Sorry, We're Closed

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Last-Minute Gift Suggestions

Are you still looking for a cool, special gift for someone?

I have some ideas, provided courtesy of some really talented people I'm lucky to know.

All India Radio, one of the really interesting new international bands on the local Minty Fresh label, are an incredibly cool two-piece group from Britain. I love their CD Echo Other; it's a combination of ambient chill music, twangy Duane Eddy guitar, atmospheric echoes and drones that remind me of Seefeel, and some simple funky beats. What a wonderful and unique-sounding record.

I heartily enjoy and recommend Lou Carlozo's new Stick Figure Soul CD, released just a couple of weeks ago. Full of gutsy, chunky but jangly pop-rock songs with terrific melodies, it's a special record conceived and made right here in Chicago. Listening to these songs I remember why "mainstream pop" hasn't always been a bad word. The Who, Tom Petty, and REM used to do great records that got on the radio. The way to get Lou's record is from him--he'll send it immediately. Email him at

Marty McCormack and Brian Fitzgerald are Switchback. They've released a decade's worth of CDs, in different folk-informed styles (country, gospel, conceptual political folk/pop, straight Celtic) working in their bluegrass and rockabilly influences. They travel all over the world, doing around 200 shows a year, and their ability to write songs both to please audiences and express what's really in their hearts, has buoyed their artistry. Falling Water River, which concerns the war in Iraq from the viewpoint of Soldier William Henry--is an empathetic, beautiful, loving record that has made me cry.

Florence Yoo I've written about before. She makes the most charming, witty, way non-cornball girl-folk-pop you could ever ask for. She has two CDs, both of which I really love to listen to. Further exposition from ME is unnecessary--she can beguile you herself.

James Finn Garner , with whom I collaborate on the Bardball website, s one of the funniest people I have ever met, and his newest book Recut Madness: Favorite Movies Retold for Your Partisan Pleasure, re-imagines the great films as if they were being done either a "blue" or "red" audience. Tis a hoot. Or you could always go for his fab best seller Politically Incorrect Bedtime Stories. All his work makes me laugh--and think.

And may I humbly offer a suggestion of Rob Rodriguez and my collaboration, Fab Four FAQ? It's the perfect gift for the Beatles fan--new or seasoned--in your life.


Our friends Gigi and Clar at Wonderwall Emporium run the most psychedelic, welcoming store in the Chicago area. They offer Indian instruments, jewelry, music lessons, hand-painted tambourines, CDs, incense, Beatles music and memorabilia, and ukeleles, to name not everything, and they are two sweet people with an ultra-good vibe. Please visit them if you're in the area...or online.

Celia Greiner is an artist who works with wood. She does lovely, funny, vibrant, sensual work. Cecilia and I are proud to have her work in our house, and she's a great person who is as much a total artist as anyone we've ever met.

Everyone above and I appreciate your interest...for being so fab, I'll leave you with music. This is a lovely winter song by The Cyrkle called "I Wish You Could Be Here." And for those of you I haven't seen in way too long, I do.

Peace, love, and thanks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Winter indeed

It is a tough thing, to make something out of this life before you die.

A prayer from the Isha Upanishad reads, "Let not the thread of my song be cut while I sing. And let not my work end before its fulfillment."

It is these words I turn to when I struggle with the life of writing. When I can't find anyone who believes in what I want to write, what I need to write...when I can't break through to the next level, when I feel that I'll be struggling forever. When I don't have the heart for the struggle itself or the vision to see a light in the distance.

It is these moments in which I wonder how much strength I truly possess. It would be very easy for me now to withdraw entirely, to sleep--to die a little--especially in this time of year when sickness, darkness, and death visit us so often.

Two friends are about to lose parents. I cannot give them the compassion they need and deserve. I am stuck in my own hell, this spiral that gets worse the more you think about it and the more it pulls you in, the faster you go down.

I have support. I have family. I have friends. I have my health. But the mind and the heart are their own beings, and they undercut everything else whenever they wish.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Very Idea Boggles the Mind

Bowie Kuhn and Walter O'Malley have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame....but there's no room for Marvin Miller.

If the HOF wasn't a sick joke before...