Archive for the 'Kiddie Cultural Adventures' Category

Chicago Rock City: Zines, Music + More

Plan your visit to the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago for a day of zine/book/record shopping, cultural adventures and good grub! Make sure the following destinations are on your list:

Reckless Records – Get lost browsing new and used records in this store reminiscent of the one in “High Fidelity,” which was, in fact, filmed down the street. Consider it indie cred if you’re treated mildly rude by the elitist clerks. Score some free wall art in the gig poster bin and treat the kids to a session of silly fun in the photo booth.

Quimby’s Bookstore (photo) – Hey, they have a play area now featuring finger puppets and wind-up toys (also for sale)! Peep comics, art books, zines galore and curiosities. Word to the wise – pocket the cell phone or risk public shaming.

Myopic Books – A book-lover’s haven, Myopic has three floors of used books – 80,000 total including everything from pop-up books to uber-special interest reads. No photos, please.

826CHI – Drop into The Boring Store (shhh! It’s really a spy store!) for inspector-y gadgets and books authored by 826 tutoring center students (proceeds help fund the nonprofit).

Hungry? Sue me, but I have no problem suggesting a New York-style pizza in Chicago. Get a slice for the right price at Santullo’s Eatery, a fast and yummy family-friendly pizzeria. Watch dough get hand-tossed right at the counter (free entertainment)!

Dessert is always in order after a long day strolling up and down city blocks! Treat your cookie monster to a sweet from Artemio Bakery, an old school panadería without pretension in, let’s face it, an otherwise hipster mecca.

Record Store Day and Waxing Nostalgic

Crows Nest Music, Crest Hill., Ill. (closed)

It’s Record Store Day! I hope you’re taking your little noisemakers to the local record store today, even if you’re like us and the closest is a little hole-in-the-wall in a plaza two towns away.

When we were kids (memory lane, here we go!) there was a big warehousey record store called Crow’s Nest Music in Crest Hill, Ill., on the top of the hill on Route 30, decked out in bright, hand-painted wooden cutouts of Prince, David Lee Roth, Madonna and other ’80s music icons. The shrink-wrapped records were neatly organized by genre in handmade lacquered wooden bins. It was like a Shangri-La for music lovers. I thought it was the coolest place ever when I was little and it was always a treat when my folks took us – usually around Chrsitmas to find that coveted, must-have album that the mall sold out of (“Thriller,” anyone?!).

When we were in high school in the ’90s, a few of my best friends ended up working there, rocking those sweet VIP lanyard/name tags – and they always reaped coolest swag from the labels. The work force was kind of culty, there were your token music snobs. If you’ve seen “Empire Records’ or “High Fidelity” you know what I’m talking about.

But that was sort of the beauty of the experience. Many of us visited largely to be schooled about why the CD we were looking for sucked and “Why don’t you instead check out this obscure, influential XYZ band/artist?” It was an education. It was also a gathering place to hear advanced albums piped through the store; listen to the rock gospel according to the local record store clerk; learn who’s touring, where and when; score a promo sampler or zine; and find out who’s looking for a new drummer, etc. Some of the stores hosted live shows, special events, giveaways and tent sales.

When I started college and began writing music reviews and band features – and eventually peddling my own music zine – I found myself working closely with Chicago’s fine record stores from Reckless Records to Laurie’s Planet of Sound. I was a little more grown up. My tastes improved. I finally had something to give back.

These days, I continue to obsess over music (ya think?). With the widespread decrease of music retailers, particularly mom-and-pops, Record Store Day is that much more special to share with my family.

Don’t get me wrong, love the availability and convenience of digital music. I love the instant accessibility to all things music online from band bios to lyrics, from Internet radio to fan forums. I’d never accuse Steve Jobs of killing the music industry. But I love record stores and I just hope there will always be bricks and mortar for this important experience – and preferably not in the context of a museum.

Playing Catch Up

Hi! Remember moi? I’ve been pretty busy over here with the dayjob, but rest assured, I have lots of blog ideas for February. Before I can move on, I have to catch you up on what’s been going on in Ollieland. So here’s a pictorial review:

First Show – We went to see The Boogers (“Ramones meets Mother Goose”) at Schubas in January. I wish I could say we stayed for the entire set, but Ollie was a little sensitive to the noise (he wasn’t the only one). But we had a great time anyway, scored a t-shirt and had all the tater tots we could snarf next door at Harmony Grill. I highly recommend checking out The Boogers, especially if you’re a punk rock parent like me. After the show, we headed across the street to Uncle Fun, one of my favorite shops in Chicago – full of curios, tchotchkes, pranks, toys and books. Our haul included a Homies lunchbox (for Kate), a pooping pig (Ollie is quite smitten with this), wind-up chattering teeth and two plastic double-finger rings for me.

Terrific Twos – The rock star 2nd birthday party was a blast. Auntie Coco knocked the record cake out of the park as predicted. Great pizzas from Nick’s.




Baby’s First Blizzard – We had two super snow days after Mother Nature dumped almost two feet of snow on the Chicago area. Ollie could not get enough of snowball throwing and climbing the drifts.  We couldn’t get enough of him being naturally cute with his rosy cheeks and nose. Another item of note, we were all thankfully shoveled out in time for a weekend playdate with Judys – Ollz made a great new friend, Mylo.




Going for a Spin – Ollie’s vintage Fisher-Price record player finally came. It’s pretty fantastic. He’s a bit small to play it himself, but we enjoyed “The Fox and the Hound” on vinyl – and I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of it – old 45s sound wonderfully tinny and crackly. Also for his b-day Auntie Coco got him the retro record player toy that he has manhandled to the point that it half works. We have fun singing oldies like “Camptown Races” and “Hickory Dickory Dock.” How bad is it that the Andrew Dice Clay versions of some of these nursery rhymes are the ones I remember best?


Famous Babe – Ollie’s mug was featured on the homepage of to promote local snowbaby pics in the site’s photo gallery. After the blizzard, they used it again to encourage parents to send blizzard baby pics. This is validation that we’re not too biased – Ollie is unarguably cute.

“Three Little Birds”

Loving this kid vid right now, plus, on my to-buy list now: “B is for Bob” – baby’s first Bob Marley record.

Enter your email addy to subscribe.

Join 21 other followers

Bettie Page Kids Clothing

140-Character Musings