Frank asked me to make a flyer for his band. He’s a painter, so I was kind of surprised. When I wondered about it, he said, “What am I gonna do, paint a tree?” (he’s paints landscapes), so I agreed to do it. I’ve haven’t seen or heard them yet, but I’ve known Frank nearly thirty years, so I’m happy to do a thing if he asks.
I used to see his bands and long-gone venues like Czar Bar when were still in school. The current band has only been together a year or two, but he played with the lead guy’s brother for many years. For a time, half that band lived upstairs from Frank and I in Wicker Park. One morning, after they’d kept me up all night endlessly practicing some Elton John song, I slipped a note under their door saying I’d burn down their apartment with the entire studio’s worth of instruments in it if they played at that hour again. They’d listen for me in the stairwell thereafter, making sure we didn’t cross paths.
But that was a long time ago. We’re all old and more or less level-headed. If this new bands show wasn’t the same night as my opening at the Rainbo, I’d definitely be there. If I haven’t drank too much or over-socialized, I may still trek up to the Montrose Saloon to check them out.
I asked to sell books and art at Jackalope Coffee House’s 7th Anniversary Block Party before looking at the forecast. I roasted in the 90-something-plus horror of it for five hours before packing up my wares ahead of a much needed storm. Strangely enough, I actually made some money. I sold a couple paintings done at the coffeeshop to a couple who’d moved away from the neighborhood and were happy for a keepsake.
Early in the afternoon, the DJ put on something off PiL’s great “Flowers of Romance” record and Martin Atkins—who played a large chunk of its music and lives in Bridgeport—wandered out of the coffeeshop, lured by the familiar sounds. He shook hands with the surprised Dj and I thanked him for making that record, which I’d been listening to since high school. If there were any air in the air, it would have been a truly beautiful moment. But even in the sweltering sauna of Chicago in July, I felt lucky to’ve witnessed it.
I also drew two pet portraits. Both, strangely enough, for local journalists. Megan, who writes for the Trib, told me she knew my work, after sending some photos of her dog, Sammy. And Sam used to live in my building for a couple years. I didn’t catch the name of his two dogs, who were back in his hometown with his parents, but it was good to see him in Bridgeport again.
Tuesday, on a whim, I went to see This Is Not This Heat at Thalia Hall. I’m kind of allergic to reunion shows, but this was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. There was hardly a wasted moment as the six people on stage made 40-year-old tunes sound completely of the moment. It also helped that I ran into Tim and Jenny, Mark, Brian, Skyler, and Gregg. It felt like a really special night, almost a pilgrimage. Listening to this music I recognized echoes of so many later bands I’ve loved. It was elemental, like having the source for a bunch of tributaries revealed in high resolution right in front of my face.
I would’ve kicked myself if I’d missed it.