Friday, February 24, 2012

doomtree bangarang

siiiiiick show at the bottom lounge in chicago last night. doomtree turned it out. before last week i'd never heard of them. now i'm nursing a collective crush on each one individually, and all of them, collectively.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Weekend Reading

"Some people have made seduction a way of life. Incapable of resisting opportunities, they give priority to the nascent state; they are collectors of beginnings." - On Seduction

When Hans Christian Anderson parties with Charles Dickens, he parties RIGHT: "He gathered nosegays in the woods, cut figures from paper, invited Dickens’ son Charley to shave him, and explored London in cabs while hiding his valuables in his boots. He found that Dickens had an excellent supply of dinner whiskey and could offer a large tumbler of gin and sherry afterward. He watched Dickens perform in The Frozen Deep, burst into tears at the death scene, drank champagne with the cast, and returned to see it again a week later."

"When Paul Rosenblatt answers the phone, he says “Bananas!” - on the banana distribution industry

From the same blog: mapping the city through smellscapes. I'd love to do this for Chicago, parts of which, especially in summer, reek of chocolate, melting hard candy and bread. Sometimes, walking home, I feel sorry for people in other cities, for whom a waft of saturated cocoa-laden air doesn't mean 'welcome home' in quite the same way.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Language Immersion

From the source:

This bath is made entirely out of books which Vanessa cut and fitted together over a metal frame to form a bath of books, which is suspended by four antique bath tub, lion-shaped feet. She intends to later cover it in layers of resin and has already applied proper taps and drain, so that it will be a utilizable, functional bath at all effects.

The idea is of immersing oneself in knowledge, books, truths, and 'cleaning' or ‘purifying’ one's mind with from external, every day life bombarding from media, by reading ad reflecting on books,- ‘pure sources’, which is of course, metaphorical, implying we can become polluted by ideas of truths and knowledge, which we can only 'clean' by reading our way through to our own ideas and reflections.

(from, via)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lists of Note

Big ups to the NYTimes Sunday Magazine for pointing out the Lists of Note blog. Among their offerings so far:

Eye Flirtation

Winking the right eye—I love you.
Winking the left eye—I hate you.
Winking both eyes—Yes.
Winking both eyes at once [ed. – also known as blinking?]—We are watched.

Rescue Etiquette, by Mark Twain

Partiality, in the matter of rescue, to be shown to:

1. Fiancées.
2. Persons toward whom the operator feels a tender sentiment, but has not yet declared himself.
3. Sisters.
4. Stepsisters.

Who Killed JFK? by his secretary

Lyndon –
Dixiecrats –
Hoffa –
Harry Houdini’s Rider

Require a small trap in center of stage, not less than 8 inches square (8x8 inches) two feet in rear of front cloth…
100 gallons of Boiling water (must be boiling)…
A small, clean looking (mahogany colored if possible) step ladder about 3 feet 6 inches high.

What a delight to find a Sunday magazine this late in the week. It makes you wonder about their life cycles. Where do they go so quickly? They can’t all be dumpster bound. Somewhere there’s a table made entirely of back issues, or perhaps a bed. And of course all the bathroom magazine racks absolutely stuffed with these things, wrinkling in the cold humidity behind the tank…

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Barack Obama on Love

This quote from Barack Obama on his relationship with Michelle has popped up a few times over the last four years. It continues to stand out as one of the most empowering, energizing, just downright true descriptions of love I've ever heard:
Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her.
And then what sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.
Happy Valentine's, y'all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions to Chris Brown at the Grammys

25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions to Chris Brown at the Grammys

This makes me sick. Not just angry. Physically nauseated. Three years after Brown's brutal and extremely public assault on Rihanna and this is how we treat him? By welcoming him back to mainstream pop society with accolades and open arms? What does that say to a generation of young women growing up with Brown & his apologists & champions at the helm of the music industry?

That domestic abuse is okay. That women's bodies, concerns, and voices are secondary. That their personal safety and well-being isn’t such a big deal, and why are we still talking about it, anyway? That their status as human beings worthy of respect is up for negotiation, depending on album sales.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so shocked at this casual normalization of misogyny and violence. After all, Brown’s comeback has been gaining steam for years. At first, I felt deep disappointment with artists like Busta Rhymes and Ludacris who decided to collaborate with Brown after his return. I’m still disappointed, I guess, but it’s transmogrified into a sort of blunted resignation. If I stopped listening to everyone who still works with him, I'd have to delete half my iTunes library.

This shit is just ridiculous. It's a statement made by Grammy producers on finally getting Brown back after two years of benching him:
“We’re glad to have him,” said executive producer Ken Ehrlich. “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”
Good work, Grammys. You were definitely the victims here. Not Rihanna, whose face we've all seen, beaten and bloodied. Not the women who now think it's desirable, or at least kind of funny, to talk about how much they want Brown to punch them. Nope. You had to twiddle your thumbs a few years before getting this monster back on stage. What a fucking imposition.

Friday, February 10, 2012

burning questions for snowy evenings

Master blues harpist Sonny Boy Williamson - Who's Gonna Take Care of You? (Thanks, Simon)
UPDATE: God, this footage is fantastic. MTV TRL, eat your heart out:

It's Raining Outdoors Baby

Nine Below Zero (peep the audience at the end. whatta buncha herbs)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

for valentine's

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Writing Life

This is the kind I wants:
Ms. Szymborska lived most of her life in modest conditions in the old university city of Krakow, working for the magazine Zycie Literackie (Literary Life). She published a thin volume of her verse every few years.
That's it. A quiet life. Every day full of letters and thoughts that once in a great while bubble over onto the page.

This from the New York Times' obit of Wislawa Szymborska, a reclusive Polish poet who won the Nobel prize in 1996.  Below is the entirety of one of the poems quoted in their article. It's really kind of perfect.

Cat in an Empty Apartment

Dying--you wouldn't do that to a cat.

For what is a cat to do
in an empty apartment?
Climb up the walls?
Brush up against the furniture?
Nothing here seems changed,
and yet something has changed.
Nothing has been moved,
and yet there's more room.
And in the evenings the lamp is not on.

One hears footsteps on the stairs,
but they're not the same.
Neither is the hand
that puts a fish on the plate.

Something here isn't starting
at its usual time.
Something here isn't happening
as it should.
Somebody has been here and has been,
and then has suddenly disappeared
and now is stubbornly absent.
All the closets have been scanned
and all the shelves run through.
Slipping under the carpet and checking came to nothing.
The rule has even been broken and all the papers scattered.
What else is there to do?
Sleep and wait.

Just let him come back,
let him show up.
Then he'll find out
that you don't do that to a cat.
Going toward him
faking reluctance,
on very offended paws.
And no jumping, purring at first.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Santigold - Big Mouth. From her upcoming album, Master of My Make Believe.

Lest We Forget

World Class Wrecking Cru feat. Dr. Dre - Surgery. What a gorgeous hunk of man.

On Lousy Copywriting

Advice from David Ogilvy, an early ad-man and celebrated copy-writer. Here he describes his process, which is much more plodding, laborious and painstaking than a show like Mad Men might suggest:

April 19, 1955

Dear Mr. Calt:

On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:

1. I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.

2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.

3. I am helpless without research material—and the more "motivational" the better.

4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.

5. Before actually writing the copy, I write down every concievable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.

6. Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.

7. At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. (This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.)

8. I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.

9. If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.

10. The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.

11. Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. (I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.)

12. I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.

Altogether it is a slow and laborious business. I understand that some copywriters have much greater facility.

Yours sincerely,


This is too true though! So much of the process seems non-productive: reading everything that's come before. Reading it again. Taking notes on what works. Making lists of key nouns, compelling verbs and signature adjectives. Reading that list again. Fiddling with it. Writing about a thousand drafts and then spending an hour diddling back and forth over a single preposition. Sometimes I wonder if my coworkers don't think I'm crazy, or at the very least a huge procrastinator. But if the goal is crisp, readable, seemingly effortless prose, a whole bunch of fretting and actual effort is essential. (via)

The Colors, Duke, The Colors!

WARNING: this color matching game takes up waaaayy too much time at work, and makes your co-workers like you waaaaayyy more than you're ready for.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

swag swag swag

Chicago's own Hypnotic Brass Band covers 'SpottieOttieDopalicious'.

From Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway

The above quotation comes from Mrs. Dalloway. As a sidenote, I just finished Orlando. Can't wait to watch the movie. In a lot of ways, this book felt different from her others, or at least the ones I've read. It's more action-driven, more affectionate towards its main character, and though Woolf's signature close psychologising was certainly in effect, she seemed to stand farther back from Orlando than usual, giving us a chance to see him from both outside and in. This contributes to a feeling of fun - we're always laughing at Orlando, just a little, even when we want her to succeed. Earlier this summer I read some of Woolf's letters to Vita Sackville-West, her lover and the woman on whom Orlando is based. This is highly recommended, as it brought a depth and sympathy to my reading that might not otherwise have been present.

The Girl Detective

            "'So, it’s come to that,' she said. 'You’re jealous of policemen.'"
                —Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man
The girl detective does not date
She sits at home       eating a piece of devil’s food cake
with red frosting       She sits at home
with a pregnancy test
       Icebox light       slats the kitchenette

The girl detective rolls seamed stockings down
one at a time, slips       off her crepe de chine
and navy pumps           In dotted swiss pajamas
       she yanks out the lousy Murphy bed
flips on her hot-bulb Hawaiian lamp
       the hula dancer’s       pampas skirt sways
       hips like lava             skin like kola nut

The girl detective       sets her honey hair
in frozen orange         juice cans
                               She double-checks
her clutch purse for Sweetheart tweezers, compact, blush
then badge               and gun

       Foundation caramelizes       in her vanity mirror
                   a bullet lipstick               ricochets
across the room       The girl detective dreams
of handcuffs                             slanted grillework
lost keys and prison                 movies where the girls
        are Lana Turner blond

       All her exes broke
the law       or moved to Hollywood
in search of starlets         sunglass swimming pools
palm trees                       and palisades
       green velvet theatres sinking               into mossy film noir
The girl detective                            keeps a corkscrew handy
things always do go south              it’s best to be prepared

- Hilary S. Jacqmin