Saturday, November 24, 2012

Don't Be Gross: A Plea to Fellow Humans

Recently, I've had lots of friends, acquaintances and co-workers tell me that "something is going around" and they've been sick recently or repeatedly. This is the season where we are all shut up inside our homes with the windows locked down tight, sneezing, touching stuff with our boogery hands, sharing holiday beers with friends and family and generally just being the gross humans our biology has made us.

 So this is your friendly reminder to wash your hands. Don't be a scuzbag. 

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Summer in the (Iowa) City

Another Finals week has come to a close, and there was no better evidence than the droves of drunken students/graduates flocking in the streets of downtown Iowa City last night. It's a spectacle to see - as are many warm nights in this college town.  My cynical eyes beheld stretch SUV limo monstrosities, mini-dresses paired with perilous high heels, middle aged parents of graduates looking very out of place, but happy, as they bar hop -  and townies, trying to find a chill bar without being high-fived by multiple drunken strangers on the sidewalk.  I get the whole symbiotic relationship this town has with the University and I don't wish it away. But as a long-time resident of this fair city (and as someone who has never played sandbags or been to a football game), I revel in the glory that is an Iowa City summer. So I am dedicating this post to my love affair with hot days and nights in this, the cultural capitol of Iowa.

The completely incomplete list of things I love about summers in Iowa City.

1. Free live music in the Ped Mall on Friday and Saturday nights. Even if you're not into the band playing, there's something about being downtown with the fountain splashing, eating street food, running into people you like but don't see often enough, and feeling that there really is a huge community here that doesn't involve thousands of transplanted students.

2. Laying in the sun in College Green Park, watching slackliners, listening to the swings creaking and basketballs rhythmically slapping the pavement. (I am interested in getting in on the yoga in the park that I've seen photos of on facebook. If someone reading is in on this, let me know when and i'll be there.)

3. Summer affords all us car-drivers ample street parking downtown.

4. You can walk up to any bar in town, sit down, and order a drink without having to scream. Then you can drink it without a bunch of drunk 21-year olds slamming into you like it's the Night at the Roxbury.

5. Barbeques, bonfires, and hanging out on porches. This sounds boring and midwestern, but with the right combination of people and intoxicants, this can lead to some of the greatest conversations of your life.
Grill Masters

6. Farmers markets. Saturday mornings, Wednesday evenings. I love me some Amish-made baked goods. I could eat tomatoes like apples. And please, please, bring on the Iowa sweet corn.

7. Being a short drive from the honest-to-God country. So when you get sick of being a city slicker, you can hop in somebody's car and find yourself playing frisbee golf in the woods, swimming in some part of the lake, hiking some gorgeous trail or doing other things-that-shall-not-be-named under a pine tree.

8. Hiking in Hickory Hill park. I love that I can feel lost in the woods while in town.
Hickory Hill Park

9. Baseball at City Park. I ache like an old woman the next day, but it's a good hurt.

10. Parties on farms at the edge of town. I need to find more of those to go to, now that I think about it.

11. Biking along the river.

12. Staying up all night and going for a walk at sunrise.

I'm sure if you're one of the three people reading this, you're likely also celebrating a bunch of these things. If you're planning on doing any of the above mentioned activities, gimme a holler because I'd sure love to tag along.

Now it's your turn. Leave me some comments. What tickles your fancy about summer in this metropolis?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mini-roadtrip to see the Growlers.

This week I got to go on a super-mini road trip (115 miles to Des Moines) to see the Growlers Play at the House of Bricks. It's always nice to get out of town for a minute and see something new, even if it's less than 2 hours away from home. It reinforces my love for Iowa City. So me, my fella and a fabulous friend piled into the car a couple hours before the show, thinking we could get there on time - and we almost did, but I slowed the train down by first forgetting my wallet at the apartment and then ripping my skirt seam, like, 4 inches as we tried to leave a second time. (Maybe I should start keeping a spare outfit in the car?)

Now the car ride is half the fun of going anywhere. Some people hate it, but I love the idea of being stuck in a giant capsule with 1 or more people I enjoy while listening to music, eating snacks, and laughing about shit, all while going 70mph. It was a chatty ride, making the time spent in the car feel like a half hour, and not the actual two hours from Iowa City to downtown Des Moines.

Halfway through the 1st band's set, we arrived to a sparsely populated bar and a bored-looking bartender. The place was plain, seemed to be under renovation. I am guessing they had a Mario Bros. themed something-or-other recently due to the random cardboard star and gold coin hanging from the ceiling over the stage. Even though I really liked the crappy Nintendo themed decor remnants, I think this is the only shot I took of the star and I didn't get one of the coin.

The turnout was 'meh'. I sat at the bar for a bit and just surveyed the crowd. There was a girl I recognized who works at a food establishment in downtown Iowa City, some DSMhipsters, a couple of guys who looked like they were on a first date and really uncomfortable, and the usual group of semi-drunk girls who laugh and dance with abandon directly at center stage during every set. When I wasn't sociologically observing the 50 or so people that actually came out, I was being entertained by a tv monitor that cycled through funny pictures and promos for upcoming shows. The ones that made my friend JoAnn and I laugh the most were "The Farmer Tan Funk Band" and Walter Trout( had to be there.) OH! There was also a hip-hop (?) band called Bunny Bear or something...and it was two dudes in jogging suits wearing plastic cartoon masks - one a bunny, the other a bear, as you may have guessed.  Overall the bar was unremarkable, but not bad. The stage lights were decent, the sound was good and nobody bumped into me or spilled beer on me or my companions.

The House of Bricks was on the corner of Grand and East 6th Streets, both of which were shiny and rainbow stained from the rainy weather that rolled in.  The drizzle forced smokers to cram into the tiny covered space at the corner entrance, causing uncomfortable, light chatter among strangers puffing away, shoulder to shoulder. During one smoke break in which JoAnn ran back to the car, a girl exclaimed at her as she returned... "Girl, you look good." And then the stranger looked at Doug and I as JoAnn joined us under the cover and said "You all look too good to be from Des Moines." (cue awkward laughter). Yet another reason it's good to get out of town for a minute.

I didn't photograph either of the two openers, even though the second band was pretty killer punk-infused garage rock. Their drummer was fun to watch. Skinny arms, long hair, ferocious chops and the ability to make beating on drums look like "arm dancing". With their overall sound and the lead vocals, I got a strong sense of King Khan & the BBQ Show, but sludgier. At one point the band said it was their first time in Iowa and my IC pride made me wish they had come to Gabe's instead.

The Growlers played for a nice, long time, but not so long that I got tired and turned into a cranky baby in the audience. I was totally into what they were doing, but also aware of the 2 hour drive home for which I remained stone sober. I confess I wasn't familiar with the Growlers before JoAnn suggested this whole crazy night, and had only listened to limited amounts of their music before the show, so I was pleasantly surprised to find they are a mix of the best part of a bunch of genres. I was picking out bits of country, reggae, surf rock, 1950s pop and I swear in that venue the lead singer sounded like he was channeling the late Davey Jones. He wore that big heavy coat for all but the last few songs. The coat was large and bell shaped and made him look like a Mod version of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's lovechild.
                                                                                             Brooks Nielsen

Kidding aside, they were great. They were relatively motionless,except for the necessary actions of playing music, but they still were really interesting to watch. They played a bunch of new stuff, but the joke was on them because the songs are ALL new to me. I'll call myself a fan now. But I'll fully declare JoAnn as the real fan. Thanks to her for turning me on to this band and for instigating this little adventure . Also earning JoAnn superfan status - she got 2 t-shirts, 2 CDs, a button, a sticker and she chatted up the Growlers drummer who said he thinks they'll be hitting Iowa City sometime in May (maybe). If the Growlers come to town, I am going to be there. And I think everyone else should be, too. Maybe nobody reads this shit, but if you're reading this - Growlers. May. Go.

And then I drove home in rain that I will refer to as "spit" because that's what it looked like on the windshield. I am a good, bad-weather driver, but I much prefer to be the passenger on these little jaunts.
So that's a long story about a short night out of town. Find my photos on flickr.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pizza on Dubuque Folk Night: Rachael Marie

Pizza on Dubuque has recently started hosting free folk nights in their upstairs seating area, a very nice, very underutilized space. I'm not quite sure if these events are hosted on a particular day of the week, but it's a good idea t peek in next time you're hanging out downtown. There are usually well-drawn fliers in the window announcing the next event. These shows are low-key, BYOB and have so far featured both well-established musicians like Pete Balestrieri and some artists new to the local scene like Rachael Marie, shown in the photos below. Rachael may look small and unassuming, but she has a powerful voice and a special ability to write songs that tell a story.  In the last photo, you'll see her singing into the body of her banjo, which caused a haunting echo to consume her voice. Keep lookout, as I am sure you'll have a chance to hear her play again soon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blogger ADHD and a reminder that i am appreciated: a story

Despite this blog being dead, dead, dead...or rather, never really brought to life in the first place, I really do have quiite the web presence. Over 75 blog posts for Little Village Magazine, 199 youtube videos, and over 11K photos on flickr - it borders on insane. I have a twitter account, a fresh tumblr account and a wordpress blog that has been as neglected as this one. I feel like I have found the ultimate way to spread yourself thin over the limitless surface of the internet. The digital way to say nothing in a maximum amount of kilobytes.

I admire those that have honed their focus enough to have blogs that people actually look at, and again I am attempting to refocus myself onto this space that I have designated as my own. Whether or not anyone will actually appreciate my attempts is best left unscrutinized by moi.

As for what to say, I always have things to say. It's often hard for me to stifle my opinions - they just seem to fall out of my mouth at the worst of times. And then when I pop my netbook open, ready to unleash my hard-earned wisdom or anecdotes on the world, nothing comes out.

Then tonight I had a little jolt of inspiration, er rather, an eye-opening experience about letting go. Both actually. I was feeling totally bummed out, like gum stuck to the bottom of someone shoe. I broke my rule of always leaving the house tarted up at least enough that I'd not be ashamed of myself if caught in a photo, threw on a hat and a t-shirt that I picked up off my bedroom floor and left my house. I didn't touch up my eyeliner or painstaking check my silhouette in my floor length mirror 100 times like I usually do....i just grabbed my bag and was out the door. Well, lesson learned. Two lessons actually.

As I approached the tobacco bowl, I caught a smartly dress young woman out of the corner of my eye and kept getting the feeling that she was going to say something to me. I ignored the instinct, charged on to the Tobacco Bowl and bought a half ounce of my vice to roll into papers and burn. As I was leaving, the woman actually did approach me and asked to photograph me for her fashion blog. While in my head I was thinking "Are you joking? In this?" but my mouth said something in agreement and I haphazardly stood there while she focused her sharp-looking silver camera on my awkward stance.

I tried to babble some words of wisdom, as though I have any to give, and sauntered on my way. She made me smile. I was in jeans, black flats, my pink Kurt Cobain t-shirt and blue hoodie. I had my thrifted grey wool hat on solely for the purpose of covering up my shaggy hair and the green earrings I had been wearing since 8am. I never thought I was a beacon of Iowa City fashion.

Lesson 1: When you are feeling low, the world is going to try to balance things out. And you've got to let it.  I could have easily told the girl no, stormed off and continued feeling terrible about the events of my day. I could have locked myself into my self-deprecating mood. I was feeling unloved, invalidated and underappreciated. Then a total stranger appreciated something about me, regardless how superficial it was.....and I remembered that I am more than just the sum of all the terrible things I can add up in my head.

Lesson 2: There is great freedom in not giving a shit. I looked at her blog post when I got home and for the initial 5-seconds, I scrutinized myself - critiquing everything I hated about the photo...about myself....and passed. I though, "who gives a shit?" No one is going to ridicule me. No one's going to whisper about my smudged mascara or the width of my hips. In fact, this blog post was raving about my color blocking and understated style. There comes a time when you have to stop trying so hard and just be yourself. And in that moment, someone will recognize the inherent beauty of that attitude.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We're Pleased to Announce: Nemesis Tattoo Raffle

What would Carnival Hearts & Arts Parade be without the promise of art you can wear on your skin forever and ever? Did your interest just peak? Of course it did. tattoooooo<3<3: for you?

I want to take an opportunity to give some mad props to Nemesis Tattoo for making a generous donation to our little shin-dig on the 21st. There are few things better than art, unless it's permanent art that you take everywhere you go. We're super excited to announce that we'll be giving away a secret number of gift certificates to Nemesis.

If you wanna win some ink from the talented and super lovely folks at Nemesis, you gotta show up to the event on Saturday, May 21st and buy a raffle ticket. :) Tickets will be $5 each and all money will go back into making this and future Carnival Hearts and Arts Parade events happen.

*You must be present to win - so bring a friend, a picnic blanket, some samiches and stick with us for the long haul... ;)

Also check out some photos I took at Nemesis: such a rad shop....


Monday, June 14, 2010

1st Annual Hearts & Arts Parade

Well, my old blog has been zapped by the techie-gods at google, so there's nothing better to do than start over with a fresh idea or two.

I'll begin with a collection of photos from the 1st Annual Carnival Hearts & Arts Parade that took place in Iowa City's Upper City Park on May 30th, 2010. It was a wonderful, intimate menagerie of some of the City's most creative folks and their supporters. Hours of music, an array of handmade goods, photography, circus-y endeavors in the grass and plenty of excitement for the future of this event. Below is a link to the event slideshow (Until I learn to embed, please copy and paste). I hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as i enjoyed shooting them.