Friday, February 29, 2008

funniest snl in a long time

Last Saturday night SNL returned after a 2+-month-long writers' strike hiatus. Due to my feverish state, I stayed in and watched the new episode. Despite how miserable I felt, I still couldn't help laughing out loud at times. They were the kind of skits that made me wish I still worked there

(yep, that's a polaroid of me, standing in for Lorne Michaels towards the end of the '04/'05 season)

...and I'll tell you one other thing that makes me wish I still worked there--Ellen Page and WILCO are hosting tomorrow night's show!! I could be holding a light meter under Jeff Tweedy's chin as I type this...

Here are my two favorites from the 2/23/08 show:



(for the full-length skit, click HERE)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wilco Winter Residency, Day 5 (a.k.a. What happens Thursday?)

(*NOTE*: My apologies for taking so long to complete the final recap...I started writing this Thursday and by Friday came down with the flu, which I'm still trying to get over...)

It's taken me 24 hours to process last night's conclusion to what Greg Kott coined, "Wilco-palooza," but here it goes.
In anticipation of the final night, I purposely refrained from looking up which songs Wilco had not played yet. I couldn't think of any off the top of my head, so I thought it'd be fun to be surprised if there were any left. Not only was this the grand finale but I was supposed to go with friends again. Abbey had our two tickets and we planned to meet Shilpa there. Unfortunately, though, Abbey got sick in the middle of the day and decided against going. She and I both sent out texts to our other Wilco fan friends. Our mutual friend, Lindsay (who was there Saturday), decided to skip class for the night and spend the time instead enjoying the lovely sounds of our favorite band.
Shilpa had to pick her ticket up from will-call, so she got there early and stood in line in the freezing cold, subsequently allowing her to save us seats, sixth row center. Turns out it was the same row I'd sat in the the past two nights with Amy and Steve. And guess who happened to be sitting behind us--Amy and Steve!
Frank E. Lee from XRT introduced the band tonight, saying, "Wilco is playing as good as any band in the world right now!"

1) Sunken Treasure (repeat)--I love the harmonica.
2) One By One--during this mellow tune, the girl taking down orders/carrying drinks around was yelling out names of beers to potential customers
3) Shouldn't Be Ashamed
4) You Are My Face (repeat)--the annoying people receiving all the beer wouldn't sit down, which annoyed those (us) who actually wanted to sit and relax during the slower songs. "They should be pushed," Lindsay said.
5) Side With The Seeds (repeat)

"How you doin'?" Jeff asked the packed theater. "Are you tired?" I answered "YES" but it got lost among all the overly-enthused "NOs!" "No, we're not tired," Jeff said. "We are en-er-gized. We've been swingin' two bats in the on-deck circle all week--I don't know what that means--do they still do that?" (???) "Ok, we've been taking human growth hormones all week."

6) Pot Kettle Black (repeat)
7) War On War (repeat)
8) Pieholden Suite--Nels Cline simultaneously played the banjo and tambourine
"We get asked to play that song a lot, but we don't play it often...because we don't have the Total Prose [the horn trio...who I've been informed is actually the Total PROS...i.e. PROfessionals]

9) Muzzle Of Bees (repeat)
10) It's Just That Simple (repeat)--John Stirratt got just as huge and deserving a reaction from the crowd as he did on Saturday night. I recorded most of the beautiful song, but unfortunately had to stop just before the end because the stupid security man was on the prowl again. I saw him checking out some girl's device in the row in front of mine and got nervous. Enjoy:

11) Nothingsevergonnastandinmyway (repeat)

"This song will be the last off of A.M.," Jeff said. "I have to be honest--you can go get a soda during this song. This song is dogshit, man. It's the worst song...it's the worst song ever. I just have to be honest with you, so go pee, take it easy, put your feet up, don't pay attention--this is a contractual obligation."
12) I Thought I Held You--he mocked himself through the entire song, even going so far as to mime the lyrics--love it.
"Did you enjoy that?" Cheers. "That's because these guys [motioned to the band] are good. Thanks fellas for polishing that turd. Showbiz should be more honest, don't you think? I'd like it on American Idol if someone came out and said, 'Look I didn't really rehearse this at all. I suck.'"

13) What Light--Lindsay and I discussed on the drive to The Riv how annoying it is that people only know this song (because it's the only one the radio played for awhile from SBS before they finally started playing "Walken") and how a lot of people interpret the song to be about god.
"Watch," I said to Lindsay when the song started. "Everyone's going to sing this one." Sure enough, I was right.
Lindsay responded, "That's cause they think it's church." Haha!

"If you've been to all the shows, we're really close to being done with all the songs on all the records. A lot of the rest of the set is just kind of our favorites from the week, stuff that we like to play. Some stuff we played a lot, some stuff we haven't played very much."
14) When You Wake Up Feeling Old (repeat)
"We're gonna rock the shit outta these songs," Jeff said in response to someone in the audience yelling, "Rock that shit!"
"Orchestrated pop tunes," he continued, before jumping into
15) Summerteeth (repeat)--when Jeff sang the "Oooo's" at the end, the audience sang the "Aaaah's." "Nice Ahh-ing," he said. "I like that sentence--nice ahh-ings."
16) Jesus, Etc. (repeat)--the return of Andrew Bird! Finally got it on video:

"Thank you Andrew. I'm glad you came back," Jeff told him. "We're gonna play a couple more songs and that's it." Boooo! "You guys know better than that. We're gonna play a couple more songs and then we're going to take a break and then it's gonna be like we opened for ourselves. Then when we come back we'll be like the real deal, we'll be like the real band, we'll like change clothes and it'll probably just be us still, but that's kinda the idea."

17) Walken (repeat)--the first time I ever heard this song, all I could think was Beatlemania! Shilpa leaned over to me and happily said, "This song makes me think of you!" That made me smile. The only song with my name in it is "Letters To Elise" by The Cure, which is not only the most depressing song ever, but I'm pretty sure they wrote it about my life circa 2002/03. So it's nice to know that such a catchy, Beatles-inspired, fun tune reminds my friend of me over that other one.
18) Hummingbird (repeat)

During the break, Shilpa went to get us cups of water, while Lindsay and I discussed how we felt we were amidst a frat party. All we kept hearing was "HEINEKEN! AMSTEL! BUD!" I felt like informing these popped-collar idiots that Dave Matthews Band was actually playing in Wrigleyville--i.e. where the graduated population of my former high school resides.
When Shilpa returned, we had someone behind us take this picture before we got even sweatier.

Wilco came back with a repeat favorite
19) Via Chicago (repeat)--during which I turned to Shilpa and said, "This feels so good between my legs," in reference to the cup of water. I was serious but then she made me laugh by insisting I write in my book that I said that. Which then prompted my follow-up, "That's what she said," in my persistent ode to Michael Scott of The Office. "Pretty unpleasant," Lindsay said, regarding the blinding light display.

20) Blood Of The Lamb--never heard of it

"We're gonna have to do this again next year," Jeff said, which caused expected amounts of wild cheering. "Because I don't think we're going to get to everything." Collective Awwwwww. "We'll get to everything on the Wilco records but not everything on the Mermaid Avenue records, not all the B sides. We never promised that--look on your ticket! In fact, I don't think there's any promises on there. So next year we'll make some broader promise, since we know all these now. We'll do Dark Side Of The Moon one night." People yelling things. "Well you know what--you can submit your suggestions to the suggestion box...On your way out." Haha cause we're gone for good then-clever, Jeff. "Help us serve you better."

21) Can't Stand It (repeat)--I forgot to write it down?
22) Box Full Of Letters (repeat)--yay! I got to hear it again!
"I apologize for messing up the lyrics on that song," Jeff said. "And really quickly I'd like to blame my wife. Because she still calls that song 'Box Full of Lecords.' Because I had to play it on the radio one time and I messed it up and she's never forgiven me. 17 years. So I looked up and I saw her and I thought, 'Oh she's thinking this is a box full of lecords' so then I sang 'a box full of lecords.' See how that works? Sorry guys," he directed towards his fellow band members.

23) Heavy Metal Drummer (repeat)--I forgot to write this one down too?? What the hell.
24) Hate It Here (5 for 5--really?)

"Warning, warning. This next song might require some overly-optimistic singing along, call and response. Just an alert.
25) The Thanks I Get (repeat)--after the call and response of "We can make it better," Jeff asked, "Can you make it better? You have to stand up and sing to make it better. You have to make an ass out of yourself to make it better...that's right." Then back to the call and response.
26) Just A Kid--I had never heard this one but judging by the lyrics guessed correctly that this was Wilco's contribution to the Spongebob Squarepants movie soundtrack.

"You guys still having a good time?" Happy whistles!
27) Red-Eyed And Blue (repeat)--got the whistle duet with Andrew Bird on video!

28) I Got You (repeat)
29) Casino Queen (repeat)--the guy standing next to Shilpa was an air-guitar maniac and gyrated his body like nothing I've ever seen. We all watched him in pure amazement.
30) I'm A Wheel (repeat)
31) Less Than You Think--Tweedy's voice sounded strained at this point. And don't worry, they did play about ten minutes worth of the feedback found on the A Ghost Is Born recording. One by one they exited the stage and waved as the sounds kept playing...Tweedy, then Sansone, then Stirrat, then Cline, then Kotche...I missed Jorgensen's exit.

Encore:
32) I'm The Man Who Loves You (repeat)--what? No wife shout-out?

"Thank you everybody. Thanks to the Riviera for letting us live here for a week. Thanks for spoiling us for the rest of tour."
33) Dreamer In My Dreams (repeat)--videoed the end

"That's it, that's it," Jeff said. "Goodnight everyone. Thanks again. We'll do this again next year, ok?" Ok, JT, whatever you say. I'm just glad I got to experience the debut of the residency idea.
We went outside and I asked Shilpa to take my picture under the marquee (see beginning of post). I proudly displayed two jazz hands above my head, partly from my years of posing like that in dance photos, but more so to show, 5! I went to ALL 5! Quite an accomplishment.
We then asked a girl standing near us if she'd take a picture of all three of us standing under the marquee. She was not a happy camper and kept insisting she couldn't get all of us in the frame, nor could she figure out what button to push...there's one button. Here's the result:

As we headed to the car, I screeched and pointed at the sky. The end of the lunar eclipse (which began during the concert) was still visible--the last one until 2010. A winning night, the conclusion of the residency and a natural phenomenon. I started singing Wilco's "Far Far Away"..."Far, far away/From those city lights/That might be shining on you tonight/Far, far away from you/On the dark side of the moon...."
5 nights
160 songs
approx. 15 hours
What happens tomorrow night? I wondered. Well, until we meet again, thank you for five nights of brilliance.
ALL PHOTOS
ALL VIDEOS
I randomly came across this person's blog, where she posted tonight's show in its entirety, available for download--enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wilco Winter Residency, Day 4, I Must Be High (On Wilco), a.k.a. Obama-Tweedy'08



As promised, Amy and Steve (who looks remarkably like the guy who originally got me into Wilco), my new friends I met at Monday night's show, saved me a seat (and the same exact one!), which was really nice because I was running a lot later this evening, and if it wasn't for them, probably would have ended up crammed in the back of the dance floor crowd.
I talked with Amy about Wilco/Jeff Tweedy solo shows we've both attended, which amounts to at least three (unless you count these 5, then at least 8).

"They've always been our Chicago band," Lin Brehmer of XRT declared while standing center stage. "Wherever they go, they always come home." (Unlike another well-known Chicago-based band who planned an entire tour without coming to Chicago...(*ahem*-smashing pumpkins)

1) Outta Mind (Outta Site)--(sort of a repeat, but the mellower version, which is not the same as the one they've already played...which is a mistake on my part...the version they have played already was "Outta Site (Outta Mind)" Oops.)
2) I Must Be High--funny because I was just going to comment about how I feel like I'm sitting in a marijuana bubble. I also feel like I've been on a Wilco/music high for the past five days.
3) Impossible Germany (4 for 4)

4) Radio Cure--my mind took an unintentional trip back in time during this song, to the year 2002 when someone i thought i loved wrote a line from this in a letter...except he got a crucial word wrong...He wrote "Distance has a way of making love understandable" when, in fact, the lyric is: Distance has NO way of making love understandable...which is ironic because his version made it seem like he was trying to tell me in Wilco-code that we could make things work, whereas that turned out to be his exact opposite sentiment...come back, come back from the past and focus on the present...

5) Leave Me Like You Found Me--people around me are clapping, but not for the song, for the people in the rows ahead of them taking a seat instead of blocking everyone else's view
"That's the first time we've played that song. Outside the studio," Jeff said. (I thought he meant in the last 4 nights) "It's always nice to audition a song in front of such a large listening audience--and on the radio. Did it sound ok?" YEAH! "Ok, moving right along..."

6) Company In My Back--I've always loved this line, "Hide your soft skin/Your sorrow is sunshine/Listen to my eyes/They're hissing radiator tunes..."
"I don't know if can say that [referring to the repetitive use of "holy shit"] on the radio," Jeff said at the end of the song. "Oh well...that might be a hef-ty fine." Then he addressed his sons at home. "If you're still listening, go to bed." He looked at his watch. "Ok, it's still early. You can listen a little longer...but don't pay attention."

7) Handshake Drugs (repeat)--"I was chewin' gum for something to do/The blinds were being pulled down on the dew/Inside, out of love, what a laugh/I was looking for you"
Here's a clip:

8) War On War--I'm just gonna go ahead and say that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot still qualifies as my all-time favorite album (post-Beatles era)
9) Shake It Off--another favorite off SBS, everyone cheered when Tweedy sang, "So many hearts beating in one place." I called Lindsay and left her a voicemail because she wanted to hear this song at Saturday's show.

"So did a lot of you wait around in the cold today?" Jeff asked. "You guys are in-sane." Someone yelled out "Thank you!" but I didn't know why. Then Jeff responded, "You're welcome. That was John's idea. I was against it. I said, 'Give them coffee and they're gonna want donuts.' Did you like the coffee and hot chocolate?" Oh, ok, I understand now. "Good. You're welcome. I'm saying that on air so everyone knows...how much we care," Jeff continued. "We're going to play a few songs off an album that will hopefully warm you up...Oh my god I'm the worst," he said, self-mockingly. "Ok, here's Summerteeth..."

10) Summerteeth

Some feedback. "Excuse me," Jeff joked.
11) In A Future Age
12) ELT (repeat)
13) Shot In The Arm (repeat)

14) Poor Places
15) Reservations--I thought I had never heard this song live, but I just looked back at my old set lists from the first few times I saw them back in '02/'03 and I have...just not in awhile
transitioned right into
16) Spiders (Kidsmoke) (repeat)--since this was not only a repeat but is also about ten minutes long, I decided to run down and take a "pee break" before the designated intermission. While down there, I listened to my voicemail:

"Hi this is Alyse-I can't get to the phone right now because I'm hanging out with Wilco!" Jenny tricked me again! Back in 2004 when Lindsay and I spent a whole night with Wilco&Co. after their Radio City performance in NYC, I left Jenny a drunken message from their hotel bar bathroom and she, in turn, left that message for me...but she sounded just like me, and it took me awhile to figure out she can just imitate me dead-on. She left the same message tonight and it confused me again! Hilarious.

When I got back, they were still playing the same song. Then Jeff said, "We're gonna play one song after this and then take a break. You guys keep clapping so they can hear you at home." The claps and cheering got louder as they finally concluded "Spiders."
"Because I have the opportunity to speak to more people than just you, I'd like to thank those who've come to all five shows..." (but we're here, Jeff, and it's only #4) "...and to the city of Chicago for making our lives...wonderful (or beautiful?)." Then making fun of himself for clearly being a cheeseball, he said, "Oh my god..."

17) On And On And On--most depressing song on SBS

During the break Amy and Steve left to get some air. I stayed in my seat, stared at people, took a crappy picture of the ceiling

and thought to myself, "I wonder what they're playing on the radio during the break...."

"Hello. Welcome back," Jeff greeted us and the XRT audience.
18) Hotel Arizona (repeat)

"It's really great to play on the radio and promote our first two albums." Everyone laughed. "...Since we didn't get to the first time. I'm just kidding--XRT would have let us--they've been with us from the start--the only radio to support Wilco."
I thought of the radio station's ads around the city that read, "Chicago without XRT would be..." asking for listeners to submit their comparisons on their website. Chicago without XRT would be like the world without Wilco.
19) Too Far Apart (repeat)-- check out the video clip. I finally recorded some of Tweedy's wittiness, as he asked, "Can you do that? I'm not gonna go for it that hard--it's the radio--that'd be silly."

20) (Was I) In Your Dreams
"Thank you gentleman," Tweedy directed towards the horn section. "They'll be back--the Total Prose...Daaaaa Total Prose." Hahahaha for those who don't get that, let me put a voice to the phrase. Picture Chris Farley dressed in a Bears jersey saying, "Daaaa Bears" on SNL.

21) Misunderstood (repeat)--rousing "I'd like to thank you all for nothin' nothin' nothin' nothin' NOTHIN' NOTHIN' NOTHIN' (x10)...for nothin' at all"
22) Someday Soon
23) California Stars--called Pat and left a message because he loves this song

"So Obama won Wisconsin?" Mad cheering. "So the Total Prose are back."
24) Hate It Here (4 for 4)
"You guys sound good," Tweedy informed TP. "Even if you have grenadine down the front of your shirt." One of the horn players mimed being embarrassed. "He spilled his Shirley Temple."

25) The Thanks I Get--excellent SBS outtake. After the call and response "We can make it better (we can make it better)," Tweedy said, "It's not silly to sing along. And it's not silly to want to make it better. Ok maybe a little--but it feels so good. Some times you gotta give a damn." That's going to be my new motto. Thanks, Jeff. "Yeah, Obama can use that any time he likes." Hell yeah!
Back in December I went to an Obama rally in this same venue called, "Change Rocks," in which Wilco played a few songs and introduced our future president (yeah, i said it). This was the third time I saw Obama speak (the first was when he was on Conan with Wilco in Chicago in May of '06--unfortunately i have no pictures of this and the second was this past September when I happened to be in NYC during a rally in Washington Square Park) and the more I hear him talk, the more I want him to be president. At the end of the Change Rocks event, I said to my friend Amy, "If he takes Jeff Tweedy as his VP, I'm sold."
Anyway, back to Wilco. Jeff continued, "He [Obama] probably doesn't have any use for the part about getting crazy." He then imitated Obama, "Every time I go out and play..." then "Oh, campaign liability..."

26) Walken (4 for 4)

"I love you Susie."
27) I'm The Man Who Loves You (4 for 4)
28) I'm A Wheel--complete with Tweedy's famous screeching (how does he keep doing that without blowing his voice??) as well as Pat Sansone's animated guitar strumming with full windmill arm circles.

"We're trying to avoid the tired ritual of encores as much as we can--you know, walking off and back on stage," Jeff said. "Actually we're just lazy. When we're done, we want to be done." People cheered, and rightly so. I never really understood the encore concept. "Now, do they get XRT in Pekin [Illinois]? Ok, this goes out to Pekin."
29) Kingpin (repeat)--because the lyrics go, "I wanna be your kingpin/livin' in Pekin"
"How can I?" Woo!
Building on the audience's enthusiastic, "Woos!" Jeff commented on how they like to "start tours in their home town and then put up with the lame audiences everywhere else." Of course I feel a burst of home town pride, but at the same time he might have wanted to save that comment for when he wasn't being broadcast worldwide. Although, I do have to say, he's right, at least as far at Austin goes. I saw them perform at Austin City Limits last September, and I felt like I (along with a few friends) was the only one going nuts, singing along, jumping up and down, etc. And in response, Jeff hardly spoke to the boring audience and although they sounded great, there was a definite lack of enthusiasm.

(photo taken by Lisa Nicholson at ACL '07)

(photo taken by Shilpa Anturkar at ACL '07, and yes that's the famous blue notebook in hand)

"What should we do?" Jeff lamented to his fellow Chicagoans. "Take you with us. Actually a lot of you probably will. And that's scary."

30) Outta Site (Outta Mind) (repeat)--we've come full circle
With a wave of his hand and rub of his eye, JT thanked the audience and Wilco left the stage. "Peaches" by Pres. of U.S.A. played yet again. And yet again I sang along. There was a stagehand adjusting the instruments who kept lifting his hands in the air, signaling us to continue clapping/cheering.
It worked. They came back. (shocking, i know)
31) The Late Greats (repeat)
"Thank you very much," Jeff waved goodbye. "That's gotta be it. See you tomorrow night."

I said thanks again for the seat to Amy and Steve and then skated my way down the thickly-iced sidewalks of Lawrence Avenue until I found my car on one of the side streets. Only one night left...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wilco Winter Residency, Day 3

Tonight I found a parking spot right on Lawrence Avenue, so not only did I avoid the $20 parking lot for the third night in a row, but this time I didn't have to pay a meter! Heck yeah. The trade-off, though, involved a bit longer of a hike to The Riv, and it was the coldest night yet.
The XRT radio personality who introduced the band also made reference to the weather. "On one of the coldest nights in Chicago, you've got one of the hottest tickets in town." I whole-heartedly agree.
The theater wasn't nearly as sauna-ish as it's been, which was a huge relief. I opted, though, to still sit in the balcony again and found an open single aisle seat next to someone who introduced herself as Amy and the guy sitting next to her as Steve. They both were able to get 5-day passes--lucky! She warned me that the guy sitting in front of me was really tall, which is why they had scooted down a seat, leaving mine available. I said that's ok because I was really tired and didn't plan on standing much anyway.
I took out The Best American Non-Required Reading 2007 and started reading. Amy asked how to book was because Steve is apparently a big Dave Eggers fan. As am I. I said I'd only read the intro so far but that was good because it was written by Sufjan Stevens. Amy's a big Sufjan fan (as am i) and said she'd seen him here before.
Before the show began I ran to the basement bathroom. By the time I got back to my seat I already had to go again. Wonderful. I silently cursed the grande cinnamon dolce latte I downed in record time earlier today. Then the lights went off and "tall man" stood right in front of me. I remained seated, though, for the first 6 or 7 songs, enjoying the music, while singing to myself and drumming along with Glenn with my imaginary drumsticks. There is something to seeing the music magically produced before your eyes, though, and for the remainder of the show I alternated between standing up and chillin' in my chair.

1) Blue-Eyed Soul
2) Remember The Mountainbed--which I had to look up with key words such as "turpentine," "pine," "eucalyptus," and "singing seeds of song"
Afterwards Jeff spoke (the earliest he's spoken in any show so far). "Andrew Bird everybody. The band gets bigger and bigger every night."

3) Bob Dylan's Beard

Tweedy said something but I missed it because of the people yelling, "DOWN IN FRONT!" and "GO DOWNSTAIRS IF YOU WANNA STAND!"
Tweedy: "Thank you guys. Are you warming up? Tonight's brutal. It's only going to get worse." He then made a comment about about people fighting for spots in front of the stage. "Fight it out," he advised.

4) Hesitating Beauty
5) That's Not The Issue--through the spaces of the people standing in front of me, I was still able to see Pat Sansone expertly play his variety of instruments as I comfortably remained seated

6) Wishful Thinking
7) You Are My Face (first repeat of the night)-When Wilco first streamed Sky Blue Sky online last year year in anticipation of their newest album release, the lyrics, "I trust no emotion/I believe in locomotion" were the ones I sang over and over in my head.

8) Side With The Seeds (repeat)
9) Shot In The Arm (3 for 3)
10) We're Just Friends
11) Kamera--I finally jumped out of my seat and started snapping photos (despite only having my mom's point-n-shoot).
"I totally forgot how to play that," Jeff apologized. "I'm sorry."
Someone shouted out, "ALL YOUR LIFE!" to which Tweedy responded, "All your life? What's that? A song of yours you want us to sing?" I love him.
Then someone else screamed, "DON'T PLAY 'THEOLOGIANS'!"
"Don't play 'Theologians'?" Jeff retorted. "Oh you're asking for it, pal."

12) Handshake Drugs (repeat)
13) How To Fight Loneliness--with the much-welcomed return of Andrew Bird, who I'd like to add/correct myself from Saturday's show recap, plays the fiddle, not the violin.

Jeff thanked him at the end of the song and said, "We're going to play a few songs off our first album." Someone on stage must have corrected him because then he said, "Aren't we? Scratch that--we're playing one off our first album you bought." Guilty laughter. "What? I thought we had some goodwill going back and forth here...I'm always shitting in the punch bowl." Then took a swan-dive into
14) Jesus, Etc. (3 for 3)

"Ok you better know these next songs like the back of your hand!" Tweedy joked. "After turning on us so quickly...I love you too!...I just assumed someone said that." Which prompted sporadic professions of love from a handful of people. Then someone requested loudly, "LOOSE FUR!" (Wilco's side-project band...I think I saw their only ever live performance at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY back in 2002 or '03). "Loose Fur ain't here," Jeff replied.

15) Should've Been In Love--the crowd went wild when Tweedy slipped his harmonica holder over his head to rest on his shoulders, and every time he motioned to take it off, a collective "awww" filled the air. "If you see me walking down the street with this around my neck, now you'll know why," said Jeff.

16) Pick Up The Change--yay! I've been waiting for this one!
"Andrew has free range--he's a free-range bird," Tweedy joked. "I wish I wasn't me sometimes." Haha!

17) Theologians--love the steel blue guitar, Jeff.
"Play it again?" Jeff mocked the tool earlier who yelled an anti-request. "We're going to play that one for the rest of the show now."
He then introduced Total Prose (finally got the name), the horn section, which is apparently a joke name. "On the trombone--or the bone as they call it..." Tweedy remarked.
18) Walken (3 for 3)

"I'd like to dedicate this song to my lovely wife, Susie. I love you." (Gee, I wonder what song it's going to be...) "We're going to take a break after this song, but don't leave, we're coming back...like the dead. We're just going to pee."
He then strummed the first note of
19) I'm The Man Who Loves You (3 for 3)--and said, "This note makes me have to pee." Amen.

As soon as the song ended, I ran downstairs to pee for the second time since I'd arrived at the Riv. Damn coffee, I thought. What a time to have an overactive bladder. The line was ridiculous, so unlike Jeff I didn't get to take advantage of the "pee break." Instead I talked to Amy and Steve sitting next to me. They told me Greg Kott, the Chicago Tribune music critic, is also keeping tabs on the set lists and has a worthwhile blog to check out. Turns out Kott and I have a lot of similar opinions Wilco-wise. Click HERE for Kott's blog. Amy asked me if there were any songs I really want them to play. I said, "Box Full Of Letters." Turns out she and Steve live in Palatine, so I told her I went to Fremd High School and grew up not far from there. She went to Wheeling High School. Small world.

20) Via Chicago (repeat)--After the first verse I realized my mom's little point'n'shoot has video recording capabilities and recorded the rest of the song. This was an exciting discovery but also pissed me off as far as getting in trouble for my SLR camera, which does not have any video capabilities. Wouldn't you think having video footage would be "worse" than still pictures? Yet, every single person there with their tiny cameras and their stupid iPhones are doing the same thing. Anyway, here's the video

21) Impossible Germany (3 for 3)
22) She's A Jar--afterwards Jeff said, "Clearly I psyched myself out. I thought, I'll whistle this one [as opposed to playing the harmonica melody] and nothing came out.
23) Say You Miss Me

"You guys have been the nicest audience. You're very sweet," Jeff told us. "You're all hungover, aren't you?" Laughter. "You're holding out for Tuesday and Wednesday, I know." YEEEEEEEAH! "How'd you get tickets to all five shows?" he asked. "It was hard, I know." Oh I don't think you know just how hard it was, my friend.

24) BOX FULL OF LETTERS!!!--this is one I was holding out for, a definite favorite. "I just can't find the time/To write my mind/The way I want it to read/You'll come back again/And I'll still be your friend..." Again I remembered after the first verse that I had the video advantage, so here is the remainder of that song:

25) I'm Always In Love--I recorded the end of this song because I've always loved Jeff and John's prominent harmonies.

"I'd like to welcome back Total Prose. They've gained a member--they're the fastest growing band in America!"

26) Hate It Here (3 for 3)
27) The Late Greats (repeat)
28) Red-Eyed And Blue (repeat)--I wanted to record the wonderful whistling duet of Jeff and Andrew, but when I was video-ing "Box Full Of Letters" I saw security men eye-ing me, so I decided not to risk it. Hopefully they'll go for it again Tuesday or Wednesday.
29) I Got You (repeat)
30) Monday (repeat)--How does JT scream like that five nights in a row??

"Want to hear a lullaby?" Jeff asked. "We'll say goodnight with a lullaby..." then started singing, "Hush little baby..."
31) My Darling

They left the stage and, like Saturday, it really seemed like there wasn't going to be an encore. But again, like Saturday, no one budged. And like Saturday, "Peaches" played out the house speakers. I was singing it really loud without really paying attention to the fact that I was singing it out loud, and the guy in front of me turned around and asked who sang it. "Presidents Of The United States Of America," I told him. Get with it, dude. I totally had a mosh pit at my bat-mitzvah to their hit called "Lump."

Encore:
32) I Can't Stand It (3 for 3)
"One More?" asked Jeff. "Thanks again, guys."
33) Nothingsevergonnastandinmyway(again)--great ending song.

Amy and I exchanged phone numbers so that I could sit with them again tomorrow night, which was really nice of her to offer. I waved goodbye and walked out singing "Our House," which has played on the house speakers at the conclusion of every show so far. Outside the temperature was -17 degrees (I'm not kidding) and I literally could not feel my hands by the time I got to my car.
Total songs tonight: 33. They've played one more song than the previous show each night...so maybe by Wednesday's conclusion, we'll get a full 35! I love this band.

MORE PHOTOS

(p.s. Don't forget that Tuesday night's show will be broadcast on XRT-93.1 and on their website www.wxrt.com beginning at 7:30 p.m. CST)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wilco Winter Residency, Day 2 (a.k.a. Look out/Here I Come Again/And I'm bringin' my friends)


A few hours before Day 2 of the residency, I received an e-mail from my friend Brian, who I haven't talked to regularly in ages. (I intend on posting an entry at the end of the 5 days regarding how I originally got into Wilco and part of that story involves meeting Brian through ebay after someone I had bought a ticket for declined the gift)
It read:

Dear Alyse,
I hope you had/have a blast at the Wilco shows. Do you still write the set lists in a notebook? If so, you certainly have your work cut out for you the next several nights! Well, have fun – I’m jealous! :)
Sincerely,
Brian

I found it hilarious that he remembered that detail from way back when and smiled to myself as I made sure my blue "bible" was tucked safely into my purse.

As independent I consider myself, I have to say there is something to be said about sharing three hours of your favorite band with three of your best friends. Lindsay (my fellow Wilco addict...again, once I post about all my Wilco run-ins, the best story involves when she came out to NYC to see them play Radio City and we ended up spending the whole night hanging out with them...that's just a preview), Jenny (who's first time seeing the band live took place on my birthday when we were moved to the front row...another great story that will be included in the future post), and Shawna (who had never seen Wilco live (only JT) and is now a self-proclaimed Wilco superfan)
I warned them to wear comfortable shoes in the event we didn't get seats and to wear layers to avoid sweating to death. Luckily we got there right as the doors were opening, so Lindsay and Jenny jumped out onto Lawrence Ave. and held a place in the line that went around the block, while Shawna and I found parking--once again lucked out with a metered spot on Sheridan. We met up with them just in time to enter. This time I only brought my mom's point-n-shoot camera with me, in order to avoid any drama and risk not getting four seats together. Smart move on my part. We settled into our seats and awaited the band's arrival, chatting about which songs we really wanted them to play.

Jeff Tweedy came out solo with an acoustic guitar and jumped right into the first song.
1) Someone Else's Song--which he was then joined in the middle of by the rest of Wilco
2)Hell Is Chrome

"Welcome back," Jeff said. "To some of you." I turned to Lindsay and said, "Glenn [Kotche] looks like God." He was dressed all in white, illuminated in such a way that as he banged his drums it looked like he was addressing all corners of the world with every rhythm.

3) Handshake Drugs--one of two favorites off A Ghost Is Born (the other being "Hummingbird" which they played last night). I love watching Nels Cline play his guitars, calculated spastic movements. And all in bright red pants.
4) Muzzle of Bees--Lindsay grabbed my arm excitedly. This is the song she had hoped they'd play.
5) Via Chicago--I love when they play this song live because it's like a hometown heroes anthem, and they indulge in major jam sessions, which all begin and end impeccably. This one also included multiple blinding light displays, forcing me to close my eyes for a good portion of the song, but I didn't mind because it made me picture some of my favorite lyrics: "I printed my name on the back of a leaf/And I watched it float away/The hope I had in a notebook full of white dry pages/Was all I tried to save/But the wind blew me back via Chicago/In the middle of the night/And not without fight/At the crush of veils and starlight..."

6) I Am Trying To Break Your Heart--a repeat? Well, that's fine with me. They could play this song all five nights and I wouldn't complain.
7) Hotel Arizona
8) Shot In The Arm (repeat, but again, a favorite)
9) Impossible Germany (repeat, but glad Lindsay got it hear it)

John Stiratt, one of the nicest musicians I've ever met, suddenly took center stage and sang
10) It's Just That Simple--a wonderful twangy song from Wilco's first album, A.M., that gives props to their "alt. country" genre.
The crowd went absolutely nuts at the song's conclusion, as John shyly stepped out of the limelight. Tweedy approached the mic. "I think that's [mad applause/cheering] all for you, John," he said with a smile.

11) When You Wake Up Feeling Old

"It's not like there's going to be no repeats," Jeff informed us. He read my mind, I thought. "We still have to put on a show. How many of you were here last night?" I thrust my arm into the air. "There's no way you were all here." Laughter. "At last it's not as cold-waiting in line-so no one's frostbitten?" NO! everyone yelled happily. "One more question for you--how many of you hate to raise your hands?" Smart ass.

12) Too Far Apart (repeat, good one though)

"Moving right along..." Jeff said and went right into
13) Hate It Here (repeat)

"I'd like to bring out a friend," Jeff said. "Mr. Andrew Bird." What what what?? The handsome cowboy-dressing, violin-playing, expert whistler took the stage. And to, of course, play what song?
14) Jesus, Etc.-because that song isn't heartbreaking enough, now there's a live violin. Love it.
When the beautiful song ended, Jeff said to Andrew, "Will you stay up here with us for awhile?" And he did for the next few songs.

15) Forget The Flowers-the one Jenny hoped to hear and I'm a big fan of as well.
16) Dash 7
"That doesn't happen very often," said Jeff, which took the words right out of my mouth because I'm pretty positive I've never heard that one played live. "I was seven ft-three when I wrote that song." I'm still not sure what that means.
17) Christ For President
18) Walken (repeat)

"I love you Susie," Jeff directed to his wife again before singing,
19) I'm The Man Who Loves You (repeat)

Ten-minute intermission. I stood up and stretched my legs while piling my hair atop my hair, and we talked how our pants were soaking wet from the heat. So attractive.

20) The Late Greats
21) Heavy Metal Drummer (repeat)
Jenny: I remember listening to this in your bedroom whatever year that was.
Me: You mean when you jumped on my bed and cracked John's YHF case and I made you write an apology note?

Jeff: I'd like to thank the people over here [he motioned to a section of the dance floor] for handling that situation so beautifully. We gotta take care of the drunks in the room. Not beat them up. Or get beaten up by them. As I used to do.

Andrew Bird returned to the stage.
22) Red-Eyed and Blue--Jeff and Andrew whistled in tune with each other
23)I Got You--which never fails to follow #22
"So what'd you guys do during the break," Jeff asked. "Save your spot. Cause you're neurotic? Did you bring a catheter? Did you? I'm serious. Don't give me that look," he admonished someone in the front row. "I'd like to welcome back P-Prose (?? still haven't caught the name of the horn players!)

24) A Magazine Called Sunset--I've loved this unreleased song ever since I heard it in the Wilco documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart!
"Let's take a map across your pillow/And breathe the sky in through your window/I'll stay in the riddle/And watch your books cave in..."
25) Monday
26) Casino Queen
27) King Pin--in which we did the call and response
Jeff: How can I?
Audience: WOO!
Jeff: I bet if we would have played this one last night that audience would have been much better. Yeah, I said it.

After the song ended, he asked us if we could handle a few more. Duh! Silly question, Jeff. He then called out, "Andrew!" and as he waited for the Birdman to appear, he said, "He's a swell guy that Andrew Bird."
28) Passenger Side
29) Dreamer In My Dreams

"Goodnight everybody. Thank you."
30) The Lonely 1

The house lights went up and the stage hands started unplugging guitars. And the sound system started playing "Peaches" by the Presides of the U.S.A. It appeared there wasn't going to be an encore, but no one would put up with that and everyone stood their ground cheering relentlessly.
Suddenly they reappeared.
"We just liked watching Glenn coming out to fix his drums," said Tweedy. "Encore?" Again, silly question.
31) ELT (repeat)
32) HooDoo VooDoo--they began, but Jeff stopped them and said, "Something's not right. Is it me?" Everyone started pointing fingers and eventually they figured it out and played straight through, including a great dueling guitar set between Nels and Pat.

What am I going to do on Sunday? Count down the hours until Monday's show. As my friend Brian so optimistically pointed out--I'm not even halfway done!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wilco Winter Residency, Day 1



Wilco played just under three hours tonight, 31 songs in total with only a ten minute "pee break" and hardly any pauses in performing to even speak to the packed Rivieria audience.
I found out this morning that Amy, who I was supposed to see Wilco with tonight, was beyond sick, so I spent all day trying to find someone to take her ticket. One would think it wouldn't be a hard task, but one would be wrong. I got a lot of unreturned phone calls, a lot of "it's date night" (but can you really beat a date night with Jeff Tweedy? I doubt it.), and a few "not interesteds" (ahem, mom).
Finally, my friend Jenny called her brother JJ who in turn called me (two hours before the show) to tell me that his friend Vincent was never able to get tickets and being a huge fan would love the opportunity to go.
I was overly empathetic: When I first found out Wilco planned a 5-night "Winter Residency" for Chicago only with the intention of playing every song they'd ever recorded, I vowed to attend all five shows. When it came down to actually buying the tickets, though, I wasn't quick enough to purchase one of the Wilco website pre-sale $175 5-day passes, even though I clicked the button at the stroke of 10 a.m. and proceeded to click the damn button for the following half hour. The following day I attempted the same process through ticketmaster to get a 5-day pass. Lost again. Then I tried for the pre-sale single-day tickets, giving my credit card info to anyone who was on gChat at the time. I got two (Mon. and Tues.) out of the five (thanks again to Ben and Brianna!). Then the following day, I had one last chance, gave out my credit card info again and crossed my fingers. I ended up getting Friday, Abbey got Wed., and Chad (Amy's brother) got Saturday. I was elated! Of course I got the expected jeers, but this is how I rationalized spending $250 (that's a round-number price after buying all the tickets individually, i.e. ticketmaster charges up the wazoo). I've never had a manicure nor a pedicure nor dyed my hair, which are pretty normal day-to-day, week-to-week female maintenances, when if added all up over all the years most girls have been doing that stuff probably equals WAY more than my concert tickets.
How I explained it to my mom: This is like when you got to see The Beatles twice in one day in Chicago in '68.

The benefit of attending concerts alone is you're more likely to luck out with finding a leftover, but awesome seat. Which I did. Middle of the first row of the center section in the balcony. Perfect for picture taking, I thought, not at all envious of the jam-packed dance floor down below. Nothing about that looked appealing (despite the photo close-ups I could have taken)...despite the below-freezing weather outside, the theater was like a sweaty sauna, even before the show began. I took off my jacket and my sweater, shoved them under my seat, then rolled up the sleeves of my other shirt. As I sat there deleting old pictures off my memory card, the people next to me asked how I got past security with my camera. "It was surprisingly easy," I told them. "Usually I get in trouble everywhere I go with this thing, but the woman downstairs saw it and didn't say anything, so I'm just going with it."

Marty Lennartz from XRT did a quick intro, joking about people having "check lists." Oh if you only knew, Marty. He informed the audience that the radio station will be broadcasting Tuesday's show in its entirety beginning at 7:30 p.m. CST. So if anyone's interested, here's XRT's The Eclectic Company (whose current episode also features Jeff Tweedy as the guest) website: WXRT

Here's the night's 31-song set-list (I've been OCD about this since the first time I saw Dylan in August of 2000...I have this little blue notebook that among other jottings, poems and notes, has every Wilco and Dylan set-list from Sept. '04 to present):

1) ELT--It took me a long time to realize that "ELT" stands for "Every little thing," the repetitive words in the chorus (I mean back when I began listening to the band, it didn't just occur to me tonight)
2) Shot In the Arm--"We fell in love in the key C, we walked along down by the sea, I followed you down the neck to D, and we fell again into the sea, you've changed" was my ringtone in college (and not one I paid for, I found a function on my phone back then to record sound, and that's what I chose)
3) Side With The Seeds--hands down my favorite song on Sky Blue Sky when the album first debuted last spring..."But you and I will be undefeated/By agreeing to disagree"
4) You Are My Face--became a favorite on SBS
Jeff waved, but still no words.
5) I Am Trying To Break Your Heart--I could probably write a book about this song...Who knows how many times I listened to this through the giant headphones covering my ears as I wandered aimlessly around New York during college...

6) Pot Kettle Black
7) At Least That's What You Said

Of course I ended up sitting in front of the resident drunks, so every five minutes the waitress stood right in front of me either taking orders or delivering drinks. This caused many-a-spitballs to land on my forearm and many-a-drinks to spill on my coat. At least you can't smoke anymore, I thought, gratefully.
Jeff finally spoke!
How you doin'? Audience: Woooo!
Are you guys ok? Audience: YES!
Did you get frostbitten? Audience: YES!
All of you? Audience: YES!
Will you give us a million dollars? Audience: some YESes, some laughter
You guys just seem really agreeable? Audience: YES!
This is ridiculous. Are you below average intelligence? Audience: YES and BOO!
That was a mix, he said with a tone of surprise, and everyone laughed.

8) What's The World Got In Store--which they started to play and then Jeff stopped them, saying, "Hold on. We need to hear that," referring to the sound levels of Pat Sansone's banjo.
After they finished, he said, "That's a nice little ditty...We're going to play all recorded Wilco--not tonight--over five nights. And as an added bonus we'll throw in some Mermaid Avenue (two albums of Woody Guthrie songs performed by Wilco and Billy Bragg), B-Sides and unreleased material." Subsequently followed by enthusiastic cheering.
9) When The Roses Bloom Again

Jeff: I'd like to thank Nobody for opening for us. I find them quite tasteful.

10) Airline To Heaven
11) Ashes Of American Flags

Major whiffs of Mary Jane.

12) Either Way

Jeff: You guys are good singers. Keep. it up.

13) Jesus, Etc.--ironic that he sings "don't cry" and this is the only song that makes me want to

"Did you guys see us at the Grammys?" Jeff asked the crowd. "Did you see us on the red carpet? Did you see us get interviewed by Kermit the Frog? Damn. That was the best moment of my life...except for marrying you and having our kids, Sweetheart," he directed the comment to his wife Susie somewhere in the audience. "Foo Fighters?!" he questioned incredulously. A collective "BOOOOO!" arose from the crowd. "Or as my 8-year-old son calls them--the Poo Fighters." Hilarious.

14) Too Far Apart--"This is my American Idol audition," Tweedy joked towards the end of the song and proceeded to sing "Can't get any closer to you" in a high, breathy voice.

15) I Can't Stand It--3-piece horn section took the stage
16) Sunken Treasure--love the line, "music is my savior"
17) Spiders (Kidsmoke)--with a space-age intro both in sound and light

Halfway through, the inevitable happened. I got a little giddy with my camera during the crazy light show and gave away my otherwise inconspicuous photo ops, and sure enough two "security" men approached the guard rail in front of me. At first I thought he was going to yell at me for putting my feet up on the bar, but nope, it was my camera once again. He told me I shouldn't be taking pictures like I should know that. "Well the security people saw my camera when I came in and didn't say anything," I defended my actions. "Well they were hired by accident," he replied, loudly as Wilco was still jamming down below. "Fine, I won't take anymore," I said, trying to avoid what I anticipated he'd say next--that he was going to confiscate my camera. But unlike my Dylan fiasco, I thankfully did not get my camera taken away nor ejected from the show. The song ended and Jeff told us, "We've got a lot more to do tonight--take 5, take 10."
During the break, the people sitting next to me asked if "that" was about my camera. Then the guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder to ask about the run-in and we discussed how it's impossible to bring an SLR camera to shows anymore. "It's totally unfair," I complained. "I'm going to do the same exact thing with my pictures (post them on flickr) as all the people flashing their little point-n-shoots. And I don't even use my flash!" He told me he actually went so far as to e-mail Wilco's management, and they wrote back saying the band does, in fact, welcome photography (and audio recording) at their shows. I told him he should print that e-mail and bring it with him to the remaining four shows.

18) Misunderstood--Glenn Kotche began drumming with no warning, the lights went down, and we were immediately drawn back in.

19) Far Far Away--people cheered when he sang "CTA" why? The CTA blows!

20) Why Would You Wanna Live--"You don't hear that one every day," Jeff commented at its conclusion.
21) Impossible Germany--ugh. I hate missing photogenic moments! Like Jeff and Pat playing side by side or Nels Cline going crazy on his guitar. My camera is burning a hole under my seat.
22) Sky Blue Sky
23) Please Be Patient With Me

People are so obviously smoking pot, and I'm in trouble for snapping photos. That makes a whole lot of NO sense!
"Somebody's been yelling out for this one all night," Jeff informed us. "Are you guys still having a good time?" (YEEEEEAH!) I think the lull is over-as in lullaby."
24) Cars Can't Escape--had to look that one up after the show

"How many of you are coming to all five nights?" Jeff addressed his fans. "Well tonight is almost over I'm afraid."

25) Hummingbird--JT held out the microphone during the chorus for the audience to sing along: 'Remember to remember me/Standing still in your past/Floating fast like a hummingbird' then jogged in place on the giant area rug covering the stage

Standing Ovation. Guy behind me kept yelling "Bullshit! Bull.Shit! Bullshit!"
Of course they returned for an encore. "We just had to conference," Jeff comforted those who actually thought they wouldn't come back. "We only have a little bit of time left. We have to make the most of it."
26) Hate It Here--honestly the lyrics in this song do nothing for me and I think it's Tweedy's weakest song lyrically speaking, but I can't totally dismiss it because the musical breakdown in the middle is great.

"I'd like to bring back out..." Tweedy introduced the horn players individually.

27) Walken--changed lyric to "Walkin home to be with you"

"This is for you Susie," he directed towards his wife.
28) I'm The Man Who Loves You

"Thank you guys."

29) Heavy Metal Drummer--whenever I've heard them play this live, Tweedy sings the rated-R version, "She lifted up her shirt at the battle of the bands/She twirled his sticks/She helped him to his van." Although I've always paid the most attention to drummers during live shows (which probably stems from wanting to play the drums since I was ten years old), you can't help but watch and be completely enamored with Glenn Kotche, who was drenched by that point, during this song.
30) Candy Floss
31) Outta Mind Outta Site

"That's it. See you tomorrow night. Thank you."
I left feeling very satisfied, no longer disappointed that I was flying solo. I walked back to my car, past a shriveled prostitute leaving a building. A man followed her out and said to me as I passed, "Hey baby-you doing alright tonight?" "Yes, I am, thank you," I replied. Then stopped to take a few pictures of an alley, all the while whistling a medley of Wilco songs, feeling my lips freeze in this Chicago winter night. And loving it. Can't wait for tomorrow.

Here's the whole album of the evening: Wilco Photos

Monday, February 4, 2008

just call me queen of odd jobs


Tonight I finished part one (of two) of being a Willy Wonka prot├ęge. I got paid $80 to taste test dark chocolate. In the past I've rated the flavors of Alfredo sauces and canned root beer floats for the same marketing company. Basically, they put you in a room with about 19 other people, where everyone sits at a designated spot at a long table facing the wall. Bland-looking foam-board dividers create makeshift cubicles, rendering it "impossible" to let your neighbor's opinions affect your own. Do people cheat on taste tests? I wondered, as I stared at the dusty blinds covering the window.
How the survey proceeds:
1) Take a sip of water
2) Eat a piece of an [unsalted] Saltine cracker
3) Take another sip of water, being sure you swallow all the cracker remnants
4) Taste as much of the product (in this case, dark chocolate square) as you need to in order to answer all of the questions on the provided survey to the best of your ability.

Easy enough, right? All you need are taste buds to participate. I whipped through the first square (and ate the whole thing) in record time. I wanted to slam my hand down and yell, "DONE!" like an over-eager seven-year-old. But this job is not as glamorous as it sounds. Not when the remaining twelve pieces of chocolate tasted horrible and not when the guy sitting next to me over-audibly smacked his lips together so many times that I wanted to scream and request relocation. Aaaand not when I had to unbutton my jeans once in the privacy of my car in order to drive home comfortably. Anything for 80 bucks, I thought. As my car fishtailed its way through slippery streets and immense fog, I smiled thinking about all the weirdo jobs I've done since I graduated college almost three years ago...
#1 would have to be my six-month stint as a dental assistant...yeah, I got to wear scrubs...but my job involved scrubbing the blood off used tools, sucking the spit/blood out of people's mouths during procedures, and listening to my only other co-worker whine about her abusive gangbanger boyfriend (who would call and demand to speak to her and I'd coldly say she wasn't available and hang up on him...probably not smart considering his recent release from jail for locking someone in a van and lighting it on fire...)...and all for a measly $8.50/hr (and on top of it, the dentist was one of my mom's high school boyfriends)...if there's any way to make a recent college grad feel like her degree was totally worthless, this would be it...but after the first six months post-graduation being unemployed and totally broke after being a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding...I couldn't really turn down the offer.

#2 I got paid $75 to have inconspicuous chunks of my hair cut off for an "ethnic hair survey" at the L'oreal research headquarters on the South Side of Chicago. I was the only Caucasian present and I wondered if maybe "Jew Fro" counted as "ethnic." For the next eight months or so I would occasionally feel a small patch of spiky hairs, a gentle reminder, once again, of what lengths people will go to to keep their proverbial head above water.

#3 I worked for a photographer in his West Loop condo for about a year. Although I did catalog and archive his enormous negative collection spanning the past decade, I only ended up assisting him on ONE actual shoot. Here's a list of the myriad tasks I completed for a lovely, I shit you not, $8/hr.
* organized bookshelves (and wondered why I couldn't bring myself to organize my own life)
* stood in as a model for a Time Out Chicago photo shoot because his model didn't show up...i was just there to assist...and ended up on a full-page of the magazine a few weeks later...the shoot took about an hour, so I made $8...America's Next Top Model here I come!

* spent hours upon hours which turned into days after days importing his entire CD collection into iTunes (don't worry, I brought my own laptop along and got a significant amount of free music out of the project)
* he begged me to be his nephew's bar-mitzvah videographer, despite me vehemently insisting that I am horrible at using a video camera...he offered me $150, so I said fine...and got to spend four hours on the dance floor amidst rowdy pre-teenagers grinding on each other...i did drink a few glasses of wine, though, (after I proved to the bartender I wasn't a punk 12-year-old in heels) and got down with them during Kanye's "Golddigger."
* Then there was the time he paid me (i don't remember how much) to write a best-man speech for him to read at HIS best friend's wedding, a guy who lived in San Francisco, who I'd never met. And it amazingly wasn't a flop, despite my obvious concerns. (Does this count for a writing credit on a resume?)
Suddenly, the aforementioned photographer dropped off the face of the Earth...for a whole year...then one day last summer, out of the blue, he called. I'm thinking, maybe he finally recognizes my photographic abilities and wants me to help on an actual shoot. I should have known better. My girlfriend (what? you have a girlfriend?) is looking for someone to transfer her contacts from her Rolodex to her Sidekick and vice versa. Part of me wanted to act all self-righteous and accuse him of only calling when he needed someone to complete his mindless side projects. And she'll pay you, he added. Ah, those magic words. I wouldn't say I'm motivated by money, but I can't really pass up the opportunity in these unsure days to make a few extra $$. Plus, his girlfriend was the assistant for some super-rich family who LIVED on the 65th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, so I got to see views of Chicago and Lake Michigan that I otherwise never would have have privy to. (Did you know HUGE spiders can live that high up and live in large quantities outside the windows?). Also, the second day I went there I saw Rev. Al Sharpton entering the hotel.
Also, thanks to this photographer, I received a phone call last June (after he'd been m.i.a. for a significant amount of time but before he called me himself about the above job) from a woman who asked if I'd be available for two days to help her carry large, heavy portfolio books around downtown Chicago to different high-end agencies. She was based in New York City but was branching out for the sake of the photographers she represented. So-and-so recommended you, she said. Ha! I thought. He would. Oh I know the perfect girl for you, he must have said. She's done everything I've asked her to do. And for pennies. But once again, I took the job.
I still can't get over how "New York" the whole experience was; that this woman just called up a stranger (me) and expected she could come to the Midwest and pay someone to carry her books? Hil-arious. But I ate it up. Everything's an experience, I thought, and agreed to meet her in the Loop the following day. I figured she'd be a good contact in the industry (although she never returned my "it was so nice to meet you" e-mail after our nice time together) and like the Four Seasons, I got a free ticket into many agencies I will probably never step foot in again.

(Yep. On Halloween of '06 I got paid to take a 12-year-old trick-or-treating while simultaneously walking the family's two German Shepherds. Jealous?)

And last, but certainly not least, my job the past year and a half definitely qualifies as an "odd" job, despite the fact that it's been my primary source of income since August '06. I could write a book about being a 13-year-old's personal chauffeur/dog walker&transporter to canine artificial insemination/grocery shopper/errand runner/snake charmer/70-year-old's roommate, though, so for now I'm going to sign off.
Unless someone wants to pay me (I'm cheap) to continue....

(P.S. As I'm writing this my mom informed me that she just got home from a Prius survey, which she wasn't even chosen for, but still received the $150! Like mother, like daughter...)