December 22, 2010


Image of hxc Brit-Brit c/o Dirk Knibbe.

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Today, riding in the backseat all the long hours up through 'til Minnesota, watching Williams small face as we read Barnyard Dance, so fantasticly even in it's rhyme scheme, I was thinking of Cliff Doerksen's death. Beyond the loss of talent--the obvious loss of Cliff Doerksen the writer, the much bigger loss of him as father. Most every comment online in the recollections touches on his devotion to his daughter. And from that I keep looking at William and thinking something like my most pleading prayer--that we are here with him his whole life. And vice versa. I can't even break the thought, because it is unthinkable.

That is the crush of parenthood. This kiddo makes me see the danger and injustice in every instant; a weight to balance and tether my tumefied heart, now so big with a devastating love and pride over every amazing little thing, like how he is trying to turn the pages, pulling my hand, trying to hold the cover corners. And once you are a parent, the kiddo you hold in that prayer is not just your kiddo, it is the whole world, it is everyone and everything because you now see the world with a fractured, buddhist heart--everyone is vulnerable: for even the warmongering assholes were somebodies baby.

The world is too big and too broken to fit under the cover of your prayer, but you pray it anyhow. And it is the impossible and selfish prayer, not for god's will but one built of magical thought and too much real life. The Please god don't let anything bad happen one. Stipulating not only to us, but to anyone. Do not let death touch us, ever, please and thank you. Amen.

This is my new parent prayer. Far less spiritual than it used to be. Now it's just a series of unleveraged demands.

& Still there is more.

And amidst this re-reading of Cliff's work, with a wit and talent that wastes me, reading with envy and hunger for the next graph's dazzle, I wonder if there is ever a chance in hell I could crank a sentence as tight? I wonder if I could if I had time, or if my writing will always be a product of whatever mind I am in, or of. If there is a ceiling, and if it's a matter or being born with that ability, or a matter of having the patience for revision, giving a shit enough to work beyond a second draft. I'm an asshole like that, lazy to boot--I want to be a genius and I want to be a total natural at it--that's how his writing reads to me. So naturally genius. Effortless, but not. Not at all. Clearly. The effort and breadth of knowledge in his writing was epic.

All of it is ricocheting around my brain, this writer, this man I hardly knew who was someone's only daddy, holding his life up to my life in the wake of his death--all my stupid thoughts riding shotgun to my sad, sad gratitude, clinging hard as I can to my own life and the people in it, doing what I can not to waste a minute of all this goodness.

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December 20, 2010


Ira Glass remembers Cliff Doerksen, Reader critic and Cliff's very funny essay about winning the James Beard award. I barely knew the man, but admired him greatly as a critic and a writer.

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You know what I was doing five months ago today? Pacing around my apartment getting read to push out a baby out of my body and into the world. SO CRAZY. Dunno if it will ever stop being such a crazy thing to me. The dawn of motherhood! Still so new and novel. I am fully relishing the cliches of it. And also when I catch Matt doing things like playing "Cosmic Slop" on the little rickety "vintage" Fischer Price xylophone, for William's entertainment, I think I am so lucky and and I relish that as well.

I went to see a show last night, for the first time since 2 days before I had the baby, the Austra/MNDR show at the Bottle. MNDR's Chicago audience is 50% Bears/Cubs. And not our local football/baseball teams. Though that would be amazing as well. The whole show was a super time; Noah put my juice in a special cup, it was perhaps a beer chalice, it felt like a real occasion. No one was really dancing. I think for dancing there either has to be almost no one there, or it has to be like covered-in-strangers-sweat packed. In between is weird. Austra is what Katie Stelmanis' band is called now. Both her and Maya have flowing shiny hair now. The rest of the girls had to stay back in Canadia this trip down, and so they were subbed by two dudes, including one guy who Matt K and I couldn't figure out if he was kind of like a reformed heshian dude who can play every instrument or American Apparel shift manager. He had a shaved-sides ponytail, the consummate return-to-the-nineties updo for men, which, when combined with the semi-sheer black tank top with the arm holes cut extra deep and too big black jeans--it's a total toss up between psuedo-Salem or a real "pro-gear, pro-attitude" band guy in his cool black stage clothes.

Here is last week's Gossip Wolf! and then The year end Top Ten we had to write as Gossip Wolf, which is made up. RIYL if you like stupid jokes about WLS news anchor Ron Magers and LCD Soundsystem.

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December 17, 2010


Several parties in the house are newly fascinated by the floor level mirror. Only one of them has a drooling problem.

William is 4.5 months old and is the size of and 8 month old says his doctor and has just outgrown the up-to-a-year carseat, weighing in at 20 lbs. Our baby is a little giant. Who knew, a shrimp like me would produce such a mega-meatloaf? He is still yelling hi, and he rolls and he scoots and sleeps through the night and laughs at himself when he has the hiccups and we are sooo in love with him.

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December 16, 2010


It's been a banner week in my dreamlife and Matt will not let me live it down. The unfortunate dream, born of too much Top Chef (no such thing!), centered on my relationship on convenience with chef/judge Tom Colicchio. We were on a Top Chef All-Stars tour, and really, it was just one of those tour things. It would be one thing if it was just a regular bizarre celebrity sex dream, but we had a relationship, complete with awkward hand holding. It was on the DL. The rest of the time I was just skateboarding with the punk chefs. I should have never told Matt of this.

I do not know if this is better or worse than the dream night before last where the house on the corner over went derelict and the crackheads that took it over kept letting a polar bear out onto the roof. And we'd be out walking the baby, or looking from our stoop with binoculars and I would say to Matt "Call 911. Those crackheads let their bear get out again."

And in reality, I am totally that lady that calls the cops on your roof bear.

And, in great revelatory goodness inside the internet style: ON THE BRO'D. Pitch perfect. Kerouac as contemporary bro. And the irony or perhaps just the magic for me is that is what that book reads like to me. It's more like a decoding than a joke.

It is year end critics top ten time. People say oh, these lists, it's so arbitrary and it's really just about what got promoted to whom, blah blah, which is totally true. I feel like doing a top ten for the year, personally, is kind of funny because I listened to so much less music than ever--being pregnant my tastes got very particular (only pretty stuff)--and then since, given how much of my time is ruled by the 2 foot tall infant man in the penguin jammies--my listening time has lessened substantially. It made that time super valuable. So my list is perhaps more exact than ever, and also from a smaller pool. I will be picking a top ten from the 36 albums I managed to listen to all the way through this year. Which felt better than trying to be super up on everything everything so you can have an opinion about the pop album and so you can be first on whatever is the chillwave of tomorrow. All I care about is female Canadian hardcore bands and pretty singing and European derivations of Detroit techno. I refuse to front otherwise and I don't care about Kanye or Arcade Fore. The end. There is my top ten. It's Robyn and disc one of Joanna Newsom and Mountain Man and Nu Sensae. It's top 4. With Elvis Costello's Get Happy thrown in, for the 17th year in a row.

Meanwhile. Aerosmith's "Janies Got a Gun" has been stuck in my head for almost five days, except sometimes Guy from Fugazi is singing it, which takes it from just being good into being brilliant. Don't pretend like you too did not own Aerosmith's Pump on cassette. I listened to it on the bus every day in sixth grade. I only really liked one side though. I was thinking about Aerosmith because I keep reading (bios, interviews, reviews) about young, new bands that are really "influenced by the nineties", really into the music of nineties. Only someone who was 4 in in 1993 could think the nineties were all grunge cool. If your band was heavily influenced by the nineties, you would sound like a cross between The Bodyguard soundtrack and Aerosmith and Korn or Moby and Candlebox. You would not sound like surfy Nirvana. Also, after seeing that phone vid of Miley Cyrus doing bonghits while listening to Nirvana, I think it's official that Nirvana are the Doors of now. It's a bummer but true. We thought grunge was cool! And now it's all reanimated Robby Krieger fronted reunion fusion bands being worshipped by salvia smoking Disney princess on the road to righteous ruin!

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December 13, 2010


Here's some cute stuff. Neon blue mocs. Kind of expensive for what are essentially booties. But maybe you are someone who likes your booties new and bright and tribal, and money is something you roll in. Also, I know it looks like an overstyled catalog, or perhaps like a a rainbow Etsy-splosion, BUT! the inspirational cottagey bedroom of these Danish daughters (at least I think that is the deal) is kind of my future dream in a photo spread. I want to make those built in bunk-beds and also more children to occupy them. And also have the time to put vintage 70's euro-bright wallpaper into shelving nooks. And here is the rest of the cottage that is not the children's room or adorable reading zone. I like to look at decorating/house tour blogs and dream of what our future home will look like, but it's hard to find ones that aren't a. totally Selby'd out--you know, the animal bone ephemera, mid century leather couches, coffee tables with neat piles of $200 art books. b. fancy childless Manhattan condos with long curtains. There is apartment therapy but there is a lot of Ikea going on there. I mostly just want to totally gonzo shit that is old and wooden and you can see evidence of handicraft and resourcefulness and also evidence of the children that live there. Magic houses that I want to imagine living in, not a modernist museum or ode to animal skulls.

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December 09, 2010


My gift guide for the Reader pt. 2--speaker logs, special deer brown shoes, tent camping, frenchy shizz, and stuff for the beardos and shavers.

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December 07, 2010

December 06, 2010


Part one of the Gift Guide I did for the Chicago Reader.

And in other news, I put the baby in his bath without taking his socks off. Sometimes motherhood is a bit of a shitshow.

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December 05, 2010

December 04, 2010

December 02, 2010


Extended nature metaphor and a heavy pre-Stevie Fleetwood Mac vibe make this Lake song a winner.

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I love this love/hate Top Chef blog. I have a tiny bit of a Top Chef watching problem. I like to pretend it's moderately educational, so I don't feel so grodey being weirdly obsessed with it.

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December 01, 2010


"Reinhold Messner receives a fairly unusual massage and talks about the dangers of the Hidden Peak"


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From a long but well written bit about what it feels like to be really into one great Mekons song from 1978--the sounds and the feelings and why it matters to her, by Alexa Weinstein: "The voice is tight, half-yelling, and rangy. This guy sounds hurt, pissed, wide open, and entirely desperate. You start out thinking he’s singing to his girlfriend after she’s stood him up or cheated on him or left him, but by the end, you strongly suspect that this entire relationship exists only in his head. He’s singing to a woman he’s only seen across the bar. His longing is so naked that it has him angrily demanding love and marriage from a complete stranger, and already being surprised and hurt that he’s not going to get it. It’s sick and alarming, but so raw and honest that you have to admit it’s kind of beautiful.

Okay, so maybe this is what happens. Maybe the restlessness starts out on the drums, but when they’re about to settle into the verse beat, it jumps. Sensing the coming resolution in the music, and not yet satisfied, it takes a blind, flying leap and lands in the singer’s mouth. So that after that, even though the music has hit the triumphant crescendo where its two strains are reunited into one whole thing, there are still two unresolved strains, because the tension now exists between the voice and the music. You never start needing to hear a second part, because in this part, you get everything—a tense chemistry between the drums and the music, and then between the voice and the music, and the musical crescendo where the beauty and restlessness find a perfect balance—all at the same time. The consonance and the dissonance and the return to harmony, the setup and the conflict and the resolution, the beginning and the middle and the end. It’s all simultaneous. In a parallel universe close to ours, it is a six-minute song; you’re just hearing both halves at the same time. The simple structure is the only thing that could possibly have worked. This is how the one verse manages to carry you through the whole roller coaster, and you never wish for it to do anything else but start over at the end."

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