Gossip Roundup

Item! Which local author has a certain existentially confounding book out?

Item! Seems a certain radio program decided to pick the brain of yours truly with regards to an obvious think piece I wrote on transit reform. Seems also the Wilson stop is a nightmare, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Did 2009 really end? Yes, it did. But it left some great music in its wake.

Speaking of great music, check out the Three Cities album by Keeley Valentino. If more country singers worked like her, well, the world of country music would be a much better place.

Speaking of fictitious worlds: Star Wars: In Concert featured absolutely zero of the songs my cohorts and I suggested.

Speaking of suggestions, The 35th Street Review is now a thousand times more mobile-friendly; Normal Words is not, yet, but instead of fancy whiz-bang tricks there’ll be a new issue will out real soon. Scout’s honor.

And speaking of things coming out real soon, a pair of stories of mine will be in upcoming issues of a fairly significant local literary digest. But I’ll put links up when they’re available.

Until then, thank you as always for reading.
AMR
Chicago, IL / January 2, 2009

Upcoming Shows

I’ll be hitting the stage again next month with 2nd Story. This time around, it’s a two-night stand at Webster’s reading a new story entitled “Postcards From A Bombay Hilltop,” about a boy far from home with big plans to write, a girl on assignment with big ideas about pictures, and the things that pushed them both to capture some very big moments the only way they each knew how.

WHO: Your pal Andrew plus stories by Julie Ganey, Molly Each, and a tandem piece by Jeff Oaks and Deb Lewis, all with direction by Dan Stermer and music by Mike Przygoda
WHERE: Webster’s Wine Bar, 1480 W. Webster Ave., Chicago
WHEN: Sunday, December 13, 7pm and Monday December 14, 7pm
ADVANCE TICKETS: Highly recommended and available online soon here.
ANYTHING ELSE?: It’s the same show and stories each night, so don’t worry about missing anything by choosing one over the other.

Can’t wait to see you there.
AMR
Chicago, IL / November 18, 2009

How They Pronounce “For” In Chicago

A friend of mine writes from Las Vegas a few months ago:

“You gotta move here. Beautiful weather, nonstop fun, hours to the wilderness and light-years from everything I hated about Chicago.”

We joke about that, how there’s nothing to do in Illinois beyond hitting the bars and making unnecessary shopping trips, but it always gives me a chuckle to explain to newcomers to the area how the next five months are at best today and at worst 100 times worse, meaning prepare for 4:30pm sunsets and hateful cold even when it’s warm. But we do anyway, all that beer and chicken wings and Gap sweaters, and then we complain about the junk food we just ate and the stupid sweaters everyone wears in these parts. It’s like we know better, but we don’t.

Friend wrote again last week:

“Vegas sucks. I’m coming home.”

To which I responded, “I thought you hated this place.”

To which friend replied today:

“I do. But you know what? Everywhere is awful. At least now I that know for certain.”

And I think Friend makes a good point: why think too much without ever bothering to actually know? I’m not sure moving to Vegas is the best case study in self-actualization, but at the very least Friend took a leap. A short leap, but a leap all the same. With any luck, Friend will still be a terrible poker player.

——

The more keen-eyed and curious among you might have noticed a few changes around the site, chiefly in a spiffy new photo gallery page and a gutting of the clips. You’ll now find the latter in full archive form, complete with hierarchies and a best-of page starring all your old and new favorites, such as:

– Jay Cutler, quasi-hero
– U2, quasi-awesome
– Seattle, quasi-accessible
– Cheers, quasi-Chicagoan

And plenty more, all absolutely starved for your attention. On top of that, my words and I will be hitting the stage again soon, but I’ll post details on that as they become available.

Until then, thank you as always for reading.
AMR
Chicago, IL / November 11, 2009

Emerald City

Three things I now know about Seattle, in no particular order.

Every person in Seattle does something, but not in the way people in other cities do. By this I don’t mean they do especially different things, but that their “real” life isn’t taken too intensely. Someone in Chicago who works in a law office by day but has a band at night will kill you if you doubt the validity or their artistic dreams and will not hesitate to abandon a stable paycheck to play free shows at terrible art parties. That same person in Seattle doesn’t exert too much (if any) energy into that band, even while their band is (arguably) superior yet (probably) has a brighter future ahead of it. It’s as though the city equates lack of righteous artistic outrage with rewardable self-confidence.

Seattle sports fans like sports in a weird way. Qwest Field, where the Seahawks play, has been measured as the loudest football stadium in America, even though the Seahawks usually don’t give anyone anything to cheer about. Safeco Field, where the Mariners play, was built to save Seattle baseball just in time for the three best players in the game to leave town within six months of each other. The Sounders, Seattle’s soccer team, draw more fans per game than any other professional soccer team in the country while most Americans don’t really care about professional soccer. These teams are all mostly not worth cheering for, but it’s like Seattle doesn’t need to prove anything by winning; they built the teams and gave them glorious playgrounds, and for Seattleites that is evidently enough.

It is the last beautiful city in America. Yes, I’m serious.

——

Some of you have asked, and I now have an answer: tickets for the 9/30 show can be picked up by following this link. I’ve also updated the clips page, now with my look at Billy Corgan’s journeys into space (inner and outer!), the true benevolent genius of Milton Bradley, and possibly the funniest interview I’ve ever conducted.

That’s all for now. Thank you as always for reading.
AMR
Chicago, IL / September 27, 2009

Old Boy in the Mother Country

I had the good fortune of spending some time in Ireland last month, which right now is about the weirdest place in the world. Not weird as in eccentric, but weird as in everything is entirely confused and absolutely confusing.

In Murrisk, a tiny village (pop. 235) in County Mayo, I was advised to be careful in the larger Westport (pop. 5,000) because I “might get stabbed.”

In Westport, a kind old couple said not to hang out in Castlebar (pop. 17,000) after dark because there was a good chance someone on drugs would stab me.

In Castlebar, the common wisdom went that I should avoid Galway (pop. 70,000) due to a preponderance of folks getting stabbed in that fair city these days.

Once in Galway, bartenders, wait staff, hotel owners and total strangers alike all said to stay out of Dublin at all costs. “It ain’t safe there,” one said. “Someone’ll stab ya, take yer quid ‘efore ya even know they done it.”

Dublin, I am sad to report, did not live up to any of its mythology. Certainly a fun city, but not at all what you’d expect. Ireland’s having a tough go of it these days, nowhere moreso than its capital city, and to walk its streets is to walk through the ruins of a boom unlike any other. Gorgeous Gregorian taverns covered in graffiti; Victorian rowhouses hiding behind mountains of garbage; an ever-increasing tension between haves and have-nots, the former growing in stature while the latter grows in number.

I asked the owner of a coffee shop near St. Stephen’s Gate about the state of his city, and he just shrugged it off. “If we weren’t mad about the bad news,” he said, “we’d be mad the good news weren’t good enough. ‘sjust Irish, that’s all.”

“At least we’re not Mayo,” he added. “Go out to the country these days, who knows what could happen. You’d probably get stabbed.”

——

Heads-up to anyone in Chicago: I’ll be hitting the stage again with 2nd Story Wednesday, September 30 at Red Kiva, 1108 W. Randolph. Tickets will be on sale here at some point.

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