Chicago Sun-Times
Are you out in it? We're on it. All the street-level tunes, flicks, chow, cocktails and more from sources around the city ...

December 2011 Archives


Enough about you, let’s talk about me. I’m sick. I know this because I watched an entire season of The Office on Netflix yesterday and peanut butter seems disgusting. Normally, I will crawl naked across a thicket of thorns to procure peanut butter. (Well, what does your grocery store look like?) Also, when I stand up, the world seems shot by Twilight’s cinematographer; everything is blown out and too close. Also, people are drinking blood through straws. No wait, that’s just the couch.


It’s in this spirit of slight ennui and total deliriousness that I bring you my Utterly Subjective End of Year Round Up in which I speak in absolutes and you can’t object because this site doesn’t support comments.

Let’s ease into this with something indisputable.


1. Best new Chicago Restaurant: Lady Gregory. Only days after opening its doors some time last summer (I’m too sick to google.), this upscale Irish bar and restaurant already felt like a neighborhood mainstay. Since then, LG has made itself indispensable, providing not only delicious food and homey ambiance, but also holiday movie screenings, special whiskey tastings and a winter coat drive. If you’re in the market for a low-key New Year’s Eve destination, LG promises a live DJ, party favors, champagne and best of all, no cover. What are you waiting for? Go. Order the beet salad and tell them I sent you. They will have no idea what you mean, but they will still bring you the salad.

Holiday Tips

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Photo by Patty Michels

We’re on the last leg of the holiday marathon, people. So close we can almost see the depressing, grey, Christmas light-less tip of January. At a time of year when our checking account balances are low and our stress level is high, I’ve polled a diverse group to offer some holiday tips. Enjoy.

I’ll start things off:

Sarah Terez Rosenblum (werewolf owner) Although many are lukewarm about the concept of zoos, I had a pretty awesome time at Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. Sure, the hot pretzels cost twenty dollars, but I’m a sucker for anything dazzling. Unchecked, I'll stare at a chandelier for an hour. If you’re looking for ice sculptures, passed out lions and Christmas trees choreographed to blink on and off in time with music, Zoo Lights will overflow your holiday cup.

Lisa Jenn Bigelow (librarian and author of “Starting From Here”): One of my biggest de-stressing achievements was agreeing with my family to make charitable donations rather than give material gifts. Of course, now I stress over that, but at least it greatly reduces the amount of time I spend in stores, worrying over whether I'm wasting my money on a gift that won't be used.

Lane West (voice over actor): Booze, prescription meds, having friends over for holiday feasts; sometimes mixing the three.

Lane West demonstrates.

Amy Sutton (retail manager): If you still need to shop, do it early in the morning or late at night. You will miss the crowds. Also, the retail workers are pretty beat up right about now, so the teensiest bit of kindness will get you everything you need!

Susan Stachowicz (teacher): I bought Christmas presents this summer when I was traveling. So [the gifts are] unique and unavailable locally.

This is an example of a vacation. Because of the palm tree.

Marie Macula (archivist): Construct an elaborate lie about your current life and bring it up whenever relatives ask you inappropriate questions.

Jamie Lauren Keiles (college student and December's Crush): Bulk food bins at the supermarket and a script for Xanax

One day I hope to live in a bulk bin.

Janelle Galvin: (retail worker) Though I only have five other family members in the state, there's a lot of activity on Christmas eve. My mother is the organist at her church and my father is in the choir, my aunt is in the choir at a different church, and they never quite match up. A while ago, we decided that instead of doing a big sit-down dinner we would make a dozen or so appetizers and Christmas cookies that could sit out all night and people could just come and go as necessary without feeling like they were ditching the fam. Also, if one of the appetizers doesn't come out well, there are so many others that it makes no difference - zero holiday meal stress!

Corin Sailor (mother): Speaking as a new mother, set the bar low. They have nothing to compare it to.

Linda Michels (nuclear medicine technologist): If you like crafts, make the gift! More fun and meaningful than shopping. Soaps, candles, ornaments, and cookies, all good ideas.

My SO seriously made this.

Chai Wolfman (artist) White Elephant gift exchange and Old Fashioneds.

Cristina Chopalli (writer) Brazilian Wax.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

Photo by Patty Michels

The other day my Significant Other spotted something at Brown Elephant.

“Look,” she said, “a time clock.”

“As opposed to a space clock?” I rejoined, showcasing my aptitude for humorous observations. I know, how much fun would I be to date? With me no redundancy goes unnoticed. For every misused word, I supply a superior alternative. If, for example, you are splayed across the bathroom floor, damp with fever and confide you feel “nauseous,” like Florence Nightingale, I’ll nurse your word use back to health: “You mean, nauseated,” I’ll coo.

“No,” SO said, “it’s literally a time clock.”

Hearing the word ‘literally,’ I readied my sledgehammer, but not only had she used the word correctly, the device she referred to was actually an old fashioned time clock used for punching in at work.

I can’t tell you how much I wanted to buy it. How great would that be? Wake up, drink my coffee, change into my work pajamas and punch in? I’d totally make the dog and the werewolf punch in too. Maybe the scooter and the Christmas tree as well. They’re seasonal help, but they still count. But I didn’t, because buying some potentially broken gadget when you have yet to repay your student loans is probably irresponsible. Buying a sequin dress, however? Totally different story, a cautionary one in fact. About the dangers of Seasonal Affective Disorder. And Working From Home. And Whiskey.


Things you need to know:

1. I don’t drink. Ever notice how when you do drink, no one asks you to justify it? I on the other hand have been challenged so habitually I start shrugging and apologizing even before I’m asked. My reasons include:
-Expense, (see above re student loans)
-Obnoxiously Delicate Body Chemistry (My body responds to substances from sugar to caffeine to alcohol as if the substance were a side-eye and my body were a Real Housewife.)
-A general need to control everything at all times (See above re so much fun to date.)

2. I’m in the midst of some major downtime right now. Lots of deadlines met, and weeks to wait before I begin teaching my mind-blowing Story Studio novel writing courses which promise to make you wealthy beyond your wildest dreams and also clear your nasal passages. (Results may vary). In other words, the only things standing between me and a postapocalyptic nightmare of the sort described by Cormac McCarthy are "30 Rock" episodes on Netflix instant.

3. I believe feminism is about choices, and I choose to be a disgrace to feminism. Except that it’s not exactly a choice. See, I pretty much exemplify every sexist myth about PMS. Picture the most offensive commercial aired during the Super Bowl concerning the difference between men and women. Hello, my life. The other night for example, in the space of little more than thirty seconds I said this to SO:
“I want chocolate cake I’m so fat I want chocolate cake are you bored of me whatever I’m going to be so famous I won’t even remember your name what happens when we die?”

In other words, I’m not sanity’s poster girl. I’ll leave that to Courtney Love.


So, although I’m broke, I decided a night out with a friend was warranted. (Read: my SO told me I was upsetting the dog and I needed to leave for a while.) My friend and I went to Mary's Rec Room!, which was awesome mainly because their tables have bottle caps on them. Not like a server didn’t properly clear between customers, but like, the caps are lodged under a layer of laminate. I couldn’t get over it, which might have been because I hadn’t left the house in weeks. Swept up in bottle cap excitement, I ordered a whiskey, the only kind of alcohol I really like. I have a friend who says it makes her feel like a senator, but to me, it tastes like cream soda, so I guess it makes me feel like a small town boy in the 1950’s, the kind of guy who might grow up to become a senator. Whoa. Full circle.


After dinner, my friend said she wanted to go shopping. (Not the senator friend, the friend I was with. For the sake of simplicity I considered eliding them but we all saw what happened to Vivian Gornick and James Frey.)

“Akira is probably open,” I said. “But you have to be anorexic to shop there. Or Lady Gaga. Or, I guess, both would work too.” Despite the lashing wind I felt pleasantly warm. Clearly, I’d developed the ability to heat my body using the power of my mind.

Down the street at Akira, I instantly found the dress of my slutty, drag queen dreams. Bypassing the navy and champagne version (Navy sequins are pointless, the sartorial equivalent of taking a spinning class while eating onion rings.), I went straight for the red and black.


Looking to shop local this Holiday season? Look no farther than Woodland Grove Gallery, owned by husband and wife team Tobin Fraley and Rachel Perkal. Not only does the duo show work by artists both regional and national, they are also the creators of The Humbug, a Christmas book and product line available at the gallery. Our Town spoke with Fraley about art, business and Humbugs.

Our Town What’s your favorite part of owning a gallery?
Tobin Fraley Rachel and I are good partners because we both have different strengths. She is amazing in working with customers and her knowledge of the business side of retail is terrific. I really enjoy designing the spaces and setting up product in the stores. And we both love the hunt for new artists and products.

OT You’re responsible for bringing Lyman Whitaker's Wind Sculptures into town. What attracted you to them?
TF Rachel and I first saw Lyman's wind sculptures at a gallery in Santa Fe in 2005 and we were instantly entranced. At that point Lyman's sculptures were in about 10 galleries around the world and they were not looking to expand that number. Occasionally I would check back with them and then, last summer, I spoke to Lyman's wife Stacey, and she said that she would stop by our gallery when she was out in Chicago visiting a friend in June. Stacey came by and we instantly connected. So in July, Lyman and a small crew came to Long Grove and we installed 40 wind sculptures. It was wonderful working with Lyman and the wind sculptures have been a great addition to the gallery.

OT How do you choose artists to showcase?
TF We really only offer work that we like. It is much easier for us to sell a person's work that we would have in our own home, plus we get to enjoy it every day at the gallery. Overall, the retail business is a lot of very hard work, but the pleasures outweigh the difficulties because we are able to meet so many great people and work with such incredibly talented artists from around the country.

OT What’s the story behind the Humbug?
TF One day around Christmas in 1997 I asked Rachel if she thought that Humbugs would make cute Christmas ornaments. Now Rachel had been the creator and manager of Hallmark's Keepsake Ornament Collectors Club, so she definitely had some expertise in this field. She first question was "What's a Humbug?" I said that it's a little bug that gets into mischief around Christmas. A Humbug is what knocks ornaments off the tree when you're in the other room and why brand new Christmas tree lights go out. She then said, "Write a story about this little guy." So I did.

OT What’s the response been like?
TF There is a little mischief in all of us and the Humbug, despite his nature to cause trouble, is basically good at heart and cares about others. People seem to fall in love with the Humbug. Especially little kids. Many times we have had someone purchase a copy of the book before reading it, take it home and then come back the next day to buy ten more copies to give to all of their friends.

OT In a time of economic uncertainty, you’ve managed to grow your business. Any secrets or advice for small business owners?
TF Tenacity and determination are probably our biggest allies in keeping our businesses going. Over the years, we expanded the gallery four times and have opened two women's clothing stores and a garden shop called the Artistic Gardener. But this was all accomplished prior to the economic downturn. Certainly these last few years have not been easy and there were a number of times when we had to assess whether we should continue. But we believed in what we were doing and so we borrowed and used portions of our IRAs to get us through the worst days. The other thing that has sustained us is the loyalty of our regular customers. We feel that the people who shop with us are a part of our extended family and I think that they must feel the same.

Born in 1951, Tobin Fraley spent his first ten years in Seattle, Washington, growing up in and around his grandfather’s amusement park. His interest in photography began in high school and the political environment of Berkeley in 1968 offered him a chance to practice with the camera. As a center of counter-culture and a flashpoint for anti-war activity, there was no lack of relevant subject matter to photograph. But it was not until years later that he began to study photography in earnest before owning and operating Zephyr Press, a wall calendar publishing company. In 2000 Tobin and his wife Rachel moved to Long Grove and settled next to the Reed-Turner Woodland Nature Preserve and now own and operate several shops in downtown Long Grove. He is the author of three books on the history of Carousels along with a holiday children’s story titled, A Humbug Christmas. Fraley currently teaches photography at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

Photo by Megan Eckers

At seven I already felt certain of two things.

1. I never wanted to get married.
2. My wedding would be the biggest, bestest, most sequined and silky celebration ever to rock New York City where I would live in my penthouse while staring on Broadway and raising German Shepherd puppies.

I’ve always been comfortable with contradiction.

Here’s what I’m certain of now:

1. “Bestest” isn’t a word.
2. If I were to get married I’d employ Chicago wedding photographer Amy Beth Harkess.

Influenced by a strong background in nature photography, Harkess’ focus on details separates her from the pack. (Because there’s totally a roving pack of slathering wedding photographers in Chicago. I think they live under the viaduct on Western.) For the past five years Harkess has photographed weddings, commitment ceremonies and unions professionally in the Chicago area, as well as across the country. She spoke with Our Town about film vs. digital, her equipment and, randomly, Kanye West.

Photo by Amy Beth Harkess

Our Town Your website says “What I love most about photography is how it changes the way I look at the world, even when I don't have a camera in my hands!" Tell me more.
Amy Beth Harkess As I started spending more time taking photos, this strange thing started happening; I saw amazing moments everywhere. What had once been an annoying long commute because of a rain storm turned into seeing the most amazing reflections of headlights and wet cars in the puddles on the pavement. As a photographer, I'm often focused on an end result that I'm going to share with other people. It's been refreshing to remember that the passion I have for photography is often due to those little moments, and I don't have to have a camera to see them.

OT You were trained as a musician, what made you decide to work as a photographer?
AH I always enjoyed taking pictures, especially of nature and wildlife. After running into a throng of photographers at the Chicago Botanic Garden (who had been annoying me because I somehow feel my membership card makes it my territory), I joined their online photo club. Through that, I found and joined [another], run by photographer Gina DeConti of Imaginative Studios. [When] Gina asked if I'd be interested in doing wedding work, the wedding photography bug bit me and I can't imagine not being a photographer. Also, I highly overestimated the need for bassoon players.

OT What gear do you use?
AH My digital gear is all Canon professional gear. I have two camera bodies, an assortment of lenses including wide angle, standard/normal range, telephoto and macro [plus] supplemental lighting equipment. I've also adopted a lot of abandoned and unloved film cameras. The ones most frequently in rotation (and most likely to tag along to a gig) are my Canon A-1 (an old manual 35mm camera from the 80s), a Canon EOS 3, my Mamiya 645 and my Polaroid 440 Land Camera.

OT You work with digital and film. What are the pros and cons of each?
AH Digital photography has come so far. The pro cameras allow us to shoot in near complete darkness. Because memory cards are reasonably priced, you can take as many photographs as you'd like, without worrying about the price per frame. On the other hand, more files means more editing time. Digital is also a little unforgiving at the extreme ends of light. Ever have a photo that looked lovely, except that the sky was white, instead of the blue you remembered it being? Blame digital. Film can handle those extremes like nobody's business. Instead of a bright, white, almost glowing wedding dress, you can see all the intricate lace the bride spent hours choosing. And you can see all the creases in the groom's tuxedo instead of a big black blob. Film slows you down. You pay for the film and you pay for developing and scanning, so each frame impacts your profit and bottom line. This often means that a photographer takes better, more thoughtful photographs. But film photography is not cheap. Also, there are no color films that do well in low light situations. So if I am stuck in a dark banquet hall for a reception, and I want to photograph the gorgeous lilac table runners the groom’s aunt made by hand, I'll grab my digital gear. There are lots of photographers who stick to one or the other, but using the best of both worlds makes the most sense for my photography.

Photo by Gerardo Pelayo

December’s Hot Writer: Cina Pelayo

My literary influences: Edgar Allan Poe, Jorge Luis Borges, H.P. Lovecraft., Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman

My favorite literary quote: “She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars." --Neil Gaiman, Stardust

My favorite book of all time: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I’m currently reading: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My guilty pleasure book: The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

I can’t write without: Whiskey…preferably Jameson. Maybe it’s a horror writer thing? I don’t know.

Worst line I ever wrote: “She puckered her blood red lips and arched a perfectly lined eyebrow.” It was for a short story I submitted in my Detective Writing Class at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am still embarrassed that I actually wrote that…and shared it with other human beings.

Brief Bio
Cynthia (Cina) Pelayo grew up in a haunted house in the northwest side of Chicago with very superstitious Puerto Rican parents. So, a lifelong fascination with Gothic literature, romantic horror and the macabre seemed fitting. Pelayo has a genuine curiosity for superstition, folklore and myth. She holds a Bachelor of Art in Journalism from Columbia College, a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication from Roosevelt University, and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and is also the Publisher/Gravedigger at Burial Day Books. She wears black most of the time and she stays out of the sun as much as (un)humanly possible.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

MK Photo 1.jpg

Composer Miguel Kertsman is nothing if not prolific. With an eclectic oeuvre and a genre-defying take on the music world, Kertsman has turned his talents to everything from composing to producing, creating work across the music spectrum from Orchestral, Operatic, and Chamber Music, to Experimental, and Jazz. This week, O Saci, His children’s show about the power of friendship has its US premiere right here in Chicago. Our Town spoke with Kertsman about his methods and what to expect from the family friendly show.

Our Town How does music come to you?
Miguel Kertsman Music is out there, in here and everywhere in our environment, our lives, our routines, in our world, in the universe and the cosmos. I feel composers are very fortunate to have the urge, desire, and ability to tap into all those sources and channel some of that fantastic energy -- sharing it with others, telling stories, conveying feelings and emotions through sound. Music can come in a dream, in the shower, during a walk, while implementing a totally unrelated task, in the city or in the country. Sometimes there may be a "reason" to write a piece: A person, an event, a commission, a theme. Sometimes the music simply comes to be because it needs to.

OT What’s your method for composing?
MK I write what I hear internally at any given moment and what I feel -- it could be a rather tender, tonal melody today, or a very textural, experimental, chaotic work tomorrow. Sometimes I allow myself to get more cerebral about the writing process; however, most of the time I write what I hear and what I feel -- genres or styles are irrelevant. Concerning methodologies, I still prefer to write by hand, with pencil and paper. Naturally, computer programs can be helpful, especially for mechanical work such as generating engraved, publishing-quality printed scores and parts for the musicians. However, I personally am not a fan of having a computer between the music and me during the creative process, unless the computer's resources would in fact support the aesthetics of the work at hand. I feel we spend far much too much time in front of a computer or other electronic device as it is.

OT Do you write or hear a single line at a time or multiple lines?
MK Either, depending on the piece. When writing orchestral music I write multiple parts on the fly and as I go along since the final product is often already playing internally in full sound -- as if you would be listening to your own internal radio station. It often becomes a matter of writing down and transcribing what you hear. If the orchestral score has, let's say, 32 individual parts (various winds, brass, percussion, strings, choir, special instruments, etc.) I will often write down the most important parts, and make decisions on other lines later -- for example, I may decide to have the third trumpet doubling the first violins at a certain passage, or add another percussion part or effect -- those are often important details, the icing on the cake. When writing pieces with lyrics or Jazz pieces, one can often hear / write a melodic line, and subsequently harmonize it. In such an instance, that represents a more vertical way of composing music.

OT How does improvising impact your compositions or are you more formal about your work?
MK J.S. Bach was an incredible improviser, as were many of the other great Masters -- would that make their music less formal? Improvisation can be a fantastic tool for composition.

OT What would a non-musician be most surprised to find out about a composer’s creative process?
MK I often notice expressions of amazement from people when talking about hearing full or finished symphonic pieces internally that yet do not physically exist. Well, I am just as much in awe when an architect, painter or graphic artist sees a finished work in her /his mind's eye which also does not yet physically exist.

Photo by Patty Michels

In 2006 I moved from Los Angeles to Chicago to attend graduate school and right away the city seemed a perfect fit. Sure, I spent nine months out of the year shivering at bus stops or worse, wearing a down vest in my own freaking apartment, but have you seen the glazed expression that passes for affability in LA?

I don’t do fake, I don’t do easygoing and I certainly don’t do Sasquatch boots with shorts. So while LA does have its benefits (warm weather, content-less conversation, the possibility of running into Liz Phair at ArcLight (which totally happened to me—double parenthesis!--)), Chicago feels like home.

Yet since moving here, I’ve lost countless friends to the West Coast. This is not ironic, merely irritating. What with winter’s encroachment, I’m making it my mission to fight for our fair city. In that spirit, I’ve compiled the following list.

Things to Do in Chicago this December That Won’t Make you Decide to Move to LA:

1. Attend Nickel History: The Nation of Heat, New Etchings by Tony Fitzpatrick at Firecat Projects.
Possibly my favorite aspect of living in Chicago, Fitzpatrick seems the ultimate Renaissance Man. A poet, writer, artist and actor, Fitzpatrick is the kind of prolific which usually requires methamphetamines, but as far as I can tell, Fitzpatrick is fueled by nicotine, dirty jokes and the sheer necessity of realizing his artistic vision.

In lieu of electing him mayor (which is actually my goal—the man has more intelligent things to say about politics (and zombies) than any “politician” out there), go see his gorgeous new work on display through Christmas. More information here.

2. Read the brilliant Sara Levine’s highly anticipated novel, Treasure Island!!!
Okay, technically you could read this sardonic jewel in any location, but Levine is a growing presence in the Chicago literary scene; she belongs to the Windy City man. [Editor’s Note: The author meant to leave out that comma. She is in fact referring to a single entity known as The Windy City Man who she believes nests beneath one of her floorboards. Let’s not disabuse her, shall we?] Having crafted a protagonist as fascinating as she is morally questionable, Levine says, “The literature of malcontents is not without pedigree. Achilles brooded. Odysseus was a selfish jerk. And Dostoevsky's underground man—who'd pick his profile on Bernhard, Beckett, Nabokov... obviously my heart belongs to the misfits and misanthropes and criminals.”

And my heart belongs to Sara Levine. Learn more about Treasure Island!!! here.

3. See "Let it Ho!"
This burlesque-inspired revue features five of the funniest Broadz in Chicago showcasing an unaccountably rare combination of sex appeal and smarts. This year’s holiday show offers two new songs, fresh scenes and the same raunchy hilarity you’ve come to expect. I asked Broadz member Ricky Dickuless (Amanda Whitenack) what she likes about the holidays and she had this to say: “My favorite part is the Ham seasoning. Ham is a versatile and underrated dish. Ham can be served cold on bread or hot in a stew or at room temperature on my thighs to a single man looking for a free meal with benefits. I'm single. I'm lonely. And I have a freezer full of ham. My real number is (773) 484-5623.”

I’m totally setting her up with the Windy City Man. He likes Ham. For tickets to "Let it Ho!" go here.


Can an upstanding werewolf-owning writer who is kind (enough) to (dress) animals (up in her own clothing) and donates money to NPR have a crush on a college student?

Yes. If that college student is the preternaturally poised, focused and articulate Jamie Lauren Keiles.

As a senior in high school, Jamie began the Seventeen Magazine Project, a social experiment which functioned as a sort of pro-teenager, feminist analysis of Seventeen Magazine and media culture at large. Since then, she has gone on to run the Chicago SlutWalk and write for Rookie, a website for and largely by teenage girls spearheaded by the equally poised, brilliant Tavi Gevinson who, side note, I sometimes think might be a robot. Fashion, writing and now singing? Save some attention for the rest of us, Gevinson!

But back to Jamie. Now a student at The University of Chicago (to which I absolutely did not lure her with promises of meta-feminist analyses and string cheese), Jamie is December’s Crush of the Month!

Hometown: Doylestown, PA
Profession: student mostly; writer when I’m feeling legitimate
Hobbies: hypothetical questions, food, hoarding jam jars and yogurt containers in case I need them in the future

Our Town What’s your experience been like at The University of Chicago?
Jamie Lauren Keiles Academically, masturbatory. I spent a lot of time sitting around and reading things with no apparent bearing on my future. I’m never really sure if I’m getting smarter, but sometimes when I’m drunk at parties I argue about theory, so I think I might be. Or maybe I’m just getting more pretentious.

OT You’re known for your Seventeen magazine experiment. What inspired it?
JLK Senior year of high school was boring and easy. Spent a lot of time in the library reading magazines—most of them of the non-teenage variety. Eventually I ran out of content and moved on to Seventeen. I was sort of dumbfounded at how inane the content was. It was like, I go to high school with tons of interesting and brilliant young women and the content being sold to us was 99% crap. The project just kind of seemed like a logical next step.

OT At an age when most teens are just scribbling in their journals, your writing was widely read. Any regrets?
JLK Looking back I’m embarrassed to have taken such public and definitive stances. I think I knew the “right answer” to things before I had the reasoning/historical perspective to legitimize my opinions. Reading some of my older stuff reminds me how much I have to learn before I’m actually smart enough to make such concrete statements again. I don’t think I would have changed anything though. Writing for a large audience taught me how to take criticism [and] made me more willing to put myself out there. I got a lot of the uncomfortable things about creative work out of the way early on.

OT What was it like to organize Chicago’s SlutWalk?
JLK As a learning experience, fantastic. I got to meet tons of people from all over the city. I learned a lot about managing conflict. Something our planning team really struggled with was being attached to a larger, global movement. The name recognition of SlutWalk came with a lot of baggage that we didn’t necessarily endorse, specifically in regards to trans and race issues. I think if I were ever to venture into large-scale organizing again I’d be more careful to have more control over the messaging of the event. The media (and the blogosphere) has the ability to take things out of context and use parts of a discussion to discredit an entire movement. Obviously SlutWalk wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t satisfy or meet the needs of everyone, but I think it was an important part of a conversation on feminism, and that sometimes got distorted.

Share Your Photos



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2011 is the previous archive.

January 2012 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.