Showing posts from May, 2014

Seasonal Shifts: Channahon State Park and the I & M Canal

Channahon State Park in Wills County, Illinois,  near the confluence of the DuPage, Des Plaines, and Kankakee rivers. We walked on a trail that follows the old Illinois & Michigan Canal route. The hollow log and the rusted loop are my favorites.

 Read about the canal here:

Seasonal Shifts: Starved Rock State Park

“There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed."

-Edward Abbey

Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle County, Illinois.

Track This: Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang" Live at the Harlem Square Club

Spring and summer always puts me in the mood for Sam Cooke. I wake up most mornings humming a Cooke tune, hoping that my day will be sunny and bright or at least incessantly hummable.  I have still only worked my way through part of Peter Guralnick's well-researched Dream Boogie, which will unfortunately have to wait until after my exams in August but listening to these singles makes me want to jump back in.

"Chain Gang" was a successful single for Cooke when he released it on on July 26, 1960, and it has become one of his most ubiquitous and well-known songs, as well as his first for RCA Victor after a stellar run on Keen records. The song's call and response chants are instantly recognizable, and, despite its theme, the song is typically upbeat; Cooke narrates the story of the prisoner's daily work lives, but allows them to hope as they slave away under the burning sun. Perhaps the song plays as a bit naive for modern audiences, but it still remains part of th…

Green Day's Demolicious

Green Day has maintained a low profile since they released three full albums of music, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré!, in 2012, and now return with a collection of demos from the same recording sessions. The aptly yet not originally named, Demolicious, clever portmanteau notwithstanding, is slight, yet infectious. Released on Record Store Day 2014 the collection purports to give fans what bassist Mike Dirnt wrote on his instagram account: how ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! would have sounded if we were still on Lookout Records!"

The record is certainly more immediate than what the band has been doing in recent years. "99 Revolutions" kicks it off with a poppy burst of inspiration that is more stripped down than the version on ¡Tré!, but sounds more like it would fit nicely alongside Insomniac's "Stuart and the Ave." one of that album's more melodic songs. The intro of "Angel Blue" sounds like the Clash before Billie Joe Armstrong's vocals shift the song…

Scorched Earth

"There was studied obsolescence in how them roads were built."
Each facet measured and remeasured by teams
Surveyors and engineers planning enmasse for the future
building on years of human experience and endeavor
Utilitarian monuments of irrelevance, except for those
who travel those roads year after year, searching for something
A humanitarian, humanistic ideal, scorched earth policy
This greying earth shaded by human hand until
she will reclaim her own, withering vines across the map

Hangovers and Nonsense: Misadventures of a Birthday Steeped in Beer

Birthdays were much easier when I was in my twenties; hungover and unredemptive, I would head out early the next day with energy to spare. Now I want to be in bed early, contemplating what needs to be done the following day. Responsibilities are tantamount to a contract with myself that won't allow me to go wild, but to cower in corners, shielding my eyes from the light.

This year, after much bitching about the Star Wars holiday and acknowledgment of celebrity birthdays, among them Mike Dirnt and Audrey Hepburn, my wife and I headed out for drinks and dinner. We sampled food and alcohol at Hopvine Brewing Company in Aurora, where I consumed a flight of all but one  of the beers on the menu, and then dutifully recorded them on Untappd, the perfect app for documenting my drunkenness, as my colleagues keep telling me. I'm seemingly the only one around here that checks off the boxes and tries a new beer at every sitting, except for many of my Wisconsin friends who shall remain name…