September 30, 2002
Memos to Self

All right. Don't say I never warned you. San Francisco is NOT THAT WARM. Even though it's California, it's chilly. Except when it's hot. Bring sweaters. Pashmina is your friend.

Also, proper footgear is important. New, blister-inducing high-heeled work shoes do not cut it for climbing steep hills. Also, shrieking and grabbing at random passerbys only draws attention to the fact that you almost fell down Telegraph Hill.

Thirdly, respect the other tourists. When fellow hotel guests dash through the lobby and delightedly photograph themselves with members the SF Fire Department, who are responding to a false alarm in your hotel at 7:45 a.m., do not sneer. Try to maintain your indulgent smile.

You like Indonesian food, especially those balls of fried fish.

You certainly learned a lot at the comics exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. If only they'd had a gift shop! Oh well, don't forget to follow up on Blue Monday.

Other stuff you don't want to forget:

Early Christmas shopping, anyone?

Best beads in the West. I asked the nice man behind the counter how many boxes of beads he has. He smiled as if he'd heard the question before, sighed and said, "Oh, I've lost count."

Purveyors of fine books. Time to curl up with a good Henry James novel for the autumn.

Smile for the camera and applaud like popcorn. Our visit to Tech TV and the freewheelin' Screensavers was memorable.

Finally, remember to e-mail your friends and thank them for all their hospitality. Hutton and Hutton, Jason, and John and Angie all showed us a swell time.

On the windowsills of Coit Tower, legions of people have left coins. I tried to scrape some out for the travel fund, but Eric said we would be arrested.

We learned how to say "hamburger" in eight different languages.

"Stop 'stairing' at me!"

Remember those great 7Up signs? You just don't see cutting edge design work like that these days. Eric ponders where postmodernism has taken us.

Posted at 09:22 PM
September 20, 2002
Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

Well, it's been an action-packed week. We had humor, sadness, wedding memories, and Ice Cube. Some old friends stopped by. It was fun.

Speaking of old friends, I give you Morrissey. About 10 years ago, I wanted to write a big think piece on Morrissey as a cultural phenomenon. He's clearly the Elvis of a certain demographic, but I never figured out the paradigm. And now, 10 years later--and nearly 20 since his heyday began--he's back. For instance, he unbent sufficiently to be interviewed by Craig Kilbourn last week. And one of the hipster listservs points out that he has a huge Latino following. I'm still fascinated, and I don't understand any better.

There will now be a short intermission until I return from SF on the 28th.

Photo to contemplate during the pause:

I live near not one, but two bodies of water. Here's the Chicago River not far from my house.

Posted at 08:12 PM
September 19, 2002

Four years ago today, Eric and I got married. Here’s a snapshot of that long, happy day:

It’s such a weird time right before the ceremony. My family and bridesmaid and I were shut away in a little room on the side while 75 of our friends and family were seated. I couldn’t sit down because I might wrinkle my dress, and no one had much to say, because we were waiting.

And then we could hear the music start. We all assembled in the hallway just outside the door. Off went my mother, to be seated in a place of honor. Then N. went, with a smile. Then my dad and I waited.

I was excited to get married. But I was so nervous at the prospect of marching down the aisle in front of everyone I knew that I could barely stand up. I waited for my dad to offer some words of wisdom.

What he said was something like “Remember to smile.” Huh? “At our wedding, your mother was so nervous, I don’t think she smiled until the reception.”

(Pictures of their wedding show this may have been one of his characteristic exaggerations.)

It was time to go. I took his arm and held on to the flowers. “And I wanted to kill that photographer,” he muttered, and off we went.

And we smiled the whole day long.

Posted at 05:12 PM
September 18, 2002
Washboard on My Knee

I love it when unexpectedly enchanting things crop up in the middle of the business day. Today when I told M. I was going to San Francisco, he told me to be sure to ride the cable cars and sing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." Then, to my surprise, he was able to recite a whole stanza:

To be where little cable cars
climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air,
I don't care

"I love those lines," he said.

I was impressed he even knew the words. Here's some lyrics to an SF song that has fallen out of fashion even more, but is still kind of cool.

Mike is doing some compelling writing this week, although the subject matter must be very painful. I did not know his late sister, and at the time I was only beginning to know a lot of the people who figure in his story. But I am grateful to read it anyway, because it brings back to me a time and place (Bloomington, IN, in 1988) that is long gone now--so long gone I sometimes find myself wondering if it ever happened.

Finally, you should have heard them wail this morning when I asked my staff to use a typewriter (to complete a form for the post office) today. Sheesh. You'd think I asked them to wash their clothes on the rocks or use a mangler. OK, maybe not "The Mangler." You get the idea.

Posted at 07:15 PM
September 16, 2002
Better Sportswear

A few weeks ago I was "shopping" at Nieman-Marcus. Or, more accurately, I was "prowling." I don't usually go to the upper floors, because I don't usually buy couture, so I was feeling a bit like a fraud among the Calvin Kleins. Hence the prowling--creeping from one side to the other, fingering fabrics and glancing at price tags.

Stopping in front of some nice black DKNY blazers, I felt a little less exposed. And, strangely, I began to notice that I was surrounded by the smell of my Grandma's perfume. I looked around me, but there was no one on the other side of the rack or in the dressing room. Just me and the same smell that wafts out of the doors of her cabinet, which now stands in our living room.

I kept looking at the blazers and trying to decide if I would ever even use such a thing. And suddenly I heard my Grandmother's voice, clear and commanding as a bell: "Go on, honey. Try it on for Grandma."

And so I did, thinking as I did so about the days when "going to Grandma's" meant visiting her on the job, in a department store in downtown Columbus.

Grandma ruled the roost in Better Sportswear, whatever that means. Whenever my mother (and later, whenever I) stopped in, she always had something set aside for us, a solid middlebrow label like Jones New York or Chaus or Pendleton. Grandma appointed herself our own personal shopper--and, even better, she had a discount.

When I was little, I thought her life was very glamorous. She wore put-together suits and separates and she had colorful costume jewelery, glittering beaded necklaces and brooches and pins. (I loved the necklace of tiny pink beads, but I never found it.) To add to the glamour, she took great vacations, traveling to Europe and Alaska, sending letters via air mail and bringing back presents for everyone. I've been wearing the carved turquoise ring she brought back from Alaska every day since 1981.

She worked at the store for more than 20 years, so this ritual continued until I went away to college. It wasn't always easy--those days after Christmas and Thanksgiving couldn't have been fun. She didn't have a car, so there was always a bus ride there and back again to deal with. And she was always accidentally slamming her fingers in the cash register, turning her fingernails black and blue.

Alas, the blazer wasn't going to do. It had this sort of floppy tail at the back. And so I hung it back up, and the smell of perfume seemed to dissipate, and I kept moving.

Grandma died in 1995. My mom and I miss her. In the intervening years, on our post-Thanksgiving shopping trips, we always made a detour to visit the Better Sportswear department, if only to remind ourselves what it was like when she was there.

So do I think she's still following me around, vicariously shopping at my side? The journalist in me, who marshals facts and evidence, says Of course not. Ridiculous. But the dreamer--and the shopper--in me shrugs and says Who knows? Eternity is a long time not to go shopping.

The irony is, of course, those days in Better Sportswear trained me to be a shopper extraordinaire. I don't need anyone, living or dead, to tell me to check for linings and buttonholes and all those pointers of quality. To tell me a blazer with a floppy fishtail is going to look dated in six months, or possibly tomorrow. Grandma trained me well. If there's anything I need advice from the afterlife on, it isn't spotting a bargain.

It would be much more practical to get some advice about, say, the car. If my tires are six years old but I only drive once a week, do I need to replace them? There's an eternal worry right there.

But Grandma never had a car.

So if I run into her again, it will probably be in a department store somewhere, where for me, commerce will always mingle with memory.

Posted at 06:14 PM
September 15, 2002
It Was a Good Day

I realize that his trademark surly demeanor was probably schtick, but all the same, the pictures of the smiley, friendly Ice Cube that we're seeing in the press for his new movie are making me feel like the end of the world may be near, after all.

Smiley Cube. Surly Cube.

Posted at 10:37 AM
September 12, 2002
Going to Take Me For a Ride

Posting has been a little intermittent lately. It's hard to sit at a computer when there are piles of nice, thick unread magazines awaiting me. How do I really feel about the redesigned Fast Company? Will there be anything useful in all 700 pages of Vogue? Can yoga make me fit? These questions and more wait to be answered. Meanwhile:

Yesterday the Cath Carroll song "Moves Like You" on the latest Darla comp made me incredibly happy. Yet another item for the wish list.

I haven't read this book, and probably won't, but this review of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People was pretty entertaining.

Why is it that riding a packed train home, no one ever gets off at stops for those "popular" neighborhoods like Southport and Paulina? If that area's so crowded, where are all the people? Are they not riding the train? Why live so close to the el if you're not going to ride it? Or are they so sated with Starbucks that they just don't go to work any more?

These things bother me.

Sheer nostalgia, but I always did like Unrest.

Posted at 06:48 PM
September 10, 2002
Music Notes

Bells and Whistles is conspicuously avoiding 9/11 anniversary hype. To be truthful, we just aren't feeling up to dealing on any level with what was a terribly shocking and sad event the first time around. It if troubles you as well, avoid the hysteria-inducing media coverage tomorrow and do something positive--however large or small--for the world, or another person, or something.

Happier news on the music front:

Thrill Jockey, the label that brings us The Sea & Cake, one of my favorite bands, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Millions of post-rockers now living will never die. (Puzzlingly, the anniversary tour kicked off in New York, not Chicago. Hello?)

The Mekons are celebrating their 25-year anniversary with a series of concerts. I hope to check out the Cultural Center gig on Friday at lunch.

Chickfactor, the magazine that inspired, well, the song "Chickfactor," has a new spiffy online presence. Full text of back issues, Web extras, photos, and a new issue coming soon! Just the thing to banish that end-of-summer malaise.

And finally, the Indie-List, Finley Breeze, and Telegraph archives are now back online. Check out the 1994-96 years and find out how Eric and I spent our time before Tivo. We made many friends and learned about much good music through this avenue and, I daresay, contributed our own little nugget or two to indierawk history. Enjoy!

Posted at 09:51 PM
September 08, 2002
Ken Goes to Breakfast

Kitty Joyce Productions (and friends) is proud to participate in the Ken Goldstein Project.

(Photos offered in living color and vibrant black & white.)

On a hot sticky Sunday we took Ken to breakfast with the princess, the brain, the jock and the criminal. Guess which one is behind the camera right now.

Some passersby were curious as to what it was all about.

A nice guy offered to photograph the four of us.

I showed him the original flyer with the mask explaining the project, but he politely (and warily) said, "I don't need an explanation." And he took a second picture.

I think Ken enjoyed the pancakes.

Posted at 04:09 PM
September 07, 2002
Wurst Case Scenario

Links...get 'em while they're hot!

That is, sausage links. It's German-American Weekend here in my neighborhood, so two blocks west the streets are filled with milling revelers, drinking beer and eating wurst. Many of them are wearing feathered caps, embroidered vests, or other similar ethnic costumes. They all seem to want to park on my street, which is a difficult proposition most days anyway. Look out!

Stopped by the farmer's market this morning and bought nectarines, green peppers, and the first Concord grapes of the season. Also experimented with buying Piedmontese beef there, frozen into solid blocks and shrink-wrapped. This is because Eric advises that I should look at buying food as "a learning experience" instead of something to get over with as soon as possible, which is my usual mode. We'll see what we've learned.

Links I've saved lately:

High Context focuses on knowledge management issues and Web issues for Associations. He's looking, among other things, at how organizations can use blogging in a productive way:

What I'm wondering: if your organization is team based, would a multi-author blog for that team provide a more comfortable environment for inexperienced writers to post than an individual weblog? This may not be the right lesson to pull from our experience since it is so early but there could be some validity to it.

The Daily New York Fashion Blog is giving a multi-author, industry-based blog a go, although the subject matter may not be what is envisioned above.

I normally avoid most high-profile bloggers, but I do enjoy Fast Company writer Heath Row's Media Diet.

And finally, No Rock & Roll Fun blogs the music world, with a hefty dollop of sarcasm:

There are very few famous hat makers ... but we can now add Fred Durst to the list. As if his constant sporting of a stupid baseball cap wasn't bad enough, he's now started flogging the things.

Pass the sauerkraut!

Posted at 03:34 PM
September 05, 2002
Pass the Windex

This site purports to cover issues related to women in publishing. This will no doubt come as a surprise to those of you who have been enjoying the lighthearted snapshots of bags of candy.

However, today we have a bona fide on-topic link. A recent study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center takes a look at how women are faring at the top of communications organizations, including publishing companies, e-companies, magazine publishers, and communications-related industry organizations.

The results are pretty dismal, as usual.

There continues to be a dearth of women in executive suites and corporate boardrooms of communications and e-commerce companies. With a few exceptions, we have not moved beyond tokenism in the number of women in top leadership positions or serving on the boards of communications companies.

Not really a suprise.

And yet....

I can't find the statistics now, but when I met with an alumni director from my old school last spring, I was impressed by how many women were graduating from the program these days.

You can see for yourself here how many women are getting journalism scholarships.

According to this study (dated 2000?) women make up a majority of journalism students at schools nationwide.

In the autumn of 2000, 65 percent of the students enrolled in journalism and mass communication master's degree programs were women, and 54 percent of the students enrolled in doctoral programs in journalism and mass communication programs were women.

And of the 2892 people who responded to this 2001 survey of journalism graduates, 73% were women.

We're out there, guys.

Journalism is not a boy's club any more, or it won't be for long, anyway.

Posted at 09:19 PM
September 04, 2002
Idol Gossip

Announcement from The Management:

We at Kitty Joyce Productions are experiencing problems with our DSL connection. As a result, postings are expected to be episodic and possibly lime Jello flavored.

We expect the problem will be resolved eventually. Er, shortly.

I understand tonight is the finale of American Idol. This is a show I have never watched. But I thought it apropos to mention a couple of my own idols:

Back in the early '90s (that is to say, before the Internet), I lived in a small Southern Indiana town and experienced a temporary new music drought. So I listened to a lot of X. A lot as in "all the time." Recently, I was excited to see an interview with Exene in the latest Perfect Sound Forever.

I think that the way feminism has gotten turned around against women is just totally shocking to me. I think sexual liberation is fine, but I think that when women make the choice that it's better financially to be a stripper than front a band, I just part company there.

Also, in the most recent Venus zine, a fun interview with Kim Gordon, conducted by Julie Cafritz:

JC: You're lying. You're so natural when you deny it -- just how you denied being a mystery-novel reader and also talking baby-talk to your cat.
KG: I hardly talk to my cat.

Do you baby talk to your cat? Or do you talk philosophy with Fluffy? Discuss.

Posted at 05:07 PM