Love-her or hate-her punk godmother Patti Smith, who will make a sold-out appearance this evening at Columbia College as part of its "Conversations in the Arts" series, recently won the National Book award for Just Kids, a memoir about her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe--though this critic, for one, didnt think the book was all that. Here is my review, written early this year, shortly after its publication.
Nov. 30, 2010
Everyone has been talking about the Korean-style tacos served up at Del Seoul in Lincoln Park. I do happen to love the well-marinated kalbi that's finely chopped, buried beneath a mound of Napa cabbage and Asian greens dressed with gojujang (Korean red chili paste) and topped with sesame seeds; not as much of a fan of the store-bought tortillas, but you can't win them all. One thing I wasn't expecting to like was the hearty shrimp banh mi. This Vietnamese-style sandwich is typically the province of well-regarded bakery/cafes such as Nhu Lan in Lincoln Square or Ba Le in Uptown. But for some reason, the combo of grease-free fried shrimp with the spicy mayo makes this sandwich really sing.
Nov. 30, 2010
Sometime this week – possibly even today -- Illinois may make history by passing a civil unions law that will grant same sex couples all the rights of marriage except one: the ability to call their union what it really is.
Governor Pat Quinn favors same sex marriage but backs civil unions as what’s possible.
And that seems to be the bottom line: in the year 2010, in the land of Lincoln, civil unions are all same sex couples are going to get: some kinda legal.
“Right now, it looks very good,” says Greg Harris, 13th district state representative and the law’s principal and most dogged sponsor. “Would I like to see same sex marriage? Yes, of course, but as you look through the struggles of every movement, you’ll see that everything is done in steps. Civil unions is a step.”
The law will entitle same sex couples to “the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses.”
Nov. 30, 2010
Yesterday marked the end of the public service career of Mr. Ron Huberman. Until he is appointed again somewhere else.
We have had a good ride alongside Mr. Huberman, from his time at OEMC (911 center) to head of the CTA (doomsday) to Chicago Public Schools (swine flu?). He was a strong presence in the news and he was thought to be a shrewd budget man behind the scenes.
Sounds like something I need for Vocalo Blogs! So I put this little plea together to try and get Ron Huberman to the blogosphere. If it works, you are welcome, Chicago.
Nov. 29, 2010
Vanessa and I are wrapping up. I’ve noticed that in interviews, the best question usually comes last. Not because you’re finally ready to deliver the right query that’ll land you an amazing response, or because you’re just so relieved it’s over. No, usually the last question is pretty open-ended. But somehow, the person you’re talking to becomes exactly as articulate as you have tape left in your machine.
There’s a tried-and-true radio trick that’ll get the same result. Look, you tell your interviewee. I’m drunk, I’m stupid, and if you can get this information through my thick skull, it will save my life. Studs Terkel spoke of fumbling with his recorder to bring about a compassionate clarity on the part of his subjects; I have my ways, too. But Vanessa required no such trickery. She had simply offered me an eloquent overview of her experiences in, and in response to, Chicago.
In many cases, our urban environment was the only thing I had in common with the interviewees I’ve shared over a hundred clips from in the past six months—Vanessa and I just happened to have more to build on. But the degree to which she was willing to open up her life and share it with me was not, in any way, unusual.
Revision Street: America is going on indefinite hiatus.
Nov. 29, 2010
I have to curb my small talk when I go home, Vanessa explains. It’s not something people do. The Navajo people are straight-to-the-point kind of people. They don’t dillydally around conversation.
I’ve been talking to her for several hours about growing up on the rez and living now in the drastically different urban environment of Chicago. And what it might take to go back.
When I go home I just sound like an idiot. It just sounds like I’m talking to hear my voice and I can see people shutting down on me. I’m better now than when I first used to go home. I thought they would enjoy my stories but it was more like, You’re talking senseless stuff, I don’t even know what you’re talking about: I don’t know who these people are, I don’t know what the point of the story is…
Part of it is definitely the urban environment way in which I operate. I learned a lot of these nuances of speaking on the East Coast, so there is a little bit of a quickness and there’s a lot of sarcasm. It’s definitely an urban way of thinking: you push it, you push everything. Everything’s got to be on a certain timeframe. People can’t be stagnant. People in the city feel like, if I take morning off, I better do something in the afternoon because I’ve just wasted a full day. No one knows how to just enjoy something and you can’t just arrive when you feel like it.
Nov. 29, 2010
The Bears are 8-3, gassed up and ready for the final five games of the season. This game is a hard game to apply my usual snark to because a) the Bears played pretty damn good, and b) a dude died from falling off a Soldier Field wall.
That being said, wasn't it great watching Bears' linemen pummel Michael Vick? There's just something inside you that really wants to see him get smashed. Maybe it's for killing all those dogs. Maybe. Okay, Let's get to the observations.
The cold weather doesn't do any favors for Eagles' Head Coach Andy Reid. He is a very big dude. This reminds me of a funny 'Separated at Birth' my wife did from back in the day:
Were there any good signs at Soldier Field yesterday? I was hoping the Bears fans would put some clever ideas on display to taunt Michael Vick. Give me details, please.
Loser of the game: It wasn't Andy and the Eagles, but instead, the Chicago Park District. Sorry, but that field is atrocious - probably worst in the NFL.