Friday, September 25, 2009

Jazzy Chicagoans, Listen Up!

The 3rd Hyde Park Jazz Festival will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2009.
Over 100 musicians including jazz headliners Garaj Mahal, Ari Brown, Von Freeman, Jon Faddis, Richie Cole, Willie Pickens, Dee Alexander, Maggie Brown, and Orbert Davis will be performing along with local emerging artists for 15 hours of FREE, non-stop jazz.
Yes, I said FREE!

Venues and Schedule
The Hyde Park Jazz Festival utilizes 13 creative and unexpected, indoor and outdoor venues in Hyde Park.
The Festival begins in two places at 11:00am -The DuSable Museum with The Awakening and the James W. Wagner Stage on the Midway with the U-High Band. The Festival closes Sunday, September 28, 2009 at the International House with a Slam Jam that begins at midnight and ends at 2AM.
All venues are identified on the Jazz Festival Venue Map.

I told yall, all performances are FREE and open to the public. Please note because some venues have a limited seating capacity, seating will be available on a first come first served basis. At the Midway Plaisance there will be seating but, you can certainly bring your lawn chairs.

Hyde park has anything you could possibly want to chow down on. From a variety of ethnic fare to great burgers and pizza to fine dining to Micky D's. So grab something to bring to the Midway or dine in style before or after a performance.

For special needs access, transportation and all info on the fest go here.

Hyde Park Jazz History
This area in Chicago had at one time been known as the home of the great Chicago jazz scene.
In 1995, James W. Wagner formed the Committee to Restore Jazz to Hyde Park with the goal of returning Hyde Park to its glory days as a mecca for jazz musicians and fans. The committee enlisted the support of the past two presidents of the University of Chicago, Hugo Sonnenschein and Don Michael Randel, which resulted in the relocation of the Checkerboard Lounge to Harper Court in Hyde Park.

The Committee to Restore Jazz to Hyde Park reconstituted itself as the Hyde Park Jazz Society in 2006 and resulted in successfully sponsoring CheckerJAZZ, a Sunday night jazz series at the "New Checkerboard Lounge for Blues and Jazz," and supporting performance by high school jazz musicians with a Sunday afternoon school series. The Sunday night jazz series is now being held at Room 43 on 43rd Street.
Sadly, we lost Jim Wagner this year. But his great smile and love for jazz will be felt all over Hyde Park on Saturday. The James W. Wagner Stage on the Midway will host the James Wagner All-Star Band and every note will celebrate his spirit and dedication to jazz. I am proud to have known Jim.

So, come on out with you jazzy selfs and celebrate the first weekend of autumn by enjoying a diverse list of artists known in Chicago and around the world as the best in traditional and progressive jazz.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Archie's Choice

Hey Boomers, remember Archie? Did you know that Archie Andrews got Married. My friend Monica Roberts the TransGriot is a true griot who never lets anything historical pass by us, reports that Archie finally popped the question and did the deed. Perhaps Beyonce's hit Single Ladies put the right pressure on him. (I'm sure guys will be ECSTATIC when that song fades down the chart.)

Since 1941, Archie comic books have been telling the adventures of teenage angst at Riverdale High. It was sort of the Saved by the Bell of it's time.
Archie is the cute, nice, freckle faced, redhaired teen caught in a love triangle that lasted 69 years. Damn!

The rivalry for Archie's affection was famously between Veronica (Ronnie)Lodge the rich, spoiled, manipulative, raven haired beauty, and Betty Cooper, the beautiful, down to earth, girl-next-door.

Which one did he finally choose?


Reggie comforts Betty. The rich and devious Reggie liked Ronnie too.

So, Archie grew up and married Ronnie.

Betty was in the wedding. How 'bout that. Did he pick the right girl?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Celebrate BB King

Today is BB King's 84th birthday. The man is still touring, singing the blues and playing his Gibson guitar as only he can. Every year Monica and I look forward to going to Merriville Indiana on Easter weekend to see BB. I probably don't have to tell you he is a dynamic performer or that his melodic shimmering guitar solos with his signature vibrato and wavering pinky finger changed and influenced every blues and jazz guitarist since the 1950's. He took blues in a decidedly different direction than his contemporaries like Muddy Waters. Waters went from acoustic to electric but BB went farther by creating a style of soloing that was more melodic and took blues to a new audience. BB created his own chords and melody riffs that are unmistakably his own. His influence reached not only blues and jazz but rock. Rockers such as George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jeff Beck right down to players today like Tracy chapman and John Mayer, all influenced by BB. I doubt if there are many guitarists of any genre he hasn't played or recorded with. He owns several Blues clubs and his BB King Museum in Jackson, Mississippi is said to be always packed.
If you've never seen this legend in action yet, I guarantee you'll love his show. Not only is he a great musician, he is a very funny story teller.
Happy Birthday to the King of the Blues!

BB sits for much of his concerts now but it takes nothing away from how he still puts his hands on his hips and gets saucy. I love how his fingers seem to be a performance of their own and he plays every note with his body and facial expression.

A younger BB jams on one of my favorites "Sweet Sixteen". What a story!
This is sweet, just BB and Lucille.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chicago in Sync

If you didn't see Oprah's outdoor block party celebrating her 24th season with the Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Hudson, (Sweet Baby) James Taylor, Chris Angel and Rascal Flats you missed a history making event. The largest flash mob in the world was performed by 20,000 Chicagoans. Yeah, 20,000 peeps dancing in sync to the Pea's "I Gotta Feeling".

It's amazing and yeah I agree, only in Chitown.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering and Honoring

As we begin our day today, let us not forget the sacrifices made by the men and women who were killed or injured on September 11, 2001.

America is strong, America is safe only when we are able to engage one another with honesty and respect.

We will be honest and respectful with one another only after we practice honest evaluation of our own actions, and respectful acceptance of the effects our actions have on others.

Chocolate Math

Monica got this from a friend.

This is pretty neat.

Don't tell me your age; you'd probably lie anyway-but the Hershey Man will know!

It takes less than a minute .
Work this out as you read ..
Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!
This is not one of those waste of time things, it's fun.

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10)

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50 -- I'll wait while you get the calculator

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1759 ...
If you haven't, add 1758..

6... Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number

The first digit of this was your original number
(i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).

The next two numbers are

YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it is!!!!!)


Chocolate Calculator.

Monday, September 07, 2009

President Obama to American Kids K-12

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event
Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.