Monday, August 29, 2005

More tongues

Oh my god. The Million Tongues Festival is coming back to the Empty Bottle!!! The Two Million Tongues Festival runs from Thursday November 3rd through Sunday November 6th. I went to three nights last August, and if it's anything like last year (Simon Finn, Six Organs of Admittance, Nisennenmondai, Fursaxa, Espers, Charalambides, etc.), it's not to be missed. The lineup has not yet been posted, but I can't fucking wait to find out...and I can't wait 'til November.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Black/White IQ debated revisited

You don't necessarily have to be a psychologist, psychometrician, sociologist, etc. to fully grasp this really, really long essay from Charles Murray, author of the controversial book, The Bell Curve, even though it might help understand some of the psychometric jargon...however, it is very well-written and a good, albeit somewhat boring, read. This should add fuel to the fire to the debates regarding the discrepancies in black/white/male/female IQs and academic achievement, but just because it's uncomfortable doesn't mean that this type of discussion is bad...I think it's important. For what it's worth, having studied psychology and psychometry as an undergrad and grad student, I'm still not sure exactly what to make of both opposing views.

Read it here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

This is pretty great

How a high school teacher from Skokie passed for cantankerous guitar genius John Fahey

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Chicago shows, etc.

I started back at work a couple of days ago, and already I'm really feeling the brunt of waking up at 5:45 AM. It's been incredibly slow this week, and I'm feeling especially tired today. (The only thing really keeping me awake here at work right now is writing in this stupid blog.) Thus, I will most likely and regrettably miss Oneida along with Kinski and Plastic Crimewave tonight at the Empty Bottle.

I know there will be many, many more shows I will be forced to miss in the (near) future. Some of them will probably include:
* Of Montreal @ the Abbey Pub (Fri. Sept. 2)
* High on Fire @ the Double Door (Sun. Sept. 4)
* Merzbow @ The Empty Bottle (Wed. Sept. 7)
* Little Brother @ the Abbey Pub (Thurs. Sept. 8)
* Circle @ the Empty Bottle (Tues. Sept. 13)
* Lau Nau with other bands from Finland @ the Empty Bottle (Sun. Sept. 18) (arrrgh...starts at midnight!)
* The Wire presents "Adventures in Modern Music" - Sept. 21 to Sept. 25 at the Empty Bottle - Unfortunately I will most likely miss most of the nights; however, I will probably not miss the Earth/Gang Gang Dance/Pita show on Sat. Sept. 24th
* 13 & God & Black Dice @ the Abbey Pub (Fri. Sept. 23)
* T. Raumschmiere @ the Empty Bottle (Mon. Sept. 26)
* M.I.A. @ the Metro (Wed. Sept. 28)
* Arcade Fire @ the Riviera (Wed. Sept. 28) sold out
* Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings @ the Double Door (Sat. Oct. 1)
* The Dirty Three @ the Metro (Sat. Oct. 15)
* The New Pornographers @ the Metro (Thurs. Oct. 20)
* The Coup @ the Abbey Pub (Fri. Oct. 21)
* Wolf Eyes @ the Empty Bottle (Fri. Oct. 21)
* The Go! Team @ the Metro (Sat. Oct. 29)
* Quintron @ the Empty Bottle (Mon. Oct. 31)
* Broadcast @ the Abbey Pub (Fri. Nov. 4)
* Konono No. 1 @ Logan Square Auditorium (Fri. Nov. 11)
* RJD2 @ the Abbey Pub (Sat. Nov. 12)
I guess another notable show would be Dungen, who are playing two shows in one night at the Bottle in early October. I "caught on" late despite all the hype thrown their way, from some friends of mine to pitchfork to just about everybody, it seems. Although I admit that Ta Det Lugnt is a well-made album, I find a bit boring. Both shows will easily sell out.

So, some of the shows listed above will be added to the following (partial) list of notable shows I missed this year:
* Parts & Labor @ the Empty Bottle
* Sir Richard Bishop @ the Empty Bottle (free show)
* The Perceptionists @ the Empty Bottle
* Roots Manuva @ the Empty Bottle
* The Books @ the Empty Bottle
* Prefuse 73/Battles/Beans @ the Empty Bottle
* Deerhoof @ Open-End & the Empty Bottle
* The Pagans @ the Empty Bottle
* The Boredoms @ Logan Square Auditorium
* The Champs @ the Empty Bottle
* Sightings @ Subterranean
* Mouse on Mars @ Sonotheque
* Need New Body @ the Open-End (out of town)
* The A-Frames @ the Empty Bottle (out of town)
* Oh No with Diverse @ the Empty Bottle (out of town)
* Smog @ the Empty Bottle (out of town)
* Tortoise @ the Empty Bottle
* Ruins @ The Bottom Lounge
I also missed the Intonation Festival here in Chicago due to the roadtrip. However, I don't know if I would've gone (or even enjoyed it had I gone), mostly due to how hot it's been in Chicago this summer. Besides, the only band I really wanted to see there was the Go! Team, who I'll probably see this fall at the Metro.

Anyway, the list above is only a partial list of shows I've missed in 2005. Out of the shows I did attend this year, the best were:
1. Six Organs of Admittance @ the Empty Bottle
2. Gang Gang Dance @ the Empty Bottle
3. The Animal Collective @ the Empty Bottle
4. LCD Soundsystem & M.I.A. @ the Metro
5. Gang of Four @ the Metro
6. Slint @ the Metro
As you can tell from the lists above, most of the shows I attend are at the Empty Bottle. The Bottle, mostly based on the sheer quantity and quality of shows, is my favorite venue ever. I may be going off on a limb, but I dare say that it's the best venue in terms of quantity and quality in the good ol' US of A. New York may be the best city for shows, but the venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn (specifically the Knitting Factory and North Six) are always competing for shows.

Here's my take on other Chicago venues:
* The Metro: Bigger acts ranging from teen-friendly "emo" bands to very hyped budding stars (e.g., M.I.A.) to reunited underground bands of yesteryear (e.g., Slint) to indie rock stars (Sleater-Kinney) play here. To me, this is a huge venue with a capacity of 1,110. The sound in the theatre has been very good at the shows I've been to; however, if you want to buy tickets via internet, you have to go through ticketmaster. Also, the security is a little excessive - they wear yellow shirts with SECURITY written across the back and you get patted down before entering. Still, it's the quality of bands that make the shows, and every show I've been to there has been excellent.
* Logan Square Auditorium: Located in the heart of quickly appreciating Logan Square, this is a fairly large venue (around 700 capacity) that occasionally books great shows. However, the acoustics of the auditorium sucks.
* The Hideout: Located in the "middle of nowhere," in an industrial area slightly northeast of Bucktown, the Hideout is mainly known for its weekly alt-country shows and dance parties, which can be quite fun. I was supposed to be one of the DJs for the July 4th party, but, alas, I was in St. Louis. I accidently went to the Ted Leo show there last summer thinking that there was a dance party - the dance party was after the show. Every fall, they have the Hideout Block Party. This year's one features the dB's, who have recently reunited. Last year featured Mouse on Mars and Mahjongg.
* The Double Door: Although located in the heart of Wicker Park, there aren't too many good shows that play here. I've only been there once - for the Dizzee Rascal show, which was good, by the way - but unless you're really close to the stage, it's a little difficult to see the stage, even if you're tall. The stage is kind of small and the venue itself is weirdly shaped. It's not too bad, and supposedly even the Stones have played in this 473-capacity venue...but typically, making a short trek to the Empty Bottle in Ukrainian Village is the better bet.
* The Abbey Pub is a bar/restaurant that serves as a quaint music venue during the evenings. Most underground hip hop acts (at least on the Northside) seem to play here. They'll occasionally "steal" other notable non-hip-hop acts here, too. For example, I saw Comets on Fire there a few months ago. The only realy problem with the Abbey Pub is that it's located significantly northwest of where most of the "action" is at, i.e., Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Logan Square.
* Schubas is partly restaurant and partly a bar with a separate room that's a music venue. Like the Abbey Pub, it's a quaint venue that occasionally gets worthwhile artists to perform. I went there for the first time last year for the DVD release party for the Polyphonic Spree (who I detest) because they were serving free booze. Unfortunately, it wasn't worth it because I only got two drinks because they fucking ran out.
* Subterranean: Also centrally located at the Wicker Park-Bucktown border (like the Double Door), the quality of shows at this venue is hit or miss. A recently reunited Olivia Tremor Control played there the night before their free show at the Wicker Park Festival, and Merzbow will be there in the near future.
* Park West: I've never been to Park West, but I've read and heard that this 1,400-capacity part-time venue has the best sound in all of Chicago, and it's also supposed to be the most beautiful. Not too many shows (at least shows I'm interested in) play there, although I know that Slint played their last Chicago show there.
* The Vic also holds 1,400 and is also supposed to be very nice. Bigger and more nationally-established bands such as Wilco often play there. I've never been there.
* The Riviera is a huge venue topping out at around 2,500. I've never been there, but I hear it's nice. I believe the Pixies played four or five straight nights there last fall...or maybe it was at the Aragon.
* House of Blues: Located in downtown, there's almost always no reason to ever want to go there, unless I want to shell out ridiculous cash to see Common or De La Soul. I think Iron and Wine might have actually played there last fall.
* The Aragon: Big, established bands, such as Sleater-Kinney, play here, if they're not playing at places like the Metro, the Riviera, or the Vic. If the Pixies didn't play here, I think they played at the Riviera.
* The Fireside Bowl: This hipster bowling alley in Logan Square used to have a lot more shows in the past, but the owner decided to put an end to that last August. (My friend Sean and I actually DJ-ed the last night of the non-bowling night last August.) However, I guess he had a change of heart because they are starting to have shows there again. The shows are usually all-ages, which means that, overall, the crowds tend to be younger, unless you're drinking at the bar, which I did throughout Erase Errata's set last summer. The shows have the feel of high school punk shows, with the shitty sound and young hipster-punks, although usually not quite as bad...unless some emo band is playing.
* The Bottom Lounge: Although I've never been there, I picture the Bottom Lounge to be a "more upscale" "real venue" version of the Fireside, based on shows there. From looking at bands on their schedule I read off the Chicago Reader, crappy emo-y bands frequent this place often, although they've been booking bigger indie rock bands (such as Xiu Xiu and Pretty Girls Make Graves) more often as of late. They even booked a band I really wanted to see but totally forgot about - Ruins. Doh!!!
* Buddy, Camp Gay, Heaven: Camp Gay and Buddy are artist-run lofts that have recently become defunct. Camp Gay seemed to have more interesting shows, although their shows had been scarce the past year...ever since I moved to Chicago. Buddy, although they sometimes had surprising bands and artists come play (such as Calvin Johnson), seemed more interested in throwing hipster parties, which I tended to avoid due to obnoxious hipsters who seemed more interested in trying to look outrageous and cool rather than focus on the arts. However, despite the obnoxious hipster aspect of these lofts, I think they serve (or served) a great function - pushing art and spawning creativity (whether musically or visually) not unlike Nightlight in Chapel Hill. Luckily, Heaven is still there, although they rarely, if ever, have music shows. But this is Chicago, and that means that sooner rather than later, another artist-loft will pick up the slack where Camp Gay and Buddy left off.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Boo! My summer break's almost over

I have a few more days before I have to go back to work...and thus, my summer of laziness is almost over. However, looking back, this summer's been quite busy.

I was out of town most of July, having first ventured down to St. Louis to visit the family before heading out on an almost two-week-long roadtrip mostly to North Carolina.

We first went to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We got off to a late start out of Chicago and arrived at the campsite outside of Cherokee, NC when it was too dark to put up the tent. So we stayed in a motel and camped the next day.

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Due to the thunderstorms and our leaky tent, we decided not to camp the next night in Asheville and stayed in a motel instead. Hey, I never said I was an outdoorsy-type of person. On our way to Asheville, it rained and stormed a lot, and much of the mountainous scenery was beautiful, if the clouds didn't block the view entirely, that is.

Brief summary of Asheville: It rained all night. During the day, we went to the Biltmore and made an offer on the estate. I love Asheville. What a beautiful city.

Then we headed down to the OC. Since it was the ladyfriend's first trip to one of my favorite areas ever, much of the time was spent showing her around mostly Chapel Hill and Carrboro, such as the University of North Carolina. I wish we had had more time there to really live it up, but we had to get going to the Atlantic Coast. Big thanks to TR for putting us up!

We went to the Outer Banks and stayed at a beachside motel in Kill Devil Hills. The room given to us faced the pool and not the ocean and smelled like piss. We asked for and got another room, this time facing the ocean, to our satisfaction.

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Surprisingly, the waves in the Outer Banks were almost nonexistent. Nonetheless, it was beautiful and relaxing.

The next day we went to go see the world-famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. I wanted to go up to the top, but it was so fucking hot that we just took a few pictures before heading down to Atlantic Beach.

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Atlantic Beach seemed more like the ocean with the salty air and the larger waves. I must've haphazardly put on the sunscreen lotion because I got some nasty sunburns on random parts of my body, including this large birthmark-looking burn in the middle of my chest, the area above my right knee, my nutsack, and various parts of my shoulder and shoulder blades. I'm just kidding about the scrotum. Really, I am.

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After Atlantic Beach, we left the Old North State and headed down to Charleston, SC. I went to Charleston with my family as a kid and remember nothing about it. So this was like visiting for the first time. I've gotta tell ya, Charleston is the most beautiful city that I've been to in the United States. The ladyfriend says it's between Charleston and San Francisco, but since I've never been to San Fran, I'm gonna stick with Charleston.

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I decided that after I win the lottery, I'm gonna buy one of the those beautiful vintage houses and make it my winter home. After visiting Charleston, I can see why Roy Williams owns a vacation home around there instead of somewhere in beautiful North Carolina.

After the long drive home from Charleston to Chicago, there were only a few days to do nothing in Chicago before heading up to the Michigan. I can't remember the town's name, but it's in southwestern Michigan off of Lake Michigan. Unlike Chicago's Lake Michigan water, the water in Michigan is clean, and the beach there was great. It looks as big as the ocean, and although the waves are typically smaller, there were a couple of days when the waves were as big, if not bigger than any of the waves I saw off the coast of NC. On the days when the waves weren't that big, they were still as big (or as small) as the waves that hit the Outer Banks. Anyway, I had a great time doing nothing but swimming and drinking and being a jackass...I scraped both knees being a drunk idiot the first night. I also managed to get even more sunburnt.

After another trip back home to St. Louis, I'm now just waiting and dreading Monday, my first day back at work. I think that's why I'm feeling a little depressed and having a little pity party for myself. The only thing I keep thinking right now is that I need to win the lottery. Once Mega Millions hits $70 million, I'll start playing again. When I win, I'll be sure to let y'all know.