Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On a Final Note

Dumbass judge Rotten Milk with contest-winner Meg McCarville
In a final dumbass twist, my Spitbutt antics (see below) have been recounted in sordid detail over at Vice Magazine as part of their Ultimate Dumbass coverage, and the "band" was apparently more than the author could handle--Spitbutt Was the Last Straw, blares the headline. I question the veracity of the report (I certainly don't remember crying) and take vehement issue with the portrayal of my "bandmate" as a "fat wasteoid type," but I suppose having a performance described by freakin' Vice Magazine as "the ultimate act of degradation" is an honor of sorts--a highly dubious one, but an honor nonetheless. And now, after all these years, my bared bum has finally found its way onto the 'web--it was bound to happen sooner or later. Hi, mom!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I'm proud to report that I--and my impromptu "bandmates"--walked away with (tied-for) third place in Friday night's inaugural Ultimate Dumbass competition, cementing my position as one of Chicago's preeminent dumbasses, as if the matter were ever in question. Brainchild of New Orleanian-cum-Chicagoan/hairy-weirdo Davitt Terell, Ultimate Dumbass was pretty much as advertised above: a contest to find the "dumbest band possible," both dumb and band being very much open to interpretation--perfect fare for the waning days of summer, when minds everywhere have melted into viscous goo.

I mean, being dumb is pretty easy, right? Sure, but there's also a zen-archery aspect to it--achieving drooling imbecility only really works when you're not trying. Consequently, there were a number of contestants who totally overreached in their quest for dumbness, missing the point entirely: the Sylvia-Plath-in-drag who stuck her head in a microwave, the "guitarist" whose cardboard axe housed a smartphone that played guitar-solo videos off of YouTube, even the great Randall + Drew, whose grotesque take on nu-country was hysterical (I got a beer belly on the back of my head--best lyric of 2011) but not particularly dumb. Closer to the mark were such half-baked acts as Didjeri-Douchebags (pretty self-explanatory) and Sonny and Share, whose drunken-karaoke version of I Got You, Babe was as charming as it was pointless and retarded. Then there was Davey Hart, of Wishgift fame, whose adult-baby routine--shitty diapers 'n all--definitely merited the third-place award that we would ultimately share.

As for my act: I certainly didn't plan on competing--if I had, I'd surely've overthought the whole thing--but things were getting rowdy, I was deep in the cups and Spitbutt just came to me in a flash. What could be stupider than having somebody spit all over my butt? Enlisting a couple of last-second volunteers--Loto Ball in a brilliant and fortuitous turn as guest-vocalist and Mortville mastermind Clayton B. as the lucky butt-spitter--we took to the stage, I promptly depantsed and the rest was history... Clayton, for his part, went well above + beyond the call of duty, drenching my butt in what turned out to be vomit, and the judges were duly impressed. "That," pronounced Rotten Milk, "Was really stupid."

I can't quite say who won second-place--I'll admit to some pretty serious lapses of memory--but celebrity judge Meg McCarville very much blew all other contestants out of the water with her end-of-the-night showstopper. Despite the inherent dubiousness of a judge being allowed to compete, she unquestionably earned her gold medal by pepper-spraying herself in the face, point-blank (followed by a very convincing display of grievous injury and temporary blindness)--elevating the terms of the contest in a single stroke by presenting dumbness not as a performance but as a way of life. Her left-field victory makes McCarville the future queen of Ultimate Dumbass 2012, ensuring some out-of-this-world dumbassery in next year's contest. Mark your calendars, and get started on yr dumb band, doods!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Glow

It was announced this last week, to little fanfare, that the city of Chicago was to begin replacing its sodium-vapor streetlamps, which have since the mid-70s bathed the nighttime city in their distinctive pukey-orange glow, with a more-energy efficient (and much less orange) model. I rejoiced at the news--I've always found the city's Glow more or less nauseating, particularly on overcast nights when the reflective cloud-cover makes it especially pukey and unnatural. And I'm by no means alone; an architecture critic for the Tribune once described the lights as a "city-wide orange abomination." Of course when you live in the Glow night in and night out you don't really notice it any more--it's when I return home from time abroad that it's always hit me with a sinking ugh.

They've already replaced the lights all down the stretch of Western Avenue I ride almost daily, and the change is indeed striking. Might just take some getting used to, but y'know what?--I don't think I like it. The new metal-halide lamps certainly give off a cleaner, brighter, less queasy-making light, but they also feel somehow... clinical. The old Glow might have been downright ugly but it's been the Glow of my youth, steeping so many of the joys, pains and drunken episodes of my early life in its off-golden radiance. Chicago readers will know exactly what I'm talking about, but for you out-of-towners here are a few photographic examples, various friends of mine basking in the old Glow:
The new lights, 'much as I thought I'd appreciate them, make me feel like I'm in Toronto or something, and I think I might miss that awful old Glow after all, when it's gone--fortunately, this being Chicago, they'll be lucky to have the project completed within the decade. Tan while you can!