Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let's have an asynchronous cosmic moment together

Oh. This is good.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Volunteered Slavery

Uptown, Chicago is where I live

I love this neighborhood.

Visions of Uptown, featuring The Uptown Broadway Building

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fri Nit Veds: What’s round on the ends, high in the middle? The Oh!o Take

The McCoys – Hang on Sloopy

Joe Walsh’s Barnstorm – Turn to Stone

Raspberries – Tonight

Tin Huey – Man Don’t Come

Dead Boys – Sonic Reducer

Pere Ubu – Breath

Ohio Players – Love Rollercoaster

DEVO - Girl U Want / Gates of Steel (Fridays 1980)

Pretenders – Tattooed Love Boys

Brainiac – Hot Metal Dobermans

GBV (reunited) - Cut-Out Witch

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Ole Man River

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Nite Veddeos: WLUP Nostalgia Edition

For a brief time in Chicagoland, ranging from about 1978 to, depending on varying opinions, 1981 or 1983, WLUP FM 98 was a damn good radio station. I don't know what the official jargon term for its format would be -- album oriented rock, with a fist-full of hard new wave and pop metal, I guess. Plus, they had really cool t-shirts, which a newly enfathered Bob Greene fretted in his Trib column about seeing on the nubile bodies of underaged girls at Navy Pier's Chicagofest, drinking beer and being so unlike the perfect infant his wife had just spewed out of her. Anyway, to cut to the chase, here is a veddeo juke box of hot hits from that phase of The Loop.

Flash & The Pan - Hey St. Peter

Sparks - Something For The Girl With Everything

Donnie Iris - Ah Leah

By the early 1980s, after the infamous Steve Dahl era, The Loop was, in the parlance of our times, a "classic rock" station. Dahl's replacement, Jonathon Brandmeier gets promoted in the following TV commercial. (These days, The Loop is, I think, a hard rock oldies station. And Brandmeier is back hosting the a.m. drive-time slot. Mornings remain not fun.)

This spot makes me nostalgic for the days of raging hormones. (That's what she said.) ("She" is my dry cleaner.) Yeah, what commercial terrestrial radio lacks today is that je ne sais quoi ... by which I mean, harlots. Ah Lorelei. Catchphrase: "Pow!" Pow, indeed.

The Loop FM 98 - "Lorelei Exercising" (Commercial, 1983?)

Sadly, Lorelei was truly a wanton hussy and "Powed" for other men, er, stations. In the following case, an Amplitude Modulation powerhouse in Indianapolis.

WNDE Windy AM 1260 - 'Lorelei Lip-Sync' (Commercial, 1979)

Well, that was okay. When you truck with harlots, you don't expect to be the only hemorrhoid pillow in the cab ... or something like that.

Now here's one from the dang ole Loop's late-70s playlist that I didn't analyze too closely, lyrically, at the time (which was, I think, somewhere between 6th and 7th grades), but it seemed kind of dirty and it had a bitchin' guitar solo. This song was stuck in my head forever.

The Knack - My Sharona

And here's a number they still play regularly.

UFO - Lights Out In London

Finally, this next and last one is my favorite of the program, and one of my favorite all-time songs of all time. The first verse contains one of the awesomest oblong enhanced-reticulated couplets in rock history: "Hey little Donna ... ahnhnhhh ... Still wanna? You said to ring you up when I was in Toronna." Now that is a slant rhyme with a purpose.

The Kings - This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide

Ho ho holy mackerel, no doubt about it

On tonight’s four-blocks-and-back trip to the beer store, I noticed that the Andersonville®-branded faux-vintage lampposts and many of the storefronts are fully decorated for the looming holiday season. I have to admit that I don’t hate the lights. It’s foggier than a witch’s tit today (huh?) and I’ll take whatever I can get to cut through some of the gloom.

I’m definitely not ready to think about shopping yet, although I had better get going, I guess. Time to Amazon it up. And time to update the Amazon wish list. Because getting is a form of giving, right?

I won’t publicize that list in this forum, for multifarious reasons, but in connection with holiday wishes, if anybody wanted to buy me that pop-art painting of Charlie Manson wearing the Sno-Caps baseball hat that is currently hanging in the frame shop at the corner of Clark and Carmen, I would accept it.

If language pet peeves were actual pets, I would be the crazy cat lady on your block

Item 1. To the people of Earth -- "bemused" is not a slightly more highbrow synonym for "amused." It means confused, or lost in thought. This is your final warning.

Item 2. This one is particularly directed toward the sports "journalists" of America. The expression is not "mano y mano." That means "hand and hand," which is goddamned nonsense, you fucks. I'm not even going to tell you the correct phrase. Fuck you. Fuck you to hell.

Item 3. OK, it's kind of a stretch, as complaininism goes. I just heard this cough medicine commercial on TV, with a shtick about "Why does cough medicine have to taste so bad?" and touting a product that is "virtually tasteless."

Does that mean, like, it farts at the dinner table or something? It wears striped pants with a checked shirt? It is really into Thomas Kinkade paintings?

I guess "flavorless" is too pointy-headed a word for the American buying public.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Promises, promises

Hey, I'm on vacation this week, with no particular plans other than Thanksgiving with the folks up in the far north burbs, so I should be writing and writing. No excuse. And maybe this week, I'll do some stuff I've teased doing, like maybe the post about the 1960s-1970s Chicago folk scene.

In further teasery of that, here's this. It also ties in with the post before last, because this is what I remember our neighbor Dan looking like, like John Prine in this video.

Angel From Montgomery

Monday, November 12, 2007

In memory of John R.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the death of my friend John R.

I was planning to blog about it yesterday, but I was badly hung over, barely ambulatory, and in no state to navigate Blogger, let alone write anything. Which ... considering, well, John R., is kind of fitting.

The following video turned up last month in a comment to this post. I have it on VHS and have watched it numerous times, but thanks to Dominique for digitizing and posting it.

It's a showing of John's masterwork, his scroll. Music by Karlheinz Stockhausen. The scroll lived here in my apartment for a while, while John was working through some shit. I think I still have the wooden easel-like device he used to use to display portions of it, in case anybody's looking for it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

George S. Halas Disapproves of You and Your Lack of Social Mores

Hey, wow, holy shit, I guess it’s about 30 years since the day I saw my first Bears game in person. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was late Fall 1977. I suppose I could look up the exact date somewhere, but I don’t feel like it right now. Anyway, let’s pretend it was 30 years ago, this Sunday (tomorrow).

I was 10 years old, and I was hanging out in the kitchen one Sunday afternoon, when the phone rang. It was Dan, I heard my mom yelling to my dad, who was in the living room. Dan was our next door neighbor, and he had an extra ticket to the Bears game that day. Oh man I wanted to go.

My dad, on the other hand, didn’t want to go, didn’t care, so my mom hung up. Wait! Wait! Wait! I started to yell like a 10-year-old STDPM – who was a loud and demanding little fucker, at that time. I want to go! Give me the ticket! Call him back!

I threw an unholy tantrum with success, because my dad called Dan and set me up. And it was proved once again for me, in clear terms – if you want something, ask for it. And don’t take no for an answer.

Looking back on it now, it’s obvious to me that part of my parents’ lack of enthusiasm about the whole thing was … Dan, our next-door neighbor. Specifically, sending off their 10-year-old idiotic insane son with Dan, the next-door neighbor, to choogle down 50 or so miles to Chicago for a Bears game. It seemed reasonable to me, at the time – I would get to go to the Bears game, was the bottom line for me – but 30 years later, I can see my folks’ point of view, a little bit.

See, next door to us was a rental house, and it domiciled a rotating roster of young families alternated by hairy bachelors with muscly cars and intermittently visible means of support. During the latter times, that house was a real fascination for me. Or the driveway, anyway, where I could hang out without bothering anyone. I had the heavily precedent-protected common-law right to use the basketball hoop on the garage anytime I wanted, so I shot a lot of free throws there.

That was where I lustfully fondled the fenders of my first silver metal-flake Corvette Stingray … and my last, as it turns out. Corvettes just seem lame to me, for about the last … 20 years, but that was a great day, nonetheless.

There was also the time this one dude’s Chevelle – oh man. That was fucked up. The way I remember it is, early one weekend morning I woke up and dragged the damn basketball over next door to the initial disappointment of seeing a car parked under the damn basket. Which was replaced immediately by awe and complete rapture. The car was charred and black all over, and the tires were melted into the goddamn asphalt. I spent several highly excited minutes circling the hulk and inspecting every surface at about two inches’ distance. Then I ran back to my mom’s kitchen and hyperventilated at everyone about what I had seen. My mom turned from the stove and gave me her best deadpan look (she is the #1 deadpan looker-at-er of all time) and said, “Did you sleep through the firetrucks?”

That might’ve even been Dan’s car. I don’t remember. I know he didn’t drive the Corvette, because if I’d have been driven to a Bears game in a Corvette in 1977, at the age of 10, I would have exploded into a fine mist of pre-adolescent particles, and I wouldn’t be writing this now. I don’t think it was the burny-uppy Chevelle, though – I think he drove a Dodge Dart or something otherwise extremely cool and rock and roll.

Dan, the next-door neighbor. Dan was a Vietnam vet, long straight brown hair, mustache, about 5 foot 10, medium build. Smoked cigarettes. Drank. Yes. I think my parents used to worry about him a little, or try to play the role of somewhat older, more stable polite people for him. Well, OK, I’m not so sure about that, 100 percent. My parents were sort of on the periphery of that game then, in terms of various forms of “adult alcoholic” enablement, the warm compassion that is shared by fellow boozers of all ages, the kind hand of helping offered by the young and the aged in turn to one another in condescending drunken sweetitude.

Which explains why, one time, when Dan came home either too drunk to get his keys in the keyhole or too drunk to have remembered to bring his housekeys home with him, my parents gathered his wobbly self up and hoisted him back to my house, and sat him at the kitchen table for a cup of coffee.

Of course, being the little hyperaware hellion that I was, I was on top of all this hubbub, and digging it to death. So of course I plopped my own self at the kitchen table and shortly found myself shooting the shit alone in the room with Dan.

Then Dan started ranting, and ranting in a slurred way that I recognized as the voice of drunk men. Which, I had learned a bunch of times, could mean danger. Then I realized that Dan was ranting about the Vietnam War. Which I had learned about, too, having seen it on TV and also having heard such things as young men yelling stuff about it before picking up a pool cue to swing at somebody while my mom was grabbing me and pulling me to a quieter part of the bar.

Which means that I was in a sensitized state when Dan unloaded on me and said this – “Every generation gets its war. They all get em. Our parents got theirs, we got ours. You’ll get your war, too. You’ll get your war.”

Freaked me right out.

So, anyway, that’s Dan. So anyway I put that dimwitted foot of mine down, and Dan took me to the Bears game. At Soldier Field, we met up with a girlfriend of his, who I remember being a very nice woman. It was cold. Dan had a flask of hooch, but he wouldn’t let me have a taste. The Bears won. I brought my binoculars to the game, and Dan made fun of me over and over for watching the Honey Bears cheerleaders through them instead of the game. He caught me, what can I say? And I got to see Walter Payton play, and everyone was all excited about Vince Evans getting some snaps instead of Bob Avellini,and everything was totally awesome about that day.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Commute Music Report #3

As the last living consumer of terrestrial radio, I feel doody-bound to occasionally mention a few of the surprises that pop up while I'm compulsively switching stations during the tortoise-crawl home. Today, on the utterly constipated Edens Expressway, somewhere near Old Orchard, I ran into this particular number on "9 FM" or whatever it's called ... whatever that station is that's two clicks left of WXRT -- a sweet little pop song from 1981.

The lyrics -- about driving through California in a dodgy old Nash (sans Crosby, Stills, or Young) -- are pretty great, so I'm posting them below. You might as well scroll down and sing along with the audio because the video has nothing to do with the song ... unless you like looking at superfluous footage of barely dressed models. Your call.

Diesel -- Sausalito Summernight

We left for Frisco in your Rambler
The radiator running dry
I've never been much of a gambler
and had a preference to fly
You said "forget about the airline,
let's take the car and save the fare."
We blew a gasket on the Grapevine
And eighty dollars on repairs

All aboard (Sausalito summernight)
All aboard

Hot summer night in Sausalito
Can't stand the heat another mile
Let's drop a quarter in the meter
And hit the sidewalk for a while
I'll have a burger and a root beer
You feed the heap some multi-grade
A shot of premium to boot, dear
We'll get across the Golden Gate

All aboard (Sausalito summernight)
All aboard (Sausalito summernight)
All aboard (Sausalito summernight)
All aboard

Another mile or two to Frisco
200 gallons from L.A.
The engine's thumpin' like a disco
We ought to dump her in the bay

All aboard (Sausalito summernight)
All aboard

Cashin' all my checks
Scrapin' out my bank
Spend it on a Rambler
Wth a whirlpool in the tank
Look out over here
Watch out over there
Can't afford a blowout
'Cause we haven't got a spare


All aboard (Sausalito summernight)
All aboard (Sausalito summernight)
All aboard (Sausalito summernight)
All aboard

Hot summer night in Sausalito
(Sausalito summer night)
Hot summer night in Sausalito
(Sausalito summer night)
Hot summer night in Sausalito
(Sausalito summer night)
Hot summer night in Sausalito
(Sausalito summer night)
Hot summer night in Sausalito
(Sausalito summer night)
Hot summer night in Sausalito
(Sausalito summer night)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Rare Positive Moments on the Commute Reminisced in YouTube Embedded Video Format: Issue Number Two

This past Tuesday afternoon I listened to this song on WLUW while driving in no traffic at maximum sustainable speed through the twisty "ravine-go-round" on Sheridan Road in Winnekta, and enjoyed the hell out of myself for about 120 seconds.

Roxy Music - Remake/Remodel

Most Obscure Blade Runner Trivia of All Time

Me and Squeaky Zip and Rappsta caught the latest release of "Blade Runner" at the Music Box tonight, and it reminded me of the following.

When I was in high school, in 1985, I wrote a computer game with my friend Payman as a project for a programming class. I say I wrote it, because I made up the story and all the "concept" shit, and Payman did about 90% of the actual programming (if not 100%). So I kind of cheated on the programming class a little bit, because we had conned the teacher into letting us make this game instead of doing all the regular class assignments. I guess that's why I only got a 2 out of 5 on the PASCAL Advanced Placement test (3 being the minimum for getting college credit).

Anyway, the game was a Zork-type "text adventure" takeoff on Blade Runner, heavy on the "film noir" schtick. You played a private detective who works as a contractor for a secret government agency, in the year 2167, in a post-apocalyptic colony on a moon of Jupiter, in a decrepit and crime-ridden domed city. The game starts with you getting called into the office to receive an assignment. The assignment is, of course, to find and kill an escaped android. But the twist was, this android had just attempted a full-scale Marxist revolt of all the other androids -- of which there were thousands, but they weren't advanced enough technologically to understand what he meant when he was entreating them to "Revolt!" So the android had run off on his own and was trying to get in touch with the city's cadre of underground Communists, so they could work together to destroy the "American" society in the domed city.

And the other twist was, the android had such amazing "self healing" technology (OK, I ripped off "Terminator," too, a little bit) that he could purposely damage himself and then regenerate himself into the appearance of any person. Which gave it its title: "Doppleganger" (sic).

So you roam around this city and gather clues, and various goofy computer game vignettes happen, with a couple attempted assassination attempts on you, a trip to "the hood" where you dodge getting mugged in order to get information from a source, problems that ensue when the android decides to make himself look like various people you know -- and at one point like you, etc. Eventually you find and break into the Communist headquarters, and discover who the real villain is. The real villain -- whom, to win the game, you have to do away with -- is the cyborg-supported head of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Which was extra-pungent because Payman was a Baha'i refugee from Iran, who fled with his family after the revolution and moved to the Chicago area because of the House of Worship in Wilmette. So he had a pretty amazing thing happen to him, but he couldn't make up stories. He was a genius programmer, but he seemed to be amazed that I could make up all these puzzles and jokes, so he was willing to go along with the class project wangle (especially since it saved him from doing a bunch of boring assignments).

I learned one thing from the project that has stuck with me, though -- programmers are wrong when they tell you things cannot be done. Payman was always telling me that some idea could not be executed, that it would be "impossible." I would tell him to think about it for a while. Always, he'd tell me the next morning, "I figured it out!" Sometimes he claimed to arrive at solutions in dreams. Programmers are helped by some outside pressure, is my firm conviction as a result.

Last I checked (which was about a month ago), the game was still available on the Internet at a website that archives amateur computer games. I haven't tried to play it in more than 10 years ... it's kind of crappily designed, I'm sorry to say, and is unfortunately harder to play than it should be -- and it was never fully polished, so there are some bugs and some text that should have been revised.

For for the meager resources we had -- and the fact that we were 17 -- it had some pretty good features. There were several scenes of dialog with other characters, which was a lot of fun to make up, including the various things that would happen depending on what you said. There was a time aspect to it, in that each "turn" advanced a clock, and you would get hungry and tired and have to eat and sleep at intervals. Which broke the game into three "days," and you had to accomplish certain tasks by the end of a certain day, or else it was too late, and the end of the world happened. There was even some combat -- a gunfight (all in text, but the trick was in getting the timing of your actions right). We also were able to make it so that the android would be in different places at different times -- which is harder than it sounds, because then you have to engineer different possible encounters depending on how the particular game is going. Fun stuff. Not really computer programming, in terms of what I did, but it was fun anyway.

I worked on another computer game by myself after that, using Payman's code. I even figured out how to put some innovations in, such as coming up (on my damn own, I'm geeky proud to say) with a method of making the game bigger by putting it on multiple floppy discs. That one was called "The Stream of Unconsciousness," and was a takeoff on "Time Bandits" and various other fantastical crap. In that one, the game begins with you witnessing the constellation Pleiades fall from the sky, and then finding out that it is up to you to save the cosmos from ... whatever threat I don't quite remember. The usual, evil is afoot etc. And you jump around from place to place using some kind of metaphysical passageway called The Stream of Unconsciousness.

It had a bunch of loosely connected genre-crossing segments -- or it would have, if I'd have finished it. I think the only ones I completed were the "Godfather" gangster plot and the wizard's castle plot, and maybe a couple more I don't remember. It's gone now, forever. The discs are toast, and I don't have a computer that could read them anyway. By the time I stopped working on it, I had three discs' worth of material, which made it three times as big as the last game.

I worked on that game in a feverish fit of creative frenzy for about three weeks between the time I quit my job at Six Flags and started my gig at the Great Lakes Naval Base golf course, during that crazy, crazy summer of 1986 (and that it was). Everyone in the house (OK, I figure my sister probably didn't give a shit, but all the authority figures anyway) was pissed off at me for being unemployed -- my dad, my mom, The Stickler -- but I was totally flying in a world of my own for a while. I have never been able to quite reproduce it. Not only was I making up all this science fiction bullshit, I was actually coming up with the programming code to make it happen.

Fuck, though, that was a sustained high ... not putting energy into much of anything but this crazy open-ended story that was shoooosting out of me. I wanna do that again someday.