Sunday, June 25, 2006

Music That Will Change Other's Lives

Very soon, we'll mark the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's Gulf Coastal onslaught.
There'll be remembrances, poignant and angry flashbacks all over the place, probably including on this blog.

I visited New Orleans last summer, just a few weeks before the storm hit. It's been one of my favorite cities since I was four or five years old, even though I didn't make it there in person til I was well into my twenties. My grandfather's stories of his occasional visits to the Crescent City brought to life a vibrant picture of a culture that is truly one of this nation's, let alone planet's, most festive and treasured.

Much has been made of the "spirit" of the people of the Gulf Coast, and , specifically, New Orleans. If you've ever been there, you've felt it. Especially if you've ever wandered into any of the joints featuring live music.

There've been a slew of benefit concerts and records since the floods, but of all the ones I've heard, OUR NEW ORLEANS stands out. It's a compilation of chestnuts by New Orleans artists like Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Great new versions of songs you've heard a billion times, but they have an added layer with the great loss and devastation felt by these folks...My favorites are a sparse, banjo-driven version of DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS? by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the hurting " "Crying in the Streets", a dead-on Buckwheat Zydeco track with guitar from Ry Cooder, Dr. John's "World I Never Made", just a devastating take, and Randy Newman with the Louisiana Philharmonic covering his LOUISIANA 1927. Check it out, the net proceeds are being given to Habitat for Humanity, who can most definately put it to good use rebuilding lives for people who can really use it...

The collaboration between Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint is outstanding, so I highly recommend THE RIVER IN REVERSE. The two artists rekindled a long friendship while playing benefits after the hurricane, and the CD contains a great 30-min documentary on dvd called "Putting the River in Reverse" that's a great look at the making of the album, and a city on the brink. Highlights include the title track, and Costello's lyrics for Toussaint's interpretation of "Tipitina", titled "Ascension Day" here. It's a record with great lyrics, and killer horns. Great summer listening.

Soon, billions of federal dollars will begin pouring into New Orleans. As highlighted recently by the New York Times, NOLA mayor Ray Nagin, and the rest of the local bureaucrats down there haven't yet put any sort of plan in place for the rebuilding of New Orleans. There's trouble on the horizon in many ways down there. Here's hoping someone steps up, and gets their act together, for the sake of the people of New Orleans. True, most of them were dirt-poor financially, though they're all wealthy in spirit and soul.

Later this week, a reprint of a column I wrote for the RedEye shortly after all hell broke loose.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Anyone, anyone? Fry? Fry?*

Just wondering...
Is ANYONE over at Tribune Tower paying attention to what's going on at Wrigley Field?
I know that the whole shareholder revolt/sagging TV and newspaper revenues/ticket scalping to your own fans outrage is time-consuming, but come ON, people.

The Cubbies look worse than the mid-80's Cubs. And they're not improving in the least. No fundamentals. Zero clutch hitting. Getting Prior back was supposed to be a plus, not a humongous negative... It's beyond ridiculous. I know the manager doesn't take the field, pitch, catch, hit, or throw, but someone has GOT to go, and you can't fire the whole team. Shake it up, Mr. Hendry. Whack Dusty already puh-leeeeaaaaaaaaassssssseeeeeeeee.

Oh, well. I guess there's always next year. And at least their fans haven't beaten up any opposing coaches or umpires. At least they're staying classy.

How many more days til football season?

* alternate headline/caption....I ONCE CAUGHT A LOSING STREAK THIIIIS BIG...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cupdate

So it seems that the soccer announcer referenced in our previous WC post, the man who yelled
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL! is dead. The crack research staff here at MOTN failed to catch that on the first pass. Muchos Gracias to the reader who alerted us to the oversight (and our errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar).

Andres Cantor , the Argentinian-born Spanish language sportscaster, died on April 21, 2003.
In addition to his signature ¬°GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL! call, Cantor
was known for, whenever a game reached halftime or ended, delivering the line
El arbitro dice que no hay tiempo para mas ("The referee says there is no more time")

No word on whether that was the epitaph on his headstone, but wouldn't that have been great if it was?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Vend it like Beckham...

It's World Cup time, not that you'd notice. Even though more
people watch the World Cup than the Super Bowl worldwide, and more
soccer merchandise is sold than NBA, MLB, and NFL gear combined, and despite the fact that there is a soccer ball decal on 3 of every 5 minivans and suv's in suburbia, and even with all of the hot soccer moms out there, the masses in America have yet to embrace Soccer as a big-time sport.

It's getting a bit more mainstream, as I've noticed tons of WC tees, hats, and jerseys in sporting goods stores around town. I just can't figure out if that
number in the cirle on all the Nike stuff is supposed to be 06 or 90. Can
someone help me out, please?

So far the biggest WC highlight has been David Beckham bending one off
of the other team's defenders heads and into the goal. I know, you're thinking,
no wonder no one gets this game.

But give it a shot. A bunch of the Brazilians have only one name. Like Ronaldo. And Ronaldinho. (I'm pretty sure those are two different players....)

I'll be attending the next World Cup, in South Africa, in 2010. So stay tuned right here for
coverage. This is you blog headquarters for the SA WC 2010.

Do they still have that announcer guy that yells,


And they're off...

Along with dusting off your white shoes and belt, buying a few tiki torches at the Target, and finally being able to sleep with the windows open, Summer in Chicagoland always means the beginning of the summer festival season.

Pretty much the Masters of the festival set, the Old Town Art Fair has been packing 'em in for years. It's an opportunity to see some great art (and a ton of lousy art, as well), overpriced homemade jewelry, and munch some chicken on a stick. (What is it about that festival chicken that makes it taste so damn good?)

Forget about the myriad fashion faux pas and the widespread terrible parenting and grammar mistakes you'll see and hear, the most entertaining part of summer festivals is watching the single ladies get all dolled up and then sit around to get hit on by drunk guys. It's such a sociological cornucopia of material...was THAT your best brown tee-shirt? Do you think that Corona hat you got for free at Trader Todd's one night singing karaoke would make some guy notice you? Could your stories about work and your roommate be any longer AND any more boring? And your Miller Lite-fueled dragon breath...niiiiice. About the only saving grace for this pack of pretties is that, at some point, the beer goggles kick in, and you know what that leads to...
The Festival Hookup.
ah, it starts with such promise, such hope. After he buys her the first drink or two, she's thinking, hey, this guy might be different...we can go to Cub games, maybe the MCA on a thursday night, we can hang out at Taste of Lincoln...maybe even out to my folks' for a barbecue in August, maybe he'll come to the family cottage with me for Labor Day...but, inevitably, whether its during that first post-coital Marlboro Light, or later that week on Wednesday, and he still hasn't called, she realizes that she's been had yet again. Another summer of stumbling from beer tent to beer tent in groups of four, just like those SEX AND THE CITY chicks...

But fear not, ladies. There is hope. You can stop the cycle. You can right the wrong. Just avoid any events with plastic banners, port-a-potties, and buckets of Miller Lite. Buy your knockoff sunglasses at that store in the Century Mall, not from a fest vendor. Just say NO to fests.

You'll thank me later.

Good Taste Patrol, part one

Well, it's summertime once again in the midwest. Those two and a half months that we spend all
year lusting after, wishing for, praying they'll come and stay...though they never do.

Warm weather in a four season town like Chicago is such a rare occurance, yet it is wasted on some.
I'm talking to you Jorts wearers in particular.

A fleeting season like summer should be cherished. Coddled, even. Not a sip should be spilled, not a moment wasted. So why in the hell do some people spend these blessed days parading around in blatant fashion mistakes?

Whoever thought of the combination of denim jeans and short pants should've been drawn and quartered. Or at least subject to one full summer of Chinese water torture. Jorts are NOT on.
There are only two acceptable forms of denim clothing that don't go all the way to your ankles.

1. Denim capris for chicks.
2. Daisy-Duke style cutoff jean shorts, and only on tall, leggy women who live in the Southeast. And even then, only worn over bikini bottoms to the swimmin' hole. Or the farmers' market. Or the bonfire.

Oh, and a special exception for construction workers. During work hours only.

Denim and a crisp hem, or pleats and cargo pockets, just ain't meant to be mixed. And maybe the worst part of people that wear Jorts is the fact that they just don't GET that they look ridiculous. Last year during a night of cocktailing at The Saloon steakhouse, conversation turned to Jorts, naturally it was not in a complimentary fashion. Not only was a guy sitting right next to us WEARING Jorts in a public place on a friday night, he was laughing right along with us. There is no off position on the genius switch.

My friend Mark said it best the other night. Nothing says classy like a nice pair of light blue Jorts and a Brazilian steakhouse.

Stay classy, Jorts wearers. Proud.
Not really.

Next time on Good Taste Patrol: Tassled loafers with shorts. And those white puka shell necklaces.