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May 2013 Archives

Photo by Patty Michels

I should probably stop telling people when I have sex dreams about them. This has nothing to do with Chicago, except that I live here, and often the people I dream about live here and then I tell them I dreamed about them and they get all uncomfortable and sometimes they’re uncomfortable in front of the Bean or while eating deep dish pizza or on the way to a Cubs game.

I'm sure I should pick up a copy of Chicago Poet Kathleen Rooney's richly imagined Robinson Alone. Even if I don't read it, I'll feel smart.


I should start constructing an altar in my bathroom to Chiropractic for Life, because they changed my life, or at least my tensor fasciæ latæ, which is pretty much the same thing.

This photo represents positive results of chiropractic work. Because I say so.

Definitely, I should stop picking the carmel corn out of the Garrett’s Popcorn my Significant Other buys. If I were a better person, I’d have more self-control or at least I’d take a bus downtown and replace what I’ve stolen but sometimes downtown seems like a whole other city.


I should stop confining myself to my neighborhood. Did you know that 115 Bourbon Street is an awesome Chicago party destination? A New Orleans themed entertainment complex, it offers live music, restaurants, and nightclubs. So the internet tell me, anyway. I wouldn’t know.

Photo by Patty Michels

I should hire Sit and Stay LLC to walk my dog. Well, I shouldn’t, because I don’t have a dog, well, I sort of do, but she really belongs to my Significant Other so I never have to worry about walking her. But you should. Especially if you live in Rivernorth, Lakeview or The Gold Coast.

Photo by Patty Michels

I’m starting to think I should stop drinking the tap water but only because my mother told me I drink too much water which is funny because whose mother worries she drinks too much WATER?


Certainly, I should start honking my horn all the time and talking really loud. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have a car. I can affix the horn to my purse strap.

Chicagoans are loud.

I should totally take a Tango class. I've been wanting to since I was ten and the school music teacher assigned us to watch Carmen on PBS and all I wanted in the world was to grow up and be as intense and sexy and free-spirited as Carmen. I fell asleep before the part where she dies. Anyway, I can live the dream now by taking lessons at Artango Center in Ravenswood. Here's hoping no one kills me in a jealous rage.

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Obviously, I should join Friends of the Chicago River in their efforts to clean up the Chicago River. I live here don’t I?

Photo by Patty Michels

I should enroll my kid in Story Studio’s Creative Writing Summer Camp, July 22-26. Except I’m not even pregnant so I certainly won’t have a kid old enough to attend by next month. But hey, I’ll be teaching the class so if you want your kid in the same room with me, feel free to enroll him or her.


Believe it or not, I've actually been to Kings Mines Blues Club, but I should go back. The Blues Club's website says "Kingston Mines is about one thing and one thing only: Having a Great Time! We create a party for you seven nights a week, with great food, drinks, entertainment and dancing." So basically everything I'm known to avoid. But I went and it was fantastic. I'm going back this summer.

This blurry photo was taken at Kings Mines.

Probably I should stop judging Chicagoans for ending sentences with prepositions. No I shouldn’t.

This photo has nothing to do with anything except cute gay boys (Photo by Sarah Terez Rosenblum.

I should go to Kopi more often. Their nachos come to me in dreams, nonsexual ones. Or so I've learned to pretend.


A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah 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
and Facebook.


On the outside, Rebecca Cutler, a Chicago Magazine writer seemed engaged and happy. And sometimes she was. But alongside her zest for life and pull to help others, existed another, less obvious side to Rebecca: her struggle with bipolar and depression. Sadly, Rebecca ultimately chose to commit suicide. In took a year for her mother, Gail Cutler, to “surface from a deep depression,” but once she did, she was determined to honor Rebecca’s goals and spirit by founding Rebecca’s Dream. Dedicated to dispelling myths and educating the public about bipolar and depression, the organization is still going strong. Our Town spoke with Gail Cutler about her daughter’s legacy.

Our Town What enabled you to channel your grief into creating Rebecca’s Dream?
Gail Cutler [Before her death] Becky was planning a fund raiser for DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) in honor of her 30th birthday.  The theme was education and compassionate understanding of these diseases. She had it all worked out: venue, DJ, food, fun and the all-important educational components. She died before the event could happen. After her death, I woke up one morning with the idea to carry forward with Rebecca’s dream, expand on it and bring it to the public, to honor her wishes and desires.To this very day, this is what keeps me going: honoring Rebecca’s life and dream by helping others through promoting awareness and compassionate understanding of depression and bipolar disorder as real diseases.
OT What’s the biggest misconception people have about bipolar disorder?
GC It is very difficult for the general public to truly believe these are REAL diseases based in  scientific and medical facts. They are no different than cancer, diabetes, MS, etc. It makes my blood boil when I hear comments made by educated people who should know better. Things like:
What do you have to be depressed about?
Pull yourself up by your boot straps.
You are just spoiled.
Look at you…you have everything.
It’s just an act.
The biggest misconception may be: you can control this…just snap out of it!!!
OT Why do you think people don’t believe depression and bipolar disorder are ‘real’ diseases?
GC Had you known my daughter you would have never guessed she lived with such demons. She was beautiful, bright, funny, creative, warm, loving, giving, and sick with a terrible illness.
Most people do not ‘look” different or behave that differently from the general public. Sure, there may be some acting out and some depression but most folks with depression and bipolar have learned to hide it. Only when a tragedy happens will people sit up and take notice…for a brief time. Oh. Maybe he/she really was suffering with a real illness. Maybe. Most societies have been unkind to those with mental illness. Folks have been locked away, burned at the stake, banished from their homes and community, treated with no respect or regard as human beings.
I believe we are creatures of habit, of unfounded beliefs and unwilling to learn the truth even when it is right in front of us. Those living with depression and bipolar disorder need qualified medical care and support just like other people with other diseases.

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Atlanta singer/songwriter Hannah Thomas began performing at age sixteen. Since then she’s made a name for herself, opening for Zac Brown, winning The GA Lottery All Access Music Search, opening for acts like Zac Brown and performing with musician like Shawn Mullins. Before Thomas heads to Chicago play Uncommon Ground, she spoke with Our Town about her influences and inspirations.

Our Town You started playing young. To what do you credit your early drive?   
Hannah Thomas I've always known I wanted to do this for a living. My parents were very supportive. My dad taught me that if I wanted something I'd have to work for it.

OT Where do you find inspiration?
HT Early on I wrote a lot about the world around me. Over time I've started to find inspiration in my own life experiences. The more life I live, the more I have to write about.

OT Do you write towards a specific album or at a certain point do you just realize you have enough songs for an album and go from there? 
HT A mixture. As I am writing songs I usually realize there's some kind of theme and so far each album has had a song that describes that theme. It's usually by accident. This album was originally going to be titled "22 Page Story" and then I wrote "Goodbye On Wasted Time."

OT Who are your influences?
HT I'm a big fan of many genres and my influences reflect that. Just some of them are Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Terri Clark, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt.  In my early teens I was very fortunate to find a friend in JR Cobb (Atlanta Rhythm Section). He taught me a lot about music and how to develop my craft. The things I've learned from him over the years continues to influence me every day.

OT Why do you think so much interesting music comes out of Atlanta?
HT It's great melting pot of cultures, from the gospel music of the old south, to the overflow of underground rock in Athens, to Southern Rock and Soul in Macon. [Plus] the New Country sound that rose from the strong singer/songwriter scene with the inclusion of folks like The Indigo Girls and Shawn Mullins the was due to believers like Eddie Owen, founder of Eddie's Attic in Decatur, now at Eddie Owen Presents in Duluth, GA.

Photo by Clayton Hauck

Second City director Matt Hovde really likes sandwiches, but we didn’t talk much about that. Instead he spoke with Our Town about Let Them Eat Chaos, the open run Second City Revue he helped create. A longstanding tradition, the revue depends on both improv and scripted scenes, harnessing the collective creative energy of a cast of talented performers.

Our Town You deviate from tradition a bit with the show, for example, no musical number opens it. Why?
Matt Hovde From the very first rehearsal, the ensemble and I wanted to free ourselves from recent Second City trends. This is a veteran cast, and we felt ready to break free from old habits, no matter how successful. It came from a place of feeling like comedy can get stagnant when it gets too predictable, and we wanted to make sure we weren't putting up a show by some formula or set of rules. In a weird way, we developed the material by saying, "well normally we might push things in this direction, so...let's go the opposite way." 

OT How did you come up with the title?
MH As usual, it was the result of several days of brainstorming terrible ones to try to find a good one! We had been playing around with a theme of Chaos early on, in the sense that it represents unpredictability, or maybe even an attitude of rebellion. Plus, it's a great way of describing improvisation, which is a huge part of our process. Once the show started to take shape, it felt right to connect the title to those ideas. Luckily, someone in the cast thought of a nice turn of phrase which captured those themes in an intriguing way.

OT You use a very spare set. Why that choice?
MH It really started on day one, when I asked Alison Riley, our Producer, to tear out the old set and leave us with an empty, raw stage upon which to play. I just felt that if we were going to embrace the idea of creating something that might be a little different, the best way to do that would be to start boldly and maybe a little recklessly; to demonstrate to ourselves and the audience that we weren't going to rely on old tricks. I think sticking with a sparse, empty look put the emphasis on the actors in a refreshing way, and reinforced the idea that improvisation is the art of creating something from nothing. 

OT Describe your directing style.
MH Oh, that's hard. I have a strange fascination with the maniacal, mad genius kind of directors, because I don't think I am those things. I hear stories of Del Close throwing chairs, and other directors yelling through megaphones or conjuring up trippy metaphors for art and I think "I wonder how that works?" I guess my style is "not that."

OT Can comedic timing be taught?
MH I think that timing can be improved. Most comedians kind of have it already, and with training (and trial and error) they can refine it. Improvisation is great training for timing. 

OT back to the show. What aspects of Let Them Eat Chaos have audiences responded to?
MH A lot of people seem to be intrigued by the particular way we blend improvisation into the show this time around - it's kind of hard to tell at times where the improvisation has ended and a scripted scene begins, which was something we thought was fun to play around with. And I think a lot of folks like the emotional, thoughtful parts of the show - it's not as raucous or overtly political as some previous shows. It's definitely a relationship driven show, and people seem to be responding very well to that. 

OT What are you working on next?
MH I've returned to my role as Artistic Director in our Training Center, which I'm always thrilled to do after directing a show. I get so enthusiastic about this art form it's ridiculous.

Purchase tickets to "Let Them Eat Chaos" here.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah 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
and Facebook.


Cari Meyers is committed to putting an end to puppy mills. As the founder of The Puppy Mill Project she’s worked tirelessly to meet this goal. Most recently, TPMP convinced Collar and Leash, Chicago’s oldest pet store to stop working with puppy mills. Our Town spoke with Meyers about peaceful protest, the foundation’s youth outreach efforts and her future goals.

Our Town What inspired you to found The Puppy Mill Project?
Cari Meyers My inspiration for founding TPMP was learning about the mills and realizing no one in Illinois was even talking about them. None of the shelters or rescues were even concerning themselves with the core problem of overpopulation of dogs, it all starts with the mills. Also the fact that every state bordering ours was a puppy mill state and thousands of dogs were passing through, and being delivered here, every week. As I dug further I found about the magnitude of this animal cruelty problem and knew this was what I had to do.

OT What sort of assistance does TPMP provide?
CM We provide education to the uninformed consumer as well as to the schools and communities that are becoming more involved. We also direct people to shelters and rescues instead of stores and try to help them find the particular dog they want if there is one.

OT Most pet stores still use puppy mill puppies.Why?
CM Stores HAVE to use puppy mills for several reasons. First of all no responsible breeder would EVER sell to a pet store. Secondly the stores need a variety of dogs and too many dogs for a breeder to provide so they have to go to the mills.

OT Is this changing at all?
CM In so far as consumers are becoming educated and not buying as many dogs, so stores are closing. However, the pet stores will never change where they source their dogs no matter what they tell you.

OT You recently convinced Collar and Leash to stop working with puppy mills. How did that happen?
CM Collar and Leash was a store we protested on and off for several years. We received many complaints about them and so I made them my primary target in terms of transitioning to a humane model. We called the owners to set up a meeting and they said yes. A half hour after we met they agreed to go forward with this with our support. A big, bold move for them and we will do everything to make sure everyone knows about it and that they succeed.

OT TPMP can be seen protesting outside of pets store sin the Chicago area. Do you think peaceful protest has an effect?
CM I believe peaceful protesting has had a huge impact. About 78% of the population does not even now what a puppy mill is so this is a great way to tell them. We have made some huge changes by protesting and will continue to do so.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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