicago that we live with, who are our neighbors, who are our audience.”

Team Submarine has a couple more shows before they move away. Go see them.

Don’t Lick The Popsicle

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

After taking a midterm downtown I walked over to Millennium Park to see the Museum of Modern Ice freezamadinugs that’s going to be there through February — a colored ice sculpture that has been nicknamed “The Popsicle.”

I didn’t love it at first. I guess I expected it to be more… something. It didn’t “echo the city’s renowned skyline” as I was told it would. I didn’t get much of a reaction at all. That it was sitting next to, in my opinion, the greatest piece of public art in the world, didn’t help either.

Luckily Shama showed up. She called to see how my midterm went and when I told her I was going to stop by Millennium Park she hopped on a train to meet me there faster than an Evan spilling soup on himself. She’s been wanting to go ice skating since, like, September. After some skating and falling we went up to take another look.

Shama loved it immediately, and the more she talked the more I started appreciating it. When you look up close you can see where pieces broke off, fell, melted, refroze, and melted again. I think I liked seeing it thrive on that zero degree night. The colder the weather, the stronger and more vibrant it gets — just like Chicago.

Blaming The Messenger

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Seeing this truck parked outside my house reminded me of a story.

A little over a year ago, driving down a busy street, a dark green truck pulled up beside me. It was clearly, at one time, a Marshall Field’s truck, but a big white “Macy’s” banner had been attached to the side.

This was only a couple weeks after Macy’s announced that they were transforming the flagship State Street Marshall Field’s store into a Macy’s.

This truck, with a crappy New York store’s logo pasted over a respected Chicago brand name, was not well received by the surrounding motorists that day. People were honking, flipping the bird, and shouting epithets at the poor driver. “Screw You Macy’s!

I’ve never actually bought anything at Marshall Field’s or Macy’s, but it made me happy to see Chicagoans sticking up for their institutions.

And Just Like That…

Friday, February 1st, 2008

…we have a street again.

I know I’ve been dwelling on this, but the whole process was fascinating to me, and the city really did great. To think, just a week ago our street looked like this.

I’ve Become Attached To This Giant Hole

Friday, January 25th, 2008

This is just a gratuitous post with more photos of the big sinkhole on my street.  The repair job seems to be going surprisingly quick. Here’s how it looked when I woke up on Tuesday morning.  El Torito’s foundation was resting on absolutely nothing.  Some foundation.

By Wednesday crews had removed all the debris and dug out the entire hole.  It looks like the brick sewer was damaged as well, since it was cut in half.  At least I think that’s a sewer pipe.   I kind of expect some Goonies to crawl out of it.

Read More »

Breaking News, Literally

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

About 6 months ago we had a sinkhole in front of our apartment building. It wasn’t really a big deal except that it exposed issues with our water main that ended up costing the building $12,000.

Turns out the water main had bigger problems. This morning there was another sink hole on Montrose avenue. This one is a big deal.

Our basement, like every other in the neighborhood, was flooded. My neighbor who lives in a garden apartment had it worse.

Neighbor: I woke up to a sandal floating by my face.

Jen put it well.

Jen: I felt like I was in that scene from Ghostbusters (skip to 2:36).

Open The Door, Man!

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Anyone who rides the “L” regularly has run up to the train right as the doors closed only to see it slither away down the tracks.

I noticed something interesting yesterday, however. As I was getting off the train a man calmly approached the closed doors. He didn’t run, yell, or pound on the window. He just smiled, looked down the train at the operator who was leaning out the window, and nodded. Magically, the doors opened..

Later that evening I reached the doors just as they closed and decided to try the look and nod trick myself. Ding-dong! Open doors.

Eye contact: live the dream.

The lady who missed the train because she was rooting through the trash at the Belmont station took a different approach. She threw her hands in the air and yelled, “I was getting something out of the garbage!” The doors opened for her too, so maybe my theory needs some work.

(Standing in front of those closed doors always reminds me of Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. And, wouldn’t you know, the clip’s on YouTube. Fast forward to 3:50.)

Looking Good, Bank. Feeling Good, Evan.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

I was downtown for some shenanigans when I happened to walk by my bank. I did a double take because I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen my bank before. But there it was. They have a fancy engraved sign and everything. Looks nice. Sturdy. I’m glad it’s my bank. I deposited some checks while I was there.

It was so nice to see my bank that I took a picture of it. It was then that I realized that everything looks pleasant when you use a flash in the snow, whether it’s my bank…

…or the puppet bike

…or even a marquee for a Michael McDonald concert.

Public Wordplay

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

It took me a second to decode Jason Pickleman’s public art in the new Montrose brown line station. I knew it was supposed to “reflect the street names of the community,” and at first glance the letters look recognizable, but when read left to right, they don’t actually make any sense.  Wolwarashloak?

A clue, however, is etched into the front windows.

Good Morning Montrose, How Are Ya?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

I ran into the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Montrose brown line stop today. At first I was going to just hop on the train, but I figured I’d linger about and see if anything interesting happened. It didn’t. There were speeches from CTA head Ron Huberman, Alderman Gene Schulter, and Congressman Rahm Emmanuel. They were all quite boring. “Blah blah blah senior citizens blah blah federal funding blah blah blah cooperation blah blah state of the art.”  They were so boring that I didn’t even stay for the cutting of the ribbon.  I’m sure it was boring.

I also got a chance to chat with a couple of the workers who built the station. They seemed really proud of it. And they should be. It’s probably the nicest El station I’ve ever been in.  In?  On?  Whatever.

I’d Guess No

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Last weekend I was watching the Bears game with my brothers as I often do.  After so many disappointing games this season there’s not much left to talk about.  I mean, how many times can someone criticize Cedric Benson?   As Rex Grossman fumbled his way to another Bears loss, my brother Brian tried to spark some conversation:

Brian: Do you think the coaches take showers after the games?