Ozzily Yours

Monday, July 31, 2006

Update re: Pitchfork Fashion

I am pleased to report that at least one Chicagoist staffer posting on flickr is apparently as old and crotchety as I.

What Kind of Statement Do Tube Socks Make?

The majority of the weekend was wiled away at the Pitchfork Music Festival. I won't bore you with details about how amazing Yo La Tengo's set was, or how I run the risk of becoming a little obsessed with Jens Lekman because he was so awesome, because actual music journalists will provide much better reviews for those who care. I also won't go off about being outside for several hours during extreme heat warnings because, really, that would amount to little more than complaining - clearly we survived, thanks primarily to the many, many bottles of water we brought with us.

What I was intrigued by, though, was the fashion choices of many of the festival's attendees. I'm not talking about the shirtless guys and bikini-clad girls, either, because they clearly made practical choices based on the afore-mentioned heat wave. Instead, I'm referring to the folks who insisted on being so very impractical.

Waiting for our first set of the weekend (the highly energetic and entertaining Mountain Goats), the husband suddenly observed, "It seems like a lot of these people have made, um, very conscious decisions about how they want to present themselves." Looking around, I realized he was referring to the 20-something guy a few feet away from us clad in a buttoned-to-the-top plaid shirt, shorts, and knee-high patterned wool socks with dress shoes. When it comes to aesthetics, to each his own is, of course, the rule - and yet that guy CANNOT have been comfortable in wool knee socks when the heat index was over 100.

So for the rest of the weekend, we kept an eye out for, and mental catalogue of, people who were clearly allowing their desire to make a fashion statement overpower their desire to be, well, even remotely comfortable:

  • Everyone in jeans. And there were many. Some of whom were wearing dresses over their jeans. Did I miss something? Didn't that trend end a year or two ago?
  • The white-boy dreads dude in the floor-length-culottes get-up. (Side note: exactly what does it take to get white-boy dreads? Am I correct in my belief that a major part of the process involves simply not washing your hair for a really long time?)
  • The guy in the knitted wool cap.
  • Girls in linen sundresses, chiffon sundresses, and/or heels - while I'm sure they were a little less hot 'n' sweaty than many of their counterparts, these chicks clearly allowed their desire to be cute to win out over their desire to be able to flop down on the dirty ground at a moment's notice, or to be comfortable during the several hours of standing in one place.
  • Men with LOTS of facial hair. If you live in Chicago, it seems to me that it might be wise to shave - or at least trim extensively - every June. But these mountain-man-types clearly do not agree with that assessment.
  • Folks who had the sense to wear shorts or skirts, but then paired them with leather or suede boots.
  • The couple outfitted head-to-toe - long pants, long sleeves - in fluorescent pink.
And then, of course, there were the people who weren't necessarily as uncomfortable as those listed above, but who just made me feel old and crotchety while I tried to grasp when and how their style choices became even remotely hip:

  • The '70s porn star mustache (we counted at least half a dozen). 'Nuff said.
  • The guy with the fake '70s porn star mustache. That was just weird.
  • The '80s running shorts that just barely cover the ass cheeks.
  • The tube socks. Oh, so many tube socks!!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ira Glass and Peter Sagal Rock the House

I suspect I will never tire of Chicago's theater scene. As much as I loved living in Boston, it always frustrated me that the choices there were generally college or just-barely-out-of-college troupes, or "Broadway in Boston," with very little in between. Chicago is filled with tiny theater companies performing all different kinds of shows in hole-in-the-wall, out-of-the-way spaces. Sometimes the results are amazing, sometimes less so (no link, to protect the not-so-innocent), but there is always something new and different going on in Chicago theater.

In grad school, I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful woman who happened to have a bunch of college friends who had started up Barrel of Monkeys, a local troupe that provides writing workshops for kids whose schools are lacking arts funding, and then puts together hysterical performances based on the kids' stories. One thing led to another, my friend started chairing their board of directors, and we found ourselves at their annual fundraiser last spring where, on a whim at the silent auction, we purchased season tickets for another local company about whom I knew I'd heard good things... wasn't sure what, but, hey, the money was to help the kids get their writing workshops, so who cares? It's for a good cause, right?

That was, quite possibly, the best whim I've acted on all year. The House Theatre of Chicago, which recently celebrated its 5th birthday, has unquestionably provided us with some of our best theater-going experiences this year. The fact that the first show we saw was an extraordinary new adaptation of The Wizard of Oz clearly worked in their favor, but the next two shows, also original productions, were incredible as well.

And that is how we found ourselves, Saturday night, attending the company's first annual fundraiser, consuming tasty wine and delicious food, buying yet more theater tickets at yet another silent auction (are you sensing a pattern?), telling the young actors in person just how good we really think they are, and chatting with other fans of the House Theatre's work.

And one of those other fans was none other than NPR personality Peter Sagal, host of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. He's a member of the House board, and I stopped him to tell him how thrilled I was that two of my favorite entertainment options had a connection in him, and asked how he got involved with the House. Turns out his wife got him tickets to one of their shows a few years ago, they both loved it, he ended up chatting with the staff of the theater, and now he's very proud to be a member of their board. I told him about Barrel of Monkeys, because I got the feeling he'd like it, we talked for a minute or two more (and, yes, I gushed about Wait, Wait a little more, too), and he headed on his way.

Later, during his official remarks before the keynote by the artistic director, Mr. Sagal observed that what he loves about the House Theatre is that it causes him to think of Shakespeare's line, "You must reawaken your faith." And I was so proud to be able to support an organization whose productions make so many of us feel that way - re-energized, renewed, sometimes just happy to be alive.

And I was also happy that Peter Sagal had, at some point, introduced his NPR coworker, Ira Glass, to the House Theatre, back when This American Life was still based in Chicago. Because it turns out that Ira Glass became a huge fan as well - so much so that he not only flew back from New York for this event, he also agreed to participate. And not only participate, but sing "Thunder Road" with Peter Sagal. And I must say: Ira Glass and Peter Sagal are not very good singers. However, watching them turn the song's bridge into an impromptu dance which ended when the 5'7" Sagal tried to dip the 6' tall Glass was truly amazing, and I'm very, very happy I could be there to witness it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It's So Shiny!

I've never been a gadget girl. In fact, the husband often accuses me of being something of a luddite. Others accuse me of having married the husband in order to ensure that I would always have someone around capable of hooking up the DVD player (to whom I reply that is just an added bonus, thank you very much!). The only new toy that appeared within the last decade or so that really intrigued me was TiVo... and even that didn't enter my life until the husband bought it for me as a birthday gift a few years back, presenting it with the exclamation, "You can store all the Degrassi you want!!!" (It was great.)

So can someone explain to me why, as soon as I saw the husband's RAZR, I simply had to have one? I mean, up until now, I've owned exactly two cell phones in seven years - the first was selected because it was among the cheapest options Sprint offered; the second was selected four years later considering similar criteria, only after I dropped its predecessor one too many times and was, alas, unable to Krazy Glue it back together again (it was tragic in its Humpty-Dumptyness). I've never felt the need to partake in any activities with my phone other than... well, phone calls.

And yet, when the husband was given this new phone for work purposes, I just couldn't stop playing with it! It's so pretty! So little! So multi-tasking! Anyway, after a particularly crabby morning today, I finally bit the bullet and made my way over to Verizon during lunch. And I've been taking photos and texting all afternoon. And it's so shiny!!!