Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

End of the Year (Better late than never?)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

It is hard to believe that we are almost done with the first month of 2011! And, I never even posted my 2010 end of the year list. For shame. Well, here we go:

Top 10 Concerts of 2010:

10. Rhythm Devils at House of Blues
9. Railroad Earth at House of Blues
8. Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Millennium Park
7. LCD Soundsystem at Pitchfork Music Festival
6. Panda Bear at Pitchfork Music Festival
5. Caribou at Millennium Park
4. John Prine at Ravinia (from Prairie Home Companion)
3. Pavement at Pitchfork Music Festvial
2. Furthur at UIC (both shows)
1. Bonnie Prince Billy and the Cairo Gang at Lincoln Hall (early show)

– Being a new Deadhead was the direct result of #10, #9, and #2 being on this list.

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2010

10. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
9. Gil Scott-Heron – New York Is Killing Me
8. Woods – Suffering Season
7. Deerhunter – Helicopter
6. Phosphorescent – It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)
5. Beach House – Used to Be
4. MGMT – Someone’s Missing
3. Avey Tare – 3 Umbrellas
2. Sufjan Stevens – I Walked
1. Atlas Sound – Untitled

– While I might have listened to a lot of older music (especially the Dead) last year, I still got around to checking out a few new stuff. Most of it didn’t excite me that much, but the these tracks sure did.

Top 10 Favorite Songs I Discovered In 2010 (Not including the Dead)

10. String Cheese Incident – Land’s End (1997)
9. Jorma Kaukonen – Song for the North Star (1974)
8. Van Dyke Parks – John Jones (1972)
7. Railroad Earth – Storms (2004)
6. Harry Nillsson – Jump Into the Fire (1971)
5. Béla Fleck – Somerset (1986)
4. The Staple Singers – I Had a Dream (1959)
3. Elizabeth Cotten – Shake Sugaree (1967)
2. Moondog – Do Your Thing (1978)
1. Crosby & Nash – Southbound Train (1972)

– Admittedly, I was late in the game on these amazing songs. I suppose better late than never. See a theme going on? Anyway, a few notes here: 10) Yes, I did include a String Cheese Incident song here. Feel free to make fun of me. The truth is that I tried to get into other jam bands but to little avail. SCI was one of the few that kept me interested, especially “Land’s End”. 9) Jorma Kaukonen was always my favorite Jefferson Airplane member. 8) How did I go so long without listening to Van Dyke Parks solo albums? 7) Another “jam band” that I got into was Railroad Earth. Best seen live but their albums hold up quite nicely, too. 6) I am new to Harry Nillsson even though “Everybody’s Talkin'” is one of my favorite songs. I had only know “Jump Into the Fire” as that wonderful song in Goodfellas where Henry is driving around paranoid, looking up at the helicopters in the sky. 5) Have you listened to Béla Fleck’s early albums? They are so lovely, especially “Somerset” which comes off the Inroads album. 4) I love the Staple Singers but had not dived into their early recordings until last year. Boy have I been missing out! 3) I have the Dead to thank for introducing me to Elizabeth Cotten. Easily, one of my favorite guitar players. So unique her style is called “Cotten pickin'” 2) I finally sought out more from Moondog, and I am so grateful that I did. “Do Your Thing” just might be the best song ever recorded. 1) I don’t know what it is about this Crosby and Nash song I love so much but I probably played it more than any other song last year (includes Jerry Garcia on pedal steel).

Top 5 Movies Watched On Netflix Instant Watch (That I Hadn’t Seen Before):

5. Phantasm (1979) – I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this! For years, I skipped it thinking that I had. Big mistake!
4. Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart (2008) – If you are a fan of music, I think you will enjoy this musical adventure.
3. You’re Gonna Miss Me (2005) – The sad tale of whatever happened to Roky Erickson. Very reminiscent of The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Both could make for a fascinating yet depressing double feature.

2. The Cove (2009) – Another depressing documentary but extremely well done and meaningful.
1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) – The biggest surprise of the bunch. I was expected a lighthearted documentary about video game obsession. Instead, I was treated to a morality play between good and evil. Or something like that. Highly recommended.

– We just got Netflix for our Wii a few months ago so expect a few more recommendations in 2011.

Top 5 Places I Visited For Work

5. New Orleans, LA – I didn’t get to spend much time here. Just enough to enjoy an oyster poboy. However, not enough time to get a beignet. How sad.
4. NYC – I worked with Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi at the House of Blues in Times Square. More importantly, I got to hang out with my friend, Brad.
3. State College, PA – I worked here twice last year. Once, we drove there. I never imagined that Pennsylvania was so pretty. The second time we flew, and I had the best crab cakes I have ever had in my life. And I got to meet Joe Peterno.
2. San Diega, CA – It was hard having to leave paradise to return to the harsh, Chicago winter.

1. Dyserville, Iowa – Actually, it was a detour stop on the way home from a shoot with The Weather Channel. Details aside, I got to run the bases at the Field of Dreams baseball field.



Random food photos from 2010:


Tasty french toast from Dixie Quicks in Omaha, NE.


The Super Grouper at Frenchy’s in Tampa, FL


The Peachy Paterno on campus at Penn State.

A half-eaten Rickwood Dog at the Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, AL.


My favorite pie! Baked and decorated by Apryl.

The cinnamon buns at Ann Sather.


Homemade pizza with spinach and goat cheese. Yummy!


Apryl makes amazing home fries!


Unbelievable tasting pork chops! The waiter sold me on this when she told me that if she was only allowed on food for the rest of her life, this would be it. Too bad this is off the menu for me at the moment while I’m still practicing vegetarianism.

One of my favorite meals of 2010 was this crab cake in State College, PA.



Top 5 Favorite Personal Photos of 2010 (in no order)





sledge church

Goodbye 2010. Hello 2011!

Mom’s Visit

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Mom Chicago

Last week, my mom visited us for the first time. Even though she had visited the Windy City when she was a child, she hadn’t seen Chicago as the modern, world-class city it is today.

Since she was arriving at night, I knew I had the perfect opportunity to show off one of the best views of the city at the Museum Campus. If I had a wide angle lens and the ability to use a long exposure, this photo would look quite impressive:
city at night

Afterward, we had a nice meal in our neighborhood at Feast, where I forewarned her that tomorrow we would be doing a lot of walking. I wouldn’t be kidding.

The next morning, we fueled up before our big day at our favorite breakfast spot, Toast. My mom went with my recommendation, the pancakes with mascarpone and toasted pine nuts. Here she is about to enjoy them:

pancakes toast

So good. And since Toast is so filling, we were good until dinner time. We proceeded to walk off our meal, first checking out a garage sale near the Damen Blue Line, and then getting on the train to venture downtown.

The next few hours were spent shopping on State Street. Apryl had some ideas, including the massive Filene’s Basement and the beautiful interior of the once Marshall Field’s:

Marshall Field

One of the biggest hit, though, might have been my mom’s finding, Loehmann’s. My mom has a strong devotion towards this department store. When its branch closed in Memphis, she was one of the last to leave before they locked up the doors for good. She told me it had been seven years since she had stepped foot in one. So, she was a bit excited when she looked up and saw the Loehmann’s signs beckoning her in from the cold (did I mention there was a chill in the air?):


Inside Loehmanns

However, as much as my mom loved rediscovering an old favorite, she might have been the most impressed with Apryl’s favorite downtown spot, the Chicago Cultural Center. It is here where one can see the awe-inspiring, world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome:

Tiffany Dome

There was also an interesting Louis Sullivan exhibit:

Louis Sullivan

After hours of shopping and sight-seeing, we finally regained our appetite. And, you know that we couldn’t show off Chicago to my mom without a little pizza from a certain place:


After stuffing ourselves, we walked down Michigan Ave and to the John Hancock Observatory:

John Hancock

And here are some views:

View 1

View 2

View 3

View 4

The last image captures the fireworks going off at one of the nation’s most visited tourist attractions, Navy Pier.


On Sunday, my mom and I went to breakfast by ourselves at France’s Deli, which I believe serves the best pancakes in the city. My mom thought they were quite tasty.

Since it was cold, we decided to skip out on a boat tour, and instead checked out the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest conservatories in the United States. It is quite impressive. I would love to check it out again in the summer as well as in the winter, especially when there is snow on the ground. I took a lot of photos so here are just a few:

Mom at Garfield

Hayden and Apryl at Garfield

Mom at Garfield 2

On the way back home, I took a detour to show my mom Harpo Studios:


That evening, my Mom and I went out by ourselves to dinner at Buona Terra in Logan Square. Great food. Great company. We had a nice conversation about our family history over some tasty Italian food.

The next day, I took my mom on a driving tour of Chicago. We started on the South Side in Hyde Park neighborhood, home of the Museum of Science and Industry. I found a rare parking spot on the University of Chicago campus, and we walked around checking such places as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House and the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel:

Robie House


Leaving Hyde Park, we drove out to the far North Side to Evanston, where one can find Northwestern University and many, many beautiful homes.

On our way back to the city, we stopped in at the Chicago History Museum. Here my mom is in the Chicago Jazz and Blues exhibit:


That evening, we rejoined Apryl and took in the sights of Millennium Park:




Afterward, we walked across the street and had a wonderful meal at The Gage.

downtown night

As we retired for the evening, my mom got a kick out of seeing the street workers watering all the downtown plants. I didn’t get a shot of their watering trucks, but here is a freshly watered pot:


The next morning, we had some Dunkin’ Donuts before heading out to Midway. It was a bit sad seeing my mom go, but we had a nice visit. I’m glad that she got to see where I live and work. Perhaps next time, she will visit during the summer, and won’t have to worry about layering up. We could even go to the beach.

mom and i

For photos from my mom’s trip, click here.


Saturday, February 27th, 2010

On Saturday, I attended the William Eggleston exhibit at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. For those who don’t know, Eggleston, who hails from and lives in Memphis, is an influential photographer who revolutionized the use of color photography. His work is often described as having a snapshot quality with colors that are heavily saturated.

The exhibit was quite impressive in it’s scope, covering even Eggleston’s early dabble into black and white photography (several examples from Memphis Sate programs). But the main attraction were the dye imbibition color prints, many of which were quite famous as album covers, including the new record from Spoon. I really wanted to take a photo of the display with LP’s from Big Star’s Radio City and Alex Chilton’s Like Flies on Sherbert but photography is only allowed in the permanent collections. Even so, here are few photos from the opening day of the exhibit:

William Eggleston’s rare appearance for the opening, which was met with fever of excitement from his fans.

Eggleston signs a copy of his latest monograph books, William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008

The screening display for Eggleston’s film Stranded in Canton which my friend John Olivio edited.

The goat days.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

It seems our neighborhood longs for the it’s past, gritty days when prostitutes, junkies, and criminals roomed the intersection of Milwaukee, North, and Damen. Hmm. Personally, I applaud the lack of such folks but could do without a bank on every corner. But that’s just me.

Curious about the title of this post? Here’s a clue.

Jury Duty

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010


Some of you might recall a few posts ago that right before the Christmas break, I received a jury duty notice from the City of Chicago. All these years of livin’ and this was the first time I had ever been asked to do my civic duty. Since I was only a standby juror, I had to call a number the day before in order to find out if my service, in fact, was needed. Since I was working on a shoot, Apryl made the call for me and texted me back the news: Only standby jurors with last names beginning with F to H. I just missed out.

However, the Chicagoist wasn’t as “lucky”?


Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Shel crowd

    If you are a dreamer, come in.
    If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar.
    A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
    If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
    For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
    Come in!
    Come in!

    “Invitation” Shel Silverstein from Where the Sidewalk Ends

Last week, Apryl and I partook in SHELebration, a free musical and poetry event celebrating the life and work of the late Shel Silverstein. Famously known for children’s books like Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree, Silverstein was also an accomplished songwriter (“Cover of the Rolling Stone,” “A Boy Named Sue,” etc.), cartoonist, and screenwriter. The tribute, which was held at the beautiful Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park , was put together by Bobby Bare Jr. and starred a slew of guests including Bobby Bare Sr., Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket), Sally Timms (The Mekons), Jon Langford (The Mekons), Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy), and acting as the house band, The Bare Family Band. Why Chicago, you ask? Well, Shel Silverstein was born in Chicago in 1930. He even sold hot dogs at Comiskey Park when he was a kid and remained a lifelong White Sox fan. For more information about SHELebration, check out this great article from the Tribune.

Here are a few photos from the event:

Miss Lori

Miss Lori and the Campus Kids from PBS read and act out the works of Silverstein.

Sally Timms

Sally Timms sings “One’s on the Way,” made famous by Loretta Lynn.

Bare Jr

Bobby Bare Jr. performs Silverstein’s most famous songwriting contribution, “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” originally recorded by Dr. John.

Will Oldham

Will Oldham dons a ladies wig and performs another tune originally sung by Loretta Lynn called “Hey Loretta”.

The hilarious Bobby Bare Sr. entertains the kids as well as the adults.

And, here’s a short video of the finale, “Unicorn”:

Pitchfork Music Festival `09 – It’s On!

Friday, July 17th, 2009


For the fourth straight year, Apryl and I are attending the Pitchfork Music Festival, which occurs every year at Union Park. (Technically, the first year was the Intonation Music Festival curated by Pitchfork, but that’s nitpicking.) This year tickets sold out faster than any other year, so we’re expecting a far larger crowd than normal. Hopefully, it will still be manageable, since this is one of the few festivals Apryl is able to stand crowdwise. And as long as the predicted showers for Saturday and Sunday hold off, the temperature highs ranging from the low to mid 70’s should make the conditions quite comfortable (though I can imagine Apryl being disappointed in the idea of taking a sweater at night when it’s officially summertime). Below, a list of some of the artists I’m looking forward to checking out:

Built to Spill, The Flaming Lips, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise, Grizzly Bear, M83, Beirut, DOOM, Final Fantasy, The National, The Walkmen, Bowerbirds, and many, many more.

If you aren’t able to attend but still want to check out the festival, there will be a live stream here.

It’s official.

Thursday, July 16th, 2009


Sears Tower is now Willis Tower.

Check out the article.

It was thirty years ago today…

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Free Music at Millennium Park

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Dirty Projectors

The Dirty Projectors

Sea and Cake

The Sea and Cake