Foraging Week | Bleader | Chicago Reader

Foraging Week

Friday, September 14, 2012

Forage every stream

Posted By on 09.14.12 at 06:43 AM

A proud symbol
  • A proud symbol
After taking a pass on Back to School Week and Are You Ready for Some Football?, which I believe was also a week, I'm relieved to be able to contribute to Foraging Week. It's a subject I know something about—probably a little more than you do. It's wrong to speak up when you have nothing to say.

You see, my wife grew up in a Nebraska farm town, and I’ve heard her reminisce many times about the Forage Club, which she said all the kids belonged to, its proud symbol being a shamrock. I was never able to catch exactly what they did in the Forage Club, but she described it as wholesome. So wholesome it might have had something to do with her winding up in Chicago.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mushroom hunting with Iliana Regan

Posted By on 09.13.12 at 02:27 PM

Not what we were looking for
Iliana Regan's truck has a decal in the back window that says "Stay out of my morel patch." When I went foraging with her in Indiana this week, though, we weren't looking for morels—those grow in the spring. We were trying to find maitake mushrooms. Or Regan was, at least. Mostly, I was trying to keep up with her as she plunged through the underbrush. She moved quickly in the woods, but that could have been because every time she stopped I'd ask her to identify every berry and mushroom in sight. Her answer was almost always the same: "Don't eat that."

So I didn't. I just took pictures of everything that caught my eye, without any regard for whether it was edible or not.

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The primitive urge to hunt is what drives us to art fairs

Posted By on 09.13.12 at 06:41 AM

  • Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock
You may think these are blueberries in their natural state. They are not. Blueberries in the wild grow on very low bushes in mosquito-infested bogs. In northern Wisconsin, where I was forced to pick them as a child, they ripen on the hottest and most humid days of summer. We would don rain gear, like suits of armor, to avoid becoming mosquito meat, and swelter as the blazing sun turned the head-to-toe plastic into an oven.

The mosquitoes would get us anyway.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ask a librarian, and then listen

Posted By on 09.12.12 at 06:41 AM

Harper Library, University of Chicago
  • Richie D.
  • Harper Library, University of Chicago
For the last five months I've been shoulder-deep in a research project that threatens to stretch on past the new year. The subject matter isn't important, but the process is, because it's reminded me how much I love digging for information. When I told a colleague at the Tribune what I was up to, he remarked, "I envy you the research," and I expect a lot of newspaper people would share that sentiment. Much of daily journalism (including this very blog post) is just people blowing it out their ass. But when I finally get busy with the writing phase of the project, I'm going to have a mountain of hard information at my disposal, stuff that most people don't know about because none of it is available online.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dumpster diving

Posted By on 09.11.12 at 06:44 AM

I'm no expert on Dumpster diving, but I do have fond memories of hopping into neighborhood Dumpsters from about age six or seven up until I decided I was too cool for it, maybe around 11 or 12. Some people argue that despite the "diving" moniker, scavenging doesn't have to involve actually going into the trash can, but for my little brother and me, the main draw was getting inside and rooting around (the hooks on the front of the Dumpsters that allowed trucks to pick them up also made for excellent footholds). We must not have gone that often, because I can't remember turning up anything more exciting than some old wicker baskets and discarded tiles—though I believe we were pretty excited about those finds.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Mix of the day: Jon Brooks's Summer Triangles

Posted By on 09.10.12 at 06:19 PM

Correction: This post has been amended to correctly reflect that Jonny Trunk is not an alias of Jon Brooks. Trunk nonetheless runs the excellent Trunk label and hosts a weekly show on Resonance FM.

Jon Brooks plays not just under his own name but also under a number of aliases—including D.D. Denham and now Georges Vert. But he's perhaps most famous as the Advisory Circle, one of the spiders crawling in the cobwebs of British label Ghost Box. The acts on Ghost Box all share similar preoccupations, which are, according to the label's Wikipedia page, "music for schools, cosmic horror stories, library music, English surrealism, and the dark side of psychedelia." Not to mention science fiction, owls, Krautrock, folk music, and midcentury modernism.

When he's not working as the Advisory Circle for Ghost Box, Brooks puts out albums (which you can stream for free) under other guises on his label Café Kaput. Occasionally he'll also release mixes, and the one he dropped last Thursday is spectacular—it's especially well suited for the hours when the day is winding down. On Summer Triangles, Brooks weaves together disparate genres that all seem to echo the stylistic touchstones of Ghost Box and Brooks's other projects. For example, the opening track is "Morgenspaziergang" by Kraftwerk, an atypically folksy and British-sounding track by the otherwise robotic synth-pop group. Harold Budd's "Juno" could have come from Pharoah Sanders's late-60s/early-70s jazz albums, and a track by Pye Corner Audio, while clearly contemporary techno, also recalls early industrial music by the likes of Cabaret Voltaire. The biggest revelation is a beautiful ambient piece by Benjamin Dauer, whose name was new to me. Check out the mellow-to-mildly-danceable mix after the jump. (The Mixcloud player lists tracks as they play, something I actually like, and makes it extremely difficult to skip forward—also a plus in my book.)

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All this week on the Bleader, writing about foraging

Posted By on 09.10.12 at 06:47 AM

Julia Thiel's cover story from last week's issue, a profile of chef Iliana Regan, is ostensibly about someone who parlayed her talent as a forager into increasingly ambitious and profitable endeavors, first an underground restaurant and now a forthcoming fine-dining restaurant. But what makes the story a writer's dream is how the subject of foraging can be interpreted as having more than one meaning—one definition is "to wander in search of forage or food" and another is "to make a search"—one is very specific, while the other can be read broadly. In this case, "foraging" can be applied to Regan's search for her career and the emotional journey she took after the death of her sister. For this week's Variations on a Theme, we're going to try and do a little bit of both: writing about foraging for food and writing about searches. For what specifically, we'll see. Tune in all this week for writing about foraging from Reader staff, and perhaps a guest contributor as well.

And in case you're still not ready (or were unaware that the question was even posed), we'll ask you again, "Are you ready for some football?!"

Read more from Foraging Week, this week's Variations on a Theme:

"Mix of the day: Jon Brooks's Summer Triangles," by Tal Rosenberg
"Dumpster diving," by Julia Thiel
"Ask a librarian, and then listen," by J.R. Jones
"The primitive urge to hunt is what drives us to art fairs," by Deanna Isaacs
"Mushroom hunting with Iliana Regan," by Julia Thiel
"Forage every stream," by Michael Miner

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