0. My friend Josh says I write like Lester Bangs, and I can’t help but notice his bare feet on the cold floor thinking of my Balkan grandmother and how she would disapprove, three things you mustalwayskeepwarm—your feet, your waist, your neck—he’s right, I read some stuff by Lester and yes I can see some similarity, but this is not my language and I am not a music critic, just a citizen with wifi and a couple of stories to tell. We’re back to ground zero with music, Lester. Nine eleven seventeen in Chicago, IL. It has been a cold summer, but the drinks were good and willing the men.
1. ONO is on vacation and Chicago has quieted down on that front. Two cute girls man nam amn homme ohmme mmohe played at The Hungry Brain september six seventeen. Someone there tells me the place used to be a real dive bar with the crowd basically living eating fornicating all over, but now it has the vibe of an insecure cocktail joint, polite tables and chairs, twilighty clean atmosphere, tidy framed artwork on the walls, and the girls rocked it with their back and forth singing about grandmothers and not wanting to be just part of some metaphysical furniture, which was quite cute, I have to use that word again, it really says everything. The vocals drip with honey, but “experimental” is overstated, the way people throw around “post” and “punk” and “noise” like it was a food fight. There I meet Brit with her thousand volt smile, a Circe, she seduces me to her Pilsen island with tales of St. Louis and furniture design, real furniture this time. We both know about Sean. Brit is into the Promontory in Hyde Park, and is not particularly enjoying the music or the company for that matter. Josh is bent on finding out what people want, how they are, he reads books about it, and starts conversations, and I wonder what Brit wants, but I can tell it’s not here.
2. Travis I met on the website that shall not be named and he’s a cook from the Camel City. He says that, and instantaneously the smell of moist and sticky tobacco-leaves comes to mind, my family sitting in a circle and threading them on strings (in NC they loop them on sticks atop a “stringing horse” instead), tütün is the Turkish word for the plant, their fingers black for weeks so what can you say about the lungs. It is funny how much in common I and this southerner seem to have, his family crossed the ocean all the way from Bari but I am the one who speaks Italian, he’s American but I am the one with the passport. He talks about “French techniques” and how to stir-fry some chamomile with carrots and black pepper; a landline is the only other way to reach him, a subtle southern drawl greets you, and he likes to take me on walks around the Chicago neighborhoods. He notices birds and flower types, calls them by their names, his strides are long and slow, he sets his foot down carefully. We nod in agreement at each other that we would never keep a dog in the city and pick up after it, a plastic bag full of warm excrements in the hand. In a few months from now, he might be sending me a postcard from Buenos Aires where “the dollar goes far.”
3. There’s a person that I’d like to call “big-spoon-Alex.” He quotes the Epic of Gilgamesh, makes no eye contact, and asks questions concerning free will.