Pay Per Yelp?!

February 19, 2009

GapersBlock reports, via an East Bay Express article, that user-generated review site Yelp.com suppresses bad reviews, but only for good money…. Hmmmm.

John’s restaurant has more than one hundred reviews, and averages a healthy 3.5-star rating. But when John asked Mike what he could do about his bad reviews, he recalls the sales rep responding: “We can move them. Well, for $299 a month.” John couldn’t believe what the guy was offering. It seemed wrong.

GB also posted another a link to about a martial arts specialist blog about what seems like more Yelp scrubbing here in Chicago… either than or rampant flagging by someone.

This is when the problem began. After a few days, the reviews started disappearing one by one on the Yelp site until I went from 28 reviews to 18 reviews. I was pissed. I know you can flag reviews, and I suspected that maybe a competing business who’s reviews weren’t so glowing was flagging my students’ reviews.

Yelp is indeed a cool company, and useful (ed. note; I am a Yelp Elite member).   But I’ve had a few experiences when there definitely seems to be tampering going on, whether it’s internal or with other parties abusing the site.  First instance was the failure of Mojoe’s Hot House in Avondale on Belmont.  It went under new management and the place just went to shit. (As evidenced by not only the reviews on Yelp, but the crafty graffiti stencils found all over Avondale that read “MoJoe’s Sucks Now”).

Despite all the verbal vitriol, and spray paint that spoke the opposite, at some point positive posts started cropping up on Yelp.  While it’s possible they did, indeed “turn it around”, two of the final eight reviews of the place (which eventaully closed) were most definitely “inside jobs” — both 4-star reviews of the place written by people that I knew actually worked at Yelp (Though, I’m not naming names).  This, of course, is just one place I was directly familiar with —  I have no idea how common this is.

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Valentines Day, out. Fun Day, in.

February 11, 2009

I, personally, am a big fan of slamming V-Day.  But for once, I will not waste valuable blog space complaining about couples.  I will simply point out that, if you’re a dude, 2/14 is pretty sweet this year.  If you’re a taken dude, you will be so sad you’re committedand will not be able to partake in Saturday’s events.  (Though, you could probably convince your gal pal to go with you if you can somehow convince her that it was her idea…

February 14th, 2009:

12am to 11:30am

Sleep.  Then maybe some Madden ’09.

12:15pm

Handmade Market at The Empty Bottle for FREE!  In which they “…strive to create a  market, with affordable handmade, mostly local items. There are a ton of crafters in the city, and we try to make this accessible to up and coming designers, jewelry makers, and others. Come out and help support your monthly crafter’s market”

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3pm

The Chicago Auto Show!  Yes!  If you believe what you hear on the news, I think no one in the United States has bought a single car since the Spring of 2008.  Now’s the time!  And, since American automobile companies are so ahead of the game, I’m sure all that well-invested electric car research has already produced a car that runs on a hybrid of electricity and energy expelled by resorting your coworkers recycling after they’ve left for the day.

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7pm

Impress everyone around you by informing them what The Minutemen was referencing when they named their stellar double-album “Double Nickels on The Dime”.  Everyone at Quimby’s bookstore will be impressed.  Accept, of course,  Michael T. Fournier… the writer/critic/historian who will be in attendence, speaking about his most recent entry into the 33 1/3  lit canon.

8pm

No one’s cared about the NBA All-Star game since Magic Johnson came back to chuck up 3-pointers over Isaiah Thomas for the feel-good story of, well, the last time anyone cared about professional basketball.  But what’s this, The Skillz Challenge?  Eff yeah, I’ll check it out.   Especially since my boy Derrick Rose is playing against Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson and Tony “Shit Tattoo”Parker.  The challenge is legit too, as the past winners are sweet (and much more impressive than the dunk/3-point champs… hi Craig Hodges!) — Steve Nash ’05, Dwayne Wade ’06-’07, Deron Williams ’08.

10pm

Your choice of awesome concerts:
Flosstradamus and  Gatekeeper at The Abbey Pub;  The Chamber Strings, Kevin Tihista, and Lonesome Cougar at Cobra Lounge; Fucked Up, A/V Murder, and Boystown at The Empty Bottle, or drop a hundo wit your shorty to see Jeff Tweedy @ the Vic.  If you can’t afford a hundo, just make a video and you won’t have to worry about spending money on a g/f:


BPRB Updates – Turn Back the Clock this Spring?

February 6, 2009

New stuff added to the “Bored People Are Boring” things to-do list

Very suprised to see what bands will be making the rounds in the Spring.  Namely industiral music originators Throbbing Gristle will do two back-to-back shows at Epiphany (yes, that church place)… after playing NY and Cochella shows.

  • Throbbing Gristle, “What a Day” MP3 (c/o blog Farced)

 

Next on the suprise turn-back-the-clock list is Chicago’s own Red Red Meat.  The band’s roster is a who’s-who of Chicago indie rock icons, including Tim Rutili, Ben Massarella and Tim Hurley (of Califone), plus beloved producer Brian Deck (Liz Phair [when she was cool], Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, Modest Mouse).

 

 

Lastly in the old-news-made-new-news list this week, Bob Nanna (Braid, Hey Mercedes, City on Film) has a new full-band type project with ‘Mercedes bandmate Damon Atkinson called Certain People I Know and he’s twittering his little heart out about it.  As of right now, CPIK ranks as my third-favorite Smith-referencing bandname… right behind The Boy Least Likely To and Pretty Girls Make Graves.  Fittingly, the pride of the Illini are playing their first show in Urbana on March 13th at Courtyard Cafe and then make they’re way up to Chicago to play at The Beat Kitchen on the 19th.

  

*NOT The Cardigans.

Also of note is a band I randomly came across on The Next Big Sound site, Raise High the Roof Beam.  They’re doing not one, but TWO shows in the upcoming months.  The production value on these songs are iffy at best, but I do enjoy the sound.  It has the strum-and-pluck of solid indie pop (as the Salinger reference would infer) but I also hear a little bit of playful Johnathan Richman, and I can almost gurantee they’re fans of Wes Anderson.  Just a hunch.

 

All dates added on 2/6:

February:
Raise High The Roof Beam
GP Dreams
The Sundresses

March:
Certain People I Know
Women
Volcano!
Red Red Meat

April:
Lily Allen
Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head
Mason Proper
Raise High The Roof Beam
Throbbing Gristle
Flight of the Conchords


Passion Pit Drives Schubas Crazy

January 28, 2009

Just reviewed Passion Pit for UR Chicago here.

Will re-post the article below, and extend it with some more rambling commentary…

 

In a giddy fit of keyboards, falsettos, and saccharine dance beats, Boston newcomers Passion Pit are charming their way west during their first national tour.  P.P. bounced their way through a congenial but criminally short set last night at Schubas, as Michael Angelakos engaged the audience with the same disarming manner and sky-high vocals that seep through every track of his debut EP, Chunk of Change.

PassionPitSchubas1.28-7 

The set started out playful and keyboard-heavy with Angelakos’ ear for pop melody pushing to the forefront.  Flanked a guitar, drums, two Rolands, a Moog, and sitting behind a Yamaha synth himself, Angelakos’ dare-you-to-sing-higher-than-me octaves pierced through riffs, piano lines, and programmed back-beats. Espousing sentiments that in lower vocal ranges might be cringe inducing diary entries, the proper set ended with the dance-happy electropop of “Sleepyhead” and “Better Things” to which the sellout crowd lost their collective brains to, bloggers and ALTBros alike.

Angelakos apologized repeatedly for the abridged set, but, the audience couldn’t blame them for succinctness – Passion Pit just haven’t been around long enough to have a full set.

In a backstory that’s impossible not to repeat; Passion Pit’s origins couldn’t be more endearing: Originally a late Valentine’s Day present for Angelakos’ g/f, the “Chunk of Change” CDR made the rounds at Emerson University, made waves in Boston, and made headlines after some stellar sets at this year’s CMJ music fest in New York. A few months later, after some east coast practice gigs, they’re on tour backed by new label Frenchkiss, playing the six songs that everyone knows and road-testing a few new ones.

Passion Pit’s sincerity and DIY style fits with just a few other bands who somehow dodge be criticized for being goddamned “sincere” all the time — people have seemed to get really sick of that recently. (The fact that, as 20-something culture consumers, we already have issues with earnestness is fodder for a different blog).

I see Angelakos along side other singer/songwriters like Khaela Maricich (The Blow), Ben Gibbard (a-la The Postal Service), and Robert Wratten (Field Mice) as artists that manage to be shmultsy but nevertheless loveable.

Let it be a lesson to those aspiring coffeehouse guitar wankers… if you’re inspired to put your love / breakup letters to music and share it with the world, do two things:

  1. Sing higher and/or softer than you’re comfortable
  2. Put some good fucking beats behind it

You’ll be a blogosphere hero in no time.


Either the Best Idea or Worst Idea Ever

January 23, 2009

1/23 Update: 

I actualy won tickets to this event but can’t go!  First one to comment on this blog entry gets added to the list!  For real.

Also, you can download Rocktapussy’s new ’09 Mixtape for free here.  Featuring: He Say She Say, Silverghost, Flosstradamus feat. Caroline, CSS, Tegan & Sarah, Audio Bullys, Alphabeat, Seelenluft, Prairie Cartel, Kaiser Chiefs, Solid Gold

 

 

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Vzspandexxx

In a concept as classy as their name, adorable DJ tandem Rocktapussy (Jessica “A-Cup” Gonyea and Chess “Mother” Hubbard) are hosting SPANDEXXX! at Sonotheque later this month with He Say She Say and Silverghost.  (Don’t bother trying to read the font on the flier).

So… um, if you’re dressed in 70% or more spandex you get in free.  If you RSVP at UR Chicago, you get in for 5$.  You can also win free tix by using brain power over at Venus Zine.

Considering what a Spandex ensemble will cost you at American Apparel (and all the friends you’ll lose in the process), I’ll take the 5$.  Also please note; while accessories will make your outfit “pop”, be careful not to over-do it and drop below the 70% spandex requirement.


Out With the Old

January 14, 2009

Awesome photo from abstruse visage

My alert beer-drinking friend Kenny found this news that I am upset by, as you should be.

Old Style, as Schlitz has recently done, is going back to their traditional brewing practices in order to elevate their brand from delicious discount beer, to mediocre “premium” brand beer.  Via the Suntimes:

Old Style going old school
KRAUSENING | Resumes brewing process it used for 9 decades
Recommend (10) Comments

January 14, 2009

BY CHERYL V. JACKSON cjackson@suntimes.com
Old Style. Literally.

The beer brand familiar to generations of Chicagoans is returning to a process it started with in the 1900s and abandoned in the ’90s. 

Old Style is re-employing krausening fermentation — a traditional German process — will provide a smoother finish, the company says.
(Sun-Times file)

Re-employing krausening fermentation — a traditional German process — will provide a smoother finish, the company says.

“It’s something our longtime consumers have asked us to take a look at,” said Kevin Kotecki, president of Woodridge-based Pabst Brewing Co., which acquired the brand in 1999.

The brewing change will push Old Style into the more costly premium category of Coors, Miller and Budweiser. Among several brands Pabst has recently focused on propping, Old Style is now in a subpremium category with the likes of Busch, Keystone Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The company will promote pub crawls and block parties to reach a target audience of 20-something Midwesterners who grew up seeing the brand at family gatherings, said Senior Brand Manager Keith Hill.

It’s actually an interesting idea.  Being from Chicago where Old Style once held the majority of the market share, I DO remember the can all around family gatherings.  But this still upsets me for a few reasons:

  • I drink Old Style because I like the taste.  Everyone needs a “staple” beer — a beer with body and taste but not overwhelming… this is what I demand from a classic American pilsner, and this is what Old Style is.
  • I also drink it because it’s affordable (and affordability makes it taste even better).  I choose it over PBR because Pabst has gone from a sub-premium brand to some sort of hipster calling card which I hope not to be attached to.
  • Within the last year the cost of Old Style has risen from about 10.99 for a 30 pack to 13.99.  Not a wallet-buster but still annoying.
  • Within the last year Old Style has discontinued the 30-pack in favor of the 24.
  • PBR however, still sells 30-packs which now seem to be a better deal than Old Style.

All this means I’m in search for a new good, cheap beer.  I’m thinking… Tecate?  I could always slink down into Mountain Creek, but I simply can’t bring myself to do it.


“Bored People are Boring”

January 9, 2009

If you’ll note, I recently started listing Events that I am interested in attending in the greater Chicago area entitled Bored People are Boring.  Because, yeah, there’s a ton of stuff to do in this area and what I post is a small, small fraction of possible events to check out. 

Most of these will be music shows, but I’ll also put up drink deals, art exhibits and other stuff if it piques my interest. I’ll update it at least once a week (changes will be in orange), and I’ll try to stay at least 4 weeks ahead to give y’all some fair warning.

Check out January and February which are up right now.