Some Ecards have come out with a line of hilarious -- and free -- eCards that tell it like you really mean it. Designed in a variety of pastels with cartoon-like images, the ecards have witty, catty and campy sayings that include "You've been distant since the sexual harassment" (workplace), "Your boyfriend is gay" (friendship), "May you live long enough to shit yourself" (birthday) and "The good news is that she was a cunt" (breakup).
Sure this may be a load of hooey, but it doesn't hurt to try and rally against the ever-increasing price of gas. But May 15 is a gas boycott day. If there were ever an argument for seeking out alternative fuels, the recent spike in gas prices -- with the countrywide average topping $3 a gallon -- is a pretty loud argument. On May 15 -- Don't Buy Gas. Don't Fill Up Your Tank. Don't Even Go To A Gas Station. If enough people around the country boycott buying gas on May 15, it could make a difference.
Sure the name conjures images of a sexual nature, but I assure you the only thing the Woody Popblaster is gonna do is play you some great tunes from your iPod or other MP3 player. That is, unless, you play some JT or R.Kelly and the people you're with start gettin' funky. Otherwise, just expect this stylish wood travel player to kick out some hot jams through its built-in semi-water-resistant speakers. The Popblaster is battery operated, has a headphone jack, has a compartment for cords and is small enough to fit in your carry-on. Available for $50 through Lifepod.
Many of you may have noticed my lack of posting lately. It isn't due to laziness or not caring, but I recently was named editor in chief of UR Chicago magazine. The publication, which originally launched about 10 years ago, was started as the Chicago outlet of the University Reporter (hence UR) was then purchased by a local publisher, eventually bought by another and now by En Prise Entertainment, which brought me in to help pump life back into this entertainment/lifestyle magazine. With the first issue (the Art Issue), which I came into about midway through (if that), we launched a new look and feel for the magazine. UR Chicago incorporates much of the things that I love and write about here -- music, culture, fashion, food, wine, products and more. But now I oversee a staff and a slew of freelance writers. Now you know where I've been -- it isn't that I don't love you, I've just been a little busy.
With that, I invite you to download the PDF of the first issue, which is currently available for free all over Chicago.
March 22 is World Water Day. Hundreds of restaurants in New York have teamed with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to honor the Tap Project by asking patrons to donate $1 for the normally free tap water they enjoy while dining. The goal is to raise funds for UNICEF to bring improved water systems to more than 90 developing countries and the more than 21 percent of children (about one billion kids) living without clean water. Another goal: to bring to attention the fact that we, as Americans with some of the cleanest tap water, take advantage of our free-flowing water all the time. Millions of people around the globe don't have the luxury of clean, fresh tap water and face water-borne disease daily. So if you live in New York, which uses 1.3 billion gallons of water daily, or are visiting the city tomorrow, please consider donating one extra dollar so people around the world can enjoy the luxury we exploit everyday. The project, while Manhattan-based, will expand to include other cities in the future. If you aren't in New York and want to participate, you can make a donation. If you aren't sure that $1 will help, consider these facts:
With $1, UNICEF can provide 40 liters of safe drinking water, which is enough to give one child safe drinking water for 40 days or 40 children safe drinking water for one day.
With $1, UNICEF can provide 100 water purification tablets to provide clean water for children in crisis situations.
For other water-related projects, also check out Charity: Water.
Anyone who spent a considerable amount of time in Chicago in their 20s knows the Weiner's Circle (hell, anyone who's spent any amount of time in Chicago should know this place). This almost always-open hot dog stand in the heart of Lincoln Park is the source of some serious late night hilarity. The mostly African American staff has learned to, how do you say, dole out its fair share of shit to the obnoxious drunk (mostly white) patrons who hit the spot every Friday and Saturday night. Essentially, the more obnoxious you are the more trash talk ensues -- and it's all done in good fun. Last week, a group of frat guys from an AEPi house somewhere captured a moment on video. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this lady isn't your typical Torah-reading, kosher-keeping, synagogue-going Jew. Watch ... this shit is funny as hell.
Last month when I was in Brooklyn, I made it a point to hit the Brooklyn Museum to catch the last week of the exceptional exhibit Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life 1990-2005. This is unlike any photography exhibit you'll likely ever see. Annie Leibovitz has had a rare look into the lives of so many people we read about on a daily basis: celebrities, politicians, royalty. Starting in the early '70s, she began shooting for Rolling Stone and then onto Vanity Fair and Vogue. In between, she's shot sitting presidents and other heads of state, including Nelson Mandela.
But, the thing that separates this exhibit from others is just how revealingly personal her photographs really are. Annie seems to always have a camera in hand, no matter where she is or what she's doing. She has chronicled so many moments of her life and her family's lives, including a candid shot of her mother, who had just turned 70, not smiling. Her mother pleaded with her to destroy the shot, because as a rule, ever since Annie and her siblings were kids, no matter what was going on around them, they always smiled for pictures. And photos were a big part of the Leibovitz family. Even more touching is Annie's celluloid storybook of her three daughters as well as her lover, Susan Sontag, who died a little more than two years ago from Leukemia. Annie captures Sontag at some of her most vulnerable points, like being transported on a stretcher via air ambulance after a failed bone-marrow transplant in Seattle.
It's nearly impossible to walk the halls of this gallery and not stare in awe at the greatness before you. Annie Leibovitz is a genius who reveals a very personal side of her life. She said, however, that "I don't have two lives. This is one life and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it." While it has left Brookyn, fortunately this exhibit is hitting the road. Starting this Saturday (Feb. 10), the exhibit camps out at the San Diego Museum of Art. From there, it will continue to travel to Atlanta High Museum of Art (May 12-Sept 9), Corcoran Gallery in DC (Oct. 13-Jan.13, 2008), SF's de Young Museum (Feb 9, 2008-May 11, 2008), Paris' Maison Européenne de la Photographie (June-Sept 2008) and London's National Portrait Gallery (Oct 2008-Jan 2009). Other venues will likely be announced. I implore you to catch this show and if you can't for whatever reason, pick up the book for your coffee table.
[image from the exhibit found on the New York Times website]
For anyone who has iTunes and loves to see live music, iConcertCal is a must have. In fact, for someone like me who sees a lot of live music, this is the coolest thing ever. As a music journalist, staying on top of all the shows I want or need to see is sometimes a tad cumbersome. But this free plug-in, created by two electrical engineering grad students (sure, they sound geeky, but they created a music app -- how uncool can they be? I say pretty damn cool), just made my music-going life so much easier. iConcertCal is an iTunes plug-in that searches your music library and posts upcoming shows from any artist in your database. I just scrolled through February and March and saw that some great bands, including Field Music and 120 Days, are coming through Chicago.
iConcertCal officially launched on Jan. 19 and the guys posted news on the 29th that they're already working on a new version, which fixes bugs and adds some new features (international concert listings and a radius search to areas around your city) and should be out in a few days. As of Monday, more than 9000 people had downloaded the app and even JamBase has offered to give iConcertCal easy access to its overflowing database of live music -- so if you're a band and want to get in on the action, add your shows here.
I wanted to write about this the other day when I first read about it on IGuessI'mFloating but have been bogged down with reviews for the Associated Press and URB magazine (that's why things have been a little light around here lately).
What are you waiting for? Download iConcertCal now for both Mac and PC.
Yesterday morning, I ran into director/screenwriter/consciousness-raiser Morgan Spurlock at the Tea Lounge, a chill coffeehouse in south Park Slope, Brooklyn, on my way to check out an Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum (more on that later). I didn't recognize him at first as he's currently sporting his "winter look," a big, scraggly beard. The surprisingly tall "Super Size Me" star was waiting on a couple of lattes (he goes full strength; his wife, a vegan chef, enjoys decaf) and told me that his reality series, "30 Days," just got renewed for a third season (he got the call just before New Year's Eve). While he didn't go into detail about the topics this season will cover, he was really excited that the show got the green light. As anything Spurlock does, "30 Days" gets people to take risks and think about topics that might otherwise make them uncomfortable. He encourages people to step outside their comfort zone and experience life in someone's else shoes. I think it's great that we have creative thinkers like Spurlock (and Michael Moore for that matter) who force people to really look at bigger issues and understand what ills might affects us everyday without even realizing it.
One of these days I might actually go out and buy a Nano to support all these cool gadgets that only work with that iPod model. Between the Nike+ products, mini-speaker setups and so many other things, the Nano is the accessory du jour that's supported by so many more accessories du jour. The latest to cross my consciousness is the Nano Sports Integration System for the Outdoor Case by H20 Audio. This airtight, impact-resistant ingenious little product allows you to mount a bracket that holds your Nano on a bike's handlebars (or easily into an armband if you go running) through a unique locking mount system. While not waterproof, the Outdoor Case has an external click wheel that rests on top of the Nano's click wheel that can even be controlled through a glove. While I've never been a big fan of people biking with headsets (especially on Chicago's busy lakefront path in the summer) this might convert my way of thinking. For $39.95, this could make road biking or hitting mountain trails even more exhilarating.