Listen Up!

Thursday night I was driving home from a class and I was listening to XRT, which is one of the only Chicago radio stations worth tuning in. On Thursdays they have a program called New Noise at 9 where they feature new artists and new sounds from existing artists. Being a music fan I love this about XRT.

Anyway, this song came on from a new artist, and I was immediately mesmerized by it. When it was over, all I wanted to do was listen to it again so I could try to decipher this unique sound.

The artist was Yoav, and the song was "Club Thing." Upon reading about Yoav, I began to learn where his distinguishing style came from. The son of an architect father and an opera singing mother, Yoav was born in Israel, raised in Cape Town, and found his voice in London and New York. Each one of this geographical influences subtly shines through in his music. I think the first paragraph of the bio on his website says it better than I ever could.

"Imagine a record that matches the leftfield edge of Beck or Radiohead with the kind of sure-footed pop hooks Justin Timberlake's people would write a blank cheque for. A record which vividly conjures the life of an insightful outsider, set to the dark, loping rhythms of Massive Attack or Portishead. A record built around a voice that's as sweetly expressive as it is richly soulful. Then imagine that every single sound of it, including the bass & the drums, is performed by one man on his amazingly versatile guitar. That record is Charmed & Strange."
That record is set for its U.S. release at the end of the month, and I can't wait to hear more of it. Whether you like this sound or not, one thing is for certain: Yoav will be one of the breakthrough artists of 2008.


Dear Drunk Guy on the 22 Clark Bus,

When you walked on the bus last night, I knew that something was different about you. First of all, you ran down the bus aisle all the way to the back, and nearly fell on me. You looked seemingly harmless; a moderately dressed African American man with a unique aura surrounding you. It was only as you came closer that I discovered the unique aura smelled a lot like cheap scotch.

I had once heard that in the African American community, men even if they have never met, typically acknowledge each other when their paths cross. It's usually as simple as a head nod, sometimes accompanied by a " What's up?" But that's much too simple for you. You chose to lean slightly to the left, with a focusing one-eyed glare and pointed at the other African American man sitting near us. Classic.

You proceeded to speak loudly on the bus and told all without Ipods in their ears about how "You'd be a rich man if you didn't smoke and drink" as you got a can of Milwaukee's Best from the plastic bag convenience store bag you're carrying and cracked it open. A rich man indeed. You told us of the condo you'd own, the cars you'd drive, and the women you'd fornicate with. My favorite was a particularly charming tale about how you blew through $12,000 in a weekend. You were "living the good life" in a fancy hotel. One where you could get carry out anything: carry out pizza; carry out liquor; carry out women. Ah, those were the days.

As I approached my bus stop, I was almost sad that I wouldn't get to hear you lament about how they don't' make furniture as sturdy as they used to, and how when you touch a car nowadays it dents. But you wouldn't let me leave without something to remember you. How wonderful it was that when I got up and made my way towards the door, you shouted out "Cracka!!! Cracka!!" which I can only take as your endearing way of calling me 'Cracker.' I'll treasure the last drunken phrase you uttered to me until (if fate should have it) we meet again.

Sincerely Yours,
Philthy (aka Cracka)


I'm officially that creepy guy on the bus

A couple of months ago, I started taking writing classes at The Second City, which is one of Chicago's (and the nation's) premiere sketch comedy venues. I signed up for an intro comedy writing class, mostly just to use as a creative outlet. I've found that I really enjoy the classes, and attempting to make my writing more creative, concise, and (hopefully) more witty.

So one thing that I've put into practice is being more observant of the people around me, which are all potential characters in a sketch. I've always enjoyed people-watching, mostly because I liked to create stranger's life stories for my own amusement. But now, I've ramped this people-watching to all new levels. I'm staring at people at lunch, in bars & restaurants, and especially on the bus (which anyone who's ever spent any substantial time riding the CTA knows the buses are full of characters.) I've also started carrying a little notebook with me to write down any potential ideas that spring up before they're lost in the vast crevasses of my mind.

But recently I've come to realize that spending my morning commute staring at a strange guy who got on at my stop, while creating a story in my mind about how he got the scar above his right eye, all the while scribbling in my notebook can come across as slightly creepy. So I think I'm going to tone it down a bit, and try to avert my eyes when possible. But hopefully, in the coming weeks as I continue with my comedy writing education, you, the faithful readers of Philthy Laundry will be able to benefit from my peculiar observations.


Thoughts from inside a girl's shower

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your 2008 is starting off swimmingly.

I began the first weekend of the new year visiting some college friends in Champaign. I had the extreme pleasure of staying with the Ahrens' and on Sunday morning when I woke up, I was baffled by the amount of showering product that was at my disposal. I don't know why I was so shocked, because it's the same scenario I run into when I shower anywhere a girl lives. There's always at least 3 different types of shampoo, some with conditioner, some stand alone. There's an equal, if not higher quantity of shower gels, body scrubs, bath gels, and soaps to choose from as well. I usually stand there mesmerized by the bounty in front of me and I read the ingredients to figure out which will be best for my body. This Sunday turned out not unlike every other Sunday morning shower in a place where a girl lives...I use everything because i can't decide. It's a scenty, scrubby, sudsy wonderland and so much better than the cheap Suave for Men and Axe Body Scrub treatment that I typically get. And the best part is, when I walk out the door that morning, I have the confidence of knowing that I smell like a Grapefruit Apple Blossom Fresh Rain Honeysuckle Vanilla Bean Waterfall! What can be better than that?


Thoughts on Seattle

I recently took a long weekend trip to Seattle to visit a couple friends that live out there. I don't know what it is, but Seattle has always appealed to me, even before I ever stepped foot in the city. Maybe it's the eclectic nature of it, the way it's secludedly tucked away in the top left hand corner of the map. Maybe it's just that it's far away...and everything far away is always better than what's here. And since I've been there a couple times, I've developed a sort of love-hate relationship with it.

The weather in Seattle, 60% of the time is horrible. Rainy, chilly, rainy, soggy, gray, cloudy, rainy. Day in and day out. From October through April: Rain. While the rain isn't the type of gale force thunderstorms we get in the Midwest, it's almost worse because it's constantly moist. I'm sure you're saying to yourself..."Phil, why don't you just go there in the summer. It's 75 and sunny for 4 months straight." And to you I would say, I don't know, but that's a great idea. But I didn't do that, and no one really asked you, just shut up and read, will ya!

Anyway, back to what I was saying. I feel like I understand Seattle, because (at least weather-wise) Chicago is pretty similar. The winter is brutal, and if someone was to only visit in the winter, I'm sure they'd hate it here. But living in Chicago during the summer makes it worth having to put up with the harsh winter. I'm sure the people of Seattle will say the same thing.

I think the real reason I pine for Seattle is because two of the things I love in life, food and music, are prominent there. The musical history that has poured out of Seattle over the years makes it any music lovers dream. For people in their late 20s, in particular, Seattle influenced the way we listen to music, since during our formative years, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, emerged from that area. We spent a rainy Saturday afternoon at the Experience Music Project, and interactive music museum. Recommended.

And there are several gastronomic wonders located along the sloped streets of Seattle. There's no better place to get fresh seafood pulled right out of the Pacific. One recommendation I can make is Purple, a wine bar and restaurant that is continually rated as one of the top in the city. I had an amazing Filet Mignon with garlic & porchini mushroom butter, and my friend had a Lobster Macaroni and Cheese that melted in your mouth. The great thing about Seattle, is that these great quality restaurants are scattered all over the city. Plus, if you like to cook, there's no better place to pick out fresh ingredients than the famed Pike Place Market, home of the flying fish!

If you're looking for a nice long weekend, Seattle is a good bet, especially in the summer.


Reason #37 why I know I'm getting old

I just came very close to calling the police on my upstairs neighbors for being too loud. On a Saturday night. At 9pm.

I'm about 18 months away from chasing the neighborhood kids off my yard with a shovel.


Listen Up

Listening to Sara Bareilles's "Gravity" has been the highlight of my day

Check her out...beautiful voice.

*shout out to Jeremiah for introducing me to her