Monday, November 30, 2009

100 (or so) words on: Cyber Monday

What. The. Fuck. Cyber Monday? This is just so much bullshit I can’t even keep myself from cussing. Making up capitalistic occasions to get people to spend more money on days that are specified to have potentially better deals, as if you couldn’t go online and buy shit ANY time. What’s tomorrow, Techno Tuesday. And then what, Waste-more-money Wednesday. Today I was going to write about Doritos. BUT NO. Instead I have to rant about the materialism of America. Again. Could we please quit buying shit. For one day. Could we just live life free from shopping? Is it even possible?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

100 (or so) words on: Jesus

First, I don’t believe in institutional religion of any kind. In fact, I don’t believe in institutions of any kind. Yes, I know they exist, but I do not support them. I find them patriarchical, militaristic and thus, oppressive. Also, I must admit, I have not read the bible in its entirety. I think it’s because it’s so popular. I don’t like conforming. Plus, there are just so many other books in the world to read. Why read a book that is supposed to represent “loving thy neighbor” when it hypocritically has caused so many wars, deaths and destruction. People who truly believe in the “word” of Jesus would look for peace; would hold hands and sing “All you Need is Love.” But whenever these issues come up all I want to do is sing Patti Smith and return to the world of cynicism.

Patti Smith: “Gloria”

Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine
Meltin' in a pot of thieves
Wild card up my sleeve
Thick heart of stone
My sins my own
They belong to me, me

People say 'beware!'
But I don't care
The words are just
Rules and regulations to me, me

Saturday, November 28, 2009

100 (or so) words on: Black Friday

“Cannibals for Capitalism”—the true slogan for the events that take place the day after Thanksgiving.

People will seriously eat each other if it means getting a cheaper microwave or Wii or cucumber melon gift set.

Trampled. Mauled. Tired. And for what? Another set of shit under some soon-to-be-dead tree?

What happened to getting passed-out drunk on the holidays? Or is Thanksgiving now just a warm-up event for the over-consumption and over-spending of the "real" celebration: Capitalism? Which we call, Black Friday: Material Overload (prequel to Black Friday: Year of the Coupon Cutters).

We should celebrate each other, we should celebrate beauty, life, laughter; I can even tolerate the celebrating of Jesus as long Jesus doesn’t come gift-wrapped.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top 5 Holiday (Grinch) Tips

Most of us have accepted the fact that stores have begun vomiting out red and green glitter before Halloween even ends, but that doesn’t keep many of us from feeling the wave of anxiety that rolls through when we walk by the gardenia lotion gift sets, the ornaments shaped like Twilight figurines and the giggling stuffed elf dolls.

The stores insist we prepare ourselves for the long and often times unpleasant winter holiday season before we’ve even stuffed ourselves with our foreplay holiday—Thanksgiving. This overload can turn some of us (me included) into, well, Grinches. Here are the top 5 worst holiday problems solutified.

1) Dread: The Family Drama

We’ve all been there, eating our mashed potatoes or pecan pie when despised relative #1 opens mouth and releases some absurdly rude question. This question can open the possibility for so many options.

Do you:

A. Respond with a quip of equal rudeness

B. Change the subject

C. Walk away

D. All of the above.

Most advisors would dissuade you from A. but let’s be real. You’ll feel better if you say what’s on your mind, or as close to what’s on your mind as personally comfortable. That is why I suggest D. Here is an example.

Rude Relative #1: So, Krystal, when are you are going to get married?

ME: A. (the quip) What an interesting question, Rude Relative #1, I plan to get married when patriarchy ends. B (the subject change). So, I heard that you and Rude Relative #2 went to France over the summer, how was your trip?

Rude Relative #1: *goes on about trip*

Me: *finishes pie* “Wow, that sounds like a great time, oh, look, I’m all out of pie, better take my plate to the kitchen C. (walk away).

Remember. Enjoy your pie. Try to find the positives in the “rude relative,” if you cannot, simply excuse yourself. Do not feel pressured into debating over a subject that you have no common ground or experiences on—it will be a waste of everyone’s time and energy. If relatives feel the need to bring up family problems i.e. alcoholism, jail time, partner choices etc. Politely remind them that you’re all uniting for holiday enjoyment, all problems should be discussed another time.

2) Sickness: The Swine

Traveling through cities, staying in other people’s home, children with their snotty noses, all of these things and more could wreck havoc on your immune system. Most of us have been bombarded with ways to avoid the swine flu, or any other flu/cold for that matter. We’ve heard it all before, wash your hands, sanitize your hands, here’s an idea: QUIT TOUCHING STUFF with your hands. One way you could do that is by wearing gloves when you go out and taking them off before touching yourself with them. Also, if you’re already sick don’t go to the family function. It’s RUDE. Have your cousin bring you back some pie when the dinner is over and be grateful you didn’t have to deal with Rude Relative #1.

3) Gluttony: The Pie (and the potatoes, and the dips, and the chips, and the booze)

Oh the booze. A must have during the holiday season, it may even be more important than pie—but that is debatable. People make a big deal about getting fat during the holidays. Here’s a simple suggestions: quit eating so god-damn much. Oh and maybe go for an f-ing walk once in a while. Seriously, though, people always talk about portion control over Thanksgiving or Christmas. That really isn’t the problem. Overeating once or twice a year is not going to make you gain that 15+ pounds you feel you need to burn off in the New Year. It’s over-eating all through fall and winter months without burning off those excess calories. And we do it because we’re evolutionarily inclined to gain weight when it starts to get cold. How to fight it? Become a vegetarian. WHAT!!!! That’s the solution???? Fuck yeah it is. No one mainstream is going to tell you that Mr. Turkey or Mrs. Pig Ham is loaded with artery-blocking, cholesterol-raising, fat-churning, fatty fat fat, but it is. And it could kill you (circle of life anyone??) Take away meat and you have more room for booze and pie (just make sure they don’t use animal fat to make it). Click here for more vegetarian facts

4) Greed: The Shit Gift

This is what re-gifting is all about. Our social connection to capitalism makes many of us feel that the best way to show someone how much we care is by buying them something. Yet often, there is so much pressure to buy buy buy that we often don’t show our love very well and we end up either giving or receiving some gaudy sequined sweater or soap shaped like the president; gifts we never wanted and have no use for. What to do if you receive said gift? Lying is always an option.

When to lie. 1) If you receive a homemade gift that was heartfelt but didn’t quit hit the mark. LIE. Act like you are thoroughly grateful—because really, at least there was the thoughtfulness put into it. 2) If it’s something you know you can take back. LIE. Say, that they know you so well you actually already have it, whatever it is, and ask if they have the receipt.

5) Boredom: The Escape Plan

You’re at a party. You want to leave. You don’t know how to do it politely and gracefully. This time it’s best not to lie but to keep it simple. Thank the host and say you have to go. If they seem to want more of an explanation, mention you have many holiday events to attend to this month and need to reserve energy (if you do) or if you’re bored say you’re not feeling well, because honestly, boredom is not a good feeling.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time: Is it on your side?

Changing the clocks forwards and backwards every year always makes me think of the irrelevant, arbitrary, fictions of time. In class we’ve been discussing temporalities and concepts of straight and queer time. Where straight time is always linear and follows particular culture paths of childhood, adulthood, marriage, procreation, and productive citizenship (Goltz 117) and queer time is the antithesis of that. The class has given me a sense of calm in regards to accepting my life decisions, especially since they do not line up perfectly with “straight” timelines. I am learning to absorb the happiness that comes with my alternative choices—to not marry, to not pop out babies, to not have just a singular career ideal. Feminist theory gave me the strength to not conform to the patriarchical heterosexual norms, but this class in particular has helped ease anxieties I have had regarding my “future”.

For example, the question I am so often asked is “what are you going to do when you’re done with grad school.” As if my entire life will suddenly alter and whatever I was doing before will no longer be relevant. I will have to immediately find a 9 to 5 job and stay with it, moving up the ladder to the top until I can retire. There is a mold designed for me that I do not intend to abide by. For one thing, I can’t imagine staying static, I want to be always moving and learning so why can’t I do multiple things?

One concept that really stuck out to me was the idea to “keep open to time,” rather than trying to “keep up with time” (Goltz 122). Instead of always racing the clock I can attempt to the best of my ability to enjoy my day, my month, my year, my life. Anxiety is intrinsically linked to linear future time lines. We must always be reaching toward particular goals, goals structured more by the outside world than by our own personal needs and wants; goals that we never set for ourselves. What do goals look like that don’t follow “straight” time?

We’re taught early on how to move through the world. “Straight” time is so embedded in our daily lives that it’s hard to imagine any other way. We were enmeshed with these societal ideal behaviors from such a young age that we’ve never imagined any other options for ourselves.

It’s time to really evaluate what we’ve been taught, to really analyze our surroundings, our own thoughts, our feelings and our interactions with communities.

We can all imagine a better world, if we can imagine it than that means it is in our reach. Our knowledge systems can only take us so far, but we’re at a stage right now where we are able to deconstruct what we know and also channel and revolt against ideas we no longer find acceptable.

Look within your own conceptions of time. Where are you in the future—? What timeline did you follow—was it straight, queer, linear, lateral, wherever you wanted it to be? Are you still yearning for happiness or are you enjoying each day for what it is? What does your clock look like? How fast does it tick tock?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fashion's Most Needed Accessory: Confidence

We’re nearing the end of a decade, a time when fashion trends transcend, alter, and explode with options. This year, stores seem to be vomiting out styles from all eras but our own. Perhaps because we are so post-modern we do not need to have our own “look”; we can deconstruct and re-imagine old fads into fresh styles. I’m not complaining. I am only curious. For example, how does someone who purposefully wears Save By the Bell-inspired looks come off chic as opposed to some total nerdette sporting similar early 90’s-esque clothes? How can one person in shoulder pads look so dated when someone else with comparable fluff in the puffs look hip? Is it a matter of accessories? Makeup? Shoes? Hair? All of the above? Possibly. What really sells a look though, what really makes an outfit is confidence. A person can not pull of leggings without confidence. Sequins? Don’t even bother if you don’t have the pizzazz to go with them. Ruffles, feathers, lace? You better put on your badass face, because you’re not getting out the door without some pure self-assurance.

That’s the deal with the post-modern age. All the options of previous decades with no systematic reasoning for layers, combination or colors. You get to decide. That’s why it becomes important to care more about how you carry yourself than what covers your body. You can pull off any look if you believe in it. If it makes you feel beautiful or sexy or comfortable or whatever you want to feel that day. We should celebrate this regurgitation—this line-up of decades of fashion hits and misses—this neoliberal explosion—this total and utter style confusion--because after this is there anywhere left to go?

If every trend that has ever happened has now come back. If we can pretty much wear whatever we want and say it’s the latest fad, then are we at a stopping point in design? Can clothing be taken any further—or do we have to completely reconceptualize what it means? Does it mean anything, especially now that anything goes?

It’s like we have all the styles without any breakthroughs in thought or conceptions of the world. We are just stirring around the ideas we’ve been swimming through for the past century. Just like we’re mixing plaid grunge with 50’s pearls; Free love bell bottoms with cocaine cut-off sweatshirts; we can pull the looks off, but do they take us anywhere new?

Where do we need to go?

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Twist on Za

It sounds weird, but this sweet potato and curried red lentil pizza was amazing.
Check out the recipe here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Eye Attack: What the Jalapeño Taught Me

I haven’t been having the best of times lately, and it all accumulated into a climatic finish two mornings ago when I gave myself jalapeño eye. I had cooked late the night before, rather drunkenly I might add, using my fingers to take out the middle part of the spiced out green instead of the knife. I honestly do not know how I got my contacts out that night without severe pain; I remember a slight burn, but nothing freakishly overwhelming. The next morning, hung over and looking rather whitetrashish with my braless tank top and oversized nike sports shorts, I stepped into the bathroom to partake in my morning rituals of peeing, cleaning, brushing etc. I never got to the brushing part. While lazily putting in my right contact I was abruptly shocked awake by an intense burst of spicy directly in my looker. I thought my eye was going to liquefy before me and I would never be able to see again. My contact decided it was going to envelop my eyeball and my eyeball decided it was not going to open again. Ever. Then my nose started running. My throat started coughing. And I couldn’t decide if it would be a good idea to cry or not, though I really really wanted to. I then stuck my face under the sink and made a cold pond of water for my pain to sit in. After about 15 minutes of crying and moaning my eye could stay open long enough for me to finally grab the contact out and throw it away---along with the other one I had yet to torture myself with—and the case itself—to clear away any possible culprits of that continuing another day.

While lying on the couch trying to recover I kept thinking of everything I could be doing if I could see. I couldn’t even watch TV, which is what I would normally do when I’m sick. I couldn’t even get on the computer to complain about my eye. And the lights. They were so bright it was disgusting.

As I mentioned, lately, I’ve been off balance, perhaps a bit tense, anxious, annoyed. Of course, when the jalapeño attacked me my initial thought was “OMG, I can’t even wake up right,” which is how I had started to see my life…a continual movement of failure and insecurity. But the hot shock managed to calm me down some. While in a state of healing I had time to reflect. I decided I needed to cool down, soak in the beauty of the world, not let every little thing get to me because when something really shitty (like a vegetable attack) happens I need to be prepared to take in the pain and let it go. To wear my glasses for a day and look at life from an alternative perspective. And most importantly, I need to laugh. When the old woman at the grocery store yells at me in Polish, when I drop a steaming container of food on the floor, when people won’t move over on the sidewalk, when dishes aren’t clean, when my underwear is falling off my ass, and definitely when foods attack—laughter--or I will die of high blood pressure at 33.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Potato Vulva: A Nutritious Treat

Found: Vulva shaped potato
Where: In a bag of potatoes from the Devon Market, Chicago
Offer: Any PERVS want to purchase this sweet starch? I'll sell it to you for $100. Let me know soon before I eat it... (insert lesbian joke here...)

Click HERE to BUY

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Up when the Economy Went Down: Gary Marr’s Unconventional Brush

From corporate caterer to artist, how one man transformed himself and what it means to live through a recession.

In the midst of the economic collapse, Gary Marr revolted. Instead of clinging to his mind-numbing corporate job like many typical Americans, he did the bizarre. He quit. After over 30 years in the hospitality industry, most recently 13 years as the Director of Catering at the largest convention hotel in Chicago, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Marr, 51, made a drastic decision to leave mainstream corporatism and turn toward passion-filled expressionism. He became an artist.

Leaving the Hyatt in February, Marr opened Sapere Art/Intuitive Works. A gem in the maze of galleries winding through the Flat Iron Building of Wicker Park (formerly the host building for Around the Coyote ). Since Sapere Art’s inception, the gallery has been involved in multiple openings, including the successful smART show and art competition “Points of View, Points of Light.” The most popular events, though, are the Flat Iron “First Friday” shows, which occur the first Friday of every month. On November 6th, Marr is featuring biomorphic surrealist painter Jon Neal Wallace. Vivid lime green female bodies stretch fluidly across Wallace’s pieces while bright red and purple flower buds adorn the heads of these organic creatures. Marr knows good art when he sees it.

But opening Sapere Art has not been a walk in the park for Marr. “Every day I’m thinking that there is still more that I could do,” says Marr, who initially started out representing himself and three other artists; he has since jumped to 16. “I’m learning as I go along.”

After painting on the side for many years, Marr left the mainstream corporate world to find freedom. “I got tired of feeling like I was personally responsible for figuring out how to overcome the recession, how to get people to spend money that they’re not spending,” he says. “I walked away from a paycheck, my 401k, benefits; I walked away from a lot of things that make most typical people confident that tomorrow is going to occur. And why? Because I didn’t want to do it anymore. And I figured I could figure it out.”

And figure it out he has. Going from director of catering to gallery owner/artist actually wasn’t too far of a stretch. In both careers he has encompassed one major theme—to deliver a message—whether it was planning a wedding with the message of love or planning an art opening with the message of intellectual stimulation, Marr has been able to package the exchange of ideas to any given audience. The difference between his former corporate career and his current art career has been calmness and passion. “It’s calmer now that I’m not having to do something for somebody I feel has a bad idea. I’m the chief of my own bad ideas now,” he says. “I can ignore some that I’m given. It’s as much pressure, but since the pressure is from myself, it’s a whole different level.”

The name Sapere means “to taste,” and the gallery includes tantalizing treats for everyone’s art palate. Color connects these 16 emerging to established artists; almost all of the work in the gallery stretches or plays with hues in alternative ways. “Every one that I’ve selected so far has a sense of uniformity within their styles,” Marr says. “I feel confident most of the pieces could be in the same room or the same house or the same collection. I call it juxtaposed with purpose.” His gallery’s November artist, Jon Neal Wallace, focuses on the tulip’s color and shape. He says, “I used my theme of biomorphic Tulips twisting, stretching, and bending in all directions to make the viewers eyesight travel dimensionally back and forth in space. This gives a unique view of the usage of space within the picture plane. No other design principle does this, and that makes Directions new and the beginning of something that will change the way we see art.”

Marr took a radical leap opening up Sapere Art/Intuitive Works at the peak of a recession, but the bad economy has proved beneficial in some areas. “I justified opening during a recession because I could get the guts of the space done more economically than if I had done it during the height. My entire interior is eBay, Craigslist and liquidation sales.”

And though sales are slow, the popularity of the Flat Iron Arts Building has not slackened. “We get as many as 600-plus people here for First Fridays,” says Kevin Lahvic, member of the non-profit Flat Iron Arts Association. “The Wicker Park/Bucktown area comes alive on those First Fridays. It’s a neighborhood party and everyone is invited!”

The Wicker Park area is known for its hip anti-mainstream art scene, which is why Marr thought it would be a perfect location. “It’s always been the area of fighting the establishment. It’s an eclectic community, and it’s important in art not to fit in with conformity and to do your own thing. I fight the establishment in my own way,” he says.

Sapere Art/Intuitive Works

1579 N. Milwaukee, Studio 341

Chicago, IL, 60622

(Painting above by Jon Neal Wallace: Venus Hyper Space)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another Vulvacentric Spotting

Found: Statue in honor of the Vagina (or at least that's what it looks like it's doing there).
Location: Lincoln Park. Same block as the Biograph Theater, diagonal from DePaul's campus.