Sunday, October 25, 2009

LA visit

Here are a selection of pictures from my trip to LA back in July. I went out to visit my friend Allison who has kindly visited me several times in NYC (and written me into a screenplay). Check the archives to find the adventures of Allison and I. They involve such notables as going to the Museum of Sex...drunk, the New Years Eve coat swap, and the 28th birthday horrible shirt debate. She is one of the wittiest people I know, and adventure seems to follow her around. Just recently she got Anthony Michael Hall to hold up her underpants! Yeah, she totally rocks!
I insited on seeing everything touristy. Here we are outside the famous Chinese Theatre and Kodak Theatre (where the Oscars are). It was equivalent to Times Square in NYC and just as annoying. I had to see it just to say I saw it. You can tell how crowded it was because I am shoo-ing away someone in the picture. I so wanted to take a picture with a Storm Trooper (they have all sorts of people dressed up in costume that would pose for tips) but he surprisingly had a line.
The theatres are located on Hollywood Blvd. which is home to the Stars on the walk of fame. You can tell exactly when I flew over there because it was only a few days after Michael Jackson died. Here is his star that was a mad house (I totally got elbowed twice trying to squeeze in for a picure).
We cruised Beverly Hills at my request to see the famed Rodeo Drive.
Allison had a friend who worked with Zach Snyder, the director/producer of such films like 300 and Watchmen. Yep, those are actual props used in the movie. Awesome.
She later gave me a tour of the Warner Bros back lots and sound stages (in Zach's golf cart). They have all the films or TV shows that have been shot at a each sound stage listed on a plaque. The back lots amazed me because they created realistic snap shots of different cities like Chicago and New York...well realistic except for the token palm tree that peaks out in the background.
Here is the Chicago "ER" shot under the L train.
The NYC village. I am trying to reinact the upside down kiss in Spiderman in the exact location where they filmed it.
One thing I was determined to do is see the Hollywood sign up close. The funny thing is that there are signs posted along the route to the Hollywood sign that say "this is not the way to the Hollywood sign". I guess neighborhoods are tired of tourists driving around looking for the sign. Anyway, we almost got arrested because we stopped to take a picture in front of the sign. Yeah a private security cop screeched by and gave us the whole third degree about "why are you here...well this is a private you cannot take a picture with me". He then got in his car and tailgated us till we left his territory. I guess a lot of famous and/or rich people live around there and were worried that three midwestern girls would break in and rob them blind.
We made the treck out Venice Beach so I could check out the freaks. Allison, Bailey (Allison's roommate), and I got our fortunes told for $5. It was worth the good laugh but she was waaaay off. She said I had a problem holding on to money which any of my friends can tell you is exactly opposite of my frugal nature. We had some good times in the hat shops while I was looking for my "giant straw hat for Greece".
Here we are frolicking in the Pacific Ocean. You can see the before and after pictures from the wave that snuck up and soaked us from the thigh down.
One evening, we headed over to the Griffith Observatory for their evening show. Sadly we missed it because there were like a bazillion people headed there and we had to park two miles away on some winding ridge road. We did wander the grounds and had stunning views of the LA skyline.
Allison knew how to please my inner geek and arranged for an architectural tour of the Getty Art Museum. The buildings and grounds were gorgeous and were in danger of outshining the actual artwork inside.
Allison has a dog that is HUGE. Seriously I think it is an inch or so storter than the world record. Everytime we took her dog out, people would stop in their tracks. "Is that a small donkey...wait that's a dog!" Of course he is a loveable giant that tails Allison around like a love sick puppy. Here is a picture of us hiking in the hills around the Valley, off of Mulholland Drive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sweeping up the support

Snapped this picture while walking to the Library during lunch. I guess breast cancer awareness month is catching on everywhere.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cool cool Cats

I am still writing up my LA trip (from early July) and my epic Mediterranean vacation. I have decided to inject something from the present time in order to let you know how I am currently doing.

So it has been 40 degrees in Chicago…in October…like October 1. We had 18 consecutive days of below normal temperatures. One day, the high was 22 degrees below normal. I am already wearing a wool coat which is unfortunate because I bought the most adorable red trench coat in September. Add to the matter that my heat broke. At first, I noticed that my place was cold, maybe a little too cold for having a furnace and four walls. The temperature was a balmy 55 degrees in my apartment one day. If it wasn’t for the running water, I would be considered practically homeless. I tried all the diagnostic procedures and narrowed down my problem to either a faulty igniter (wasn’t lighting the gas) or a plain old fucked up furnace. Now the funny part is that my furnace is on the roof! I had to pull out a ladder and climb through the roof hatch which is located precariously close to the porch balcony edge (one wrong move and down I go three stories).

I was prepared to ascend Saturday mid-day when I received a call from my across the hall neighbor. She asked “are you having problem with your heat (yes) because ours went out too and we opened up your unit by accident”. The mechanic was currently on the roof, so I took off to join them. He pointed out my gas cock valve (he he he) was faulty and would only work when you banged on it with a burly looking wrench (yeah he literally was like, here let me tap it and see if it opens, BANG BANG BANG BANG, there it goes). Once I reached my temperature set point, the furnace would cycle off and I would have to climb on the roof and bang on the valve again when it got too cold in the apartment. Since I had an old unit (I mean OOOOOLLLLDDD, It was at its life expectancy when I bought the place five years ago, so essentially I have the equivalent of Kirk Douglas in my furnace…hold on buddy hold on), the replacement parts are not available and I might as well get a brand new unit.

Things could be worse though. My neighbor’s unit was billowing black smoke out the side. Apparently they had a faulty fan or something and the unit was actually on fire. The exterior of the unit was all charred black like this has been a common occurrence for a while. The mechanic pulled the disconnect switch and pocketed it because it was not safe to turn that unit back on.

Now for the kicker, my mom was in town visiting. I am such a wonderful child that I made my mom reside in an unheated Chicago apartment. We wore electric blankets around like ponchos with a 25’ extension cord trailing us through the apartment. It was like we were hooked up to life support machines…I’m heading over to the living room…need to switch to a different outlet.

By sheer luck, we passed through the theatre district and noticed CATS (the musical) was playing for four days only. It seemed like a good enough reason to get out of the cold. Later I realized no one in their right mind would go see CATS. It was terrible. How the hell did it win the Tony and become the second longest run on Broadway (18 years…wtf)? Was it up against “Joe and his amazing bird whistles”? Was everyone on drugs…I mean it was the 80’s. Anyway, my mom fell asleep and I almost walked out. People around us quit after the first act or blatantly walked out during the second act. The moral of the story is that suffering in the cold is still a better option than watching CATS.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Today I found a white hair on my head. Actually two. They were about two inches long each and all wiry. I imange if they could talk, they would sound like Bea Arthur. Am I really that old?

I assume when I age, I am going to look a lot like my Mom. Below is a picture of her back when she was current age. I'm not quite one in the picture and my older sister Angela is almost 3. Oh and she was a size four...after two children, that skinny bitch. She still is a beautiful woman...with a full head of thick brown hair (very few white hairs). In a few months, she turns 60. I want to throw her a party or something to show my gratitude for giving me something to look forward to.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lollapalooza 2009 - Lindsay's take, part 3

SUNDAY – hot and sunny again. During the 2:30pm show, the temperature hit 100.
Ra Ra Riot – I only caught the last three songs of their set (damn CTA) and I wished I could have heard more. High energy, a catchy beat, and a strings section…the recipe for heaven. I have since downloaded their work and could not be happier.
Bat for Lashes – this band (or I should say it’s front woman) is super hot in London right now. The band has a sound that I can only describe as part meditation, part dog whistle. Actually it was soft spoken, soothing, soulful, and intriguing, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Her voice did get really fucking high though (I bet she shatters glass as a party trick). She was dancing around in a rainbow sequined leotard, purple tights, and face paint. What is she…an ice-skater? She did pull out a wind box, some chimes, and a piano duet that (although extremely odd) worked.
The Airborne Toxic Event – they are riding a huge wave of publicity since the music video for their mega hit Sometime Around Midnight hit top five on the countdown (maybe higher). Yeah, they beat out Beyonce (take that Kayne). I got up close, within maybe ten rows of the stage, and although the temperature of the day peaked during their show and I was packed in with a hoard of people, I still had a blast. The fiddle girl jumped into the crowd while the band pounded their instruments soaked in sweat. The combination of rock and indie heart is one of the best I have ever heard.
Paul Green’s School of Rock – yep, you guessed it, a band composed of kids playing rock and roll. I would say they were the biggest surprise of the festival. I checked them out on a whim. They opened up with Michael Jackson’s Beat It. A 14 year old laid into the guitar riff like a pro. During the mid song guitar solo, a 10 year old came out and challenged the other 10 year old singer, and they reenacted the knife fight scene (so cute). Next they did Hot for the Teacher. The opening drum and guitar solo were so awesome that people started gravitating in to check it out from the promenade. Later two members of the Cream joined the kids on stage and sang White Room. The legends kept shaking their heads and giving each other the awe struck “whoa, can you believe these kids can’t even drive yet” look. I regrettably had to leave half way through their set but I can say their crowd easily multiplied ten-fold.
Vampire Weekend – I think a critic described their sound as “impossibly uplifting”, and it truly was. I couldn’t help smiling and tapping my thigh to the beat (I actually had the urge to start skipping, but restrained myself). They are peppy, catchy, and bubblegum without sounding like a bunch of New England douche-bags (I mean, come on, who sings about Cape Cod). I think they have two albums out and even teased themselves when requesting the audience sing along (it is okay if you are not familiar with our vast catalog of music).
Cold War Kids – I feel the heat and massive amounts of good music saturated me, so by the time Cold War Kids played, I was on my way down. I didn’t give them my full attention and bailed after the second song because I just didn’t feel like enduring the heat for electronic techno rock. Eh.
Snoop Dogg – I was sooooo glad I grabbed some shade and recharged my batteries for Snoop. He surprised me by playing a lot from Doggy Style and some Chronic duos. Doggy Style has a place in my heart since my first high school boyfriend used to play it nonstop in the car when he wanted to kiss me. Yeah, such a romantic. Did I mention he only had four fingers on one hand. Yeah, I sure pick the winners. Anyway, back to Snoop. I found myself singing along and dancing all gangsta style (well as gansta as a white girl from Nebraska can get). I couldn’t help myself. He swaggered around the stage with some pimped out microphone (slash shield guessing from the size of it). While he was singing about Cop Killa, a group of eight black Cops made their way through the crowd (amongst some very awkward looks).
Silversun Pickups – Guitar Hero fans know their song Lazy Eye (such an awesome guitar start). Too bad I had to wait the entire set to hear it. I do admit they have an amazing indie rock sound that makes me love them as musicians…just not singers. Yeah something about the guy’s voice makes me want to shout out “turn down the monitor”.
The Killers – Maybe The Killers made a deal with the devil because I swear right before they came on, the temperature dropped fifteen degrees and a cool breeze swept in from the lake to our relief (the whole day was like 90 and sunny). They stroked the crowd little by little, like some little game of foreplay, until climaxing at the end by playing their four greatest hits to close with. The crowd was on their feet (obviously since you couldn’t see the stage sitting) and I found myself excited as a teenager.

Although I felt The Killers put on a great show, I hear there was mad drama over at the North stages. Evidently the legend Lou Reed went long. Okay that is an understatement. Apparently he was 15 minutes past his end time and decided to start another song. Band Of Horses politely waited on the adjacent stage for him to finish and that made them start way late. They were about half way through their set (everyone was given an hour except the closers) when Jane’s Addiction was scheduled to start. Perry screamed out “lets drown these fuckers out” and began to play over them. Now there is a riff between those bands. I feel bad for Band of Horses, they got the shaft.

Lollapalooza 2009 - Lindsay's take, part 2

SATURDAY: day two, no rain, just hella hot with sunny skies. Cue the sun burn and salt sweat stains on the clothes.
Constantines – lots of alternate rock just the way I like it. Again thank you Paste for Islands in The Stream. I wished they had more songs to play a longer set, but what I heard was excellent.
Miike Snow – okay these guys at first freaked me out because they started out their set in scary blank white face masks. Mike Myers…is that you…aaaahhh! Their catchy electronic and random instruments (you name it, they played it) won me over, especially the single Animal which was featured on Gossip Girl (although these guys would never admit to that).
Ida Maria – billed to be the next Biork. I must say she had a strong voice but was more concerned with belting things out than staying on key. Plus she was way fucking weird. I mean would-have-taken-off-her-thrift-store-metallic-dress-and-jump-in-the-mosh-pit kind of strange.
Care Bears on Fire – okay another band I got a lot of shit for watching. Get this, they are an all-girl punk band composed of three tweens (ages 12-13)! One had a tutu and purple hair…how cute is that! Give them a few more years to build up their sound and I swear they are going to rock. Plus how often have you ever heard a more disturbing band name.
Chairlift – you likely don’t know this band but know their song. It was in an I-Pod nano commercial , and you know how damn infectious those are. Their indie groove reminds me a lot of Fiest (you know, the one in the other I-Pod commercial) except not nearly as good. Yeah ten minutes into a jam, it dawned on me that I hadn’t understood a single word she said. I bet it would be a lot better drunk. I headed out early to catch some other artist and they evidently played that one song last. Damn.
Gomez – this alternative rock band was a welcome relief (remember I had just come from Chairlift). Their sound reminds me of 90’s alternative rock with guitar jams that channel the 70’s (when it was all about the guitar). I soaked up the sweet sweet sound and wondered where my old doc martins were.
Arctic Monkeys – their huge hit Fluorescent Adolescent makes me want to take a road trip. It seems like the perfect song to cruise around with the window down. The rest of their music is actually a lot different but still really good. It is totally British and almost Ramones-esc. I found myself throwing my hands up and pumping my fist to the beat.
Santigold – Jensen, Dan M., and I pushed far into the crowd to get about two dozen rows back from the stage. Then we waited…for 30 minutes. Yeah, the time slot is only 1-hour long, so after a while we started to think she cancelled. People in the crowd started to amuse themselves by putting chicks on their shoulders and then boo
disappointedly when they didn’t flash. One skinny guy finally got on the big screen camera…and flashed. Ah ha ha. Anyway, finally she walked out with her entourage which included matching African themed uniforms for the band and a pair of back up dancers that were so serious they were robotic. Santigold came out in this crown thing that I was tempted to punch since we waited in a hot packed crowd for 30 minutes while she prepared (hello Barbara was never THAT bad). I must admit, she did sound fantastic and sang every hit that I knew. The backup dancers totally stole the show though. I would pay them for a day to just follow me around and break out in spontaneous synchronized dances.
Rise Against – I had to run waaaay across the festival to catch the opening song of one of my favorite Chicago hard rock bands. You could feel the energy and I can still hear their sound in my head. I could see the epic mosh pit on the big screen (hell no, I steered clear of that) and the audience jumped and shouted out as one during the chorus of The Good Left Undone. I still get goose bumps.
Animal Collective – transitioning from some kick ass rock into electronica, well they were bound to disappoint. This band had a lot of hype but frankly the crowd was not buying it. I went from an eleven to maybe a four. Actually I felt bad for these guys because the bands sandwiched around them (Rise Against and Tool) were so not their fan base.
Tool – I love me some Tool (okay hold on, that came out wrong). I admit I am more of a Perfect Circle fan, but hey, aren’t they essentially the same band. The music is powerful and haunting, and frankly it lingers in my head like some catchy Britney Spears song. I probably would have enjoyed the music more if big screen graphics weren't so damn scary and distracting. Seriously, at one point a fly crawled out of an eyeball iris and then a skeleton skinny old man stared to peel his skin off. They did play Schism which made me happy. Oh and they also played Flood which expresses his hatred for California (learn to swim). I have nothing against California; I just find the song funny.
Pics from Santigold (the back up dancers are actually on either side of her)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lollapalooza 2009 - Lindsay's take, part 1

I love live music. That is my indulgence. Thank God it is a lot better than buying expensive shoes. Anyway, here are my thoughts from this years Lollapalooza. Oh and that was at the beginning of August (I wasn't kidding when I said I have a backlog of stories). I have to break this down into three separate posts because it is so freaking long.
The first day, it was rainy, so I didn’t whip out my camera to document the awesome bands I saw. Frankly, all it would show is a bunch of umbrellas huddled together.
My set list included:
White Lies – great alternative rock band. I only caught the last half of their set but I have definitely put them on my “to watch” list.
Bon Iver – I made the mistake of saying the band name like Bon (pause) Iver instead of the French word it is supposed to be (boniver). Anyway, I have been a fan of them ever since mid last year when one of their songs (Flume) was featured on the monthly Paste sampler CD. That magazine subscription is by far the best investment ever! Anyway, they are described as quiet with understated softness. Basically that means I had to listen real hard to hear their rhythmic folk music over the obnoxious chatter of the crowd.
Ben Folds – Need I say more. That guy rocks the shit out of a piano. Plus he played bitches and hos (or whatever that gansta song is…hilarious).
Fleet Foxes – folk music with plenty of harmony and a taste of the 70’s. It was hyped a lot…but I give it a B-.
The Decemberists – I was really looking forward to this quirky folk/rock band, and boy did they not disappoint. Again I have Paste to thank for making me fall in love with The Rake’s Song (so random). At one point they pulled out an accordion. I heard they were really into role play…too bad it was World of Warcraft Role Models movie type instead of say naughty school girls and boys.
Peter Bjorn and John – unique, strange, and downright weird at times (hey they are European). However they did play that one really chipper whistling song everyone seems to know, Young Folks.
Of Montreal – psychedelic which isn’t really my thing. The lead singer is a transvestite though which intrigued me. Still I give the music a C-, boo.
Depeche Mode – okay yeah I have gotten a lot of flack for picking Depeche Mode over Kings of Leon. I know, KOL rock…they are super hot and catchy right now…I get it! I picked DM only because of the Beastie Boys. Seriously, one of the BB got cancer and it made me think “whoa, DM is not getting any younger, I should hurry up and see them before they die or something”. Plus it is a rare day when DM plays in concert and KOL has been to Chicago like 5 times in the last 2 years. They played mostly greatest hits and closed with Personal Jesus. Their graphics were awesome, but they didn’t play the entire time slot and left me a bit unfulfilled. I heard KOL rocked (of course). Go ahead, tell me “I told you so”.

Depeche Mode Pictures

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Like a folk singer...

Back in August (I know I am behind, but hey I’ve been busy…I just wish I was a faster typist so I can get it all out in an hour) I went to a Brendan Benson concert at Shubas. Okay, many people will ask “who is Brendan Benson” so I guess you can say he is the hugely talented original emo folk singer who one was in Raconteurs. Okay, “who are the Raconteurs”. My friends and I have a cult following for this man. I think Smith picked up his CD like ten years ago in a bargain bin. Anyway, we all instantly became huge fans of his rhythmic voice that has a hint of twang, and his songs that are quirky and unexpected. The gang has caught his shows numerous times at little venues all over Chicago. One time Dan and I snuck into his prep session and crouched in the back like refugees until security made us leave.

Once we heard Brendan was coming back in town, there was a flurry of BB emails among the gang. We erupted when that 105lb man stepped on stage. It was surprising how many people in the audience were able to sing along to EVERY song (even the really early stuff). During ‘Sitting Pretty’, a song about a guy who has kidnapped his girlfriend and is holding her hostage at gun point…trust me, it is a really amusing song. Anyway there is a part where he sings something about suffocating her and “she’ll tell me if she can’t breathe” and if you listen closely you can hear a girl faintly say in the background “I can’t breathe”. Some people in the crowd yelled out “I can’t breathe” and Brendan grinned and let out a brief laugh.

During equipment changes, the audience would yell out things like bringing up his other bands. I guess you had to be there but it was hilarious when he said “yeah I should get a t-shirt that says ‘who the fuck is Jack White’”. Another time his guitar strap broke and he and the roadie were trying to reattach it when someone yelled out (in perfect timing mind you) “yeah..get your strap on”. After a particularly good song, he ended the song with “your welcome” like the lead singer of the Hives (I think).

According to the clock, he was in his last song. It was one of his most famous hits (I think they used it in a car commercial or something, oh and the movie Ghost Town). He was jamming out and about ready to return to the chorus when all of the sudden the lights went out and the sound cut out. I thought it was staged as some awesome closing but then the emergency lights came on and everyone had to be rushed outside. Surprisingly, the entire block was dark. Fucking Rock and Roll!