samedi, juillet 14, 2007

Dim Sum and Housewarmings


After getting home around 7am, I slept until 10am and then got myself together for dim sum with Lauren and Peter. After a cold shower and a change of clothes, I headed out to pick up the other two and make our way to Shui-Wah restaurant in Chinatown.

At first I was worried that I wouldn't be able to muster much of an appetite or any substantial conversation, but by the time we walked into the restaurant and I got a whiff of the steamed dumplings and buns, I was ravenous. And by the time I got some warm congee into me, I was chatting up a storm. We ate until we simply couldn't anymore, and then settled the bill and lurched our way back to my car.

Lauren and Peter still had a bit of time before they needed to start preparing for their housewarming party, so we drove up to my new apartment to take a quick tour. I also took the opportunity to take some pictures of the apartment before I started painting, which I'll post on this blog tomorrow (hopefully). The drive to Uptown went rather quickly, but Lakeshore Drive was a mess southbound, so we cut across Fullerton and took the 90-94 to the 55 to the souther portion of LSD. The jury is still out as to whether it actually saved time, but either way, we arrived in Hyde Park a much later than we had hoped. I dropped P&L at their place to start preparing their party, and I headed back to Steve's place (where I'm currently crashing) to get a bit of work done.

I spent some time getting a start to changing my mailing address with banks and preparing some mango-jalapeño salsa for Lauren and Peter's party. By the time I got over to their place that afternoon, the party was already well in swing. Lauren & Peter had prepared a fantastic spread of delicious and (mostly) healthy party foods, and all the guests came along with their own offerings, so there was a fair bit of food to absorb all the wine and beer I drank there. My offerings (aside from the mango salsa) included a couple of bottles of fancypants French wine, which seemed like an appropriate thing to bring, considering where I've been for the last year.

By about midnight, all the partying of the night before finally caught up with me, and I hitched a ride with Andrew M. and headed back to Steve's place to crash for the night. Yay! For whatever reason, this particular party really made me feel that I had arrived in Chicago again. It will hopefully help motivate me during the endless painting I'm going to be doing soon...

Back in the scene

Friday night, after a long day of unpacking kitchen stuff and admiring my new apartment, I got a call from M., a friend in the techno scene here in Chicago. Apparently, there was an event going on at a nightclub downtown, followed by someone's birthday party as an afterparty. I had made plans to celebrate my return to down with drink's at Jimmy's in Hyde Park with the U of C crowd that night, but I didn't expect it to last much past midnight, so I thought I could do both.

I headed down to Hyde Park with my friend Scott in tow and we met up with Shayna and Andy G. for some beer at Jimmy's. A few other people made appearances, including Travis, Greg and Melissa, and I eventually made my way back out around half past midnight, heading off to the club. The event was in the basement of Vision nightclub in River North; Vision is not exactly my favourite club--it's one of those mega-clubs that tend to cater to a meat-market crowd with trance and progressive house as the soundtrack--but this event was in a separate space ("The Lair"), and organized by folks that I knew from the Naughty Bad Fun Collective.

After dropping off Scott at a train line and getting some cash from an ATM, I spied M. crossing the street as I was searching for parking. After stopping traffic to say hi to him and his crew, I finally and miraculously found a parking spot only a couple of blocks away from the club and headed over. At the door, the bouncer asked for my ID as the doorwoman asked me if I was on the list. I said, "Well, I'm here for Nadia's party..." and the doorwoman said, "Oh, then go right in and take the spiral staircase downstairs."

I walked down a hallway and came to another woman at a cash register, who took my cover charge ($8; I still had to pay) and waved me in. I got a drink from the bar and looked around at a nearly empty club with some rather unexciting music coming from a stage that was "decorated" with a flashing construction roadblock. Hmmm, not what I expected.

A few minutes later, I remembered that the doorwoman had told me to go down a set of stairs, so I spotted a discreet spiral staircase and headed down. Immediately, the scene changed to a busy but small room with a DJ setup in the corner and some good, pounding techno. Apparently, the entire Volatl DJ roster was in attendance to spin for Nadia's birthday event. This makes sense, as Nadia is pretty much the founder and manager of Volatl Talent Management.

I immediately caught up with M., as well as several other friends and acquaintances from the Chicago scene. It was really nice to be back, and it was great to see so many familiar faces and get caught up on what they had all been up to. One particularly interesting aspect of this experience was how it was facilitated by the NBFC's forum / message board. While in Paris, I had been posting occasional stuff in the forums to keep people apprised of what I was doing and to share photos and party reviews. When I got back to Chicago, I immediately posted a message to the board saying that I was back in town. Within a day or so, several people had added me on MySpace, many more had sent me their cell numbers or asked for mine, I had a list of upcoming events that I was invited to attend, and I was helping a couple DJs make connections with promoters I knew in Paris. So when I arrived at this event tonight, several people knew I was coming and were eager to say hi, give me hugs, and chat with me about Paris. In other words, the experience of intimacy tonight was augmented and channelled by the actions we took on social networking sites in the days and weeks before. Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, I'm sure, but interesting nonetheless. M. would never have called me to come out tonight if I hadn't been posting on NBFC, and few of the people in attendance would've known that I would be there (or perhaps even remembered me).

Anyway, I ran into R., a good friend and Sassmouth's boyfriend, and we spent a good part of the evening chatting. By 3am, the club was closing and the bouncers were hustling us to the doors. After my time in Paris, it was really weird to be kicked out of a club that early. In Paris, the headliner would be just coming on at this point.

From there, a bunch of us headed to M.'s place to hang out while Nadia and her crew headed over to her place to put set up the afterparty. At around 5am, we put together a car caravan and headed over to her place in Humboldt Park. Nadia has this AMAZING loft space in a desanctified church, with vaulted ceilings and long church windows. She had an incredible sound system and food and drinks for everyone, and things were just getting started when we arrived at 6am. Alas, I had a date for dim sum with two friends the next day at 11am, so I headed out shortly thereafter to get some rest.

Getting home at 7am, it felt a little bit like Paris all over again...

vendredi, juillet 13, 2007

Apartment Update: Yay!

Well, after a great deal of phone-tag, I finally got a call from someone at Horizon Realty Group yesterday. As it turns out, the person that I had been trying to call was the wrong person, so the receptionist had given me the wrong contact information. In addition, the receptionist had also been wasting my time by telling me that basic cable wasn't included. Apparently, if she had just transferred me to an actual agent rather than try to answer my question herself, I would've signed that lease on Tuesday and saved myself a lot of time.

Anyway, the result was that basic cable is included in the rent, but it doesn't appear explicitly in the lease because the lease is a general one they use for all their properties. Part of the confusion was that they would be shifting to a no-cable lease by Oct 1, but that would not affect me (although it might when/if I renew the lease next year). The agent (Mary), gave me a verbal contract that the cable would be included, and so I started calling Apartment People to make arrangements to sign my lease.

Today I finally got a hold of someone in the processing department and drove up to Lakeview to sign my lease. After signing the thing and paying the security deposit and getting the keys (yay!), I drove straight up to the new apartment. I went upstairs, opened the windows, and took a moment to put my hands on my hips and survey my domain. I was almost tempted to pee in a corner and declare the place mine!!

Anyway, from there I spent some time exploring the building (I have a freight elevator! And a workout room!) and then headed back down to Hyde Park to pick up a bunch of stuff from my friend Tim's apartment. After loading my car with a TON of stuff I had left in his storage space (mostly kitchen stuff), I headed back uptown and unloaded it into my apartment. From there, I spent easily 3 hours meticulously measuring the apartment, accounting for every nook and cranny so that I could plan out where I could put furniture. More pressingly, I need to have an idea of the surface area of the walls so that I can start buying paint.

Well, I won't have a chance to scan and upload the hand-made blueprint I made today, but here's a layout I found on the Horizon Realty Group website:

[If you go to the actual website for this floor plan, you can click on the little red camera symbols to get pictures from the unit.]

The plan is actually for a different unit, so you have to imagine this plan flipped right-to-left. Essentially, my bedroom is to the right of the entrance, and my living room / kitchen / etc. is to the left. Also, the measurements aren't precisely accurate (the living room is more 17' by 10'), but it's a good indicator. Also, here's the presentation page of my building, in case you want to see a few pictures, including the front of the building:

And you can find some photos of the interior of the building here.

jeudi, juillet 12, 2007

Chicago Apartment Update: Hiccup

So this morning I got up and headed off to the Working Bikes Co-Op to shop for a "new" bike. I say "new," because Working Bikes specializes in taking landfill-bound bikes and refurbishing them. So, for $45 I got a bad-ass vintage Schwinn road bike with a basket and STREAMERS. Did you hear that? STREAMERS.

Anyway, after buying my AWESOMETASTIC bike, I spent a good half hour trying to stuff it into my tiny Saturn. Finally, I borrowed a wrench from the store and took off the front wheel, which made it possible to cram it in there. While I was testing the bikes, I had received a call from Apartment People saying that they had my lease ready to sign, so I headed over to their offices.

Well, actually, I first made a detour to the Italian lemon ice stand on Taylor Street, near Racine. That place is AWESOME. They make this fantastic italian-style ice that is made from real lemons, not too much sugar, and slices of lemons. It was something I really needed after nearly sweating 1 litre of water getting my bike into my car in the blazing sun.

Anyway, I made it to the agency's office and started to look over the lease, only to find a discrepancy between the apartment's initial listing and the terms of the lease. According to the listing, basic cable was included in the rent--which was a good thing, considering that neither heat nor electricity was included. I got the number for the property management agency (Horizon Property) and gave them a call, only to get a receptionist that was dead sure that they never pay for cable. When I pointed out that it was included in the listing that they published, all she had to say was "Sorry." Well thanks.

So I said that I had taken the cable into account when I considered the price of the rent, and the receptionist gave me the number of the person (Mark) who manages that specific building. Of course, he was off today, so I have to wait until tomorrow to find out if this man is going to honour the word of their lease. If there is no way that they are going to pay for cable, they at least need to reduce the rental rate for the monthly cost of basic cable.

From there, I left the lease uncompleted, voided the charge they made on my credit card for the security deposit, and headed home. Ironically, I'm less disturbed about the possibility of paying for cable, and more about the possibility that my future landlords might be lying sleazeballs. Of course, they still have a chance to redeem themselves tomorrow when I call this Mark guy, so we shall see. But if he's a prick, I think I'm going to re-start my apartment search.

I knew it was too good to be true.

mardi, juillet 10, 2007

My Chicago Policy

Before leaving Paris, many people asked me what I was going to do with this blog. After all, it's called "Luis in Paris," and I'm not currently in Paris. On the other hand, I'll be back there in September of 2008 at the latest, so there's some good reason to keeping this blog going.

As you might guess from the last couple of posts and the new "Chicago" label, I've decided to continue posting, even if I'm not currently in Paris. However, unlike in Paris, I'll only be posting from time to time, mostly when something amusing or important happens to me. Most importantly, I'm going to try to continue blogging about my evenings out at EDM events and research-related stuff, since this blog has become a really useful aide-mémoire for my research. Also, when people asked me if I was going to keep blogging, they were often really asking about these "club reviews." Furthermore, why not give my French friends a chance to read about Chicago club nights? Considering they've been the subject of my scrutiny for the past year, it only seems fair.

Nonetheless, I'm not going to change the name or domain of this blog, since it's already well-established as "Luis in Paris." So you'll just have to imagine "...and Chicago" for the time being.