Saturday, October 27, 2012

No. 586 – Love

Performer: The Sundays
Songwriters: David Gavurin, Harriet Wheeler
Original Release: Blind
Year: 1992
Definitive Version: None

As I’ve mentioned, Jin has tried throughout the years to introduce me to music that she loves. Sometimes it doesn’t take; others, such as with Jane’s Addiction, as I noted, it takes a while before I come around to her way of thinking.

One band, however, that I got into right away was The Sundays. In fact, I got into The Sundays so quickly after Jin introduced them to me in 1992 that she made me tapes of their two albums, Blind and Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, for Christmas.

I visited Jin a lot during the Chicago years. Any excuse to get to my favorite city was a good one as far as I was concerned. And I visited far more frequently after Jin moved into her solo apartment in 1992, because we no longer had to work around roommates for my stays.

Jin introduced me to a lot of things during this time that became mainstays of future visits, such as the Green Mill. One favorite became Penny’s Noodles, which occurred before her final Chicago move when she lived near Wrigleyville.

Penny’s was a revelation: It was cheap, plentiful and outstanding (and still is). Back then, six bucks got you a plate of pad se eu that featured sweetly marinated skirt steak, perfectly tendercrisp broccoli and thick chewy noodles. (Now, it’s eight bucks, still cheap.)

In 1992, the only location (there are five now) provided part of the charm of the place. It was a tiny pie slice of corner space tucked almost directly below the L tracks just a couple blocks from Wrigley Field. It was (and is) BYOB, and a tiny grocery—now gone—down the street sold beer by the bottle. While Jin held our place in line, I’d grab a few for dinner. I’m not sure I made a trip to Chicago thereafter for the next two years that didn’t include a Penny’s run.

Another favorite, which Jin found after her move to the Ravenswood neighborhood, was Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.

I’ve talked about TML and taking Debbie there in 1994 just as Jin had taken me earlier, but I’ll never forget the first time I went. I really didn’t know what to expect ahead of time, but I was getting into it, when they did the play that won me over.

It started with two guys entering the stage from opposite sides and turning so their backs were to the audience. Their stance and complete lack of conversation indicated that they were standing at a urinal, although it soon became clear that they weren’t doing what one normally does at a urinal.

Soon they began to moan and thrust their hips, and the crowd began to titter: OK, guys, where are you going with this? It kept building, and their moans of pleasure got louder and louder as their hips thrust harder until the lights went out and all of a sudden the audience was hit with, well, the suggested result of such activities.

The place blew up in shrieks of disgust and uproarious laughter, and as the lights came on, everyone saw that cast members had bombarded us with cans of silly string. Everyone applauded wildly at the outrageousness of the wordless “play,” and from then on the cast had the audience in the palm of its hand.

That play became the standard by which all future TML plays have been measured, and TML became another regular stop on my Chicago visits.

Naturally, now that I live here, I go to both Penny’s and TML far less than I used to. Since I moved here in 2005, I’ve been to Penny’s maybe five times and TML only once—in 2008. I don’t love either one less, but last night Laurie and I went to a new (to us) pizza place, for example. When you have hundreds of options, it’s easy to take old standards for granted.

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