Tuesday, July 31, 2007

City of Echoes

When i moved to Chicago ages and ages ago (something approaching 5 years), i was immediately excited about "the scene." "The scene" is a bit of a deceptive name, it's never as vague as all that, it almost always refers to a particular city's artistic community, most commonly it's music environment. And that's what I was excited about. Finally, finally I lived in a city where musicians would stop practically every tour. Sometimes twice. And if you are Gogol Bordello, sometimes thrice.

The first band I saw play live here in the Second City, was a then little known prog-metal outfit named Pelican. They fill a fairly specific niche. Their music has no lyrics, their songs sometimes last for 10 minutes or more and can be, at times, labyrinthine. They have a penchant for unforgivable song titles like "Winds with Hands" and "Spaceship Broken: Parts needed." I had come to some ratty little club off the Brown line to see a band whose name now escapes me, something hardcore, you can see how much of an impression they made on me, and the opening act was Pelican. To say I was floored is a bit of an overstatement. But i was impressed.

Now it's 5 years and two Pelican albums later and I'm a bit giddy with my love for this band. Their most recent album, City of Echoes, is another decisive step forward. It has a raw quality to it that its predecessor lacked. As good as
The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw it does have a polished, symphony-esque sweep to it. One could set an Opera to the Fire. Echoes sounds like an album forged by immediate emotion. pain or love or frustration or wonder or something, it's off the cuff, almost jazz-like, at times much quieter than what has come before, and it's growing on me.


Monday, July 16, 2007

That Idiot Neighbor

Sort of like goldilocks, Croftie and I have 3 neighbors. Michael, the owner of the middle portion of our three-piece building, is a kind man who loves dogs, fixes random stuff for us, doesn't mince words, is gay as a kite and quite a good fellow. No problems there.

The tenant who lives in the lower part of Michael's middle portion is a divorced abomination of a man who has a son from his previous marriage that he lets do whatever the hell he wants in the back courtyard including spraying everything and everyone with a garden hose. But he's gone most of the time and can largely be ignored.

The tenant on the far end of the complex on the ground level is by far the worst. You'd think that with being that far away that we'd hear from him the least. Not so. He and his frat-boy friends who I assume are all junior investment brokers (if there is a such a thing) have a party every other weekend that gets broken up by the cops (called by the large number of stodgy old folks in these parts, lord knows why frat-boy moved here in the first place, you'd think Lincoln Park would be more his cup of MGD) and is generally obnoxious. Now that we have a loud jet engine of an air-condtioner his raucousness is not as much a problem. But there are evenings when I sit at my desk and type, exactly as I am now, and get to listen to the priceless gems that escape his mouth.

1. "Who, COOL!!! He sucked it back in!!!" Said regarding his dog who was in the process of relieving himself.

2. "That girl sure is lucky I have a penis, because that's what she really needs right about now."

3. "Wow, dude, look! If you step on them... they glow forever!" Said after mashing fireflies, one of nature's most brilliant and romantic creatures, into the stones of our back patio.

and with that, g'night.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Kitchen Made of Cheddar

Croftie and I are subtle people with subtle tastes. This has been proven time and again. But never more so than late yesterday evening. The two of us were about halfway done painting our kitchen a beautiful peach sorbet color. At least that is what the color is called, and that is what it looked like on the tiny sample slip. However, covering the not so huge but fairly substantial walls of our kitchen the color... changed. Perhaps it did not feel at home there. Croftie and I took a step back, both of us nervous but waiting for the other to say something. Finally, one of us did.

"Ferd, I don't want to live in a Kitchen made of Cheddar."

Three hours and some Thai take-out later, we finished priming over our miscalculation.