16 April 2014

Birthday Weekend in the 'Shville

Y'all, I am back from my wonderful birthday weekend in Nashville ('Shville as we have begun to lovingly call it), and I am still scrolling through the photos on my phone with a big dumb grin on my face about how dare-I-say-perfect the entire trip was. We got plenty of rest in Lexie and Kathryn's wood-paneled bungalow, soaked in time on Lexie's beautiful bright yellow couch, ate one too many delicious foods, all whilst drinking in how carefree and lovely it was to be in one anothers company. We drove back to Chicago Sunday evening and it wasn't long before I was swept away in the whirl of planning a perfect Passover meal and catching up on Mad Men. The next few days will surely involve unpacking, salad eating, blog-catching-up-ing, and planning the Rook Nook's forthcoming birthday bash.

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This is Lexie's beautiful woody bedroom. She has such a knack for sleek simplicity, that even she can make wood paneling work. Waking up to this affirmation every morning was such a pleasure, I sort of want to get it tattooed to my eyelids, lest I ever forget.

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I tried to take Andrew to the Pancake Pantry for my birthday breakfast, but he took one look at the line and gave me a definitive No. I didn't sweat it, because we wound up walking a mile along the Vanderbilt campus to try Hattie B's for Nashville hot chicken. Hot chicken is basically brined and fried chicken that is then tossed in a mild-to-spicy sauce with a drier heat than that of hot wings. It's definitely different than Parson's, though you might have been fooled by the photo! We ate ours with potato salad (my new favorite thing - must have potato salad), and mac 'n cheese. He washed his down with Jackalope beer, I opted for sweet tea, but pinch me because we ate my first meal as a 26-year-old out on a patio with a new friend named Sedric. Amen.

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Just a handsome dude and some purty flowering trees, nothing to see here.

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After hot chicken we hit up some record stores. Our first stop was Third Man Records, which naturally I knew nothing about, but Andrew and I both loved. Plenty of weird kitsch, a really small but tightly selected record selection, and plenty of stuff to touch and look at. I wound up getting a live-session recording by King Tuff on vinyl, because it reminded me of how Andrew left our first date to go see King Tuff without me! No hard feelings, I forgave him.

In addition to Third Man, we visited Grimey's and Grimey's Too where more dusty record browsing occurred before heading to Jackalope for beer-tasting, followed by drinks and rock-star pommes frites at Holland House.

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For dinner, Andrew, Lexie, Kathryn, and I went to Rolf and Daughters. Many a drinks were had while we waited on the patio playing "Would You Rather," we all wore Kate Miss necklaces, Lexie and I gushed over running into our lady-crush, author Emma Straub, and I ate delicious squid ink pasta. Also, we ate a bread-and-butter course that was a hunk of bread, a slather of butter, and a little pile of salt. It sounds dumb, but it was basically the best ever. And it was the perfect fuel for a night filled with karaoke, cider, beer, and Miley Cyrus at Santa's Pub.

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Here's Lexie doing a solo-stint of Taylor Swift's You Belong With Me, because Nashville. Duh. We did the bulk of our belting at Santa's, which is a few trailers pushed together with cheap beer, bad microphones, and Christmas decor year round. You can smoke indoors, you can be as rowdy as you like, but please, no beer or cussin' on the stage. Also, let it be known that the first time Lexie ever did karaoke was at my birthday party last year! Dreams do come true. Two years in a row means this is officially a tradition, girl.

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Photo cred Andrew
We were all tuckered out post-karaoke, but after a good night's sleep we headed over to Barista Parlor for what might have been the hippest cup of cold brew I have ever had. The space I presume was an old garage, gutted and turned into a hipster coffee metropolis. The coffee bar was in the center of the large open space, made of what I'm assuming was re-purposed wood (oh me and my crunchy yuppie assumptions).

UntitledConfession, I know nothing about coffee. I am just as satisfied with a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee as I am with Intelligentsia (not sorry), so places like this really intimidate me. I stuck with a cold brew, because I understand what it is (basic) and there aren't rules or accouterments with it. It's just a cup of joe that sits in the fridge, brewing. No muss, no fuss. It was refreshing and delicious, and served in a mason jar. The real winner for me was the sausage biscuit served with marmalade. The sausage was made/sold next door at PRB, which I kept wanting to call PBR. Normal, ya know. But oh my goodness was this biscuit divine. Buttery and dense, with sweet tangy marmalade, and warm greasy local sausage. The perfect semi-hungover snack before hitting up another record store and Mas Tacos Por Favor.

Mas Tacos Por Favor
Sigh. Mas Tacos Por Favor, what is there to say? First off, this place has a line, a line well worth waiting in. It was the Nashville equivalent to our beloved Big Star, but the menu seems to change more, and there aren't any lethal margaritas to worry about. Rather, there are daily agua frescas, and as far as booze goes, the joint is BYOB. Andrew went to a liquor store a block away to grab himself a beer, I stuck to pineapple and cilantro agua fresca, because damn. Just damn. We waited in line, ordered off of the chalkboard, then basked in the 80 degree heat while our food was prepared. I had my FIRST breakfast taco, as well as the carne asada taco. The tacos were wonderfully seasoned, and a little bit bigger than their Big Star cousins, I could only eat one and a half before pushing my plate away! The ingredients were fresh and flavorful, everything was to my liking. If you are in 'Shville and don't mind a short wait, I highly suggest coming here. 

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Just casually waiting for our food at Mas Tacos, looking fly against the gorgeous hot pink wall. 

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All the tacos and sunshine left me completely tuckered. We wound up heading to Lexie's to take a cat nap, before heading to Las Paletas for not one, but two popsicles in the park. Above I'm chomping on paleta number dos, a refreshing little cantaloupe popsicle.

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Saturday night, we ate BBQ at Edley's but I wound up ordering a salad (blasphemy, I know) because I was completely full to the brim of heavy deliciousness. And afterwards... Lexie and I stayed in. Catching up a bit, before settling into couches facing one another with books and magazines. Reading across from each other in one another's company was so pleasant and calming. I forget what it's like to luxuriate in the company of a close friend, even if you aren't talking. It was a complete Dear Sugar moment.

And then, after a good night's sleep, we enjoyed one last meal together at Bagel Face. I had an everything bagel with lox, capers, tomatoes, red onion, and schmear, because why not bagel-binge before Passover? It was the most wonderful end to a perfect trip, and the right fuel for an eight-hour-drive back to the Windy City.

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Naturally, we had to make a pit stop at Dinosaur World.

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11 April 2014

It's My Birthday!

And for my birthday weekend, we have the beginning of the end (sob) of Mad Men. What better way to begin the next year of my life than with a sexy rendition of Zou Bisou Bisou, amirite? I'm spending the weekend in Nashville with Lexie and Andrew. We'll be dining well, pawing through records at Grimey's and Third Man, hitting up the Frist, and eating all of the BBQ we can handle. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! XO

09 April 2014

Finding Vivian Maier


Do you ever see a film that is so well-done, so interesting, and so pertinent to things you care about, that halfway through the movie you get anxious about the impending end? No? Well I do. And occasionally, one of these gems comes along that makes the hair on my neck stand on end within the first two minutes. Finding Vivian Maier was one of those movies, which comes along once in a blue moon. A film in which my metaphorical stars align and everything I seem to be interested in is addressed, seamlessly, in one fell swoop. From archiving, to museum practice, black and white photography, and tiny villages in France - this movie has it all.

via Nova Planet
For one, a bulk of the documentary takes place in and around Chicago, which adds a level of familiarity and personal interest to a tale of intrigue and mystery - placing me and my home right in the middle of the story. The story is so great, it makes you wonder how something like this could happen, and what treasures are still left to be uncovered. 

John Maloof with his loot via Avoision
A short synopsis:  in 2007 John Maloof, the director and filmmaker, uncovered a box of black and white photographs with negatives at an auction, purchasing the entire lot for a mere $300. He looked through some of the photos, and had a visceral reaction to the images knowing they were "good," that there was something about them that felt important. This knee-jerk feeling led him to methodically seek out and collect every box he could find of work by this same seemingly unknown photographer, to try to figure out who she was, what she did, and why her work was still undiscovered. 

This project reminds me so much of the Warhol time capsule project... it's eerily uncanny, yet unbelievably exciting! 

Maloof's journey led him to contact museums which initially turned him away (gasp!). He persevered, finding out that Maier was an amateur photographer in secret, while maintaining a job as a full-time nanny to support her work. He traveled around the country interviewing her former employers and their progeny, the children she worked for. Maloof even traveled to a small village in France where Maier's mother was from, reconnecting some of the subjects in her work to real place and faces. Maloof held Maier's camera in his hands, then held her mother's camera in his hands. Connecting a tradition and a family interest, into a line that makes perfect sense in a world in which Maier maintained perfect anonymity.

Maier's cameras via We Think Photo
The film was emotional and exciting, uncovering the mystery in a wonderful manner of show and tell. Giving a name to the work that so desperately needed to be brought to light. As more and more negatives are developed and enlarged, and more museums and galleries begin to support the work in the manner of hosting exhibitions - Maier's work is finally being seen, after years of gathering dust and begging to be discovered. There's something so wonderful and yet so melancholy about this story - one pregnant with possibility and also tinged with loneliness in its purest form. 

Artist self portrait via Chicago Now
I highly suggest seeing this film if it comes to your town, or seeking it out if you have a chance. I walked out of the theater inspired by my own reflection in glass, by the way the light fell on the world around me, by my own archival project with photographer, Herb Nolan, and by all of the works of art that have yet to be discovered. It's incredible how good this movie made me feel and how inspired it left me. 

04 April 2014

Box Count: Ten

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We have reached a point in this project where we have a real stride in our step! With ten boxes completed, and only a few small piles of musical photographs left to file and archive, we will be a third of the way done with the this leg of the process. 

It's pretty incredible to see the breadth of the collection, and even this early in the process, my brain is starting to pull images that might work together for an exhibition. Repeated themes and patterns are starting to make themselves apparent in the most unlikely of ways. Images of food and dining are working their way into photographs of musicians performing and hanging out. From Tom Waits smoking cigarettes in a diner to Muddy Waters drinking from a pewter mug in his lobster wall-papered kitchen. Additionally, fashion is an ever present force in the collection. Afros, frenetic patterns, men in heels, aviator sunglasses and turtlenecks, if you can imagine it, they probably wore it. Not to mention images of long-lost hotels and boarded up night clubs, all nothing more than a memory, a moment in time. 

Once we wipe our hands of the musical photographs, we will move on to the "travel" category, which I am really quite eager for. India, Mexico, and Montana are all parts of a whole. It will be interesting to see the commonalities and themes that make themselves known as we review these works in a unified way.

Some other news, Herb discovered one of his photographs is up for auction at Kodner Galleries Inc. We're not quite sure how his work ended up in Florida, but he's in good company alongside Abe Morell, Ansel Adams, and Toulouse Lautrec (to name just a few). If you're interested in buying some of his work not from Kodner Galleries, feel free to reach out to me or Herb directly!

This Weekend

Cheers to the freakin' weekend via Rebloggy
You guys, it's the weekend. Well, it's almost the weekend. And I spilled coffee into my keyboard because it's just been one of those weeks, ya know? It's like coffee, get in my mouth, not in my keyboard. Anyways, this week has been weird and rainy and cold, and I feel a little bit like I haven't gotten enough sleep and that the errands and paperwork that have been piling up are all I spend my time doing. Which is why this weekend is going to be leisurely as hell.

- Tonight Ben and I are going to the UIC School of Architecture for what I have interpreted to be a magazine launch party. Ben and I don't really know what it is that we are attending, I'm holding out for wine, snacks, and fashionable people.
- Tomorrow, the saga of the photography archival project continues!
- Then lunch with Trevor and his fiance Rosalyn whom I've yet to meet! Perks: catching up, new friends and old friends, and dining in Logan Square!
- Will you judge me if I stay in tomorrow night? Wearing this, and only this.
- Sunday is a BIG day. As in we are going to see Finding Vivian Maier at the Landmark. I feel like I heard about this documentary years ago when they first publicized the discovery of her treasure trove of photographs and negatives. And now it's playing in Chicago, where much of the story takes place. Can I get an amen?
- We will be dining at Frances' Deli, and I'm already debating if I will order the BLT or the open faced meatloaf sandwich. A milkshake will also be in order.
- After the movie, we are hitting up Lincoln Park Zoo and then headed to ASSSCAT for dinner comedy.

Pretty packed with fun things. Now if only the weather would cooperate...

03 April 2014

Some Dandruff on Your Shoulder by Jens Lekman


It's rainy, it's cold, and all I can bring myself to do is slowly sip my quickly cooling coffee and listen to Jens Lekman's I Know What Love Isn't on repeat. It's captures every single melancholy feeling so simply and clearly with beautiful harmonies, simple lyrics, and plenty of new stories. Some Dandruff on Your Shoulder is one of my favorite songs by Jens, and this live version is haunting, plain, and sad. Exactly what a gal needs on day like this.

01 April 2014

Has Spring Sprung?

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Yesterday something enchanting happened. It was in the low-60's. It was sunny. The breeze that blew didn't hurt my face, and at lunch, I basked in the warm rays. I donned my Ray Bans, I peeled off my coat, and I walked west along the river for what felt like hours. It was unbelievable how rejuvenating the warmth of the sun felt, even in the small span of an hour.  My cheeks were tingling, my freshly shorn head felt the warm breeze upon it no longer feeling over-exposed by the winter chill. And then in the evening, after work, a light drizzle descended upon the city, releasing that fresh o-zone smell we forgot we knew we loved, and then we loved it again for the first time in months. Fresh drizzle, fresh rain, freshness at the core. I forgot what all of these sensations felt like, but yesterday was so special and rare that I basked in it at every moment I could. We even stopped at the newly re-opened Tastee Freeze to share a twisted cone, because it was finally warm enough to eat soft serve. Pure magic. I have a feeling it's going to be a lovely spring.
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