Sunday, March 29, 2009


Soon the warm summer breeze will be floating into Chicago and caressing bare midriffs, clear bra straps, and uncovered knees. The warm weather brings with it a host of interesting fashion possibilities. The flip flop, or the ‘foot fuck you’, will once again make its presence known as the days draw longer and the sun’s rays cascade across the Midwestern landscape.

I enjoy footwear. I appreciate the Nike high-top, the Frye boot, a high heel, or even an occasional wingtip. The flip flop, on the other hand, is by far the most pugnacious of the foot covering devices. It’s an arrogant little piece of compressed rubber and plastic. I must be honest and state I have a profound dislike for this piece of footwear when worn by bros rather than hoes. The flip flop's purpose as a functional beach sandal, or shower accessory has recently been over shadowed by its ever increasing popularity among those involved with high minded douchebaggery. Maybe it’s my aversion to the sight of another man’s toes. Maybe it’s because the flip flop’s casual fippity floppity sound reminds me that I live in a city filled with idiots. Maybe I don’t think the world needs casual, semi-nude, foot wear on men. I know there are quite a few flip flop enthusiasts out there, flipping and flopping into dank night clubs, punk shows, IKEA, and the local Trader Joes. It pains me that I can’t really defend my opinions about a shoe that is so comfortable and so easy going, but for some reason, makes me feel like I’m receiving a ‘foot fuck you’ every time I see one flopping down the street. It’s quite a conundrum for sure, and yet another reason to look forward to Christmas.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009


Catfish Haven is a good Chicago band. They play a nice concoction of gritty rock and dork-soul, all rubbed with a southern fried hipster grease. It's a nice party. The band created a simple music video for their track "Tell Me" from a recent release on indie label Secretly Canadian Records. It's not a bad video, but notice if you will the model looking co-ed chatting it up with Catfish Haven's vocalist. He is a drunk, chubby, disheveled, apostle looking dude, making breakfast cereal at what seems to be three o'clock in the afternoon. I'm not one to cast aspersions on the validity of a fictional relationship, but Jesus, am I supposed to believe that this John Belushi looking dude is lousy with Malibu Barbie action? I mean the chick looks like she lives on Virginia Slims and coconut milk.

Catfish Haven in their video, pretending to bone models.

I would bet dollars to doughnuts that models aren't rushing out to a Catfish Haven show. I know a thing or two about all the sexpot girls involved with indie-rock in Chicago. Don't get me wrong, there are quite a few bespectacled cuties out there, bobbing their side swept bangs, and rubbing their alabaster hams together on the dance floor. It just gets my blood boiling that an indie rock band like Catfish Haven, when pushed to make a music video, pulls a Brian McKnight boner and gets some 'model' to play the lead singer's love interest. It's corny, and it makes me mad for all the short, stocky, indie rock loving girls out there who can't get work in music videos. Let's all raise a Pabst to music video realism and stop this charade of Hollywood craptaculation.

Next up: Who the fuck makes music videos anymore? Unless your name is Peter Gabriel and it's 1985, it's a fucking waste of time. Go write a song!

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Tony Fitzpatrick : Fat, Pissed, Beautiful

Chicago artist, Tony Fitzpatrick, is a bit of a controversial fellow. He is a large stomached genius to some, a scene hogging, Nelson Algren suckling jerk to others. Whatever side of the fence you are on, there is no doubt that Mr. Fitzpatrick is a formidable Chicago artist, and his work serves as a weird window into Chicago’s rather stark nooks and crannies.

Word on the street is Fitzpatrick was a boxer, a bouncer, and a hard living, gut punching dude who made easy enemies and loyal friends. Whether part of a folkloric identity marketing scheme, or the personal history of an artist living in blue collar Camelot, Fitzpatrick’s wacky past lives on in his impressive body of work. The artist’s work is quilt like in its ability to combine multiple images and narratives. Fitzpatrick slams old-school pop culture imagery alongside images about love and loss, urban blight, religion, and personal memories. His colorful images are intimate without being nostalgic and detailed without being overwrought. The artist recently exhibited a series of paintings based on New Orleans entitled, Prospect New Orleans.The project gave Fitzpatrick the chance to spend time in the Big Easy and delve into the city's eccentric culture and history.

New Orleans is a wonderful place for great jazz, fast women and strong coffee, but Chicago is Fitzpatrick's hometown. Chicago's lard rich, beer drunken craziness, and rust-filled, transient sensuality is ingrained into much of Tony Fitzpatrick’s work. For non-Chicagoans, Fitzpatrick’s images may be a bit confounding. What does a skull, a dead butterfly, a whiskey bottle and a Catholic priest have to do with Chicago? With Fitzpatrick's creations, sometimes the joy is in the finding out.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Chicago breakbeats from the city of big shoulders. Put some Midwestern swag in your bag. Enjoy!

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Honky Tonk Happy Hour

Country music in Chicago has a long standing tradition. Back in the 50s and 60s ‘honky tonks’ were found up and down Clark Street on Chicago’s Northwest side. Like the southern blacks that migrated to Chicago for factory work during the World War Two, southern whites also migrated north for work and stability. With this migration came an influx of southern blues music, as well as country and western influences. Although not known for its country music legacy, Chicago was once a hot bed of redneck bars and two step night spots. A bar like Carol’s on Clark street, in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, harkens back to the days when Old Style was Lone Star, and black eyes flowed like the Chicago River’s dirty water.

Those wanting to live it up honky tonk style need look no further than Chicago’s hipster haunt, the Empty Bottle. Patrons have been dancing the afternoon away for years at the venue’s weekly ‘Honky Tonk Happy Hour.’ The Friday afternoon ritual features the music of Chicago’s own Hoyle Brothers, and for those wanting a little dance in their pants, the band never disappoints. The vibe at the bar is laid back and drunk with a focus on the music and the traditional country dancing. The event is free of charge, and with beer on the low end clocking in at $2, it’s easy to live out some Hank Williams fantasies while politely scoping out a little southern style action.

Country music enthusiasts will be floored with the Hoyle’s covers of Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, and George Jones tunes. For those extreme country fetishists, check out the pedal steel mastery of Mr. Brian Wilke. The man sits with more power than a hundred mules, and with a slide bar in his hand on a double neck steel, happy hour is happy indeed.

The Hoyle Brothers
Every Friday, 5:00 pm until 7:30 pm
The Empty Bottle
1035 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, Illinois

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Monday, March 23, 2009


Half Acre is Local Chicago Brewery that produces Ales, Lagers, Stouts and various artisanal beers. Is artisinal beer a little fruity? As a concept, yes, as a beverage, no. Scope them out and raise a pint to hometown drunkenness.

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Styx : Chicago Crap City

Background:Styx formed in Chicago. Twin brothers Chuck and John Panozzo first got together with their neighbor Dennis DeYoung in 1961 in the Roseland section of the south side of Chicago, eventually taking the band name "The Tradewinds". In 1965, the name "Tradewinds" was changed to TW4 after another band called Trade Winds broke through nationally. In 1969, they added a college buddy, John Curulewski, on guitar after Nardini departed. Guitarist James "J.Y." Young came aboard in 1970 making TW4 a quintet.

In 1972, the band members decided to choose a new name when they signed to Wooden Nickel Records; several suggestions were made and, says DeYoung, Styx was chosen because it was "the only one that none of us hated".
- Wikipedia
Fucking brilliant!

I never really knew much about Styx. I knew the band was from Chicago and they were really popular during the AM radio craze in the 1970s, but I never really could place their unique sound. Styx's music is kind of like the sound of two teenagers being set on fire, in a kayak, floating down a river filled with cotton candy and pig shit. When a person listens to Styx, a few questions come to mind: Why did anyone decide to make this crap, and what exactly is the point? Did Styx make their music in the hopes of getting laid? You can't really screw to Styx. If there ever was something that induced limpness, it's the soft scream of Dennis DeYoung. I would rather screw to the sound of a lawn mower.

Is Styx some kind of drug-induced, eardrum trance-hell that can only be explained after smoking something dipped in formaldehyde? Is Styx what Chicago sounded like in the 70s? It is quite plausible that Styx captured Chicago in its Polish sausage, Old Style, Blues Brothers, velour pants golden years. It is also plausible that Styx is a rare Chicago anomaly, born out of gallons of shitty beer and Chicago's tendency for incestuous musical inbreeding.

One thing is for sure, the band Styx poses more questions than answers. Something we can be certain of is that Styx introduced the creative phenomenon known as the vanity band name spelling. Without Styx, there would be no Korn, Limp Bizkit,or Boyz II Men. Dennis DeYoung and his band of merry mischief makers didn't just give us creative spelling, they have given us decades worth of Midwestern, operatic, prog-pop that will continue to disgust us far into the future.

If there is a jukebox in Guantanamo Bay, it has "Lady" on its playlist.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chicago Meets Texas and Lays it Down

Legendary Chicago blues statesman Buddy Guy and Texas' own Big Mama Thornton lay down the original version of "Hound Dog". This Chicago blues style version of the classic early rock and roll hit smothers itself in greasy sophistication. I'm sorry, Elvis might have a nice haircut, but he ain't got a thing on these cats. Check the dude with the shades playing the spinet piano. That's just plain old mean.

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La Palapita :A $15 Hooker of Delicious

La Palapita is a drunk on a street corner. It’s a shabby, over-painted, confusing mess of a structure. The restaurant’s tin shack, tempera painted exterior, looks like it fell from the sky in a transcontinental hurricane. The little Mexican restaurant is a nightmare of Chicago style, haphazard architecture and hidden wonder. Every night, like clockwork, Polish teenagers, people in sweatpants, punks in pick-up trucks, and Mexican couples, come pouring in and out of the multi-colored building searching for tacos. Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen in Chicago. Chicago is one of the many cities across the United States facing an influx of Mexican immigration. The new immigrants bring with them a host of traditional cultural values and traditions. Some people might think it a stretch to say the taco is a cultural tradition, but those people haven’t had a taco from La Palapita.

The taco is the Mexican kanish, or the Latino hot dog. Sold by street vendors and in run down shacks, tacos are a quick fix for mid-day hunger and late night hangovers. When I worked in the food service industry, my Mexican co-workers would stop the world at noon and lay out a taco spread of epic proportions. Whole roasted chicken, stewed goat meat, various chopped up innards, cheeses, cilantro leaves, salsa and fresh corn tortillas were strewn about buffet style. Among the discussions about penis size, prostitutes, and family life, everyone made their own taco and mixed the fresh, sometimes strange, ingredients together. It was a weirdly communal and delicious experience.

La Palapita in Portage Park is part of that Mexican taco tradition. What makes the tacos at La Palapita so wonderful is their simplicity and freshness. Their tacos are served with sautéed meat, cilantro, onion, and Chihuahua cheese on two fresh corn tortillas. No lettuce, no tomato and no guacamole. The simple ingredients meld together for an experience that is as elegant as a cucumber sandwich and as powerful as a menage a trois. Freshness is not something you’d expect at a Mexican taco shack on a dank Chicago street, but that is the strange beauty of La Palapita. It’s a refuge from elitist Mexican restaurants with something to prove, and it adds both danger and cilantro to an otherwise overcrowded taco city.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009



Heaven Gallery owner and curator Dave Dobie and an attractive Asian woman stand next to an art exhibit of decorated pie tins and blank skateboard decks.

Heaven Gallery hosts visual artists, free jazz and experimental folk music, ironic roof-top movie events, drunken trust fund gladiatorial fights to the death, and performance art.

Heaven is located at 1550 North Milwaukee, 2nd floor, Chicago Illinois 60622

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