Thursday, August 31, 2006

History's Greatest

I am a sucker for the Junkies radio show in the mornings. I have been a fan for almost 10 years now and they still appeal to all of my sophmoric "guy interests." One of the funny, yet very uninspiring, weekly things they do is a contest called Bet On Brett. Brett is their young-ish producer who it appears didn't pay very much attention during his college courses. The guys ask Brett a general trivia question and callers bet on whether or not he will know the answer. Which he doesn't.

Anyway one of today's questions was, who stabbed Julius Ceasar? Cake, right? Wrong. He definitely didn't know the answer but some of the guys we're going on about how that isn't really common knowledge. (I won't even begin to address that.) Yadda, yadda, yadda the topic then switched gears to the Top 10 historical figures of all time which I think is intriguing. Jesus garnered top honors which I think is a fair enough assertion. He is the sole subject of one half of the most printed text in the history of the written word. So I can roll with that choice. (As an aside, I enjoy Bible Politics. Things really get heated when you get into literary criticism of the Bible and how the sources were edited over time. But I always wonder how an everyday Jew feels about an enormous addendum being tacked on to the end of his/her holy scripture. That's pretty audacious if you ask me.) Back to the lecture at hand.

After Jesus, the list of history's most notable figures can go wildly in just about every direction. Is there a cultural bias towards figures from Western Civilization? How strongly do we weigh the contributions of those whose legacies are more mythical than substantive? How important is it to recognize the guy who discovered penicillin? Etc. So I figure the easiest way settle the issue is to defer to two authorities on the matter; Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan. They are Wyld Stallyns!

According to Bill & Ted, the most important figures in history are as follows (in no particular order):
  • Napoleon - a short dead dude
  • Socrates (so - krates) - "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives."
  • Billy the Kid - aka Mr. The Kid
  • Beethoven (beeth - oven)
  • Sigmund Freud - aka Siggy
  • Abraham Lincoln - "Be excellent to each other. And...PARTY ON DUDES!!"
  • Joan of Arc - she does a mean Jane Fonda impression
  • Genghis Khan - "Want a twinkie, Genghis Khan?"

I guess that passes for something approximating "authoritative." Who else would you add?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


You know what's worse than losing? Getting shellacked. You know what's even worse than that? A painfully slow shellacking. You know what the cherry on top is? Phillies fans.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Matching t-shirts are like Spanish Fly. We've got to do this more often.

Caveat Emptor

It appears that I am only impulsive at exactly the wrong time. I made the switch to Blogger Beta without reading the reviews. Now I am screwed. When you see a warning that reads "Once you switch to Blogger Beta you cannot go back." heed it. Heed it.

Climbing the 22-Foot Pole

I'm home, I'm tired, I'm hungover, but I think I finally washed all of the stripper smell off of me. That pungent mix of perfume, commerce, and shame creates an oderiferous haze that will permeate and ultimately take control of any natural fibers one might be wearing. Rayon may be a bachelor party's best friend.

All in all I would say that our bachelor party weekend in State College was a resounding success. Everyone was in good spirits -- until the seemingly endless drive home -- and nothing required the presence of medical or constabulary personnel. As far as these affairs go, our experience was probably very typical save for a few minor twists unique to any group of friends who have know each other for 15+ years. One of the interesting things about the trip was our streamlined group consciousness when it came to the obligatory aspect of the strip club. As in, "Let's just do this, put a 'check mark' next to it, and get downtown so we can get bombed."

The Sex Industry is so fascinating because it is very very un-erotic. There seems to be very little that is actually sexy about it.

The Show

I love women. I love the female form. But something about transacting in order to observe it, for a buck at a time no less, is more than a little bit sad. Yeah the sights are good -- sometimes really good -- but after a while it becomes almost sterile, like a scientific observation. I think a "striptease" in and of itself can be very sexy. Salome and her seven veils, a Josephine Baker performance, and even Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies: these things are sexy. There is a tease and tension and something left to the imagination. As for the strips clubs we end up at on bachelor parties there isn't any of that. What is supposed to be a show ends up rather like a display...a gynecological exam. And there is NOTHING sexy about that.

The Lapdance

Same problem as before; it's not very sexy. I think it has to do with the total lack of sensuality. Yes closeness, contact, and intimacy are extremely arousing but not when you've paid someone because really it is just feigned intimacy with two parties trying to close a deal. For example if you are out in the real world away from the see-through platform shoes and bullseye tattoos, the idea of a woman breathing on your neck, getting in close etcetera, is very hot. But when a naked stripper says "Hi! I'm Valentine!" and starts grinding on your lap, the mystery is gone and you just try to keep from laughing.

The Paradigm Shift

The freakiest aspect of the the strip club scene is that after you leave, your perception of reality has been distorted and it takes a while to regain your sea legs. This is especially true if you have been drinking. A lot. Instead of utilizing reflections and peripheral glances, you continue to directly oggle any woman in your line of sight. Unabashedly so. If an attractive woman in a revealing outfit is anywhere nearby, you instinctively reach for a wad of $1 bills in your pocket. It seems ridiculous that every woman woman you meet is not absolutely interested in you. You forget that it is inappropriate to have a conversation with a woman's breasts. Shaking yourself out of this altered state is a lengthy process that usually involves drinking even more. Be very careful.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and
expecting different results.
-Benjamin Franklin

I have at least five more bachelor parties to attend in the next nine months. I have no doubt that they will all involve women who are paid to be naked in our presence. Each time it will seem like a fantastic idea. Being a man means that there are very few lessons learned.

Friday, August 25, 2006

M-M-M-My Sharona!

In today's WaPo there is something of an obit for Bruce Gary, the drummer for The Knack, who recently died from cancer. Rather than getting into a lengthy retelling of his life and times, the article focuses on the drum beat for one of the biggest hits of the "80's" (the song was actually released in 1979 however the guys were wearing skinny ties in the video).

Honestly, I think "My Sharona" is one hell of a pop song. It's got a driving almost punding beat, utterly filthy lyrics (the song is about jailbait; "always get it up for the touch of the younger kind"), and a circular chord structure that swells into each "My, my, my, my, my, whoo!!" The whole song is capped by a simple I-V-IV-V bridge with a bitchin' guitar solo. On the full six minute non-radio edit version of this track Berton Averre really stretches it out and every time I hear it I am always impressed with the chops this guy has got. It's full-on cock rock to be sure but man it sounds good. Ironically, this song sort of helped "usher in the New Wave era" which was the death of the guitar solo for a time.

The Knack got a bad rap for being mysogynistic and somewhat contrived, and while that may be true, I think "My Sharona" is better than just a novelty song or something to be regarded simply with ironic ennui. One of my bands would cover this song and every time we played it people could not help but get into it. That probably says everything that needs to be said about a pop song.

Friday 8-Track

The bachelor party edition.

The Darkness - "Black Shuck" - Permission to Land

This song f'ing rocks. I think it's about a demonic Hound of the Baskervilles-type dog.

Creeper Lagoon - "Up All Night" - Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday

This album is a mess but I guess it's the indie rock equivalent of fun cheesey pop. My buddy (the groom) and I always liked this song because it contains the lyric "Yeah you right!" which a friend of ours from high school used to always say.

Primus - "Tommy the Cat" - Sailing the Seas of Cheese

A first- and third-person narrative about an alley cat looking to get laid, set to a bass-a-rific funk-metal soundtrack (I'm running out of hyphens). If that's not a recipe for a party classic then I don't know what is.

Smoking Popes - "Let's Hear It For Love" - Get Fired

Well, there has to be at least one bitter cynical track on this list. Why wasn't this band huge?

Lustra - "Scotty Doesn't Know" - Eurotrip [SOUNDTRACK]

A hilarious song from a terrible, terrible, terribly fun movie. The cameo by Matt Damon "singing" this song is worth the price of admission.

Queen - "Flash's Theme" - Flash Gordon [SOUNDTRACK]

I don't have the energy to get into this one so I'll leave it at: Best. Soundtrack. Ever.

The Black Crowes - "Hotel Illness" - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

The intro to this track just gets me going. This will always be for me one of the best rock albums of all time. (Get your ass to the 9:30 Club!)

Wrens - "Hats Off To Marriage, Baby" - Secaucus

A repeat appearance but...all too appropriate?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Things That I Will Keep...

...the things that keep me.

I am obsessed with my media collection. My books, my albums (CD's), my DVD's, I spend a lot of time grooming them and looking them over. At times, I think, I am more interested in the maintenance of the collection rathen than its actual content (read: intrinsic artistic value). In my old place, the barcalounger was right next to the shelf unit (IKEA, natch) that housed my CD's. Whenever I would get bored with what happened to be on the television, my eyes would wander over to my albums and I would look them up and down and make sure they were still ordered according to my particular, albeit unoriginal, filing system [genre (broadly defined) --> alphabetical by artist --> chronological by album --> remasters get filed next to their original release]. And among them are always the releases that were purchased for the sole purpose of properly filling out the collection (like Almost Blue even though I rarely listen to any Costello release post-Get Happy!!) which is a good illustration of how my collection has started to take on a life of its own.

But with books I am even worse. I would have to say that there is a 50/50 split between books I've wanted to read and books I thought I should read. Por ejemplo, right now I am reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. One Hundred Fucking Years of Solitude. There is no chance in hell I would have ever picked up this book in the store, read the back cover, thumbed through a few pages, and said "Oh, I gotta read this." But because it is considered a modern masterpiece or whatever I figured I had to read it. And more importantly, I knew it would look good on my bookshelf if I ever had any company over looking through it. Because that's what I do. You can tell so much about a person by digging through his or her books and CD's. If I'm dating someone new, I go straight to her media collection the first time I visit her place. (I generally assume that most people aren't as pretensiously cynical as me and therefore have mostly genuine entries in their respective music and literary collections.) So who knows, maybe the next time some young lady is perusing my bookshelf, it will be Sr. Marquez and One Hundred Years of Solitude that helps me seal the deal. It could happen:
"You've got so many great books."
[whispers]"The better to seduce you with."
"Uh, all the better to deduce the truth with."
-- The Tao of Steve

Much to my surprise and satisfaction, I am actually enjoying the book. It's extremely engrossing and I burned through almost half of it on my trip home from San Antonio. The last time I did something like this it did not work out nearly as well. I got on this kick where it seemed absolutely necessary that I read Moby Dick. There were two main reasons. One, because the Literary Establishment deems it an ultimate example of American Literature, whatever that means. And two because at the end of Star Trek II, Khan paraphrases Ahab while screaming to a Kirk that cannot hear him "From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee!" Awesome, if the whole book is like this than it must kick ass. Wrong. Maybe I am a literary philistine but Melville is boring as hell. I maybe made it through three chapters when I just gave up. And I am sorry, but it is riddled with homo-erotic subtext. Not that there's anything wrong with that but it reminded a lot of watching the volleyball scene in Top Gun, as in "How exactly does this serve the plot?"

I also had a similar experience with Joseph Conrad feverishly working my way towards one fantastic quote while struggling with almost every other word. "Marlow" was a difficult man to follow.

Anyway, the point being that I am reading a novel because it will look good on my bookshelf. Probably not the kind of motivation that would lead people into a life of comparative lit.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On The Road Again

Immediately upon my return from the beach I turned around and flew out to San Antonio for another business trip. I used to makes these trips fairly often but it has been a while since I travelled this much for work. However old habits die hard and I have fallen right back into my routine when visiting these locations. There are two main things I like to do most when O.F.O. on these little boondoggles for work. The first of which is going to the movies.

In particular, I go see bad movies. For as much film watching as I do I rarely go to the theater when I'm at home. I prefer the surprise of whatever is going to pop up on cable when not half-expecting to see either The Hunt For Red October on TBS (at leat once every two weeks) or Jaws on AMC (at least once a month). So when I'm out of town by myself I take the opportunity to blow money on something really bad in the theaters that I would never waste my time on at home. For example, on my Denver trip a few weeks back I went to see Miami Vice. Admittedly a part of me, while knowing how bad this film was going to be, desperately hoped it would be legitimately great. It is after all a Michael Mann film; the guy who gave us Heat which for me is one of the best crime-thrillers ever filmed. One of the great things about Heat is how compelling the film is especially after you realize how badly this film could have been twisted if someone like Michael Bay had been directing it -- which ironically is what seemed to be the case throughout at least half of Vice. But I digress.

So on this San Antonio trip my "bad movie" options boiled down to a choice between Snakes On A Plane and Talledega Nights. In a surreal turn of events, I stood in the lobby of the Quarry 16 Theaters deciding that I would go see the LESS absurd of the two films (which now that I think about it is kind of ridiculous since absurdity is more of a state of being rather than a degree of it). By some immeasurable turn of logic which I cannot even recall, I chose Snakes On A Plane. Truth be told, it wasn't that bad although I got the feeling that I really just paid my six bucks to hear Sam Jackson say, "I've had it with these muthafuckin' snakes on this muthafuckin' plane!" That feeling was reinforced when everyone in theater began applauding. There was still another twenty minutes or so of action but it all seemed like the denouement after that. Good enough.

And that was my movie fix for this trip. Now, the other thing I usually do on these trips is drink at Coyote Ugly. It doesn't matter where you are because these bars are fucking everywhere and they can be the lone business traveller's best friend. There's an unspoken agreement between Coyote -- that's what the girls, ahem, ladies that work there are referred to as -- and patron that each will particpate in a charade of interest in what the other has to say. The staff, out of occupational obligation, will ask you where you are from and what you do and call you sweetie and generally feign interest in anything you have to say. Which is kind of fun because you can make up any shit and they will just nod their heads and smile, "Yeah I work for PBR and we're down here doing regional auditions with amateur rodeo clowns for a reality TV show that will be on CMT next Spring. It's like Real World meets Survivor meets The Apprentice meets Urban Cowboy. Say, you're very attractive. Have you ever considered a career in the rodeo entertainment industry? I know some people..." and so on. On the fip side, the patron's job is to say yes when offered another beer, tip well, and generally buy into the girls', ahem, ladies' hip-shaking eye-batting banter. I actually listened to one of them tell the guy next to me her multi-year plan for her Coyote Career. Unreal.

But here's the cool thing (and realistically the only cool thing) about Coyote Ugly, and not ironic hipster cool but just straight-up cool. There's a jukebox in the joint and whenever someone plays anything on it the girls, ahem, ladies have to get up on the bar and shake their groove thangs. Like clockwork, at least once an hour someone will invariably put on "Hot For Teacher" and this is when things get really heavy. -- Now if you are of a certain generation and of a certain ilk, the "Hot For Teacher" video is a significant tile within the iconography of your youth. The 1984 cassette was just about the only thing I listened to for a time and the particular video in question was one of the most intriguing images of my pre-masturbatory adolescence. -- Being in that stupid bar with enough beers in your system when that song comes on and those girls, ahem, ladies begin dancing on the bartop one lucid moment of transcendent realization may manifest itself; you are in that fucking video. Right when Ed rips off the guitar solo while walking on the tabletops in the library and the teachers tear off their dresses for a sponatneous bikin contest, that is your moment. That is when all of the time you wasted in front of MTV (pre-Real World MTV) comes full circle and for a brief moment time stops, you age backwards, and the world seems oddly right.

Unfortunately this at most last for about 3.5 minutes and then it's back to reality where you and thirty other drunk assholes are oggling the denim-clad butt cheeks of a demographic that you have long since departed. It is at this point that you close your tab, say thank you, and walk back to your room at the Holiday Inn. When's my flight?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sunshine and Daydream

Parting is such sweet sorrow, especially when it is time to come home from vacation. While the return almost always sucks it is definitely worth the postpartum depression if only to get away for a few days. One of the interesting aspect about vacationing with friends (especially when it's a large number of people packed into a beach house) is that everyone's collective age/maturity tends to devolve a good bit. Some of the highlights from my brief vacay all involve us acting younger than our ~30 years.


Dinner last Wednesday night will forever go down as one of the best meals I have ever eaten. To be sure the food was delicious, fresh, and well prepared but it was the beverage choice that brought it all together. The simple fact that this new and chic "Asian fusion" restaurant we tried out -- on a whim -- happened to offer a 40 of Schlitz on the beverage list made the place, in my mind, one of the top eateries in all of the Outer Banks. Friends let me tell you that nothing complements a nice serving of mahi mahi like malt liquor. Our fellow patrons could not believe that three of us were chuggin 40's at our table. I was going to have it decanted but decided that it was much classier to drink from the bottle. Excellent.


Outdoor nakedness is quite refreshing. If my apartment building could somehow accommodate an outdoor shower I might use it throughout the summer months. There's something about taking a bath outdoors... Of course that is wildly trumped by moonlight ocean skinny-dipping which is one of the best feeling when you have a belly full of good food and malt liquor. (Shocker that at all went down on the same night.) What started as a midnight stealth mission onto one of the private beaches -- with plenty of "shushing" and giggling as we trepassed upon the neighbors' properties -- ended up with a lot of people fumbling through the dark in search opf discarded clothing. I'd like to thank Brett for initiating the fun and one of our female houseguests for turning to me and saying. "Awesome. Hold my suit." It's a good thing I eat a lot of carrots.

Myth Busting

What do you do when you're bored in the middle of the afternoon? Get on the internet and research how to make soda geysers with Mentos and Diet Coke. Does it work? Abso-fuckin'-lutely. Is it worth trying at home? Abso-fuckin'-lutely. Just make sure you know who's soda you're using. "Thanks for wasting all the Diet Coke!"

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday 8-Track

A vacation/beach-inspired list today.

Led Zeppelin - "Tangerine" - Led Zeppelin III

The Beach Boys - "Sloop John B" - Pet Sounds

Husker Du - "Celebrated Summer" - New Day Rising

The Young Rascals - "Groovin'" - Groovin'

Pete Yorn - "Murray" - Musicforthemorningafter

Built To Spill - "Car" - There's Nothing Wrong With Love

Neil Finn - "Paradise (Wherever You Are)" - 7 Worlds Collide

Lindsey Buckingham - "Holiday Road" - Vacation [SOUNDTRACK]

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I hate Ticketmaster and it's bastard step-brother For all of the obvious reasons of course, but mainly for the fact that I end up paying $6 in fees for each ticket I buy. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. To get around this I usually by my tix at the venue the day of the show but there are occasions when I can't afford to roll the dice when it comes to gaining admittance. never has their order history working properly but, Ticketbastard does. I went online today to buy some tix for the Shellac show atthe Cat and of course the stupid site said there was no such show scheduled. Whatever. Anyway, they did show me my order history and minus all of the friggin' hockey tickets I've purchased (I hate hockey! Why am I the one who's always buying the damn tickets when everyone wants to go to a game?) these are the shows at the Cat that I haven't wanted to risk missing out on tickets. Don't you just love the internet?

The Wrens
Black Cat, Washington, DC

Can't wait.

Ted Leo/Pharmacists
Black Cat, Washington, DC

His usual wildly energized performance.

Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA

Love the Weez, skipped out on Dave Grohl et al.

Q and Not U
Black Cat, Washington, DC

Farewell show. Not too bad but a lot like D-Plan Light.

The Wrens
Black Cat, Washington, DC


Black Crowes
The Norva, Norfolk, VA

The first show with Marc Ford back in the lineup. Sweet rockin' bliss.

The Wrens - Army of Me
Black Cat, Washington, DC

You never forget your first time.

Dar Constitution Hall, Washington, DC

I still cannot believe how incredible they sounded. It was as if no time had passed.

Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD

Eh. Their live shows of late haven't been as thrilling as some from back in the day.

Dismemberment Plan * Ted Leo * El Guapo
Black Cat, Washington, DC

I believe this was the final farewell show after the farewell performances at Ft. Reno and the 9:30. Ted ended up having throat surgery and couldn't open up this show. Damn, that would have kicked ass.

Dismemberment Plan
Black Cat, Washington, DC

My first and best D-Plan show. It's a shame they had to go away.

Where the Gulf Stream Flows

Today at noon I am off on my first trip ever to the beaches of North Carolina. Having grown up in the DC 'burbs, people always look at me funny when I tell them I have never been to the Outter Banks. They pity me for living such a sheltered existence (I guess those backpacking trips in Europe are far too pedestrian for the cultured Carolina beach-dweller). Ironically, my family has been going down there every summer for over 10 years, which is probably why I have never been myself.

It started when I was in high school when my parents thought it would be a great idea to rent a beach house for a week. I thought it was a fantastic idea as well because that meant they would be gone for a week. Explaining to them how important it was that I not miss work so I could build up my savings for when I headed off to college, they opted to leave me home alone for a week to watch the house. And of course I had my friends over every night to get fucked up and still managed to straggled into the 'Buster each day for work. This went on every summer and even when I was old enough to no longer need parental absence in order to drink I still never went. Part of this probably has to do with the fact that my dad is from Hawaii. Having visited the motherland a few times, the prospect of driving 6 hours to frolic in the murky green waters of the mid-Atlantic is a little anticlimactic.

But whatever, today I pop my cherry. The vehicle is loaded up with excess clothing, essential cooking tools (never travel anywhere without a good chef's knife and an 8-quart mixing bowl), 2 cases of watery domestic, acoustic guitar, and a sleeping bag for wherever I happen to pass out. I am looking forward to a very relaxing, good time. And given the current state of my job, I definitely need it. This week is all about zero stress so I am keeping expectations and planning to a minimum. Therefore I am certain only of two things for this trip:
  1. I will not purchase one of those stupid OBX stickers.
  2. I will not fit into the bunkbed to which I have been assigned.

That's right, the three single dudes on the trip are in a little room in the basement with two sets of bunkbeds. I wonder if we have to eat at the kiddie table...

Monday, August 14, 2006


Perhaps purchasing a ticket package has engendered an unearned sense of entitlement within me, but I can't help but go to the ballpark and expect certain things. One of those things is to see my boys play well, not necessarily win, but play well. Yesterday I couldn't help leaving the park feeling as if my Sunday had been ruined. Instead of a gorgeous day spent taking in our nation's pastime, here's what I'll remember:
  • A fantastic 7-inning, 2-hit, 1 unearned run performance squandered
  • The bullpen giving up a solo-HR shot to its first batter faced
  • 3 errors (2 of them throwing!)
  • 2 wild pitches
  • Our star rookie being doubled off on a flyout
  • Being told that the Screech Bobblehead was only for "kids 12 and under"

I know that a ticket doesn't buy me anything other than admittance to the stadium but I expect more. And infield bungling and getting whored out of a bobblehead (after I "qualified" for the Cordero and Guillen bobbleheads earlier this season, bastards!) are not it. Somebody owes me.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday 8-Track

A quickie today. Eight great covers.

Richard Thompson
- Oops I Did It Again - 1,000 Years Of Popular Music

Dinosaur Jr - Just Like Heaven - You're Living All Over Me

Old 97's - Mama Tried - Alive & Wired

Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs - And Your Bird Can Sing - Under The Covers Vol. 1

Husker Du - Eight Miles High - Eight Miles High/Makes No Sense At All [EP]

The Afghan Whigs - Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe - Beautiful Girls [SOUNDTRACK]

Gary Jules - Mad World - Trading Snakeoil For Wolftickets

The Jam - Heat Wave - Setting Sons

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Things To Do In Denver...

I travel out to the "Denver area" on occasion for work but until this last trip have been too lazy to actually go into downtown Denver proper and see what the city has to offer. Finding myself with about 6 hours to kill before my flight on Tuesday, I decided to drive into LoDo (Lower Downtown) and take a look around. So here is my take on Denver based on an afternoon spent in the touristy part of town.

My main goal for the afternoon was to see Coors Field which I sort of got to do. There was no game that afternoon and the park doesn't offer tours (as far as I knew) so the best I could do was press my face through the gate bars at the Home Plate entrance. I couldn't see the field but was able to see the top of the outfield seats. Somewhat anticlimactic but it is a real nice looking ballpark. I'll be back in Septemeber and hopefully the Rockies will have a homestand the week I am there.

Next stop was the 16th Street Mall, Denver's own edifice to consumerism. There is a lot of corporate Starbucks-type shit along the Mall but to be fair it's no cornier than Georgetown, the Seattle Fish Market, or Chicago's Golden Mile. And it is a nice looking pedestrian area which is perfect for wandering around and killing time. One of the main "attractions" along the Mall is the Urban Market...I love the word urban.

The word urban is only used in its literal sense by city planners and local governments. Any other time you see tht word, the implication is that of a certain lifestyle and fashion sensibility. Ironically, actual Urban People would never use the term or describe themselves in that way so, fashionably speaking, urban only has meaning from a suburban or exurban perspective. Case in point, the Urban Market on the 16th Street Mall. One of the big stores at the Market is a Nike Town. That's right, an entire store (and a very big one at that) solely devoted to moving the Nike brand name. There was a section of the store just for running. Running. I don't know why there is a need for a place like this to exist but they do a very good buiness and it was a cool place to walk around in even if they were trying to sell crotch-lined running shorts for $35. The other anchor store at the Market is a Virgin Megastore.

Some days I'm afraid I'll go berserk, rip the Elvis Costello mobile down from the ceiling, throw the "Country Artists (Male) A-K" rack out into the street, go off to work in a Virgin Megastore, and never come back.

I'd never been to a Virgin Megastore so I figured it would be a wonderful opportunity to see what a ginormous corporate record store was really like. And there was plenty of predictably bland material on display but a quick scan of the "M/N" aisle I happened to be standing in did turn up 3 copies of Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (you can probably thank Pitchfork for that), what looked like the entire Modest Mouse catalog, and a handful of Morrissey solo albums including Viva Hate. (I mention Viva Hate in particular only because it is name-dropped in a studio converstion used as the intro to the opening track of Ryan Adams' first -- and best -- solo album, Heartbreaker. I know that seems like six degrees of random obscurity but since it was mentioned, on tape, by someone who for a small time within a small circle was considered an arbiter of cool, I thought it mentionable. Whatever.) Now I'm not a hug fan of any of those artists but it was nice to see them available in a store which also had a lifesize Kelly Clarkson cutout. In the end the Virgin megastore didn't turn out to be that cool or that lame. It was basically as predicatble as any other Urban Retail Outlet.

After my adventures in the Urban Market all I had time left for was lunch and a drive back out to the airport. Thus, my first impression of Denver is that I do not have an accurate one. Next time out I will find out where to see some actual city character and get my drink on. I suppose then I will have something more definitive to say about the city.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Write to Rock

As I've gotten older, I've become more drawn to writing that is narrative, witty and personal. Obviously I've gone on and on about Nick Hornby but there are others such as Dave Eggars, David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs (the long-form version of Sedaris but even crazier), and especially Chuck Klosterman. Klosterman is nearest and dearest to my heart because his day job is as a rock critic, something which I once aspired to be.

I've just finished working my way backwards through Klosterman's three books beginning with his most recent and most insightful and ending with his first and most personal. It was the very end of his first book, Fargo Rock City, which was probably the funniest and most telling moment of anything he's written and technically he didn't even write it. The end of the book includes a letter of warning from his landlord that contains the following:
We received a complaint this morning regarding loud music and jumping in your apartment in the early hours of the morning. After reviewing your file, it seems as if this is a recurring problem in your apartment. It distresses us to have to write this letter but you are keeping your neighbors awake.

What makes this addendum to the book so amusing is that it is dated February of 2000 -- which would have made him about 28 at the time -- and that as we learned earlier in the book, these are the kinds of activities he enages in by himself. I was rolling as I read this because it reminded me of one of the best New Years Eves.

I think it was the '01 into '02 NYE and I was feeling particularly anitsocial that year. Some of my friends had decided to get a beach house and another group was going to one of those big expensive parties downtown. I opted for neither and instead chose to stay home by myself and get lit up on a case of Iron City pounders I had been saving for just such an occasion. I spent most of the night in the basement of my townhouse playing every GBV album on 11 and rocking out at my own private concert. By midnight I was in posession of the most incredible balance of endorphins and alcohol. By 1am I was barely functional. By 2am when my roommate got home (with some random girl from work in tow) I was running up and down our two flights of stairs while "Bulldog Skin" was playing on repeat on the stereo.

This was (and is) my idea of a Good Time. Not all the time, but certainly some of the time. And it is great to know that there are other people who feel the exact same way. To quote a company-wide farewell email from an old coworker who left under dubious circumstances, "Rock on."

Your Moment of Zen

I made a lot of notes on my quick business trip to Denver but this pesky little thing called work is getting in the way of my blogging activities. I need a better job. Anyway, I offer you in the meantime a brief moment of Zen.

One of the nice things about flying Frontier Airlines is that each person has a TV with DirecTV on it. During the flight I happened to notice that the very nondescript middle-aged white lady sitting next to me was watching the VH1 Classic channel. At the time I noticed, it was showing the Cure's ridiculous video for "Friday I'm In Love" and this woman was absolutely engrossed by it. She basically looked like the kind of suburban housewife you would see at a 3 Tenors concert at Wolf Trap so I am certain this was the first time she ever laid eyes on Robert Smith. She could not take her eyes off of the screen and I spent the next two minutes watching her watch Robert Smith prance about in a room full of confetti. It was awesome.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Stupid Baby T-Shirts

And I don't mean "baby T's" as in the tight little shirts that women wear, but actual t-shirts for infants and toddlers. In the last few weeks I have seen the following t-shirts on very small children:
  1. Ramones tee with the presidential logo and the boys' names. This was on a 12-month-old at a Nats game.
  2. "AB/CD" tee mimicking the AC/DC logo. This was on a 2-year-old at National Airport.

I'm going to put this out there right now and let these parents know what's up. Those t-shirts are stupid. First the guy with the kids in the Ramones shirt. Yes, I can see how for a moment it seemed like a cool/cute idea. But it's not. For starters, there's nothing more unpunk than a t-shirt fetauring a "punk band" or espousing some punk ideal. So if you're actually a Ramones fan then you screwed up and maybe missed the point of it all. [editor's note: I am not a Ramones fan or a punk idealist but I do think that the Clash kick much ass.] If you're not a fan, then why not go with some innocuous band that you actually like so as not to be shit upon by pretentious high-minded douchebags such as myself? Ok fine, you want something cool and punk-y. Go with a Sex Pistols t-shirt for your infant. In reality they were an ugly boy band assembled by third parties just like any other attention-grabbing pop act so in fact, this shirt might actually be a subtely ironic gesture on your part. And we all know that subtle irony is the highest form of Cool.

As for the little girl in the mock AC/DC t-shirt; come on, dad. This is the band that among all of their hits wrote about going to hell for living the Rock Life, a literal ode to their testicles, and used cannon blasts in salute to Those About To Rock. Fuck yeah. Anyway, is this the path you want to lead your little princess down? Whatever, that's your business but let's not cutesy up one of the unabashedly rockin'est bands of all time. Ok?

Of course this little screed gave me a great idea for infant indie rock T's. Here's what I've got so far.

  • Sleater-Kinney -- For lesbian parents or the scrawny wuss dad.
  • Elliot Smith -- For the parents that probably shouldn't have kids.
  • Pavement -- For the dad that just can't let go.
  • Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks -- For the mom that just can't let go.
  • Arcade Fire -- For the currently "with it" parents.
  • Superchunk (specifically the No Pocky For Kitty album) -- Well this one just sounds "cute."
  • Broken Social Scene -- For the most pretentious parents ever.
  • Built To Spill -- For the coolest dad ever.
  • Pitchfork -- Either for the parent who absolutely doesn't get Pitchfork or the parent who hates Pitchfork enough to realize that this could be the most awesomely subversive of gestures.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday 8-Track

Here are 8 good 'Fuck You' songs.

Ben Folds Five - "Song For The Dumped" - Whatever And Ever Amen
Yeah, yeah I know I had these guys and this album on last week but no list of 'Fuck You' songs can be complete without this one. It's angry, it's hilarious, and it's got a killer hook. Plus, who knew the line "Well fuck you too!!" could be so poetic?

Bob Dylan - "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
The condescending 'Fuck You' song. It sounds kind of sweet if you're not paying attention but really it's the snarky way of telling her to piss off. "You just kinda wasted my precious time."

Bob Mould - "The Receipt" - Modulate
When personality conflicts, drugs, and business shit break up a band, this is how you say 'Fuck You' to your old drummer many many years later.

The Eagles - "Already Gone" - On The Border
I think "woo hoo hoo" says it all. (And dig that modulation in the last chorus.)

Archers of Loaf - "Wrong" - Web In Front
The indie rock 'Fuck You' song replete with MBV-style guitar swirl and Mascis-style vocals.

Uncle Tupelo - "Give Back The Key To My Heart" - Anodyne
The alt-country 'Fuck You' song replete with fiddle and a coke reference.

Tupac Shakur - "Hit 'Em Up" - Greatest Hits
This has to be the angriest damn track I have ever heard and quite literally a 'Fuck You' song. I'd claim that it was all a lot of theatrical posturing but the guy was maybe shot dead by the people he called out in this song? Thug life.

The Soft Boys - "I Wanna Destroy You" - Underwater Moonlight
Also a playlist veteran but you can't deny the rage and the rock of this song. Another example of how a great hook and awesome high harmonies can get your head bobbing to almost any lyric.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Respecting The Comfort Zone

I have a philosophy that there are certain places where it is inappropriate to hit on women. Obviously you shouldn't be trying to pick someone up at a funeral or doctor's office or some other place like that but what I am specifically talking about are places where individuals go to deflate. Their Fortress of Solitude. Their Comfort Zones.

One of these Comfort Zones is the gym. I know there are many people out there with the complete opposite opinion, but I think it is tacky to hit on women at the gym. Granted there is a good deal of primal sexual energy present what with all of the sweating, contorting, and Under Armour but that alone does not make pickup lines acceptable. Besides the unappealing fact that I am wearing the same rotting gym shorts for the third day in a row because I am out of quarters for the washing machine and too lazy to get another roll from the Wachovia one block away, I wouldn't hit on a woman at the gym because I don't want to mess with her Comfort Zone.

There is a reason everyone walks around the gym purposefully with their headphones on. It's where you go to do your thing and be alone. You can singularly focus on one task, not be bothered by anything else, and work off some serious stress. Hitting on people at the gym (especially among regulars) creates an awkwardness that can eliminate all of the benefits of going to the gym. I've definitely seen "workout couples" that have "broken up" and are now always at opposite ends of the place avoiding eye contact with one another. It's pathetic. And it is bad juju if you are the cause of such awkwardness so it's best, I think, to avoid that altogether.

The other Comfort Zone you shouldn't mess with, is the morning coffee spot. I say "morning" specifcally becuase I'm not talkign about a place where people go to hang out but rather the source of your morning fix. It's another purposeful place where people are there to take care of business and leave. And of course, that is the spot where I almost broke my own rule this morning.

I get up early out of necessity on the weekdays and out of habit on the weekends. I wish I could sleep in but my internal chemistry just won't allow it anymore. It's a frustrating situation so I appreciate it when I meet others who are similarly afflicted. This morning pulling up to the java joint right by my office, where it is usually the same thin crowd at that hour, I saw a beautiful girl walking up who I had never seen before. Immediately the Dude in me started trying to take over and I rather obviously slowed my pace so I could get to the door at just the right time to open it for her. Once inside it was a battle of my internal selves over whether or not I would drop some really really lame come-on. But staying true to my ideals about not fucking with people's routines I kept my mouth shut, ogled briefly, got my coffee, and split.

This is probably a dumb rule and may explain why I am persistently single, but it's a rule nonetheless. But I have to say, I respect the hell out of a woman who gets up at 6am.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mom, Jerry, and The Buggles

It is pretty difficult to escape the fact that today is MTV's 25th birthday. Just about every media outlet has picked up the story and is running some nostalgic pop-analysis piece about the station's social import. It is hard to deny that no matter how debateable its importance or value, the legacy of MTV is at the very least significant. Like it or not, it is a part of the "social fabric."

As a member of the "original" MTV Generation (hair bands and Downtown Julie Brown vice latter-day Real World and Laguna Beach) and deeply addicted to television since my first exposure to a Cathode ray, MTV comprises a large chunk of the iconography of my youth. I have vivid recollections of moments in my house where MTV was on in the background. But what made me start recalling the halcyon days of Music Television was picking up on the coincidence that MTV shares a birthday with two significant people, my mom and Jerry Garcia. (And yes, we'll get into why I know Jerry's birthday.)

My mom and MTV go hand-in-hand because she was the one constantly telling me I couldn't watch it. When we moved back to the States after living overseas, one of the first things we did was get Cable. I didn't know exactly what cable was, but I knew it had something to do with our TV and that if we didn't get it I might die. When it was finally installed, two excruciating months after we moved in, the secrets of the world were revealed to me. We now had 30 channels to choose from and having lived with only the Armed Forces Network radio and television stations for 3 years, the sensation was similar to that of surfing the internet for the first time. Anyway, one of the first channels I discovered was MTV and my mother immediately shut it off. According to her I shouldn''t be watching it because it made me "too hyper." Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I would literally bounce off of the living room walls whenever the videos for "Panama," "Round and Round," or especially "We're Not Gonna Take It" came on. For a long while there was a constant guerilla war going on in my house where I would sit very close to the TV with the volume down and the remote in my lap surreptitiously watching MTV. As soon as I heard my mother's footsteps on the linoleum in the adjacent kitchen I would flip the channel over to something innocuous. Eventually she gave up and it was all I would watch in the afternoon whenever GI Joe or Transformers wasn't on.

On the other hand the weird coincidence of Jerry's birthday and the birth of MTV is that in a way, he and the Dead (outside of the commercial bloating of their entire scene as years wore on) represented the antithesis of what MTV was about. They and the rest of my parents' generation of music was all I would listen to in middle in high school as my adolescent love for MTV morphed into pubescent loathing. (My obsession with Zeppelin and the appearance of hair on my balls occurred almost simultaneously.) They were Substance rather than Style. They were Analog. They were Real. So while going through my Classic Rock phase I learned the minutae of all the Greats, went to reunion shows, played on the fringes of the Dead scene and picked up a lot of useless knowledge such as Jerry Garcia's birthday. For most of that time I swore off of MTV and admittedly missed out on a lot of cool stuff (most notably 120 Minutes).

So now after vascillating between extremes, I am somewhere in the middle of the road when it comes to one of the trashiest networks on television. There are horrible shows that I watch from time to time and revel in, but I also don't think I would miss it too much if the channel were to simply go away. I suppose I need to find another August 1st birthday to properly represent the insouciance of my present-day regard for MTV.

So Happy Birthday, MTV. You were always there for me even when I wasn't.