May 31, 2005
This Is Just to Say

Dispatches from the old home town:

Sad to report that Karma Records has closed its Indiana Avenue location (others remain open in Indianapolis and vicinity). I shopped here a lot in the late '80s and hung out with many of the then-employees, to the extent that I memorized the shop's phone number. (Truthfully, however, it never really changed with the times and in the early '90s I left Karma behind for the more low-key hipness of TD's shop.) I'll always harbor fond memories of getting up way too early one spring day in 1986 and walking down from my dorm to buy John Mellencamp tickets. E. reports that fittingly, they've still got Mellencamp posters in the windows, along with a goodbye note. (Yours truly is visible in the glass, with camera.)

On a happier note, citizens can now see films in downtown Bloomington for the first time in years. This article notes:

The BCT was donated to the Bloomington Area Arts Council in 1995, after being owned and closed by the Kerasotes theater chain. Kerasotes insisted in the donation agreement that the BCT not show any films so business at other Bloomington Kerasotes theaters wouldn’t suffer.

Managers of the BCT and the Kerasotes theater chain recently reached an agreement that the BCT may show theatrical films that have been released for at least a year.

Meanwhile, B&W goes offline for a few days. In the meantime, don't miss this great CJR article on one editor's experience of editing Hunter S. Thompson at Rolling Stone:

It fell to the editor and his trusty assistants to manage the flow of additions and corrections, impose order on the piece, and perhaps even slide it into a narrative frame. I wrote endless cheerful memos about such things, encouraging the writing of new, connecting material to form a coherent whole. The issue for the magazine was never that Hunter wasn’t the funniest, cleverest, most hilarious writer, sentence to sentence or paragraph to paragraph. The editor role was getting those sentences to pile up and then exhibit forward momentum. (Hunter called this process “lashing them together.”)

Posted at 06:58 PM
Nutshell, Part 2

Eric gives a nice description of our weekend in a nutshell. It's a shame all the fun has been blotted out, more or less, by the ridiculous accident we found ourselves in on the Skyway. Just wanted to expand on his description of the actual moment of impact:

1230: Leave Southern Annex, new plants provided from a friends garden safely tucked into the back seat.
1645:00: BAM! Rearended in backlogged traffic on Skyway bridge heading to toll booths. (Soundtrack: What the---)
1645:05 BAM! again. (Soundtrack: WHAT the---? Why are they hitting us twice?!) This was the scary part for me, as I figured once would be enough for most anyone.
1645:17 I finally manage to turn around and see the horrified faces of the people in the car behind us. The wife, in the passenger seat, has her face scrunched up in a grimace. She makes some hand gestures that indicate "stop" although by now it's too late. None of us are going anywhere.
16:46: Start to navigate lanes of stalled traffic coming off the bridge toward the final toll booth. A loud grinding noise tells us something is wrong. Hilariously, people in adjoining cars start yelling and pointing at the back of the car, as if it has escaped our notice that something is wrong.

The rest is all an extremely tedious navigation of insurance and police reports and so forth. Meanwhile, ow. While not in the least injured, I am stiff and sore today. Now I understand why people need whiplash collars...and airbags.

Posted at 06:45 PM
May 28, 2005
Heard on the Road

(scene: a car on IN 67, heading south. Flea market signs keep popping up along the way.)
AZ: Want to stop at the flea market?
ES: No.
AZ: I just can't understand that attitude. That's not an 'I love the flea market' attitude.
ES: Do you love the flea market?
AZ: Nooooo, but...I got a letter in the mail saying we should.
ES: From whom?
AZ: Um...the government.
ES: Are you sure that it didn't say we should love the free market?
AZ: I've made a terrible mistake.

Posted at 04:22 PM
May 23, 2005
KJ Gardens Still Alive

The garden is back again, read about it here.

Posted at 07:39 PM
May 22, 2005
Storage Stories

Pilin' those houses up
Pilin' them higher, higher, higher
Building that highway to the stars
And turning the music up

My project of the season has been cleaning out our storage spaces. We have two: an unreasonably small one in our building, and an unreasonably large one that we rented in 1998 during our panic-stricken flight from a bad landlord. For reasons hard to explain, we have been shelling out more than $100 a month for this space ever since. Until I got tired of it.

So I have been spending my Saturdays in the old warehouse where our space is. We're on the third floor, so a nonplussed employee has to operate a cavernous old-fashioned industrial elevator to get me there. Armed with a bag of tools like post-its, masking tape, scissors, and a cell phone, I have tackled the project.

The goal is to get our old stuff out of there in time for a community yard sale on June 11. Some things will be sold; some things will go to Squatter's Inn; and some things will come to rest in our basement. At the moment we are about two-thirds done, the remaining third consisting of some of E.'s old computer hardware, some miscellaneous furniture, and other things too heavy for me to lift. For this point on E. will be brought out of hiding and enlisted to carry and dispose of them.

There are some interesting, if not disturbing, trends. For instance, we've spent hundreds of dollars storing empty boxes--broken down moving boxes, boxes that used to hold appliances, packing materials, and so on. The same may be said for a large box of old magazines that don't seem very well sorted. OK , so we'll probably keep the old indie rock zines from 10 years ago (E. is a collector) but old copies of Outside and Mojo? I wonder.

One of the most compelling reasons for renting the storage space in the first place was to downsize from a three-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom. Accordingly a fair amount of my personal history went into storage and was not heard from again for seven years. Sorting out this stuff has been the most time-consuming part of the process (why did I save all my old notebooks from graduate school? And where is all the undergrad stuff? No one can answer this.) although evidently easier for me at 38 than it was at 28, when I threw everything into a moving van and figured I'd sort it out later.

To date, I've condensed eight or 10 boxes into two or three. Will I miss the old stuff? Probably not. I always envisioned going through it when I was old. But at the rate we're going I'd never even be able to find it. Most of it wasn't really worth saving, and what remains has been organized, filed, labeled, and stored (or, perhaps inevitably, posted on the Internet). For once in my life, I can throw the past away.

Anybody want an old computer monitor?

Send yard sale tips.

Posted at 03:53 PM
May 19, 2005

I feed the pigeons I sometimes feed the sparrows too/it gives me a sense of enormous well being/and then I'm happy for the rest of the day/safe in the knowledge there will always be a bit of my heart devoted to it

Ducks in Washington Square Park

Maybe they've always been here, but this is the first time I've seen these two unlikely fowl. It's hard to understand how they got here, as the park is some distance away from the lakefront and even farther from the river. Or perhaps they've always been here, in hiding from the many lhasa apsos (and their owners) who frequent this little corner of the city.

Posted at 06:51 PM
May 17, 2005
Springtime for Brickhouse

Every day I walk past this statue of sportscaster Jack Brickhouse, and every spring a variation on this theme appears.

Posted at 09:02 PM
May 16, 2005
Hey Bus Driver, Keep the Change

Does this bus stop at dystopia? This James Howard Kunstler interview in Salon says it does, if you live in America, where we'll all be running out of oil very soon. I'm inclined to sympathize with the goals of New Urbanism and currently of a state of mind to buy the whole argument, though I haven't researched it very well. Kunstler says major cities will "contract" and we'll all do well to live near farmland, which is an argument for keeping up the Kittyjoyce southern annex if I ever heard one. It's just as well, as he's also predicting the popping of the real estate bubble and the demise of the career of the "public relations executive." Which, loosely translated, that we and almost everyone we know will be broke and out of a job, so I guess we will be living at the annex with all our fellow unemployed friends, trying to learn how to live off the land (surely a plot for a sitcom if there ever was one).

I am trying to be philosophical about this. For one thing, it means I can be more leisurely about reading all those books (we can still read by candlelight in the dystopian future, I suppose) but I had better hurry if I want to watch all seven seasons of "Buffy" on DVD. And perhaps the family longevity (Grandma lived to be 94!) is not as much of an asset as I had thought. In which case you'll have to excuse me as I'm ditching the gym and heading to the nearest bar & grill for a cheeseburger, a milkshake, and a pack of cigarettes.

This guy comments on the same article and nicely ties it to, of all things, the Talking Heads. And here, the inevitable backlash.

Posted at 08:53 PM
May 05, 2005
Print On

B&W has had a migraine all week. So the best we can manage is a salute to the Chicago Defender, the country's only African-American daily newspaper, which turns 100 today. Although I am not part of its target market, I am impressed by its long history and influence. Here's a current article and a less current one, as well as some scans of old blues records ads from back in the day.

Posted at 07:02 PM