Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story: 3/29/11

I hate to say it because it sounds ghoulish, but whenever I see a marquee with the names of longtime performers (in this case, standup comedians) on it, I feel compelled to take a picture because you never know if/when you'll see those names on a marquee again.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story: 3/25/11

Doctor Crusher would like you to have a cup of coffee. Or a hypospray. Whichever works better for you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Morning on the Way to Work

The calendar may say it's spring, but Mother Nature and the huge semi-frozen puddle I stepped around this morning do not seem to know this.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 3/24/11

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

All You Need Is Now (and to vote for Jessie!)

If you have a Facebook account and like fine art, fine music or any whimsical mixing of the two, please go here and vote for Jessie and her fabulous Duran Duran artwork. The winner of the contest gets a framed copy of the artwork signed by the band. Does Jessie deserve that? Yes, she does. So please go vote--NOW.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 3/22/11

Monday, March 21, 2011

St. Patrick's Night

I've said before in this space that I don't go out drinking on St. Patrick's Day--too much like amateur night for my taste--but after a long week at work and before a well-earned day off, I decided a bit of anesthetic was called for.

The glass pictured above was the first of three rounds--a light night, I'll agree, but the goal wasn't to get plastered, but merely numbed--consumed in my favorite downtown bar, which was strangely unpopulated but for a table of attractive young women in the corner and a few scattered couples throughout the establishment, and me. Those three rounds and a tasty patty melt did me just fine.

However (isn't there always a "however"?), my waitress, a nice Eastern European lay who's waited on me many a time, gave me a free shot of Irish whiskey in a tall tequila glass--whether it was because I was one of the few people in the bar on a night when it should have been packed, because I was the only one in the bar sitting by himself, or because of thee "holiday" itself, I do not know. But that one tall shot was just enough to tip me over the line from drunk to DRANK, which made walking to the train more challenging than anticipated.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 3/21/11

Itteh bitteh kitteh pileup at Mom's house!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story: 3/18/11

I'm not at work today, so talk amongst yourselves.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saturday Night Dinner

Ziti, baked by the mutitalented and ever-fabulous Superbadfriend, with garlic toast and a glass of Riesling. (I know--that doesn't really go with ziti. I don't think in terms of what wine goes best with what food. I think in terms of, "Do I like this wine? Yes. Do I want to drink a bottle of it tonight? Yes. Do I have the money to make that happen? Yes.") In other news...yum!

Every Picture Tells a Story: 3/7/11

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

R.I.P. Diane Izzo

It's deeply aggravating to know that you've written something--or, in this case, a couple of somethings--and not be able to find it.

I know I've mentioned Diane Izzo, the Oak Park-born singer/songwriter who passed away after a long battle with brain cancer on Friday at the age of 43.

I could have sworn that I wrote a post some time ago in which I mentioned that her only officially released CD, One, was one of my all-time favorite albums. Or maybe I was thinking about what I wrote on Amazon.com over 10 years ago:

Diane Izzo's "One" hardly sounds like a debut album. Her lyrics are generally dark, disturbing & complex--that could describe a LOT of albums from a LOT of artists out there these days. What sets Izzo apart from the crowd is her strong, odd vocal style: she can break a one-syllable word into three or four parts and can shift from a conspiratorial whisper to a filling-rattling wail with grace and ease. (I'm told that this album doesn't even do her voice justice--that it's even more amazing in person.) In particular, "Wicked Spell" shakes with lingering childhood rage and confusion, while "Venice" comes off giddy and joyful despite contemplations of wild youth, lost love and impending mortality. Couple the lyrics with the vocals, and you get a musical experience that remains embedded in the ears for days afterwards. Any fan of PJ Harvey or Tom Waits would be well advised to give Diane Izzo's "One" a listen (or two or three or...)--you won't regret it.

I also "know" that I wrote a poem about seeing her at Taste of Chicago with Doctor G on a July afternoon that felt like some enormous toddler was holding a magnifying glass to fry masses of ants in Grant Park. (In this scenario, we were the ants.) Diane was playing her usual enthusiastic set when, in the middle of a song, her amp went out. She and her bandmates noodled with it for a few minutes until, obviously frustrated, Diane just kicked the damn thing and, remarkably enough, got it working again. She picked up right where she'd left off, in the middle of that same song.

After the set, I bought my CD up to her and asked for an autograph. She seemed modestly confused or, perhaps, surprised by this. Maybe she didn't get asked for autographs very often, or maybe, given the heat, she just wanted to get off stage and get a drink of water. Whatever the case, she nonetheless graciously signed the CD and said that she was playing at the Double Door in a coupe of weeks.

"I know," I replied. "I already have my tickets."

And so I did.

The Double Door show was much more fun--no equipment problems, no blazing sun--and even though she wasn't the featured act or even the opening one (it was, as I remember, a showcase for several performers/bands. I've always liked the Double Door--it's an intimate venue that's featured many indie groups as well as well-established "big" acts like Cheap Trick and the Rolling Stones--and it was lovely to see and hear without the substantial risk of heat stroke.

Unfortunately, One didn't do all that well, and Diane pretty much disappeared--or so it seemed from my vantage point. In 2008, I found her again on MySpace and sent her a friend request. She not only approved it almost immediately, but also sent a message asking "How are things in Chicago these days?" (She now lived in New Mexico.) I replied that things were, you know, about what she remembered (it was spring, and it was snowing), and I mentioned the fact that One was one of my all-time favorite albums and that she'd signed it for me at Taste of Chicago.

Her reply to my reply: "Hey thanks mentioning One...it's been a long while, but was what it was...at the time. Yeah, I remember that hot day all too well..no water served by the Taste, only tequila = a harsh day in the summer heat!

"Hope that your doing well in CH., miss the solid big shoulders once in a while. NM is slowly warming up to springtime, but prefer the trade off of a expanding urban skyline for wide open big sky & stars."

Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot wrote a very nice piece for today's edition, and Jim DeRogatis, Kot's partner on WBEZ's "Sound Opinions," also wrote some kind words as well as reposting his profile of Diane from The Chicago Sun-Times back in 1998. I still have that article, neatly folded and tucked into the CD case of One. It was that article that mad me listed to Diane Izzo in the first place. So credit where it's due--thanks, Jim.

And thanks, Diane, for the amazing music. I know you recorded many other songs, and I understand that a lot of those songs will be released in the near future, as well as a movie you were working on.

I just wish you were here to hear that music with us.

Today for Lunch...

An awesome li'l PBJ sandwich made for me by Superbadfriend!

Every Picture Tells a Story: 3/1/11