Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Blue Man Group @ Schubert Theatre

The Blue Man Group... loved it!

I liked the way they had the theatre decked out. Its as if you just stepped into Terry Gilliam designed building. There are hoses and tubes across every surface of the cielings and walls similar to Brazil or 12 Monkeys.

The show was good. I had seen many parts of their performance in different arenas along side musicians, but it was funny none-the-less. So much of what they do is dependent on their props that it doesn't allow much flexability of changing the show year after year. I'm not sure if the different companies in different cities do different routines and have different jokes or whether there is a universal choreographed act that they all stick with to some degree, but I suspect the show needs something like that to maintain its "anonymous" identity.
Everyone in the fam loved the show...
Shortly thereafter, we went to Bob Chinn's Crab House and met up with my Uncle Bob who'd driven with his cousin from NY/NJ to Chicago. It was good to see him. He always used to run around and play with my brother and me. He caught us up on all of the happenings of the East Coast branch of the Stewart's.
Travelling seems to be the topic of conversation lately. My cousin Allison is taking a semester in Cannes, FR. My brother & Val are leaving to Northern India on New Year's Day. Friends are taking trips to Japan, South America and living in places like Hungary. I'm on a domestic travelling kick... but regardless. I had to get going to meet up with Seth and a bunch of kids who had gone to String Cheese Incident at the Auditorium Theatre.
We met up at A Live One... had a drink and then went to Garaj Mahal.
The next few hours was more like a reunion than a concert. A bunch of old friends made there way over there before we did (Mike, Jordan, Megan, Dave, Jason, Jessie, Brian etc...) and I got and gave some really warm hugs. And then shortly after we got there Kang, Travis and Mike-O popped in. It'd been three years since I've seen the guys from the cheese and that was on my way out of the music business. I don't expect to be remembered, but I was... and thats great. There great guys and eventually, when I get a spare moment, I'll post the pictures. I hooked Fareed up with some of the pictures from the 26th.
Travis introduced me to his wife. I'd never met her before, but it was a pleasure. Fareed and Travis had a quick conversation about playing. Travis said that he'd do a nice application on the floor toms. He's a left handed drummer and the drummer from Garaj Mahal is a righty, but it all worked out and Travis and Kang both got up and jammed it out for about an hour.


I chatted up Vince Iwinski for a couple of minutes... It was the basic exchange of New Years pleasantries. Very cool guy and a great manager for Umphrey's McGee. Here is a picture I took of Kang and Vince. Vince asked me to add the bubble.

As the curtain falls on 2003... I'm think this has been a pretty good year for me. I found out what I want to do and I'm well on my way to doing just that. I made new friends. I kept old ties strong. I continued my education. I've taken chances and worked hard... and thats something to aspire to.

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Computer at Work... GRR!

Computer is being bad... I spent a bulk of the night working on it. There is a software problem which I can't diagnose, but its preventing the mouse driver from loading. So working with the hotkeys is a pain in the keyster. Yawn... I really wanted to be at String Cheese tonight, but I'll have to hold off until NYE, cause tomorrow we're going to Blue Man Group.

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Monday, December 29, 2003

Xmas Dinner Finally!

We finally had our family Christmas Dinner on Sunday! Everything tasted great! I think that has something to do with the fact that I can taste food again as this cold of mine has finally subsided. Everyone liked the gifts I gave them.
Thank you to all of those family members who added to The Greg Stewart Travel and Relocation Fund. We are still currently working on our NFP status, so unfortunately, you can not currently use this gift as a tax write off.
BTW, if you ever have to buy gifts for me please refrain from buying me clothes. There are very few people who are allowed to do this and you need specific expressed written permission from me, which must be notarized by my attornies and you must follow all of the standard operating procedures and policies and protocol outlined in the Stewsday Manual of Better Wearing which can be viewed with six month and two week notice from the US Library of Congress in DC or else the penalties which are in place will be enforced.

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Saturday, December 27, 2003

City of Lost Children at the Music Box - Midnight Showing



Even though I'd arrived with plenty of time to spare, I didn't see Tim until just before the show started. Evidently he called around looking for me, but I was across the street at the bar having a weisse, and looking out the window when I was drawn into a conversation about middle eastern politics and culture with a few guys sitting around me. I must admit I did a fair job at dispatching two republicans into quiet contemplation.
Anyway... I like the Music Box... I've always liked this place. Its one of the few theatres in Chicago that show great independent and foreign cinema regularly. I've seen City of Lost Children (AKA La Ville Du Perdu Enfants) more times than I can count, but I can't pass up an opportunity to see it on the big screen. In fact, I will almost always prefer going to the movie theatre to watch a film than watch it at home on the small screen even if I own it.
So afterward we went back to the bar and had a weisse together. Tim was a little distracted. See, there were a few girls and a guy dancing to the Marley being played in the bar. Tim had taken notice of a cute blonde with a great smile. I would normally have considered being a wingman on this one, but Tim didn't make a move, so I did. Half a beer and a shot later we'd made a bunch of new friends. They were from all over, but they came together in Chicago because of their families for the holidays. I'd normally refrain from flirting with girls who I'll never see again, but I did a good job of it and wound up getting smootchie from the cutie that Tim was distracted by.

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Nutcracker Sweet with the Joffrey Ballet at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago


The family and I went to the Nutcracker Sweet. I haven't been to see a production since the Radio City Music Hall performance of 198?. Tonight's performance was at the Auditorium Theatre, which will be the site of the upcoming String Cheese Incident NYE run.

It is an ornate and large theatre with three tiers built in 1889. Luckily we had excellent tickets for the performance.

The production was not as big as I remember it, of course I was in the single digits at the time. I haven't spent enough time around dancers or the ballet to give a critical opinion of the performance, however what I saw I enjoyed thoroughly.




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Friday, December 26, 2003

The Fareed Haque Group @ The Boulevard Cafe

Though I knew I was going to this show many weeks ago, I reconfirmed my convictions after talking to Megan R. over at the family mass on Wednesday. He'd played up in Madison, WI a number of times also under the guise of Garaj Mahal. I've heard a number of accomplished jazz musicians, like Karl Denson and Robert Walters, hold high praise for Fareed, but I was slightly suprised to hear about a hometown hero from a men who'd worked with so many talented guitar players.
Fareed as a guitar player isn't the only talent on stage. Kalyan Pathak works the Tablas; John Paul plays Bass; Dan Leali beats the drums; Dan Nimmer fingered the keys; and J.CAPPO worked the DJ/turntables.
I took a bunch of pictures throughout the night. I was especially happy to run into old kids from Madison like Josh B. who you know better as the speaker at the podium from the Onion headline "Drugs Win Drug War," but I know as housemate '96-'97 from Lothlorien Co-op. It was funny to see his face with that headline, and then the Tshirts, coffee mugs, post cards. I also realize its kinda disconcerting when everyone who sees you on the street and makes the connection. People begin to pigeon hole you as a one note guy. I know the feeling. He's currently at Northwestern pursuing his Law Degree. He is probably one of the nicest guys I've met... he has a very comfortable and compassionate way about him.
Penny, who left from Madison to Portland, OR 4 years ago, also "appeared" at the show! Megan said that her bf Dave, who I'd known many years previously to their relationship, was there... well, not only was he there, but he was engineering and mixing sound! I knew Dave as a taper and an audiophile, I didn't know that his skills had extended to mixing sound in a room. He did get the room sounding nice!
With good sound and a packed room, the promoter (Triple Dot Mas) and house manager were happy.

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Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas Dinner

We accepted the invitation to Christmas Dinner at the Nostvick's. It was nice, because both their family and ours were missing a son at the table. Phil was in Bogata Colombia and Chris was elsewhere for the holiday. The dinner was nice, but I couldn't eat very much as I'm getting a little sick.
After dinner (nice spread, BTW) Will Nostvick busted out a board game called Imaginiff... its one of those 70s touchy-feelie-get-to-know-you games, the type we make fun of... like Ungame (pronounced Une-Gahm-Eh... in our house anyway) except you can win Imaginiff... and then its over. This final piece of information... it being over... was incentive enough to warrant playing the game and winning it. I was ahead for a long time, but Beth (thank you!) won the game and we were free.
Shortly there after, I went home to dream of unphlemy things and take pseudoephedrine hypochloride and acetomenaphine.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Christmas Eve Mass @ St. Giles

This is probably the one mass I don't mind going to. Its actually kinda pretty and cool. They utilize all the small children who are going through catechisis and have them dress up as shepards, angels, and of course a baby jesus. This year's jesus was played by a baby girl who'd been born just a month or two prior. Anyway... Its always nice to see my parent's community... the people they go to church with. Its not a social event for me... I'm not so abstract as to believe that some guy is closer to God than... well, lets say a woman. Roman Catholicism... ain't it grand.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2003

California

Updated Travel Plans:
San Francisco, CA - 1/15-1/20/04
If anyone knows of fun stuff to do, please let me know!
Right now it looks like I'll be hangin' at the Boom Boom Room or the Elbo Room. I'll be busy with a tradeshow for most of that time, but I will get a chance to interview for some positions out there. Wish me luck.

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Monday, December 22, 2003

Tom, A Show, A Pie, A Yard of Licorice,

I had a nice weekend. Tom flew in from Hungary and we ran around Chicago for the night. We made it to Schuba's Tavern for the Vic Chesnutt concert, but it was sold out by the time we got there, so we ate dinner there instead. Alot can happen in three months. So there was a bit of catching up to do.
Tim was our navigator around the city again. He is excellent with city driving directions when he's paying attention and when he's not, lets just say we took a little detour onto Michigan Ave (Miracle Mile) during the biggest shopping day of the year. It was kind of fun though after we parked I got to be the pedestrian walking slowly across the street infront of cars. I guess it works both ways.
I jumped into a picture with this group of girls crowded around a plaza Xmas tree... I don't know who they were, but it was fun... ok, I'm a goof. We walked through Bloomingdale's and saw the Yard of Licorice and Foot of Bubblegum displayed in a clear bin right on the corner and people were talking about it and buying it right there infront of me... of course, this isn't unusual, but its fun to see in the market place!
We ate at a pizza place called Joey Buona's and I can say the pie was decent, but not superspecial. It was cool cause they had a cornbread crust, but I'm not sure how well that works on pizza.

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Friday, December 19, 2003

Addison Groove Project



I met Sara from Wiggle Puppy Productions at the show. They were filming Addison Groove Project and sending it out over the internet for all to see. They have a bunch of stuff going on, including producing the Jam Cruise I & II DVDs... hopefully!

I had a great time at the show and I'd like to see Vic Chesnutt play tonight, but I'm not going to make any hard and fast plans at the moment. My friend Tom is flying in from Hungary and will spend the night in Chicago before heading up to Madison he might be a bit wrecked from the flight.

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Dancing with Dolphins PICTURE!

At long last... here is the picture the German guy sent to me. I can't see me, but I'm there, surrounded by some very friendly dolphin/porpoises! Refer to December 1st for the full story!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Phil & Val flew back to Bogata... Jobs

It will be a couple of weeks until I see them again for the holidays. It was a nice visit and I'm sorry I didn't get to see Phil's face after surgery. I hope there isn't any swelling.
I had an interview with a marketing agency as a project manager today. I think it went particularly well. I hope to hear back from them later this week.
I got home to a bunch of emails and phone messages. Its nice to know there are alot of people out there looking for someone with my skill set. I'm not exactly sure what I want to do or where I want to do it, but the money is tight. So for now its work.

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Monday, December 15, 2003

Phil has oral sugery today

and I'm not happy about that. Over a decade ago, Phil and I were wresters. He was warming up with the captain of the team Karl Zurberg a hulk of a guy, but very cool. Anyway, he popped up on my brother during warmups before a meet and knocked one of my brother's two front teeth out. Since then he's had root canals, cleanings, check ups etc... but the tooth is going to have to be replaced. So they are doing oral surgery today to clean out the tissue and I suppose test the bone for the next phase of the surgery, a few months down the line, which will be to semipermenantly (30 years) bond the tooth into his mouth.

Later today I developed my film from Jarmusch, scanned them all in and fixed em up a bit. There is an outside chance that a photo might make it into CityLink, but I won't count my chickens before they're hatched. Keep your eyes open for it.

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Sunday, December 14, 2003

Second City

I've always thought that its harder to do comedy than any other genre (drama, horror, musical). And I have a ton or respect for the Second City, a breeding ground for top comedic talent. I got in line early so we could get a good table. Everyone had a good time. The first set was the best, the second wained and dragged and the improv set didn't do anything for me. I don't know if it was an off night or what.
They kept going back to that poor kid who knocked the ball out of the Cub outfielder's hands in the play-offs. So this show had obviously been running for a while. In fact in a few days they are going to start a new production... I wonder if the kid will be a running gag throughout the next few years with the company here in Chicago. I mean, he's such an easy target shouldn't we give him a break?... nah!

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Manet And the Sea

As a family we went to the Art Institute and walked the Manet exhibit. This was the first time that I went to the Art institute with people for a long time. I usually prefer to go to museums alone, so I can go at my own rate and see what I specifically like, but it was nice anyway to look over at a painting of the sea and some boats by Manet, Monet, Whistler or Coullier and be able to compare and contrast them with my family there.
I like Manet, but I like Monet better on seascapes. I seemed to identify more with bold strokes of dominant colors, of the raging, turmoil of the waves in Coullier's work, than of the pastel as placid waters displayed in whistler. My two favorite paintings of show were Monet's The Green Wave and a painting of Manets of a dock in the night... if you know the title to this painting let me know.

I don't think the tour made enough of an effort to explain that most of these artist's careers were in different parts of France and the world. Coullier spent much of his time on the Atlantic, where the waves are much choppier and tough to navigate, but Whistler was in the Mediterranean where the shores of France were recently accessible by railroad and beaches were well groomed, so to display works beside each other from different parts of France at different times seems a bit erroneous.
Whatever... Its good, I reckon, if it floats your boat.

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Night of my brother's 30th Birthday

I left Jarmusch with Tim to get over to my brother who would be celebrating his 30th birthday shortly after the stroke of midnight. We were supposed to meet him at Harvey Sid Fisher, but evidently something about the opening act wasn't exactly my brother's thing so we went down the block for a drink at a converted cablecar bar and restaurant.
We chilled and chatted for a while about my brother's upcoming trip to India. Joaquin's girlfriend told the most aweful tale of her trip to India as a teenager. As if her morbid story was going to be in any way shape or form like the trip Phil and Val were going to take. I tried to redirect the subject back on Phil and Val's expectations and what they wanted to do, but she kept going on about how she vomitted off the back of a donkey dragged rickshaw in monsoon season... Then the food came. Why is it everytime I sit down with special people for food someone has to bring up some imagery that just steals my appetite away?! I think this might be some sort of plot to keep me thin, but I digress...
The rest of the group had desserts. Tim had a full fledged dinner... evidently conversation about spilling guts, food poisoning and falling in donkey crap don't deter him from finishing his meal.

Joaquin made the excellent suggestion of going to Quenchers. They have a fine assortment of beers and rarely card, which helps because Valqueria didn't bring her passport (Brazilians I tell ya!) and there was no way we were going all the way back to Oak Park. Anticlimatically, we were on the road when 12:27 am rolled around. We got to the bar and ordered drinks, only to find they don't take credit cards, but there was an ATM on another block across the street so it wasn't that big of a deal.

Karoke Dokies were performing at Quenchers that night! LIVE BAND KAROKE KICKS ASS! Joaquin did a great job with some 80s rock. As a group we sang Blister in the Sun. At one point this big pizza delivery guy comes walking into the room wearing a Bulls Jacket... "Hey anyone here order a pie?"

No one confessed to ordering it so a couple of us put together a few dollars for him and let him go... BUT NOT BEFORE WE MADE HIM SING "I WANT CANDY" with this girl who kept singin' "shake that ass, shake big ass..." He changed the chorus to "I WANT PIZZA" and the band kept rockin' it out. I really should be equipped with a video camera aswell as my regular camera for moments like these, cause you really couldn't have scripted or cast that scene better than what happened that night!

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Saturday, December 13, 2003

Mystery Train, Down By Law, The Shorts and Jarmusch


I had the honor of meeting Jim Jarmusch twice today. The first time was at a screening of Mystery Train at Columbia College in Chicago and the second at the Movieside Film Festival.

He originally started studying at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL for journalism. He had taken a semester of classes when the Dean called Jim to the office and asked why he hadn't taken any of the required classes for the major, and then was invited to explore other avenues outside of their institution.

He then moved to NYC where he studied at Columbia for literature. He was involved in poetry. He is a poet. When asked about "the industry" he trailed into his feeling that he is not a professional, but an amateur. He is enamored by his art. He doesn't do it for the money. "I never met a poet that did it for the money. You show me a poet who does?!"

After NYC, he spent a year in Paris, France and basically hung out every day at the Cinemateque Paris and was exposed to films from across the world. He accredit much of his education to this theatre and the films brought there.

For some reason that he can not understand to this day, Jim was admitted to NYU Graduate Film School. He had never made a movie and didn't have anything to his credit, but he jumped at the chance. This was a three year program. As money was wearing thin he was offered a Fellowship/TA position. They made a mistake that year of giving Jim the money for school directly instead of paying the money directly towards his tuition. So with this payment Jim produced his first film. Columbia did not accept his creation as part of their curriculum... Jim left without his degree, but with his film Permanent Vacation. Jarmusch never let school get in the way of his education.

One of Jim's greatest heroes is Nicholas Rey who took him under his wing. Jarmusch worked with Rey up until his death in 1979 in his home and his office. Jim recounted tales of showing Nicholas his scripts. Nicholas would review the scripts and ask for more action and Jim would rewrite it with less action. Eventually Nicholas turned to Jim with one of his scripts and said "Ok, now you're ready." As much as Jim admired Nick's work, he didn't want to be Nick. He wanted to be his own artist.

If you think about it, this is what Jim is really known for. What separates him from the pack is how he details the moments when nothing is said and not much happens. For example in Mystery Train, Elvis, Will and Charlie are driving around Memphis drinking and driving without dialogue. Jim lets the trio to convey with a look more than what conventional directors could with dialogue. He packs in a lot of communication into awkward pauses and silence.

I asked him how he finds these moments. First he started with the premise that not everything in the story has to advance the plot. "Its kind of intuitive." He said that its important to "breath, observe and feel things." Jarmusch took it back to poetry. "Poetry is allowed to be abstract. It has to do with the use of open and empty spaces. Imagination is what drives us."

His film Night On Earth exemplifies this. Jarmusch said he was interested in capturing the moments between getting the phone call about a girlfriend having a crisis and getting to the apartment. Many writers and directors would ellipse to the door opening after the phone call, but Jim is more interested in the journey than the arrival. "What is going through the characters head between the action? How does that feel? What is he thinking on the way over to her house? What does he do while he's in the car? What does that look like?"

Jarmusch develops his characters before writing a scene. He builds these characters up in his mind and lets them interact. He then writes the scene specifically with certain actors in mind. If an actor is not available, then he throws away the script. It doesn't get made. Jarmusch investment in this process may have given him access to working with many of the industry's top talent like Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, & Roberto Benigni to name a few.

Jarmusch recounted a number of tales about Roberto Benigni and comedy on and off of the set. "One of his favorite games is this one called 'Cenzo Unico,' roughly that means 'one way' where he would try to get us back to the hotel from the set only by using one way streets the going the wrong way." When Benigni was learning English John Lurie would teach him words and expressions that didn't mean what it was supposed to. "To this day" joked Jarmusch "when Roberto goes to the bathroom he says 'I have to go flame.'"

Even with some of the best talent and fun on the set, Jim Jarmusch still has his share of problems in negotiations for the funding of his films. "Financing? I try to stay away from American money whenever possible... too many strings attached. Sometimes they'll offer you five hundred grand, but you have to use this actor and you don't get the rights to your work, no negatives, and they get final cut... I'll say 'if you want a director who will let you direct, go make your own *&^% movie'." Jarmusch is fortunate to have found a number of willing foreign investors representing countries as diverse as his cinematic influences.

Jim has compromised in the past due to time and budget. Those limitations "can be good." said Jarmusch "When working with an actor, I never talk to them in groups... We shoot out of sequence because of time and money, but it helps us to focus on a specific scene." For example, Jarmusch said that he will throw pieces of different color paper to his Director of Photography and uses shorthand on the set. He believes each component of his crew is as important as everyone else, but "a gaffer telling an actor what he thought of a scene would be inappropriate, but a gaffer doing what they do... Very important."

--------------More Notes Below------------
On the set:
Jarmusch then quoted Oscar Wilde "Life is far too important than to be taken seriously." regarding working on the set. He recounted stories about sitting in on a Fellini shoot and everyone was loud and working hammering in things during the shoot, but when he was trying to think, to set up the shot. He wanted complete silence and all of these workers would just be standing there, totally still while he thought and then 2 minutes later they would call out the Okay and everyone would start moving again.

On Education:
Jim quoted Mark Twain regarding school "Don't let school get in the way of your education." when referring to not graduating from NYU.

On critics:
Jarmusch doesn't really read reviews of his movies unless they are really horrible. Then I'm interested in what it is that they hated so much. He respects critics whose art form is the criticism. He mentioned at Colombia that he has respect for Manny Farber, Letster Bangs, Peter Garablinck, and Jon Rosenbaum. "Their criticism is their art."

On the fact that he hasn't seen his movies since they were in the can:
Jarmusch does not watch his movies after the first time he's scene them. You can almost hear The Thrill is Gone while he said this "After you make them and see it for the first time its analytical. I'm done with it."

On professional/amateur:
Jarmusch still considers himself "an amateur director, that is, I do it for the love of the art, and not as a professional, who does it for money."

On working with actors:
"Every actor gets a certain amount of leash. With John Lurie there is no leash. He never does except for what's in the script. With Roberto you need a longer leash."

On working with actors:
"There is no one right way for all directors to work with an actor. Its different for everybody, but there are right ways for one director to work with one actor." He went on to tell a story about how Nick Rey would be almost abusive and confrontational with his actors to get the desired response out of them.
Jarmusch went on to say "I work with my actors one on one. We'll go on road trips and hang out together so I really get to know them and we get it right... There is a real dialogue."

On Digital/Film:
Jim has a "fondness for Super 8 Film." He believes that the medium, like the lens, is just a tool of the trade, but its his favorite. He talked briefly about Digital vs. Film. He still likes the filtered quality of film and of black and white. He didn't understand how these executives think black and white commercials, videos and movies are automatically "worth less money," valued less than color. "I mean the stock is more expensive. Shouldn't it be worth more?"
He went on to add that he'd probably use a bunch of different filters to give the image more of a film look and reduce the focus.

On influences:
"My influences are really broad and varied. I like a lot of what's going on in foreign cinema. I've seen some great movies from Iran, Japan and Europe." He went on to say that he spent a year in Paris doing nothing but watching movies at the Cinemateque Paris. He mentioned liking Suzuki in Japan amongst others.

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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Internet Quizes

So I, your hippie buddy Stew took a lil quiz... the following is Quizilla's analysis of my answers:
truepunk
You're a True Punk. You know that punk isn't all
about studded jackets and mohawks. If you're
political, you're actually informed. Most of
the stuff you love is from before the 80s,
though you know bands like Fugazi kept the
spirit going.


You Know Yer Indie. Let's Sub-Categorize.
brought to you by Quizilla

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Sansa

Facets Multimedia, a vertically integrated indie filmhouse, was showing Sansa. One of the myriad of problems facing indie & foreign film is securing distribution into theaters across the U.S. So I have to hand it to Facets for continuing to bring in movies that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to see otherwise. It made me smile and laugh.

Sansa is a story of a wander-lust traveller, "a globalist fantasy of a homeless man who charms his way through customs, around checkpoints, past airport security guards, and even skirts the war zone of Chechen rebels as he drifts from Paris to Tokyo to Cairo. The one-named title character Sansa -- played by sexy, smoky Roschdy Zem -- is directed by the one-named Siegfried in this manic look at borders and boundaries." - Chi Sun Times

Sansa is a charmer, hustler & street artist. The other main character is Mr. Click, a elderly violinist and touring conductor of an orchestra which happens along this path.
Specifically, the line that grabbed me the most out of the whole film is (my translation from french):

Mr Click: I was in love for years. Time and things passed on. Now I try to not be in love, but to love. Its not as easy as it sounds.

This sums up the main message of the movie. You aren't going to find major geopolitical analysis of street life here. There isn't much to dispense with the cliches or stereotypes... there are russians. Mind you, in the places I've been... I've seen similar things. This movie makes a point to say that borders and boundaries are all in your head, but its not a critique of streetlife across the world.

This movie is multilingual. You'll hear such spoken languages as: French, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Hungarian, Italian, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, a local dialect of Morrocan, (a few I couldn't identify), Arabic, English etc... etc... etc... The shot comp. is excellent. Its aesthetically beautiful, like a NGO picture great close ups of ethnic faces. Strong use of jump cuts and other editing tech. which impacts the audience and draws them in with POV shots etc... The film is mainly hand held.

Thumbs Up.

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Monday, December 08, 2003

Tickets, Haircuts, Longing and Waits

I'm stoked for this Jarmusch thing this weekend. Today, after work, I ran downtown to Lauries Planet of Sounds and picked up the tickets. After seeing the movies again, recently... I've been thinking about Tom Waits who acts in a few Jarmusch flicks. I used to have alot of Waits in the collection... and even some rare, tasty concerts which came straight from the taper who probably shouldn't have been taping, but he was granted special dispensation when he hooked me up with copies.

When you were a kid, did you ever have that amazing dream where you were playing with your toys and you discovered you had all the coolest toys you always wanted... and they were all there? Then you woke up, rushed over to your stash, bin or whatever only to find it as empty as the day before?

Essentially, this is what happened to me with a book of CDs a few years ago. We'd just had a bash at our apartment. We'd drained a few barrels, the band had broken down their equipment, and the stereo was getting alot of use while I was finding out the purpose of a bottle of Glenfidditch with a couple of friends downstairs. It wasn't until later that afternoon that I noticed my favorite book of CDs was missing. It contained not only the entire working discography of Tom Waits, but CDs that probably only had value to me were gone too... but thats not all. There were live albums, one of a kind, that were jacked. I had built a collection from analogue reel to reels of jazz legends like Miles Davis from the Boston Jazz Workshops where an old long gone friend "Babysnakes" had gifted to me. There were the sole remaining vestiges of jam sessions of bands that I once toured out and put on stage there... like Jazz Mandolin Project jamming in my kitchen, or Leftover Salmon around the campfire... irreplacable.
It left me with that same feeling you'd get when you hear for the first time that a good friend has died. You're heart sinks, your stomach turns, a cold sweat glistens from your brow and then you turn a cold iron grey color, and you may as well be lost on a fridgid choppy sea for the rubber legs you've just been handed.

Today, I replaced some of the Waits... like buying back a piece of my life. Sliding Swordfishtrombones into the CD player of the car induced a cataract of faded memories... good and bad times alike... I really missed these albums. After driving around the city for the full length of the album, I popped in Blood Money and drove home. I found myself glancing over to the passenger seat where a new book of CDs lay and for a flash, I thought that if I reached in maybe in just the right way, that the rest of them would be there...

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Saturday, December 06, 2003

JIM JARMUSCH IS COMING TO CHICAGO!

Due to this crazy great recommendation, I was recently introduced to the works of Jim Jarmusch. Subsequently I've found his work to be amongst the best independent cinema I've seen to date. He's been able to work with great actors, and maintain artistic control of his projects without resorting to big studios. I could rant about his style and all the little things that Com Arts majors are taught to do... But I won't... I'll let you discover it for yourself.
Hold on to your shit... Jim Jarmusch is coming to town! For the first time in his 20 year career, independent film maker extraodrinaire is gracing 2nd City with his presence. The Biograph Theater (famous for the death of John Dillenger)is hosting the Movieside Film Festival on the 13th and 14th. Jim will be there on the 12-13th. Its front page news in this week's Citylink.
What's not well known is that he'll also be heading over to Colombia College Chicago for a little while too. I hope to be going to both events... make it a double feature.

Everyone in NYC is doing their own thing. Here, in Chicago, we have some people who put forth the effort, but either there isn't the organization to put forth the scene, or it gets snatched up by NYC or LA before we know what we've got (ie. John Malcovitch, SNL taking the best Chicago Comedians from Second City).
There is a reason why they call Chicago, 2nd city. It seems that Chicago plays catch up to what NYC is already moving on from. Its because NYC attracts the attention and people who want to be seen... Chicago hasn't done a good job of it in quite a while.
Jim, for all intents and purposes, personifies to a great extent those traits many people relate with New York in terms of: Attitude, Music and Indie Film.

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Thursday, December 04, 2003

Car Trouble

After I got back from the airport around 10pm, before I took off my coat there was a knocking at the door. It was a police officer who had questions about a crime that had been committed across the street. A car window had been smashed along with concurrent damage to the driver side door and a CD player/radio etc... stolen from the vehicle.
Worried as I was about the neighbors car, mine was next to the garage, also exposed. I ran out there... the car looks fine, but I guess from a week of non-use and Chicago weather my battery is dead... so last night in the dark, cold rain I tried to unsuccessfully jump it. I'm worried its the alternator. I also need to find a trustworthy mechanic somewhere in the city. Regardless of this little snag, I also need to get my coolent system flushed.
Its good to be home, as temporary as it seems.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2003

PHIL STEWART NEWS FLASH

Reuters Bulletin News Flash - Phillip Douglas Stewart who was born December 14, 1973 will be gracing the Chicagoland area with his presence on his 30th birthday. He will arrive on December 12th and return to Bogata Colombia on December 15th. Please refer this information to the proper authorities. Thank you.

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Back to the Beach

I headed back to Ft. Myers Beach today. I had a couple of errands to run first. I stopped by Walgreens, the post office and hit up a 7-11 for some beach goods before making my way out. I thought I was going to get lost, but memory served me well without having to consult a map. Its really a beautiful area when you get a chance to look at it. On the way from Naples there are preserves and parks. There is one bridge that raises you up to get a good look at the island, very pretty. I can tell why people want to retire here.
I laid out and caught some sun. I feel so much better after getting sun. Maybe I have SAD. Maybe I just don't like the harsh midwestern winters, regardless... I feel better today and it shows.
My pod came back around the same time before sunset. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is their favorite dinner destination and that this pod comes back to this spot day in day out. None of the staff could substantiate this, but they definitely were the same dolphins, but I wasn't in the water when they showed up today. There were many Germans on the beach. Maybe I picked the German part of Ft. Myers to go to. Later I noticed the beach chairs had FOR RENT signs that were in English and German. This was the Outrigger Beach Resort Hotel in case you happen to find yourself in the area, I give the beach and the cabana bar a thumbs up.
Later, I drove back to Naples and had nice dinner with my parents. They are very excited with many of the homes they have seen in the past couple of days. The prices of these houses are outrageous. I hope they find something worthwhile. There are alot of G.I. loan homes around here right across from multimillion dollar houses with beach access. The lots alone are worth $600K. So if I start diverting a portion of my paycheck now... I can afford a downpayment on a place... hmmm.... hmm... I think my calculator is broken... hold on... crap, its not broken.
On another note. I'm going to stay here a bit later than expected on Wednesday. I'm going to catch a flight back later in the day and maybe stop in Big Cypress for a moment on the way back to Miami.

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Monday, December 01, 2003

Dolphins of Ft. Myers Beach

I slept in until after noon. I was really relaxed. I decided to road trip in the rental and started driving North from Naples. I'd heard about Ft. Myers being a new Spring Break destination, but we're far from that season today. All I wanted to do was drive for a little while aimlessly. There are a lot of condos and homes on the beach. The cost of these places range from $400K +. There are a lot of retired owners. I bet these properties turn over every 15 years... A real estate agent's wet dream. But I wasn't driving to see that... I just wanted to find a nice little quiet beach.

I drove for about 20 minutes before I found the place. It was a motel at the end of a chain of condo high rises, obviously a low cost vacation alternative with beach access. The hotel was painted pink with white frames and doors. This is common around the Caribbean, but I can't help but think what people would make of this place if Chicago or New York picked up a paint job in pastels, but anyway. I walked past the motel and onto the beach. There were a couple of children running after a flock of birds, their parents and three other people on the entire beach. I set down my bag, pulled out the towel... took off my shirt and put on my shades when beach patrol pulled up along side me. At first I thought this had something to do with me not actually staying at the motel and that the car was parked in their lot, but the white doors and frames were chipped. That operation didn't
keep tabs on whose cars are whose. I'd bet any money on it.

No, the reason beach patrol parked in my sun was because he was directing a passerby to their motel. The patrolman and I chatted for a little while afterwards. He gave me some recommendations of some live music venues in Fort Myers... He told me that I was on Fort Myers Beach on an island, and that Fort Myers was about 6 miles away. He pointed out 3 dolphins off in the distance and down shore, I saw two even further down... a total of 5 that I saw. I asked him about the water temperature and beach safety. He looked around and chuckled. I was pretty much alone on the beach... Time for a swim.

It was cold... but after getting in and under, my body adjusted. I made my way out from the shore. The water was so calm that the pelicans swooping down on the water cast a near perfect reflection. I was diving down to hopefully find some vacant shells. When I'd find a decent one without a critter living in it I would stuff it into my pocket, otherwise I would send them back. I collected a bunch of shells. I was definitely not as buoyant with my pockets filled. I looked back in shore and noticed one of the guys pointing in my general direction. Was he calling me in? I looked over at my bag... still there, then I spun around. What happened next was simply amazing.

I saw the silhouette of the dorsal fin and tail cast directly in front of the sun in the Western sky. As quickly as it came, it went. I tried to be still... I wanted another look and I didn't want them to be frightened away. Then I saw a current of water come towards me and break... Another fin 2 Ft. away, but this was no ordinary dolphin... This was a baby. The next thing I knew, I was surrounded. For a second I had a terrible thought... I hope these aren't sharks. I've never really been this close to a dolphin before, and what if I was wrong?

Only one way to find out... I took a big gulp of air and dove. And there they were. Below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, by Ft. Myers Beach I met my first pod of dolphins. The way I figure it, she may have been the mother of the young dolphin and if so, she wanted to make sure I wasn't going to hurt her child... so she came up to me to investigate and swam over my right shoulder... I touched her belly. I needed a breath... I came back up and took a few. They danced around me for a minute or two longer. It was happening in slow motion for me... all five of them, the whole pod for a couple of minutes. I heard them underwater. It sounded like laughing and I couldn't help but to laugh too.
As they began to move on, I swam back to shore.

There was a stir on the beach by the time I finally came in. A party of eight or nine had conglomerated around me asking for details.
"Did you have food?" "Were you feeding them?"
"No, I didn't have food." but then I thought of the shells in my pocket, could they have been interested in that?
There was one guy who wanted to yell at me for feeding them, but I didn't.
"Were you afraid?"
"Well, for a second I thought they were sharks" Actually, I think I always wanted this to happen ever since I first went to the Shed Aquarium as a toddler.
"How did you come up to them?"
I didn't. If I did, they would have swam away.

One of the guys on the beach when I first arrived, the one that pointed towards me (or the dolphins). He was from Stuttgart (sp) Germany and he took a picture. I can't imagine what it would look like... the sun was low in the western sky... maybe a silhouette of dolphins jumping around me... What if a pelican or a gull was swooping overhead again? I can't wait.

An elderly woman on the beach said something that sounded really splendid "Nature's gentle miracles find the willing."
That sounds nice, doesn't it? What does do you think she meant by that? Later, I saw that group holding hands and praying together just prior to the sunset. As the final rays of the day dipped beneath the horizon, I heard a chorus of applause from cabanas and bars around the beach for the cloudless beautiful sunset... Only 30 more to go for this year. (sigh) The last time I heard people cheer for the sunset was back in Rio Di Janeiro. What a great way to wrap up the day.

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Driving to Naples from Miami

I woke up the next morning... yes, it was still morning and the cleaning service came, so I dragged my dead ass down a la playa. For brunch, we went to Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House, a well known Kosher Deli in Miami and ordered
up and ate a whole hot pastrami on rye. I felt kind of vindicated after my last challenge with a pistol. Maybe I shouldn't hear stories about the butchering of the animals I'm eating as I'm eating them like last time... or maybe I should and maybe I should just stop eating animals all together. Its a thought. By the way chicken are treated are the worst of all in terms of living conditions and their deaths, so if you're going to be a vegetarian because of humane reasons... don't eat chicken. That settles it. For the rest of the trip, I'm eating fish.
Anyway, I jumped in the car with the P's and headed out to Naples FL. We cruised past Big Cyprus on the way. I slept most of the trip and I'm going to do some more sleeping, but on a beach in just a few. There is NO chance for surf on the gulf side. Its placid waters and old people everywhere. I think I might be the youngest kid I've seen so far. This is perfect... I need some R&R, I'm still wrecked from last night.

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