Wednesday, April 25, 2007

U.S. Gov't Agrees to Engrave Pentagrams On Military-Issued Headstones

A high priestess from a Wiccan congregation in Barneveld, Wisconsin and her fellow plaintiffs have reached an agreement with the federal government, by which the government is adding the "Wiccan pentacle" or pentagram to the list of the 38 religious emblems the government previously allowed to be placed on headstones. These emblems included those of several rather uncommon faiths, for example Sufism Reoriented, Eckankar and Seicho-No-Ie

Americans United for Separation of Church and State represented the plaintiffs. Rev. Barry W. Lynn, AU director, was pleased with the agreement, saying, "This settlement has forced the Bush Administration into acknowledging that there are no second class religions in America, including among our nation's veterans."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Drive-By Shooting In Logan Square

This morning, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the head at the intersection of Fullerton and Pulaski, on the west side of Logan Square. The boy was shot by an occupant of a "silver Mitsubishi with custom rims." Authorities believe the incident was gang-related. No persons are presently in custody in connection with the shooting.

Public Library in Baltimore Includes Zines Among It Stacks

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lindsay Lohan's Myspace Account Hacked!

Some genius hacked into LL's myspace account and found all of these fucking hilarious myspace messages between LL and her frienemies, including one where Lindsay tells Paris Hilton "u guys use eachother [sic] like tampons." God, Lindsay Lohan is so cool.

New Hampshire Becomes Fourth US State To Legalize Civil Unions

The latest step in the long, arduous trek towards the realization of personal liberty in our country will happen today when New Hampshire's governor John Lynch signs legislation establishing civil unions for same-sex couples in that state. Presently, same sex couples may have civil unions in the states of Vermont and New Jersey, and may enjoy the institution of marriage in the state of Massachusetts.

Lily Allen Just Goes Ahead And Says It

The delightfully glib British pop sensation Lily Allen recently cancelled the remainder of her US tour. In doing so, Allen did something no American celebrity would ever do; she just went ahead and said that she was cancelling because she feels she's been drinking too much.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Roe v. Wade Looks Over Shoulder Suspiciously, Checks Schedule For First Train Out Of D.C.

Today the United States Supreme Court Upheld a ban on late-term abortions. The ruling signals a new approach to abortion in Supreme Court jurisprudence, and many commentators, as well as Justice Ginsberg, think this could be the first step in the process of overturning Roe v. Wade.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Huber Brewery Leaps Up Brewery Rankings Under New Ownership

I was pretty pissed when I heard that Monroe, Wisconsin's Huber Brewery was sold to a Canadian Entrepeneur Ravinder Minhas last September, but apparently South Central Wisconsin's cheap beer citadel is doing well under the new ownership. Last week Madison, Wisconsin's Capitol Times reported that in 2006 the brewery leaped from 46 to 15 in the sales rankings of American breweries. When my girlfriend and I visited the site of Hubery Brewery a couple years ago, they were already producing huge amounts of Minhas' brand "Mountain Crest" under contract. Apparently the Mountain Crest brand is becoming quite a success in Cananda, and here they sell it at Trader Joe's. I really hope Minhas doesn't discontinue the Huber brand--and I'll really miss the old Huber label if he does--but it sure is great to know that of you want good cheap beer, Wisconsin is still your destination.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fox Compels To Remove Leaked Wes Anderson Script recently posted a leaked script of The Darjeeling Limited, a forthcoming feature film by Wes Anderson, and then fucking Fox Searchlight made them take it down. To see for yourself, go to the website, click on news, then drop down to the entry for April 3, 2007.

Lindsay Lohan Too Gay To Function?

I knew it. No straight woman has ever had knees that thick. No, seriously; this is pretty cool, I guess, and with a DJ too! How Less Than Zero of her.

P.S.: Lock up your sons, and your daughters, Welshmen!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Guess What: Cult Movies Don't Make A Lot Of Money

When I heard a rave review of Grindhouse on NPR, I almost shat myself; I'm so fucking happy it flopped.

Hundreds in PA Community Oppose General Skateboard Ban

Camp Hill, PA city officials have received hundreds of emails opposing the general ban on skateboards the community is considering. Apparently, many of the ban's opponents are parents.

McDonald's Stock Makes Gains As McDonald's Declared Officially Healthy Again

Today Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's Corporation reported an 8.2% raise in same-store sales and McDonald's stock has been gaining steadily ever since everybody stopped talking about that stupid movie. Although I prefer White Castle to McDonald's, I think we can all learn a couple great lessons from this: (1) when people engage in a sudden, large-scale, mutual moral judgment about something, it will wear off really soon, and (2) if you buy something while everybody thinks its immoral to do so, you can sell it right back to them at a profit after they forget.

Cheney In Chicago Today

Vice President Dick Cheney will be in Chicago today to speak at a conservative policy group's conference at the Ritz-Carlton. Cheney's image as a snarling war monger with a one-track mind is so out of control that even students at conservative stalwart BYU don't want him as their commencement speaker.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

First Politician In American History Self-Identifies as "Non-Theist"

About a month ago, Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) became the only present member of Congress, as well as the first major American politician, to self-identify as a member of the single most-reviled group in our nation: people who do not believe in God. (I know what you're thinking, but Deism and Freemasonry don't count.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pennsylvania Community Considers General Ban On Skateboarding

This evening, residents of Camp Hill Borough, Pennsylvania will discuss a proposed ban on skateboarding for their community which comes close to banning the mere possession of skateboards. Under the proposed ban, "skateboards would have to be kept off streets, sidewalks, as well as public and private property unless the skateboarder has the property owner's written permission."

Amy Sherman-Palladino + Parker Posey + Lauren Ambrose = Awesome Buddy Comedy!

I guess I'm way behind the curve on this one, but disaffected Gilmore Girls fans have something pretty exciting to look forward to: a new network comedy starring the above actresses that promises to "reinvigorate the traditional sitcom." Whew!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Functional Relationships Still Totally Unimaginable To American Consumers

I was floored by this add today while I checked my myspace account. On the one hand, it's really funny, and at least we've progressed beyond 1999's "how can I sleep with Mr. Big?" version of feminism to a new "if I get an MBA, I can dump my boyfriend" version. On the other hand, is positing a cyclical dystopia of shit relationships really the only way to sell goods and services?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Tribune Critic: Cancel Gilmore Girls

Yesterday the Tribune ran a column challenging the CW to cancel one of the most brilliant shows to air in recent decades. I wholeheartedly agree. I, like Tribune critic Maureen Ryan, became a faithful viewer of the Girls because I enjoy watching creative, responsible women face challenges and make good choices. Neither of the Gilmores have been able to muster such behavior for two seasons running; why don't we let them demean themselves in private?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Preliminary Injuction Granted For High School Gay Rights Club

A federal judge in Miami granted a preliminary injunction Friday ordering Okeechobee High School administration to allow the school's Gay-Straight Alliance to meet while a lawsuit determining whether the students have a right to form such a club is pending. The Tribune's coverage of the story seems to indicate that the school adminstration's problem with the group is that it suspects that the kids will discuss not only discrimination based on sexual preference, but also, *gasp*, sex!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Zine Archive Sets Up Shop In Avondale

The Chicago Underground Library, an archive of small-press and self-published written materials, is presently storing its collection in the basement of Mojoe's Hothouse, 2849 W. Belmont . Enthusiasts of homemade literature and other such esoteric volumes can check out the collection at Mojoe's from 1:00 to 5:00 PM on Saturdays.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Beautiful South Singer Weighs In On College Closing

Paul Heaton, lead singer of early 1990's sophisto-pop act The Beautiful South and Manchester resident, recently gave Fielden College administration a piece of his mind regarding the planned closing of Fielden College's West Didsbury campus. Specifically, Heaton accused the administartion of playing the part of real estate speculators with the college's campus, which is estimated to be worth "several million pounds."

30 Rock Still Clutching The Straws

Today The Wall Street Journal reported that NBC renewed 30 Rock for the 2007-2008 season. Since The Journal requires a log-in, I link you to this generic news source instead. Hopefully the show's new time slot, at 9:00 PM on Thursday will enable it to draw even those tough-to-get Grey's Anatomy viewers.

WTF Is With The Orbit Room?

So what is this Orbit Room, located at 2959 N. California Avenue, which I pass every day on the California bus, and whose windows have been covered in signs that say "Coming Soon" for months on end? A google search for "Orbit Room" turned up a pretty non-committal Metromix blurb on the culprit, as well as a web-site for what looks like a pretty lame music venue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Metromix blurb, I must say, was a little curious. I'm not exactly sure what to make of the story of the owners meeting at Neo (or the fact that they used to work there), but the real chin-scratcher is Metromix's assertion that the "bar food" is somehow "above average" at a place that has never served a single dish to anyone!

Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston To Divorce

April 24, 2007 will go down in new jack swing history as a very sad day, indeed. On that day, Whitney Houston's marriage to pop music luminary Bobby Brown will officially end. CNN reported that at a recent court hearing Houston cited Brown's unreliability as a reason for the divorce. Houston told the judge, "If he says he's going to come, sometimes he does. Usually he doesn't." Brown simply countered that such was "his prerogative."

Problems With Mail Delivery Common In Avondale

When, a few weeks ago, local media ran stories on how unreliable Chicago's mail service was, Avondale was singled out among Chicago neighborhoods as having extra-ordinary mail delivery problems.

Nebraska State Legislature Debates Skateparks

A fear of litigation seems to be driving the present debate in Nebraksa's state senate over whether to re-open some skateparks in the Cornhusker State.

New York City Officials Weigh In On Penis Debate

If you're a man, you know what it's like to have people constantly telling you what to do with your penis. Today New York City officials joined the fray.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Star Of Greatest TV Show Of All Time Starts Making Bullshit Indie Movies

Kid from 'Third Rock' enjoying new challenges

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Many young men come to Hollywood to act, but former child star Joseph Gordon-Levitt had to leave to learn what it truly means to be an actor.

In the late 1990s, Gordon-Levitt co-starred as a wise-cracking teen alien on the NBC television comedy "3rd Rock From the Sun," and the 25-year-old's new film, "The Lookout," opened Friday.

Good early reviews for the crime thriller and for two of Gordon-Levitt's recent movies -- he was lauded for low-budget festival films "Mysterious Skin" and "Brick" -- have critics and filmmakers praising him as one of the best actors of his generation.

But plaudits like those might not have come had he not left Tinseltown, taken a bite out of the Big Apple, and attended Columbia University for a while, Gordon-Levitt told Reuters. He also credited his parents, who he described as "hippies back in the '60s," with keeping his mind off Hollywood fame and fortune and allowing him to grow into his own.

"About the time I came back to acting, it wasn't just for my own fun anymore, I had found that I cared about the rest of the world, instead of just myself, and wanted to find a way to connect to the rest of the world," he said.

"When I was a kid, I used to hate any sort of recognition. It would make me nervous," he added. "But now, when people say they saw 'Mysterious Skin' and it meant something to them, or 'Brick' and it inspired them, or even '3rd Rock' makes them laugh, that really means something to me."

Gordon-Levitt, who has been acting since age 6, said he now judges roles based on whether he enjoys the script, finds the characters intriguing, or will be working with people who are passionate about a project.

He said he found all three in the role of a brain-damaged young man named Chris Pratt who is lured into a bank robbery in writer/director Scott Frank's "The Lookout."

The movie gets close to a 90 percent positive rating on Web site, which compiles reviews, and Richard Roeper, film critic for TV show Ebert & Roeper, has said Gordon-Levitt "joins the ranks of our best young actors," in the role.

"In many scripts, the characters are one-dimensional. If it's a hero, he's all good," Gordon-Levitt said. "But all the characters in 'The Lookout' are more complicated. I play the hero, but there's a lot you can blame him for."

His character, Pratt, was a star high school hockey player who severely injures himself and his friends in a car wreck.

Years later, Pratt works as a bank janitor but has problems with his short-term memory, and longs for the life he once enjoyed. This allows him to be lured into helping rob the bank.

Despite his flaws, audiences root for Pratt because Gordon-Levitt portrays him as an everyday guy who has lost his way in life.

"Besides the injury, there is also -- and I think it's more interesting and more damaging -- his shame, his guilt, his regret, his inability to live in the present and wallowing in the past," said Gordon-Levitt. "That is something I think all of us can identify with."

Wu-Tang Clan Schedules UK Concerts For Summer.

According to the British press, The Wu-Tang Clan recently scheduled two UK concert dates for this summer. Interestingly, those among the Clan that are convicted felons, such as Ghostface Killah, can't leave the United States, so the line-up at the shows will inevitable be somewhat truncated. Either way, I'm taking the UK dates as a sign that The Wu's prospective new LP, The Eight Diagrams, is coming along as planned, which is very exciting.

Uh...Fucking Police State?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Fucking Police State!

Why Our Parents' Generation Is Retarded

Keith Richards says he snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine

LONDON (AP) - Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has acknowledged consuming a raft of illegal substances in his time.

In comments published Tuesday, he said he snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine. "The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared. . . . It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Richards, 63, one of rock's legendary wild men, told the magazine that his survival was the result of luck, and he advised young musicians against trying to emulate him.

"I did it because that was the way I did it. Now people think it's a way of life," he said.

"I've no pretensions about immortality," he added. "I'm the same as everyone . . . just kind of lucky.

"I was number one on the 'Who's Likely To Die' list for 10 years. I mean, I was really disappointed when I fell off the list."

Monday, April 2, 2007

A Modest Proposal: Cut Your Goddamned Hair.

I honestly can't remember the last time I saw a woman who doesn't look like Ben Weasel dressed up like he's in the Pretenders. It's been like six years since this black-on-black Cher wig thing started, can't we try something else for a while? I'm not kidding; It's greasy, it smells like smoke, and it's a constant reminder that you and I are irreconcilably different biologically.

OK, maybe we can compromise; can you at least cut it so I can see your eyes, and maybe wear a nice gingham shirt with a collar? Seriously, take a good look at the pictures and tell me which one makes you want to take monk's vows and give up forever.

British Sophisto-Crooner Publishes First Solo LP in 25 Years

This month Tracy Thorn, a British songstress best known for her work as vocalist of the 1980's sophisto-pop duo Everything But The Girl, published her second solo LP, Out Of The Woods. The record is receiving mainly positive reviews. I'm not quite so enthusiastic.

Thorn's recording career began with the Marine Girls, an all-female band universally characterized as "amateurish," "spare," or "twee," and inspired by acts like The Raincoats and The Young Marble Giants. Thorn released her first solo record, A Distant Shore, in 1982. It too was "spare," and felt pleasantly homemade. It is probably most notable for its very canny cover of The Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale."

In Everything But The Girl, Thorn and her partner Ben Watt established themselves as purveyors of sophisticated (but unpretentious) bossa-nova-tinged pop, reminiscent of The Style Council, or even Sade. EGBT's first record, 1984's Eden, is a classic of it's subgenre. Much of the material on Eden was released in America in a self titled record that same year. State-siders such as your author likely were first introduced to Thorn's work through the brief sophisto-pop revival embodied (perhaps exclusively) by The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, a non-prolific but well-loved 1990's indie act. Thorn's work finally reached American radio when an electronic remix of "Missing" from EBTG's 1994 Amplified Heart LP became a hit.

Thorn's singing is subtle, mature and appropriately characterized as classic. Her music makes just as much sense played over the loudspeaker in a Gap store as it does played in a well-renowned art gallery or in a rat's nest high school kid's bedroom, and I've heard it played in all of those places. But my initial impression is that Out Of The Woods is not among Thorn's best records.

Out Of The Woods is packaged very nicely; the artwork does much to work with Thorn's unfortunately over-obvious title motif. But the few tracks from the album featured on Thorn's myspace profile (I confess that I have not purchased the new LP) do much to confirm my initial apprehensions that Out Of The Woods might pander too much to fans of Thorn's foray into the dance club world. Much has been made of the fact that Out Of The Woods is being published after what has been universally characterized as an extensive maternity leave on Thorn's part, and I have nothing useful to add to such discussions. It is my hope that the release of this new album might garner interest not only in this new LP, but also in Thorn's entire back catalog.

Dude--dude, dude, dude, dude--no, dude, seriously.

Dude, wait. No, seriously, dude, check this shit out. Dude--dude, dude, dude, dude--no, dude, seriously. Wait, dude, fuckin'--fuckin' check this shit out, dude. Seriously, man, fuckin' check this shit out!

Forget Hillary.

Is America ready for its first female President? If that female happens to be a nine-year old health care activist, the answer might be "Yes." You know the average grade schooler has more gravitas than George W. Bush.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

So, what exactly is Avondale?

Avondale is a residential neighborhood on the Northwest side of Chicago. Delineated by the Chicago River, Diversey Avenue, Addison Street, Pulaski Road and the Metra Milwaukee District North Line, Avondale is located within Chicago's 33rd Ward. Transportation arteries such as Belmont Avenue, Milwaukee Avenue and the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94) run through the neighborhood, and Avondale is accessible through the CTA's Blue Line train and Metra's Union Pacific Northwest Line and Milwaukee District North Line.

Consisting of an area of about two square miles, located at 41 56.4 N
Latitude, 87 42.6 W Longitude, Avondale had a population of 43,083
when measured for the 2000 census. The buildings in Avondale are 76.9% residential and 11.4% commerical or industrial. When Avondale was
annexed by the City of Chicago in 1889, its population was largely
comprised of German, Scandinavian and Polish immigrants. Presently,
in certain locations in Avondale, it is common for storefront marquee
signs to be rendered in Polish. However, today Avondale's population
is largely comprised Latino families, and a majority of the small
businesses maintained in Avondale are owned and operated by Latinos.

Avondale is presently experiencing rapid and steady growth and
development. Several successful restaurants and taverns opened their
doors in Avondale during recent years, and condominiums are quickly
being developed in several locations in the neighborhood. Avondale is
the home of a small but well-appointed Chicago Park District facility
at Brands Park, 3259 N. Elston, as well as one of Chicago's most
credible live music venues, The Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace.

The throes of change through which Avondale labors during the coming years is one of the central subjects of this blog.