Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Love, Americana Style

Anyone who knows me knows that I hate waiting. I consider myself a fairly patient person, but this doesn't mean that I'm not also secretly plotting your demise if you're taking too long in the self checkout at Jewel. But waiting, of course, is pretty much a given when you're traveling which is what I did for most of my Memorial Day weekend. The flight from O'Hare to LAX is a little over four hours which allowed me to put a serious dent in Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union - a little clunky at the outset, but it picks up the pace - and gain new insight into the secret world of the airline crew. Brian's given me all sorts of crazy/wonderful insights into modern air travel, like how the crew only gets paid once the cabin doors are closed. This explains why, if you have the pleasure of flying with an evil pilot, you'll be waiting on the tarmac for the rest of your natural born life. Then again, sometimes it's the airport's fault, and not the pilot's, so I'll try not to hate too much.

On my flight back I had this annoying flight attendant who liked to put her own unique spin on the announcements, and who woke me from my golden slumbers by gently massaging my deltoid. I was more than a little skeeved out by this and wondered if they'd soon be instituting happy endings in lieu of bags of pretzels. Or maybe they'll just charge five bucks for the service like they do for drinks... that would be interesting. But I'm not tipping.

So I got to LA in one piece and spent a rainy and cold Friday exploring my hometown's new outdoor shopping extravaganza
The Americana at Brand
. For those of you who don't know, The Americana is The Grove lite, and for those of you who've never heard of The Grove, well, here's a NY Times article that was written about it a few weeks ago. It's basically this batshit crazy outdoor mall that is part Disneyland, part high-end retailer, with a little bit of trashy consumer thrown in to boot. The Americana ups the ante by making the space mixed-use, so you can actually live on-site, or as I like to call it, Dante's sixth circle of hell.

The Americana also sits directly adjacent from one of my favorite childhood haunts, The Glendale Galleria. The Galleria is your standard behemoth of a mall except that it is entirely made of dark brown bricks, has no windows, and thus looks like a brutalist's wet dream.

Back at The Americana the inclusion of a Forever 21 and The Cheesecake Factory pretty much ensured my descent into madness, but all hope was not lost since it also has a Martin + Osa, my new favorite store for WASPy threads. And since I didn't think that spending my day walking through a visual metaphor for cultural bankruptcy was enough, I then decided to eat lunch at Pinkberry. Frankly, I don't get what all the fuss is about. It tastes like yogurt, but is not, and it tastes like standard frozen yogurt, but is not. I'd rather have real yogurt, or better yet, real fucking ice cream any day. God, I can already see the Trixies lining up around the block for this. Watch out Chicago.

Saturday was occupied by my real reason for venturing out to LA: Mike and Silvia's wedding.

What can I say? It was big, it was Catholic, it was two hours long. The bride wore white, the groom wore converse... I shit you not:

Honestly, though, it was really beautiful and I got way more emotional about it than I thought I would, as in, I almost started bawling when Silvia walked down the aisle, she just looked so beautiful and happy and Mike was just... beaming. Thanks to 27 Dresses - don't knock it til you tried it - I now know to look at the groom when the bride is walking down the aisle. This, truly, is the single most satisfying moment of any wedding.

Thank god I didn't dissolve into a big slobbery heap of crying hot mess though since I was doing my best Cary Grant by way of Jill Sander:

I wore this suit to a wedding two years ago and the only photographic evidence of that blessed event is now sitting in some shoebox at my ex-boyfriend's mother's house. I really like this suit and so that fact that I didn't have a picture of it really chapped my ass. This is also why I have a shit-eating grin on my face in this picture: I now have a personal record of the faux Jill Sander suit that I paid not even a tenth of the price for.

The weekend also saw Bonnie and myself going to watch Indiana Jones at the Archlight - bad idea, FYI - but no matter how bad the movie is, the Arclight inevitably makes up for it (see: Finding Neverland, Sweeney Todd, Rent).

There's more to the story - like how I forgot to charge my camera's battery and had to resort to a medieval hand-crank kodak - but I'll continue once I get the photos back from the developer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

L.A. Story

In a few short hours I'll be off to visit the family in California and attend my friend Mike's wedding. Here's to hoping that I won't be forced to do the chicken dance, and also that the above doesn't happen. Oh 1994, you were a guileless mistress...

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Totally Righteous Crap

Last night I helped Brian move into his new apartment... AT 10:30 PM... which would've been really bad had it not been the easiest move in the history of all easy moves. He asked me the other day if I had a lot of stuff when I moved to Chicago, to which I replied no, but when I saw his Chevy Astrovan not even 3/4ths of the way full, I knew that I was both a packrat and a liar.

We finished up sometime around 11:30 and then headed over to the bodega around the corner from his house for some sundries. It was at this point that I was longing to seriously downsize my possessions and also to move to some place like Logan Square where you can actually find a bodega right around the corner. I think I've gotten better about not holding on to the past with each move I've made - so far three in Chicago alone - and that means getting rid of useless crap that I'll never look at/want in a million years. Don't get me wrong, it was really nice to have the majority of the necessities for living when I first moved to Chicago, but I definitely had too much. When Bonnie and I moved out of our childhood home, we basically split up all of our parents' possessions 50/50. Granted, she took a few more items since she was living in her own apartment, but all the photographs, and clothes, and school papers, and report cards, and papers/receipts for days were divided up between us and I eventually trucked my share some 2,000 miles to Chicago.

I'd say that Bonnie has always been the more sentimental of the two of us, but oddly enough it was me that unwilling to part with most of my mom's things after she died. Especially her clothes. Chalk it up to being a homo or whatever, but I just didn't think we should be getting rid of something that was, to me, so definitively a part of my mom. Also, they smelled like her, at least at first, and that was an enormous comfort. Bonnie humored me and for the time being, let the clothes stay.

If only I could keep my desk looking like this.

Cut to a couple of years later and I'm visiting from Chicago or something and Bonnie's forcing me to go through the stuff that obviously needs to be thrown out and/or given away. The clothes no longer smell like mom or home or any variation thereof. They now smell like some amalgamation of dust and depression and holding on to the past. I still have one of my mother's cardigans that she used to wear all the time when it got cold around the house - finally, the truth comes out about why I love cardigans so GD much! - but everything else went to Goodwill. The papers, I will say, were really easy to get rid of. Mom was nothing if not meticulous about keeping receipts from every transaction she ever completed between 1970 and 2000. I, however, do not share the same predilection for inventory since I am wont to refuse receipts forced upon me by cashiers the world over. This is also why I did not get the VAT refund when I visited Europe.

Then, about five or six years ago I saw this episode of MTV's Cribs - back when it didn't only feature rappers showing off their gold-plated latrines - featuring this music video director who used to do a lot of work for Christina Aguillera and the like. The guy was ridiculously wealthy by music video director standards, but when you saw his house there was virtually nothing in it and it wasn't just some Apartment Therapy style slight of hand where a bed converted into a stove top, and a desk also doubled as a shower/urinal... buddy literally had like next to no items in his house. I was in awe when I saw that place, even though I don't think I could ever live like that, but it did make me realize that I'd like to simplify things a little bit.

So at the end of the day I know I don't need that t-shirt in three different colors, or that cumbersome salad spinner that I'm never going to use. I like books, but are ones that I only love moderately worthy of taking up all my psychic and physical space? If I ever have children, may I never burden them with a lifetime of emotionally-loaded crap that they feel guilty about throwing out... if I ever have children, may the only thing they struggle with is whether to sell or keep my totally righteous collection of fine art prints... but hopefully they'll be real art pieces by the time I manage to spawn.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brillo Padding My Stomach Into Oblivion

Do their tummies hurt, or is it just the movie?

I write this just as I'm emerging from the haze that's been hanging over me all day long. Said haze can be directly attributed to Monday morning's fiasco wherein I woke up to get ready for work, started taking a shower, and then decided I had to get out of the shower post haste because I had to vomit up a wicked little mixture of Italian ice and some not-yet-fully-digested greens from Sunday. Since I'd called in sick the previous Monday and since I'm going to be out on vacation this Friday, I was feeling pretty shitty about calling out yet again for work. Luckily, my better judgement prevailed and I did call in sick. I then spent the remainder of Monday alternating between sleeping, shivering, sweating, and watching shit television like Yes, Dear and Just Shoot Me. These shows are remarkable to me because A. they were the least offensive offerings out of all the daytime television served up by Comcast, B. I, once upon a time, watched and LIKED Just Shoot Me, and C. shows like these actually make me long for the sweet relief of work.

My stomach is still in upheaval as of today, but I'm trying to be nice to it this time instead of beating it into submission like I normally do. Whenever I get the flu, I'm usually of the opinion that any residual aches and pains are just my stomach's way of wimping out - like the asthmatic kid who gets out of P.E. for not being able to breathe or whatever - and so I always make sure that after the first day of gut-wrenching bubonic-like symptoms, I force myself to resume a normal diet. Well, I tried that last night, sort of, when I made myself a rice bowl minus the rice and plus lots of meat - a "meat bowl" if you will - and watched Juno which I got from Redbox... for free might I add. Needless to say, my stomach was none too pleased with me, but I couldn't really discern if the pains ricocheting along the length of my lower intestine were caused the meat bowl or by a lethal dosage of Ellen Page and Michael Cera - Jennifer Garner, let it be known, was one of the few bright spots in this painful, painful movie.

Today has been all about Italian Wedding soup, minus the meatballs, from Au Bon Pain which I paid too much for, but which I bought in hopes that it wouldn't completely Brillo pad my stomach into oblivion. So far, so good.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Week That Was

Oh, Hai There!

My how time flies when you're not blogging. I haven't posted in a week and I think that's the longest I've gone without doing so ever since I started this personal experiment / exercise in self-wankery way back in January. Last week was l-o-n-g as in I thought I might atrophy at work and I was trying desperately not to get sick. My coworker let me in on her stash of Zicam which she should've never introduced me to since I will now add it to my arsenal of over the counter snake oils that do nothing, but which make me think that I can bend God's will.

I staved off the head cold from hell for the most part, but I'm sure my copious consumption of alcohol mixed with no sleep and a Kills concert on Friday didn't really help the situation much. Whatevs, I'm feeling better now and am ready to take on the next concert life throws at me. Or not since I've gone into concert rehab and don't plan on coming out for a while. The reason is twofold: I would like to not blow my retirement on ticketmaster fees and I am officially too old for concerts.

Sure that's an exaggeration, but what I definitely am is no longer willing to put up with all the bullshit that comes along with attending a concert. This was proven to me last Wednesday when Brian, Jason, and I went to see Cut Copy at Abbey Pub where I was assaulted with a torrent of painfully drunk girls who just wanted to dance... and bump into me repeatedly with their giant douchey purses.


There were also a smattering of jag-offs in backwards baseball caps who were for the most part inert, but who managed to raise my ire nonetheless.

I was pretty pissed when we left since I had to school two separate ladies on the importance of not being annoying, and when we left there wasn't a cab in sight. I know I was being a giant bitchface - I have since apologized to both Jason and Brian for my behavior during our cab-seeking Odyssey - but it was 1:30 am and I had to work the next day. I know, my own fault, but when baby's tired and done, baby is tired and done.

Friday saw a much rosier John take on the world of concerts once again with The Kills at Metro.

Before the show Brian, Leah, and I all had a great - albeit slow - dinner at Jai Yen on Broadway and then headed over just as The Kills were coming on. Everything was so different this time, and I can't just attribute it to being the weekend or my attitude changing or whatever; the crowd was older, the venue was larger, The Kills killed it... oh I went there.

Saturday was spent looking at expensive mid-century furniture that I covet, but can't afford and later Brian and I capped the evening off with some Garlic Shitake Brown Rice Pilaf - or some such nonsense - that I made from scratch. We also had salmon which I kind of fibbed on since I let Trader Joe's do all the work for me by marinating it for me. And P.S., who knew cooking rice pilaf was so f-ing hard?

Finally, Sunday was, well, sunday. It was totally monsoon-ing outside and so I stayed in and attempted not to think about how this is the seventh Mother's Day I have not spent with my mother. Let's not even get started about how in just a few short days (the 17th) it will have been eight years since she died. I know, buzz kill, but I seem to be thinking more about these anniversaries this year since my roommate's friend just had her mother pass away, and currently my good friend's father is sick at home. From what I hear, everyone knows what's coming and the prospects aren't good.

It's difficult to wrap my head around the topic of dead parents since I feel like I should have some sage advice or something for people who are facing losing a parent, but when the time comes, I never do. It always comes down to the same old catch-all: I'm so sorry, which is true, but doesn't really get you anywhere. Regardless, it needs to be said.

I think the fact of the matter is that if you're in your twenties (or your teens) and you still haven't figured out who you are, losing a parent is going to make it all the more difficult to sort out your own psyche. So I guess if I have one piece of advice for anyone going through this - not to get too preachy - it's that you really have to surround yourself with quality people at a time like this. I know I was lucky enough to have a terribly supportive extended family who took my sister and I under their wing, but I look back and think about how a lot of the bullshit friends I had in high school just sort of fell to the wayside when my mom died. I can't blame them really because what self-absorbed high schooler is ever going to be equipped to deal with a friend's parent's death when you've got things like prom and grad night to think about? That might sound sort of shitty and/or bitter, but I think it's also pretty accurate.

So, digression aside, Sunday I watched a bunch of movies including: The Manchurian Candidate - about a crazy mother -, The First Wives Club - about two crazy mothers and Goldie Hawn mothering a bottle of vodka, and Death Becomes Her - about a couple of dead chicks. Do you see a theme here, because I don't.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Showin' Out

This is Piper Perabo at last night's Costume Institute Gala at the Met. And yes, this is the same Piper Perabo who just a few short years ago was wistfully writing songs on the roof of her Chinatown tenement in what I like to call that movie with Tyra Banks and the really hot Australian actor who never went on to do anything, or as others might know it Coyote Ugly:

Now, I realize we all go through stages in our lives and reinvention is the name of the game in Hollywood / Celebrity Clusterfucksville, but when did reinventing yourself as a man in drag become a viable option? That lipstick gives her a mustache for christ's sake! And, okay, so it's sort of vampy and retro and possibly more interesting / event-appropriate than 90% of the dresses showcased last night, but I don't get what superhero she's summoning with this look. Her hair and lips lead me to believe that possibly she's going for a Tim Curry in Legend reference, but that would be in-fucking-sane, right?


Speaking of Legend, Tom Cruise was there last night and looked not awful, but did decide to do some tone-on-tone-age which irritates the living shit out of me anytime I see it outside of an editorial spread.

Might I remind you that the last time that look was acceptable was when Regis Philbin hosted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and even back then it was highly suspect:

Thank god Katie saved the day (all puns intended) with her awesome dress that I think hit the perfect note between being wearable and getting the superhero theme across. She seems to be going for a Wonder Woman nod here, but in an awe-inspiringly subtle way:

Red, white, and blue color scheme? Check. Gold cuffs? Check. Magic lasso looped around neck? Check, check!

Bravo, Katie. I love you a little more each and everyday. Even if you do cheat at marathons.

And lest I forget Rachel Bilson... oh, dear sweet Rachel Bilson.

I'm crying inside a little bit for her right now. So many things went wrong here that I'd be hard pressed to identify her Achilles' heel... oh, wait, might it be that this godawful dress makes her look about twice as wide as she is tall. That's some powerful eye-trickery going on there; I feel like it's 1993 and I'm staring into the depths of a Stereogram or something. And the BANGS. Oh God the BANGS!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Love You Chip Kidd

Chip Kidd never ceases to amaze me... I will be him in another life.

And, uh, Martin Amis isn't too shabby either.

From Publisher's Weekly:
The title is incendiary at best, whereas the subtitle is superior in that it is crass and intriguing; we're glad all the type on the front cover is left the same size. We're also amazed that it was set in white on a light background, at such a small size; a credit to the publisher and the author for allowing the bold, black shapes do all the talking. Their darkening of the sky is an interesting double-play, and only a master craftsman such as Chip Kidd would do such a perfectly subtle job of leaving just a smidgen of cloud in the corner to create texture and depth. Staring up to the sky also implies boredom; these towers are, at this point in time, just a sight for tourists, and we're watching the clouds slowly pass overhead.

This just made my to read list.

Style For Style

Hello Internet. In case you didn't know, today is Leah's birthday!

This photo was taken outside the Dior exhibit at the Chicago History Museum a little over a year ago. Isn't it amazing how young and fresh we all were back then? My how the last year has aged us.

Anyways, Happy Birthday baby!

Style for style,