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Archive for the ‘Most of the time’ Category

This week marks the two-year anniversary of me taking this blog semi-seriously. So, there’s obviously no better way to celebrate that than to display some stuff that I didn’t even write! Right?

Mine and my buddy Dave’s approach to humor is interesting. Usually in the form of cryptic inside jokes involving music, writing, and/or food, we get a lot joy out of poking fun at the things we love.

This week I’ve been commissioning him via text message (and free of charge) to impersonate a famous writer describing/critiquing places in my neighborhood. Like I said, the humor is interpersonal and puzzling. But Dave is a good and funny writer, so you just might enjoy:

1.) The World’s most famous asshole rock critic Robert Christgau reviews Irazu, a hip Costa Rican restaurant a half a block from my house: “Costa Rica is the place all your hippie-conservationist-leaning friends went junior year to hammer some nails and pour trippy teas down their heretofore golden spoon-fed throats. Irazu is not run by such a paterfamilia, but it is still a sweaty affair. 30-somethings who think their newfound financial stability makes them lucky to pass the Gap on their way to Banana Republic sip $17 red wine, order onioned things, and stay too long. Try an oatmeal shake, Trevor. B-”

2.) Famously tangental and enigmatic rock critic Lester Bangs reviews Olivia’s Market, an overpriced, yuppie-filled grocery store: “What’s in a market’s HEART? I think we can all reasonably assume that, in general, some markets have a higher calling, even in that more-dogs-than-people stretch of Wicker Park. The arrangement of this fucking place is all dadaist angles and, even in the small quarters, gray mist where-the-Hell-am-I mustard confusion.”

3.) Ernest Hemingway describes our friend Hannah’s house in Oak Park: “The sun set over the train tracks. In its glow were row houses. The houses were built with old money. There used to be a pond there. Sometimes I cast my rod towards the houses. I know I’ll never catch anything but I can hope.”

4.) F. Scott Fitzgerald describes Sterling Goss, a slow, overpriced deli that sells huge and tasty sandwiches, also a half a block from my house: “The menu at Sterling Goss, that beacon of culinary light which sits firmly drilled into the street corner, is nearly unutterable in its magnificence. The servitude, though, is languid; smock-draped and meat-bloodied men take a molasses filled hour glass to create meals of stunning thickness and girth. Your money clip will feel lighter, but a rich man’s meal is the reward.”

5.) Literary lead singer of the Hold Steady Craig Finn writes a lyric about Estelle’s, a cheap bar that gets packed with hipsters hanging around the jukebox: “And on the Second Night me and some old townie friends went to the bar, it was crowded and cheap and maybe even a little desperate. “The jukebox is way in the back” said the tattooed girl behind the bar, and the three girls pumping quarters into it were yelling, slurring words by The Cars.”

So there you have it, some of the funniest stuff I’ve read all week. More to come. Cheers.

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Wes Anderson’s 1998 film “Rushmore” is an examination of the process of relationships, and the many ways one can achieve, destroy, and rebuild them. Complete with obstacles and character growth, the film is wholeheartedly coming-of-age. Its sparkling set design and sophisticated camera work is a joy to watch and at times helps to move the story along when the occasionally thin screenplay can’t.

The film chronicles an absurdly eventful year in the life of an eccentric teenager named Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman). He is an ambitious poor kid on scholarship at the prestigious prep school Rushmore. Max writes plays, oversees the school’s bee keeping society, and seems to have his hand in every other extracurricular activity going on around campus. Early in the film, his ambition impresses a millionaire named Herman Blume (Bill Murray), as well as Rushmore’s newest faculty member, the beautiful Miss Cross (Olivia Williams).

Max is drawn to Blume’s bluntness in a commencement speech in the school’s chapel in which he advises the few less-fortunate in the crowd to “Take dead aim at the rich kids.” Blume also mentions that this approach is what brought him his millions. Max is satisfied by Blume’s words and approaches him after the speech. After a few meetings, the two form a bond of mutual adoration: Max admires Blume’s rags-to-riches success and Blume seems to see a younger version of himself in Max.

The friendship with Miss Cross comes easy too, Max is attracted to her beauty and warmth, and she likens Max’s eccentricities to that of her recently deceased husband. Max quickly develops an infatuation with her, and on the debut night of his new play “Serpico,”(which also happens to be the first time Blume and Miss Cross meet) Max drunkenly confesses his love for her. This romantic attempt is an obvious product of Blume’s aforementioned advice, and although it certainly compromises things, Miss Cross’ school teacher-tolerance keeps her friendship with Max somewhat intact. From then on, Max, Miss Cross, and Blume form a friendly trio that is initially good-natured, but delves into aspects of jealousy, revenge, ultimately forgiveness—a rather uncommon route for relationships.

The peculiarities of these friendships at times border on implausible, but the pristine visual experience of this film almost always assists the storytelling process. When Max rides his broken bike in the middle of a thunderstorm to Miss Cross’ house, and climbs an un-introduced ladder up to her bedroom window, the beautiful detail of her room and the patient long-shots of the scene makes one forget to question why Miss Cross isn’t surprised at all by Max’s unannounced arrival. Seemingly deliberate diegetic holes like this flaw the story, but their visual components add a mystique to film that is both subtle and intimate.

When these flaws aren’t present, the film absolutely shines. In one heated scene, where Max is being scolded by Miss Cross for his immature romantic intentions, the shaking hand-held camera creates a tense, awkward experience. The bright yellows and blues of the classroom in which the argument takes place remind one so much so of an elementary school reprimand, where the discomfort was almost always unbearable.

Visceral scenes like this are abundant in “Rushmore,” and although it’s not perfect, this film is a beauty, and will no doubt affect anyone who believes they have an understanding of the way friendships are built.

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One of the things I like most about Chicago–besides the wind and annoying public transit, of course– is the green spaces. In the areas that I frequent most (Northwest neighborhoods and the vast Lincoln Park territory) there are myriad parks and green boulevards that are most inviting, but also not intrusive enough to make you feel guilty for not stopping to soak in their radiance. Moreover, these parks add a delicate and necessary balance to a city that is filled with concrete and steel, whether you are basking in it, or just walking by.The deep greens and thick brown tree trunks of these spaces always excite me and make me grateful that the early developers of Chicago chose to keep some of the Illinois countryside in tact. The other day, however, I stumbled on an article in the New York Times that discussed exactly the opposite: turning already urbanized areas into green spaces and parks. For the most part, these parks (there are some in Paris and New York) are in abandoned parts of town and the development in greenery is an improvement from rusty old train tracks.

The article also spoke  about other American cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit that are in the early stages of these kind of transformations. In Chicago, the defunct elevated railroad track that was discussed is literally two minutes from my house. The tracks are called The Bloomingdale Trail and stretch about 3 miles east-west across the city’s northwest side. This somewhat-removed and secluded area is already a fabulous hang-out spot (late-night beer chats, usually) and adding greenery to a location like this is, I think, a marvelous idea. There is a non-profit organization called Friends of The Bloomingdale Trail which has modeled itself after the group that developed The High Line park in NYC. Friends has been trying to get this going since 2003 I believe, and with the success of The High Line and the press Bloomingdale Trail recently got in The Times, things could be looking up!

I have no idea the slings and arrows a non-profit like Friends has to suffer to get a project like this off the ground, but I intend to help out in any way I can. Although my undetermined after-college plans may inhibit me from seeing the completion of this decay-turned-garden, I’d like to know that I had a hand in its relative genesis. And who knows, maybe a decade or so down the road, I’ll come back and have a beer and a chat in a rose garden, rather than a bunch of gravel and rust.

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One of the only things that I like more than getting woken up at 4:15 on a Monday morning to my smoke alarm going off due to some annoyingly drunk cooking endeavors is having my bike tires slashed when I’m 4+ miles away from home. Both of these terribly fortunate things happened to me at the tale-end of a weekend that was nothing less than fantastic.

To me, a good weekend is a varied one. If I spend the entire weekend doing the same thing–even if I like it– I’ll get bored. It may seem obvious, but at the same time, I think a lot of people would consider a weekend where the highlights were getting drunk both Friday and Saturday nights (and maybe Sunday) to be quite eventful. Rather, I consider a weekend where I spend the majority of my time outside, seeing live music, and still doing a bit of drinking to be much, much better.

Saturday was a hot (but not too humid) day of park chilling and funny jokes. The cloudless blue sky was pleasant but made for little refuge from the beaming sun. Together, the five of us spent the afternoon in various green areas in Logan Square. Its always nice to be with a group of people that understand the concept of group jokes. This supports the democratic and comforting notion that we can all equally enjoy each others company, especially when we’re contributing to the communal mood. Saturday afternoon was full of this comedic ease, as well as some cool natural architecture by yours truly (Photo on the left, duh).

Much like Saturday, Sunday had its fair share of heat and communal jokes. However, this time humidity and the onset of some terribly annoying girls stifled the flow of a great summer day just a bit. Both of these agents, I believe, are innocuous and always bound to kill a buzz, so I don’t think my complaining about either will do much good. Rather, I’d like to delve into my experiences at Pitchfork Music Festival 2010.

Only going one day out of the three this year (mostly because of price but also because of the lineup) was a good decision. The two shows I was looking forward to the most–Beach House and St. Vincent– were certainly worth my scalped payment of $50, and Lighting Bolt was pretty cool too. Beach House’s dreamy synth pop tunes did not stray much from the tightly composed album versions, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Baltimore outfit chose to play the songs that everybody knows, exactly the way that everybody knows them. This created a feeling of comfort and relaxation that presumably took over the entire crowd. Lead singer Victoria LeGrand’s beautifully thick and wavy hair covered her face–and keyboard– for most of the show, seemingly making her just as blinded by the familiar melodies as the audience.

Next up was a short-but-enough viewing of Lightning Bolt, an insanely loud metal-free jazz duo. Only consisting of bass, drums and a heavily distorted vocal mic, these guys blitzed through fast paced, fuzzy grooves that at times bordered on parody. The strength and will power that it takes to listen to the noises they make is substantial, which I think is kind of the idea. Nonetheless, they were still pretty cool.

Afterward, we traveled through some of the tents and checked out the used vinyl and free swag, as well as some of the free Clif Bars–dope. Then it was onto St. Vincent, a musically varied and physically attractive pop group fronted by the stunning Annie Clark. The group’s sound is hard to pinpoint: on the albums its lush string section and careful pop arrangements are aurally fantastic. Yesterday’s show, however, was much more of a collage (or a casseroll?) of noises and sounds that is a kin to that on-the-record fantasy, but still very much its own animal. Ms.Clark’s delicate voice, whether manipulated by reverb or not, soared over the festival grounds like an eagle, I would say like an angel, but not when she’s “Laughing with a Mouthful of Blood” (lol). Much like Ms.LeGrand, Ms.Clark was vocal and visual candy, and her sloppy, Casey Sexton-like guitar playing was equally as enjoyable as her soft croon. Here’s a pretty bad picture of her and her bass player.

On the way out of the festival, as I was thinking of who Ms.Clark’s guitar playing reminded me of, I was surprised and angered to see that my bike tires, along with my friends’, had been slashed. After rambling aimlessly for a bit, we began our long trek home. Thinking optimistically and realizing the uselessness of complaining, we had some great group jokes. No notes were taken, but I do remember knowing that after such a pleasant weekend, this walk didn’t mean much at all. And, although I hadn’t been woken up at 4 am by two annoying girls yet, I knew that two other beautiful girls helped me think about things much more important than smoke alarms and humidity.

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Sultan’s

I don’t go out to eat too often, so when I do, I like to make sure I enjoy it. And, whenever someone suggests we eat out, I almost always have the same reply: Sultan’s Market. With two locations in neighborhoods that I often frequent (Lincoln Park and Wicker Park), Sultan’s cheap Mediterranean cuisine is a safe choice. Locale and price, although convenient and beneficial, usually aren’t my main reasons for suggesting. Even if Sultan’s was in a pricey suburb spot, I’d still find a way to their crunchy falafels and savory shawermas. I’m no expert at food description, in fact I’m quite bad at it, mostly because my two favorite adjectives for edible satisfaction are “dope” and “tite;” but in tasting either selections I mentioned, or maybe going blind on a hearty Kefta Kabob sandwich, you’ll realize that a description just isn’t necessary. Sultan’s grub is the kind of grub where you say how good (or dope) it is at least three times before finishing your meal, usually with a recap when all is said and done.

The last time I went to Sultan’s I was with my buddy Dubes. He’s new to Chicago this summer and is currently realizing his love for Sultan’s. He decided to go blind on that kefta kabob and I got me a lamb shawerma. Jerusalem salad, creamy hummus, and a light dash of tabouli added a refreshing flavor to the just-greasy-enough lamb. And the decently sized pita pocket that carried this tasty art was warm and thin. I finished in under 10 minutes, as did Dubes, and we were able to digest and savor this Chicago favorite on their sun soaked patio–which is, of course, just another benefit.

Check ’em out! http://chicagofalafel.com/

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Introductory Post

Since starting this blog in November of 2009, I have barely thought about it. The first post was an assignment in my economics class (if you couldn’t already tell). Our teacher wanted us to start a blog and complain about something. I wasn’t crazy about the idea, and gave somewhat of a half-assed job on the whole thing. My new intention with this blog isn’t to complain lazily, however, but to share, at least with some level of interest.

Being 22 years old and living in Chicago, I am privileged enough to see and do some cool things. I sometimes work at  an awesome music venue and like to write about the bands I see there or just about music in general. I have a healthy obsession with food and beer and sometimes like them along side one another. I play a lot of music as well and have a cool phone that takes great pictures. And, because I spend a good portion of my work week in front of a computer screen, I have decided to start anew with Born Under Punches. This is not a Talking Heads/music blog, although there will be posts regarding both my current favorite band and my all-time favorite art form. There will (also) be snacks, #lol.

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