Six Degrees of Song

I am SOOOO excited to report that I will be seeing The Veils live in October!!! They're playing a small Chicago venue and opening for this guy, Liam Finn. I don't know anything about him yet, except that I'm really liking his song, "Second Chance." play.play.play. Though I firmly believe The Veils should be headlining material, I'll be happy to stick around and listen to Liam. Check out his live performance on Letterman. And wait for Letterman's classic response to Finn's fervor..."Oh my gosh. How 'bout that. Everyone all right??"

Now please pardon another blabsence (fo real) while I take a stab at the piles of procrastination that have grown so scarily large in my periphery they're stealing my neck and giving me anxiety attacks.


Fairytale of Queens

Weekend before last I hopped an e-saver to NYC to visit my brother. Most of us suspected he'd never leave NC, but most of us were wrong. Not only did he get out of dodge, he projectiled into what some might call center of the universe territory. I don't mean Queens (his burrough), but wander Time Square, and try to tell me the sheer volumes of people don't make you feel like you're smack dab in the middle of it all. Of course I've never been to Tokyo.

But I've always loved New York. Before moving to Chicago I briefly thought it would be my next home. Even this past weekend the long-lingering question of "could I move here?" persisted in the back of my mind. The answer is at once "yes" and "no." Yes because there's endless inspiration in its bustle, buildings, sass, style, fashion, food, people, and transport. Better yet, it's not landlocked! But no because I've grown accustomed to a lifestyle that I could not afford there. My Chicago apartment is small as it is and would likely cost 3 times as much in NYC. But oh how I do love the place. I generally feel pleasantly slackjawed while I'm there, soaking it all in, wringing a little out to make room for more, and repeat.

Although the original plan was to meet Gracie the Amazing there, stay with her roommate-free friend in Manhattan, and meet my brother out at night, fate's folly stepped in and foiled that idea. Not so amazingly this time, Gracie slept through her flight from Atlanta and never made it to the city, so arrangements had to be rearranged on the fly. No place does on the fly as well as NYC, which is exactly what makes it a place of fairytales. As sappily sad as I was to lose Grace's company, whipping up new plans was a breeze. Turned out my brother's roommate was out of town, and I actually scored my own room in Queens with a coveted window A/C (enter hallelujah chorus). So day one consisted of navigating the subway, sweating, wandering the streets of midtown and downtown, sweating, and meeting some new friends for a Cuban dinner. Later that night we grabbed drinks with old friends and caught up until the wee hours of the morning. With that kind of night mostly behind this recovering nightowl, it was Sunday morning coming down, but only in body. My spirits were good, and it was a welcomed lazy day.

When I finally stirred Sunday evening I found myself absolutely famished. With brother still sleeping it off, for the first time ever, I took me, myself and I to a cute little restaurant around the corner from my brother's abode, called Stove. There I happily enjoyed a delectable feast of warm beet salad, sole wrapped crab, and a few bites of bread pudding that I couldn't resist despite my one-week foray into the world of no sugar/no carbs. For Sleeping Beauty back on the ranch I also ordered a Chicken Kiev to go... The food and atmosphere left me rejuvenated and relaxed, and even though I didn't see more NYC sites that day, I felt completely satisfied. Company is splendid, but there's something liberating about spending a day all by yourself in a foreign city.

The next day, United predictably canceled my crack of dawn flight from LaGuardia back to Chicago. I was forced to instead detour through Newark later that day, which gave me the added benefits of seeing more of the city via bus and unintentionally missing a day at the office. Fairytale, indeed.




One Night kickStand

A very sweet fellow who read a past post asked me to leave my Friday evening free, put on a skirt, and be ready at 6 pm sharp for a surprise. After many unsuccessful games of "cold. warm. luke-warm" or "swimming is to 'the surprise' as painting is to a song" (LSAT flashbacks!), I did as I was told and emerged clueless and in skirt at 6:09 p.m.

Where I found... there... on my very own doorstep... flutter-flutter the above sky blue Vespa a.k.a. the-coolest-little-thing-on-two-wheels-I-ever-did-behold awaiting lil ole me for a night on the town!!

I admit to letting a few nerves interfere with my initial display of excitement. I said I wanted a Vespa and that I wanted to ride it in a skirt, yes, but did I know HOW to ride a Vespa? Did I actually expect one to appear on my doorstep for a date? No, I did not. So instead of hopping straight on Her Adorableness, I did what any sensible person would do. I inquired into insurance coverage. Satisfied with the response, I headed to the nearest school parking lot where I would learn how to drive her properly. Who knew I was so responsible?

Part of my hesitation came from hearing that they're quite difficult to maneuver. Mais au contraire mon frere! En effet, c'est très facile! So easy that in no time flat I was ready to take Miss Winsome out into the jungle of Wicker Park. It.was.a.blast. Way more fun than I ever even imagined. No kidding. I'm officially an addict.

Imagine a jetski, remove suit, snowcaps and sporty and add skirt, potholes and cutely cartoonish... et voila! Vespa. As for the whole look, I'd say I was a little less fetching than my wish-granter might've imagined and a little more ridiculous (I've got the photos to prove it). Who knew I had such admirable posture? Ah but the foolishness just adds to the charm.

It’s true, I am now quite certain that I want one for my ownsome. Alas, with a tear and a smile, we dropped her off at the rental shop this afternoon, and I'm not ashamed to say that I already miss the feel of her under my rump. She'll always be the one who got away. I swear I would somehow own one within a week if only the weather here were more accommodating and I were rolling in dough. though they're not all that expensive. In lieu of awaiting beaucoodles of benjamins, I've started to consider selling off my car. Or my eggs. Clearly I need to let the jonesing fade a bit before I do anything rash...


Earworm du Jour

This is "The Tide that Left and Never Came Back," by The Veils. Probably my favorite musical find in the last year or so, Finn Andrews, the virtual one-man-band behind the "veil" seems to be a bit of a musical genius. This song is off their first album, The Runaway Found ('04), which I had to buy from Japan. Ridiculous, but you do get two extra songs that way. Other songs to check out from that album:

The Wild Son, Guiding Light, Lavinia, and The Leavers Dance. Ok, just check out the whole album. Please.

Then there's their second album, Nux Vomica ('06), with more gems like: Calliope, Advice for Young Mothers to Be, and Under the Folding Branches, just to name a few...

In my layman's opinion, this band is seriously underrated.


In Cars

Women racing southwest at 41 mph along 26th Street near the Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, California, at 1:14 p.m. on a Tuesday in February 1997.

More than most girls I know ('cept maybe my sis), I love to get behind the wheel and drive. Starting at age 16 with the unpopulated back roads of North Carolina at my disposal (oh how I miss them), I’d pass right by my neighborhood and drive aimlessly to the tune of one of my beloved mix tapes until I figured someone back home might be getting worried.

Much to the chagrin of all my passengers and/or chauffeurs over the years, my passion for driving has also admittedly translated into afflictions known as “guns blazing f-bomb road rage” and “back seat driving of the worst kind.” My sincerest apologies to all (though I’ve no intention of stopping). It’s horrible, irritating, and sometimes downright embarrassing, but I just cannot help myself. Unless, of course, the driver is my dad, in which case fear of death halts all commentary. Fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

Along with driving, I’m fascinated by watching other drivers as I or they zoom by (usually the former). Am I the only one who imagines how silly we would all look if we could be seen zipping down the road, in seated driving position, but without the actual car surrounding us? Probably so. You know, it's sorta similar to the whole imagining people naked thing to overcome social anxiety… except without any purpose... whatsoever. See what I mean? No? Ok, it’s just weird.

Anyhow, I LOVE this series of photographs by Andrew Bush that I found on Flak. They are so fucking cool they look staged. And the little detail found in each description is darn clever. We actually get their approximate mph! Below is a summary of the entire series, which you can see here:

The culture of cars is an inseparable part of American life. Whether used for functional purposes or recreation, automobiles are expressions of our personality. They also represent the American ideals of freedom, mobility, and independence, providing a unique personal space that is at once private and public. Andrew Bush examines the tension between private and public in his remarkable series of photographs of individuals driving cars in Los Angeles and other parts of the Southwestern United States. By attaching a camera to the passenger side window, Bush made these pictures while driving alongside his subjects — often at speeds exceeding 60 mph. Taking notes on the speed and direction he was going, Bush created extended captions for the images and called the series Vector Portraits. Published this spring by Yale University Press, a portfolio of sixty-six of these images is accompanied by a discussion of the series in the context of Bush’s photography as a whole.

Shins, Toofs & Ears

"Your Nightmares Only Need a Year or Two to Unfold." A surprising lyric for such an instrumentally peppy tune.

I don't know anyone who enjoys going to the dentist (swear there's a connection here), but I really hate going to the dentist. First there are the discouraging memories of gagging on my own saliva as my mouth served as a human mortar, noisy torture devices interchangeably sucking then swirling in gritty pastes the flavor of rotten strawberries. Then I went and added insult to injury by visiting "Sadist Dentist of Chicago Extraordinaire" four years back, which put a final nail in my dentistry coffin.

Ever since, thoughts of dental work have given me the heebie jeebies. I avoided it like the plague until my chops told me there was trouble in avoidance paradise. As suspected, my love affair with sweets came home to roost, and today was the day I went back to pay the piper.

That might explain why, en route to the dentist this morning, I played this song about five times in a row. Despite the occasional foreboding lines therein, it gives me happy happy thoughts and makes me want to dance a little jig.

Contrary to pessimistic expectation, I'm so very pleased to report that my anxiety far outweighed the misery of the actual experience. In fact, I received virtually pain free work c/o "The Gentle Dentist of Chicago Extraordinaire." My faith in dentistry restored, I am again the proud owner of decay-free toofs. Hallelujah!

Vintage Veneration

So I'll start with some visuals...

These phones almost make me want to get a landline again. But only if they're the faux rotary variety. The fastest texter this side the Mississippi's got no time for the circle dial. I never was known for my patience. As a kid I'd try to speed up the calling process by forcing the dial back in reverse to the point of nearly breaking the thing, gritting my teeth all the while. If they hadn't invented touchtone, I just might've been the first (impatient) patient to treat for a nasty case of rotary carpal tunnel. Somebody needs to simmer down.


This sort of explains my recent blog absence, or blabsence.


I Want a Vespa.

And I want to wear a skirt while I scoot around town on it. Is that so much to ask?


Whether to Weather or Not

Earworm du Jour

This is "My Life," by Iris Dement.

The first time I heard it, I was turned off by Iris's voice (I think you'll hear what I mean). And yet. I listened to it over. and over. and over that day.

It's those lyrics... Just when you think it's suicidal bleak, Iris pours on a chorus of pure maple syrup (it's the simple sweet things, after all) to keep you from reaching for the razor.

Since my first listen back in March of this year, her words have wormed their way through my ears every so often, and they went and did it again this morning. Hence, my Earworm du Jour.

Parenthetical: It's too bad that the handy word they've concocted to describe "a song that's stuck in my head" is so creepy. It's enough to give me nightmares.


I Want to Be a Singer

Not really. I still don't know what I want to be despite residing in a place called OverThirty and presumably already busy being what it was I wanted to be. All the same, I'm happy for this child artist (and not at all envious) for being a little more decisive than some of us.

VSL introduced me to this super cool collection created by Yeondoo Jung


Don't Walk Away When I'm Talking to You!

I can't imagine anyone would. Unless of course they were trying to lead him to the boudoir. Nobody, I repeat NOBODY, rocks the period vest better. Period.

I figured it had been awhile since this face graced these pages....


Chlorine Dreams

As kids, my brother, sister and I were pool rats. We lived for school's end when we spent hour upon hour each day at the local pool. Even on the hottest and stickiest North Carolina days, we wouldn't let mom roll down the windows during our steamy drive to the pool. We wanted to get as heated up as humanly possible to make the most of our plunge into the cool water. As we wound through the tree-shadowed entrance, I remember feeling the anticipation rise and the sweat beads drop, one by one onto the Pinto's scorching vinyl seats. We'd all eventually go on to become competitive swimmers, which pretty much made the pool our second home. To this day, walking onto pool grounds gives me a jolt. From the chlorine smell to the sound of splashing and muted voices, it's a rush of memories that I really treasure.

I don't think you have to hold pools close to your heart to find an empty one quite startling. It's almost like a contrast between life and death. Abandoned buildings in general give me the same sensation along with ghostly visions of the life that once filled each nook and cranny. The tiled lines on the bottom of the pool that long ago served as an imaginative little girl's deep sea floor are now crumbled and dry, no longer protected by a watery veil. Is it weird that it almost brings a lump to my throat? My dad always said I was too sensitive....

It's obviously not just me. ASWOBA introduced me to these photographs of abandoned London pools posted at Polar Intertia. Though I find them all beautifully sad in their own way, these were two of my favorites....

Things to Be Desired

In an effort to clear some of the black smoke I seem to be accumulating in these parts, I'm posting the Desiderata. It's a little cheesy, but it has a way of directing me toward a decent track when my mind gets a muddle with negativity. Whatever works, right? As it happens, it was written by none other than a lawyer, Max Ehrmann, back in the 20's.

I first saw it in the bathroom of one of my beloved Chicago haunts, Hillary's Urban Eatery (HUE, rest in peace). It was this wonderfully eclectic place where you could get a delish mexican fusion brunch or a nice dinner on the cheap. Many a first date were had there.... Now it's a gourmet grocery store. Tear. In loving memory of HUE, I framed my own copy of the Desiderata and hung it up in my own bathroom for all to enjoy. While they're, you know, doing their business. What? Whatever, it's only a restaurant.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


Photoshopped? Discuss. (but please say it isn't so!)


Sophie's Choices

Sophie’s choice of the day or week or month (who knows) is the movie "2 Days in Paris." Anyone who knows me knows I love to hate and/or hate to love France and make no apologies for irrationally holding an entire country responsible for one man’s reckless idiocy. But that won’t poison my declaration d'amour for France via film. This one’s not whole-hog French, but it’s written, directed and scored by Julie Delpy (French born and dual citizen of France and U.S.), whom people also tend to love or hate or love to hate and/or hate to love. I'm in the love to love her camp for the way she perfectly portrays imperfection.

The movie is a dialogue-heavy tale of two days in the city amongst familial and lovers’ dysfunction. a.k.a. normalcy. It's a little a la Before Sunset (and Sunrise), as you might expect from Delpy, who co-wrote the latter, but now the perspective is through the more experienced (in more ways than one) eyes of a mid-thirties unmarried couple. It made me laugh outright a handful of times, and the writing’s so well done it’s... rare. Delpy seems to have escaped the French “chauvin” mentality in her ability to acknowledge some of France’s weaknesses, often shown through (retrospectively) humorous rants (that I can relate to only too well), without letting you forget France's undeniable charm. Ok that's irrelevant yet something I respect about her. What is relevant is that you can probably be in a relationship or not, or be in love or not, or believe in love or not, and still get this movie.

I was put off by the occasional voice-overs, and the ending left my brow a bit furrowed, but a movie on the subject of coupling can only go one of two ways. And if screenwriting is anything like life, I imagine the decision of which way to go furrows the brow and feels like a Sophie’s choice all its own.


fave ffffind

This isn't life-altering, but I love this photo. I've always had an odd obsession with all things water (UITBE can attest to it), and so many times I've stared at the drops of water sliding down my windshield or window, desperately wanting to capture it in a photo.

Now might be a good time to mention I'm not into pot (though I'm not opposed either). I'm just easily entertained.

As much as I'd like to get my own photos, my camera isn't equipped, particularly after I (three sheets to the wind) dropped it on a cement bar floor. Moment of silence. Head hangs in shame.

"Let That Which Is Unsaid Be Said"

I have to admit I was a little nervous this morning to find an "Official Notice" from The Bureau of Communication in my inbox. Imagine my relief when I discovered it was just the above hilarity from The Lazy Langoustine. I love it!

If you'd like to file your own grievance, I suggest you take it up with The Bureau.

Earworm du Jour

It's not so much that this is stuck in my head as I just can't stop playing it on my collosal iPod.

Be sure, it's not THIS version of Green Grass I'm talking about. The one that's floated me to and from the El the last couple days is the real one sung by Tom Waits himself (off the Real Gone album).

Of course I can't find a single video with him singing it. That guy has a tighter grip on his musical rights than most. Just try getting into one of his shows with a ticket purchased off Craigslist, and you'll see what I mean.

Listening to this while walking down the street lends this addictive slow motion surreal quality to everything going on around me. Now let's see if it has the same magical effect on my work environment....

Lay your head where my heart used to be
Hold the earth above me
Lay down in the green grass
Remember when you loved me

Come closer don't be shy
Stand beneath a rainy sky
The moon is over the rise
Think of me as a train goes by

Clear the thistles and brambles
Whistle 'Didn't He Ramble'
Now there's a bubble of me
And it's floating in thee

Stand in the shade of me
Things are now made of me
The weather vane will say...
It smells like rain today

God took the stars and he tossed 'em
Can't tell the birds from the blossoms
You'll never be free of me
He'll make a tree from me

Don't say good bye to me
Describe the sky to me
And if the sky falls, mark my words
We'll catch mocking birds

Lay your head where my heart used to be
Hold the earth above me
Lay down in the green grass
Remember when you loved me


Cinnamon Girl

You wanna live with a cinnamon girl? What about one suffering cinnamon rage, Neil?

Is it wrong that I was tempted to ring the neck of the lady who made my latte this morning? Is asking for cinnamon really asking for so much? I guess I might as well have asked her to build me a motherfucking house while she was at it. Our exchange went a little something like this:

Me: Oh, scuse me, excuse me. Can I use the cinnamon please? It’s, uh, sorry, not out here. (sweetly)

My friend insists cinnamon is a natural metabolism raiser. I don’t believe it for a second, but I’ve been putting it on my lattes ever since.

Baristadevil: Cinnamon… cinnamon like the powder or cinnamon the liquid? (exasperated)

Excuse me? Cinnamon the liquid? What the? The powder. The one that’s usually out on the fixins tray! Duh.

Me: The powder please. (apologetically)

Baristadevil: Hmm, yeah, I don’t see it. Sorry. (case clearly closed)

Me: O….kay. (incredulously, wearing look of great disbelief)

Defeated, I left sans cinnamon and muttering something to myself about why the hell I can’t get a little effort in the way of reaching for the cinnamon for a four frikin dollar cup of coffee. Particularly when requested so courteously. Too nicely, it seems, since I’m left to write shit like this because I’m still stewing about it hours later. Ok, days later. It happened yesterday.

These damn uppity hipster coffee shops…. Yes, they’re cooler than Starbucks, and their coffee tastes better, and I’ll continue going, damnit. But from now on I’ll order a “medium soy caramel latte with powdered cinnamon, hold the sass." (bitchily)


Travel Triptych III

I couldn't possibly choose just one photo of Greece. Though I admit the imbalance will drive me a bit mad, it's getting its very own triptych. My condolences to Mexico and California, but I was in Greece for 11 days. So there.

Besides, my dream of going to Greece has been risin' in the easy bake oven since first grade when my teacher, Miss Dolce, high-tailed it out of the south to conquer Crete. From there she was sweet enough to pen-pal me letters (I was that annoying teacher's pet 'til adolescent angst kicked in) and photos and all sorts of nifty Greek souveniers. I kept them until last year when cheapskate landlord failed to replace 100 year old roof, basement flooded, and said souveniers grew fungae. And don't get me started on what the shitty insulation did to my gas bill (rape).

I'm only slightly embarrassed to say when it was that my dreams of Greece were rekindled... See final scene of Bourne Identity. Greece's dreamy shoreline. Franka Potente renting Vespas. Me, pretending to be her. Wouldn't you know it, we coincidentally ended up on THAT.VERY.DREAMY.SHORELINE!

A bazillion-to-a-bazillion-squared-thanks to the undying generosity of one Gracie the Amazing. She made it possible for the three of us broke-ass lasses to hop, skip and jump our way to Greece glorious Greece. First came Athens (love). Then came Mykonos (marriage). Then came Santorini (in a baby carriage). That was dumb, but it was twue wuv. The dweam within a dweam.

It's not that our trip was the epitome of smooth sailing. There was inevitable turbulence... people not always the friendliest (though there were some real gems), pricey as hayle (damn the euro!), and we couldn't find the bloody entrance to the Acropolis (despite its looming presence). As for this post's Offensive Generalization, I'll note that Greeks have an interesting fashion sense. The kind that doesn't exist. The tackier and tighter, the better. But all the turbulence, just like tacky wears, made the experience all the more interesting.

The visual stimulation of Greece made my heart go all a flutter. Ouzo never tasted so good until I was under Greece's skies, the same color as its cobalt waters. And who can complain when there's tzadziki at every turn, so much I did the impossible and overdosed. The sun was bright each and every day, and the Aegean was crisp and clear for the immersing. Santorini (Oia, to be exact) was last but the opposite of least. It is, I believe, the epitome of terrestrial beauty.

I could go on and on. So… I won't. Now that the triptych is complete, it's time to start working toward the next one. I already tempted the fates by entering a piss-poor state of productivity during my 2-week post-vacation hangover (a.k.a. immersion in dreams of throwing it all away to be Franka), and I'm pretty sure getting canned would put a big wrench between me and the next exotic getaway.