Big city livin’

A lot of people have been asking me what life has been like since moving to the “big city” [i.e. Chicago] and I suppose the time has come for something resembling a more standard update on my life in the past several weeks.

I just yesterday returned from a weekend trip to Madison to partake in the inaugural Forward Music Festival and visit with friends. The festival was mostly enjoyable, effectively satiating my craving for live music, and was a thrifty deal, at $25 for a weekend pass. Tsk tsk to festival organizers for switching the Saturday schedule at the last minute and causing me to miss the performance of The Dials, a Chicago-based band — this was not the only changed or grossly off-schedule occurrence that happened during the festival. That said, Neko Case, Leslie and the LY’s and Flosstradamus alone were worth the price of admission, not to mention the bits and scraps of many other talented performers that I was able to catch over the course of the weekend. And I’m hoping to catch Thao Nguyen (whose set I also, unfortunately, missed at FMF) at the Hotel Cafe stop in Madison later this fall.

For those of you unaware of the grandeur that is Ames, Iowa-bred, gem sweater-wearing Leslie Hall, feast your eyes post haste:

Just a few weeks prior, I was fortunate enough to catch another of my favorite live musicians in a free outdoor show downtown, when Andrew Bird played the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. The selection of songs was spectacular — from the many newly-penned songs played to the glorious ‘Fake Palindromes’, which inspired a mass audience migration to the stage — and were enhanced by both the picturesque backdrop of the park’s scenery and the bottle of merlot that my roommate and I split. The next time this man comes into your town, do not hesitate to clear your calendar and check him out.

Andrew Bird against the backdrop of the beautiful Pritzker Pavilion.
Bird playing against the backdrop of the beautiful Pritzker Pavilion.

My occupation at this moment would technically be “freelance writer,” though this is hardly full-time, nor is it paying the bills, which has made a profound impact on the amount of time I’ve been able to devote to this blog, in addition to my choices of entertainment. If you’re interested in reading some of my work, spotlighting talented queer Chicagoans, check out my recent articles from EDGE Chicago, featuring the co-founders of the Bare Boned Theatre company and singer-songwriter Ian Wilson.

Beyond that, my other work as a writer: (a) Angry insomnia-induced blog rants on a certain hockey mother, (b) Dozens upon dozens of cover letters, (c) The beginnings of a manuscript — yes, a manuscript, tentatively titled Adventures in Wonderland.

The manuscript is turning out to be based very much on my own life, drawing inspiration from everything ranging from Sylvia Plath poetry to subway performance artists. It is about the adventures of a young gay man new to a large urban setting in a world of vigilant social networking, intrusive advertising, online dating sites, divisive and a wilting economy. It’s about disappointment, fear and naivety coming head to head with hope, optimism and love. Wandering lost through the world at the very time when you’re expected to be found. Keep your eyes out for a preview to be released on this blog before Halloween.

In addition to writing, I’ve been spending some time volunteering, which has been a total blast. Two weekends ago — during that freakish flood of the city — I had the treat of participating in the fabulously ornate Aware Affair: Superheroes fundraiser, hosted at the MCA Loft by the Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN). My duty? Wander the glamorous space with a clipboard in one hand and a drink (compliments of the open bar) in the other with my very own personal male-model-hero, as pictured below, in the green briefs at center, at my side:

Male superhero models are fun.  The Republican is on the far right; Greenie in the middle was "mine."
Male superhero models are fun. The Republican is on the far right; Greenie in the middle was "mine." Photo: ChicagoPride.com

This boy — who was STRAIGHT, who knew!? — was just one of many models who showed up for the gig as eye candy for the predominantly male guests. I had to laugh when he expressed concern over the amount of attention that he was receiving from some of the older men at the event — did he not realize that he was covered only in tiny briefs, glitter and body paint? I’m not sure what the expectation was, but I’m thankful that I was paired with this particular heterosexual male model-musician-student instead of the Republican in the red briefs who spent ten minutes explaining to me why John McCain’s military experience alone should be reason enough to secure any vote, regardless of any lacking in the Palin department.

Attacked by the Hulk.
Attacked by the Hulk.

‘Til next time, I’m outzo.

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One thought on “Big city livin’

  1. Um. I LOVE the pictures. Wow. lol. I wish my job was to walk around with a free drink and take pictures with topless hot men! Very nice Joe!

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