The Balcony is Closed

It’s been a while, I know, and I was all ready to write about something I came across earlier in the week.

However, I feel the need to pay tribute to someone who’s work meant a great deal to me–Roger Ebert–who died today after a long battle with cancer.

The Eberts at an event I covered in 2007.

The Eberts at an event I covered in 2007.

His death saddens me tremendously because he was a huge voice, not only in film criticism, but in life in general. His prose and wit were unmatched (except by his late-partner in crime, Gene Siskel), and there isn’t a film critic today who comes close to his abilities. He knew how to read a film, then discuss it in a way that wasn’t condescending or obnoxious.

Ebert was a writer, first and foremost, and that made him so good at his job. His love of film just added to that talent.

As most I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in the Chicago area, so watching Siskel & Ebert, and eventually just Ebert, was required of all Illinois citizens. Also, we had to read their columns to learn how to write criticism, and well, how to write in general. After Siskel died, Ebert was the only critic I paid attention to. Sure, Kenneth Turan, A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis are fine, but…meh…their work doesn’t compare to Ebert’s.

I’ve met Ebert a few times and each meeting, he was kind, gracious and witty. The most memorable was years ago when I was a senior at the University of Wisconsin. My father had the same lawyer as Siskel and Ebert, and said lawyer had an open house at his fab, newly rehabbed greystone in one of Chicago’s tonier neighborhoods. I was an obnoxious, know-it-all film student who became quite verklempt when I heard my father say, “Oh Mr. Ebert, I’d like you to meet my darling daughter, Julia. She’s a film student at Wisconsin, and will be graduating in a few weeks. Hey, any advice you can give her would be GREAT! THANKS!”

Aaaand, my dad disappeared toward the bar.

Thanks, dad.

Great.

This guy is gonna eviscerate me, test me on my knowledge and I’m gonna, like, dieeeee. Imagine my surprise when the exact opposite happened. Ebert and I spent the next hour or so discussing Kurosawa and how important his films are to not only the film world, but to the world in general. We discussed other film makers as well, but I believe that Ebert was touched by the fact that someone so young with an odd hairstyle, dug someone like Kurosawa. Siskel eventually tagged in and the two of us discussed Truffaut for another hour or so.

Needless to say, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

I could go on and on about Ebert, but I won’t. I do suggest reading his past columns and his essays on contemporary American life. He had a lot to say and the world will feel this tremendous loss for years.

I leave you with two things–one of my fave Ebert’s quotes, and a Sneak Previews/Siskel & Ebert episode where the two critics discuss the disturbing trend of violence toward women in films.

“’Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” —Roger Ebert

And the clips–

Plus, a bonus out-take bit with Gene. Classic.

RIP, Roger. The City of Big Shoulders won’t be the same without you.

Damn.

All Is Right With the World Again

Really, Jules? How can you say this–especially after you experienced a quick & painful hiccup in your non-existent career yesterday?

iggy_pop_and_the_stooges-hollywood_palladium_ACY6879

Well, here’s why.

From Rolling Stone.

Iggy Pop and the Stooges Ready New Album for April Release

‘Ready to Die’ features guitarist James Williamson, drummer Scott Asheton

Now, this makes me smile.

See, my three readers, 2013 was starting to look like yet another shitty year for McCrabass until I heard this news. I saw Iggy a long time ago in LA and it was quite the show–he was loud, crude-as-fuck and just plain out of control. It was one of the best times I’ve ever experienced standing up. I mean, I almost tossed my granny knickers at him, but was afraid he’d put them on and they’d be too big. He’s alluring in an ugly-sexy kinda way–if that makes any sense.

So, when I heard my favorite skanky, blue-eyed boy & the Stooges were releasing an album–some 40 years after the last one with James Williamson and Scott Asheton–I did a slow nod and muttered to my empty living room “Niiiice.” Yeah, very un-Iggy-esque but I gave up heroin before I even started and my leathers are being repaired.

IggyPopStooges

Iggy Pop and the Stooges are ready with a new record, Ready to Die, which will mark the first time Pop has worked with guitarist James Williamson and drummer Scott Asheton on a full album since their 1973 classic Raw Power. As he’s done since the Stooges’ 2003 reunion, Mike Watt will fill in for the late Ron Asheton on bass. It’ll be Iggy and the Stooges’ first album since 2007’s The Weirdness, which was the last to feature Ron Asheton. Ready to Die is due April 30th on Fat Possum Records.

I don’t like to wish my life away, but April 30th can’t come soon enough. That’s kind of sad–I’m sliding down Crap Mountain again and I’m looking forward to an album release like I’m some sort of love-struck teenie bopper.

I need a do-over.

 

 

Natty Dreadlocks + McCrabass = Employment?

One of the amazing things about employment–mainly the people I know who have jobs–is how easy they seem to not only get jobs–but how they seem to move effortlessly from one high paying job to the next.

I guess most of these folks are deserving of these jobs and I’m happy for them (well not really), but what is glaringly obvious in this city is employers keep pulling from the same talent pool.

What creases me is these employers around these parts are not real keen on taking chances on folks who may have the drive, the will to work their asses off and the smarts to do a good job, but not the honor of having a name or an ‘in’, or comparable experience but not the exact experience.

This isn’t working for me. I find the media world in Chicago to be impenetrable, unless timing is on your side and you have a pocketful of great connections. It reminds me of the nepotism that permeates Hollywood, but with people who need to know something about all subjects, not just about making movies.

Call me crazy, but that myopic attitude doesn’t bode well for the future of media in this town.

Let’s take a gander at what has been polluting my RSS feed lately. There has been so much good stuff, but this one really caught my attention.

Man’s Hair Shaved Off And Stolen At Party, Dreadlock Thefts Rise In South Africa

Now, I understand that there are women in India who sell their beautiful, jet-black locks so that broads here in the US can have secksy long hair, but dreadlocks? I mean, aren’t hard-core dreads made out of shit, dirt (hair, natch) and other glue-like substances that cause the follicles to stick together?

Maybe it’s a ‘black thing’? I dunno. Perhaps this article from News One can explain it best, because White Girl Pearl here is at a loss.

Man’s Hair Shaved Off And Stolen At Party, Dreadlock Thefts Rise In South Africa

“Zimbabwean Mutsa Modonko experienced the epitome of a bad hair day when he was partying at a Johannesburg, South Africa, nightclub. After 10 years of growing his dreadlocks, friends at the party found him passed out with his head cleanly shaven, and according to Johannesburg’s Times Live, stealing dreadlocks is becoming a growing trend.”

Zimbabwean.. Zimbabwean.. say that word 10 times fast whilst drunk and speaking with a Cockney drawl. Then, do it again but this time in Pig Latin. It’s super fun!

“Natural hair and dreadlocks are huge business in South Africa.  The locks can be sold as hair extensions and can typically go for as much as $275, depending on the length.  As a matter of fact, the demand for the matted locks is so high that patrons often will not even question where the hair came from.”

Oh no, why would anyone want to question a product that is about to be sewn into their noggin? Hmm..this is kinda like a Brazilian waxologist who uses recycled muslin strips that are filled with a week’s worth of pubes. You’re welcome for that image, by the way.

“Hairstylist John Wushe, who owns a Johannesburg salon told Times Live, “They are becoming very popular. On a busy day we get about 10 people [wanting] to extend their hair.”

The stolen hair can be weaved on to the head of a male or female, whereas before, synthetic hair had been used for eons. The typical weaving-in process can take up to two hours and can be woven on to the head using a crochet hook or needle and thread.  A stylist can charge up to about $170 to weave in the dreadlocks.

(courtesy of BlackPlanetNext.com)

(courtesy of BlackPlanetNext.com)

Although there appears to be numerous dreadlocks thefts, according to Johannesburg police, they have thus far received only one such report that came through last year.  Johannesburg police spokesman Captain John Maluleka told Times Live his department encourages residents to file police reports over such hair thefts, but he thinks their hesitation can be attributed to just sheer embarrassment.

In most of the cases, dreadlock thieves are zeroing in on the fairer sex, and according to Randburg hairstylist Lebo Masimong, he says, it is because women appear to be easier targets, “You are an easy target if you walk around the CBD (central business district) and your hair is loose. They don’t care about your money or fancy phone. They are only after your hair.”

What this story fails to tell us is how these thieves get the dreads–do they knock victims down then start shaving? Do they drug them then start shaving away? What kind of equipment do they use? Is there a middleman? Are they incorporated? What other bennies do they get? What are the hours? Are there promotions? Exactly what IS a promotion in this particular field?

I gotta know because I need a job and this might be a whole new thing for me.

 

A Somber Anniversary

This week marks a frustrating and sad anniversary for me: Two years ago–January 21, 2011–was my last day at my editing gig at a trade/B2B publication here in Chicago.

First, allow me to back it up a titch and regale you about how the fun began two weeks earlier.

I arrived at work on that crappy cold-as-fuck morning, had just enough time to put my stuff down on my desk, take off my coat, and say hello to my co-workers before the Editor-in-Chief asked me to take a walk with him. I found this a bit odd since he never paid me much attention, unless it was to gripe about something, or if he needed me to order some sort of pen.

So, when we rounded the corner that separated the newsroom from sales, and into a small conference room where the resident HR drone was waiting, my stomach flip-flopped. My mouth went dry and my chest felt like it was going to resemble Kane’s in “Alien”–but with my heart bursting out & smacking both the EIC and HR right in their mugs instead of a parasite that would eventually kill the entire fucking masthead. A wry smile crossed my lips for a brief second at that thought, but it quickly vanished when I heard the following:

“Um, yeah. Julia. We’re going to lay you off–it’s nothing personal of course–we’re just eliminating your position so we can add more to the sales team.”

What happened next few minutes was a blur. I do, however, remember giving the EIC a look that would kill a planet, tightening my jaw until it ached and feeling the tears starting to build up. Sadly, the death glare didn’t land because he wouldn’t look me in the face, but he did manage to set the land speed record for waddling out of the conference room so he could alert my colleagues of my fate.

You know, to save face and look like a fucking hero.

“Gosh, we really like Julia, but tight budgets are preventing us from keeping her on. So, I know she’s looking for work, so please help her out if you can.”

My immediate boss was absent that day so when she got my tearful phonecall an hour later, needless to say, she was furious. The next couple of weeks were a blur of phonecalls to friends slash possible employers, resume prep, buckets of tears, lashing out at everyone, allowing my shocked soon-to-be-former co-workers take me out for lunches and post-work drinks, and trying my damndest to not kick both the EIC and ME in the balls. It took alll of my god-given strength to NOT throw my ass in the shitastic Chicago River when I learned that an intern would be doing my job.

Not personal, eh? Go fuck yourself.

The last couple of years hurled all sorts of puke/jiz-filled crappy crap at me. I don’t know which moments were the most fucked-in-the-head: Was it the the snow storm that hit the area about a week after I was canned? Or was it the pubic-hair freezing cold that pounded Chicago in the ass afterwards? Or, was it going out to LA to look for work and have many jobs dangled in front of me only to have them taken away just as I was making arrangements to move my life west? Maybe it was three interviews I had with a certain Chicago media outlet that always hired someone too young and inexperienced over me, only to have that person leave a few months later because the work was “too hard.” This happened three times.

It coulda been the publisher in Florida who flat-out asked me my age during a phone interview, and when I gently reminded him that what he was asking me was, gosh, ILLEGAL, he proclaimed he didn’t care. I ended the interview soon after.

Perhaps it was the approximately 500 carefully crafted resumes with the appropriate key words and phrases I sent out that were probably mocked, laughed at and tossed in digital circular files–I have no idea which one of these events have helped push me down Crap Mountain the fastest, but I do know this much–

THE LAST TWO YEARS HAVE BEEN A MAJOR PIG FUCK.

Somedays, I can’t move. I don’t leave the apartment. I read my New York Times, the New Yorker, maybe watch my stories on the tee vee, watch porn on the computer–anything to distract me from the fact that I am a miserable failure. While I am well aware that there are many in my situation–and in worse situations–I can’t worry about them. Does that make me cold & heartless? Naah, it makes me realistic because I highly doubt they give a red rat’s ass about me.

Other days, I work on my book that no one will ever read, do Bikram yoga and consider cooking meth in my kitchen. I help other friends find work, read reports and a thesis or two for a pittance. I cheer when my friends find work, and am sad for them when they lose their jobs. My happiness for their successes is genuine, but so is my anger and resentment. It’s difficult to be around friends who are successful and have jobs, so I don’t go out much. Plus, this city is expensive.

I’m thankful for my health (knock on wood), and the facts that I’m well-educated, and don’t have a mortgage or kids to worry about. I don’t want to think about where I’d be if either of those were a factor.

I felt some cold-comfort upon learning that both the EIC and ME were canned under new management. Since it’s not my style to revel in someone else’s misfortunes, my happiness immediately turned to concern because they both have families and mortgages. But then again, they’ll probably find work before I do, so fuck ‘em.

So, what am I to do? Keep getting out of bed every day. Keep on with the writing because my book is turning out to be a gem.

And most of all, not listen to those folks who tell me I can’t succeed. One of ‘those folks’ happens to be me, but that voice is getting fainter and fainter with each passing moment.

I think Madonna said it best below.

Something to sink your teeth into

(courtesy of theinsider.com)

Girlfriend needs to up the voltage and lay off the Lithium cocktails.

Kesha Made Bra out of Fans’ Teeth

From Female First.

“Ke$ha made a bra out of her fans’ teeth.

The ‘Die Young’ singer recently asked her followers to send her a tooth each and after receiving over 1,000 canines, she decided to create a bra, headdress and earrings out of them.”

Let me get this straight–when you’re sans talent but are kept around for our amusement (thank you media!), and you’re none the wiser to our mockery but continue to add to our collective misery by doing stupid shit … wait … where was I going with this?

I’ve never heard her braying, but from what I understand her voice is shrill enough to reverse the flow of the Chicago River (again), cause the balls of men to tuck up into their innerds, and … to get her fans to send her their chompers.

I find it hard to believe that so many people thought the swimming pool game ‘Two Times Up & Three Times Down’ was a real one and not just their summer girl’s way of getting you out of her hair while she flirted with the hunky (but closeted) lifeguard. But those dolts seem to believe this woman who looks like a used up ASU sorority girl has enough talent to warrant them yanking their pearly whites from their maws and sending them to her.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Well played, Mayans.

Look Who Bought the Myth!

Boy oh boy did I ever! What myth do you spaketh of dearest Julia?

The myth that if you work hard, get real good edumacated and play by all the rules that you’ll get a job.

Excuse me for a minute whilst I cackle like the terribly misunderstood witch in “Bewitched Bunny”. Wait–come to think of it–this is more like it.

Sorry–it took me a while to dry my eyes and don some clean knickers. Ahem. Sometimes laughter ain’t the best medicine, and whoever said that needs to have their balls shaved with a dull, dirty razor. Then, that person needs to sit for a long, long time in a big pile of salt. Man oh man, I would be aces at torture.

Anyhoo, currently I’m staring at the dirty asshole of 21 months of unemployment. Yep. I’ve written about this before but now this sitch is getting mighty damn ridiculous. In the past 48 hours, I’ve received three tears/sobs-producing rejections. I would’ve loved to work at any of these places, but once again, I was told in so many words that I suck shit. That I’m not worthy of employment at all, and that I should just give up.

Well, I have. Stick a fork in me folks because I’m done.

 

Over 500 carefully crafted resumes and cover letters have been sent, networking and ass-kissing has been accomplished (I deserve an Oscar) and I’ve “Linked In” up the whazoo. Stories I’ve pitched are ignored or given to someone else to write. I’ve even started this extreme diet because all of the places I’ve interviewed at are inhabited by uber-thin folks. Next up: Botox and skin-lightening treatments.

I’ve learned a lot, met a lot of good people, but not enough apparently.

Meanwhile, half-wit woman hater Todd Akin doesn’t know the difference between an abortion and a D&C and people want him to help lead this country? Oh, dearest Julia, surely you gest! No one can be that thick! See, this is what happens when you let God into politics. Or, when you think you know how God would rule on such matters.

Watch:

My plans? To lay low for the rest of the year because 2012 ain’t no longer worthy of my time.

It’s been a shit-fuck-ass mess of a year. Nothing has worked out and that just boggles me wee noggin. Now, normally I’m not one to wish my life away, but as for the rest of 2012, well, I ain’t participating. This year had a chance and it blew it. Big time. It’ll be interesting to see if I even decide my vote is worth it. The current POTUS hasn’t done shit for me so why should I even bother? Or, maybe this guy has the right idea? 

So..neener neener neener, 2012. Go away. Please.

The Daily #Epicfail-Media Whore Style!

Way to go, NBC.

You deemed the Kardashian klan more important than acknowledging the 3,000+ victims killed in the worst terrorist attack on American soil. Shame on you. The other networks participated in the moment of silence at Ground Zero, along with the Whitehouse, NYPD, NYFD and other municipalities around the country.

Watch the interview here.

Oh, and both the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns decided to suspend their negative ads today. Wow, that’s mighty big of both of them. I can’t wait for the low-brow bickering to start again at midnight! *thrilled*

But, about NBC and their fuck-up. I know boobs are important to media prominence, but we’re talking about the Kardashians.

Wait, I saw what I did there–I’m referring to the female breast, not a dunce or a fool. Huh. Come to think of it, I AM talking about both types of boobs!

However, I digress.

Back to “The Today Show” and the Kardashians — the media whores who’ve contributed jack shit to this society except for giving permission for folks to strive for mediocrity.

And, I’m not just talking about the Kardashians here, *ahem*.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Kardashians have the klass to acknowledge the importance of remembering what happened on September 11, 2001.

Hmm..I wonder if they even know WHAT exactly happened on the horrible day. I highly doubt it.