Thursday, September 30, 2010

On Winter Boots - Quoddy Grizzly Boot

The truth of the matter is, for the past few years I haven't had a proper pair of winter boots. What ends up happening is a I wear boots that aren't water proof and end up with wet feet. But, it's a struggle when your destination is generally a professional work place and your feet are big so carrying an extra pair of shoes with you does not seem an option. So, I've been doing some research to try to find some sort of alternative that would allow me the warmth of a winter boot but allow me to keep them on all day at work. Does this exist? Enter Quoddy Boots. I'm not gonna lie, the only reason I know about these is because of J. Crew. That seems kinda sad, but it is true and since finding them I have read about them all over the place. They are hand sewn moccasins with a crepe sole that is meant for hunting in Maine. For my money, these look pretty business casual, but substantial... but what do you think?

The other thing is, these are an in. vest. ment. Because they are hand crafted, their cost is up there, but any repairs that would ever be needed are done free for the remainder of your life or the company's life... whichever ends first. Additionally, they can be lined with sheep skin and worn without socks. That sounds both awesome and HOT. My feet are sweating just thinking about it. So is it worth it? Are these right for a working boy in Chicago winter?

Monday, September 27, 2010

On Joy in Music Making

Most of you know that I make music. Some of you know that more than others as I am a man of many hats, but truth be told, music is my first hat. It's the hat I've worn most comfortably since I can remember. My earliest memory of making music is at the age of 2 when I sang at my parent's 25th wedding anniversary. I believe the song was "You Are my Sunshine" and the audience was friends, family and church family. That moment kind of started the whole thing. It seemed inevitable that wherever I would be from then forward I would be making music in front of people. Through my life, this has been both amazing and challenging. I suppose as anyone who has a public facing talent knows, it feels so good to share it, but sometimes it feels burdensome to figure out exactly how best to use it.

I'm still trying to figure this out. I think about it all the time. I'm not sure my musical calling is specific and so in what ways can I be fulfilled as an artist and share with others.

Rather than indulging my existential conundrum on this blog, I'd rather like to highlight one of the things I do weekly which brings me great joy in the music making process. I think it is way in which I've found myself as an artist while sharing with others.

I've been the vocalist for the Grace Chicago Consort in residence at Grace Chicago Church for about five years now. What once seemed a possible short lived gig has turned into a long time respite with other talented musicians. We are making music for a sacred setting which has so much tradition to glean from and the results are often, what I think to be, somewhat magical. Now before you balk at this being about church, might I suggest you take a listen?

I've had my little Zoom H2 recorder the last couple of Sundays and I wanted to share some stuff.

The following is a little prelude to start off the service, something A Capella:

This is the same song a bit later with the ensemble to accompany communion:

This is an example of one my favorite things we do. It involves taking a hymn that the congregation sings and kind of turning it on its through improvisation. This usually happens during communion time and is free form, based on a melody everyone in the congregation is familiar with:

Finally, this is an example of me leading the congregation. I can't imagine enough people know what it is like to stand in front of a group and have them sing at you. I believe this recording is about 135 voices, facing me and I at them. It is really powerful and moving for me:

So, all this to say, although I struggle to find my identity as musician, I know what it is to find joy in making music. It is rare that I feel the ability to sing with abandon and be true to that which I feel in the music. Each Sunday at Grace, that is exactly what I do.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On Inspiration Friday

On Liquid Nails

This is probably no news to you, but Liquid Nails is amazing. Scott brought some over the other night because I had this hinge on my bathroom cabinet door that had been totally stripped. I was at a loss of what to do. Do you get a bigger screw and go through the whole process again? Do you just stop using the door?

No, you use liquid nails!

We plugged up that hole, replaced the screw and then covered the whole mess with a little more of this goo... and voila! It worked like a charm. The door seems secure and I feel like I can go back to moving about in the bathroom in a somewhat careless manor.

If you have the right reason, I recommend the stuff. It works.

On Salt Water Taffy from the Allegan County Fair

Let me tell you a somewhat cute and funny story.

My parents have ventured into the world of text messaging. Now mind you, they are treading lightly and not out of choice but out of ability. My favorite message I've received so far from my mom read "Luvyudvn." Adorable, right?

Well, last week I was talking to them on the phone and they mentioned they were headed to the Allegan County Fair, which is just a permanent fixture of my childhood. Each fall we would go and just thinking back on it I am rushed with nostalgic smells and images, some of them a little bit trashy and lot of them pretty sweet. One of my memories is of buying salt water taffy. This is not the taffy that you get in little bite sized morsels, but that which is stretched out in a long strip, nestled between wax paper. It was unbelievably gooey and best when put in the refrigerator for a day or so.

After I got off the phone, it occurred to me to send the parents a text saying "Hey, if you have the chance, grab me some taffy at the fair and send it along." Of course there was no response, so I didn't really think twice about it.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I receive a mystery package in the mail that looks remarkably like those containers you use at the drive through bank.

Inside? a familiar shaped bag.

Inside that? Oh hai!

Yum! Just as I had remembered! This is no artisan taffy, but the homemade kind. Rough around the edges. Carefully, yet messily placed in the wax paper.

Ok, so this stuff is awesome and gooey and delicious.

It only tastes like this when it comes from the fair. I say this as someone who has eaten much taffy from many places. This stuff is special. It is full of sweetness and then the little bits that get stuck to your teeth manage to carry an incredible amount of salt, almost to cleanse the palate. And, after a few hours in the cold, you get a nice snap when you break off a piece to begin with. Thanks to the Youngs parents for making my day, yesterday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On Laura Nyro

Have you been listening to Laura Nyro?

I have. I'm in love. I mean, she's so era specific, but there is something rather autumnal about the 70's anyway, I think. So, for September she is getting me in the mood.

On Everyone's a Curator

This is a topic I have much to say on, but this week prohibits me from spending too much time typing. That being said, I'm interested in the fact that many blogs that focus on men's clothing now make these little collage wish lists of sorts.






I'm just reminded that in an age where so many of us operate in way that utilitarian needs are superseded by style and content, we are all curators. This isn't specific to clothing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

On Inspiration Friday

On Favorite Book Week - Animals and Men

This might seem and odd pick to end the week with, but all I can say is that I really like this book. I like the concept behind it and I like it as a sociological, anthropological, and historical look back athow "men" have depicted their relationships with animals throughout history.The male gaze and animals. Have you thought about that before? I think not. Again, this book came from a yard sale or a book giveaway or something, but I've really clung to it. Now mind you, I know that this book is totally out of date and narrow and I realize, somewhat problematic. But, I am fascinated nonetheless and find it a book that I return to whenever I'm in need of some inspiration. As a study of painting and drawing, it is also useful and I find so much of my inspiration as a person who takes pictures to come from those arenas. Take a look:

Thus concludes "Favorite Book Week"! Thanks for sticking with me. Clearly I have 1000000 more favorite books that I would love to share in the future, and maybe will, but these are the spines that caught my eye whilest staring at the shelf. I enjoyed sharing and I hope you enjoyed reading!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On Favorite Book Week - Thumbsucker

So, I don't know if you remember this movie from 2005, but it was directed by Mike Mills and it was called Thumbsucker. It was a bit of an indie cult hit and starred one of my favorites, Ms. Swinton. The movie was pretty great, not life altering, but it was definitely a standout of the year and something I think about every now and then.

During the filming of the movie, Mike invited some of his photographer friends to hang out and take pictures as they chose to document the process. So, Todd Cole, Ed Templeton, Mark Borthwick, Takashi Homma and Ryan McGinley all hung out and snapped away. The result was the following lovely book by the same name as the movie, Thumbsucker.

I don't know why I go back to this book as often as I do. I guess for me, this is an exercise in observation? Five artists documenting a place and event as they see fit. Through their own eyes, they give a unique perspective, some that aren't even of the actual filming but more the space that it existed in. I think as an exercise this is interesting and inspiring for me as a photographer. Take a look: