Friday, July 31, 2009


In 4-H we had a motto - "To make the best better."

That seems to be what's happening to the pothole sign.

One week later, it's still there - with some additions by local residents.

Someone put an impressive mudflap in front of the pylon. (One can't help but wonder what they'll do when winter comes: What will they use to save their parking space?).

If you look closely at the lefthand side, you can see other signs of subversion.

It almost makes me not want to move.



*The pothole itself is still there, too. While hanging out near the sign last night, Bo and I learned from a local activist that some 30 local residents had called the alderman - not the city's 311 number, but the actual office of 50th ward alderman Bernie Stone - to complain about the pothole. Thirty. And still nothing. She loooooved the sign.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I'm working on an article about cool green products - such as To-Go Ware's bamboo utensil set, Snow Peak's titanium silverware (below), and Detours' Toocan Juicy urban utility pannier (above).

Do you have a favorite green product or service?

If so, please send it my way.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


On Sunday Maybelline and I went to the Sri Ramakrishna Universal Temple in Homer Glen for a homa for Sri Ramakrishna

A homa is a Vedic fire ceremony. In this case it was four hours long.

Homer Glen is a far-away suburb. In this case it was over an hour away.

Sri Ramakrishna
was a great yogi whose teachings live on.

Last September, the Ramakrishna center moved to Homer Glen from the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park.

The new complex is massive, and was surrounded by flowers and butterflies.

We were greeted by a kindly gentleman who told us where to put our chappals (flip-flops), and directed us to the chapel upstairs.

It's a little smaller than the Ramakrishna temple in Mysore, but has the same wonderful shanthi (peaceful) vibe.

It also has the same images of Sri Ramakrishna, his spiritual partner, Sri Sarada Devi, and his disciple Swami Vivekananda (who brought yoga to America when he stole the show with his moving speech at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago).

Afterwords we went to the fire ceremony, which was held in a tent outside.

Very few people were there at the beginning.

They trickled in little by little over the next. four. hours.

There was chanting, and fire, walking around in circles, throwing flowers and rice, and a lot of standing up and sitting down and taking of the light. The best was the quite burning of fruit, flowers and copper and coins in a bag doused in ghee. Watching things burn is cathartic. But watching things that usually aren't burnt is awesome on a whole 'nother level.

The pujari (priest) was wonderful, and occasionally checked in on us to see if we were still tuned in, sometimes saying, "Louder! Louder!" during the mantra segments. He had quite a sense of humor *and* knew exactly what he was doing.

At the end, he put ashes on our forehead, and we walked in a clockwise circle three times around the tent.

Afterwords we got in line to pay our respect to the ashram's two gurus and receive some prasad (blessed food). It felt a little strange to touch the feet of someone other than Pattabhi Jois.

Then we went inside and ate all of the wonderful home-made Indian food* that had been blessed at the homa.

Shanthi birthday indeed.


*One never tires of home-made Indian food.

Monday, July 27, 2009


It seems that the city does not plan to repair the pothole anytime soon.

Too busy with other things, I guess.

But not the locals.

By Saturday, someone had added a traffic pylon and another big piece of wood to the mix.

And by Saturday night, it looked like this:

Saturday, July 25, 2009


It didn't happen after five months in India, in 2002.

It didn't happen during the shorter stints there, in '04, '06, '07 and '08.

But it has finally happened--

After five months living one block from Chicago's Little India,

It is official.

The body and mind are sick of Indian food.

Sick of it, I tell ya.


Friday, July 24, 2009


Last week a tire appeared in the middle of the street.

Everyone drove around it.

I waited to see how long it would be there, until someone moved it.

Three days passed.

Still it was there.

So I went to take a picture of it.

Suddenly, a man popped his head out of the window of the nearby apartment building and yelled, "I called the city about that hole three days ago, and they still haven't come. Can you believe it?"

I looked up at him.

And then I looked more closely at the tire.

It was covering a huge, deep hole.


So on the way to class I called the city, to remind them about the pothole.

They said they'd put it at the top of the list.

The next day the tire was in a vertical position.

Two days later it was on its side again, with a two-by-four sticking out the top.

One week later, the hole is still there.

So is the tire.

And the City That Works is still trying to lure the 2016 Olympics here.

* * *

Earlier this week, they started tearing up Peterson Avenue... even though the fast, four-lane Peterson was in pretty good shape, apart from a few (filled) potholes.

So I wondered, Why are they doing this?

Then I noticed the orange sign.

Stimulus money.

* * *

How cool is it that Wilco is on the back of CTA buses?

It's almost as amusing as the fine print on this:

* * *

Last week the city came and took down a tree across the street.

This week another crew returned with this oddly-named machine,

which did away with the stump.

As if Johannes Vermeer would have wanted it that way.

* * *

I just realized that the song the ice cream truck plays when it goes by several times each day is....

the Conferate anthem "Dixie."

Such a unexpected thing to hear, in such an integrated neighborhood.

Monday, July 20, 2009


The article I did about Pattabhi Jois for Yoga Chicago mag is now online. Here's an excerpt:

"I first met Pattabhi Jois during his 2000 workshop in New York City. I wanted to meet the guru of the practice that had changed my life, whom all of the senior teachers I’d studied with spoke so highly about. I’d started practicing yoga after my mother died, and she had always said to go to the source. So there I was in the front row, waiting to meet the source.

"The first time Pattabhi Jois adjusted me was in janu sirsasana C--the so-called toe-crusher pose--that I’d been struggling with since I first started Ashtanga three years earlier. I worried about my knees as Guruji firmly pressed my knee to the floor and my chin to the shin, but the adjustments were spot-on. “Both hands!” he said, when I put out an arm to steady myself. “He knows where your weaknesses are,” my teacher Eric Powell said after class. He also knew limits. On the fourth day Guruji he looked at my rendition of janu sirsasana C and rewarded me with a satisfied “Mmmmm.”

"After class, I felt a little strange lining up with the others and touching his feet. The mind and body didn’t know what they were doing, but the heart certainly did.

"I went again to Guruji’s New York City workshop the following year. After signing “Happy Birthday” to his daughter, Saraswati, on September 11, I got in line to touch his feet as usual. After a big hug, Guruji looked me in the eye and asked, “When coming Mysore?” “Next year,” I said, not knowing how I would pull it off. Later, I walked out and saw the black smoke of the World Trade Center. Three months later, Pakistan and India were lining up troops at their border, preparing for war. But I had to make good on my word to Guruji. So I went to Mysore anyway--even though I was scared out of my wits (I purchased an open-ended ticket so that I could come home early).

"I ended up extending my trip and spending four months with Guruji and Sharath at the old shala, which held only 12 people. And I received regular adjustments from both of them."

The piece includes recollections from other local students, including Dr. R. Chandrasekhara, who studied with SKPJ in the 1960s and later moved to Illinois. Another excerpt:

“I started learning yoga in 1960 after a friend of mine introduced me to my guru, Shree Pattabhi Jois. I started on a Vijaya Dashami [Dasara Festival] day and spent seven years before I had to come to USA. “I started studying with him at the Sanskrit College (1960) then continued from ‘63 to ‘67 at his house in Lakshmipuram. He treated me as his son, and I became extended family.

“We had to practice on a bare floor because the Sanskrit College did not provide any carpet. We used one towel. Later, we all contributed for the prison inmates to weave a coconut coir carpet.

“His hands-on teaching was exemplary. He taught from 5 a.m. till 9 a.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. tirelessly. He shaped the student’s body to perfection. He taught me well, and I mastered in three years. We gave one demonstration first of a kind in my home town (Holenarasipur) during Ganesha festival. We did not have any camera to take pictures. After he retired, he moved to Lakshmipuram location.

“Steadily the number of students increased, both local and from abroad. He taught me free because I was a student without any income, and I was one of the family. Adjectives fail to describe his magnanimity--always smiling and had profound knowledge of Patanjali’s system. His wife had the same name as my mother (Savitramma) and always made very good coffee for me. It was a devastating blow for him when she suddenly passed away....I happened to visit him to invite him my son’s wedding around the time his wife passed away. I attended his wife’s death ceremony, and he was very gracious to attend my son’s wedding."

The article also includes recollections from YogaNow owner Amy Beth Treciokas and others (that's Amy in the B&W photo, above). Read the rest here (and scroll past the bio to "Remembering Pattabhi Jois" to get to the good stuff).

Saturday, July 18, 2009


My journalism mentor, Robert Feder wrote a wonderful essay about his relationship with Walter Cronkite in yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times. Robert started the Walter Cronkite fan club when he was 14. The newsman was, in essence, Rob's guru.

An excerpt from the essay:

"Every year just before his birthday on Nov. 4, I would send him a tie, which he would wear that day on “The CBS Evening News” as a signal to the club. He acknowledged each one with a gracious note.

"Among my most prized possessions is a photo he autographed to “Fan No. 1.”

"Whenever he visited Chicago, as busy as he was, Walter would make time to see me. Sometimes he’d invite me to sit nearby on the newsroom set — just off camera — and watch him as he put the finishing touches on his newscast and imparted it to tens of millions of Americans. It was as close to an out-of-body experience as I will ever know.

"Early in my freshman year at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Walter came to meet with students. I was invited to question him on a panel that also included two very bright graduate students (one of them was Marlene Iglitzen, who would later marry Gene Siskel). I remember trying to impress Walter by asking the toughest questions I could. I could tell he appreciated the effort.

"When it was over, he called me aside for a private chat. He suggested that it might be time to shift my focus away from the fan club and redirect my energies toward my own academic and professional ambitions. He was right, of course, as he was every time he offered his advice and counsel.

"For the next 35 years, we kept in touch. He told me I had a standing invitation for dinner whenever I was in New York. Entering a crowded Manhattan restaurant with him was like watching Moses part the Red Sea."

Read the rest here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


1. Big B is a wonderful, thoughtful writer. His description of driving through the recent Mumbai monsoon rains puts you right there with him:

"Prateeksha is inundated. The road outside is in waist deep water and the lawn, even though it is built on a rise has filled up and threatening to push the rain into the house. I prepare to move furniture and stuff from the ground to higher positions. Mini waves drift in from the road into the driveway and reach the first step into the house. Water has entered into the reception area and the staff, bare footed pants rolled up, are frantically trying to clear drains of any obstruction so the water can flow out. But flow out where ? On to the road which is waist deep itself. It shall all come back !

"I muster up courage and help and pull out the SUV. Sorry Mid Day, but thats the only one that shall go through in all this mess, and float out into the streets now jammed with people wading through and the cars blocking any movement. I open the door, well just about, to assist a few young ladies in distress who were beginning to lose their composure, and give them a ride towards Jalsa. Everywhere there is just chaos. Its a sea of water all over. I pass by the office Janak and the staff is getting ready to climb on to the tree by the gate ! Water inside the premise and the ground floor is unworkable. Water in the lift, furniture and properties moved to the first floor. Jalsa is relatively dry, the road opposite now a swimming pool, but the basement has a breach. A huge gaping hole has been punctured and buckets and water pumps are being put to use to avoid the electronic panels that are housed there from blowing up !! Making calls for assistance, getting the right people to come and repair, but its in vain. Those that stepped out cannot come back and those that did not step out remain where they are - in their homes ! I get out again to monitor Prateeksha and run into traffic coming my way on the same side that I am driving. The other half of the road is jammed with water and stranded cars. People walking randomly wherever they can can find space and a better depth. Just so tragic ! The TV informs that the tide in the sea is due in and if the rain does not stop it shall push the water in the drains flowing out, back onto the streets. At Jalsa the water in the bedrooms has leaked through despite the tarpaulin protection monsoon covers. I tell them to put towels, swabs, water resistant solutions, anything. Abhishek and family in Singapore with Amar Singhji are unaware and I quickly inform them of the deluge warning them not to come in today as scheduled. I put all the mobiles on charge and the walkie talkies. Fill up water in buckets from the rain outside and store it just in case the power goes and the pumps get disconnected. And wait, and wait and wait…"

2. He writes every. single. day. and holds back very little. Plus he calls the readers "The EF" - his extended family.

3. He has a huge heart and is essentially a yogi - although he would never call himself one (which to me means he's the real thing):

"This is my condition, what of those that do not have the facility that I do !! That shall not be able to get back to their homes because the trains have stopped and the buses are stuck. Of those who may have lost their meagre belongings in their meagre and humble abode. Of those that had made their homes on the pavement. Of those that shall not be in possession of an extra pair of clothing to change from their present drenched lot. Of those that made a daily living through their little mobile food carts and other services. Of those whose temporary huts got washed away. Of those ….

"It just never ends."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I spent a lot of time on the bus Saturday, going to and from the mechanic....

When the bus goes south, it often changes drivers at one particular stop - much to my delight. On Saturday, a broken-looking man got on after the change, and started talking to the new driver. I heard him say something about "just got out of the hospital" and show his wrist to the driver. Whatever he said did the trick; he got on and sat down near the front.

The bus took off. After some time, the man looked up, alarmed, and asked which direction we were going.

"South," we all yelled.

"Does this bus stop at Irving Park?" he wanted to know.

Yes, yes.

"I just got out of the hospital," he explained in his too-loud voice. "I'm a little disorientated."

A few stops later, he lifted his head up again. "Does this bus stop at Irving Park?"

Yes, yes.

A few minutes later, the head shot up again. "What time is it?" he asked.

Someone told him.

"I just got out of the hospital," he explained. "I'm a little disorientated."

The bus turned down a side street to make a detour around the Folk and Roots Festival. The man's head shot up again. "Are we still going to Irving Park?"

Yes, yes.

A few stops later the head shot up again.

"What day is it?"


Again the speech about being disoriented.

At the next stop a man with a beard got on and sat next to the hospital-man.

"Does this bus stop at Irving Park Road?" asked the disoriented man.

"Yes it does," the bearded man said.

"I just got out of the hospital," the disoriented man explained, and rolled up his sleeve to show his hospital bracelet. "I'm a little bit disorientated."

"What happened to you?" the bearded man asked, with genuine interest.

"I got hit by a cab," said the disoriented man. The rest was garbled. But it sounded something like, "It broke my neck."

The bearded man gave him a good look and expertly felt the man's neck. "It's not broken, or you'd be wearing something on it," he said with confidence. He had the authority of the take-charge character Jack, on the TV show "Lost." "Maybe it was a hairline fracture."

"I took the thing off," the disoriented man said.

"When will we get to Irving Park?"

"Don't worry - I'm getting off there," the bearded man replied. "I'll get off with you."

The disoriented man breathed a sigh of relief. His whole being relaxed.

"I just got out of the hospital," he explained.

"By the way, can you spare a dollar or two?"

The bearded man reached into his pocket, got his wallet and pulled out a dollar.

"This is all I can spare right now," he explained. "I'm out of work, too."

After witnessing this little vignette, I became a lot less concerned about my own little housing and automobile travails.....

Sunday, July 12, 2009


In Hindi films, you often see a character holding up their hand and saying, "Bus, bus, bus!"

It means, "Enough already."

I've had enough.

Of the bus....bus....bus.

I've taken the #11 CTA bus back and forth to the mechanic so many times over the past two weeks that I've lost count.

At least I finally figured out that you can use to find out when/if the !@#$ thing is supposed to come.

* * *


On June 25 I went to the new mechanic to have the AC repaired. He'd done such a good job on the control arm bushings, I thought I could trust him to fix the AC.

I thought wrong.

When I came to pick up the car, he explained in his halting way that there was a problem with the "switch," and showed me where he'd rigged up a new wire that ran around the periphery of the engine. "No problem, AC work fine," he said.

On the way home, I stopped at looked closely at the bill, which had seemed to high. It was. Many of the charges were not what he'd initially quoted me. Plus he'd charged for tax twice. A sense of dread came over me.

The next morning I had to teach a Mysore class downtown, then head to the South Side for a workshop. Afterwords I planned to drive to Wisconsin to camp out with the Dreyfus family in an an air-conditioned yurt. It was a hot, hot weekend, and I was pleased with the idea of all of that AC.

But when I got into the car after class #1, the AC didn't work.

Hot and bothered, I called the mechanic, who told me to come in right away, so he could fix it. I told him I didn't have time.

I also told him that I was unhappy with the math on the bill, which was not correct.

When I finally got to the south side, the car overheated.

I called the mechanic, who told me to pull over and let the car cool down. He said it was a fuse for the engine fan. He asked me where I was, and said he'd drive down (over 150 blocks) and fix it. (This led me to believe that the overheating problem was his fault, which of course it was).

When I finished the workshop, I found him in the parking lot, working on the car. He'd gone through about eight fuses before one finally worked. He said I the car was safe to drive to Wisconsin, and that if I brought the car in on Monday he'd fix the AC.

The car overheated again on the way to Wisconsin. I turned around and came home. No fun for me.

The next day I took the car to the mechanic, who said it had a short in the system (which he created, although he never copped to it). He had the car all day.

When I got it back, the short was fixed.

But the AC still didn't work.

And the next day, I realized the cassette tape that had been in the stereo was missing. And the radio no longer worked.

I was livid.

I brought the car in again the next day.

The mechanic had it all day.

When I got it back the AC did not work. The problem was the switch, but he didn't know which one it was, since there a four of them.

He'd spent all day... getting the cassette deck to work. But the radio was still broken. And my missing cassette was still AWOL.

I was not happy.

I demanded a refund. He wouldn't budge. I said I would dispute the charge for the AC, and tell the Chamber of Commerce that he was a lousy mechanic.

He started laying into me about how he had done all of this work for free for me (huh?) and just wanted me to be happy (HUH?). He said he would get me a new car stereo, which he would pay for, and that he had to take the car to a specialist to pinpoint the problem with the AC, since his machine was broken. He said he'd pay for that, too.

It took me some days before I could speak to him again. In the interim I called the credit card company and started the machinery for disputing the charge.

Finally, last Wednesday (7/10) I brought the car back.

I took the bus home.

The mechanic had the car all day.

During that time he put in a new stereo.

He also took the car to his friend, who told him it needed some small part. But none of the junkyards had this small part. When I came to pick up the car, he showed me a printout of what was needed, and said they were searching for it. He would call me as soon as they found it. He showed me the new stereo.

The next morning, on the way to teach, the new radio stopped working.

I called the mechanic. He said it was under warranty, and he'd exchange it for a new one. He assured me he would call me as soon as the part for the AC came in.

The next day I did not hear from him.

In the meantime, the brakes started acting up. At stop signs, the brake pedal would pull away from my foot and move towards the floor.

On Friday I called and told him that if he did not find the AC part by the end of the day, there would be very bad repercussions for him.

He called back a half hour later to say that he had found the part. But it was in Indiana, and wouldn't be in the city until Tuesday.

I told him about the brakes, and asked the work he'd done could have caused it. Of course not, he said. He said it sounded like the master cylinder, and quoted me a price... which was twice the amount I later found online. Nonetheless I made an appointment to come in the next day (Saturday) to have him take a look.

Sure enough, it was the master cylinder. After much hemming and hawing and calling Dreyfus and comparing prices with my old mechanic, I decided to let him fix the brakes. I can live (albeit unhappily) without AC. But not brakes.

The mechanic said that he would also exchange the radio while he had the car. The junkyard needed to have the old one in order to give him a new one, which meant it would take all day. Since I have no life (outside of taking the extremely slow and sporadic Lincoln Avenue bus to and from the mechanic), I agreed.

When I got the car back yesterday afternoon, after a rather entertaining bus ride (more on that tomorrow), there was no new stereo. Apparently they didn't have the right one at the junkyard. So the mechanic put my old (broken) one back in.

At least the brakes work. So far.

I still plan to bring the car in on Tuesday for the AC part. If he doesn't get the AC working, I'll demand a credit. If he won't give it, I'll dispute the charge til the bitter end and do a Yelp review.

In the meantime I'm taking the car in to a new mechanic tomorrow (after all, the car is my new full-time job).

I want him to tell me 1) what the problem is with the AC and 2) if the car is worth saving.

Although I think I already know the answer to the second question....

* * *


The lessons in this seem to be:

1. Control the anger. (The three greatest obstacles to enlightenment are anger, lust and greed). So far I've done surprisingly well. But it's been like the hell.

2. Don't be attached to objects. Apparently this was not learned when the landlord's electricians inadvertently ruined the TV and stereo equipment a couple of months ago, and had to be reiterated. Again.

3. Vasanas and sanskaras don't ever disappear, and can be triggered at any time. (Vasanas are the conglomerate results of subconscious impressions or sanskaras created through experience). In this case, past impressions from dealings with unreliable parents and men have come to the fore and invaded the mind. Again.

4. Don't move to a far-flung neighborhood where you will be almost completely dependent on the automobile.

5. Listen to Dreyfus, and know when to cut losses. He said to get rid of the car about two thousand dollars ago.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


The great yogi Sri Ramakrishna always used to tell his disciples that the two greatest obstacles to enlightenment were "women" and "gold" (i.e.; lust and greed).

* * *

Ten years ago, The Yoga Alliance was created as a voluntary licensing organization for yoga instructors and schools. The idea was to create a set of standards before the state stepped in and started doing it. (It also seemed like a way to make money). The group came into being after I'd started teaching yoga, but not long enough afterwords for me to be "grandfathered" in. Hundreds of hours of teaching experience were required for that to happen. The other option was to take a training at one of their certified schools... which didn't yet exist. Anyway, many local teachers and studios thought the group was bogus - until years later, when YA got so big that students stopped signing up for teacher training programs that weren't certified by them. (Teacher training programs are a huge source of revenue for these schools). Suddenly, everyone got in line and joined the group.

Recently, some states began making noises about regulating the schools that train yoga teachers. They want a piece of the pie, of course. And they've been using the Yoga Alliance's registry of certified schools for reference. Oops! Here's an excerpt from yesterday's New York Times article, by A. G. Sulzberger:

'In April, New York State sent letters to about 80 schools warning them to suspend teacher training programs immediately or risk fines of up to $50,000. But yogis around the state joined in opposition, and the state has, for now, backed down.

In other states, regulators were not moved. In March, Michigan gave schools a week to be certified by the state or cease operations. Virginia’s cumbersome licensing rules include a $2,500 fee — a big hit for modest studios that are often little more than one-room storefronts.

Lisa Rapp, who owns My Yoga Spirit in Norfolk, Va., said she was closing her seven-year-old business this summer. "This caused us to shut down the studio altogether,” Ms. Rapp said. “It’s too bad, because this community really needs yoga.”

The conflict started in January when a Virginia official directed regulators from more than a dozen states to an online national registry of schools that teach yoga and, in the words of a Kansas official, earn a “handsome income.” Until then, only a few states had been aware of the registry and had acted to regulate yoga instruction, though courses in other disciplines like massage therapy have long been subject to oversight.

The registry was created by the Yoga Alliance, a nonprofit group started in 1999 to establish teaching standards in an effort to have the industry regulate itself. In a recent newsletter, the alliance warned its members that nationwide licensing might be inevitable, “forcing this ancient tradition to conform to Western business practices.”

“We made it very, very easy for them to do what they’re doing right now,” said Leslie Kaminoff, founder of the Breathing Project, a nonprofit yoga center in New York City, who had opposed the formation of the Yoga Alliance. “The industry of yoga is a big, juicy target.”'

Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Elizabeth Kadetsky's excellent essay in yesterday's New York Times examines the parallels between her mother's Alzheimer's and the in-the-moment-ness of yoga.

An excerpt:

Today, at 69, she has less of that charisma — she has been diagnosed with the disease in its early to middle stages. But she has at least as much of a quality that I, earlier, modeled myself on, and later came to admire in her: a quirky, rather peculiar nature that could be summarized as an insistence on living in the moment. By concentrated meditation on the moment and each moment that follows, the yogi gains sacred knowledge. So these days, I sometimes believe I am not so much losing my mother as communicating, more and more so exclusively, with that side of her that exists only in the present.....

Alzheimer’s is about living in the present. To exist outside of memory is to occupy the moment wholly. For instance, my mother quit smoking around the time of her diagnosis. As she explained it, she’d have the urge to smoke, would forget to light up before she got her hands on the pack, and so broke a 50-year addiction. It seemed the craving no longer got stuck in her memory circuits, and so easily fell away.

Read the rest here.

*I was partway through the piece when I noticed how unusually well-written it was, and scrolled up to see the author's name - which rang a bell. Elizabeth Kadetsky is the author of the 2004 memoir First There is a Mountain: A Yoga Romance - which is about BKS Iyengar, and is highly recommended.


Thanks to Annie and Sherry for the head's up

Thursday, July 09, 2009

DISCO DEMOLITION.... sort of the opposite of yoga.

It happened 30 years ago today, when a young DJ named Steve Dahl invited his listeners - aka the Insane Coho Lips anti-disco army - to attend a White Sox doubleheader at Comiskey Park for 98 cents and a disco album - which he would blew up on center field between games.

Some 80,000 teenagers showed up, but the stadium only fit 50,000. Many of those who couldn't get in brought ladders, and scaled the walls.

After Dahl blew up the records, the fans stormed the field and the Sox were forced to forfeit the second game.

This video contains some priceless local news coverage (highlights include a young Bill Curtis mispronouncing the word "melee," an angry local resident popping a crunchy snack into his mouth mid-interview, footage of long-dead newsmen Gene Siskel and Johnny Morris, and a petulent Steve Dahl wearing unbelievably gigantic eyeglasses):

Dahl's Q&A with himself about DD in today's Tribune is entertaining, plus there's video.

This TimeOut piece has some bite to it.

This Reader article isn't half as good as the reader comments, posted at the bottom.

It's about a free exhibit of DD photos by Diane Alexander White taking place this Sunday from 5-8 PM at the Music Garage, 347 N. Loomis (312-997-1972). It'll feature
music by her kids' band, White Mystery.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I'm finally back from the parallel universe that is Amma's North American Tour.

I spent three days at the Yorktown Westin. Each segment of the program began with waiting in line for a hug-token, finding a seat, and waiting for the hugging saint to appear.

Partway through her walk into the hall, she would halt (usually while standing atop a sari laid out for that purpose) and people from the local sangha (community) would do a puja (religious ritual) with her. Then she'd kiss each of them and move to the front of the room.

In the evening, this would be followed by a talk and a brief meditation. In the morning, it was just the meditation - which became far more powerful each time we did it.

Then there would the the waiting waiting waiting for a hug. Each person is given a token with a letter and number, and there are tote boards that show which one they're on. While waiting, you can shop, eat, have your Vedic astrology chart done, shop, do seva (selfless service), shop, leave and come back or learn about Amma's many charitable activities.

You can also hang out with your yoga teacher friends, whom you rarely see these days except in India and at these events.

Or, in the case on Saturday, you can wait in line four times for a token, only to be turned away four times. Apparently newbies come first, and if you had a hug on Friday you don't get one on Saturday unless everyone else has had theirs first and some tokens are left. One wanted to plead one's case: But one is single and parents are dead and there are very few hugs these days and it has been a rather rough year so far, and this will go a long way. But one did not.

(Friday's hug, by the way, was a heart-melting experience).

Saturday began at at 6am with a very special Vedic Homa (fire ritual) for world peace. It went on for over two hours. It took place outisde, in the chilly morning aair. There was fire, chanting, ghee, flowers, ashes, and kirtan (call and response chanting). It was wonderful.

But by Saturday afternoon the senses were overloaded, and I had to retire to the hotel room for a long, long nap. I was up in time for the evening service.

The grand finale was Sunday night's Devi Bhava service, where Amma appears as an incarnation of the Divine Mother, and no one is turned away for darshan (hug).

Nonetheless I approached the token-giver with trepidation. Would I be interrogated again? Would I be turned away again? Would this be yet another lesson in non-attachment? I almost leapt with joy when I received a token and deciphered that the 11 on it actually meant I-1. As in, "I won."

The meditation practice that goes with the Devi Bhava is incredibly powerful, and the hug that came later even moreso.

It made the mind calm down to a place of peace and stillness, and filled the heart with gratitude and compassion.

If only the feeling would last....

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Malian Wassoulou musician Oumou Sangare plays Millennium tonight (Thurs) night at 8PM. My friends tell me it's not to be missed. How often do you get to see one of West Africa's foremost musicians play one of the most stunning, acoustically perfect outdoor venues in the world? Read more about Oumou here, and find out more about her concert here.

Keralan hugging saint Amma will appear at the Yorktown Mall in Lombard Friday through Sunday. I know for a fact it's not to be missed. How often do you get a chance to have darshan (an audience) with a living saint? Read my article about her here, and find out more about her visit here.

Both women are barrier-shattering feminists.

And both events are absolutely free, free! FREE!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Last night I dreamed all night that I was doing floating jump-throughs with straight legs. It was inspired by Grimmly's detailed how-to post and video, here.

This morning I awakened to this thought for the day, from the Divine Life Society (which was uncharacteristically inspiring, rather than the usual chiding):

You are the captain of your soul. You are the creator of your destiny. Do not ask, "What can I do?" you can do everything.

- Swami Chidananda.

You see - anything is possible.