On a beautiful sunny afternoon, Gene Pellegrene walks jauntily along St. Ben’s school neighborhood from one lamp post to another. From his bike messenger bag, he pulls either a pink or baby blue flyer – shiny, on really good paper – and, with gestures that suggest so much practice it’s second nature now, he expertly tapes it to the post at Byron and Bell. The lower edge of the flyer flutters with phone tags.
Pellegrene is actually a CEO. His company, Artist Painters, does exactly what the flyer promises: custom paint jobs, faux finishing, deck weatherproofing and all kinds of exterior and interior work. But his workers aren’t just any joes off the street.
“The idea is to take relevant artists and give them a means to support themselves,” he says. “We treat them as individual contractors but on, say, a five day job, they can earn at least $1,000.”
The DavidonDemand page says: “David Perez wanted to go to the Advertising Festival in Cannes. Leo Burnett agreed to send him, on one condition — he has to do anything you tweet him. What will he do next? That’s up to you.”
And he’s not kidding. If you tune into DavidonDemand, there’s a live camera showing Perez going about his biz at Cannes flanked by a live Twitter feed with orders from viewers. Perez also has a pair of glasses armed with a built-in web cam for a first person POV on some of his adventures.
On Day 1 of this weeklong extravaganza, at the behest of his twittering fans, Perez spilled a drink on himself, walked on water, kissed a stranger, touched a Lion (the big deal ad award), ran after a jogger and got tattoos. Not in some discrete body area but on his right shoulder. Three of them.
In The Globe’s front room, so many big screens detail the action on ESPN. Men and women bend over their coffees and mugs of beer. Every seat is taken, though everyone seems to be struggling to face away from the blinding windows. In the back, a dark and sunless cavern, a smaller group is immersed in Univisión’s Spanish-language broadcast. The voices on the screens are a lot more excited than ESPN’s sedate commentators but the folks back here are quieter, more intense.
An immigrant from Serbia, Johnny (probably not his real name, though he won’t confirm or deny that) doesn’t understand a word of the broadcast. “I don’t really care about this game,” he says. “I’ll root for Serbia and then, later, for the U.S.
While in Toronto last weekend, my pals and I made a startling discovery. I was going to write it up, but my girlfriend, Megan Bayles, author of the summer-drinks-only blog, Back Deck cocktails seemed much more appropriate. Thus I figured a little guest blogging was in order.
Canadian Club Whiskey. Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Can you think of two more banal ingredients for a cocktail?
It’s been years since I saw Jenny Magnus perform a piece called “Robert” – I don’t even know where anymore – maybe Lower Links, maybe Randolph Street Gallery, maybe N.A.M.E. It later became part of a theater piece called “The Willies” but, initially, it was a stand-alone. It was darkly funny in parts, but mostly it was about the fear of commitment and the searing pain of aloneness. It touched and scared me and made my head spin.
In the intervening years, whenever I considered performance art, I came back to that stark and powerful stage moment. When performance works, it doesn’t just leave an impression, but something more like a scar.
I say that now, in part, because I want to make clear that I really do love performance. I wrote about it for the Reader and the Tribune for years, and was a regular at all those long gone performance places (For those interested, there’s a Lower Links Reunion — complete with performances — Sunday, July 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Lakeside Inn, 15251 Lakeshore Rd.
The BP station at 47th and Woodlawn is full up. There are cars hooked up at all the pump stations, both sides and an unruly line waiting to get their turn. Most folks pay at the pump but there’s a cluster up at the register hidden behind grimy bullet proof glass; customers drop their bills, then pluck cigarettes and junk food from the drawer sliding in and out of the white brick hut and go on with their lives.
Here in North Kenwood – just like in Hyde Park and Bronzeville – BP stations dot the landscape, each of them crowded with cars: Camaros and Caravans, Camrys and Sebrings, Cavaliers and Taurus, even a Cadillac deVille or two.
In other words, nearly two months into BP’s catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf, and in spite of boycott calls from Ralph Nader and a zillion environmental and political groups, it’s business as usual at BP’s flagship stations in my neighborhood.
“Man, where else am I gonna go?” says a young man as he shoves the nozzle into the side of his Honda Accord.
And it’s true that, for a Citgo on 39th and a Mobil on 53rd, it’s BP after BP after BP around here.
From Alex Cuba's new album, the song Caballo: 02 Caballo
The first time Alex Cuba laid eyes on Lake Michigan was through a plane window, and the water just went on and on and on, filling the frame endlessly.
“I said that’s no lake, it’s a sea! It’s so impressive, whether in summer or winter.”
He may carry his homeland as an artistic surname, but Alex Cuba – real name Alexis Puentes – is from a little inland town on the island called Artemisa, far from the waters. Its biggest claim to fame, besides perhaps Alex himself, is probably the Hotel Campoamor, where a prominent member of the family who owned it used to hold literary salons that attracted, among others, Pablo Neruda and Ernest Hemingway. (A monument to Neruda was unveiled at the hotel just this spring.)
So he’s a Cuban but not a coastal person, not a beach guy.
“I’m not a city person either,” said Alex, who now lives with his Canadian wife and half-Canadian half-Cuban kids in the tiny town of Smithers in BC.