Monday, March 31, 2008

From C Cup to Shining C Cup

The Midwest Independent Film Festival--an organization that screens independent films from Midwestern filmmakers here in Chicago--has a First Tuesday event every month at Landmark Century Theaters in Lincoln Park (2828 N. Clark). This month audiences will watch the award-winning documentary America the Beautiful. America tackles the oft-pondered question "Does America have an unhealthy obsession with beauty?" through interviews with celebrities, musicians, athletes, fashion designers, and pop culture insiders. Tomorrow's event also includes pre-screening events (a cocktail reception and screenplay readings to be exact) and a reception immediately following a Q&A with director Darryl Roberts.

General admission is $10 and you can order advance tickets online here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


On April 1, Project Runway -- the hit Bravo reality TV program pitting aspiring fashion designers against each other under host Heidi Klum and mentor Tim Gunn's watchful gaze -- will be in Chicago casting for Season 5 at the W Hotel Lakeshore (644 N. Lake Shore Drive). If I weren't working that day, I would go down there and recruit designers to make me a frock out of their hopes and dreams as part of their audition.

If you want to volunteer for the day (there are two shifts, 9-1:30 pm and 1:30-6 pm), contact Chance Woodward of Gen Art at Who knows? Maybe you'll have a brush with the next Christian Siriano (Season 4 winner).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekend Guide, 3/28-3/30

(Editor's Note: stupid internet was acting up, effectively ending the daily streak I had going.)

I made a cardinal mistake as a Chicagoan with my first post. I mentioned the S-word. And as soon as that word was uttered, Winter came through and ruined it for everyone, being the jealous B-word that it is. Wednesday's brisk sunny day was trounced by yesterday's fat snowflakes, gray skies, and all around blustery weather.

Even though Winter is pushing it's limit, there are still things to look forward to this weekend. And lucky for you, I've compiled a list for your perusal as you pull back on the layers and down jackets and silently curse Winter for showing it's ugly mug right as we got excited for... you know who.


Critical Mass March Run...

(This picture was obviously taken during warmer days...)
One of the trippiest experiences I've had in Chicago involved being in the back of a van after a long night of carousing in Wicker Park. I looked outside to find, to my shock and confusion, the van surrounded by hundreds of bicyclists pedaling through the streets.

The bicycling tradition of Critical Mass continues today at 5:30pm at Daley Plaza (55 W. Randolph). Bike enthusiasts gather in the hopes of making the streets of Chicago a little more biker friendly for one night.


With a touch of Project Runway fashion ingenuity and DIY ethos, Saturday's Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a treat for those looking to revamp their warddrobe without spending a lot of money. Bring a suggested donation of $20 ($10 for seniors and students) and a bag of clothes in good condition to AV-aerie (2000 W. Fulton St) at 10am. Read here for more on how a Swap-O-Rama-Rama works.

Collaboraction's Carnaval...

This poster pretty much covers all bases. Partying the night away in an 120-year old Gothic church (The Epiphany Episcopal Church, 201 S. Ashland) with immersive art, music, contests, raffles, interesting company, and unlimited drinks to sate your senses.

Sunday 3/30


The extremely talented Coppola family will have one of their own in Chicago Sunday night. Christopher Coppola, nephew to filmmaker and patriarch Francis Ford, will end his weeklong digital film competition with a public screening of contestants' work and an awards ceremony in the Ludington Building starting at 7pm (Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash), followed by an after party at Exclaibur Nightclub at 10:30 (632 N. Dearborn).

Known as PAH-FEST (PAH is short for Project Accessible Hollywood), the competition travels to cities across the United States "encourag[ing] visual storytelling, fosters civic engagement, and promotes the production of fictional and documentary videos." Participants are encouraged to use digital cameras, cell phones, video cameras, and computers to share their stories. Click here for more information on PAH-NATION.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My, How Modular!

One record label is quickly becoming synonymous with the creme de la creme of indie music. Chromeo, Klaxons, New Young Pony Club, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and other indie darlings all call Modular Records home. Tomorrow night the label continues conquering the Windy City with their latest "Modular Monthly" party at Sonotheque (1444 W. Chicago). Let Modular bring you one step closer to the weekend as Brooklyn electro-dance DJ duo Holy Ghost (of DFA Records) and DJs Bald Eagle, OneFiftyOne, and SR71 spin the night away.

9-2am, $7 when you RSVP, $10 at the door

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Shop CHICago

(Click image for larger)

GenArt is a nationwide arts and entertainment organization with a mission to showcase filmmakers, musicians, artists, and fashion designers as they dive into their respective industries. This Saturday, GenArt has their annual Shop Chicago event--billed as a "day long extravaganza of shopping, selling and pampering to benefit Gen Art’s Chicago Fashion Program."

Promote fashion while browsing the wares of over 80 accessory and clothing designers, free cocktails (a ring-a-ding-ding) as well as makeovers and consultations to help bring out the fashionista within. Or make you all the more fiercer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Q&A with...

Bill Allegrezza

Today's blog is a Q&A with Bill Allegrezza, an English lecturer at Indiana University Northwest. Allegrezza has organized a monthly experimental reading series at Hyde Park Art Center known simply as Series A (a nod to modernist poet Louis Zukofsky's major work "A"). Tommorrow, the Art Center and Allegrezza will welcome Gabe Gudding, Tony Trigillo, and Tony Barnstone for the March installment of the series. Read on for more about the origins of Series A and experimental writing in Chicago.

I Am Chicago: Why did you start this reading series?

Bill Allegrezza: I started the reading series primarily because I think Chicago needs more venues to showcase its talent. I also started the series because I believe that Chicago has become a hot spot for experimental/innovative writers to collect, so I wanted a space for them to be able to read their works. Part of the decision also involved trying to put innovative fiction writers and poets in the same room to read. Currently, most reading venues in the city are either one or the other, so the writing crowds often do not overlap.

IAC: Why do you feel Chicago "has become a hot spot for experimental/innovative writers to collect"?

BA: Between 2000-2007, many innovative poets moved to the city, and many reading venues opened, presses started, and e-zines flourished. At the same time, students of influential teachers like Paul Hoover and Michael Anania started creating work and establishing poetic communities. All of those things together created a buzz, which has helped expand the experimental/innovative community and has brought attention to it from around the country.

IAC: What is the selection process like? How did the readers who will be presenting tomorrow get to be a part of the series?

BA: I pick writers I think will match well together. My process is somewhat haphazard. I solicit writers occasionally. Sometimes they solicit me, especially if they are already coming through town on a book tour. Sometimes writers suggest writers they would like to hear. I only book writers if I know something about their works, and often I know quite a bit about the writers who are reading in the series.

The readers for this month were a mix of the above. Since I know their works, I'm very excited to hear them read.

IAC: How would you define experimental writing? What is its draw and appeal?

BA: I typically don't define experimental writing to avoid the argument about what it is. So many writers feel that their work is "experimental." I view the term more as a tradition. In poetry I would point to the line of writers that works its way from Pound through groups like the Black Mountain writers to the Language poets to the current Post-Avant trends. In fiction the tradition is different but also distinct. I would point to writers considered Postmodern and those following them in the non-linear tradition.

IAC: Do you have a similar reading series at Indiana University Northwest? Why have the reading series in Chicago? at the Art Center?

BA: I do not host a similar reading series at Indiana University Northwest, and I have it in Chicago primarily to focus on what is happening in the city and surrounding areas. I picked the South Side because there are not many major reading series there; plus, the Hyde Park Art Center is a wonderful space, full of art and energy, so I hope the reading series brings people there as well.

Series A featuring Gabe Gudding, Tony Trigillo, and Tony Barnstone will be at the Hyde Park Art Center's (5020 S. Cornell) 4833 Muller Meeting Room @ 7pm.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I Vant To Suck Your Blood

Or, just have you enjoy the latest buzz band Vampire Weekend.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


(Bring Your Own Pillow, that is. Camera phone photos of 2008 Pillow Fight Day in front of the Art Institute)

Today is International Pillow Fight Day. Chicago--along with 24 other cities around the world--had theirs on Michigan and Monroe outside of the Art Institute @ 2:00.

There is no reason to the mayhem that is International Pillow Fight Day according to its official website, but the Pillow Fight Club of Chicago explains its purpose as providing "savvy young urban adults an outlet for their aggressive emotions against pillows while simultaneously promoting relative discomfort and nonviolent chaos."

Despite the snow on the ground (come on, it's officially spring!), it's hard not to be happy and laugh when you see feathers flying in the air, people bopping each other with pillows, and smiles and looks of confusion on the faces of bystanders and pillow fighters alike.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pretty Hipsters

Voyeuristic to the max, I love the party photographer website. It's really an ethnographic study, friends. You get to bask in the pretentious and incredibly studied irony of hipsters across this great land of ours as they listen to music you've never heard of (gasp!), make out/show their boobies (double gasp!), and (wait for it) bring to mind the fashions and trends of Zach and the gang at ol' Bayside High/American Apparel's target audience (triple gasp!).

My favorites? Merlin Bronques infamous Last Night's Party...

...and Chicago's own Clayton Hauck at Everyone Is Famous. Sometimes normal folk slip in there. If you're lucky, you might see someone you know.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How Did I Miss This?

Columbia College, an art school located in the South Loop of Chicago, is at the tail end of their annual Story Week! In it's twelfth year, Story Week involves a number of writers, educators, and performers holding events in venues throughout Chicago. This year literary fans across the city had their pick of listening to readings from Junot Diaz ("the first Dominican-born man to become a major writer in the US" according to his bio), ZZ Packer, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and others as well as educational panels on publishing and writing. This evening's event sounds like its going to be a lot of fun (plus it's free and open to the public... what's not to love?):

Literary Rock & Roll

Readings by Junot Diaz, The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; ZZ Packer, from her novel-in-progress, The Thousands; Colin Channer, The Girl with the Golden Shoes; performance artist Hillary Carlip, author, A la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers. Music by Mucca Pazza, a 30-piece "circus punk" marching band. Book signings to follow; all ages welcome. Metro, 3830 N. Clark, Chicago

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"What Should I Blog About?"

"The Obama speech. Because everyone is blogging about it."

New York Times Transcript of Barack Obama's Speech on Race

YouTube Video

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Hot Tease...

The Center for International Performance and Exhibition--better know as Hot House to those who frequented the South Loop establishment--closed its doors last year after providing Chicagoans and international performers with a space for world music, dance, and other cultural events for over 20 years. I saw an AMAZING Les Nubians show there last spring before they closed their doors with little to no fanfare. I figured it had gone out the way of Pacific Missions, Buddy Guy Legends, and other businesses in that part of the South Loop: bought up by Columbia College or developers looking to cash in on the newfound attractiveness of the neighborhood. The organization promised to continue putting on events but no longer at their old address.

Now their sending out cryptic emails that look like this:

Guess who's back?!

stay tuned

In April, all of their events will be at the Viaduct Theater (3111 N. Western), billed as "a taste of things to come." Check out their calendar for something that might catch your interest.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do People Still Use Beepers?

Who cares? (Though my boyfriend suspects it's the next wave in hipster irony - you heard it here first.)

Chicago's juke-house rapper Kid Sister has a new video out for her single "Beeper." Enjoy!

"Beeper" - The Count & Sinden ft Kid Sister from joseph monish on Vimeo.

And watch her "Pro Nails" video featuring Kanye West that brought her out of the sweat and furious dancing of Chicago clubs to the TVs and iPods of the masses.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Who's the Hottest In The World Right Now?"

Estelle Swaray, a British singer, rapper, and songwriter, will be releasing her second album "Shine" on John Legend's new label, HomeSchool Records April 29. With her soulful and light-hearted lyrics (plus music mavens like Legend and Chicago's native son Kanye West singing her praises), I'm sure Estelle will make a big splash this side of the pond. She's made appearances on Hot 97 (NY's premiere hip-hop radio station), TRL, mtvU, and BET's low-rent version of TRL, 106 & Park and her videos for the songs "Wait a Minute (Just One Touch)" and "American Boy" are winning new fans everywhere.

Want to hear more Estelle? Go to her Myspace page and give a listen.

Already a fan? You can pre-order her new album for your iPod or the CD from her Myspace blog.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Juan Angel Chavez Latest Show Makes Its Debut Tonight!

Ah, Chicago. Yesterday's warm up has the city abuzz, sloughing off fleeces and down coats for lighter jackets and one less layer. While it's still too early to move away from that heating lamp station on the CTA, we Chicagoans are shifting our mindset to all things spring and summer -- namely warmer nights for enjoying art and music. If you're looking for something to do tonight, you should check this out:

TEZ Juan Angel Chavez opening ceremony
Phaiz @ 673 N. Milwaukee
6 - 11

Juan Angel Chavez is a noted Chicago artist and the gallery itself sounds pretty cool. Read more on Chavez's last project with the Hyde Park Art Center in an article I wrote for UR Chicago last summer.

Enjoy the weather, fashion, art, and music.... and Happy Pi day!