Sunday, November 05, 2006

What Am I Doing With Myself?

Last night I went to see Scritti Politti on the band’s first ever U.S. tour (after around 25 years of intermittent activity). The folks who still think of the band solely as a one-hit wonder explain why leader Green Gartside refused to play “Perfect Way.” Nothing, however, explained why he covered Jeru the Damaja, referenced Run DMC or replicated the guest rhymes from Mad Skillz from his last CD, besides his obvious, unironic love of hip-hop. I’ll link to the review as soon as it’s up.

The night before I saw Randy Newman at Orchestra Hall. The guy is, of course a genius, funny, clever, smart and even moving, when need be. I recently wrote a list of some favorite albums for a couple of friends of mine who own Old School Records, and Newman’s “Good Old Boys” made my ‘70s list. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Come to think of it, they rarely made ‘em like this album, period. And yes, he played “Short People” and “I Love L.A.,” songs whose ironies are subtle and sly. He also played the perennial classic “Political Science” (it’s been of and ahead of its time for decades) and a new song called “A Few Words in Defense of My Country,” which may as well have been called “it could be worse.” Funny stuff.

Oh, and yes, he also played “You’ve Got a Friend In Me,” which is a good song, though nowhere near as strong as “When She Loved Me” from “Toy Story 2.”

Review also to follow.

Best of all lately, I landed an assignment covering neighborhood coffee shops. I shirked the obvious spots (like Wicker Park) in favor of my old stomping ground Hyde Park and the more colorful Pilsen. We went to the former today, where I finally got to eat at the spectacular Istria, the only place in Hyde Park with coffee worth a damn. In Pilsen, I got to hit the great Jumping Bean, the yummy bakery Kristoffer’s and Café Mestizo, easily my favorite of the bunch. The coffee, their own Intelligentsia roast, was sublime, and the tamale I had was as big as a burrito.

Too bad Bombon wasn’t on my list, but maybe I’ll stop by there this week all the same.

Compared to Pilsen, the Bucktown places were pretty lame, though I liked this place best.


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