Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I ain't much of a music critic. In fact, I don't have a heck of a lot of use for most music critics because they seem to get a bigger charge out of panning records than praising them. I'm short on time these days; all I really want is for you to tell me what's good that I might have missed out on.
So, I'm a little apprehensive about doing my second "year end list" post. Shit, I'm not even that good at this, much less endowed with anything but that same snarky-ass music snob attitude that I completely abhor in others...
All of that having been said, I've been giving a little thought to what my personal song of the year is. And don't read anything else into that title; this basically is just a slightly less dorky way of saying "My Favorite Song This Year".
I didn't have any sort of methodology for determining this. I tired to make sure that all the songs were more or less from this calendar year (or close to it), but that was the only rule. Otherwise, this is just me subjectively trying to figure out which songs captivated me the most this year. Nothing else.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here goes.
singles By The Kings of Leon
I know we all want to hate them, but you have to give it to Kings of Leon this year. Its easy to forget that they were a well-loved "indie" band for a good five years or so before they broke in 2009, and much as the radio saturation was a turn-off, the trio of "Notion", "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody" was one of those miracles of hit-writing that's on par with U2 or Morning Glory-era Oasis.
I'm not giving any of those three songs the nod, but you all should know that I gave it some thought. Because those are three absolutely excellent singles, and my head is not yet so far up my ass that I can't hear it in them.
Second Runner Up:
Zero - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I fully admit that I expected the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to blow their load after their ridiculously excellent debut album, but I've been proven wrong.
I wasn't entirely sure if I liked the whole idea of this track when I first heard it. I even admit that I kind of dismissed it as foolish dabbling outside of their area of specialty. (Dude, "Fever to Tell" is what Danzig would have sounded like if he was a half Korean girl and the rest of the band went to liberal arts colleges. To hear such a talented rock band make such an effort to go electronic sort of irked me.)
But this fucking song stayed with me for months, eventually resuting in a November iTunes purchase that totally skewed my value of this track just in time for the blog. And timing is everything. Congratulations, Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
(Dumb video, BTW....sorry).
Runner Up # 1:
1901 - Phoenix
Disco-pop, electro-clash, synth-rock.....I can't keep track of what you call this stuff anymore.
But I sure wish that it had been around when I was 24. Because this song reminds me of nothing quite so much as drunkenly dancing all night with some girl you just met two hours ago...condifent that you would go home with her, but knowing that you'd be greatful for nothing more than a kiss and a phone number and a chance to see her again.
Before I get carried away, let's back up....
There's plenty to hate about this kind of music. Sometimes the synths are overbearing. Often, the songs sound like they were written by the bass player. The drums frequently are not actually drums.
And we should also take a moment to remember that this genre is particularly beloved by coked-up jackass hipster kids.
But goddamned if this isn't one of the most infectious choruses I heard this year.
This song has been sitting on me all year long (not helped at all by the no-longer-controversial decision to feature it during a high-rotation automobile advertisement). And all year long it never really wore off. I'd be shocked if I wasn't still hearing that bouncy-jangly-yelpy thing in my head this time next year.
Song of the Year: 2009
Crooked Head - Fucked Up
Only a total asshole would choose a hardcore song as his song of the year. But Crooked Head put me on my ass this year.
I have always had an "emperor has no clothes" attitude towards hardcore - an unpopular opinion here in old D.C.
Regardless as to if it was the self-riteousness of Minor Threat or the homoerotic macho nonsense of the CroMags, I just never understood the big deal over a genre of music that is largely defined by shouting your balls off over thin arrangements and rudimentary songcraft.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I came across Fucked Up.
Perhaps not a hardcore band in the truest sense (whatever the hell that means), Fucked Up immediately impressed me not only with the majesty of their arrangements on "The Chemistry of Common Life", but also their good humor and their abundant intelligence - all done without sacrificing the power of loud drums, overdriven guitars, insane tempos, or German Shepherd-styled vocals.
Of course, because I'm a giant drama queen, there is naturally a deeper reason that this was my song this year.
This was a year what I found out what it's like to be on the outs in the corporate machine. And the truth is that it doesn't matter how much you tell yourself that you won't be defined by your job; when you get yourself in a situation where no one at work wants to put up with you anymore, its a lonely place to be.
And its a very worthless feeling to have.
And sometimes you have to take a nice long look at yourself and figure out who you are and what you're doing with yourself.
This song was a great comfort to me during those weeks in October and Novemeber, when I was trying to transform into the comeback kid. When I was trying to correct course. When I was working to earn back my spot as a part of the team.
But it also was a time when I looked around the office and made a few decisions about who I am as an individual, and what I did not want to become, and how I was going to try harder to strike that balance.
I pulled it out with something of a grand slam in late November, by the way. Something of a redemption, I don't mind telling you. And as good as that felt, I never forgot that they're all just dogs fighting over a bone.
And I'm going to live, and I'm going to leave it alone.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Low - Little Drummer Boy
Frightened Rabbit - Its Christmas So We'll Stop
Robert Earl Keene - Merry Christmas From the Family
Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
What can I say? I'm getting old, my energy is getting low, and things seem to sell out a lot more often these days than they used to.
Still, I managed to squeeze in a few notable shows this year, so in the spirit of year-end retrospectives, here's my top ten list for 2009:
10. Gogol Bordello at the 9:30 Club - The conceited and insecure part of me (that writes a snarky blog that no one reads) sort of hates to admit that I enjoy gypsy music. But these guys are total professionals, and I had an outstanding time watching them do their thing. And the vision of that band....the vision. At a time when any jackass with a creepy mustache can move to Williamsburg and suddenly be in the next big thing, it's nice to occasionally see a spectacle like Gogol and think.....only in NYfuckinC.
9. Sigur Ros @ MOMA - Ok, so this concert didn't actually happen this year. And I didn't actually attend it. But this WAS the year that I got the Current Channel and it was the year that I found myself watching this concert film over and over and over again. And almost every time I ended the night welling up with tears because the whole thing is so beautiful and joyful and pure and wonderful and now I'm crying again....
8. The Flaming Lips on the National Mall - A Flaming Lips show is like some sort of rite of passage, and I'd missed out on it up until this year. I'd say I'm half a fan of the Lips (at best), but I respect them immensely, and a free outdoor show is still a thing of beauty. Aside from the uninspiring weather and maybe one clunker in the middle of the set, it was basically everything I'd been led to expect. Well played, Mr. Coyne.
7. The Run for Cover Party at the Black Cat - It's not like D.C. invented the concept of the Run for Cover party, but having attended every single one of them since they were hosted in a basement in Northern Virginia, I can't imagine that any other city does it with a better, more community-oriented vibe. And while this year's line-up didn't necessarily impress the way that previous years had, the Bon Jovi and Bee Gees bands were particularly fun. God, I love this tradition.
6. The Legendary Shack Shakers at the Rock and Roll Hotel - Another band I'd been waiting to see for years and had never gotten around to. And as a double bonus, I'd invited my difficult-to-impress friend, Dan, to this show, and for once I didn't disappoint him. Score. Then I had to ruin it by getting drunk and accidentally smashing a bottle on the floor. Fail.
5. Fucked Up at the Talking Head - Hardcore ain't my thing. But Fucked Up does it right, with actual arrangements and a subtle sense of humor. Drove an hour to this show by myself only to run into acquaintances from D.C. while I was up in Baltimore (on a school night). That sort of thing rarely happens anymore....
4. Fucked Up at Subterranean - Playing an exclusive-feeling pre-show set before the Pitchfork Music Festival, this show was noteworthy not only because I saw the same band twice in six months, but also because my good friend Phil was kind enough to meet us out on our first night in Chicago, despite his being on business travel for the previous 14 hours.
3. The Pixies at Constitution Hall - Read my review here.
2. Lamb of God at the 9:30 Club - I promised myself I'd write a review of this as part of the "A Day Late" series, but that's looking less likely each week. This was my first metal concert in a LONG time, and I distinctly got the impression that I might have been seeing this band at their absolute peak. The band was absolutely furious, the crowd was decidedly more energetic than D.C. crowds ever are, and the entire affairs was very much more executed than performed. I honestly feel a little sorry for those motherfuckers in Metallica for putting Lamb of God on as their opening act this past year. No way I'd want to be that far past my prime and getting on stage after those guys. No fucking way at all.
1. The Living Things at the Rock and Roll Hotel - Listen to me right now: This is the best fucking rock and roll band in existence at this moment. And they blew Patrick Wolf and his silly ass fashion show about three blocks off the stage and into Trinadad. I love, love, love, love, love this band.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
After all, the Pixies were, by all accounts, outsiders. None of them are particularly good looking. None of them ever went out of their way to display a decent fashion sense. None of them have great hair. And their music was....a little weird.
Not totally weird, mind you. But weird enough to defy convention and make them inaccessible to those of us who like our hooks served up fresh and simple. And, thus, this made them perfect for the oddball kids who were perfectly comfortable to live at the fringe of college and high school norms.
So, yeah, I wasn't a huge Pixies fan back in the day, which shouldn't surprise anyone. I had no opinion of them, in fact, because they weren't really relevant to my existence.
It's not like I wasn't an outsider. I just wasn't a *cool* or *smart* or *quirky* outsider. I was just a kind of lame, middle-of-the-road outsider.
(Maybe that makes me a legitimate outsider-outsider. Hm....score one against the cool kids AND the smart kids!)
I did catch onto the Pixies at some point, but it was really late. I mean... embarrassingly late.
I know this much -- My old band did cover "Gigantic" at a party some time in the late 1990's (hosted at the Ruppert's art gallery on 7th street - adjacent to the spot where the Warehouse Theatre would one day be, and across the street from a hole in the ground this is now the D.C. Convention Center). And I'm sure that I knew the melodies to "Debaser" and "Here Comes Your Man" for years before I knew the titles or the artists for either song.
But simply put, the Pixies were never on my radar until maybe six or seven years ago.
So, given those facts...and my general disdain for the "classic album as setlist" tour concept...it may seem surprising that I attended this show.
However, the Pixies are the favorite band of my girlfriend. And despite her best attempts to covert me, "Doolittle" really is the only album that ever stuck. Having struck out on tickets the last few times the Pixies reunion came to town, this seemed like a good choice for both of us.
And despite some reviews that seemed somewhat crotchety (as though the reviewers were bitter that people like me - the fans who were not TRUE fans back when it mattered - were getting this opportunity) I had a goddamned blast.
The seats were excellent - a box directly above the light booth - positioning us for excellent sound. (Yes, yes, I know that boxseats are not very punk rock).
With the band unexpectedly starting with a collection of b-sides, the crowd was understandably timid. But by the middle of the second tune, a lot of folks started losing their inhibitions, and I have to admit that it was a glorious thing to see. Folks were absolutely geeking OUT, and it was beautiful.
And after four tracks I'd never heard, Kim Deal finally began the opening to "Debaser". While I fully expected the place to go crazy, the mood was almost one of relief - as though the plane taking you to vacation had finally taken off after an unexpected delay. (Don't get me wrong, nobody thought that the b-sides were bad. But it was sort of like having a girl take you back to her place at the end of the night, only to suggest that you play with her cats for 20 minutes....its fun, but its a lot less fun than what you were expecting).
This entire mood changed with the emergence of track # 2 - the mighty "Tame", performed at an absolutely breakneck pace that highlighted the fact that David Lovering is one of the most underrated drummers out there. People were really coming to life, and that's the way it would stay for the remainder of the night.
Other highlights included "Here Comes Your Man" (a track I'd momentarily forgotten was on this album....i know i know, fuck you), "Hey" and "La La Love You". But really, it was more or less a buffet of whatever you liked best from the record, which I guess is the beauty of these album tours.
The other highlight was the sparse stage banter from Kim Deal, who may or may not have tumbled off the wagon. (She was drinking quite a bit from green glass bottles, and grinning madly throughout the show. I hope that she is in a happy place).
After a short encore that included an alternate take on "Wave of Mutilation" and "Into the White" the band left the stage only to reemerge to do a quick second set of material that I think was largely from "Surfer Rosa".
I must admit that I didn't know much of it, but it didn't really matter. Closing out the second set with "Where is My Mind" and "Giagantic" made up for it all.
(I should point out that the opening to "Where is My Mind" was a complete high point of the show - and arguably a high point of any live performance I've ever seen. All the house lights were up, and just about the whole damn place was singing along to Kim's ethereal "oooooh-ohhh" vocal. For a few days, just the memory gave me goosebumps. In fact, it still does. Sounds corny, but it was one of those live concert experiences that doesn't really translate on paper).
On the way back to the car, there was a lot of talk about people's memories of listening to old Pixies records back in the day. And it got me thinking:
It is an indisputable fact that I will never be able to go back in time and be the cool kid in high school with ridiculously awesome taste in music. I'll never be the smart, hip, geek-chic 19-year old, either. It just wasn't in the cards for me.
But when your girlfriend is so goddamned cute that the lighting guy has no problem handing over his copy of the setlist at the end of the night, I guess that means that life turned out ok anyway.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
As you probably know by now, there are quite a few rumors floating around the Internets about the uncertain future of rock legends, Aerosmith.
I have no idea what exactly the truth is....maybe Steven Tyler is going to part ways with the band, and maybe they're going to try and go the Van Halen route. Maybe they'll decide it's best to stay together as is. And maybe it's all a publicity stunt. I've no idea.
But I do know that I don't care. Because Aerosmith sucks, and they have sucked since about 1993.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't give this much thought, but I made the mistake of posting on Facebook that I thought that losing Tyler just might be the only thing that could heal Aerosmith's chronic case of suck. And this annoyed an old friend of mine, who indicated that I just might be a hater.
Am I a hater?
Well, kind of. The fact is that I am NOT a loyal-at-all-costs music fan (which is something I'll blog about in more depth in the future).
The crux is this: when I've seen how good a band CAN be, I hold them to that standard as much as I possibly can. And when it becomes clear that they can't get it up any more - or that they can't be bothered to - I stop loving them and start resenting them.
Is it fair? Maybe and maybe not.
Do I make exceptions? I sure do.
But Aerosmith doesn't get a pass. Because Aerosmith sucks.
And before I lay out all of the evidence behind my hypothesis, allow me to be perfectly clear about something:
I fucking love Areosmith.
I fucking love "Toys in the Attic". I fucking love "Rocks". And I fucking love "Get Your Wings" more than anyone knows.
While the smart kids in high school were toasting their broken hearts to the Smiths, I was locked in my room alone listening to the likes of "Home Tonight" and "What it Takes". And to this day I still listen to "You See Me Crying" or "Seasons of Wither" when I'm in the mood to get my vag on.
You want more loud guitar and great hooks than those pretty boys in Cheap Trick can handle? Go download "Lick and a Promise" or "Sick as a Dog".
You want to hear the sound of freaking out on angel dust? I recommend "Nobody's Fault".
Ever wondered what it would sound like if Jeff Beck was American and completely slammed by vodka and barbiturates? "Round and Round" is the song for you.
When the Pump tour came to the Capital Centre, I spent weeks and weeks waiting for the night to come, and that stupid tee shirt I bought at the show became the go-to item in my wardrobe over the course of my senior year of high school.
I loved Aerosmith because they were legendary.
I loved them because they had a catalog that would take me years to acquire.
I loved them because years before Tommy Lee smoked his first joint, Aerosmith had already done every bad thing in the world.
I loved them because they were newly sober - something that was inspiring to a sheltered, suburban kid like me, who was dying for someone to show me that it was ok not to get drunk or high. (Even though I really was just waiting for an invitation).
So, yeah: I don't want any thin-skinned radio rock nerds telling me that I don't appreciete Aerosmith, when I bought that ridiculous "Rock in a Hard Place" album.
But, you know, once the decent started, it never really stopped.
I distinctly remember my first listen to "Get A Grip". "Living on the Edge" might have been a bold single and "Cryin" was pretty solid, but after just one listen it was clear that damn near everything else on the record was sub-par.
I also remember seeing the name "Desmond Child" appear as a co-writing credit on one too many tracks, only to find upon further research that names like Desmond Child, Jim Vallance, Glenn Ballard, someone named "Frederiksen", and some other guy named "D Solomon" were ALL OVER Aerosmith's songwriting credits.
(Mind you, this was BEFORE they paid Diane Warren for the biggest hit of their career).
((And, yes, I fully know who Desmond Child is, and yes I know he's a goddamned genius. My point is that he's NOT a member of Aerosmith, though he appears to have done an awful lot of their heavy lifting over the years)).
Anyway, after realizing they didn't write their own shit (and hearing them be a little dishonest about it in a shitty music documentary), it was just a question of realizing all of the other things I hated about Aerosmith.
...Like the terrible fucking double entendres that have become a prerequisite to every goddamn Aerosmith song.
...Like the performance with Britney Spears.
...Like the videos that suggested that perhaps Mr. Tyler might have wanted to go down on his own daughter.
...Like the fact like Tyler and Perry look more and more like somebody's embarrassing drunken cougar grandmas with every passing day.
Now, if I wanted to take the high road, I'd admit that "Jaded" is a very fine song, and that "Falling In Love (Is So Hard on the Knees)", despite being an abortion of pun-smithing, had a really tight chorus.
But guess what? Hired help on both songwriting credits.
So anyway, Aersomith, I give up. Do whatever you want to do. You've lost me.
But if there's one thing I want them to know, it's this:
I'm not a hater, I'm just jaded.
And you're the one that jaded me.
Monday, November 16, 2009
So, the computer shit the bed a few weeks ago and it took a while for me to replace the power source and get some new RAM installed. Now she's purring along like the community-wrecking porn peddler that she is, god lover her.
And that means I'm back to my half-assed, last-to-market, never-been-proofed blog.
Speaking of last-to-market, how about that Chuck Biscuits story??
I first read about it from my muse, the lovely Carrie Brownstein (on her blog - via Twitter.....how cliche!), and I'm not going to lie: it DID stop me in my tracks.
Chuck Biscuits is one of those musicians that for some reason I just imagined that no one else really gave any thought to. Maybe because I'm a drummer, maybe because so few people took Danzig seriously, and maybe because the punk bands he was in were so.....(forgive me) fringe and dated to my ears by the time I had developed any sort of musical consciousness, but I just figured he was among the obscure artists that I would always consider to be mine and mine alone for adulation.
So when word reached me that he'd died, I was sad in a way that I couldn't even bother to try and explain to anyone.
You know, it's funny the thoughts that come to you when you get that sort of news....
I remember how he'd quit/been fired from Danzig right before I finally got around to seeing them in college, and how I was totally unsatisfied with Joey Castillo as his replacement that night at the Tower Theatre...Not so much because there was anything wrong with Joey, but because he wasn't Chuck, with his quarter-note, clang-thud combo which was basically the heartbeat of that awesome, awesome, awesome first Danzig record.
I sat there at my desk, taking an inventory of my favorite work of his. How the opening tracks of Danzig III and Danzig IV showcased some of his most powerful drumming. How his stint in Social Distortion gave the rhythm section a great big load of muscle, while still -- somehow or another -- making things swing.
But there I was at my stupid job, reading that Chuck Biscuits - drumming idol and unsung hero - was dead. And feeling a little bit alone in my sadness over it.
Imagine my surprise when the exceptionally elaborate hoax was exposed, and blogger/Danzig authority James Greene, Jr. received a virtual burning in effigy in the blogosphere for reporting on it! (Never you mind that everyone from Monitor Mix to too-cool-for-you Brooklyn Vegan jumped on the false story and pushed it out as fast as they possible could have).
Seriously, the hatred towards Greene was pretty astounding. And while, yes, I admit to being saddened at the news of Chuck's apparent death, and, yes, I was relieved to learn that he was still alive, I couldn't quite fathom how ANGRY some of the commentators on Greene's blog were.
What does this all prove?
1. The Internet is a weird place. Its a platform for screwed up people to say crazy shit. And that's mostly ok.....until you start messing with people's lives.
2. The Internet is a beautiful place. Who on Earth knew that a guy like Chuck Biscuits had so many fans, or that they felt so strongly about his legacy? The outpouring of fond memories for Chuck was something I found wonderful (and on a selfish level, rather validating of my questionable tastes).
3. The Internet is a great place for making yourself look like a doofus. I'm talking specifically about that person who was crying about being stuck in a state of false grief over Greene's mis-reporting. I hope that person goes to bed every night thanking his or her lucky stars that they haven't yet learned what real grief fells like.
4. Blogging about stuff that perhaps only you care about might not be worth it. Because believe it or not, someone else out there shares your fascinations. And they're just dying to piss all over you the minute you mis-step.
And that's in bad taste.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
But hand in hand with the excesses and the goofiness of Halloween are the wonderfully dark and creepy aspects of it: Horror. Terror. Ritualism. The occult.
What other holiday could better represent metal than the one that so effectively mixes together silliness and evil?
And, so, I offer you my Halloween 2009 Mix Tape. (Heh...."Mix Tape". The kids don't even know what that means).
(By the way, I'm totally copping this concept from Heavy Metal Time Machine and Noise Creep, and I admit that a handful of the same songs/artists appear on their lists. Sorry. Total coincidence).
Motley Crue: In the Beginning/Shout at the Devil:
The spoken word intro to "Shout at the Devil" is assuredly ridiculous, but it was also harrowing and confusing to my grade school ears.
First of all, WHO is that talking? He who breeds WHAT awaits me?? Am *I* one of those children of the beast?? WHAT did he just say about the dusts of hell?? WHY am I supposed to shouting AT the devil?
And do these guys really worship Satan?? I'm beginning to think they might be a bunch of pansies. (Except Mick Mars. What the fuck is up with that guy....?)
Whatever. There's little time for a 12 year old to discuss these matters, because that first chord kicks in, and Tommy Lee is caveman-banging on some gigantic drum, and everyone is starting the gang chants. Halloween has arrived.
Danzig - Twist of Cain
Did someone say gang chants and caveman drums? Look out, Danzig just showed up!!!
This song is the sound of walking in on a ritual sacrifice in your best friend's dad's basement.
("Hey Marty's dad, what's u......oh, fuck. Nevermind. I'll be leaving now.......Please.")
Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies
There are an awful lot of Alice's songs worth including, but this is hands down the creepiest one for my tastes. The lyrics are weird enough, but what the fuck is that bridge all about?
And who the hell let this guy on the Soupy Sales show?
Boris Picket and the Cryptkickers - The Moster Mash
Before you judge me, you remember this one thing: this is more or less the blueprint for every single Misfits song. Ever.
Samhain - Horror Biz
Ok, ok....Jesus, I'm sorry I made fun of the Misfits.
Here's some of the infinitely more frightening Samhain's take on "Horror Biz". (And if that's not good enough for you, here's "I am Misery". Or if you really want to punish yourself, here's the 7:00 minute version with the scary "Misery Tomb" intro).
Type O Negative - Black # 1
And damned close to actually being a scary video, were it not for the midgets in the tree. And the vampire goofball who floats across the screen at the 3:23 mark. Seriously, who is responsible for that?
Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
No explanation required.
Morbid Angel - God of Emptiness
Most terrifying video in history. God, this was a bad idea. I knew better than to watch the last 90 seconds of that shit. Those fucking Florida metalhead goofballs. I'm totally going to wet the bed tonight.
Monday, October 19, 2009
In the modern history of questionable musical taste, I'm pretty sure that no one has ever spent their weekend seeing PJ Harvey on Friday night, and Motley Crue on Saturday. And even if they did, I bet they didn't cross two state lines in order to do it.
((Honestly, I don't even remember it happening in this sequence, but the ticket stubs speak for themselves.))
Ok, so Motley Crue:
It's just too easy to diss them, with the ridiculous lifestyle and the drugs and the hair and the girls and the bikes and the image that every other lousy faux-nasty hair band aspired to. And to top it all off, they were so, so, so stupid.
But still...That's the easy way out. It's the easy way out to say that they were just copping the Dolls. It's the easy way out to say that each of them are lousy human beings. It's the easy way out to say that they always cared more about coke and pussy than making music.
Because the fact is that the Crue released two absolutely stellar hard rock albums. And even when carnal pursuits officially overtook their priority on musicianship, the band still managed to string together a list of hits that must have left Don Dokken tearing his hair extensions out.
No matter how many ways you want to discredit Motley Crue, somehow those guys pulled off ten years' worth of nasty riffs and outstanding hooks.
And, of course, there was Tommy Lee - such an absolute moron of a person, and yet one of the very few rock and roll drummers who you can actually can a true musician.
Oddly enough, I wasn't a huge Crue fan when I teenager. I liked them just fine, but in one of those awkward manifestations of sibling rivalry, I somewhat shunned Motley Crue for no better reason than because they were my little brother's favorite band.
And because of that, I never got around to seeing them live when the Dr. Feelgood tour hit the Capital Centre my senior year if high school....even though a lot of my friends went and raved about it the next day.
I'd have opportunities in the future - that silly tour with John Corabi, and I think even on that tour behind the God-awful Generation Swine album - but I didn't bother with either. Over time, as I began to appreciate "Too Fast For Love" and "Shout at the Devil" all the more, I regretted missing out on them.
So, when the reunion/greatest hits tour was announced, my co-worker Scott and I rushed to check out the dates -- only to learn that the closest stop on their tour would be in Philly.
Undeterred, we teamed up with my boss, Jeff, and his then-wife, Joanna (North Jersey natives who were plucked straight out of a Bon Jovi video) and planned to caravan up together Saturday afternoon.
As we were all pulling out of the driveway to Scott's house, I jokingly told Joanna to try and keep up with me, as I was leading the way.
"I get a fucking speeding ticket and you're gonna eat it," she spat at me.
I'm pretty sure that was her way of showing affection.
Well, we made it up to Philly with no speeding tickets (and, consequently, on an empty stomach). But, of course, things still went wrong.
The concert was at the Tower Theatre - a venue I'd been to at least twice before. I more or less knew where it was, but I asked Scott to print me some directions. And that was the last I thought of it, until we ended up in Center City, and Scott told me, "Ok, it should be just over this bridge."
I looked across the bridge at the Electric Factory - a different venue all together.
Somehow, we had printed directions to the wrong fucking club.
This was pre cell phone, so I has to find some way to get the message to Jeff and Joanna that we'd fucked up - a message I'm sure that they would greet with great frustration and ire.
So, we pulled over - of all places - in front of a bus on Broad Street. It seemed as though every horn in Philadelphia was honked at us over the course of the next two minutes, while I quickly brainstormed a plan.
"Jeff, please tell you wide to stop yelling at me," I pleaded, as Jeff gave me a blank, yet expectant, stare.
"Ok, the Tower Theatre is somewhere near Market and 69th Street," I stammered. "Market Street is right there. We're just going to have to go about 69 blocks West and we'll get there."
Since no one actually knew anything about the lay of Philadelphia, they all agreed that this was a logical plan. Gulping, I jumped in the car and led them through several very rough parts of Philly. I believe we stopped at every single red light along the way.
But no one actually gave us any trouble, and I didn't really think that they would. But I still knew I was going to catch hell from the New Jersey National Guard as soon as we arrived.
((Quick aside - at one point we crossed over a particular street and Scott immediately noticed that the potholes had cleared up, and the streetlamps were working, and that there was no more garbage piled up around us.
"What the hell just happened?" he asked.
"What happened? We just left Philadelphia, Scott, that's what happened."))
We arrived at Upper Darby and had about an hour to kill, so we went into a local mini-mall and decided to grab some absolutely nasty cheesesteaks. Noticing an overwhelming police presence, I asked a local cop what was going on.
The officer eyed, me - he was about my age, but a dead serious guy. One of those angry-looking Irish-Italians that Philly is full of.
"They've got their movie opening up tonight," he said, glaring at a bunch of amped-up African-American teenagers who were lined up to see "Belly" at the local theatre. He didn't really have to say any more than that. I remembered well how screwed up race relations were in the Philadelphia area.
The show itself was a blast. Nikki Sixx's new "find" opened up for them - a band called Laidlaw that was comically lousy and who couldn't get off the stage fast enough.
The Crue was on soon enough after that. They opened with a very strong "Dr. Feelgood", and I watched in amazement as Tommy played high hat, cowbell and snare at the same time, all while doing a stick twirl that appeared almost second nature to him - as though he had so much spare time that he was compelled to do something else with his hands while playing three other parts.
((The guy is a god of a drummer. Seriously. If you don't get that, I probably can't convince you of it. But he is, and this is fact.))
Just about everything was greatest hits that night. "Shout at the Devil", "Girls Girls Girls", "Wild Side"...you know the set. They even threw in their last great single ("Primal Scream") and their last not-completely-terrible one ("Afriad"), and they both sounded fine.
It's funny the little things you remember....I vividly remember that Tommy asked for some extra time between songs. "What Tommy, did you break something again?" Vince asked.
"Yeah, hold on," Tommy could be hear saying away from the mic.
"Yoooooooou fuckin idiot," Vince grumbled, to which everyone laughed. It seemed familiar and friendly - like two old buddies messing around.
Of course, a read through "The Dirt" reveals that things between Tommy and Vince were at an all time low at this point, with fist fights being semi-regular occurrences. Weird to recall that moment, and how wrong I was in my interpretation of it.
Very long story short, I was glad I went to this show - they were complete professionals and kept the dumb ass rock and roll shit to a minimum. focusing instead on a catalog that's pretty damn fine. Even to a self-conscious snob like me.
After semi-trashing them for the past several hundred words, it's probably worth noting that I met Nikki Sixx two or three years ago, when he did a book signing at the Georgetown Barnes & Noble for "The Heroin Diaries". It was a long line, and it ate up my entire night, but I did want to get a book signed as a birthday present for my little brother.
Upon finally reaching the front of the line, I mentioned this to Mr. Sixx just after he'd finished signing the book.
"Give me the book back....can I write him a note?" he offered.
Between the words "Kevin" and "Nixxi Sixx", he scrawled a quick "Happy B-Day!"
It was a kind offer, and a completely unnecessary one that held up the line a few moments longer. And it was a completely cool thing for him to do. Completely fucking cool and classy and awesome.
So, I'm sorry if I in any way trashed him or his band in this blog post. Here's a lousy photo I took of him.
((For the record, my brother never even noticed the autograph or the message. Seriously.)).
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
If you've been here before, than you know that I've got a weakness for writing too much and editing too little. And, so, there's a danger that I might try and get a little too cute with this entry.
I'll try and avoid that and get straight to the point: I had no fucking business being at this show.
Of all the shows I went to in the hopes of shedding my bad taste and becoming hip, this one stands out as particularly futile.
But in my defense, this wasn't my idea. It was the brainchild of my roommate and guitar player, Greg, who offered to buy my ticket if I would drive.
(Greg, you see, had driven his cargo van into a large tree one afternoon during a mysterious episode thought to be chalked up to low blood sugar and diabetes. In addition to smashed bones and burnt skin, the cargo van had been totaled and I had to sober up for a few weeks while I carted Greg's ass around in my then-new Nissan.....a car that somehow survived my stupidest years, including that one time when I drove it into a speed limit sign on the back woods roads of upper-Montgomery County while hopped up on asthma pills and Miller Lite.
This car will be joining Greg's cargo van up in car heaven very shortly, and I can't help but to look at her during these last days and think, "Damn it, God, take me instead").
Anyway, trust me, I know that P.J. Harvey is supposed to be awesome, and I'm not saying she isn't. But it wasn't my thing then, and I'm pretty sure it's not my thing now. I certainly went in with an open mind, but truth be told I was bored as hell all night.
Those NSFW photos of her vagina, however, still have my attention. Because, like I said, I have an open mind.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
It kills me to still have such affection for early KISS. I can't help loving almost everything about those early albums.....the muddy made-for-vinyl mixing, the comic book artwork, the contrived high school lyrics, the aura of suburban boredom, juvenile delinquency and cheap pot that oozed out of each of those first five or six records.
...And the hooks on songs like "Strutter" and "I Stole Your Love"....to say nothing of those fucking Ace Frehley solos on "100,000 Years" and "Black Diamond" and "Nothing to Lose" and about 16 other songs.
They all paint a very vivid picture of a moment in time that I was about seven or eight years too young to have lived for myself.
Of course, it's not exactly new news that KISS blows today. And it's not news that Gene Simmons basically sees his fans as the rubes who exist solely to support his whore habit.
I just never realized the level of the contempt with which they viewed their fans.
I admit that there's a part of me that wants to withhold my sympathies for all those folks in Manchester, New Hampshire silly enough to still give KISS their money. But that's not really the point.
The point is that KISS broke their word to their fans. KISS lied to them.
And they did it underneath the shittiest of pretenses.
Fuck those Flaming Youth motherfuckers. Fuck them and their wigs and their chest hair and their cosmetic surgery and their policy of contracting founding band members as their employees. (Look it up, kids....)
Sign the petition.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Perhaps he's in his tour bus. Or perhaps he's backstage at the 9:30 Club. Then again, maybe he's at the side of the stage watching Rev. Horton Heat warm up the crowd.
Maybe he's doing crank. Maybe he's doing a stripper. Maybe he's drinking vodka. Maybe he's telling people about the history of 1960s Manchester garage bands.
I'll never know, because I'm up here in Cleveland Park tonight, and I won't be making it down to the 9:30 Club.
It's a shame. There aren't many bands I'm dying to see anymore. But Motorhead gets a little more special to me with each and every gray hair that sprouts from my scalp.
With their near absence of chart presence, their career of financial insolvency and their refusal to give up, Motorhead just might be the most noble band in my world. As I grow older and weaker and more apt to live in a state of compromise, Motorhead reminds me that there is nothing more poetic in life than determining what it is that you love and excel at, and doing that until you can't do it any more.
...And, yet, I will not be joining Lemmy in Shaw this evening.
Because I have to be at work early tomorrow.
Lemmy would not approve. Lemmy would tell me to shake it off, be a man, and do something for myself tonight.....forget about tomorrow for a second and indulge in what makes me happy tonight.
I would have no answer for him, except that I somehow cast myself in the role of office villian over the course of the last several weeks, and tomorrow is a very high pressure occassion when that matter needs to be rectified, if only for the day. And arriving late, exhausted, and with a large blue stamp on my hand will not help that effort in the least.
If Lemmy were here, Lemmy would ask me if I cared what these coworkers of mine think, and I would tell them that I do not. He would aks me why I pain myself to conform to their system when I'm clearly not cut out for it. He would pressure me about my misplaced values, and the early grave that I'm driving myself into in this environment of politics and peer pressure.
He would tell me that tonight *he* will help make a few hundred people happy for two hours, and tomorrow, *I* will simply make myself a little bit more miserable.
And I would have no answer for him at all.
At the end of the day, it's my stupid decision to forego seeing Motorhead as some sort of perverted penance for being an asshole in the office lately. And it was a series of stupid decisions that got me to this point at work. But here I am and there they are, and that's just how it's going to have to be.
The fact is that there's something necessary and even healthy about being called out for being a fucking prick. Because if you emerge from the humiliation intact, you may yet learn humility. And its been made clear to me that I need a dose of that right now.
This does not matter to Lemmy. In all likelihood, Lemmy knows that I'm a fucking prick, and he accepts me as such. Which makes this whole gesture seem that much more pointless.
I ain't no nice guy afterall.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
So, the rumor mill is reporting that Charlie Watts wants to pack it up and retire from the Rolling Stones.
(Or maybe he doesn't.)
If so, I say good for him. The guy entered the band semi-reluctantly, and with the exception of a few dark years in the early-to-mid 1980’s, he was a workhorse for the band from the start. He’s at retirement age, and who am I to begrudge him of that?
No doubt, he’s had his share of haters over the years; As a drummer and a fan, I’ve endured a never-ending litany of complaints about his style – always from those who tend to know the least about the role of the rhythm section in a rock and roll band.
The fact is that while Charlie was never a technician, he was no Ringo: He was the king of rock and roll backbeat. And after laying down the mid-tempo chug of “Honky Tonk Women”, the badass intro fill on “Monkey Man” and the frantic solos on “Paint it Black” (to say nothing of the rimshot samba on “Sympathy for the Devil” - Jesus Christ was I happy when I finally saw the Godard film and learned how to play that shit), he’s got nothing to prove to anyone.
Keith Richards may have always been the soul of the Stones, but Charlie was the only one with any integrity at all….particularly in the past 15 years when Keith has been doing silly movies, mugging for the camera, flubbing his guitar solos, and generally getting his ass handed to him by Buddy Guy.
And with all of Keith’s big talk in the mid-80’s, it was not he, but Charlie who finally lost it and famously cold-cocked Mick.
(Like I said: integrity.)
Keith Richards himself has often said that Charlie *is* the Rolling Stones, and that he wouldn’t go on without him. Yet rumors persist that Steve Jordan or Charlie Drayton have already been lined up. Quite bluntly, I don’t think that anything could possibly kill and bury my love for the Stones faster than if they actually did that. (See: The Who).
Of course, there’s a better than average chance that his decision won’t hold.
In fact, RollingStones, LLC, have already issued a denial. Besides, Charlie has quit the band a countless number of times, and Mick and Keith are nothing if not persuasive. I even admit that I fantasize about Charlie coming back, the Stones giving up the stage show and the backing band and simply performing stuff like “Play with Fire” or “Ventilator Blues” on bar stools until one of the guys finally stroked out for good. I can’t imagine a more honest or graceful way for the band to exit.
That, of course, will never happen. Honesty and grace have never been the Rolling Stones' areas of expertise…which is exactly why Charlie makes for such a lovely oddity of a rock star.
Good luck, Charlie. You’re free to do what you want, any old time.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Despite being something of a nerdbomb evangelist for this technology back in 2001, I've only had a handful of experiences with satellite radio. This road trip would be a chance to change all that.
I admit that I lost probably a good hour flipping around various sports, talk and news stations, but my arrival at the back-to-back bacchanal of Hair Nation and Liquid Metal somewhere east of Front Royal would prove to be exactly what I needed after absent-mindedly hovering over an all-Springsteen channel for the better part of 15 minutes.
The experience was sublime. The following are a series of thoughts that passed through my head on my journey, including observations on metal as well as other random music generes I took in on the drive:
- If there's a better metal band than In Flames, I'm not even sure I want to know about it.
- I have no explanation for why I keep telling myself that I like Pantara. I'm pretty sure I just like that one song.
- Did Little Steven just say that was Dolly Parton sounding all 1960's NYC girl band?!?!? Dammit, I already forgot how it went. Fuck.
- An all Greatful Dead channel????? Ooof. There but for the grace of God go I....
- "All Nightmare Long" is the first Metallica song that I haven't found overwhelingly disappointing since.....oh, jesus, this is depressing. ...Since "Fuel"??? [EPILOGUE: Good thing I missed the first two minutes of this song or I never would have made it to the good part. I take it all back. Metallica disappoints once again. Why do I have to love your band so much more than you do, James?].
- The Troggs might be the worst band to come out of the 60's. Period.
- I could have gone the rest of my life never hearing "You're Invited But Your Friend Can't Come" ever again, and that would have been just fine. (Actual thought process as the song came on: "Jesus, what the hell is this? This just might be the worst fucking Crue song ever. What album was thi.....oh, right, right. Now I remember. Jeez, Vince.")
- Those guys in Lamb of God sure sound tough.
- Ok, Bruce, we get it: you're awesome live. Wrap the damn song up already.
- "Up All Night (Sleep All Day)" might have the most tard-tastic verse and chorus this side of Aerosmith, but that pre-chorus at the 1:00 mark is everything anyone ever needed out of a hair band.
- Is someone actually requesting all this Whitesnake and Deep Purple?? Good grief...
- Corrosion of Conformity - Clean My Wounds: HOLYFUCKINGSHIT! I FORGOT ALL ABOUT THIS SONG!! I MAY HAVE TO PULL THIS CAR OVER AND RAGE ALL OVER ROUTE 81!!!! YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH!!!!!
- Maybe I never gave Papa Roach or Slipknot a fair shake. Ah, whatever. Fuck 'em.
- Those poor bastards in Cinderella were actually really talented. Whoever was dressing them probably deserves to be shot.
- Whatever happened to Grandmaster Flash, anyway?
Monday, August 24, 2009
Gwar and the Misfits
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
Imagine for a moment that you are young and single, and you have been invited to a BBQ. You know the following things about the BBQ:
There will be a lot of people. Many of them will be of the opposite sex. The weather is expected to be good. There will be beer. It should be fun.
However, you have also been informed that there will be no burgers, no hot dogs, no ribs, and no chicken at this "BBQ". The only food that will be served will be veggie burgers.
In that sense, no matter how good of a party it is.....no many how many women you meet, or how many beers you drink, or how many friends you make......this will still be a very lame BBQ.
Do you go to the BBQ? And if you do, have you thus waived your right to complain about it? And if you end up having a good time and stuffing your face with BocaBurgers, should you be too embarrassed to tell your friends about it the next day?
Welcome to the dilemma of a Misfits fan in the post-Danzig era. Because a Misfits without Danzig is most certainly akin to a BBQ without meat. (Though as long as Jerry Only is milking this gig, this BBQ will never be without its meathead).
(Yes, yes....again with the Danzig).
Actually, the Danzig dichotomy needs to be addressed: Almost all punk rock fans have a soft spot for the Misfits, and most outright love them. However, these same folks tend to think of Danzig's solo career as little more than a punch line. So, why shouldn't a revival band without him be fine and dandy for everyone?
(Think about it: there is totally a precedent for this phenomenon of goofy lead singers of once-beloved rock bands, and the tools who go on to front them to great success).
I guess there are a lot of reasons, actually. First and foremost, the Misfits had been dead and buried for something like 15 years before Jerry Only brought them back with a new singer. And beyond that, there's something about the Misfits that is quintessentially teenage. Sometimes it just best to leave those memories as they were.
And then there was the fact that Michael Graves - while no doubt one heck of a trooper to try and fill Mr. Danzig's boots - was just a weird, weird pick. He was young, and sort of vaguely good looking, but not in any sort of punk rock way. He looked a little like a frat boy to me. He had pipes, for sure, but Ripper Owens he was not.
Regardless, I went to this concert on my own will. In fact, I'm sure it was my idea.
Took my little brother, who by now was finally over that episode at the Guns N'Roses concert.
This was in no small part because the Misfits would be joined on the tour by the one-and-only Gwar. Somehow, despite the fact that we were suburbanite little dorks, Kevin and I had known about Gwar and their sideshow tour for years and years. Together with the Misfits, it seemed like a good opportunity to kill two birds that we'd probably never otherwise hunt for.
The show wasn't particularly memorable. The Misfits brought a lot of energy and did the mainstays - Skulls, AngelFuck, etc. I even think that they played one of the Misfits songs that Danzig had taken with him to his future bands....(drawing a blank here, but it must have been "Horror Biz").
The point is, if you could forget the fact that you were watching a glorified cover band, it was a fairly fun set.
Gwar was.....well, Gwar was Gwar. They sang a lot of songs with gross lyrics ("Fish Fuck" stands out), and they made a fucking mess of the stage, as they were fully expected to. To say that they were "good" would be an overstatement, but they sure were entertaining, and didn't take themselves too seriously.
I'm not sure that can be said of anyone who came out of the Misfits camp. God only knows what part of being from New Jersey and dressing up like a zombie and playing punk rock is to be taken as sacred, but nonetheless, not having a sense of humor seems to have become some kind of an ironic curse associated with the extended Misfits clan.
Or so I was thinking right before I saw Jerry Only emerge in the 9:30 Club balcony and sign a bunch of stuff for teenage fans. I stood there with my brother and watched, thinking how cool it was for him to be making the rounds after his show, and how rare it is for a performer to be that accessible - especially a performer as legendary (um....relatively speaking) Mr. Only is.
After shaking a few hands, he made his way towards the stairs, close by where I was standing with my arms folded. I lifted my chin and smiled to him - I intended it to be a subtle but direct gesture.....I didn't want to be a fanboy, but I thought that perhaps he might appreciate a nice word from someone over the age of 17.
Jerry was having none of it. Locking in on me with his peripherals, he stared past me and strode by at full speed, totally dissing me.
Maybe it was the Samhain shirt I was wearing....
Sunday, August 2, 2009
As everyone can see by now, there's no better example of the shallowness of this culture than the dignity-shredding circus surrounding Michael Jackson's death. People keep tuning in for story after story about the newest absurdity of his strange death, and I can't help to think that we are somehow trying to distance ourselves from some sort of implicit participation we all had in his sad life.
All of that said, it would be wrong for me to try and deny a lifelong Jackson devotee of his or her grief. Because regardless of any actual relationship that we have with our favorite musicians, the fact that they scored and/or performed the soundtracks to the best times of our lives means that we will always feel personally connected to them on a level that is flawed, but very forgivable.
Which brings me to the big news of the past few weeks in the metal community: The celebrity break-up of metal godfather Ozzy Osbourne and axe-man Zakk Wylde. And why it makes me so, so sad, despite having no personal connection with either man.
Long story short, it looks like Ozzy has sacked Mr. Wylde. And by telling him through the press.
Now, it's not a surprise when Ozzy switches guitar players; throughout his career he's gone through them like Peter North's costars went through boxes of Kleenex.
But it always made news anyway, perhaps because so many of us have always felt that Ozzy spent the second and third chapters of his career searching for his next Randy Rhoads: It's no secret that he was absolutely devastated by Rhoads' death, and that no matter how much of a lunatic Ozzy had always been, the Rhoads tragedy seemed to be the fulcrum for the full out insanity that became Ozzy's cocaine-fueled lifestyle in the mid-80's.
(The obvious flaw in this, of course, is that Ozzy didn't "discover" Randy Rhoads: Rhoads was already a known name in guitar circles long before Ozzy poached him from Quiet Riot, which makes one wonder if his quest to be come a guitar kingmaker was somewhat doomed to begin with).
All the same, one can never deny that Ozzy's taste in guitar players was damn near beyond reproach: He cut his teeth with the single most iconic guitarist in heavy metal history; he flirted with the mighty George Lynch and academy award winner Steve Vai, wisely avoiding a committment with either (both are undeniably too ego-centric and visionary to be anyone's side-man for long); he gave Rhoads a platform to introduce to the masses a Robert Johnson-styled approach to simultaneous rhythm and lead guitar playing; and he debuted the maligned would-be wonderkid known as Jake E. Lee.
(Those who spent their teen years tearing through drugstore copies of Circus magazine - or perhaps Hit Parader in a pinch...but never Metal Edge -- received constant updates about Ozzy's frustrations about Lee, Lee's feelings of abandoment over their tattered relationship, and nearly gleefully tepid reviews of the flop that was Lee's next project.
Ironically enough, though, Ozzy's albums with Lee have aged surpisingly well. "The Ultimate Sin" in particular is astonishingly good when you consider how much of a mess Ozzy was at that stage of his life. Conversely, "The Blizzard of Ozz" showcases some of Ozzy's best work with Rhoads, but the record is absolutely plagued with terrible early-1980's production hallmarks that devalue songs like "Goodbye to Romance" to nearly complete unlistenability).
And, so, when Ozzy announced in 1987 that he would be introducing a 19 year old viruoso for his upcoming record, all eyes were on one Zakk Wylde. Would this be the new it-kid in heavy metal, or was Ozzy going to dud out once again?
No matter what you say about the album that was "No Rest for the Wicked" (certainly not a classic), one thing was for certain - the media unanimously gave Wylde their full endorsement on his debut. His obnoxious, rude, hyper-macho style gave Ozzy's music an ass-heavy feel that had not been associated with Ozzy since Sabbath. (...maybe on "Suicide Solution"?)
And although Ozzy had a long road todwards sobriety ahead of him, the rumor was that he was nearly paternal to Wylde, even roping him in when Wydle got out of control on the road.
Wydle would stick around on and off for the next twenty years. And over those next twenty years, Ozzy's life would finally see some seblance of balance for perhaps the first time: Not only did he begin giving some thought towards his obligation as a parent, but he also experienced a renewed level of success: "No More Tears", in fact, would mark the apex of his late-career artistic output. Ozzfest would prove to be a critical and financial success, and a launching pad for many a nu-metal sensation. He would even soon participate in an overdue Sabbath reunion.
All together, the events of 1990s should have firmly cemented Mr. Osbourne's legacy for once and for all. And the contributions of Mr. Wylde were very much a part of that. Those of us who rooted for Ozzy over the years were happy to see it.
Of course, the mastermind of his resurgence - his career manager and wife, Sharon -- also began a most shameful manipulation of Ozzy's image at about this time, most infamously by pimping him out to MTV in a truly repugnant display of exploitation.
No longer was Ozzy a visionary madman; he was now just an overmedicated nincompoop, and it was all laid out there for an entirely new demographic of viewers to see, who now may never know him as anything but a puttering old fool.
Ozzy seems to be on his feet again these days. His medication intake seems to have leveled off and he seems to be at his most lucid point since about 1991.
But I can't say that I trust his judgement. And I can't say that I trust his manager's judgement. And the manner of his dismissal of Wylde seems very much in line with Sharon Osboure's failed dealings with the likes of Motorhead and the Smashing Pumpkins:
It's rude, and it's unprofessional. And its sad for me to see, even though I have no good reason to care. None at all.
But I do recommend that this would be a good time for Wylde to reintroduce "Losin Your Mind" into his set-list.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Fred Armisen tends to make me laugh. A lot. But he also creeps me out to no end. And I find him a little annoying.
But Carrie Brownstein? That's a different matter entirely.
I know it's doomed for obvious reasons, but I still find myself falling more in love with the lovely Ms. Brownstein every day, and in the immortal words of Randy Owen, I'll be over the edge now in no time at all.
And giving love to Mr. Danzig? Now you're just toying with me.
C'mon, Carrie.....next time you're out east to meet the suits, give me a holler. We'll get together and listen to Static Age. Whaddaya you say?
Monday, July 27, 2009
Seattle Mariners vs Chicago White Sox
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
Lordy, Jesus......road madness, cigarettes and Jaegermeister would drop me like a dead moose these days. But then again, I've lost a step in my race towards the Grim Reaper. (He's patient, that Grim Reaper. And when he wants you, he'll find you. He isn't interested in making your job any easier, so I sure ain't interesting in helping him do his anymore).
But, I suppose I was a little more stupid back in the summer of 1998. Behold......
At some point, the music at the Showbox ended and we ran across the street to a swing dance bar where another live band was playing. The bartender was from Philly, and he gave free Jaeger shots to Fran the Man and to Ms. J, because there were Delaware Valley residents. (I was zombified enough that he wouldn't serve me. Even for money. And I was really bummed about it).
After last call, I have a fuzzy memory of a pizza stand where I was allowed to order pizza, but refused access to the lavatory. I was really bummed about this, as well.
And then...oh, Jesus.......Then we went back up to our shady 1940's downtown hotel.
I can't even begin to explain what might have been going through my head, but as we tumbled into our hotel room, the discussion became a little raunchy. There was talk of sexual naughtiness. Hell if I know what I was thinking, but I decided that it might be interesting to find out of Ms. J wanted to make out with me.
In fact, I believe that the exact words of proposition, as quoted by Fran the Man over the next several weeks, was the stunningly charming and romantic, "Hey....HEY! I daryou to makeow wi me."
Given Ms. J's recent-at-the-time history of calling my bluff, this was a really dumb thing of me to say.
And given that I was convinced that there was a spark to be lit between Fran the Man and Ms. J., it's an indefensible thing for me to have said. (Never you mind that Fran the Man's steadfastly insisted that he was not interested in her...what kind of a friend would attempt to hook up with the annoying girl that he thought was interested in his buddy....In front of his buddy?....In the same room as his buddy? Who does a thing like that?)
Jesus, this is icky, even ten years later.
Within miliseconds of my dare, I had been aggressively tackled by Ms. J and we careened to the floor in a drunken, clumsy, unattractive form of kissing. Her enthusiasm was a little daunting, but my inner Bacchus saw to it that we made the best of things.
I imagine that Fran the Man shielded his eyes before he (mercifully) cut off the lights - perhaps to protect our dignity, perhaps to protect his own.
He then (unmercifully) collapsed onto his bed, and began snoring loudly.
He had abandoned me.
Despite the fact that Fran the Man had left me to my own drunken devices to bring this horrible mistake to an end, it actually was Ms. J who, after several odd and surreal moments called things off before they got out of hand. Which was very thoughtful of her. I fell asleep there on the floor, and she sacked out on the bed.
No harm, no foul. Honestly, it was all really innocent, I guess.
Except it kind of wasn't. I really thought that things were meant to be between Fran the Man and Ms. J, and I'd yapped about it for the past several days. And there I was mouth-moshing with her while my best friend right there was in the room with us. There's nothing innocent about that.
And, frankly, Fran the Man and I both found her to be a little intrusive, and we each held a slight amount of hostility towards her for wanting to be one of the boys so badly that she crashed a road trip.
And we were all so absolutely, poisonously loaded that everything about this particular hook-up really stands out as messy at best and vaguely mean-spirited at worst.
(I don't even know why I'm admitting this; it doesn't have anything to do with music, and it certainly doesn't fall into the category of the kind of humorous confessional that I like to talk about. At least not when you're half-way honest about it).
((And making some wise-crack about how this particular hook-up falls within the theme of "bad taste" would be a little more rude than I'm willing to be)).
I awoke the following morning to Ms. J stampeding over my nearly lifeless body as she hurried to the hallway bathroom, which we unfortunately (for them) shared with the visitors in the next hotel room.
I rubbed my eyes and looked around the room, which seemed to have been trashed the night before. Recounting the evening's events with no small amount of physical and moral discomfort, I breathed heavily, and stumbled to our 11th floor window.
Heaving the heavy window open, I bent over and stuck my head and shoulders out for a breath of fresh air. At that moment, Fran the Man limply roused from his bedsheets, rolled over, and addressed me in his textbook morning-after croak:
"You can jump now, Thomas."
((In all my years of friendship with Fran the Man, this is undoubtedly my very favorite moment of his undeniable wit. There was no comeback, no appropriate call for mercy. I was to be shunned and punished for my questionable judgment, and I had no course but to accept it as I faced a hangover that was simply devastating...even in those days when I routinely laid a hurt on myself several times a week.))
"I think (Ms. J.) is throwing up," I mumbled, with the irony of my response lost on neither of us.
"Yup," he responded. "I sure did about an hour ago."
I turned and looked over the room with disgust. There was the spot on the nasty carpet where I'd slept all night. There was the bed I'd passed over to Ms. J. There were the countless items that the three of us had overturned the night before.
I was depressed and full of regret.
"Fuck, we have to go to that Mariner's game, don't we?" I asked Fran the Man, who had arranged a meet up with a distant cousin and his wife, for the day's 1:30 battle with the White Sox.
"Jesus, what time is it? Is it Noon, already?" he asked into his pillow.
"Do we have to go?"
An absolutely green Ms. J. emerged from the bathroom. She looked like she'd shown up at a brick fight without a brick.
"There is no way I'm going to that game," she moaned as she fell onto the bed.
I felt terrible for her. But I also was shamefully motivated to get out of the room as soon as I could, so I did my turn attempting to make myself vomit in the toilet (...an unsuccessful effort, despite the fact that the one-two punch of Fran the Man and Ms. J's stomach contents had somehow manage to clog the toilet, leaving a grotesque foamy yellow-green film all around the inside of the bowl.)
Somehow, I soldiered through a shower and dressed, and Fran the Man and I went down to the corner grocery to purchase for Ms. J a hangover kit (bagel, OJ, large water, Tylenol and rock candy). Upon our return she gratefully accepted our gifts and told us to go ahead to the game without her.
Fran's cousin and his wife we a little older - probably young 40's or so. And they were really friendly and great. Awesome hosts, and glad to meet up with us, even though the adventures of the night before undoubtedly left us looking like lost members of G.G. Allin's touring band.
Fran the Man was hanging on pretty well, but I was about to drop dead. From the minute we entered the stadium all I wanted in the world was a nice, tall, cold overflowing Coca Cola to help mask that flavor of day-old cheap beer and cigarettes that never quite gets out of you mouth the next day. But, naturally, I'd spent every cent in my wallet on alcohol the evening before, so I ran unsteadily around the concrete hell hole that was the Superdome, searching in vain for an ATM. (I finally found one somewhere behind the home plate area, a cruel joke of fate given that we'd been seated somewhere around the 300 level).
On the way back to the seats I searched just as feverishly for a water fountain, but couldn't find one anywhere. Finally, I got myself in line for a concession stand that moved as slowly as possible. As I sweated Jaegermeister and inadvertantly swayed back and forth trying to keep my balance it dawned on me that I was still quite inebriated. (This occurred to me after I did one of those one-and-a-half-step stumbles into the woman standing in the line next to me).
All I remember about the game was hating the stadium, and watching Ken Griffey, Jr. (who was part of that multi-year Brady Anderson, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa home run race) absolutely BELT a homer. Which isn't quite as exciting when you're indoors.
Oh, and I also remember generally feeling like shit on a English muffin.
One other thing that sticks with me is just how overwhelmingly friendly Fran the Man's cousin and his wife were. I mean, it was odd. I understood them being excited to see the East Coast relative, but why were they being so.....inclusive......to me?
(Faithful readers may have figured out by this time, that they totally thought that I was Fran the Man's boyfriend. This tended to happen to us
We really should have gone out with more girls...)
Fran the Man and I left the game and spent the afternoon bumming around Seattle, avoiding the hotel. He was giving me hell about the previous evening's activities with Ms. J, but I think he could also see a mixture of remorse and embarrassment in me, and I could tell that he actually felt a little sorry that it took me just this long to realize that Ms. J had been tracking *me* - not him - for the past few years.
But he liked it a little, too. I can be an amazing jerk to the people I love, and I had needed to be knocked down for an awfully long time. And I could tell he was kind of glad to see it done with no blood on his hands.
Some time before dinner, we headed back, and there was Ms. J, still lying in bed. There was a pail next to her, and the room still had the sick smell it had that morning. She hadn't left the room all day, and I felt pretty lousy about ruining her vacation.
I think we all had an awkward dinner together, but I don't really remember. The two of them sacked out early since we had flights the next morning, and I sat in the lobby and read a book by myself, feeling like a coward and a jerk.
Much of the following day was a blur. Ms. J was trying to be an adult about everything and I continued to avoid conversation with her, which was mean and immature. We boarded our separate flights and I can honestly say that I don't remember a thing about the next several hours it took to get to Philadelphia.
But I do know that I never saw Ms. J. again, and I'm fairly sure that her friendship with Fran the Man withered shortly thereafter as well. Which strikes me as just plain terrible. Friendships are hard enough to keep alive once you get past your mid-to-late 20's and I feel pretty much directly responsible for killing that one.
Am I over-thinking it?
Yeah, totally: Hooking up with people you aren't supposed to is a big part of your 20's. And, heaven's to Betsey, you all know that more than once I've been the subject of that awful "Holy shit, I didn't actually make out with HIM last night, did I?!?" moment.
In a lot of aspects, the way you manage that uncomfortable aftermath can be a big part of what defines your character as it relates to the opposite sex in those years. Chalk it up to a crazy night, and there will be a lot fewer hard feelings than if you go out of your way to act embarrassed. But, of course, that would necessitate my thinking more about the other person than myself, which wasn't something I was very good at.
The next few years, I had abysmal luck with women. Just terrible. I'm not sure anyone even knows how bad because for a time I just stopped talking about my many failures and missed cues.
And it occurs to me that there's a lot to be said for karma.