Wrap it up: what happened in January, what's happening now

The past few weeks have been insane what with yo-yoing up and down the cultural experience ladder. It stayed pretty highbrow, but I've found that going out and learning new things doesn't make me want to put my nose in the air; it humbles me. Just being witness to the sheer effort involved in putting on a show, or creating a new fashion design- it makes me feel proud to be part of the human race and it makes me want to be more creative, too. I'm sappy like that.

January 15th was my first photo-shoot of the year and I got to work with Suki Zhang, who I met last year at Sound-Bar. I had hoped to work it into a profile on Suki and her work, but every time I tried to ask her a question she's all like- It's just what I do! So that went nowhere. We had these great big tall models from Elite, Lauren and Rasa, and at 5'3' I felt like a tiny little hominid next to a couple of velociraptors. People think that models are there frail wispy things, and I guess when you are looking at a photo the size of a stamp in a magazine that might fly? But in real life models are huge, and their beauty is otherworldly. I guess that's why they get paid for it, huh? Everybody came over to my place and we ran around playing dress-up for four hours and then it was over. It's not exactly a cultural event, but still. I was going to make a big thing out of it- but we just ran around having fun so that was that. You can see a couple photos here if you want:

www.musecube.com/faithbowmanphoto. Next month I am set to work with Dionne Frasier of Dio-Artwear. I haven't even found a model yet. Yikes --

A few days later I had to get serious and trot over to Koros boutique for the first Chicago Fashion Foundation meeting of the year. The purpose of the meeting was to announce the newest board members, talk about CFF's new non-profit status, and generally network and have a good time. The event was sponsored by Whole Foods, the usual salads and finger stuff? But they had these GIGANTIC chicken skewers, really huge! And no napkins! Oh so cruel.

Before everything officially started, I talked to Rae, a local designer with a successful embellished t-shirt line. She sells these shirts all over the country, but can't find a manufacturer here in Chicago. She said that the costs are too high, and that they don't understand her needs as a designer, as most of the suppliers handle uniforms and not delicate, lacey chemises. The word ‘attitude' was used as well, something I have heard from other designers and can commiserate with. I used to go to this lab, Gamma, and they are ok- nothing amazing. But the counter service is so foul, that there's no reason for me to bother going. Why drop money where I'm not wanted? So I drop my film off at Walgreen's and the do whatever and give me a CD and prints for a fraction of the price. Am I exploiting Olga and Maggie when I get paid more for some of my jobs than they do in a week? I don't know. I just know that they are always there, my work always gets done, and I don't have to put up with any -- 'attitude'. But wait- we're talking about the CFF party.

The new board was introduced, and it was revealed the CFF now has non-profit status, which is awesome. While board-members are great, if the general consensus is that fashion isn't serious then people won't be bothered to follow it or get into it. So hopefully over the course of the coming year this will be a whole new chance for the Fashion Foundation and it's members to raise the bar. New Yorkers take the business aspect as seriously as the ‘darling, more champagne' aspect. So let's hope that Chicago follows that lead.

After photographing the board members and all, I grabbed a chicken skewer, dipped it in peanut butter sauce and ran out the door to go to my first ever Chi-town Daily News meeting at the Rainbo Club. I just let the peanut sauce drip on my notebook as I walked over to Division and Ashland. I had gone to the Rainbo club once before with the crew from Resfest last October, and they had all the lights on! It was so strange! I met this cute guy named Bensen, but that didn't work out and I was thinking- do I really want to go in that nasty place again? But it was ok this time. It was like a real bar with the lights down and people p-laying video games or whatever they were doing. Got to meet Geoff D., big kahuna round these digital parts, and I was favorably impressed. He knows a lot and he's really tall.

I went home and went to sleep because the next day was my first volunteer shift at the MCA and I was all nervous and excited. I was going to be ushering for the John Langford performance. It was called ‘The Executioner's Last Songs' and it was wonderful I am totally biased, not afraid to say- I loved the whole thing. Well -- maybe the start was a little slow. Then the tempo picked up and the whole thing started to unfold and I was like- yesssssssssssssss. Great energy. You should have gone! Luckily Mr. Langford has a weekly show on WXRT 93.1 FM which airs every Tuesday from 10pm to midnight. I'd love to tell you about the show- but I have no clue how.

I don't want to run it down by trying to categorize it. How do you categorize a show that calls Tom Jones' 'Delilah' the Welsh national anthem? And they made us stand up to sing it! I will say that the show is about culture, and mobility and it's against the death penalty. It also has humor, sadness, and some fashion in the person of Mekons member and solo-singer Sally Timms- who made her own dress. I know that because she told me so. 'Everyone could use a little fashion' she said when I apologized for being all in her business. As she turned away to re-join the conversation that I'd interrupted, she left a visual memory of a bright red smile floating atop a dreamy Victorian inspired dark-grey gown with black satin pleated ribbon trim which outlined tiers of skirt like a fabric wedding cake. I adored it, and I felt as if I'd met royalty.

I took it kind of easy the next few days, and then WHAM! I had a three event day on Wednesday the 25th. Fists I did a drive by on the ANTM tryouts at Hot Pink on Milwaukee. I admit- I didn't go in and interview anyone- I just talked to the chicks hanging around outside. I thought there'd be, like, mayhem with chicks pushing each other and fighting for a place online, or at least with some fake friendliness like ‘oh, your hair is pretty for a wig' or something. But it was just some girls waiting for a chance. But not really looking that hard. One girl, Tameka Crump, was kind of aggressive when she saw me taking pictures, but overall it was a passive crowd. Maybe things got rowdier later. There was more pushing and shoving at the Sound-Bar Girl event that I went to last September- and the lines were around the block. Oh, well.

After that I had to go to work at the Lyric Opera House. It was my first night as an usher. So nerve-wracking! But everything worked out fine. All I do is say 'Good Evening!' and smile at people and hand out programs. It's fun. I got to watch my first ever opera Rigoletto? Go to the opera!!!! It was amazing. I thought that I would be ok with it, like be able to tolerate it kind of thing. Instead I felt -- transported. I read the program and found out the story and that made it even better because I knew what was happening and was somewhat prepared and waiting. There is a screen with sub-titles over the stage and it's like seeing a foreign film? But better- because these are real, live people singing their hearts out in front of you. There's something so brave about the whole thing! My mom took me and my brothers to see musicals on Broadway when I was younger- it was important to her that as immigrants to this country we be able to assimilate into the culture. That was good preparation for being able to sit still and watch? But I so wish that I could take her to the opera! She'd have loved it.

As soon as I left the theater I ran like hell to Level where Dan Baron's ‘Glam Live' was going on, another opera, if you will. Dan came up with the smart idea to bring fashion out if hiding and make it THE reason to go out on a cold Wednesday night. As far as theme nights go: this is a winner. Some of the hottest salons and makeup artists in the city come out and ply their trade on lucky club-goers. Then, when you're all ‘glammed' up (men, too, ok?), you get to be in a free photo shoot. They have lights and stuff set up on the dance floor, so thought the music is bumping- this is really a meet and greet, network, talk kind of thing. Well, there might be some dancing upstairs- but I never made it up there, so I don't know. Check it out though! You can find out more at www.glamlive.com.

I'm trying to type quickly because I don't want you to miss out on any of the great things that are happening this month. Here's a list of good stuff to go to: Support the Windy City Rollers on February 2nd! They're having a recruitment/fundraising event at Delilah's and it starts at 7.30 -- Mark Bamuthi Joseph's spoken word/ dance performance is at the MCA February 2nd to the 6th -- 'On the Street', a show Bruce Davidson photographs with societal impact is at Catherine Edelman Gallery. It will be there until February 25th -- 'Within Sight', the Winter show of both amateur and pro-am photography, will be at the Chicago Photography Center, with openings on Friday February 3rd at 8pm (First Glimpse-$30.00) and Sunday the 5th from 12 – 4pm (look out for Bill Aube's color studies) -- Marc Hauser talks about photography at the Apple Store on Michigan, Wednesday,February 8th at 7pm -- Wildflowers Lingerie Boutique and Suite Lounge will be throwing a hot lingerie fashion show to benefit Deborah's Place ( and your love life) on February 9th. The show starts at 9pm and there is a $10.00 requested donation ...'A Red Karpet Affair- A Tribute to Blacks in America' is happening February 14th at 7pm in DePaul's Multi-Purpose Center on Sheffield, it's a semi-formal event with a fashion show and spoken word performances -- photographer Michael Bracey's ‘Africans Within the Americas' at the Fine Arts Center Gallery at Northeastern University. The show is up now until February 24th, but the actual opening is on February 17th -- Have fun!