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The CHIRP Blog

Nicole Oppenheim: Ear Candy writesMidwestern Housewife: The Halloween Edition

Hey, kids! It’s that time of year again. Time to carve up squashes and gourds so the squirrels, rats, and pigeons can eat them before you’re able to use them as luminaria. Time to invest in bags of high fructose corn syrup-laden treats to pass out to the costumed neighborhood kids who ring your doorbell. Most importantly, time to sing yours truly a rousing and heartfelt “Happy Birthday to You”!!!

As those of us with October birthdays well know, this month belongs to ghosts and ghouls, not to us. Every year it’s birthday greetings with pumpkins and scarecrows, birthday cakes decorated with candy corn, and plush jack-o-lantern-themed birthday gifts. I hated it as a kid, but now I think it’s awesome in a kitschy kind of way. I mean, really—what better way to celebrate the day of your birth than with skeletons, vampires, demons and other symbols of death? Sweet!

So, yes, my birthday is nigh on 6 days away and for the first time in years I’m actually looking forward to it. Why? Because my husband and I are getting the f*@# outta Dodge! Woo hoo! My mom is coming in from out of state to watch the kids (and also get some quality grandma time with them) so that the hubby and I can have a weekend to ourselves. I can’t wait! It’s a chance for me to take off the 500-pound mantle of parental responsibility that I schlep around on a daily basis and don the carefree ingénue face that’s left over from the halcyon days of my youth. Okay, okay. So I’m too old to be an ingénue, not to mention infinitely over-experienced, but it’s a nice fantasy in which I like to indulge from time to time. Seriously, though, the difference between life with kids and life with kids at Grandma’s is akin to living a Jekyll and Hyde existence.

At home, I’m an ber-responsible mom of twins who dutifully reads and rereads toddler books to her kids, helps build forts out of folding chairs and comforters, composes new and exciting renditions of “Bingo”, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, and “Old MacDonald,”— not to mention watching endless hours of quality children’s programming. I try to engage in activities with the kids that are fun for all of us, too, like building huge Lego towers and then stomping them into oblivion, pretending to be Godzilla. (I’ve even gotten Winchie to scream “MOTHRA!!” a couple of times!) It’s fun for the kids and it’s a surprisingly effective way to relieve stress for me. Win-win!

I should add, in spite of the fun activities, that most days when I’m in mommy-mode I feel like I’m 438 years old. Yes, I expose my kids to underground music, vintage claymation, and outsider art, which a true 438-year-old probably wouldn’t, but the extra responsibility is what makes me feel older than Yoda. (I know…I know…Yoda was 872 or something, but you see what I’m getting at here). In my mind when I’m with the kids, I’m this bizarre chimera with Queen Elizabeth II’s hair, my grandmother’s wrinkled octogenarian face, the body of the Venus of Willendorf, and the feet of a Hindu sage who is still getting used to walking over hot coals: cumbersome, frumpy, and, for lack of a better term, ooooooooolllllllddddd. When I look in the mirror, it’s me, but with a crusty, curmudgeonly veneer, not unlike the ubiquitous latex masks for sale in every Walgreen’s this time of year.

When the kids go away, so does said veneer. In my husband’s words, I lose that “dead look” in my eyes and the sprightly, mischievous sparkle I had as a nullipara returns. I suddenly feel like I’m 25 again and that the world is mine for the taking. I’m not beaten down, resigned to my fate. No! I am the Lizard Queen! I can do anything! I can shatter the veneer of responsibility with sheer will and shine all the brighter for it. I’ve been known to dance in the streets and sing bawdy songs about the circus. Never having been incarcerated, I have no idea how it feels to be released after an extended stay in jail, but I’m guessing it’s something like this.

Does that mean I hate my kids? My role as a mother? My life? No. Of course not. My kids are kick ass and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. I enjoy being a mom, if, for no other reason than to ensure that there will be artists, musicians, writers, and dreamers walking the planet for generations to come. I love having the time I do at home with my children. Watching them grow and learn has been the most joyfully edifying experience of my life. I have grown and matured right alongside them. Having had this experience, I would never return to life the way it was before they arrived.

But, tempus fugit and all that. It’s birthday time again and time for me to let my inner Hyde out to explore the world, if only for one short weekend. Like a kid, I’m hoping to get one of the two things on my b-day wish list: white 20-eye Doc Martens or a framed mirror decorated with pictures of vintage Mexican pin-up ladies, sequins, and glitter. (Fingers crossed!) But the best present of all will be from my mom: Time. Time to reclaim some of my pre-parenthood identity. Time to shed the veneer of responsibility for a while. Time to reconnect with my senses of humor, style, and self. Time for me. And, of course, time to eat my weight in peanut M&Ms and Almond Joys. Hooray for Halloween! Have a great one, y’all!

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Categorized: Midwestern Housewife

Topics: midwestern housewife

CHIRP DJ writesRediscovering Our Record Collections: Sloan’s “Twice Removed”

In 1994 I happened to have a decent local radio station still rollicking in its hey-day. That’s where I discovered Sloan. I remember hearing “Penpals” in the carpool home from school (when it was my turn to pick the radio station), wondering “Where is Algeria?” and “Who is this band?” It only took a few more glimpses on the radio to head over to Harmony House and pick up my first independent record, “Twice Removed” by Sloan. This was one of those records that I could play on repeat all day after school. It had a starring role on many mix tapes throughout high school. It made guest appearances throughout college and then kind of faded away into my CD collection.

Keep Reading…

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Categorized: Rediscovering Our Record Collections

Erin Van Ness writesHelp CHIRP raise money while checking out a unique performance!

CHIRP is excited to announce our partnership with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Thanks-4-Giving program this year!

Half of the proceeds from tickets purchased to the Step Afrika! show scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, November 19-21 at the Harris Theatre will be donated back to local charities. To choose CHIRP as your charity of choice, type CHRP-Radio in the promotional code section when checking out. Additionally, by selecting CHIRP as your charity of choice, ticket buyers will get an additional 10% discount off the regular ticket price!

You can buy your tickets to this event by clicking here.

Please visit the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Step Afrika!, and this year’s Thanks-4-Giving event page for more information or email Erin for questions about how this project benefits CHIRP.

And thanks for giving!

Share October 16, 2009 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Event Previews

Topics: concerts, fundraiser

Mike Bennett writesiPod/MP3 Friday Shuffle — Happy Birthday Nico Edition

What’s the iPod/MP3 Shuffle? It’s just a way to get people to share music and foster some discussion. I started doing this on my Facebook page a while back and it’s been great seeing friends exchange comments on each others lists. Every Friday, I get out my 120 GB iPod (which has about 24,000 songs now), hit shuffle and write about the first 10 songs that come up. Sometimes the 10 songs are kind of conventional, sometimes there’s a lot of obscure stuff. So check mine out and please add your own shuffle or discuss other people’s shuffles!


Everybody knows that she was a femme fatale — the late, great Nico, whose model-tastic looks and chilly vocals added a sophisticated yet decadent dimension to the early work of the Velvet Underground. In her honor, let’s celebrate by grabbing your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 tunes that come up (no cheating!) with everyone!

  1. Madness — The Sun and the Rain (Ultimate Collection): This is majestic, ’60s Beatles/Kinks/Move inspired Brit-pop balladry at its best.  This came out in America on the Keep Moving album, but I don’t think it was included on the British version.  This is keyed by the piano and is augmented by horns and strings, propelling this song into lush pop heaven.  There isn’t a moment on this song that isn’t melodically appealing and it ranks up there with the best of this brilliant band.
  2. Stevie Wonder — Girl Blue (Music Of My Mind): I’m still in catch up mode on Stevie’s amazing run of ’70s albums.  This song combines a pretty melody that has been stretched out, and has a bit of a psychedelic vibe to it.  Not only is Stevie’s vocal a bit distorted, but he sings over spare ornamentation with lots of creative drumming used to fill in the ample sonic space.  He could have tightened this up into a happy pop song, but instead decided to go for something more textured.
  3. The Model Rockets — The Dress Up Girls (Tell The Kids The Cops Are Here): This Seattle band plays fun jangly pop rock with whimsical lyrics.  This music touches on pub rock, power pop and some of the ’60s British Invasion.  Nothing earth shattering, but it raises a smile.
  4. The Jam — Private Hell (Direction, Reaction, Creation): They started out as a punked up Mod band, and really progressed so much.  This song, originally on Setting Sons, matches classic Townshend/Davies quality pop craft with a doomy, post-punkish approach in the verses.  Rick Buckler lays down a steady beat, Paul Weller plays atmospheric guitar chords, and Bruce Foxton is a bass fiend on this song, providing clever melodic and rhythmic accents.  This is a song The Stone Roses had to have listened to a lot.
  5. The Pointed Sticks — Somebody’s Mom (Waiting For The Real Thing): This late-‘70s Vancouver punk-pop band comes with the endorsement of Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover Magazine.  They offer a different approach than either Buzzcocks or The Undertones, while having similar virtues.  This song is angular and kind of new wavey.  And, compared to a lot of their material, it is in the vein of Buzzcocks and Wire, with the clipped guitar line.
  6. Robyn Hitchcock — The Devil’s Radio (Moss Elixir): Robyn is becoming a shuffle regular.  This is off my favorite of his solo records.  This album isn’t as stripped down as the previous Eye, but it had Robyn going back to the basics, stripping some of the gloss that was on the last couple of albums he did with The Egyptians.  This is simply a very inviting folkie tune, with just the right amount ornamentation to supplement Robyn’s voice and guitar.
  7. Harry Nilsson — Cuddly Toy (Legendary Harry Nilsson): This frothy pop concoction was first recorded by The Monkees, a bouncy ditty that was tailor made for the voice of Davy Jones.  Nilsson’s version isn’t nearly as produced, but the strength of the song is apparent.  The fact that this song is dissing a groupie for having sex with a whole lot of guys is masked by the seemingly innocent metaphors used by Nilsson (“You’re not the only choo choo train/who was left out in the rain/the day after Santa came.”) makes it quite disturbing.
  8. Sparks — Academy Award Performance (Number One In Heaven): This 1979 album is most influential album that nobody has ever heard of.   At an artistic and commercial crossroads, Ron and Russell Mael heard Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and immediately sought out the track’s producer, Giorgio Moroder.  The three collaborated on what was an historic electronic dance album.  The combination of sequenced electronics, heavy BPMs and Russell Mael’s soaring falsetto announced the beginning of Hi-NRG dance music and provided inspiration for countless synth-pop duos like Pet Shop Boys and Erasure, and singers like Jimmy Sommerville of Bronski Beat. This pulsating track is about sexual role playing and faking orgasm.  Really.
  9. The Fall — Hey! Student (Middle Class Revolt): This was an old Fall song (1977’s “Hey Fascist”) revived and rewritten a bit for their 1994 Middle Class Revolt album.  This brings back memories of the band’s creaky take on rockabilly, but it’s a little bit faster and a little bit more forceful.  And Mark E. Smith is at the forefront, spitting out the lyrics with his patented sneer.
  10. Ultimate Fakebook — Soaked In Cinnamon (This Will Be Laughing Week): This Kansas band was fun to see live — the singer was a bespectacled geeky looking sort, while the rhythm section looked like the jocks who would have beaten him up freshman year in high school.  This album was released on an indie and got picked up by a major.  I’m sure the thought is that they could tap into the same audience as Weezer.  That’s a facile comparison, but this is a band that is clearly informed by The Replacements and Cheap Trick.  This song has a real strong guitar riff, which combines with a neck snapping stop-start rhythm, with a great melody to boot.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, lists

Jenny Lizak writesLocal Community Radio Act Unanimously Passes House Commerce Committee!

CHIRP volunteers are celebrating this morning, as we’ve just received word that the House Commerce Committee has unanimously voted in favor of the Local Community Radio Act, HR 1147. This bipartisan bill, which is supported by thousands of people across the country from a variety of community organizations, churches, artist groups, indigenous tribes, emergency responders and labor organizations, would allow the further expansion of low power FM radio, and would result in many more low power FM radio stations in urban areas. The Act will now go to the floor of the House for a full vote. Efforts are being made to progress the Senate’s version of the bill as well, and we are hopeful that lead co-sponsor Representative Mike Doyle’s prediction that this will be our “Christmas present” will in fact come true, and we’ll see President Obama signing it this year.

While CHIRP will begin to stream a new Chicago community radio station online within a few months, we have always believed that it is important to continue to advocate for the expansion of low power FM broadcast signals in order to fully serve all of the community, particularly those who may not have access to the internet. It is our hope that if this bill passes, we will have the opportunity to apply for a low power FM license to further our mission of serving the Chicago community with a great arts and cultural, locally-focused radio station.

During last spring’s trip to Washington D.C., we met so many people doing wonderful things in their local communities – churches, youth art organizations, farmworker coalitions, independent musicians, just to name a few – and many who hope to build upon their success with the ability to have a low power FM radio station. It is not only because of CHIRP’s own broadcasting dreams, but also because of the great people who we met in DC that we support the expansion of LPFM service across the nation, so these other groups can have the chance to serve their local communities as well.

Today’s great news should be a cause for celebration, but also a time to light the fire under all of us. Please take a moment to ask your legislators to support the Local Community Radio Act by visiting their website

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Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Topics: local community radio act

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