80’s chicago

Pride TBT

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Nunzio's Cafe 1984 Chicago

“I have a friend dying of AIDS. Before I was leaving for a trip, we were talking. He said, “I didn’t want this, and I hated this, and I was terrified of this. But it turns out that this illness has been my greatest gift.” He said, “Now every moment is so precious to me. All the people in my life are so precious to me. My whole life means so much to me.” Something had really changed, and he felt ready for his death. Something that was horrifying and scary had turned into a gift. Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

A little TBT and a nod to Pride Month. This is me having a little lunch cooked by my friend Bruce Fortner at Nunzio’s Chicago 1984…

Red Hot Chili Peppers t shirt… they played live at Medusa’s that year… as did Violent Femmes , ESG, Ministry, and Front 242.. I helped a friend open an after hours club in 83 and we were all surfing a big one.

This photo popped up on Facebook from a friend and it took me by surprise.I think mostly because this was just before the tsunami hit. It felt like the Renaissance here. 84 seemed golden.

I was 26 that year. Nunzio (owned the cafe) was still healthy and tickling his muse. Bruce (who posted the pic) was still living with his partner Joey well before Joey was snatched into oblivion. The next year all sorts of hell broke loose. My best friend withered throughout the year. I tested positive for HIV in October. My friend died on Thanksgiving. Nunzio disclosed that he was frantically and maniacally injecting himself with vitamins to combat the virus. Many of us dabbled with macrobiotic diets (see george kushi). louse hay’s los angeles hay ride was making history and a cultural and generational trauma happened at our doors.

I knew so many brave warriors at that time in my life. Many of them helped me survive. LGBT Pride doesn’t just exist because people come out of the closet. It also is real because people endure and make sacrifices without losing their will to be true to themselves. Just as our LGBT predecessors, many paid incredible prices for the choices they made. They danced to their own music and they followed the muses that are theirs. And our world and our collective culture is richer and more beautiful because of them.

front 242 shirt

Please take a moment to celebrate LGBT Pride Month. So many have gone before us to make it possible. They would demand that you find joy. They demanded nothing less of themselves.

It was certainly a time…… you can read about some of our little enclaves experiences at this resident advisor article…. interview with me begins just after Ministry ad if you click here.. https://lnkd.in/b8pG4Ke

sunday kind of love……mixtape

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mixtape.gif

NO COMPLAINTS AND NO REGRETS.
I STILL BELIEVE IN CHASING DREAMS AND PLACING BETS.
BUT I HAVE LEARNED THAT ALL YOU GIVE IS ALL YOU GET, SO GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT.
I HAD MY SHARE, I DRANK MY FILL, AND EVEN THOUGH I’M SATISFIED I’M HUNGRY STILL
TO SEE WHAT’S DOWN ANOTHER ROAD, BEYOND A HILL AND DO IT ALL AGAIN.
SO HERE’S TO LIFE AND EVERY THE JOY IT BRINGS.
HERE’S TO LIFE TO DREAMERS AND THEIR DREAMS.
FUNNY HOW THE TIME JUST FLIES.
HOW LOVE CAN TURN FROM WARM HELLOS TO SAD GOODBYES
AND LEAVE YOU WITH THE MEMORIES YOU’VE MEMORIZED
TO KEEP YOUR WINTERS WARM.
THERE’S NO YES IN YESTERDAY.
AND WHO KNOWS WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS OR TAKES AWAY.
AS LONG AS I’M STILL IN THE GAME I WANT TO PLAY
FOR LAUGHS, FOR LIFE, FOR LOVE…. heres to life shirley horn

being a child of the 60’s and 70’s, the mixtape was a part of my reality. it was a way of blending favorites memories together without all the b sides. hopefully you’ll humor me.

happy valenties day

in 1975 i was living in chicago, working as a dancer, and barely getting by. it was one of the most freeing time in my life. i was spending time (dating) a guy who worked in widnow display at carson pirie scott’s. i remember this song embedded as part of the soundtrack of the time we spent together.

a couple of years later i had become a bartender at a gay bar called “cheeks”. there was another bartender there named patsy who was one of the few women who ever worked there. there was a cast of “kookies” there – phil, steve allman, barry, baby cheeks, and vince the blind dj. he was actually myopic and always had a black spot on his nose from reading the labels of the vinyl. one night the music stopped as he halted the turntable trying to read.

next stop is the warehouse. frankie knuckles was the resident dj and ruled the roost. the term “house music” had not yet been coined. about the 4 th or 5th visit at about 5 am , frankie dropped this cut after an extended silence following a break. it was a game changer for me. i loved frankie knuckles like there was no tomorrow after that. and laurie anderson too.

i met some friends during those years that i remained close with for several years- mark stephens, blue, medusa, nealina, spider, bob anderson. before medusa opened his club, he was throwing parties around town build a following and keep his name out there. one halloween he rented an empty car repair garage. we pulled a few classics into some of the bays and called the party “pull up to the bumper”. that was hella fun night.

my years at medusa’s music hall from 83-87 were rich with music, laughter, and memories. the sadness was big too, but my life has always been accompanied by a spirit guide that loves to giggle. that gift has kept me from driving off many cliffs i am sure. the club was open 2 nights a week. saturday nights were commandeered by my great friend Mark Stephens. his light really began to shine during those years. it brought me great joy to witness. friday nights started with a northwestern university radio dj named kasey crabtree but then transition to the guidance of bud sweet. but had been a resident jock at a few alternative clubs and raised the bar on the edge that became medusa’s signature sound in chicago. i worked the light board-it wasn’t intricate as many of todays club lighting systems are. quite the opposite actually. the lights were bare bare bones but the fun came with a 16mm projector that i was able to show old films and documentaries with all over the walls. and i am including meeting billy miller here. billy was from the art institute of chicago, but he was so much more than that. he was  a vanguard. he was very much like the fairy godmother of medusa’s. he waived his wand of inclusion and approval and the creative harmonic convergence that lived within those walls took hold.. billy, bud, mark, medusa et al created a new pattern in that windy city’s portrait. it remains changed.

i ran to hide and die in denver colorado in 1987. without my knowing and without my consent, i didn’t die. i sang in a mixed chorus for a while, i befriended a lesbian/gay spirituality movement based in boulder and ran with those drumming outcasts for a while. i met a guy djing at a warehouse party and sorta fell hard. having a relationship with drugs and/or alcohol and with another person is tough. at least it was too tough for me. those times reminded me of my left of center roots. i was also reminded how it felt to have my heart engaged again. i will treasure that time always.

i’m skipping the rest of the hiv denial years for now. i had tested hiv positive in 1985 and spent the next 12 years waiting to die. when that didn’t happen and the cocktail came out, i suddenly felt better than i had in over a decade. but i also got very angry because i felt pressure to suddenly have a life plan. i moved to san francisco for a bigger life. sadly- the “dot-com bust” and “9-11” happened just after my arrival and made it frigging challenging to succeed. i got kidney stones 3 x from one of the meds in the cocktail i was taking and my anger ballooned. meth erased most of that, but brought another set of issues for me to deal with. i encountered “dirty vegas” during that time. the break dancer continuing to relive old moves as a way to resurrect his past is a metaphor for addiction to me. i have been that break dancer. still would be if a higher force hadn’t intervened.

i was strolling down market street in the castro and heard shirley horn’s voice wafting from out of the doors of a record shop. this song has been a sort of theme song for my recovery ever since i returned to colorado. the rockies have been really good to me.

this weekend in 2016 has me reviewing quite a few changes coming down the pike. excited and scared only begin to scratch the surface of my feelings about it all. i know that i am fortunate enough to have lived through all these amazing moments in life. i have seem and felt more than i ever dared hope.  i sometimes wonder if i chose this life or if it chose me. that one is still in the cooker. it’s a slow cooker and some things just take time.

 

work for love

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“Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.” Zen proverb

there have been stressful weeks recently. i have found myself feeling as if i am swimming against the current. i may have lost sight of which direction i am swimming towards. a tidal wave of whelm has left me hurriedly paddling just to move some air.

what is remaining clear is that i am happiest when i am engaged in my work. my work is more enjoyable and the time i spend away from work is more focused as well. how do i do this every day- day after day?

i guess it’s just practice.

spiritual practice.

live. work. love.

work to live.

work for love

now that was another 80’s song cue…

a knuckles sandwich

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image credit… residentialadvisor.net

i still remember the 1st time i heard him and saw him spin records at the warehouse chicago- it was 1979- i was 21 and so very naive and hanging with my friend medusa, nealina, and greg- frankie was using 3 turntables and inventingly reworking records as i had never heard them before. he was producing his own music in a live setting with thousands of witnesses and critics. in my mind (and being from chicago) he will always be the founding member of the house party- although larry levan was having a similar life experience in nyc. to this very day, i jump for joy when i find a new mix of his available, whether its a record or a recording of him spinning live. last week he played the boiler room gig in nyc. it’s classic and pure frankie knucles all the way through- a little bit of jazz, a little bit of rock, a little bit of soul.

their pioneering and their genius has guided a few generations of turntable musicians with a hard working mindset and an invitation to look at music as an evolving moving thing. that nite in chicago changed my life and opened my imagination to the ways music can move me.

here’s an excerpt from frankie’s 2009 podcast at residential advisor.

if you’ve even got a passing interest in house music, there’s very little chance that Frankie Knuckles’ name has escaped you. Starting off as a clubber in the New York disco scene—his first job was to spike the punch at Nicky Siano’s now legendary The Gallery gatherings—Frankie soaked up the knowledge passed down to him from his good friend Larry Levan, and managed to secure a residency alongside the Paradise Garage luminary at the city’s Continental Baths. What with the Levan connection, it wasn’t long before he was headhunted to become the resident DJ at Chicago’s Warehouse, a predominately gay and black club where he became a local pin-up for his sets of sublime soulful disco. Playing records that even the hardened Chicagoan disco DJs had never heard of, his reputation shot skyward, but in 1983 he decided to leave the Warehouse and start his own club called Powerplant.

The venture was successful, but Frankie’s mind was already on getting into music production, and just three years later, the club closed, and Frankie started putting records out. His first 12-inch was a cover of Teddy Pendergrass’ “You Can’t Hide,” which he produced alongside Chip E and Joe Smooth and put out on Rocky Jones’ DJ International imprint, but his biggest hit came the following year when he updated Jamie Principle’s “Your Love” on Trax Records. Even though Jamie’s track had been circulating on tape for years (and is disputed to be the first house music track ever recorded), many people attributed the record to Frankie (Larry Sherman’s decision to capitalize on his popularity by labeling the record “Frankie Knuckles presents” and not mentioning Principle didn’t exactly help matters), and from then on he was a name to be reckoned with on the international house music scene.

After moving back to New York, Frankie stepped in for Junior Vasquez at the Sound Factory for a couple of years, and has carried on producing and DJing internationally ever since. While other house legends have been happy to live off their former glory, Knuckles has been active throughout this decade, releasing two full artist albums and plenty of mix CDs, the latest being his forthcoming Motivation Too CD which hits the shops in October. He’s also playing the Electric Zoo festival in his New York hometown next month, so we thought that now would be a good a time as ever to get the man to mix up an RA podcast for us. We caught up with Frankie by e-mail to ask him about the RA mix, his first Motivation mix and why he closed the Powerplant.