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Monday, June 30, 2008

Crossing America, with Kenyans

Posted By on 06.30.08 at 09:05 PM


Local bassist Noel Kupersmith is on tour with Extra Golden and keeping a funny tour diary/photo blog about it. 

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Second City's finest

Posted By on 06.30.08 at 05:34 PM

Someone tell the people at Colbert Nation to tell Stephen Colbert to pressure the Cubs to let him sing the national anthem* at Wrigley, since he did attend one of our finest institutions of higher education and studied under Del Close at Second City. Yes We Can! (h/t Liz; unfortunately, this isn't quite as good as the four-part-harmony version with Colbert, Carell, Samantha Bee, and Rob Corddry, but as far as I know that's only on the Indecision 2004 set; see also Colbert with John Legend)

*One of the things I love about this country is that we ended up with an exceedingly difficult-to-sing (it covers a range of one-and-a-half octaves**) national anthem, despite the existence of more facile alternatives*** such as "America the Beautiful" and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA." But it's a feature, not a bug: when someone screws it up they really screw it up, which is always entertaining; alternately, when someone nails a rendition, either traditional (Whitney Houston, and I gotta admit I like the Dead's version) or innovative (Marvin Gaye), it's thrilling. "The Star-Spangled Banner" demands you come to play, which is resonant.

**More than you need to know but awesome.

***Garrison Keillor insists that it wouldn't be so hard if we moved the key back to G where it belongs. 

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Radley Balko on the air

Posted By on 06.30.08 at 04:45 PM

Reason's Radley Balko, one of my new journalistic heroes, will be on WGN at 5:30 to discuss his recent Tribune op-ed about how Chicagoans aren't free. But much more interesting than that piece is his work on Steven Hayne, Mississippi's "quasi-official state medical examiner"; it's some of the most jaw-dropping investigative journalism I've ever read.



Posted By on 06.30.08 at 04:18 PM


Given that the importance of a college education is ever-increasing, I can only assume this is a growth field.

The name of Elmhurst-based Lava World International has been changed to Lava Lite LLC as a result of the deal.

Seth Marks, president and CEO of Talon Merchant, said in a statement that the acquisition was a “strategic partnership that positions the newly created Lava Lite LLC for long-term growth.”


Dre rocks the swap meet

Posted By on 06.30.08 at 03:49 PM

In the history of written language there have been few combinations of words as beautiful as "Dr. Dre Swap Meet Mix." Dre put together this party-rocking slice of vintage bump, which combines electro and hip-hop, way back in 1987, shortly after his sequin-tastic days in the World Class Wreckin' Cru but before his Raiders-cap gangsta makeover. I just found this download link, and I had to share.

For proper playback quality, turn the bass all the way up and make sure that you are in a 1989 Jeep Wrangler with a handbuilt speaker box in the back and a Slurpee spiked with vodka in the cup holder.

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Posted By on 06.30.08 at 02:33 PM

Schaumburg: not a small town. (Survey says: 75,000+. Where I grew up that's a city.)

Perhaps the summer’s most visible change is occurring in the downtown strips of small towns where, for decades, cruising on Friday and Saturday nights has been a teenage rite of passage. It is a peculiarly American phenomenon — driving around in a big loop, listening to music, waving at one another and wasting gasoline.

“We’re not cruising around anymore, with gas costing $4.50 a gallon,” said Ewelina Smosna, a recent graduate of Taft High School in Chicago, as she hung out the other night at the Streets of Woodfield, an outdoor mall in Schaumburg. “We just park the car and walk around.”

Related: I used to work the night shift for a Major Catalog Company's phone center. I worked the night shift when the movie Duets came out, and one of my co-workers listened to Lite FM all night, and so whenever I hear about cruising (which you hear more about in southwestern Virginia than here--hey, Williamson Road) I can't get the awful creepy awful incest-chic Huey Lewis/Gwenyth Paltrow cover of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" out of my head because you have no idea how many times lite FM radio stations could play that song over 8 hours.

And now you will suffer like I did,* provided you click play.

*Unfortunately I cannot make you suffer the ultimate indignity of listening to Lite FM while trying to convince a woman that even though her personalized pet gravestone was delayed because of a shipment of low-quality granite, she should proceed to bury her dog anyway. The tradeoff was that for every 15 minutes of SOP service-industry misery I got to read for about 2 hours because no one calls at 4 AM from anywhere except crazy people and occasionally someone in the foreign services. For $8.50 an hour circa 2000**, it was in some ways a dream job for an insomniac shut-in like myself.

**More than I'd like to admit of this went to fuel a $1,200*** avocado-green 4-door 1972 Impala. Gas in Botetourt County back then was cheap.

***No truer song has been written than the Bottle Rockets' "$1000 Car": "sink your money in it, and there you are / the proud owner of a $2,000 thousand-dollar car" isn't just clever, it's a philosophical truth. 

This one's for you, Leon Kass: the french fry sandwich at Polk & Western Hot Dogs

Posted By on 06.30.08 at 02:03 PM


No, I didn't die and get damned to the Taste of Hell but the pictured abomination would fit right in there. It's the french fry sandwich at Polk & Western Hot Dogs.

There, P&W's otherwise crispy, shoestring fries are piled on an Italian beef bun, dipped in the gravy, smothered with precisely two ladles of nacho cheese sauce (or a mozzarella option), and finally topped with hot giardiniera. This ranks as one of the slimiest, most tragic train wrecks of a sandwich I've ever gambled on, but my buddy PIGMON, who was delirious with hunger at the point of sale and obviously unable to make a clear judgment, dubbed it a "delicious hunk of shit."

It was only after his half was consumed that we started to realize Polk & Western, which is frequently mentioned as one of the oldest operating hot dogs stands in the city, and which has ancestral ties to the rightfully legendary Gene's & Jude's, is a most miserly example of the form. PIGMON had trouble restraining his outrage at the soda-pricing scheme that charges $1.98 for a 22-ounce cup when for 44 cents less you could buy two 12-ouncers, and get an extra two ounces of RC Cola for your math skills. Want a small cup of water instead? That'll be 25 cents, jerko.

The french fry sandwich, incidentally, costs $3.68, with 65-cent upcharges for cheese and giardiniera, and a mysterious 23-cent "MISC" charge I didn't notice until later. That's for being a sucker, I guess. Add tax and it comes to a whopping $5.73.

I tried to get some idea of this sandwich's fan base from the counter guy. Frat pledges? Invalids restricted to liquid diets? No idea. If you've spotted this on the menu anywhere else, please let us know.

Polk & Western Hot Dogs, 749 S. Western, 312-829-0300. 

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6/30 -- Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra at Schubas

Posted By on 06.30.08 at 01:59 PM

The Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra plays a free show at Schubas (3159 N. Southport) tonight to kick off a four-week Monday residency celebrating the release of latest album Pinky. The show starts at 9 PM and is 21+. Call 773-525-2508 for more info.

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The People's Atlas

Posted By on 06.30.08 at 12:45 PM

Building a handy guide to animal vs. people hospitals, where people talk too much, and the legend of the shark (h/t Sam).


6/30 -- Taste of Broadway

Posted By on 06.30.08 at 11:35 AM


If the cost, the crowds, and just the thought of salmonella-tainted hummus has you planning to stay away from this year's Taste of Chicago, you may want to reconsider, especially if you're a musical theater fan. Actors from a host of current and upcoming Broadway musicals -- Dirty Dancing, Jersey Boys, and Wicked, among others -- take the stage at Grant Park's Petrillo band shell tonight at 6 PM.

For more information, visit Broadway in Chicago's Web site or call 312-977-1717.

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