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Pam Sherman, at your service
Chicago Native Pam Sherman spent nearly a decade working for Chicago’s top advertising firms. Though she loved her work, she spent many late nights in her office wondering how she was going to get all of her errands done and still be able to enjoy what little free time her job afforded her – if only the dry cleaners were open at midnight when she got off work! She started talking to other working professionals in the city with similar concerns and realized she was not alone. Thus, an idea was born and Chicago Anytime Assistants was formed in 2008. She lives in Wicker Park with her husband, Steve, and their dog, Cheeto.
So whether you sometimes wish you had a personal assistant to run your errands, love eBay or have ever tried to find your Beshert on JDate, Pam Sherman is a Jew You Should Know!
1. What is your favorite blog or website?
Ooh, that’s so tough! There are so many. TMZ and YouTube are great ways to kill 60-seconds. But my favorite site is eBay. I could go on and on about the amazing finds I’ve gotten. Where else can you get last-minute tickets to a concert, iPod accessories and dog boots all in the same place?
2. If time and money were limitless, where would you travel?
If that were the case I probably would have no use for a home. I’d just hop from place to place. I studied in Luxembourg in college and had the opportunity to travel to a different European city every weekend for a semester. I really believe travel can change your life.
3. If a movie was made about your life, who would play you?
Well, people have told me that I look like Meryl Streep, and I don't know what to think about that because I went through a lot of pain so that my nose doesn’t look like hers... if you know what I mean. But she's an amazing actress, so I'm game!
4. If you could have a meal with any two people, living or dead, famous or not, who would they be? Where would you eat or what would you serve?
Adam Sandler and Barack Obama – I wonder how they’d get along? Hopefully they wouldn’t mind if I ordered take-out…
5. What's your idea of the perfect day?
I wake up without an alarm clock. My hubby, dog and I walk to Jerry’s sandwich shop for lunch and during the walk I don’t wear sunscreen and miraculously don’t get sunburned. We skip the gym but burn off the same amount of calories just from having fun. We ride bikes, get ice cream cones and grill outside on our deck for dinner. The phone never rings and I don’t get tempted by the red blinking light on my Blackberry. I eat a second ice cream cone.
6. What do you love about what you do?
I know how lucky I am. I invented my dream job when I created Chicago Anytime Assistants, a personal assistant service for the busy Chicagoan. Strange as it might seem, I have always had a 'talent' for running errands, if that's possible, and I actually like doing them! It's always a great day at work when we can get our clients a discount they didn't know about, or a refund on something they didn't know they could return! That's our M.O.! At the end of the day, my job is to enhance clients’ lives, one errand at a time.
7. What job would you have had if not the one you have now?
This is my dream job so I hope I can hold onto it for awhile!
8. What's your favorite Jewish thing to do in Chicago? In other words, how do you Jew?
The best Jewish thing I ever did was give JDate a try... that’s how I met my hubby!
My friend Elliot and the 11 other cellists in his band agree with me.
Elliot gets ready for another concert with the Oakley Street Cello Ensemble
I literally fell off my chair one day while playing duets with my friend and fellow cellist, Elliot Mandel. The floor was slippery; my chair slid back, my bum hit the floor all in a split second. But I saved my cello – held high above my head – my instincts kicked in and I saved my baby. Elliot was very gracious about it, laughing along with me while I giggled hysterically on the floor. But this story isn’t about my life long love affair with my cello (though it kind of is), this is about Elliot, his cello and the Oakley Street Cello Ensemble – a group I recently heard for the second time at Bill’s Blues Bar in Evanston.
Growing up in Glen Ellyn, Elliot was introduced to the cello in second grade, though he says, “It was never something I intended on doing.” A string teacher came to his school and didn’t see his hand raised for the violin. By the time she noticed him, she was on to the cello. Being the laid back guy that he is, he said, “Okay, I’ll try it.”
Since that fateful day, Elliot has carted his cello to the Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, WI, to college at Bradley University, on orchestra tours to Colorado Springs, Ireland, England and Denmark, to the Old Town School of Folk Music every Monday and to Oakley rehearsals every Wednesday night. One Oakley member graciously moves all of her living room furniture each week to make room for rehearsals because they take up so much space.
The packed crowd at Bill’s Blues Bar – the Oakleys are a hit
The Oakley Street Cello Ensemble is a group of 12 cellists – I think that is enough to constitute a cello choir – who play a range of music from classical to pop, folk songs to Apocalyptica. The varied selection is something you’re not going to get in most chamber groups, and that’s part of the reason Elliot joined up last year.
There is an understanding, or a culture among cellists that Elliot and I both agree on but cannot completely define. It is sort of a collaborative, nonjudgmental, noncompetitive culture. Not that cellists don’t fight for first chair, it’s just not in the same to-the-death way as say, violinists. For example, I never once saw a cellist sneaking up to practice rooms listening to other cellists and then making snide remarks about their playing. Plus, we cellists understand what it takes to lug a heavy instrument across Europe or on the el.
This feeling of camaraderie can be found among the Oakleys, whose players have assorted degrees of experience. Without the goal of being professional musicians, the group is made up of players of different ages, backgrounds and musical tastes – basically, these are people that work well together and have a lot of fun. While Elliot’s favorite piece from the Evanston concert was the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (I couldn’t agree more), someone else’s was probably “Here Comes the Sun,” the Beatles classic by George Harrison.
This culture was central to Elliot’s experience playing music at Bradley. Majoring in English, he didn’t want to commit to a career in something he found so enjoyable: “That track becomes your life. I don’t have that competitive thing in me.” Elliot’s professional, English major self now works as a Program Coordinator at the American Library Association.
While in school and playing with the Bradley Chamber Orchestra, Elliot got to play some of his favorite composers – Bach, Beethoven, and Shostakovich – and travel to Europe, playing concerts in Cathedrals that were built at the time some of the music they performed was being written. This rich sense of history brings deeper meaning to the music. “I find a certain spiritualism in music which in some ways might be considered a religious experience – both things are hard to define concretely,” Elliot says.
Music also fosters community, whether it is part of a religious or spiritual experience, a group of cellists forming the Oakleys, or attending a concert at Orchestra Hall or Phyllis’ Musical Inn. Another “C” word to add to the cello culture definition that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Cello close-up at the Oakley concert
While all this kumbaya crap is mostly true, it is by no means the complete picture. Cellists can also be snarky and sarcastic. Elliot told me about a master class he attended once where the instructor coined the term “cello chauvinism,” defining that as “the supreme belief that cellos are superior to all other instruments.” I can’t say I disagree with that. The resonant sound of the cello is closest to the timbre of the human voice. It can work its way into your heart, thoroughly seeping under your skin.
In keeping with the collaborative culture of cellists (or in my own personal quest for solidarity), I asked Elliot if he had ever fallen off his chair while playing his cello.
His straight-faced response: “No, but I knew a girl who did once.”
I got a little excited: “Someone other than me?”
Then him: “No.”
The Oakley Street Cello Ensemble is now selecting pieces for their next concert. Stay tuned to the events page for details.
Castle Chicago, 632 N Dearborn St
Tuesday, December 24 | 8 p.m. - 4 a.m.
It's Christmas Eve, what else are you going to do? The groups that brought you the best Xmas Eve Parties in Chicago over the past 10 years have finally teamed up for one huge event: The Official Matzo Bash 2013 - The Chosen Knight.
BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE: http://matzobash-juf.eventbrite.com
Every time a ticket is purchased from this link, $5 will be donated to the JUF!
Projects run from November 17, 2013 - January 5, 2014.
Give thanks by giving back this holiday season and volunteer through TOV's Winter Mitzvah Mania. Sign up today!