Right Now


  1. Settled in a great new apartment in a great new neighborhood with a great new roommate.
  2. Spring and maybe summer have arrived in Chicago. On Tuesday, it was 85 and sunny for my post-work run.
  3. A couple of great overnights in Champaign, and vacation on the not-to-distant horizon.
  4. Lunchtime walks in beautiful places.
  5. Lots of demands at work, but most of them are interesting and stretch me in good ways.
  6. So much good music in the next two weeks: Zoe Keating, Emily Wells, Front 242 (DJ set), Colin Stetson, Four Tet (DJ set). And then Movement not long after.
  7. Back to back PRs in a set of races where I PR’d last year.
  8. A new relationship that isn’t really new at this point, but that continues to fill me with wonder and joy and peace.
  9. A battery of tests proving that I’m in excellent health.
  10. Horoscopes that tell me to follow my heart:

CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): Despite everything I wrote to you last week about weighing self-gratification against fairness-to-others (which probably still requires some consideration), I can’t help but encourage you to veer slightly more in the direction of pursuing whatever the hell makes you happy. While it’s useful to reflect enough on your privilege relative to your friends or colleagues so you’re not blind to their potential responses, you can’t live a satisfying life by concentrating too much on assuaging others’ discontent. In fact, with multiple 5th-house planets now moving into a supportive trine to Pluto in your 1st, I’m sure you’re feeling pretty emboldened to make the personal most of any situation… and why the fuck not? These energies sure seem to be formally inviting you to intentionally put yourself at the unapologetic center of this week’s decision-making—and not just out of some future-minded commitment to ‘becoming your best self’, but in order to choose whatever will bring you immediate joy, creative fulfillment, and/or positive flirtatious attention. In closing, yes, I suppose I should reiterate the possibility that certain social allegiances could suffer tension, as envious or disapproving others react to seeing you so unapologetically serve your own pleasure. Maybe it’s because they’ve become too accustomed to you taking care of their needs first?


no simmering life but a boiling one

I woke up this morning sick as shit. I don’t know where it came from, but it felt a little like several essential parts of my body got together and decided to put me in time out. You’ve been doing too much, they said, and it’s time to stop. I ignored the message for a while, but when I looked in the mirror at work and didn’t really recognize myself, it was time to go home. I took photos with my phone to prove the point; when I checked just now, they’re not there.

Last night Erin and I saw David Byrne and St Vincent at the Chicago Theater. We both had to temper our slight disappointment with the knowledge that this was David Byrne AND St Vincent, not Talking Heads. But the sound was fantastic and Chicago got on its feet and danced, and when they closed with Road to Nowhere, it was like something out of an old revival, hands in the air, voices united.

I’ve fallen into that city-dwelling habit of eating out too often while observing evolution in action in my crisper. Every couple of weeks, I buy a bag of produce from Edible Alchemy and dream big dreams about what I’m going to make – and then I devour the fruit while letting the zucchinis go soft, the potatoes grow eyes, the onions shed their dusty skins.

A week submerged in The Diaries of Anais Nin. I’m not sure that I can neatly summarize it. It’s been a complicated, emotional year, and so many of the things she described resonated with my experience while also being completely foreign to me. Perhaps this, from November 1933:

Allendy took pains to delineate my character, my true nature, my human attitudes, but it was by a process of oversimplification. The mold into which he tried to fit me came to a climax the day he suggested I should take love more lightly, give it less importance, to evade tragedy. That I should take a playful attitude towards it. It should be sweet and casual, easygoing and interchangeable…This was the natural conclusion to the formation of my human self, to normalcy; and if he was right about overcoming tragedy, par contre, he overlooked the deeper cravings of an artist, for whom deep full love is the only possible form, no simmering life but a boiling one, no small compromise with reality.

Fall has arrived right on schedule. Last night the thermostat dipped low. It is 6:45pm in my living room, and my space is illuminated more by my laptop than by the waning sunlight. Laurie said that we’re losing 2 minutes of daylight each day. But still the ice cream truck sits on the corner, and I dream of swimming in the lake and of all of the summer things that didn’t happen amidst all that did.

Six months in Chicago, and Jeremy said that it sounds like I’m home. Two and a half years in Ann Arbor. Two years in DC. A year each at MPub and Kresge, two years at Gelman. Five years in this goddamned profession. Six years in a relationship, seven months out. I love Chicago. Chicago exhausts me. I’m envious of friends who have recently moved to quieter places. I worry that my life here will burn me out. I don’t know.

Sister Awake

Instead of focusing on work this morning, I’m trying to figure out if I’m still capable of driving upwards of 12 hours round trip overnight to go to a show. Not just any show, though.

That’s right: The Tea Party is touring again. Still only in Canada, except that this time around I live close enough to Canada to make such a trip feasible. Not like in 2001, when I drove up from Rockford to Toronto – 22 hours round trip – for the White Ribbon benefit show:

me and Jeff Martin
Note the very long red hair (and the extra 30 pounds)

Or those two weekends in 2000, when I drove up from Rockford to hang out with the Sister Awake crew, participate in the red car caravan, watch Nickelback videos frame-by-frame while drinking very weak ‘shroom tea, and see the band in Windsor and Sarnia:

Windsor crew

Pardon the very bad scan to .bmp – it’s the best I have

Or seeing them in three countries in the space of a week, hanging out back stage, staying out all night with the band and crew in Amsterdam, and making a very dear (and very small) Australian friend along the way:




So yeah, this is a big deal for me.

0129 Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Did I have dinner?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  I don’t have much of anything to do at work these days, which often leads to boredom masquerading as hunger.  Combine that with an office kitchen that frequently overflows with snacks and is located three feet from my cubicle, and you’re in for danger.  Today was another one of those GET THE WORK SNACKS AWAY FROM ME days, so I wasn’t hungry when I got home at 4:30, and then had plans to attend the Ann Arbor Folk Festival with my friend Amy.  I had a handful of grapes on the way out the door, and then found myself starving at 11:30 when I dropped her off after hours of really wonderful music.  So if I did have dinner, it was the chicken nuggets I ate in the car at midnight.  Not a meal worth waxing poetic over, I’m afraid.

On the other hand, the Ann Arbor Folk Festival was a real treat.  Amy came into tickets unexpectedly, and I was pleased to be her +1 on a bitterly cold night.  The Folk Festival is an annual event sponsored by The Ark, an intimate downtown venue of some renown in folk music circles.  This year the festival celebrated its 33rd year – previous years have featured such folk luminaries as Pete Seeger, Stan Rogers, John Prine, Sweet Honey in the Rock,  and Ani DiFranco.  I hadn’t heard of most of the artists we saw on Friday – Michigan band (who need to update their website) Nervous but Excited, dude-with-a-guitar who kept dedicating his songs “to the ladies”  Jer Coons, fun “urban roots” band Po’ Girl, the very stompy Hoots & Hellmouth, and southern rock-infused Band of Heathens – but enjoyed being exposed to a bunch of new music I definitely wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.  Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab) and Jay Farrar (of Son Volt) primarily played songs from the soundtrack they did for a Jack Kerouac documentary released last year – the music was moody, and while I haven’t seen the documentary, I can imagine it pairing quite well with the depicted period of Kerouac’s life.

The highlight of the evening for me, however, was a solo acoustic performance by Sam Beam of Iron and Wine – who Shane, by the by, had run into at our newest coffee obsession, Comet Coffee, earlier in the day.  This was my third time seeing Iron and Wine, and I have to say that this was the performance I’ve been waiting for.  Bonnaroo 2008 was pretty amazing, and seeing them at Rams Head LIVE! was something special, but stripped down, acoustic, just Sam and a guitar in the spotlight – so much better.  He played a number of songs from Our Endless Numbered Days and the In the Reins EP – two of my favorites – as well as current and new music.  It was such a wonderful performance and a wonderful way to end the evening – if only we hadn’t had to bundle up and go out into the 5 degree weather to go home.

50 Concerts!

This meme’s going around Facebook, but I wanted to post it here.

Here are the rules. Test your memory and your love of live music by listing 50 artists or bands (or as many as you can remember) you’ve seen in concert. List the first 50 acts that come into your head. An act you saw at a festival and opening acts count, but only if you can’t think of 50 other artists. Oh, and list the first concert you ever saw (you can remember that, can’t you)?

  1. The Tea Party (x10)
  2. VAST (x6, I think)
  3. Tool
  4. Nine Inch Nails (x2)
  5. The National (x2)
  6. Andrew Bird (x4)
  7. Of Montreal (x4)
  8. The Decemberists (x3)
  9. Neko Case (x3)
  10. Bloc Party
  11. Britney Spears (seriously!)
  12. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack (x2)
  13. Orgy
  14. My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (x2)
  15. Metric
  16. Amy Grant (x2)
  17. Tori Amos
  18. Arlo Guthrie (x3)
  19. Yo La Tengo
  20. Broken Social Scene
  21. The Wallflowers
  22. Morrissey
  23. Sleater-Kinney
  24. Phish (x2)
  25. Ben Folds
  26. Damien Rice (x2)
  27. Blue October
  28. Better Than Ezra
  29. Ludo (x4)
  30. Pigface (x2, I think)
  31. The Frames
  32. Over the Rhine (x2)
  33. Tom Jones (!!!)
  34. MIA
  35. Chairlift
  36. CSS
  37. Jamie Lidell
  38. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
  39. David Byrne
  40. Aimee Mann
  41. Tegan & Sara (x2)
  42. Luna
  43. Iron & Wine (x2)
  44. Cat Power (x3, and NEVER AGAIN)
  45. Ladytron (x2)
  46. Daniel Lanois (x2)
  47. Alanis Morrissette
  48. Garbage
  49. Eric Bachmann/Crooked Fingers (x2)
  50. Melissa Ferrick

I included festival shows, but only those that I specifically went to see, not people that I *happened* to see.


Day 320 - 6/12/08

We’re back from nearly a week away at Bonnaroo – well, four days at the festival, and two days in transit with hilarious dudes and our trusty Richard Simmons. Over the course of the festival, I slept on the ground, ate awesome samosas, and saw a whole lot of fabulous music:

Some highlights:

  • MIA’s last show ever was flat-out insane, especially immediately following !!!. I danced my ass off and was sweat on by a variety of people.
  • Managed to catch the only MGMT song that I really love.
  • Soul-fun with Sharon Jones in the hot-hot sun.
  • Somehow almost every band that I saw had at least 5 people on stage. Broken Social Scene was no exception.
  • Aimee Mann playing “Save Me” and “How Am I Different”. Mark said that was the only time all weekend that he got goosebumps.
  • Iron & Wine was magical. I cried like a baby. So did Shane, a little.

I’ll be posting more photos over the next few days, but in the interim I’ve also created a post-Roo muxtape to capture the highlights. I’m so glad that we went.

I had written a longer post, but WP doesn’t autosave, and now it’s gone.

I’ll probably go to hipster hell for saying this, but Pitchfork has been a disappointment so far. Granted, I wasn’t there on Friday – but today was decidedly blah. I was a fan of the short water lines, the expanded food selection, and Flatstock. Finally getting to see Iron & Wine was pretty damned great as well, though there were too many tall people, and we couldn’t hear much from where we were sitting. Tomorrow should be better – Jamie Lidell, Of Montreal, De La Soul, and The Field, among others. The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime is one of my favorite discs so far this year, so I’ll definitely be staking out my spot early!

Things to see and do

Things I have to do between today and 5 May (aka in the next 10 days):

  • 5,000-8,000 word seminar paper
  • ~50 minute teaching session
  • grant proposal

Things I’m going to do between 6 May and 9 June, when I start my summer courses:

  • Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde in Chicago, 10 May
  • Commencement, 13 May, where my family is going to meet SB’s
  • Morrissey in Chicago, 15 May
  • Riding bikes in Brooklyn with Carrie, 24-29 May
  • lots of yoga, trains, reading for pleasure, Boltini bingo, movies, and Oberon on the porch

What are you doing with your summer?


Not going to Lollapalooza after all. We both have work to do, and it’s not going to do itself while we’re saving the environment. I guess we’ll just have to ride bikes and not contribute to global warming instead.


As of today, Shane and I will be wrapping up the music festival season at Lollapalooza. After the Lolla line-up was announced, I immediately regretted spending my festival money on things like Intonation and Bonnaroo. Now that it’s come and gone, I’m awfully glad I went to ‘Roo, but I was still drooling over tickets for Lolla – Iron & Wine, Sleater-Kinney, Gnarls Barkley, Stars, Aqualung, etc – but at $65+ fees for a single day and $150+ fees for the weekend, I just couldn’t swing it.

Enter a brilliant idea.

I signed up for the volunteer corps in late June, offering to help with recycling and various other trash-related things. At both ‘Roo and Intonation, Shane and I were disgusted by the amount of trash left on the ground, and spent a great deal of time picking it up. At ‘Roo, Sonya and I grabbed extra bags and collected trash after each band we watched. Add to that having just seen An Inconvenient Truth, and we’re all the more dedicated to saving the earth.

So imagine my delight when I got a call yesterday saying that they still needed people for the recycling team for ALL THREE DAYS of the festival! We’ll both be working three hour shifts, getting nifty Lolla volunteer shirts, and getting into the festival for free. What a way to end the summer!