Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I used to listen to the radio on my cheap dual-tape-deck boom box. I'd sit in my bedroom, waiting for a song I liked to come on so I could hit record. That's how I made my earliest mix tapes. The ends of my music faded into disc jockey inanity—call letters, tenth callers, "that's George Michael with," assorted science fiction sound effects, canned slogans in impossible bass vocal ranges.

Making the tapes—trying to perfect the fine art of finding the opening cues and depressing the proper buttons ("play" and "record" simultaneously) at the emergent moment—became more enjoyable than actually listening to them. And then taking things to the next level, I actually mixed the music from that source tape to the next tape, ordering the songs into proper dramatic arcs, accounting for the myriad sonic impurities inherent in recording straight from the radio.

And still the results were a disappointing, low-fi muddle.


Today, my electronic music library is spinning out of control. I am over-organized, my playlist list overflowing with particular mixes for every occasion and discographic breakdowns based on all possible methods. I have defeated the purpose of the function. Further, my efforts to be inclusive have caused my gigabits to overflow with the maddening likes of Candie Payne, Gnarles Barkley and Lady Sovereign, as well as bizarre niche productions from obscure acts like Ruins, Prurient, and Storm & Stress for which only isolated, unlikely occasions even exist (robot funerals, skydiving disasters, spoiled milk heaves).

My thumb numb from scrolling 'round, searching for the perfect soundtrack with which to walk from Welles to State, Hubbard to Lake, Ravenswood to Damen, in the rain, sun, wind, fog, etc.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last night's was a fitful sleep, as I flopped about in the telltale discomfort of lingering caffeine intoxication. This despite the fact that I'd not ingested caffeine since early yesterday afternoon. Which caffeine I delivered to my system by way of cheap, bland office coffee. Which coffee usually wends its way through my system in time for the evening wind down.

And so I refuse to believe caffeine ruined my slumber. No. Other forces were at work. Sinister, nebulous forces with fangs and talons forged of white smoke. Cleft tongues, halitosis. Forces of Halloween.

I awoke with demon prints on my soul. Pulled on clean slacks and packed my bag for short travel, and then out the door and into the cold morning, into the train car, forward into Thursday's beginning as


in faded paint on a brick building side appears and disappears to my left.

One week's beard growth weighs on my chin flesh, cheek skin itchy under the soft black tips. What the hell am I doing? I will allow my face to progress naturally, its hair to thrive unfettered. Or only partly fettered. I pull my right hand's nail backs sideways over the nascent bramble and close my book around its mark as the train car pulls into Merchandise Mart.

This is a brown line train to the Loop.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This is so profoundly disappointing.

I can't even write about it.

UPDATE: Thank you, Chris Dodd, for placing a hold on this deeply flawed bill.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The mornings darken.

A woman leaves bar smoke in her wake at 7:30 a.m. She smells like college's worst times. She's too old for this.

That afternoon, on the elevator: "It's beautiful outside. I want to put my fingers in the soil."

I nod. "Grab a handful of leaves from a curbside pile and throw them in the air."

Bottle this season and sell it.

Or no. Just let it be.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I've never been a big fan of Irish food. But last night's dinner at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro knocked my socks off.

Heckuva halibut. Crispy kale. Perfect potatoes.

We got the goat cheese cheesecake to go. Walked home in the cool mist, a bottle's worth of wine in our bellies.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It has come, and not a moment too soon. I feared the record high temperatures and oppressive dew points adumbrated the kind of inconvenient shift in local climate we've all been dreading—and hell, it may have. But it's nice, reassuring, to know that the cool air percolating at the poles can still stab that hot heat in the heart in time for the leaf change.

Friday, October 05, 2007

I don't understand the salutation "greetings." It's essentially saying what you're doing without really doing it, like handing a cashier a piece of paper with "purchase" written on it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tuesday evening in a grade school gymnasium, summer's kickball officially gave way to autumn's dodgeball. I again find myself excelling at a child's game, exercising the demons of physical education, which demons were born not of a lack of ability, but of a lack of participation, as I lurked in the back lines of the youthful cavalry and hoped for little else than to emerge from such games neither scathed nor seen. No more. This week I stood on the front lines and my team—our team—emerged victorious, doubling the score of a hapless adversary via cannon arms, true aim and soft hands. Today, my torso is a tight vest of muscle pain and there's a thread of fiber ablaze in my right shoulder. (I am reading a heavy book, and this morning had difficulty holding it at eye level as the train rocked, so deep runs the soreness.)

I want to write letters on paper to these friends and teammates and send them out so they can be displayed on fireplace mantles. The letters will recount the early days in Chicago—the lonely nights in a small apartment. The divergence of interests. The distance between me and recent friends in former cities. The sudden alienation.

And then I will write about kickball, about these strange new people who make their livings as play actors and thought doctors. (I have taken pictures of them and so know they exist.) I will write about other things—the drinking, the eating, the spontaneous application of high fives. The recent friends in former cities will see all this and long to follow me to Chicago, where they too can play the games of their childhood and then afterward drink down beers with vigor as the western sky glows orange.

It would be so easy for everything to fall into place properly—we are simply organisms moving through space for a while. We can choose our direction and motivation. We can meet other organisms and decide that we like being near those other organisms and so take action in that direction with that motivation.

I admit that some of this is too large for here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

I'm sure it rankles conservative crackpot Michael Medved to know that Roger Ebert (a liberal!) writes much, much better movie reviews than Medved ever has ... or will ... or could. But why oh why does he insist on putting this contrast—that between an eminently talented critic and an ideological nitwit—on further display by delving into social commentary?

You don't have to answer that.