Thursday, June 23, 2005

Is it a small enough world for ya? (A retro-post)

IT IS IF YOU travel in artsy or "fringe" crowds in Chicago. Just for my own amusement, and to shout out to some of the many interesting people I've met of late, I will play connect-the-dots.

Fall 2004:

I meet Gail #1 at an art opening at Polvo in the near South Side neighborhood of Pilsen. She invites me to her upcoming show at ARC Gallery in Near Northwest Side Ukrainian Village.

While leaving Gail's show at ARC, I pass another gallery a couple doors down -- Gallery Chicago. Since its doors are open, I stroll right in. Someone tells me they're having a party in the studio in back. So I go on back there and meet, among others: gallery owner Ken, artist Gail #2 (a punk-rockish fortysomething firebrand), and Tall Bearded Dude.

I see Maya's Xanga blog. Maya is the avowed "queer anarchist" daughter of the archconservative former Reagan Administration official who entered last year's Illinois Senate race and felt the pain of a Barack Obama sock-o-rama. I said to myself, "I bet one of these days I'll meet her ... because, except for the queer part, she reminds me so much of myself."

Feb. 2005:
On the Red Line platform at Harrison I see a waifish little girl who, by her many accoutrements, could only be Maya. It is Maya. As we board the train, we strike up a conversation and talk all the way up to Addison, where I exit to go to Smart Bar to see 24 Hour Party People.

I go to the Printers' Ball, where among many others I see the Tall Bearded Guy, who I learn is Lee Groban. I meet the daughter of Steve, my former mentor at the Chicago Reader, who has a new book out on the criminal justice system.

I also meet a really cute weirdo, Alicia, who introduces me to Ken #2, aka DJ Soul Rebel, who tells me all about this Chicago Afro-Punk show he's promoting.

At Versionfest, there's Ken from Gallery Chicago and Genewise Christie. I also meet a great many others, including a hippy chick/"group facilitator" named Tree. (Is that her real name?)

I go to the Afro-punk show at Texas Ballroom, to which I was invited by Ken #2 (regrettably, missing the AGet2Gether premiere/cast & crew party). Who should I see at that show but Gail #2 from Gallery Chicago -- moshin' with all the kids!

Since I live so far from Bridgeport I wind up crashing with a quite interesting couple, Liberte and Jimmy (and their four cats), who also happen to know Maya; in fact, I learned, Maya had crashed on the very same couch not long ago, after her dad had kicked her out for coming out.

Liberte also happens to know Tree.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Test your Euro-knowledge! (a retro-post)

As a dumb American, I always get these terms confused, so I thought I'd make a quiz out of them and see how many other people are confused too. Careful -- this is tricky! (Persons of Northwest European descent, having an unfair advantage, should abstain from this quiz.)


1. What are people from the nation of Holland called?

a) Hollanders
b) Hollishmen
c) Hollisters
d) Hollandaise
e) Dutch
f) both b) and d)
g) none of the above

2. What are people from the nation of Denmark called?

a) Denmarkers
b) Danishes
c) Danes
d) Dutch
e) Marks
f) Deutschmarks
g) both b) and f)
h) none of the above

3. What are people from the nation of Netherlands called?

a) Nethers
b) Netherlanders
c) Nethermen
d) Dutch
e) Danes
f) the Amsterdamned
g) both a) and d)
h) none of the above

4. What are people from the nation of Deutschland called?

a) Deustch
b) Dutch
c) Duchesses
d) Hollanders
e) Germans
f) Both a) and e)
g) none of the above

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Drug Awareness (a retro-post)

So how about that Supreme Court decision saying the federal government may overrule State government laws allowing the use of doctor-prescribed medical marijuana?

Watch for all manner of folk on the "Left" to finally rediscover States' rights.

Check this out. The following is an actual public service announcement about a dangerous new drug.

It's official. I swear.

Are YOU aware of this

Dust. Gunpowder. Goddess. China Black. Green Dragon. Royal Golden. White Monkey. Ceylon. Moroccan Mint. Darjeeling. Iced Tea. Sweet Tea. These are just a few of the many street names of a drug that has millions in its grip.

What you may not know is that this highly addictive and potentially deadly substance is available virtually anywhere -- from the biggest metropolis to the smallest farm town.

Despite its sordid past, it's growing in popularity among college students and twentysomethings. And we've learned that even preteens are able to purchase this drug in many neighborhoods. Some may even be purchasing it at school.

The startling truth is that your kids may already be hooked.

The drug's scientific name is camellia sinensis. It is derived from the leaves of an evergreen commonly cultivated by desperate, impoverished Indian and Chinese farmers who have few other options.

Typically, the leaves are dried, rolled, heated, and sometimes fermented, after which they're often crushed into a powder--hence the nickname "dust"--and packed into small bags for sale. More powerful extracts are available as well.
In addition to volatile oils, the leaves of camellia sinensis contain a mind-altering chemical called theine: a complex molecule known to chemists as C8H10N4O2. This strong central nervous system stimulant binds with neural receptors, enhancing excitement and arousal. Accordingly, most users describe feelings of stimulation and exhilaration. Some users, on the other hand, report a feeling of tranquility and comfort; and some even claim the drug, in smaller doses, helps them sleep better. Many artists claim the drug gets their creative juices flowing.

However, this drug has its dark side.

  • It's highly addictive: many users end up hooked for life.
  • It may cause addicts to think and act in abnormal ways.
  • In higher doses, it is known to hinder short-term memory, cause nervousness, anxiety, excessive ambition, tremors, sleeplessness, heart arrythmias, high blood pressure, and even stroke.
  • Since the active chemical must be metabolized in the liver, concerns have surfaced that use at higher doses may cause liver damage.
  • Even in relatively small doses, the active ingredient in this drug can kill household pets.
  • Many users eventually go on to become criminals and psychopaths.
  • Hitler and Mao reportedly couldn't live without the drug, and according to a biography of Josef Stalin, the bloody Soviet dictator demanded a dose at 11 o'clock each night.

Don't be fooled by the fact that this hazardous drug, camellia sinensis, is found in nearly every supermarket, drugstore, coffeeshop, restaurant, vending machine, and home in America. Or that even the Queen of England uses it.

Its very real, scientifically proven dangers are undeniable.

Talk to your kids about tea. You may just save their lives.
This message is brought to you by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Ad Council.