Monday, November 24, 2008

New drums

Bought some new drums. 1970's Slingerlands. I got them at Andy's Music on Belmont on a rainy Saturday last week.

And lookers they are! The agate wrap creates miniature Aztec plateau shapes that fold in and out of the pearlescent blues and lavenders. Coated Ambassadors hurl my sticks back at me, and the maple shells ring like enormous marimba bells. Muffled whoooms of the bass drum fills the old room I practice in, it's pillowy blackout creased by a light whaack of the snare.

Can't wait to show these babies off!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hung out with Alex last night at the space.

We listened to Airiel, a Chicago band. They're part of the "new-gaze" wave of artists that draws inspiration from the late 80's and mid-nineties acts like Ride, MBV, Swervedriver, Catherine Wheel et al. I definitely recommend their latest (and only) full-length.

Also check out Burial. Dubstep from England and highly rated last year. I bought the LP but forgot to bring it last night.

Joe threw this one at me from Joerea...Bailterspace. Great for fans of noise, kinda Sonic Youth.

I wish I still worked in a record store.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

growing up or down

So I'm sitting here, in my underwear, on three vico's and a couple Goose islands (make that 4), wondering where my saturday nights went.

Work is a bitch that way. I get up at 6:30, hump my ass to work, and get home 12 hours later. I guess it's no secret where the time goes. I play music on weekdays because weekends are saved for family and more important social engagements for everyone. The weekend comes and you're dog-tired. For all of you out there doing what you supposedly love and moaning about not getting paid, just remember what every idealist tells you: it ain't all that.

I have friends running record labels, working on sets for award-winning tv shows, editing books, running magazines, in bands with world-class musicians, in the Secret Service...Not enough money?? Who gives a shit?

I guess I do.

I can't reconcile that fear. But, I've always been a risk-taker. I crave that excitement. At the same time I can't ignore the fact that we all get old. At some point, money will be very important. Just how important I am only starting to understand. But do you give up safety for excitement?

A guy I know went to a Great Books school. I don't know how the curriculum works at these schools but they turn out some romantic-thinking people. I'm always impressed by the stories I hear him tell of his classmates and what they ended up doing with themselves. Cobblers, cops, cabinet-makers.

A neighbor of mine is a Bulgarian immigrant, a husband and a father. I told him recently that I'm only a few paperwork-steps away from being a Chicago police.

"Why you want to be a poleezman? You're in best position right now where you are. Working for family bizness is guud thingk."

He was absolutely against the idea. But it sounds great to me. Exciting. The chance to go back to school, fully paid. Work that could make you feel like you're contributing (to what you're contributing is a whole other post...for that see

"This is bad idea. You were never in military. You don't know how to take orders."

He's right...I don't. But would I learn? If I take the leap it might be hard to come back. I'm not sure how it would rock the boat in my marriage. My wife's fear is me coming home to her wearing black pants and white socks in our Edison Park yellow-brick bungalow.

I can understand her fear. I've done some 180's in the 9 years we've known each other, but this would top 'em all. She's not the type to leave, and neither am I, so weathering that storm would take it's toll.

To follow your heart seems a luxury to me. 10 years ago I never would have said that. What happened?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Woman and gun owner in the same day!

Seriously, don't break into my house.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Joe, Alex, Felipe

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Letters of the Alphabet

In less than 3 weeks, I'm throwing myself a bachelor party.

I leave at 10pm from Chicago, alone, and arrive in London at noon the following day, a Wednesday.

Two nights in London, then Amsterdam for two nights, then back to London for one. And then, back to normalcy.

It's gonna be intense. As my friend Felipe says, I'll get to know my spirit animal.

One last hurrah as a child; my last stand as a man betrothed to no one.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I've been playing alot lately with:




and Joe.

Last evening, Joe and I rocked it till late, drank a 12'er of PBR and some Jim Beam and diets, then went outside to watch drag racing on Kinzie St.

Joe and I used to play all the time before he left for Joe-pan. We played in his apartment on North Ave on thursday nights with the bay windows open. People would stop, a few would clap or cheer. Hey, if we didn't sound good, at least we were enthusiastic.

At the space last night, we returned to our strengths...solid phrasing and washed-out, gauzy tones over tight, simple-fast rhythms with standard-strength fills. Crescendo, decrescendo, crescendo. 3 measures standard rhythm, 1 measure small fill, repeat 3 times, then large fill. The best part is that both of us have improved alot since we played a year ago.

It sounds like we think about the phrasing and plan it when I explain it that way, but we don't. That's the beauty of it. Years of listening and playing rock gives you the ear for the construction of it. It's simple to begin with, and even when you're droning you can steer it back to the spine of 4/4 time and 3 measure +1.

It was about 12:30 in the morning when we popped outside for a smoke and some fresh air. I watched as a lowered Civic hatchback screamed past Karlov St. We went down to the corner and saw about 20 cars lined up, 10 on each side of the street like spectators, their headlights beaming like shining eyes on the racers. The contestants are the center of their attention as they reverse into their slots with a high whine. Then revving, screeching, and flying past. The racers win or lose these drags within the first 2 seconds. If you don't get a good takeoff from first and throw it into second before the other guy, you're done. As they would turn around to go back, the drivers would shoot us hard looks, sizing us up.

It's hard to tell if the competitors are hostile toward each other or not. It's more like a club atmosphere from our vantage. After a race, the contestants will sometimes pull up next to each other, patrol-car style, and talk to each other over the sound of their tuned mufflers. Some laugh and chide out their window as they engine brake back to 1st.

Police usually come out to break things up. It's a pack: 4 squads and a Tac unit. Last night, though, Joe and I watched over the ends of our beer bottles as lonely squads slithered through the side streets around Kinzie, sleepily and with no apparent purpose.

Passionate kisses to nights like those. They won't last forever.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Space pictures

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Practice Space

Kids drag out mattresses and tumble on them like gym a trampoline, then boing! on the Queen, head over heels. At night, Kinzie Ave becomes a dragstrip for imports. Hundreds of spectators line the tire-guard bumpers along loading docks to watch. When the cops come, people break up slowly.

The building is a sentry over this corner. Built in 1900; first boarding rooms for the railmen, then YMCA, community center, halfway-house. And now, a cheap practice space for local bands.

We've got stacks of our favorite records on hand, a semi-cold fridge stocked with cheap swill, and plenty of time to whittle the hours away on our awkward, bushy-tailed anthems. Alex and I will 4-track it to a show eventually. I think analogue could and should come back in a big way.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I work with Chuck The Parts Guy.

Chuck complains all day about his ailments. Mild dyslexia, ulcers, some sort of acid reflux problem that makes him burp all the time, dry skin, back pain from an old injury in which a ton of construction material fell on him when he worked at Builders Square, ADHD, and his inability to get laid.

Kenny, a younger dude out in the shop, calls him a "porkchop with a perm."

I've been working with him for 2 months now, and he wears the exact same outfit every single day: black shoes with no laces, stonewashed jeans, a grey sweatshirt and a black hooded jacket he bought at WalMart.

"Do you know whatcher doin', kid?" He'll ask from right behind my shoulder. I smell ramen noodles mixed with giardinaire.

Me: "What the fuck did you eat today? Spicy bird shit?"

Chuck: "Fuckin' kid. Awww, God. I think you dumb Polacks have suffered enough ridicule!"

Chuck loves to quote Tony Clifton, the Andy Kaufmann alter-ego. At first it was something we could talk about, cause I love Tony Clifton, too. But man, lemme tell ya...that shit gets old after, oh, say the 50th time you've heard it.

Chuck's dynamic lexicon of euphemisms is unlike any other I've heard. Keep in mind, we both grew up in Chicago; he's 50 and I'm 27. Some examples:

Copshop (police station)
Boneyard (salvage)
Bones (dollars)
Beaner (This is an interesting one...he uses it in place of "Mexican", but to him anyone brown speaking spanish or portuguese is "Mexican")
Smoke (Who says that anymore? His racial epithets are from the Capone era)
Roach (a nasty-looking car)

The manager of the shop where I work got fired for beating up Chuck. I took his place.

On friday, I backed into Chuck's 1986 Olds 98 accidentally. A huge dent was left. I felt bad, but hey, lunch was calling and I was outta there.

When I came back from a tasty meal of turkey club and french onion soup, I noticed the dust had been wiped from the side of Chuck's car. I tounged a piece of lettuce between my molars, arms akimbo, and sucked my teeth. He had examined the damage, and now he knew I did it.

I sauntered into the shop, biting the sides of my cheeks to stifle a laugh.

"Sorry, dude." Meaning it.

Chuck: "Mannnn, that car was all original. Not a spot of Bond-o on it. Now it's ruined." His fire had been extinguished.

"Take it easy, man. This is a body shop! We'll fix it."

Dad, chiming in from his office: "I'll get Oscar to do it."

Chuck winced and frowned at once. "I don't want a fuckin' beaner to fix my car." In Chuck's world, Mexicans are incapable of doing anything except leaving work early and stealing.

Dad:"Why? He works on my car all the time. He knows what he's doing. That car's a chunk of shit anyway."

Chuck wandered out of the office into the shop, looking like a kid who had his bike stolen from him. He was quiet the rest of the day, which is about as normal as red piss.

Now you may be thinking I'm kind of a dick. But what the fuck would you do if you sat three feet away from this guy? He sits in front of his computer all day, saying the name of parts as he clicks on them.

"Headlamp mounting panel panel panel...


Fen-derr, fend-errr fend...
fender BOLT ah
fender CLIP ah
fender SEAT ah
(muttering) a fender panel for Ms. (bastardized pronunciation of 2 syllable last name). Fuckin skanky bitch."

"Hey Chuck! Whoya talkin' to? Shhhhh!"

Chuck: "shhhhh." Giggles.

I want to strangle him. I joke with him all the time about making my pencil into a prison shank and stabbing him with it.

"Fuckin' kid...aww Goddd..."

Friday, October 27, 2006

An interview with an insane person

A friend helped me by setting up an interview with a realtor that she knows. However, the realtor is insane. Here is my email to my friend, post-interview:


Holy cow, Jane is a LOONEY-TOON! She's sweet and professional and "high-energy", but that lazy eye and that rambling, non-sensical thought pattern-cum-verbiage is a swirling vortex of insanity! It was like I was talking to someone on speed and a mild dose of LSD.

Apparently, she is a self-described "D.I.S.C." This was a theme in what Jane called the "unconventional interview." DISC stands for something like Driver Insane Sick Cross-your-T's-and-Dot-Your-i's. I really couldn't tell you. The eye had me transfixed, a twirling, watery orb that drew me in with its tractor beam. I think she was scanning my brain with it.

She is something over 40 and is obviously upset about not having a husband. No shit! If I went on a blind date I would excuse myself to the bathroom, knock out the exhaust fan and crawl out whatever hole I could...God knows I wouldn't want her following me to my car.

If I worked for her, I would be working in her house, mono-y-mono. No way could I handle that. I would set myself on fire.

There's also an element of self-loathing in there, somewhere. Every 5 minutes of upbeat personality would be lambasted with 30 seconds of shadowy discontent, the lights above us dimming and a chiaroscuro contrast of black and white would cross her face. Scary shit.

This is not to say that I don't appreciate your efforts. Thanks for calling her, I really really appreciate it.

But no thanks.

The whole interview lasted about an hour. I like the position I'm in right now...I'm not desperate to find income, and I have time to find a place I feel comfortable in. We'll see.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Job list

In my lifetime, I have had the following jobs:

-Bicycle repair (age 15)
-Porter (age 15-18)
-Shop clerk, Eddie Bauer (age 17)
-Auto body shop bitch (age 15-20, summers)
-Valet (age 18-19, summers)
-Montessori school instructor (age 19)
-Intern, Muzik Magazine (age 20)
-Intern, Biz 3 Publicity (age 20)
-Record store clerk (age 21)
-Law office bitch (age 22)
-Elks Lodge dishwasher/bartender (I got promoted cause I did a fuckin awesome job)
-Law office bitch #2 (age 23)
-Law office bitch #3 (age 24)
-Law office bitch #4 (age 24-25)
-Property management gopher on a bike (age 25)
-Painter (age 25)
-Leasing agent (age 25-26)
-Secret shopper (age 26)
-Law clerk, State's Attorney's office (age 26-27)
-Fruit peddler, Oak Park farmer's market (age 27)

What does the future hold? You tell me. I hated all of my legal jobs except for the last one. I feel as if I have regressed. Possibilities for the future include:

-Real estate agent

Friday, September 15, 2006


"The Orpheus myth recalls nostalgia, the painful longing to return to a past that never was. Nostalgia is from the Greek, nostos, meaning "to return home" and algos, meaning "pain," and suggests a deep longing for an earlier time. But, the time Orpheus desperately longs for is necessarily imaginary, not of space (which we can return to), but a wish to override the irreversibility of time. Nostalgia is a reaction to lost time, the inability to return. It is primarily an emotional response to fate, to time’s irrecoverable nature in conscious awareness. It is the very pastness of the past, its inaccessibility, that accounts for nostalgia's power. However, this is not the past as actually experienced; it is the past as imagined, as idealized through memory and desireWhat Orpheus does not realize is that his fixation on the past is in fact about the present, an inverted history, we might say, of a perceived unattainable ideal life which is projected into the past. Nostalgia is a recollection that is, at the same time, a forgetting (or, dynamically speaking, an ignoring, or dissociation, which reflects the inability to assign emotional significance to a situation) at the service of fantasy’s desire to reconstruct the past.This taking flight is an exile, a “turning away” from self-awareness and the responsibility of the present—which might very well mean confronting (and therefore, grieving) a past that was complicated, contaminated, difficult, and ugly, or confronting an irretrievable loss that precludes the fulfillment of a future fantasy-- of what could have been..."

brother paul

Monday, July 31, 2006

Hollywood Grill

The monte cristo sandwich at Hollywood Grill is fantastic. It came out of the kitchen a hyper-orange color, its aroma a subtly sweet homage to breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one. I needed it to sober me up for my ride home.

The horizon was changing to a purplish-yellow when I rode my motorcycle up Humboldt Boulevard at 5:00 am this morning. I haven't been up that long in a while. Funny, I thought. I used to get up at this time over the winter. My friend Mike and I would go to the gym at the Hilton Hotel on 7th and Wabash for an early morning jog on the treadmills. It was one of many weapons in my arsenal against depression over the winter. After the workout, a sauna and shower, and then at 7:00 I was ready to face the day, a comforting ache in my thighs to remind me of all I've accomplished before the sun came up.

Once Summer rolls around, the last thing on my mind is exercise. I eat, drink, and smoke my way into an unhealthy corner, only to ravel myself up again once the straight-lace chill of Fall gets into the air.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

(sing-song) "who are the people in your neighborhood?"

"They're the people that you meet/
when you're walking down the street/
they're the people that you meet/
E A C H D A Y!"

Sex offenders living in my vicinity.


HA! Get caught nowadays in Chicago picking up hookers, and you'll wear the scarlet letter of shame.

Friday, July 21, 2006

An old story

In Bellow's "The Victim," Asa Leventhal's brother, Max, ran off from his wife and children.
"It was the old story; Max had married young and now was after novelty, adventure."
Is it such an old story? Where did it begin? The biblical story of the prodigal son?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Escape fantasy

Where would you go if pressures built up so much that you couldn't bear to face them? What would you do to make money? Would you still keep in contact with anyone? Would you miss your old life? Would you come back sooner than you ever thought you would? Would you never come back? Do you have the guts to do it? If you don't, why not?

My parents and I didn't get along very well when I was a teen. I had gotten in a shouting match with my Dad once, who threw me across the room after I said something really mean, though I don't remember what. I sat on my bed and fumed, clenching and unclenching my fists, while he stood there mocking me, saying "you really hate me don't you?" I did, at the time. I told him I was leaving.

I got up off the bed, and grabbed a switchblade I had bought for $20. My Mom was sitting at the bottom of the stairs by the front door to stop me. I jumped over her and slammed the door behind me.

It was about 1:30 a.m., and the police would pick me up for curfew if I was spotted. I thought I would head along the train tracks and under a highway bridge about a half of a mile down, and head to my friend Ray's house. His mom would be cool with me staying, I thought. She was dating the lead singer from Survivor at the time.

On my way down the driveway, I punched our metal mail box as hard as I could, and dented the shit out of it. My mom told my brother some time later that the mail truck hit it, but even my brother knew it was me who did it.

Of course, after making it about half a mile, I turned around and came back. We ironed things out eventually.

Now, being older and having responsibilities heaped on me, I wonder what it would be like to just jump ship? I get these fantasies so often nowadays. God, I wish I had the balls to act on them sometimes. "It's so selfish and cowardly," I think to myself. I would'nt be there for my grandma as she lays dying, I wouldn't be there for my girlfriend, who I love. I wouldn't be there for my parents, who would spend hours a day probably blaming themselves for my inability to cope. If I ever returned, I would be handled with kid gloves at family gatherings.

I don't want that. I don't want to hurt people I care about. But what about me? At what point do you start taking care of what you want over those around you? Do you cope for the sake of others? Do you fail at coping for the sake of others?

I would go to New Orleans. I love that city. If you look on Craigslist, there are so many labor jobs you can pick up down there right now. Build homes. Roofing, concrete, carpentry. Make a decent living and get things sorted out in my head. Figure out priorities. Maybe it sounds stupid. The other day, on the train home from school, I thought about it for a solid half hour. Before I knew it I was home. The fantasy was so palpable, so vivid, I took myself there for those 30 minutes.

If things got really bad, I think I would do it. Things being as they are, I'm not that far away.

If nothing else, what a great story it would make.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Actually, this is a better link:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

She was the first two-time winner! 2002 and 2004. Blecch.