08 December 2008

What Goes Around...

Hard to believe I haven't touched this thing in 8 freaking months. And a lot has happened in those 8 freaking months. First and foremost, I have a new job. Running this thing. A few posts back - from February - I seem thrilled to have been brought in as a contributor. Anyway, it's been every bit as challenging and rewarding as I thought it would be. I've learned a shit-ton about this city, about writing, about managing a staff (especially one of volunteers), and about myself and I've only been crackin' it for 2.5 months.

One of my main concerns going into this job was that of my being an "outsider." I knew very few people in the Chicago Online Media circle and, to be honest, it was rather intimidating. Who the fuck am I to mess around with the big kids? To an extent, I suppose I still feel like that. Day-to-day, I think nothing of the "reach" of what I write. Since I've taken the reins, I've written in the neighborhood of 900 posts. Some have been fantastic that I'm proud of and some have been wretched. But I always thought, meh, no one reads this anyway. Not as an excuse for allowing poor content, mind you, but just as a reassurance in the event that I fuck something up.

Maybe I never really appreciated the 'reach' of the internet, or maybe I had a misconception of how big our site was. Our maybe it's me once again "minimalizing my accomplishments" as my former therapist (former because I stopped going cause I was "cured" not cause she wasn't awesome because she was) would say; maybe I don't give myself enough credit for what I do? Either way, I never fully appreciated how far stuff I write could reach.

Part of it has to do with the fact I'll bust my ass on something awesome...and then no one reads it. And then I'll dash something off really quick and it takes on a life of its own. That happened with this post. Turns out that through yesterday, it's the second most viewed story on our site this year. A close second! And numbers three and four? Well, they stem from what also started out as a quick toss off of a pargraph grew into a monster week, all surrounding the whole Obama/Supreme Court thing. All of a sudden, white supremacists are calling me "arrogant" and a "race traitor." It freaks me the fuck out. Not that white supremacists are talking shit about me, but that they're even reading me to begin with.

I suppose what it boils down to for me is: what I do doesn't feel like a big deal to me. Especially when I do it. I'm doing my job, and it just happens to be what i want to do something I love doing. But in the end, I don't write these things thinking thousands of people are going to read it. If I did, I'd freeze up and shit myself every time I started a paragraph. I'm struck by that often: does what I do even matter? Many have spoken of the necessary ego that a writer must have to write for an audience. I suppose it's much the same way a lead singer must have the same ego, no matter how shy or reticent he acts? I guess I have it. I have the balls to keep writing day after day knowing someone is going to read it and yeah, I get a positive jolt when I hear someone enjoys something I've done or when someone says they've actually heard of the site I write for. But I just fail to comprehend whether or not it's a big deal.

Last week I went to a rock'n'roll show. Fall Out Boy, to be exact. It was awesome. I sat with one of the two outstanding music writers at our site. She was taking notes for a live review on Spin. That seemed like a totally big deal to me. I read SPIN! (Well, I used to way back when I could afford magazine subscriptions). That's awesome! That's not to belittle what I do or the site I write for, but I guess the thing is, I don't feel the same way about what I write. Maybe it's because it's my own writing. Maybe it's because it's my job but I was kinda jazzed to sit next to someone reviewing a show for a publication I READ!

Anyway, I guess it's all a learning process. I need to hurry up and accept that hey, this is what I do, it's a big deal, and people dig it. Otherwise I suppose the attitude could suffer? Maybe one day I'll get to that point, where I feel the same way about the work I do that I do about the work others do. Or maybe I never will. Maybe that's the point? Maybe it's a positive thing to retain a little bit of humility? I blame my southern upbringing for that one.

Whatever the case, it's been a surreal year and it's been a blast. And here's to seeing where the next one goes.

17 March 2008


So I FINALLY got my hands on a copy of the upcoming R.E.M. record, Accelerate, due out April 1 on Warner Bros. And I gotta say, after several listens, it kicks ass and even the weaker songs still hold up. As an album, it's only 34 minutes long but a much more cohesive collection of songs than the last 3 records (Up, Reveal, Around The Sun). In fact, I remember making a playlist for my now dead iPod of the best songs REM did from 1997-2007 and it was 15 tracks long, i.e., one good record. I might have even posted it here. I don't know, I'm too distracted to go back and look.

Anyhow, it's a terrific record. "Living Well's the Best Revenge", "Accelerate," "Houston", and "Horse to Water" are my favorite tracks on the first listen. It's fast paced. A lot of reviews will say "REM Is Back!!!" Well, they never really went away. They've been floundering in the post-Berry-departure years (he was a bigger influence in the writing and their sound then we ever realized) and middle-age and getting distracted with all sorts of side-projects. If nothing else, this sounds like the most focused effort REM has put together in years. It's not overlong (like ATS felt) or bloated, and while the production seems not quite up to par with the songs (though that could just be the rip of the CD), it's still pretty great. Definitely look forward to hearing some of these tracks live.

As my St. Patrick's Day gift to you (and by you, I mean probably just Emily and Jerry), here is track 1, Living Well's The Best Revenge. I'll post a few more this week, too.

26 February 2008


A few bits of news in my world this week.

First, I have a new roommate. His name is Franklin Roosevelt. He likes chewing things and following me around the kitchen no matter what I'm doing.

He sleeps in a $10 Walgreens bed next to mine and even has his own crate in our library in which he sits sometimes. He likes walking in the park, peeing in the park, and pooping in the park. He also enjoys chasing his own tail.

He's a rescue dog I adopted via Have a Heart Rescue. He's had a rough start but he's doing very well now.

Also, I am interviewing people this week to take the OTHER more official position as my roommate. We'll see what shakes down.

If I hadn't emailed it to you or told you about a million times yet, I am now officially a writer for the Chicagoist blog, covering A&E things. Which include passes to attend and review the Snoop Dogg concert tomorrow night. Bad ass.

You can read my posts here, though I recommend checking the site out daily if you live in Chicago. You can also read my "trial period" posts by entering "Thanks Marcus" in the search box on the front page.

I spent 2 hours yesterday setting up my bosses cell phone because she couldn't/didn't want to do it herself. So instead of getting some actual work done, I activated her phone and then fucked around with the people at AT&T to ensure she can use the phone in Canada. I then had to instruct her how to check voicemail. Now, this may not seem strange to some. She is the same generation of my parents and new things typically scare them. I will never forget the night my mom figured out how to send a text message. But this is a woman who is a founder and president of a technology consulting firm. She boasts of being ON THE LEADING EDGE of certain technologies and software. She scoffs at Apple AND Windows Vista. Yet, she doesn't know how to check voicemail on a cell phone? Pressing the big button with the picture of the envelope on it?

I was in a GRAND mood when I got home around 6:30, an hour late, because I had to stay late and finish up stuff I had to do BEFORE she came to me with her phone issues. Then I found out that Franklin Roosevelt had not been able to hold it any longer and had pooped in his crate. Then he had eaten his poop. And an hour later, he threw up his poop and dinner all over our living room throw rug.

No lie.

It was magnificent.

Beth just laughed, God bless her. And I, what with not being able to smell and all, simply rolled up the carpet and tossed it out back with the rest of the garbage. It was kind of like that time back in NOLA, when I was living with Jeremy, when Johnny puked in the bucket, and I was volunteered to carry it out since I couldn't smell.

Anyway, Frankin #1ed AND #2ed at the SAME TIME this morning on our walk. Which is a first for us. WE'VE TURNED A CORNER!

Thus concludes today's stories on poop.

I also went to one of the Wilco Residency shows last week with a buddy, Andy. He went to all 5 nights. I'd have love to have done that, but I couldn't afford it and had other fish to fry, so to speak. So I settled for one night. And it was awesome.

Just as awesome? The amazing show poster set. I couldn't afford the $125 for the complete set of 5 (which would look A-MAZING! all together in one frame) but I did get one. Pretty awesome.

Here it is.

better version at the website here.

19 February 2008

The Subprime Crisis Explained

Click here for a pretty brilliant slide show that explains the current subprime quandary.

28 January 2008

R.E.M. Tour 2008

At the risk of turning this blog into nothing but Obama and REM porn, comes the announcement straight from the band itself: REM is touring the US this summer.

Not only is this news awesome, but the cherry on top is the list of opening bands: Modest Mouse and The National.

I shit thee not. Rock.


23--Vancouver--Deer Lake Park
29--Los Angeles--Hollywood Bowl
31--Berkeley--The Greek Theatre


03--Denver--Red Rocks Amphitheatre
06--Chicago--United Center
08--Toronto--Molson Amphitheatre
10--Raleigh--Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
11--Washington, DC--Merriweather Post Pavilion
13--Boston--Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts
14--Long Island--Jones Beach Theater
18--Philadelphia--Mann Center for the Performing Arts
19--New York City--TBA
21--Atlanta--Lakewood Amphitheatre