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June 7, 2019
Posted by Seth Boustead

Growing up in Jefferson City, Missouri was not quite the Tom Sawyer-esque adventure it probably could have been though this is entirely my fault as I could never bring myself to jump into the Missouri River or even to wade into the mud along the shore.  I also had no idea how to build a raft and I look terrible in a straw hat. I did spend a little over a year barefoot though so hopefully that counts for something.

At any rate, my friends and I mostly spent our teenage years escaping to nearby Columbia to see what we thought were punk rock shows.  Then, when we got more adventurous we started driving to St. Louis to see bands with actual punk cred like Danzig. On one such trip my friends learned that I had never been to the top of the Gateway Arch and it was decided that this must be rectified immediately.

If you haven’t done this then I have to say that it is a singular experience. The arch was designed and built long before accessibility was a buzzword in architecture.  The elevator is a miserable, cramped affair in which you’re forced to sit staring in uncomfortable silence at the people across from you as it, suspended from above by a cable, sways back and forth on its creaky, painstakingly slow way to the top. (more…)

May 5, 2019
Posted by Seth Boustead

Lamper, noun. “Someone who stays in one spot almost all day even if they are needed.” – Urban Dictionary

Long ago I had a desk job in a faceless corporation on the fifteenth floor of a glass skyscraper overlooking the Chicago river.  The performance of this job mostly required that I sit around waiting for the phone to ring at which point I would answer it and help someone work through an easily solvable problem with the internet connection that my faceless corporation had provided them with.

Sometimes the faceless corporation did something really stupid and caused mass outages and the phone would ring constantly for a few days but most of the time it was quiet and I would spend my time working on the iMac I had told them I needed in order to provide support for the approximately three customers we had who used Apple products but which I really used to format and print my music.  Or if I was musically sated I would spend my time exploring the internet which was actually fun in those days. (more…)

April 5, 2019
Posted by Seth Boustead

“Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes.” ― the Grateful Dead

For years I’ve planned the Sound of Silent Film Festival for the second weekend in April but for some reason this year I put it on Saturday of the third weekend which coincides with not one but two religious holidays which is bad enough but, to make matters worse, apparently 4/20 is some kind of stoner holiday as well so now I have no idea who’s going to show up.

And, because we get a day rate on the theater, we hold our music school fundraiser on the same day as Sound of Silent Film so now I’m having our school fundraiser on 4/20 too which is kind of weird right? Thank goodness we’re not selling muffins or brownies or something as part of the event.

I was told recently that 4/20 came about because it was police code but according to Wikipedia it’s because of five high school kids who called themselves the Waldos because they met at a wall to get stoned way back in 1971 which technically should have made them the Walldos but let’s let it go.  They had a treasure map leading to an abandoned cannabis crop and were going to meet at 4:20 to go find it. (more…)

March 4, 2019
Posted by Seth Boustead

“By the time she had finished unburdening herself, someone had turned off the moon” ― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Quite by accident I find myself reading, or having recently read, two stories about the destruction of the moon.  In the first story the moon basically dies of old age although it’s strongly suggested that this process was hastened by the increasingly mercenary attitude of humans.  Having lost a certain sense of romance in their continuing addiction to blind consumerism, humans no longer appreciate the moon and it wastes away and dies.

In the other story the moon just suddenly blows up one day for no apparent reason that anyone can discover.   There’s no sound and no fury, it just blows up and where there was a moon there are now seven distinct chunks of former moon. (more…)

January 3, 2019
Posted by Seth Boustead

“Home may be where the heart is but it’s no place to spend Wednesday afternoon.” ― Walker Percy

Roughly six months ago my wife Maria and I received a fateful knock upon the door. Sadly, it wasn’t a stately raven but merely our landlord, though she did come bearing portentious news.  Because she and her husband couldn’t figure out any other way to separate their baby from their dog, they were not going to renew our lease so that they could have our apartment in addition to theirs, thereby solving this critical issue.

Now if it were me I would have bought one of those wooden separators you put up between rooms but that’s just because I don’t have the extra cash to take on the expense of another entire apartment to solve a trivial problem.

At any rate, with that knock our fates were sealed.  After much discussion we decided that what we really should do was to buy a place. There are a lot of reasons why this is a good idea but as it turns out buying a place in New York is, well, hard. After much searching we found a co-op in our price range that Tom Hanks’ character in the Money Pit might have run screaming from. We put in an offer immediately and it was accepted but the buiding’s paperwork was not in order.  In fact it was out of order. (more…)

December 5, 2018
Posted by Seth Boustead

“A man without a mustache is a man without a soul” – Confucius

 

I’m writing this from an apartment in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, which at one time was a rough neighborhood but is now so gentrified that there’s a barber shop down the street called the Stachehouse that specializes exclusively in mustaches.

From the window display I see that they are fluent in more than 70 styles of mustache including classics like the Chevron, Fu Manchu, Pencil, Walrus and Handlebar but also more adventurous options like the Dreadnought, Hussite, Blunderbuss and, my personal favorite, the Tiny Dancer.

You can also bring in your own custom mustache designs of course and nothing is too outlandish providing, and they’re careful to make this clear, that you have the facial hair to back it up.  They will under no circumstances help you cheat nature with mustache implants and are insulted that you would even ask. (more…)

November 6, 2018
Posted by Seth Boustead

It was mid-August and I had just come through another exhilarating but exhausting Thirsty Ears Festival but couldn’t rest just yet as Maria and I were putting our condo on the market and I had to spend the Monday after the fest cleaning and schlepping.

I wore old jeans and my most comfortable T-shirt for this task and didn’t bother to change when I went to WFMT later in the afternoon for a meeting and so it was a fun irony that I was wearing my WFMT shirt as I was told that Relevant Tones had been canceled and apparently had been canceled for some time and I was one of the last people to know.

My feelings about this have been complex.  I got into radio by accident in 2006.  I was giving a talk at the Chicago Cultural Center and someone came up to me afterward and said that I should be in radio.  I was like yeah that sounds great and he said, no I run a radio station and I’m offering you a show. (more…)

October 4, 2018
Posted by Seth Boustead

“Looking at a Zhou Brothers painting is like drinking water from a well. The well is deep, as deep and true as human experience itself.”

I walked into the Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood for the first time a little more than six years ago for what I thought would be a routine gig evening but that instead led to lasting inspiration.

ACM was performing in one of their galleries as part of an open studio event and I was running late because I had hit an incredible traffic jam on the way down, apparently caused not by any external factor but instead by a kind of collective stupidity, a powerful will-to-delay that would not be ignored.

So I was flustered and annoyed and completely oblivious of my surroundings when I walked in the front door and started looking around for the elevator, and I looked up and saw this gigantic painting that caused me to stop in my tracks and forget all of the petty things I had just been thinking about a certain timid driver behind the wheel of a vehicle laughably named Intrepid. (more…)

September 4, 2018
Posted by Seth Boustead

“What the colonizers desire and replicate is gritty New York without the grit. Punk and jazz and poetry without the enlivening shock of unpredictability,” Jeremiah Moss in Vanishing New York

 

It’s amazing what can happen when you walk into a bookstore.  A couple of months ago I had an appointment in Union Square in Manhattan and because the subway unexpectedly functioned not well but perfectly adequately, which is a minor miracle and frankly a bit of a surprise, I arrived twenty minutes early and decided to while away the extra minutes in the Strand bookstore.

I thought I’d see if I could pick up the new Jonathan Lethem or perhaps this satirical science fiction book from 1936, War With the Newts by Karel Capek that I had read about in the Review of Books the previous weekend, but the fiction section at the store was jammed with tourists so, somewhat ironically, I found myself in the New York section, which was empty, where a book called Vanishing New York immediately called to me.

I bought the book and started reading it on the trip back home.  The author is Jeremiah Moss and his book is a neighborhood by neighborhood chronicle of independently owned businesses: music venues, bars, restaurants, cafés and shops, that have been forced to close because of high rents and that have been replaced by chain stores. (more…)

August 6, 2018
Posted by Seth Boustead

Somewhere a hill blossoms in green and gold. And there are dreams all that your heart can hold” ― Maurice Jarre

I rarely ever play piano gigs anymore but I took on a ton this summer because, inspired by Paul Manafort, I’m saving up for a new python-skin jacket and so I was driving to one of these gigs or racing really as I only had an hour to get from downtown Chicago to Lakeview in rush hour traffic or not so much racing really as sitting immobile in traffic cursing everyone around me though mentally because I had my windows down and the last thing I needed was a confrontation and who knows who has a gun these days and I flashed back to my first gig in Chicago. (more…)

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