As you may have heard, Tony Fitzpatrick had heart surgery last week. But our fearless columnist was prepared for just such an occasion, and filed this piece from his personal archive a few hours before going under the knife. We’re hearing good reports from the hospital and expect Tony will return to these pages in fighting form very soon.
By Tony Fitzpatrick
In his lifetime, the Texas-born guitarist and songwriter, Chris Whitley was, from time to time, criticized for the surreal turns his lyrics would take. His initial audience here in America thought he was a blues-folk rocker when they heard “Living with the Law,” his freshman effort for Columbia Records. It would not have been a bad assumption. There was plenty of Robert Johnson and Texas-radio kinds of sounds on that record; lots of dobro and grit, gravel and tumbleweed. It was a record of austere and American loneliness. It is one of my favorite records of all time for the very reasons some find it oblique. There is nothing easy about it. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Is there a patron saint of advertising or a goddess of marketing or a power animal that rules publicity and promotion? If so, I’m going to find out, then pray to them in your behalf. It’s high time for your underappreciated talents and unsung accomplishments to receive more attention. And I am convinced that the astrological moment is ripe for just such a development. Help me out here, Aries. What can you do to get your message out better? What tricks do you have for attracting the interest of those who don’t know yet about your wonders? Polish up your self-presentation, please. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): You will never make anything that lasts forever. Nor will I or anyone else. I suppose it’s possible that human beings will still be listening to Beethoven’s music or watching “The Simpsons” TV show 10,000 years from today, but even that stuff will probably be gone in five billion years, when the sun expands into a red giant star. Having acknowledged that hard truth, I’m happy to announce that in the next five weeks you could begin work in earnest on a creation that will endure for a very long time. What will it be? Choose wisely! Read the rest of this entry »
Each year this time, we turn to thoughts of self-reinvention. Sometimes that means fixing our brains, through the classroom. Sometimes that means fixing our brains by changing drugs. And sometimes that means figuring out what it means to be gored by a bull.
By Michael Workman
It’s a sunny early morning in Basel, Switzerland. I’m one of a pair of junkies standing in the heart of downtown near the Kunsthalle, beside a door in the alley that leads two flights up to the Gaslight. It’s a “vampire club” that opens at 4am, and caters to all stripes of service-industry people, including the brothel’s sex workers and professional hard-core partiers, when the other joints start to close. We’re with the pro partiers. It’s a pretty thick crowd tonight, and me and my friend Lukac, bald and decked out in his brown fur overcoat, have been at it since dawn the previous day. It’s not our longest run, either. I’d met Lukac through the Swiss Embassy here in Chicago, who referred me to him when I called researching some business interests in the country. I’ve never met anybody as into cocaine as he is, and it’s not just him, all of his Basel friends are into it. It’s always a drug binge when we’re together. On the first night we met, we downed better than ten bottles of wine, burned through a quarter ounce of decent kush, toasted with some shots. We’ve been working our way all day and night through a few grams of cocaine, feeling acutely wired by the time we share the massive spliff that a sex worker from Argentina hands us on the dance floor and, again later, as we’re walking out. We’re moving all night together, me, Lukac and her friends, talking, our brains completely restricted to rear-brain activities only. It’s a repeat of the narcotized back-room scene at the Lodge from “Fire Walk with Me,” everyone slurring, indecipherable, visibly swaying in a deeply altered drug haze. Read the rest of this entry »
By Corey Hall
Greetings, Team Members!
As we begin this New Year, let us remember these new, six items of interest. As long as these Commandments—or friendly reminders, if you will—are abided by, you will, (most likely) be kept in our employ, so that you may continue being the middle man between us and your creditors.
One: As per our conversation, please refrain from gathering in throngs of two or more in areas not monitored by a security camera. While we have the utmost respect for all employees—whose ID numbers we can generate from our database at a moment’s notice—such gatherings just smell too much like team mutiny. If you must have a conversation with someone other than yourself, please conduct it within earshot of your most-recent Team Leader, and please avoid all jokes that may induce anything resembling laughter. Please practice only nuanced, non-offensive humor that, at best, raises eyebrows. You are encouraged to consult any NPR program for an example. Read the rest of this entry »
This past autumn term, I accepted a lecturer position teaching a databases class in the Masters Program in Computer Science (MPCS) at the University of Chicago. I have been working with databases for more than a decade and graduated from the MPCS myself many years ago but had never taught before. Throughout the course of the term I learned a lot about teaching, public speaking and, yes, even a bit about databases.
Below is a list of four things I learned about public speaking from teaching a graduate course:
1. Get comfortable with silence–when you’re the one leading the room silence can feel pretty awkward. But it’s only awkward if you let it be. When used appropriately, silence can actually heighten the energy. You don’t always have to be presenting information: take some time every now and then to pause and take in the room. It can be a breath of fresh air for both you and the audience. And maybe someone will get the courage to ask a question. Read the rest of this entry »
By Scott Hibbard, DePaul University
There is an important debate going on in this country about the relative utility of a college and university education, particularly in the liberal arts. What is driving this debate is the rising costs of tuition, and questions about the perceived lack of a “payoff” for degrees in the humanities and related fields (i.e. English, History, Philosophy, Religion, Modern Languages, Art and any of the Social Sciences). While it is true that the costs of higher education have risen faster than inflation, it is also true that the costs of not getting a college degree are strikingly high. Over the course of one’s working life, people with college-level education will earn significantly more than those without (and certainly more than the price of that education). More to the point, in an era where people will switch careers several times during their working life, gaining basic analytical and writing skills are crucial to professional success, which is precisely why a liberal arts degree will serve one well. Read the rest of this entry »