Friday Favorites: The Awesome Foundation Comes to Chicago

Plus: Chicago house duo Virgo Four, crime and the Plan for Transformation, some David Foster Wallace-related reading, Chicago’s royal wedding, and more.

Faccia il nostro cavaliere / Cavallari ancora te. Not so much a favorite as an excuse to make a Don Giovanni pun. (This is not what I am paid to do, but it is why I show up every morning.)


The new Chicago chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which is somewhere in between the Broad Foundation and Kickstarter. There are some interesting folks involved: the creative director of Threadless, the design director of the 2008 Obama campaign, the owner of Small bar, and so forth.


“There’s a certain comfort in being part of the old man’s routine.”


Chapter 22 of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King (h/t @mathitak), which is set, in part, in an accounting class at DePaul University. The whole chapter—and book, so far—makes me want to go to work for the IRS. Given the book’s focus on taxes w/r/t civic duty, it’s an exceptionally timely novel.

‘The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all—all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify an audience. An audience.’ He made a gesture I can’t describe: ‘Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality—there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand? Here is the truth—actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.’

He paused again and smiled in a way that was not one bit self-mocking. ‘True heroism is you, alone, in a designated work space. True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care—with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world. Just you and your job, at your desk.


“Exceptional people often come to believe that the ordinary rules don’t apply to them. But because Wallace swam against that current all his adult life, he came to make use of some very standard-issue sources of inspiration.” —Maria Bustillos, from “Inside David Foster Wallace’s Self-Help Library.”


“Wallace’s argument—for he has one—is that the goal of undergraduate education, and of all education, is free will. He holds that education’s greatest benefit consists in ‘being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.’ The reason he gives is simple and absolutely typical: ‘Because if you cannot or will not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.’” —Leland de la Durantaye in “How to Be Happy: The Ethics of David Foster Wallace.” The parts about the importance of sports in Wallace’s writing are choice.


Mick Dumke’s series for the Chicago News Co-Op on violent crime in the wake of the Plan for Transformation; as I’ve said before, the Plan for Transformation is going to be Daley’s biggest legacy.


The Virgo Four: “Their beautiful, moody instrumentals have more in common with the electronica Warp Records released in the early 90s than with typical club music, and they’ve always had a bigger following overseas than at home.”

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