Tuesday, October 31, 2006

He did the mash...

...He did the Monster Mash.

Happy Halloween, kids. For a person with a bah humbug attitude regarding just about every "holiday," Halloween is one that I can still get down with. It was the one night each year where as a kid you were allowed to be out running aorund in the dark and causing trouble. If I had actually thought about it when I was 11, it probably would have upset me to realize that for some odd reason I was essentially given carte blanche to scare little kids and roll houses but had I behaved like that the other 364 days of the year I would have been "on resrtiction." Whatever, childhood and ignorance are bliss and I certainly made the most of it.

I still wish I could participate in some capacity. Yeah there are the Halloween parties and such but they have very little to do with Halloween itself. Those are mostly an excuse for my friends and I to get fucked up and oggle our female friends hopefully costumed as Slutty Fill-In-The-Blank. The only grown-up roles left are those of candy distributors but after a little intelligence gathering, I have learned that no one comes around to our building. I do live in a neighborhood of sorts but I would not be surprised if many of the potential trick-or-treaters living in the co-ops across the street have been made to feel unwelcome in years past. So candy distributing is out. Although, I had actually considered going out to one of the Family-Occupied Territories of North Arlington (the suburban equivalent of Vichey France) to hand out candy but I would probably get arrested.

I am sure I'll come up with something more than just sitting around drinking beer and watching The Great Pumpkin which I recorded on Friday. Halloween is like reverse Social Security. I drew on huge dividends when I was a kid so now I have to contribute in my pseudo-adult life.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Sometimes when you have a few too many drinks before you even leave the house, things get a little intense. And when you have a few more drinks at your second pre-gaming location well, now it's gonna get interesting. And then, while occupying space at your favorite pre-concert spot, the man behind the band you are about to see walks in for a drink and you send your chair screeching out from under you to go shake his hand and pump him for info about the new album, that's the gravy.

What an incredible show on Saturday night. There's something about the Wrens that elicits this crazy fanboy reaction form their fans. Everyone was once again so thrilled to have them in town they just freak out from the moment they hit the stage until the amp tubes go cold -- myself included. I'm pretty sure that everyone who was a newbie that I talked into coming to the show had a good time. The Wrens are not the easiest band to get into live if you are coming in cold but their passion and the depth of their songwriting talent is always apparent. I am glad that one of my buddies who is also a big fan and has seen them before was fist-pumping and screaming lyrics along with me. I believe I more than mildly disturbed some people who had never seen me in full-on fanboy mode before so at least I was not the only one. Great night.

-- New definition of cathartic --

cathartic: when the biggest moment in your single favorite song arrives, live, and you jump up screaming "Greener grasses fade from where you wind up!!!" and do not come back down for at least an hour.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday 8-Track

OK, I need to put a check on my giddiness. Screw it. Today's 8-Track is honor of Saturday's Wrens show at the Black Cat. Beers at St. Ex followed by rockin' at the Black Cat, I can't think of a better night out. So today's theme is, loosely, indie rock that rocks. Or something. Let's get jiggy.

Built To Spill - "Out of Site" - Perfect From Now On

What a hook. And from out of nowhere, too. Doug is a genius.

Rogue Wave - "You" - Descended Like Vultures

This album is kind of all over the place. I think Zach Rogue sometimes has difficulty sorting out all of his influences but it is nice to hear varied songwriting. This track is one of the best on the album. It has got a overproduced 70's thing going on but it uses a lot of space and a simple theme very well.

Kitchens of Distinction - "Sand On Fire" - Cowboys and Aliens

The first time I heard this song -- thank you Jawn -- I could not have been happier. For an instant, this was everything I wanted to make an electric guitar sound like. A simple blog post could not fairly describe how wonderfully cool this song is. Download it. Know it. Live it. Why can't that outro last forever? [ed. note -- more readily available on the collection Capsule: The Best of KOD 1988-94]

The Hold Steady - "Stuck Between Stations" - Boys and Girls in America

Tad Kubler's riffing may the best sounding thing to happen to The Rawk since Angus plugged in and sold his soul for our salvation. I cannot get enough of this damn album.

Liz Phair - "Never Said" - Exile In Guyville

Liz, what happened? Three good albums (although some only claim one or two) and everything went out the window. Whatever, this is a great song. Simple, straight-up, and a killer hook. The little breakdown in the middle is why hipsters once fantasized about being her love slave -- now they fantasize about making her their dirty, dirty love slave.

Modest Mouse - "Trailer Trash" - Lonesome Crowded West

I love the way this song swells. The first time I heard it I was only half paying attention. It kind of creeps up on you. At one point I just said to myself, "Holy shit this song is good." Plus the end has got some good trashy jamming that sounds like a BTS outtake.

Guided By Voices - "Motor Away" - Alien Lanes

Is Bob Pollard the godfather of indie rock? I won't argue against it. While the intelligentsia may claim that Bee Thousand is the definitive GBV album, contrarian that I am, I prefer Alien Lanes. When Bob decided to shut it down and retire GBV, this song was something of an anthem at those final shows. I did some serious fist-pumping. "You can't lie to yourself that it's the chance of a lifetime!"

The Wrens - "Everyone Chooses Sides" - The Meadowlands

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Come on, you knew it was coming. If I could only write one song. One song that everyone would base their opinion of me -- as a musician -- upon, this would probably be it. I would be hard-pressed to think of another song that so fantastically musically matches its lyrical content point-for-point and rocks like hell. Great story. Great guitar playing. Great band. Is it Saturday night yet?

--Bonus Track--

The National - "Mr. November" - Alligator

A really good show last night. I'm draggin' ass this morning but it was well worth it. I must say that I was very impressed with how well they translated the album from wax to the stage. They are a really tight band and play well off of one another. This is also a band that knows how to utililze dynamic contrast, something sorely lacking in a lot of shit out there today. It makes me want to go home, whip out the DL4, and try and make a little magic. "I won't fuck us over, I'm Mr. November, Mr. Novemeber, I won't fuck us over!"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Nick The Lounge Singer

In my next life I am going to tour around a bunch of shitty eastern resorts doing lounge versions of my favorite indie rock songs. The old people won't know the difference and I could probably make a killing. Of course that means I will be spending most of my days in places like the Poconos, the Catskills, the Finger Lakes, and Asheville, but what the hell. It beats working for a living.
Nothing makes a man like a rented suit. So obviously this is my getup from this past wedding weekend -- which was fantastic. I hate wearing ties. I loathe them. As soon as the ceremony concluded I ripped off my tie and opend the collar of my shirt. I always complain that the ties I wear (on the rare occasions that I am forced to put one on) are choking me. The last time I was wearing a tux, my parents were at the wedding. Since I love to bitch, and I love bitching to my parents the most, I was complaining to my mom how uncomfortable my tie was. She grabbed my collar and slipped her whole hand between my neck and the collar and said "Jason, you could fit another head in there. Stop making a scene." I love it.
Last Saturday was no exception so as soon as the reception started the tie was off and put away for good. And this did not go unnoticed. I am a professional shit-giver and I love people who like to give shit right back. My buddy's new mother-in-law is a special kind of shit-giver because she doesn't even know she's doing it. I was on the grill most of the weekend and just eating it up. She would give me little quips here and there but one of the best was because of the tie. "Oh, you took your tie off...it looks sharp." And that was that. My cue that I probably should have left it on. Fantastic.
She got me again the next day. Don't invite me into your home because I will make myself at home. Immediately. It's a terrible habit but I will right away open the fridge or the cupboards and just help myself. I can be a very tacky guest. So after inviting myself over to the in-laws home the next day, tired and hungover, I immediately flopped on their huge sectional sofa, grabbed a couple of pillows, spread out, and took a nice nap. Just on the brink of slumber, mother-in-law was heading out on some errands and told me, "Jason, I was going to tell you to make yourself at home but I guess I don't have to." Two of her daughters were lounging as well and almost pissed themselves trying to keep from laughing. I love a shit-giver. It makes me feel at home. And it was a great nap.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


If you could only have one of the following attributes, would you rather be smart or clever?

smart[smahrt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation verb, adjective, -er, -est, adverb, noun
7.quick or prompt in action, as persons.
8.having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability: a smart student.
9.shrewd or sharp, as a person in dealing with others or as in business dealings: a smart businessman.
10.clever, witty, or readily effective, as a speaker, speech, rejoinder, etc.

[klev-er] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective, -er, -est.
1.mentally bright; having sharp or quick intelligence; able.
2.superficially skillful, witty, or original in character or construction; facile: It was an amusing, clever play, but of no lasting value.
3.showing inventiveness or originality; ingenious: His clever device was the first to solve the problem.

Dictionary.com seems to be of the opinion that the two words are essentially the same but I disagree. Smart often implies sensibility; making the sound decision or taking the right course of action. Mental aptitude is also a component of the definition but I always tend to think of "smart" in terms of processing data. You have to be smart in order to understand topics like Differential Equations and Moral Relativism. It takes smarts to finish your sudoku in less than five minutes. Smart people are often their own bosses. All good things, I concede, but kind of fucking boring.

I prefer clever. Clever is how you get out of doing things you do not want to do. Clever is issuing pencils rather than spending thousands of dollars on the development of a pen that will write in space. Clever is what allows you to make fun of people to their faces without them knowing it. And clever leads to thinking up such postulates as The Michael Seaver Theory.

The Michael Seaver Theory

The theory that public opinion regarding an actor's real life persona directly impacts the marketability of his body of work. To wit, if Kirk Cameron weren't such a douchebag Growing Pains would be much more widely syndicated than his sister's Full House which both time and a really bad Beach Boys video have shown to be the vastly inferior of the two programs.

The Doctor Recommends...

If all of your friends are telling you how great it is and you want to believe them.

If you think a Les Paul plugged into a Marshall stack is a warm creamy slice of heaven.

If you thought the first two albums were OK but not melodic enough.

If you thought the first two albums were great but you just need more, more, more.

If your definition of "to rock" has grown old and stale.

If you want to be cool.

If you think you're cool but wish to prove it.

If you want people to like you superficially rather than for who you really are.

If you want an excuse to spend $13.99.

If you need another excuse to oggle the girl that works at Olsson's.

If your dog died, boyfriend/girlfriend dumped you, car broke down, cable went out and you are looking for a reason to live.

If you want to knowingly nod your head when you read Jason's Top 10 Albums of '06 post this December.

If the first 30 seconds of the "We're Not Gonna Take It" video sums up everything you want out of life.

If you want to know why you will be at the Black Cat on November 25th.

...then go out right now and pick up The Hold Steady's new album, Boys And Girls In America.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Rock 'n Roll Ain't Easy

The suburban rockstar lifestyle can be a grind. I am beat after a gig last night and now get to drive 5+ hours to cosmopolitan Youngstown, OH. I hope I can keep awake on the road.

Anyway, the Friday 8-Track is taking a week off so I can get my Griswald on but shall return next week with something juicey -- I'm thinking a pretentious indie rock theme in honor of next Saturday's forthcoming Wrens show. Hallelujah.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Non Sequitur

Sometimes I think about the most random shit before I fall asleep and topics usually involve recall of weird memories from any point in my life that have absolutely nothing to do with the ending day's events. Perhaps it is my unconscious mind doing a bit of housekeeping. Anyway, last night I was laughing in the dark for a good two minutes because for god know's why I was thinking about one of my favorite movie scenes.

I am a huge fan of comedies, especially the dry, dark, and sardonic variety. But one of my favorite comedy moments is so lame and so juvenile that I cannot believe I still think of it regularly. For whatever reason, I fell asleep last night thinking of The Great Muppet Caper. For you philistines out there unfortunate enough to have never seen this masterpiece, the film obviously stars The Muppets but also Charles Grodin as a suave diamond thief. I know, I do not get the Charles Grodin thing either but apparently he was well-regarded in the 70's and 80's. Anyway, Grodin ends up stealing the famed "Baseball Diamond" and framing Miss Piggy for it. She gets thrown in the clink and the Muppet gang plot to break her out -- or maybe try and steal the diamond back; it has been a while.

So, the Muppets are strategizing how to pull of the eponymous caper and Fozzie is running through a checklist of items for which individuals are reponsible. When he gets to "frisbee," that one is Zoot's reponsibility -- as an aside, Zoot was my original insppiration for playing the saxophone which eventually lead to my current rockstardom. Zoot replies that he doesn't know where the frisbee is. When asked if perhaps it is in his "other pants" he replies in his stoned 50's beat-jive manner, "Man, I don't have any other pants!"

That shit kills me every time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Writer's Almanac

This weekend should provide essential fodder for my forthcoming (read: sometime between now and never -- much closer to never than now) meta-fictionalHornbyesque masterpiece. Since this mostly imaginary literary endeavor is supposed to be a self-reflexive exercise, I am consciously building a mental database of personal experiences to be massaged into something readable. My mental efforts are currently focused on the upcoming weekend because I will be emabrking upon my one and only stint as The Best Man.

Most of the responsibilites are out of the way. I have already planned and exectued the bachelor party, the post-reception debaucheries are in the works, and the tux is ready to be picked up. All that remains is to polish the wedding speech which so far has been the only "difficult" duty. Having a reputation for speechifying and producing random witticisms I had put a lot of pressure on myself to create an actual Speech. You know, something memorable. Something that people actually listen to rather than wait for to end. Something up there with Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address ("With malice toward none, with charity for all...") or William Jennings Bryan's Cross of Gold speech ("You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."). But then again that is some pretty heavy shit for a wedding celebration.

So I then opted for a significantly lighter tack that lent itself to my random prose style. But that got out of control too. Ignoring my "better angels" -- that would be Lincoln's First Inaugural for those of you scoring at home -- it turned into an ego exercise with me not focusing on the happy couple but instead on how the wedding speech would be a great opportunity for me to present myself as the most sexually desireable and available individual at the wedding. It is amazing how quickly you can go from speaking about someone else to obsessing about yourself; solipsism at its worst. Thankfully I came to my senses and those drafts since disappeared, "Wiped clean by the wrath of God." -- and that would be Raiders of the Lost Ark for a triple word score.

Eventually I went with the Goldilocks approach and found a happy medium that was "just right" -- need I even go there? There are still a few finishing touches to be applied but all in all I think that version 3.o will work nicely. However, just in case, I have got a few Yeats collections that I am ready to plagiarize if things go South.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday, Monday

Well it is a new week and I officially have a new job, my first in seven years. I thought that perhaps there would be something "significant" about today but in the end it was pretty boring and uneventful. Ah, the joys of white collar careerdom. Something about the more things change... has been popping into mind all day.

I have a habit of trying to make changes in my external worl act as instigators of change in my internal world. New apartment? New outlook on dating. New job? New sense of maturity. In some instances in works but on the other hand I did spend Staurday night with a 40 oz. duct taped to each of my hands. The more things change...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday 8-Track

Well today's theme was a no brainer. This one's for you Big Daddy, courtesy of Hitsville, USA.

Junior Walker - "Shotgun" - Shotgun

This song gets right into it with the opening sax riff and snare fill. I imagine that this is the kind of record that people would get drunk and scream along with. "I said, shotgun! Shoot him 'fore he runs now."

The Isley Brothers - "This Old Heart of Mine" - This Old Heart Mine

One of the signature features of the uptempo Motown records was the driving backbeat. Couple that with these incredibly strong melodies and vocal performances and it is no wonder that this label is the most iconic in pop history. "This Old Heart of Mine" is a prime example of this formula and man does it work.

Jackson 5 - "The Love You Save" - ABC

Another feature that propels those uptempo tracks are the moving bass lines that are so good and just not around anymore. Dig that ascending groove in the bridge.

The Supremes - "You Can't Hurry Love" - Supremes A' Go-Go

A classic example of what made the Motown records so special and an indicator of what is so lacking in current alleged "R&B" tracks. The genius in the writing of Smokey and Holland/Dozier/Holland was their deft mix of soulful grooves and classic pop songwriting. The break before the verse with the syncopated base and drums that then runs into one of those classic Motown melodies is just sublime.

Jimmy Ruffin - "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" - Jimmy Ruffin Sings Top Ten

I love this song. The Motown records were supposed to be for "young people" but the songwriting was so beautifully complex. This record just aches with soul and the subtle way that it modulates up a whole step from the verse to the chorus and back down again helps add to the tension. Magnificent.

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "Tracks of My Tears" - Going to a Go-Go

Is this record the king of the sad songs? Maybe. You can almost picture heartbroken teenagers in their rooms, clutching the album jacket to their chests, and crying with this song playing over and over again. It is so f'ing good and the bridge before the last wailing chorus, "My smile is my makeup I wear since my breakup with you." -- hell, yeah.

Temptations - "My Girl" - The Temptations Sing Smokey

What really makes a great melody is even better harmonies underneath. There is a reason this is one of the most recognizable songs ever. It's perfect.

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "Tears of a Clown" - Tears of a Clown

Well, Smokey is the man so he gets to show up twice today. Yet another fine example of how complex song structures and heavy grooves can come togetehr to make something special. The first time you hear this record and the little orchestral carnival music starts off you think, "What the fuck?" And then that driving beat kicks in and you are on your way. I really like how the arrangement mirrors the lyrics. I also wonder if the production on this record wasn't a litle inspired by Phil Spector. The low brass and bassoon parts that are pushed to the front of the mix during the verses have quite the "Wall of Sound" feel to them. Great tune.

P.S. - If you have not already done so, check out the wonderful Standing in the Shadows of Motown documentary about the the legendary Funk Brothers, the unheralded Motown house band.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

New World Man

I am sore today. Stiff and sore. The reason for this being, in a meanderingly roundabout way, that it is difficult to be a single man in the first decade of the third millenium (C.E.). Guys Life in the Tens requires a nuanced balance of complex character traits because it feels as if today's woman wants a little bit of everything.

Perhaps it is the benefit of removal (or rather the delusion created by it) but is seems like being a desireable man in decades past was more straightforward, more homogenized. There was the radical intellectualism/idealism of the 60's (The Huey P. Newton), the gruff hedonism of the 70's (The Noble Savage), the over-acheiving sensitivity of the 80's (The Alex P. Keaton), and the brooding misanthropy of the 90's (The Eddie Veder). However the Tens are not so easily defined. Maybe they will be in years to come, but right now it is a buffet and we need to provide every entree imagineable. We are now living in the decade of the the renaissance player, a.k.a. Heterogeneous Man.

So what does the price of tea in China have to do with my aching legs? Well that would have everything to do with my attempts to live up to the demands of the renaissance lifestyle. I have got a lot of areas covered: The intellectualism -- I misquote Hume and Hayek. The brooding -- I am grumpy and cynical. The debasing -- I consume vast quantities of watery domestic for sport. And even the sensitivity. Lots of sensitivity. Too much, in fact. Remember that bit about "nuanced balance?" I am tipping the scales on this point. Understanding the McDreamy vs. McVet debate, having actually uttered the phrase "Whoa, there's a sale at Express," ordering salad on a date (I mean, there is half of a dead chicken on top of it but it is still a salad), preferring to gossip with my buddys' wives and girlfriends rather than play yet another game of Risk (it is the game of global domination) are all things which individually could be rolled into one's renaissance game. But taken in aggregate, you begin to careen off of the road into some kind of strange anti-man territory. Sound intriguing? It's not. You really are just the Holden Caulfield of the pussies which, as he would put it, is kind of "phony."

So in order to compensate for said over-sensitivity I have my one All-American straight up hetero guy activity; softball. I play softball with my buddies from college, spit sunflower seeds, fiddle with my junk once an inning, and generally try to play hard and dirty up my "uniform" each week. The problem is that I am no athlete. In high school I played lacrosse for a couple of seasons but that mainly consisted of watching the game from the bench while my buddy and I took turns punching each other in the helmet with our giant padded gloves. I did manage to letter in school, twice, but they were for Marching Band and Math Team. What this adds up to is not being a very graceful individual. I lurch, heave, and jerk spastically in the pursuit of ground balls and infield singles and my muscles scream at me for it the next day. I love baseball and rec league softabll is the closest I will ever get to the game. But why do I really do it? To build up my man points. To fill out my Player pastiche. To be Heterogeneous Man.

This had better work...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I've got so much honey...

Let me say that ultimately, destination weddings are a pain in the ass. It is difficult to get attendees on location, it is difficult to coordinate troop movements, and if said destination happens to be the beach access portion of Corolla Light, then it is also difficult to keep people from getting stuck in the dunes en route to the reception. However amidst all of these complications, serendipity does sometimes strike to create special, if not bizarre, moments. And that is where the wedding band comes in.

I got home yesterday from our wedding gig in the Outer Banks and it was interesting to say the least. It could have been like any other gig but when alcohol, good vibes, and a lot of music history kick in, it reminds you why you play at all. For this wedding two bands were hired. One was comprised of four white guys from the DC 'burbs who play rock 'n roll and were hired to be the reception/party band -- that would be us. The other band was made up of three older black men from DC proper who play a lot of old school R&B and the likes -- that would not be us. The second band was hired to play the rehearsal dinner and the cocktail hour prior to the reception. And everything went according to plan until the end of our last set.

By the end of our "contracted" three hours of playing everyone was well lubricated because there really is nowhere to go at night when you are out in the beach access areas of the Outer Banks. We had imbibed of copious spirits come the end of the set and the other band had hung out to party and was herbally enhanced at this point. What started out as a scripted third set ended in a seven-piece jam session that only hinted of things to come. With our bass player having to leave and the rest of us performance-fatigued, we broke down our gear but the left the PA up and running for the other band who was going to do a late-night acoustic set to keep the party going. Excellent.

For three white boys with jazz backgrounds and a deep love for the Motown glory years, watching these old black men putting out all of this good stuff into the night, with a full moon shining over the ocean, was too much to resist. The partygoers could feel it too so everyone huddled around the dance floor out in the salty air to watch three black men from the city and three white boys from the 'burbs tear through every Motown, R&B, and soul song they knew with nothing but an acoustic guitar, some auxiallry percussion and six voices. It was incredible! The highlight for me was sharing the mic with a man known only as Big Daddy who was 57, constantly wore bib overalls, looked like the old man form the Arrested Development videos, and had a killer baritone. We were all so out of it by the end of the night that we were leaning on each other to keep from falling over while I led all of us through an acapella rendition of "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" -- you can thank Yeungling and Seagram's 7 for that one.

Anyway, Monday night was a welcome reminder of why we do what we do. You cannot manufacture moments like that. Congratulations Kim and Steve.

Friday, October 06, 2006

With Age Goes Wisdom

I think my father is losing it. My mom called me this morning to tell me, "your father is in the driveway washing his car." If you are in the DC metro area, then you know that it was pissing down rain all morning. Apparently dad thought that since it was raining out it would be a great opportunity for him to throw on his all-weather gear -- which he loves and rarely gets to sport -- head outside, and soap up the car. His logic being that the rain would then rinse everything off and he could therefore squeeze in a quick wash with a modicum of effort.

Of course the rainfall volume diminshed as the morning went on and it was no longer coming down hard enough to sufficiently rinse the sudds off of the vehicle. To which mom added, "So now he's hosing down the car in the rain." And mind you, this is no compact but rather a Dodge Durango. I honestly have zero clue as to the providence of this bizarre notion.

Is this what happens when you get old and approach retirement? You take the day off of work to do crazy shit around the house? God bless him.

Epilogue: This tale was recounted to me by mother who called me from her car because she did not want to be around should the neighbors take note of what appeared to be the gigantic father of the Morton's Salt girl milling about in the rain.

Friday 8-Track

I did not think about this at all this week so I am short on ideas. I am therefore phoning it in. Today's theme is loosley manliness or maybe male characters or I don't know what. I just wanted an excuse to include "Mannish Boy."

Muddy Waters - "Mannish Boy" - The Real Folk Blues

You know the riff. You know the song. Remember the scene in Risky Business where Tom Cruise puts on the shades and tosses a cigarette in his mouth? That's the song. What really makes this record is all the hootin' and hollarin' in the background.

Spencer Davis Group - "I'm A Man" - I'm A Man

The intro to this tune is so badass. Steve Windwood's screaming Hammond B-3 and scratchy vocals pretty much embody the lyrics. I cannot believe the guy was a teenager when he was with this band. Follow this career arc; Spencer Davis Group to Blind Faith to Traffic to "Higher Love" -- what the hell happened?

AC/DC - "Big Balls" - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

I think this song speaks quite well for itself.

Steely Dan - "Kid Charlemagne" - Royal Scam

Cool story about a flamboyant dope-peddler. Maybe he was a pimp too? I would say this is one of the definitive Steely Dan tracks with a great guitar solo courtesy of Mr. Larry Carlton.

Modest Mouse - "Cowboy Dan" - Lonesome Crowded West

This song is fucking out there.

The Smiths - "This Charming Man" - The Smiths

This is perhaps about a spoiled fop? Who knows. It seems that many people fall into one of two camps when it comes to The Smiths; Morrisey or Johnny Marr. I'm a Johnny Marr fan. The guitar work on this record, like all Smiths tunes, is wholly original.

Sun Kil Moon - "Glen Tipton" - Ghosts of the Great Highway

A great dark tune -- which pretty much sums up everything Mark Kozelek writes -- this one is bizarre if only because it paints Judas Priest guitarist, Glen Tipton, as a musical outlaw. This song is depressingly beautiful.

The Replacements - "Alex Chilton" - Pleased To Meet Me

This may be making a repeat appearance but I am tapped out and therefore issue myself a pass. I love, love, love this song. Probably my favorite Mats song, it is an ode to Big Star bandleader Alex Chilton. If you are ever in a snotty pretentious music conversation about some band you have never heard of, just say "I'm not that into it. They just make me think of Big Star redux." Conversation over. You win.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blogger Myth-Keyboard Reality

In recent correspondence with a friend who also maintains a blog, we broached the topic of what I am now referring to as Blogger Myth-Keyboard Reality; the notion that seemingly frank and personal blogs unknowingly create an alternate persona. Jazz snobs -- the sort of people who listen to Kind of Blue with eyes closed and head bobbing -- will sometimes tell you that a performer's brilliance can be heard not in what he plays but in the notes he does not play. "It's in the spaces, man." The same is true of blogging; it is what is not posted that counts.

To be sure, there are blogs where someone is attempting to create an online personality or something that is larger than life. But I think that the majority are simply web logs, someone's electronic journal (like the lessons learned that Doogie Howser would type up at the end of each episode). However, consciously or unconsciously, a person will always self-edit. A blogger may appear to be exposing his soul to the world but this is still a controlled environment. You only get to read the pages the writers allow you to see. Before I started thinking about the actual people behind these journals there were blogs that I would read and think, "this guy is completely nuts" and others where I thought, "I am in love with this girl." After thinking about this though it becomes more and more obvious that you really have no clue no matter how much personal content someone posts online. The Crazy Guy may only use his blog as a means of venting his everyday stresses, so readers are only exposed to his worst side which may in reality be the smallest component of his peronality. Awesome Girl, on the other hand, may be undateable and intolerable to be around -- one-sided "essays" are amusing and fun to read but imagine how potentially unbearable these expositions could be in the midst of a real two-person conversation.

As usual outward thought led to inward scrutiny so I turned this little theory around and examined my own blog. What was I leaving out? What details were being ommitted for publishing purposes? As it turns out, a lot. I read through many of my old posts, because I seem to forget about them just days after they have been written, and they tell a very colored tale. The "personal admissions" are all self-deprecating in charming way -- the sad and shameful truths are nowhere to be found. The dating dalliances look like they were lifted from a rom-com script -- none of my scummier exploits are present. And the "thought experiments" are all pre-researched and controlled -- my hyper-reactionary and sometimes mean ruminations have mostly been suppressed. Anyway my question is, how real is real? I do not know.

But I am not going to change the way I do things. It took a long time for me to be satisfied that this blog had a certain feel or groove to it so I am not going to go switching pitchers mid-inning. I will therefore continue to omit facts, massage certain details, and exercise literary carte blanche when recounting The Sacred & The Mundane that is my everyday world.

...I suppose we are all right back where started so I will avoid another elliptical post topic for at least a week.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Good Music, Good People

I have been very lucky with the bands that I dig in that of those bands/artsists I have met, everyone has been extremely gracious and friendly.

I once interviewed Kurt Dahle and Carl Newman of New Pornographers and they basically shot the shit with me for half-an-hour. When asking them why Neko Case is always referred to by critics as an "alt-country chanteuse," we had to look up the definition of chanteuse. Later I made a crack about Sloan and NP having a Royal Rumble for the right to be Canada's top power pop band and Carl gamely remarked, "We would kick Sloan's fucking ass!" Good guys.

Chatting with Doug Gillard before a Guided By Voices show I mentioned that my band was covering a GBV b-side he had written and how I was having trouble figuring out the opening guitar riff. He immediately grabbed a guitar and taught me all of "Avalanche Aminos" before they went on stage.

Charles Bissell of the Wrens is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. After getting all fanboy and gushing about The Meadowlands to him at a solo show, I emailed the band's website administrator asking if he could find out the name of a cover that Charles had played at his performance. Later that day I received an email from Charles with the name of the tune ("Black Boys on Mopeds") and a thank you for coming to the show.

Just today I sent an email to Ashmont Records thanking them for delivering my pre-ordered copy of the new Pernice Brothers album ahead of schedule. In the email I had made a very geeky math joke about the label which was found funny enough to forward on to Joe Pernice. Just a bit ago he sent me an email -- apparently he enjoys a good math reference as much as me -- offering to put me on the guest list for their show at the Black Cat. Score!

I guess my point is that there are so many successful musicians out there who are wildly solipsistic and egomaniacal and thus have no concept anymore of what it means to be a human being. But we forgive their trangressions because the value of their art often outweighs the pettiness of their character. So when artists are successful (here of course within the All Things Relative indie rock paradigm) and are regulary told how wonderful they are, yet still do things that are gracious and courteous, it adds even greater value to what they create.

Service with a smile, you know...


I don't know how some people afford it, but there seems to be no limit to the amount of money people will spend on their own wedding. I know it is a very very special day so it is up to them to decide how they wish to celebrate it, but I like to think if I were in that position I would exercise a measure of fiscal conservatism. That being said, I have no problem taking people's money.
My band is playing a wedding down in the Outter Banks this weekend. Our hyper-organized bandleader sent us some Adobe'd pics of the house where the wedding will be held:
Yeah, they have rented seven of these houses total. For a week! Additionaly, these houses are 4WD access only so they have rented seven Ford Expeditions. For a week! Add the cost of us, the other band, the rehearsal dinner, the reception, and lord knows what else, the price tag on this affair gets a little jaw-dropping.
Now I might spend this amount of money for the downpayment on a condo somehwere downtown, but that's just me. I guess some people just like to have a good time. Crazy.

Monday, October 02, 2006

High Holiday

In honor of Yom Kippur I shall confess a few of my sins. While the Jews repent for their wrongdoings, Catholics merely blurt them out figuring that is good enough, lapsed Catholics simply eschew atonement, and the hardcore apostates use the whole process for blogging material. Here goes:
  • I really liked The Devil Wears Prada
  • I look up big words and then use them as if they are a part of my everday lexicon (I actually know that one, honest)
  • I cheated off an 8-year-old piano prodigy while taking a music theory exam when I was 17
  • I own and regularly watch more than one Meg Ryan movie
  • I have kicked a dog
  • I have taken food from a toddler because his snacks were better
  • I think that I am smarter than almost every person I speak to
  • I have lied in order to make a post-one night stand getaway
  • I have a hetero man-crush on Hugh Grant
  • I will forgive all manner of sins committed by a beautiful woman
  • I work out blog material in casual conversations with friends
  • I will slip "my band" into any conversation with a woman
  • I have peed in the shower
  • I sniff dirty laundry to determine its wearability
  • I own a Speedo

Simian Mating Rituals

I am up and down with my opinions of Dr. Dremo's. This used to be one of, if not singularly, my favorite bars in Arlington...the jukebox, the smoke, the PBR, and the dank. Oh, let's not forget the dank. One of the nicest things about the bar was that it was a great place to sit and have beers with your friends, listen to good tunes, maybe meet some people, and do so in a very relaxed environment. This of course was before the opening of the roof, the closing of the bar by the county, and the subsequent rebirth of the establishment with -- wait for it -- beer pong.

Now I am both a proponent and avid player of beer pong (or Beirut as the kids up north call it) but the ramifications of introducing such an activity to my neighborhood dive bar were startling. Business improved drastically; glad to see them doing well. The crowd began skewing younger; fine, I am not an ageist. The ladies were more eye-catching; OK, but also drunker and far less interesting. There were lots of meatheads; damn, I really should be hitting it harder at the gym. One or two of these symptoms may have equated to a minor head cold but all together it was more like avian flu so I decided to stay the hell away. Not my scene so much. Well this new Camelot could not last forever and eventually the Arlington police shut down the beer pong citing some county ordinance regarding the prohibiton of "alcohol-related games." With the pong tables relegated to furniture status the crowds eased a bit and things were a little more like the salad days to which I had preminisced no return. So I slowy began a pilgrimage back to my house of worship.

But a new golden calf has been erected and once again the infidels have execrated my sepulchre. The unholy idol has this time taken the form of a coin-operated electronic boxing machine. How it works is you pay a dollar and then punch a hanging speed bag...once...for a buck...and then the machine does the rest. Potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. Force is equated to the multiplication of mass and acceleration. Numbers are crunched and finally the machine displays a number. From what I have been able to glean, this figure can be used to determine a number of qualities inlcuding the hitter's virility, the hitter's Badass Quotient, the size of the hitter's penis, the hitter's deftness at instigating the female orgasm, and possibly the county-assessed value of the hitter's automobile.

All of which I assume is the case because this activity seems to be engaged in for the purposes of attracting the ladies. There were guys lined up to wail on this thing and stare it down with flexed muscles and huffing breath. And all of this without the slightest trace of irony. Believe me, I looked and looked and prayed for it. Not a drop.

Alas, poor Dremo's! I knew it well Horatio -- a place of infinte jest, of most excellent fancy.