Friday, May 30, 2008

Stay Positive, People.

Just heard the new single.

I can't hardly wait. I can't wait.

Here it here. Hear it hear. Hear it here. (Be alert that the music starts automatically.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

This is Hardly Fair

I wrote this earlier today and I thought I would share it with you on the blog.

Does Lin Brehmer know what’s going on in my life?

I took Mom and Dad and TM to O’Hare this morning. It was obviously mixed emotions, but trying to let “happy for them” win out over “sad and lonely.” I got in the car, drove out of the airport onto I-190. The song playing was the new Counting Crows, “You Can’t Count On Me.” Lin Brehmer informs me that this is 93XRT, he’s Lin Brehmer and it is great to be alive, all of which I already knew (especially on Fridays). And then I hear a line I’ve heard a million times in my life: “I am a golden god!” It is of course Russell Hammond, guitarist for Stillwater, on a rooftop of some kid’s house* in Topeka, Kansas.

For some reason, I immediately think of a story Cameron Crowe once told about watching a screening with the members of Led Zeppelin. He was understandably a little nervous, since his time observing them (and Black Sabbath, and the Allman Brothers) was fodder for creating William Miller’s adventures.

And (if I remember the story) they get to the scene where the band gets the draft version of William’s article for Rolling Stone. They are standing around outside the tour bus, the bassist sprawled on a bench, as they absorb the story. Russell shakes his head and says, “I never said ‘I am a golden god!’” And in the audience, Robert Plant blurts out: “Yeah, but I did!!”

But that anecdote didn’t have a lot of time to bounce around in my head, cause then I hear: the opening of “Tiny Dancer.” Aaargh. I’ve been through a real rollercoaster the past couple weeks. First there was Pablo’s wife. Then I found out that Sheryl Govedarica, a woman I knew from Crain’s and later at St. Alphonsus, had died of a brain aneurysm in 2006 (after I left Chicago, while I was living in NYC). And there is uncertainty at work, and watching TM get ready for her trip. And last night, making (and then listening to) a mix tape I made for her**. And taking everyone and their stuff to the airport. And saying goodbye. And driving home, and now hearing “Tiny Dancer.”

So I cranked it and listened. And as I often do, I started singing only when the bass player comes in at “handing tickets out for God.” I’ve always liked that he starts it, the quiet guy, the steady rhythm guy, starts the singing. As Russell and Jeff Bebe fight to be the leader of the band, it’s the bass player who leads them in song. Bebe shoots the bassist a sideways glance that says, “That was a great idea—I wish I’d thought of it.” (Also, I always enjoyed taking that vocal lead during our many singalongs and viewings at 3614.)

So I sing the line, and I think I hear a third voice besides me and Elton John. So I drop out and listen and on “turning back, she just laughs,” I hear more voices and I think, Holy Shit, this is the version with the “Almost Famous” lines mixed in. And sure enough, I hear the audio from the movie .... the bus whirring and shifting gears. Instead of going into the pre-chorus (“oh how it feels so real…”) the song launches into the big chorus with the whole bus. And then:

Bus: Hold me closer, tiny dancer!
William: I have to go home.
Bus: Count the headlights on the highway…
Penny (waves her hand in front of his face): You Are Home.

And the song resumes the rest of its length, with the swells of strings, and the pre-chorus (2nd time normally, first in this version) and the outro.

Lin Brehmer’s voice comes back on and tells me that was XRT’s special “Almost Famous” remix. I did not know that is what it was called. If I wasn’t so numb this morning, I probably would have gotten weepy. Even so I’m a little heavy-eyed feeling writing this now.

Gaah. This is why I love XRT. I don’t think any other radio station in the world could’ve done that for me (or to me) at that very moment.

--MPF 5/23/08, Chgo.

You can watch this cool trailer, with clips that didn't make it into the final edit.

* Aaron.
** If you have a loved one going on a trip without you, l will give you a copy. It’s good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cats Gone Wild!

You may have heard about this story involving a wild cougar in the city of Chicago. Regular readers know that we have a wild cat of our own at La Casa Ferreter.

Speaking of cats...

Recently I joined my family for an enjoyable stroll through the Lincoln Park Zoo on Chicago's North side. I've always liked the Lincoln Park Zoo because it is free to the public and because they have lots of big cats.

It is no secret that I love cats.

Especially tigers.

Personally, I'm partial to Bengal tigers.

A tiger at the Licoln Park Zoo

But a good Siberian or Detroit Tiger ain't too bad either.

My love for Detroit Tigers began at a young age.

Something that has always fascinated me about wild and domesticated cats is that their characteristics are so similar. Now, I've been to the Field Museum. I know that they are all related. But it is still intersting (to me at least) to see it first hand.

This was never more apparent than at LPZ a few weeks ago.

For example, afternoon siesta...

... and afternoon siesta.

Sitting proud and tall....

... and sitting proud and tall.

Unfortunaly this is a very unscientific study. I do not own a tiger (or a lion or a leapard).

But I do own a Quigley.

And quite frankly I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2008 Chicago Street Festivals

It's here!

I'm not talking about summer, although that's technically coming in a month or so. No man, I'm talking about festival season. Chicago residents get through the winter by thinking about the great summers here: the lakeshore, the Cubs, and especially the street festivals.

My readers in New York unfortunately have no idea what a street festival should really be. It should NOT be mozzarepas, tube socks vendors, and the same tourist T-shirts every 15 feet for block after block of Broadway.

Not a real street festival. (But it is a real picture from an NY street fest.)

A real street fest has live music...usually more than one stage. It has great food...meat on a stick, smoothies, pizza or deep fried Snickers. It has cell phone companies and radio stations giving away chip clips, Post-It notes, frisbees and other cool free stuff. It usually costs $5 or so to get in cause it's worth attending. And, it has beer.

As a public service to the people of Chicago*, I've put together the definitive** list of festivals to attend in summer 2008.

Now, a few comments and disclaimers. One: This list has a North Side bias. The official City of Chicago website lists twice as many festivals as I have here. But let's face it: you probably aren't going to Fiesta Back of the Yards on 47th Street, and if you are, God bless ya, you can find that information on your own.

In reality, you're going to go to the same festivals I am--the ones on the North Side you can either walk to, el to, or cab to. You'll have a beer or two at these festivals and you won't want to drive.

THIS is what a real street festival looks like.

Two: I do not guarantee any of the information here. It was collected in early May, and a lot can change between now and festival time. Check the website to see if they've changed the band lineup or the cover.

Three: It's been five years in most cases since I went to any of these festivals. I think I know which one will be great (Ribfest, Taste), which ones will be insanely crowded (Lincoln Ave, Taste), which ones will have the best people watching (Randolph, Hideout), and so on. But I just don't know. So ... "Caveat Festor" ... let the festivalgoer beware.

This too, is a real street fest.

To download a copy, go here:'s 2008 Festival List. Also, You can view a version here if you just want to view on screen or print.

The festivals start this weekend with Mayfest. Get out there and enjoy!

* who live near me.
** who think like me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Say a prayer for my friend and classmate Pablo, whose wife Julieta died on Wednesday. They have two kids, age 6 and 3.

Carrie, who sent out the email to everyone, wrote:

"Julie suffered from an aggressive brain tumor which she fought for the last 18 months with surgeries, chemo and experimental treatments. She was brave and beautiful and strong. And she was so sharp - she actually decided to go for her MBA after Pablo graduated and had already started classes in fall of ‘06 when she was diagnosed."

You can read the newspaper obituary here.

When words fail, I turn to music. Click here and here to download or listen to two songs by Alejandro Escovedo, whose family came to the US from Mexico (like Pablo and Julie).

We'll be at the funeral Monday. Please keep Pablo, Paula and Mateo in your thoughts.