This Sunday a few of us went to a performance in the small Tuscan town Bucine. My friend Casey took us. He knew the guy who was performing and operated the lights. The performance was OK, what I really enjoyed was the countryside. Gene and I played Durak on the train ride there, te stars were out in full force, and the aperitivo in Montevarchi was glorious.
I met Gene (AKA Zhenya, Euvgene) in 2005 when we both worked at the Paramount in Wellington. We were fast friends and collaborated on a few projects together. (Maybe you remember this?) We’ve been in intermittent contact since I moved off the Long White Cloud.
Gene’s visited the U.S. a few times since then, but every time he’s been stateside I’ve either been too far away or too broke to see him. But a few weeks ago Gene ventured outside of New York City and went on an impromptu tour of some great American cities, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago.
I jumped on the chance to meet Gene in Detroit, a city that looked close enough on the map to justify jumping in without much of a game plan. I meant to spend a day with him but we ended up spending the long weekend together.
Gene filled me in on what he’s been up to for the past few years. Back in Wellington he had been performing a little, collaborating on a few shows, he started a theater company, produced some plays and even flew a director in from New York out for a production. But he told me, “I made a hundred bucks man, it just wasn’t worth it.” He swore theater off and focused on making music.
After several months of producing music and DJing in Wellington, Gene found himself in a Commedia del’Arte workshop given by this mad man. The work was powerful enough to inspire taking a significant risk, so after talking it over with Giovanni (the mad man) and Gene’s long time partner Erin, he took the plunge and for the past six months has been studying at Helikos, a small physical theater program in Florence, Italy.
As it turns out, the woman who gives the amazing red nose workshops I’ve been taking in Chicago, Paola Coletto worked with Giovanni to develop the previous incarnation of the school in the early 2000s. Small world right?
Here’s a video I meant to post several weeks ago. Fair warning, it’s pretty stupid and there’s one instance of NSFW language.
This spring Dub hosted a Whole Hog Party pig roast at his house. I had really wanted to see my old buddies from high school again, before I moved out of Helena for a while and I was lucky to have been back home to catch up and join ‘em for this. Jayson and I used to play a game—he mentions it briefly before I smack him—called Paper, Rock, Scissors, Punch-in-the-Face. The rules were simple. The winner of paper rock scissors gets to punch the other guy in the face. The loser gets to decide if he wants to play again.
Here is a table full of some of the people I’m in class with at the iO Training Center every Friday. For the past couple of weeks a handful of us have gotten together at the Salt and Pepper Diner, right next door to the theater, shoved tables together and started to get to know each other. We just finished our sixth week of first level classes, and only have two weeks to go. Time flies!
This is from my old classmate Andy Lunday’s new blog and tumblr account. He and I were in art classes together all through high school. By coincidence we reconnected at a highway bagel/coffee shop in the middle of Oregon.
Were you on a bike Andy? I can’t remember.
Anyway, maybe you recognize Andy’s work already, that’s because he sent me a hand inked card a hundred years ago that’s been in my unanswered mail pile that whole time.
Jeff is one of the founding members of the Montana Embassy here in Chicago. For the past few weeks he’s been working in the busy kitchen at the new GT Fish and Oyster, which opens it’s doors tonight.
After a week or more of previews they gave Jeff a day off. Being the swell guy that he is he took me on a little tour of Vietnam Town. There were some truly excellent, and familiar feeling grocery stores and a few great looking restaurants offering wide, sloshing bowls of Phở. (We ate our massive lunch/dinner meal at Tank Noodle, a popular corner restaurant just off the Argyle Metro line.)
Getting a little more familiar with the extended neighborhood feels great, for one, I know where I’ll be buying my sriracha hot sauce from now on. But I think the best discovery of the night came after dinner. Jeff lives just east of me, but we got off on the same stop and looked for a place to get a drop to drink. As it turns out I live right next door to a humble little bar, The Village Tap.
After a few hoppy beers and a game of Yatzee! with a nurse we met it was time to go. Poor Jeff had to leg it back over to his place while I got to exploit the privilege of proximity. A terrific afternoon Uptown.
Marcy, Carey and I all have new jobs now, but at Allegra we were the FUN Committee. Party planning came easily to us then, but getting together for a drink seemed a near impossibility until last night.
Marcy’s father hosted us in his impressive, hand-built bar—complete with leaded glass, a corner booth and a mechanical slot machine! A true mixologist, he made the best Manhattans and Old Fashions I’ve ever tasted. Fortunately, Marcy offered to drive me there and back, so I was able to confirm my positive impression with a second round of each.
Thanks Carey and Marcy for doing all the planning and set up. It was just like when we were the FUN Committee!
A friend of mine, Christian Cowie, passed away after succumbing to complications of his muscular dystrophy in the early morning of July 5th, 2010. He was a few weeks shy of his 27th birthday.
We spent our school days together, starting in the same second grade class at Bryant here in Helena and I had the good fortune to have my path cross with his a few times over the following years.
From those earliest days I can remember splashing around in the municipal pool together and dancing like crazy people on the low-pile carpet during classroom pizza parties. He seemed proud and annoyed in equal measure when his loving and proudly eccentric dad would come into class every year to give water color painting demonstrations. I remember him coming to a birthday party of mine with his brother Johnathan, they brought me a Ninja Turtle action figure that would sometimes do back flip. I can remember some lazy, summertime, pre-teen afternoons he would call and invite me to play at his house. He had a truly massive toy collection and always kicked my ass at any video game we played together. Once we were sufficiently bored of being inside we would go down to the corner store and buy ridiculous, gross out candy invented for boys just our age.
I remember how in middle school he hated the people he was forced to be with every day to the point of once getting into an unfair fist fight (he was palming a combination lock!) with another kid in the elevator between classes. He would lust openly after the most beautiful girls in class, writing them daring love letters and asking “to go out” point blank.
One noon hour we were eating lunch together and out of the blue he told me something about friendship that at the time made me wince with embarrassment. Between bites of French fries and chicken strips, he told me, “friendship is really a kind of love. And because we’re friends that means that we love each other. So really it’s not too weird so say I love you to each other.” Even though I didn’t say anything then, I knew he was right just as much as I know it now.
He was a good friend to me and even though it’s too late to tell him as much I’m glad to be able to acknowledge the impact he has had on my life.
I love you too Christian, and I will miss you very, very much.