Wednesday, September 28, 2005

College Football Predictions Week Five

I had a great week picking winners in week 4. I went 7-3. The spread wasn't so kind as I went 4-6. My grand totals are now at: winners 21-19 spread 16-24

Here are my wacky predictions for this week. As always this is merely an exhibition of my inability to pick football games so please no wagering.

MICHIGAN STATE by 5 over Michigan
winner Michigan State
spread Michigan State

Navy by 6 over DUKE
winner Navy
spread Navy

Florida by 3 1/2 over ALABAMA
winner Alabama
spread Alabama

usc by 16 over ARIZONA STATE
winner USC
spread USC

PURDUE by 2 1/2 over Notre Dame
winner Purdue
spread Purdue

utep by 3 over MEMPHIS
winner Memphis
spread Memphis

COLORADO STATE by 4 over Air Force
winner Colorado State
spread Air Force

Virginia by 3 1/2 over MARYLAND
winner Virginia
spread Virginia

Clemson by 6 1/2 over WAKE FOREST
winner Clemson
spread Clemson

Texas by 14 1/2 over MISSOURI
winner Texas
spread Missouri

Monday, September 26, 2005

Rex L. Camino Reveals The Truth

I'd always suspected that Rex L. Camino wasn't what he seemed and he's finally admitted it. It seems he was inspired to reveal the truth about his identity after The Gas Guy's not too surprising revelation that he (gasp!) wasn't really a gas station attendant, but instead was a graduate student in North Carolina. This had caused some consternation to some who think that blogging can't be composed of fiction, but there were many who had suspected The Gas Guy wasn't the whole truth. The dude could write well and it wasn't like he was malicious in his intent. Rex's identity revelation is much more intriguing.

Crud Crud Goes Gospel

Scott Soriano posted a nice piece about his love for Black Gospel at Crud Crud. It was all spurred by a visit to Rev. Al Green's church.

I'm Like...

I am most like...

[which freaks and geeks character are you?]

[Take the Freaks and Geeks character quiz]

Yep, I'm most like the girl from Freaks And Geeks. Which wasn't a big surprise. Minus the difference in sexes and everything else connects. Except for the math part. When I was on my high school quiz bowl team and a math question was in the air I always put my pencil down. I was smart, but I had a rep as a burnout when I was a freshman. Some preppie dude in my algebra class would always get up to sharpen his pencil when I would just so he could mutter "Give me some drugs" in my ears. I guess because I wore flannel shirts over concert tees. I liked hanging out with the rock and roll freaks even if I was never really accepted or rejected by any of the numerous cliques that swirl around the halls of suburban high schools to this day.

Alive In 85 Part Two

Part two of my look back at the Top 100 songs of 1985.

51 RASPBERRY BERET, Prince and the Revolution (Paisley Park) (#2, July) I thought this would be higher on the chart. Prince was the man in 1984 and 1985. Absolutely and undoubtedly ubiqitous, he was on fire. Still I never managed to bump into a girl wearing a beret she had found in a second hand store.

52 SUDDENLY, Billy Ocean (Jive) (#4, June) My friend Clyde was a huge Billy Ocean fan which I found odd. Clyde was a dairy and pig farmer whose idea of fun was shooting doves. Go figure.

53 THE BOYS OF SUMMER, Don Henley (Geffen) (#5, Feb) Recently covered by some alternative rock band whose name escapes me although I liked the way they changed the line about "the deadhead sticker on a Cadillac" to a "Black Flag sticker" for an appropriate 21st century touch. The one and probably only Don Henley song I have ever liked which goes to show that I was already middle-aged when I was 18. It still has a yearning charm to it.

54 ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK, Murray Head (RCA) (#3, May) I don't recall this song making any kind of impact on me in 1985 at all.

55 IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY SET THEM FREE, Sting (A&M) (#3, Aug) If you love somebody, you wouldn't subject them to this slice of pomposity from the king of all egos Sting.

56 OBSESSION, Animotion (Mercury) (#6, May) Catchy slice of synth pop that I didn't mind hearing then.

57 WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER HERO (Thunderdome), Tina Turner (Capitol) (#2, Sept) I've got to shill for my homegirl from Nutbush, Tennessee. She does her best with this syrupy mess of a song and of course she kicked ass in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. 1984 and 1985 were her years much like Prince.

58 MATERIAL GIRL, Madonna (Sire) (#2, March) Ripping off both Marilyn Monroe and Ann Margaret and achieving superstardom was the way to go in the Eighties. The way she warbles the words is worse than chalk on a blackboard. I famously predicted she wouldn't last more than a few years at best before disappearing. Either it shows how stupid I am or how stupid the general populace is - take your pick.

59 BETTER BE GOOD TO ME, Tina Turner (Capitol) (#5, Nov 1984) Tina's most rocking song from the era, but how did those dudes from The Fixx get involved? Or is this the one with Bryan Adams singing along with her. Damn my memory is shot.

60 HEAD OVER HEELS, Tears For Fears (Mercury) (#3, Nov) I actually saw the video to this one before I heard the song. I'd been out drinking with Bruno and we got in just in time to see it on Friday Night Videos. I was captivated. It had romance and it had a chimp. The only thing missing is a football to the groin. The simple, but gorgeous melody still sounds good in the year 2005.

61 AXEL F, Harold Faltermeyer (MCA) (#3, June) Beverly Hills Cop was funny. The soundtrack was terrible.

62 SMOOTH OPERATOR, Sade (Portrait) (#5, May) Too smooth for me. She needs some grits to stick to her throat.

63 IN MY HOUSE, The Mary Jane Girls (Gordy) (#7, June) They've got the requisite Rick James connection so there's a level of cool about them, but I don't remember the song.

64 DON'T LOSE MY NUMBER, Phil Collins (Atlantic) (#4, Sept) I went cruising with one of my McDonalds co-workers in the summer of 1985. He had a Buick Century and he loved squealing the tires. That part was fun. The Phil Collins tape in the stereo wasn't. I never hung out with him again.

65 ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, Cyndi Lauper (Portrait) (#5, Dec 1984) Was this a spillover from She's So Unusual? I don't remember this one. Where's "She-bop" on this list? Didn't her ode to female masturbation come out in 1985?

66 RUN TO YOU, Bryan Adams (A&M) (#6, Jan) The second Adams entry on the list. The dude was the biggest Canadian export since Rush. Heck he was bigger than Triumph! This song does rock in that corporate rock school sort of way. His vocals are almost as shredded as the next entry on the chart.

67 GLORY DAYS, Bruce Springsteen (Columbia) (#5, Aug) Bruce can't sing!!! Send the epithets my way, but the man always sounds like he's strangling and it's only gotten worse as he ages. I suspect he'll end up sounding like Jack Klugman did in The Odd Couple reunion before he quits. He's a damn good songwriter though.

'Til Tuesday (Epic) (#8, July) I liked this light rock tune. The video made me want to stomp her loathsome boyfriend's skull in so I guess it pushed all the right buttons.

69 MISLED, Kool and the Gang (De-Lite) (#10, March) I remember this slice of rock funk because the Gonz was really into them briefly. It was okay in a middle of the road way.

70 WOULD I LIE TO YOU, The Eurythmics (RCA) (#5, July) The Eurythmics suddenly become some sort of weird sould band. I wasn't amused. Dave Stewart was also busy doing his best to ruin Tom Petty that year too.

71 BE NEAR ME, ABC (Mercury) (#9, Nov) Saw the video the same night I saw "Head Over Heels" and in Eighties speak I found it rather gay. I actually liked the song.

72 NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS, Paul McCartney (Columbia) (#6, Dec 1984) This one surprised me. I didn't think Paul was still hitting the Top Ten back then. It's typical mid-80's treacle.

73 I CAN'T HOLD BACK, Survivor (Scotti Brothers) (#13, Dec 1984) My memory banks have been wiped clean of this one. The only Survivor tune still in my memory is "Eye Of The Tiger" and I'm trying hard to erase it too.

74 SUMMER OF '69, Bryan Adams (A&M) (#5, Aug) I can't resist the Canadian any longer. It's cliched lyrics and looking back into the past rock and roll days of the protagonist win me over. For just about 4 minutes, I am Canadian!

75 WALKING ON SUNSHINE, Katrina and the Waves (Capitol) (#9, June) Finally we arrive at my favorite tune from this Top 100 pop songs list! Forget about the 2005 hurricane, this Katrina was all about the joy of the perfect power pop song. Most vivid recall of this song's power was: I was working an afternoon shift at McDonalds when the assistant manager Linda came in singing this song. She danced down the back of the kitchen extolling the song. Then she helped me turn burgers during the eveing rush.

76 FREEDOM, Wham! (Columbia) (#3, Sept) No wham, no bam, no thank you mam with George Michael.

77 TOO LATE FOR GOODBYES, Julian Lennon (Atlantic) (#5, March) Where a marginally talented dude gets a record deal based on his last name and the public goes briefly nuts. He never got to say goodbye to his father. I get it. I also have a huge dollop of sympathy for Julian for the way said father deserted him.

78 VALOTTE, Julian Lennon (Atlantic) (#9, Jan) Where above marginally talented dude really strikes a chord with a pleasing ballad that sounded much like his departed daddy.

79 SOME LIKE IT HOT, The Power Station (Capitol) (#6, May) I liked Robert Palmer better when he had a "Bad Case Of Loving You" and when Lee Perry was producing a 45 flipside for him.

80 SOLID, Ashford and Simpson (Capitol) (#12, Feb) Don't remember it.

81 ANGEL, Madonna (Sire) (#5, June) Don't remember it.

82 I'M ON FIRE, Bruce Springsteen (Columbia) (#6, April) Snoresville for me on this one. Anything post "Born To Run" always has a tough go with me.

83 METHOD OF MODERN LOVE, Daryl Hall and John Oates (RCA) (#5, Feb) More booming bad Eighties over production hiding what could have been a decent song.

84 LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME, The Thompson Twins (Arista) (#6, Nov) Pure drivel. It pains me to think about how bad the Top 40 was in 1985.

85 WHO'S HOLDING DONNA NOW, DeBarge (Gordy) (#6, Aug) Don't remember this one.

86 LONELY OL' NIGHT, John Cougar Mellencamp (Riva) (#6, Oct) The first salvo from Mellencamp's finest album Scarecrow was a good one. I was a huge Mellencamp supporter back then. It probably cost me some punk rock credibility with some, but just as I felt then - to hell with them.

87 WHAT ABOUT LOVE, Heart (Capitol) (#10, Aug) I always get the Wilson sisters mixed up, but I dig them both. One for her guitar playing and the other for her singing. And leave Cameron Crowe out of this.

88 CALIFORNIA GIRLS, David Lee Roth (Warner Brothers) (#3, March) It was the beginning of the end of the real Van Halen. I didn't know it at the time. I just thought it was a goofy lark by Dave. I bought it even if I thought it was lame. The world hasn't been the same since.

89 FRESH, Kool and the Gang (De-Lite) (#9, June) Got to give Kool and the Gang credit for being up on the lingo. It's a decent tune.

90 DO WHAT YOU DO, Jermaine Jackson (Arista) (#13, Jan) Don't remember.

91 JUNGLE LOVE, The Time (Warner Brothers) (#20, Feb) This is the jam!! Hell Yeah. Morris Day and The Time totally stole Purple Rain from Prince. Great funky track!

92 BORN IN THE U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen (Columbia) (#9, Jan) Man I hate this tune. I hate the Weinberg on steroids drums. I hate the way Bruce screams the words. I hate how stupid politicians wanted to use the song in their campaigns.

93 PRIVATE DANCER, Tina Turner (Capitol) (#7, March) More classy stuff from Tina.

94 WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO, Aretha Franklin (Arista) (#7, Nov) Slightly better material than her other entry in the Top 100, this is still mediocre when placed against her work for Atlantic in the late Sixites and early Seventies.

95 FORTRESS AROUND YOUR HEART, Sting (A&M) (#8, Oct) This song had to be a Police leftover. It's too good to have just been a Sting solo song.

96 PENNY LOVER, Lionel Richie (Motown) (#8, Dec 1984) I find it funny that Lionel is now better known as Nicole's adopted father. Not a big Lionel fan unless we're talking about "Brickhouse" or "Machine Gun" era Commodores.

97 ALL SHE WANTS TO DO IS DANCE, Don Henley (Geffen) (#9, May) Here's a Henley tune that I can hate. Aah, sweet normality.

98 DRESS YOU UP, Madonna (Sire) (#5, Oct) Don't remember this one.

99 SENTIMENTAL STREET, Night Ranger (Camel) (#8, July) Don't remember this one.

100 SUGAR WALLS, Sheena Easton (EMI-America) (#9, March) I remember the controversy over the Prince penned lyrics. But I don't remember the tune.

My look back at the Top 100 songs of 1985 reveals that the top selling songs of that year were for the most part total garbage. The Top 40 radio when The Ramones were young inspired them. The Top 40 radio of my late teens also inspired. It inspired me to seek other music outlets. I listened to college rock radio. I read fanzines. I kept my ear to the ground. It became easier and easier to avoid the top hits of the day. Which is what I eventually did. And now that I've done this little exercise in blog filler I've come to know that Top 40 died long before I thought it had.

CD Review: Against Me! - Searching For A Former Clarity

Against Me

The pre-release lowdown on Searching For A Former Clarity was that it stretched the boundaries of punk rock. I don't know if punk rock really needs its boundaries stretched by slowing the tempos and adding a can of studio polish that wasn't really needed. Flipper was probably the first punk group to slow it down and it's going to take much more talent than Against Me has to even come close to that sort of quality. A weighty inertia sabotages the proceedings and it likely leaves fans of Against Me's previous works scratching their head.

It's not that radical a departure. The usual themes are present concerning paranoia, corruption, selling out, self loathing, and the music industry. On paper it appears that Against Me should have come up with a killer album. The devil is in the details - the album is produced by ex-Jawbox D.C. stalwart J. Robbins and maybe that's the fly in the ointment. Credit should ultimately be given to Against Me's frontman, songwriter, and guiding light Tom Gabel for the ponderous sludgery present.

He rails against the city of Miami, Florida on the succinctly titled "Miami" which plods and stumbles as the leadoff batter of this fourteen song foray into mediocrity. Which happens to be the title of the second track; mediocrity that is as in "Mediocrity Gets You Pears (The Shaker)" which seems to be about some standard of purity versus selling out. My theory is that we sell out as soon as we're born. As Richard Hell wrote, "It's a gamble when you get a face" so even though the song actually verges on beng uptempo I'm just not that impressed or concerned about it. Stereotypes abound on the song "Justin" which tries to be about the horror of war. I just get hung up on the line "jocks and assholes still don't know shit about aesthetics" which just comes off whiny and too chiseled in stone to allow that a jock and an asshole somewhere might actually know something about aesthetics.

"Unprotected Sex With Multiple Partners" is about working in the music industry which is beyond dull except for the small inkling of a disco beat lurking around like a wallflower at a high school dance. A few songs recall Gabel's beginnings as an acoustic troubadour, but they are marred by his singular propensity of screaming every word in the same shrill monotone which I guess is supposed to impart a heavy meaning to every syllable, but actually works against the words over the course of the record. They all tend to lose any coloring except for loud. The "jocks and assholes" line doesn't seem so bad by the time you get to track fourteen. I did enjoy the song "Holy Shit!" for its judicious use of the exclamation point, its take on the surreal nature of reality, and the fact that its a tune you actually sing along with.

So Searching For A Former Clarity left me searching for the off button on my CD player. It will find an audience with the rabid Against Me fans and others I'm sure. And that's cool. To quote from a song of my youth, "the world don't move to the beat of just one drum". Against Me is on the Fat Wreck Chords label and they are the headline act on the Fat Tour 2005 which will make it to every state in this great union so you'll have the chance to see if I'm wrong or right.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Alive In 85

My 20 Year high school reunion is next month and I'm not going. It might be interesting to see what's happened to some of the people, but I felt like the cost of attending wouldn't be enough to cover any curiousity I might have. I'm still in touch with my closest friends from then and if I've fallen out of touch with others it just means we were never that close to begin with. As for the rest of my fellow travelers from high school; they could care less about me then and I'm sure time will not have changed that. Phony friendliness makes me want to hurl anyways. It's dangerous to venture too far into one's past. I used to feel that 1985 was one of the last great years as far as Top 40 radio was concerned. I mainly listened to punk rock and metal, but it sure seemed like radio was pretty good at the time when I bothered to turn it on. A glance back at the Top 100 songs of 1985 has caused me to re-examine that thought. The crap completely outnumbers the quality. I thought I knew it all when I was 18, but I obviously didn't know nuthin'. In tribute to those halcyon days, how about a song by song rundown of the Top 100 with snide comments out to the side supplied by the middle aged geezer I hope to become, if I'm not there already. Inspired by a post from Home School Blogger.

Part One:

*1 CARELESS WHISPER, Wham! Featuring George Michael (Columbia) (#1, Feb) I didn't have a clue about Wham! then and I'm glad I didn't.

*2 LIKE A VIRGIN, Madonna (Sire) (#1, Dec 1984) Only notable since it provided a song for Stiv Bators and The Lords Of The New Church to cover.

*3 WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO, Wham! (Columbia) (#1, Nov 1984) Okay, you don't believe how clueless I was to this band's existence; I bought a Choose Life button with no idea at all that it had something to do with Wham!...all I figured was that life was preferable over death. I do remember this song though. It's just complete drivel.

*4 I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS, Foreigner (Atlantic) (#1, Feb) There's a soft spot in my heart for "Hot Blooded", "Dirty White Boy", and "Jukebox Hero" but this song just curdles my blood. It makes me want to go hunt Lou Gramm down and smack him in the face for singing it.

5 I FEEL FOR YOU, Chaka Khan (Warner Brothers) (#3, Nov 1984) I like my Chaka whether it's of Land Of The Lost or Rufus Chaka. First song on the list that I do indeed like, especially the intro.

*6 OUT OF TOUCH, Daryl Hall and John Oates (RCA) (#1, Dec 1984) Yeah, Hall and his little munchkin sidekick Oates were getting severely out of touch by this point. The Philly soul was being replaced by lame 80's overproduction.

*7 EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD, Tears For Fears (Mercury) (#1, June) This tune went to number one. I loved it along with everybody else in the country. I've yet to get to rule the world though and I feel just a little cynical about it these days.

*8 MONEY FOR NOTHING, Dire Straits (Warner Brothers) (#1, Sept) "And your chicks for free." Perhaps the only recording featuring Sting from that year that didn't come off pompous and overbearing. It holds up well.

*9 CRAZY FOR YOU, Madonna (Sire) (#1, May) Wasn't this tune in Vision Quest? Madonna herself was seen singing in some dingy club. Oh if only she had never escaped the dingy clubs, maybe Londoners would still like us.

*10 TAKE ON ME, A-Ha (Warner Brothers) (#1, Oct) It's a slice of pure pop heaven and who can forget the animated video.

*11 EVERYTIME YOU GO AWAY, Paul Young (Columbia) (#1, July) Written by Daryl Hall, the best piece of Philly soul that summer. I can't say much for Young as a rocker, but he could sure sing purty.

12 EASY LOVER, Philip Bailey with Phil Collins (Columbia) (#2, Feb) This is not a drill, when you see the name Phil Collins, run away as fast as you can. It won't even be held against you if you throw your arms up in the air and scream like a little girl.

*13 CAN'T FIGHT THIS FEELING, REO Speedwagon (Epic) (#1, March) I've talked about the guilty pleasures of dinosaur corporate rock before so it shouldn't surprise people to learn I liked this tripe back in 85. I had a momentary crush on a girl I had known since 2nd grade and somehow I associated the song's lyrics with her.

*14 WE BUILT THIS CITY, Starship (Grunt) (#1, Nov) This song is one of the worst songs ever which in my book makes it one of the best. The paradox is rather blinding, isn't it.

*15 THE POWER OF LOVE, Huey Lewis and the News (Chysalis) (#1, Aug) Remember the bit about Phil Collins above? The same goes for Huey Lewis, though this time it won't be held against you if you curl up into a ball and cry.

*16 DON'T YOU (Forget About Me) Simple Minds (A&M) (#1, May) I was a senior in high school in 85. So do you think I liked this song or what. It was as if The Breakfast Club was written for me and me alone. And millions of kids for a generation since have thought the same thing. I also thought that Jim Kerr's Jim Morrison impression was groovy.

17 CHERISH, Kool and the Gang (De-Lite) (#2, Sept) Don't remember this one.

*18 ST. ELMO'S FIRE (Man In Motion), John Parr (Atlantic) (#1, Sept) I liked the film so I grudgingly tried to like the song. Now I hate them both. That's 20 years progress for you.

19 THE HEAT IS ON, Glenn Frey (MCA) (#2, March) Glenn Frey sounds like a girl! I know it's a rather lame insult, but that's always what went through my head when I would get subjected to his songs.

USA For Africa (Columbia) (#1, April) Absolutely terrible tune though I can't fault the idea behind it; let's help starving people. It would have worked much better if the famine in Ethiopa had actually been caused by nature instead of the communist government that was attempting to wipe out a huge segment of its population. Idealism goes hand in hand with youth - this song was played at our senior talent show and money was collected.

*21 SHOUT, Tears For Fears (Columbia) (#1, Aug) The annoying Tears For Fears hit single. Just let it all out already!

*22 PART-TIME LOVER, Stevie Wonder (Tamla) (#1, Nov) By November of 85 I had all but stopped listeing to commercial radio because WRVU 91 Rock had increased its wattage in the summer of that year. Junk like this was another reason why.

*23 SAVING ALL MY LOVE FOR YOU, Whitney Houston (Arista) (#1, Oct) You don't have to Whitney. Really you don't. Give your love and your big mouth to somebody else. I won't mind.

*24 HEAVEN, Bryan Adams (A&M) (#1, June) Don't remember this one.

*25 EVERYTHING SHE WANTS, Wham! (Columbia) (#1, May) And another one that passed me by. Darn!

26 COOL IT NOW, New Edition (MCA) (#4, Jan) It's goofy, juvenile, and an obvious Jackson 5 homage (rip off would be too harsh, don't you think) and of course I liked it in all its bubblegum splendor.

27 MIAMI VICE THEME, Jan Hammer (MCA) (#1, Nov) I didn't like the show so I wasn't about to like this keyboard dominated pastel shaded horror of a song.

28 LOVER BOY, Billy Ocean (Jive) (#2, Feb) Just what are the odds?

Teena Marie (Epic) (#4, March) That "Lover Boy" would chart one position ahead of "Lover Girl"? Just another example of the male dominated world of 1985. I liked the Teena Marie song better since she had Rick James connections.

30 YOU BELONG TO THE CITY, Glenn Frey (MCA) (#2, Nov) Why The Eagles should have stayed together: They could only inflict one song at a time onto the world. With Glenn Frey and Don Henley releasing songs the pain was doubled.

*31 OH SHEILA, Ready For the World (MCA) (#1, Oct) Don't remember it.

32 RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT, DeBarge (Gordy) (#3, April) I don't want to dance until the morning light. I was more of a drink until the morning light kind of a guy in 1985.

*33 ONE MORE NIGHT, Phil Collins (Atlantic) (#1, March) What a loathsome man.

34 SEA OF LOVE, The Honeydrippers (Es Paranza) (#3, Jan) Robert Plant retreating into the past and it was sort of cool even though I never would have admitted it to my heavy metal buddies.

*35 A VIEW TO A KILL, Duran Duran (Capitol) (#1, July) Very low on the totem pole of James Bond theme songs. Very low.

36 THE WILD BOYS, Duran Duran (Capitol) (#2, Dec 1984) A song so bad it managed to sell into 1985.

Chicago (Full Moon) (#3, Jan) Chicago actually used to make some decent records. Really they did. I bet this got played at many a prom that year. Of course, I didn't go to mine.

38 NEUTRON DANCE, The Pointer Sisters (Planet) (#6, Feb) When The Pointer Sisters were on Blue Thumb I dug 'em. When they covered Springsteen's "Fire" and made it their own I was with them. When they started doing the neutron I was out of there.

39 WE BELONG, Pat Benatar (Chrysalis) (#5, Jan) Pat always sang with such emotion, as if every word really meant something. I never really got it even if her hubby Neil Geraldo could lay down decent power chord riffs.

40 NIGHTSHIFT, The Commodores (Motown) (#3, April) I believe this was from a movie. I don't remember it.

41 THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER, Howard Jones (Elektra) (#5, June) Dude had mimes in his videos. 'Nuff said.

42 ALL I NEED, Jack Wagner (Qwest) (#2, Jan) The heavily processed vocals on the chorus as clean as an operating room never fail to make me smirk.

43 FREEWAY OF LOVE, Aretha Franklin (Aria) (#3, Aug) Aretha is only as good as her material. The material and production on this song stink.

44 NEVER SURRENDER, Corey Hart (EMI-America) (#3, Aug) The sunglasses at night dude had another hit? Where was I when this was happening?

*45 SUSSUDIO, Phil Collins (Atlantic) (#1, July) The apocryphil story: What Phil Collins got when he combined his girlfriend's first and last name together. She was hanging with Phil so she had it coming. Phil says the title is meaningless which is fitting for him too.

46 STRUT, Sheena Easton (EMI-America) (#7, Nov 1984) Sheena was quite fetching back in those days, but I can't recall the song. I must have been too busy looking and not listening.

47 YOU GIVE GOOD LOVE, Whitney Houston (Arista) (#3, July) Do we really want to know who was giving Whitney good love back then. Why didn't she go away and marry that guy from the boy band sooner?

48 THE SEARCH IS OVER, Survivor (Scotti Brothers) (#4, July) Survivor was still riding the tiger in 85. Bands that should have been one hit wonders often get the kind of bounce Survivor did.

49 MISSING YOU, Diana Ross (RCA) (#10, April) She didn't look like Michael Jackson yet. That's about all I can tell you.

*50 SEPERATE LIVES, Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin (Atlantic) (#1, Nov) Thankfully this tune was erased from my memory banks. Black Flag's Damaged album is a godsend.

Part two next week. We'll see if the bottom of the Top 100 of 1985 gets any better.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shameless Attempt To Make The Cute Baby Alert

I know I've posted some pics of Liam in the past couple of weeks, but in a shameless attempt to make the Nashville Is Talking cute baby alert how about this picture of Liam looking rather befuddled:

CD Review: Old Skars And Upstarts 505

Slamdance on up boys and girls for the fifth installment of Old Skars And Upstarts as compiled by legendary skater, punk rocker, and musician Duane Peters. If you're into Dead Boys inspired, Stooges conspired, and black leather attired puking punk rawk pablum this is the set for you. It contains thirty tracks of varying states of quality and one suspects sobritey, but that's part of the charm of a various artists set. Just consider the album to be a mix CD as compiled by your best friend Duane and just enjoy the ride; bumps and all.

Here's my incredibly unobjective song by song exposition of my opinions using the notes I took while listening. Duly considered and also noted: the fact that writing notes while listening to punk rock may defeat the whole purpose of the music's intent.

01. Bad Lieutnants - Arizona Love - A western themed instrumental, if it wasn't so short it would be useless. Plus they can't spell.

02. Die hunns - Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love - A good sludgy version of an evergreen classic.

03. The Briefs - Human Thermometer - The Briefs are punks who've obviously heard The Beatles. Snappy pop punk.

04. Prima Donna - Double Crosser - Iggy and Stiv adherents.

05. The Bones - Not A Love Song - Rousing Rancid, Clash, Social Distortion style sing along.

06. Angel City Outcasts - Rev It Up, Turn It Loose - Revved up pub rock dreck.

07. Turbo Negro - Suffragette City - Cover of the Bowie classic is sleazy enough for me.

08. Black Halos - Burning Trash - Another winner from one of the best punk bands around.

09. Epoxies - Don't Talk To Me - New wave punk with a female front.

10. The Lizzies - Baby Black And Blue - It's got an insane BIG sound and you really think it's going to rock and then the singer opens his mouth and out comes a gothic influenced Sisters Of Mercy baritone that just seems out of place.

11. Ducky Boys - Scars - Cali punk with woe is me lyrics.

12. U.S. Bombs - He's The Man - Souped up garage rocker with nice "Secret Agent Man" guitar flourishes.

13. The District - I Crisis - Britpunk flavored rock with all of the standard emotions.

14. Amazombies - Blind Devotion - All girl trio that can't even rock as hard as Veruca Salt.

15. Mad Sin - Straight To Hell - Garage-abilly punk. Let me know when it's over.

16. Street Dogs - Drink Tonight - This is the real punk rock article here: fast hardcore with growl and grumble singer. The song even includes a mosh pit soundtrack outro.

17. River Boat Gamblers - Smoking Crack With L.A. Reid - Best title of any tune on the comp. Good straight up punk rock.

18. The Deep Eynde - Zombie Kids - Schlock.

19. The Duane Peters Gunfight - Blow My Brains - Don't just go by the title. This is actually a very melodic and tuneful song.

20. Civet - Black Day - Never liked these ladies. 'Nuff said.

21. The Addicts - Steamroller - Man, this song has a BIG BIG drum sound. New wave never went away.

22. The Worthless - Fall In Love - A highlight of the album even if The Dead Boys homage verges on worship.

23. The Skulls - I Don't Need Nothing - You don't need nothing but this awesome Skulls song to get you through a trying day.

24. Hollow Points - Ropes End - I've been a bit cool on these guys in the past, but this cut is pretty screaming.

25. Blood For Blood - Hanging On The Corner - A metallic slab of more woe is me angst punk.

26. Roger Miret & The Disasters - Lower East Side - Slop rock crank it up junk.

27. The Stitches - Monday Morning Ornaments - A geniunely fun song with no artifice present.

28. The Orphans - Underage Girlfriend - The best female punk stuff on the record is also one of the best songs on the disc.

29. R.X. Son - Because Your My Friend - Uggh, more pub rock. Dr. Feelgood will never be topped, so everybody else just needs to cool it.

30. The Kings Of Nuthin' - Wild In The Streets - I suppose the intent of this Circle Jerks cover is to be dreadful so I guess it's beside the point for me to say that it is.

Old Skars And Upstarts 505 is out on Disaster now. Grab yourself a copy and come up with your own opinions. Duane Peters has also organized an Old Skars And Upstarts 505 tour. You can learn more details here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Random North Mississippi Writings

Postings have been light because I've been out of town on business for a few days. I got to visit my favorite bookstore in a brief bit of fun and I found a couple of H.L. Mencken books for 75 cents apiece. They should make for some good reading and maybe even help me with my blogging. I'm also busy trying to finally put together a bunch of short stories I have written about the summers I spent as a kid in North Mississippi titled Under The Shadow Of Colonel Falkner in reference to William Faulkner's grandfather. So how about a random bit of my notes from this pursuit. A little backstory: I used to visit my grandmother every summer in Ripley, Mississippi. I also lived there for about a year when I was around kindergarten age. My grandmother didn't have a television, no air conditioning, and the bathtub didn't work. So everybody took turns bathing in a big tin bucket. It would be brought into the kitchen since the bathroom was too small. On with the brief snippet of notes:

When we'd get bored, there was always Grandma's photo album to look through. It was the same every year, except maybe there would be a baby picture of some new grandchild. The main reason to leaf through the thing was because of the funeral pictures of one of our cousins, a little girl that was run over in front of Grandma's house. There was page after page devoted to her. News clippings were also present, but the most macabre were the photos of her sweet face serene in her coffin. The adults would always admonish us to stay in the yard. We would end up like her if we played in the street. While they meant well, I never really listened to them. I was too busy being creeped out by the fact that they would take photos of a dead body.

We used to climb the trees in Grandma's yard. One tree was big enough for a gang of us to climb. We would dangle from a limb about 12 feet off the ground and dare ourselves to fall to earth. It took several minutes to work up the nerve, but we always did and we would tumble to the ground at the speed of gravity. We liked to call it taking the elevator. It was fun to climb, but ultimately not a challenge.

A maple tree on the side of the house provided the most fun. You could climb to the very top of this tree. I could barely get to the lowest reaches of it during the summer of the slingshot craze. I remember my older cousins going toward the top, spitting on us poor kids at the bottom. A year passed and it was a summer visit without cousins. It was just my bored self. So I learned to climb the maple. I was never as brave as my cousins when they were around, but I knew in my mind that I was just as good as they were. A few days into my visit I had gone higher in the tree then anybody before. I was just small enough to reach the very top with nothing but sky above. I tucked myself into a position where I believe I could have slept without fear of toppling out. I liked to imagine I was a barnstorming crop duster doing barrel rolls. I was so far up I could barely hear my mother call me into the house for supper. I would eat as fast as possible so I could escape the dreaded heat of the house so I could scamper back up the tree where the air was a little bit cooler. My soul would take a little hit the next year. The tree would be chopped when I came to visit again. It was like Boo Radley's father cementing the hole in the tree.

College Football Predictions Week Four

After three weeks of picking games my record stands at an anemic 14-16 when picking outright winners and 12-18 when picking against the spread. Lets hope I can finally get on track this week.

LSU by 6 1/2 over Tennessee
winner LSU
spread LSU

OHIO STATE by 7 over Iowa
winner Ohio State
spread Ohio State

MINNESOTA by 3 1/2 over Purdue
winner Purdue
spread Purdue

CLEMSON by 3 over Boston College
winner Clemson
spread Clemson

Georgia by 14 1/2 over Mississippi State
winner Georgia
spread Georgia

ALABAMA by 15 1/2 over Arkansas
winner Alabama
spread Arkansas

Notre Dame by 13 1/2 over WASHINGTON
winner Notre Dame
spread Washington

usc by 21 1/2 over OREGON
winner USC
spread USC

Michigan by 2 1/2 over WISCONSIN
winner Wisconsin
spread Wisconsin

Penn State by 7 1/2 over NORTHWESTERN
winner Penn State
spread Penn State

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I'm Now A Soccer Dad

Harper Lee had her first soccer game this morning. She's only 3 so the game was a bit chaotic. 8 kids are on the field at a time and the action resembles a rugby scrum more than a soccer game, but it was fun. The kids all had a blast and Harper scored a goal in the waning minutes. I'll get to do this every Saturday until the end of October so I can now officially go by the title of soccer dad.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

CD Reissue: Run-DMC - Tougher Than Leather

I didn't buy Tougher Than Leather when it first came out. I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again here. I was visiting Memphis and the album had been out for a little while. I had heard the single, "Mary, Mary", and I liked it. Especially since it sampled The Monkees. I was in the Frayser neighborhood when I noticed a small record store in a strip mall. I had a little bit of money on me so I decided to see what they had. The little bit of money is the key thing. I was on a super tight budget since I was between jobs. I entered the store full expecting to leave with Tougher Than Leather but I didn't.

When I walked in the owner greeted me and told me he had a few rock and roll records in the corner. But I wanted to look in the hip-hop section. I was after Tougher Than Leather. They had plenty of copies so I grabbed one. I was about to head to the counter to pay when I noticed they had Public Enemy's new one It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. I had heard "Bring The Noise" and "Don't Believe The Hype" on college radio and all I had heard from Tougher Than Leather was "Mary, Mary". I couldn't buy them both. A choice must be made.

As I left the shop a teenage girl sitting on the curb asked me what I had just bought since the owner was her father. "Public enemy's new one" I replied. "That's def," she said and I knew I had made the right choice. But what was wrong was I then forgot about Tougher Than Leather. I passed up other chances to buy it and soon I forgot about it. I wasn't the only one as it failed to match the sales of Raising Hell. Which is really not fair. Raising Hell was a phenomenon and it's always hardest to compete with yourself.

What's ironic is that in the liner notes to this reissue Chuck D. of Public Enemy says Tougher Than Leather is the "greatest rap album ever recorded. I don't know if I would even say it's the best Run-D.M.C. album, but I'm loathe to argue with Chuck. It really is great. As I'm hearing "Run's House" I think it just might be the best single cut they've ever recorded. "Beats To The Rhyme", "Radio Station" and the title cut all get me grooving. Run-D.M.C. and Davy D. are at the producer helm this time around and perhaps they threw just enough of a little too much in the mix for this album to rise to the top like Raising Hell did. One of the bonus cuts included is the sublime "Christmas In Hollis". The video of that song is a staple on VH1 on Christmas Day.

If only I had saved some Christmas money back in the day I might have walked out of that store with both It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back and Tougher Than Leather. Instead I just ended up blasting Public Enemy out my car and friend's cars that summer. It would have been even cooler to have been blasting both albums. What a one-two punch it would have been. But I can make up for lost time now because I know where I want to stay. "Who's house, Run's house!"

The Rocket

This story brought tears to my eyes. Be sure to tell your mother you love her if you can.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

CD Reissue: Run-DMC - Raising Hell

"Cut the head off the devil and I throw it at you" - "Raising Hell"

Raising Hell is the magnum opus. It's the first rap album to make the Top Ten. It played in the 'hood, suburbia, down on the farm, even at my Grandma's house. It's where they blow the roof off the 'mutha. Run-D.M.C. were at the top of their game and Raising Hell flows and swaggers with poetry, humor, and style. The minimalism of the past is not completely gone, but producers Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin add more flair to the mix while Jam Master Jay cuts up more than ever before.

The bells from the Bob James cut "Mardi Gras" are the musical highlight of opening song "Peter Piper" which has comical fractured nursery rhyme lyrics. A sample of The Knack's "My Sharona" drives "It's Tricky" to "rock a rhyme" heaven. No doubt that the cover of "Walk This Way" helped to revive the career of Aerosmith, especially after they appeared in the video. "Hit It Run" is one of my favorites with D.M.C. doing all the rhyming while Run hits with some human beat box action. "Raising Hell" is a return to amped up hard rock with Run-D.M.C. definitely the rulers of rap and cold crushing. "You Be Illin'" has one hilarious scene after another. "Proud To Be Black" puts an explanation point on the proceedings and left me wanting more on the original release. The reissue adds a quintet of bonuses with the most enlightening being an a cappella version of "My Adidas" which rocks even without crunchy beats.

Raising Hell really takes me back when I listen to it. It sounds just as new today, but I've got so many good memories of time in the past spent with friends listening to its thumping funk. Gonz and I spent many a summer afternoon cruising around with the speakers blasting it for ourselves and the people we passed. The masses were in need of educating. Never mind that the album went gold and platinum simultaneously. One of the best things about Run-D.M.C. was how they could have incredible success without a hint of being sell outs. Nobody questioned their street cred then. I'm sure that people might have thought me and Gonz were a bit strange as we drove by rapping along to "Proud To Be Black" at the top of our voices, but there's no helping people for taste sometime.

I still rap along to the song even if I am a lily white boy. Run-D.M.C. were all about breaking down the boundaries that divide. They taught us all that "if you ain't devastating you're in bad shape." So go and devesate. Raise some hell right now.

New Used Amp

It will be a little louder around the house since I'm about to buy a used Line 6 amp. It won't completely replace the old Fender Twin Reverb I sold a bunch of years ago, but it does a decent job at replicating the tube amp sound. Who knows; I might actually find some people to jam with again and end up on stage somewhere.

Soulfish Stew - The Magazine

I found this magazine cover generator from Bubblegum Fink.

College Football Predictions Week Three

Once again I proved last week that I don't know nuthin' about picking no football games. My record was 4-6 picking outright winners and 4-6 against the spread. My record is now 8-12 for both picking winners and against the spread. So prepare to be dazzled by my non-ability to pick games again this week. I'm finally going with Vandy this week so they'll probably lose.

VANDERBILT by 3 over Mississippi
winner Vanderbilt
spread Vanderbilt

Baylor by 6 over ARMY
winner Baylor
spread Army

NOTRE DAME by 6 over Michigan State
winner Notre Dame
spread Notre Dame

UCLA by 6 1/2 over Oklahoma
winner Oklahoma
spread Oklahoma

Alabama by 2 over SOUTH CAROLINA
winner South Carolina
spread South Carolina

FLORIDA by 6 over Tennessee
winner Florida
spread Florida

INDIANA by 2 1/2 over Kentucky
winner Kentucky
spread Kentucky

Miami, Florida by 7 over CLEMSON
winner Miami
spread Miami

Purdue by 7 1/2 over ARIZONA
winner Purdue
spread Purdue

unlv by 1 1/2 over NEVADA
winner UNLV
spread Nevada

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

CD Review: The Bloody Hollies - If Footmen Tire You...

The Bloody Hollies have the best band name I've heard in the last ten years. I get images of a deranged Graham Nash feeding on the corpse of Buddy Holly whenever I hear it. The music lives up to the name. This is just the kind of ass kicking transcendental musical medication the world never gets enough of. It's rock and roll distilled to its essence; 100 proof savage punk rock libation liberation. Just a bar fight waiting to happen. This Buffalo, New York band have just put out a new album called If Footmen Tire You... that should vanquish any sad thoughts you've been thinking lately and inflame your good ones.

They're raw and primitive as it should be. "Watch Your Head" is a thumping, humping prototypical rocker stumping for the party of rock and it gets my vote. There's heat coming off it in waves and just when you think the tempo and tension can't get any higher the next song, "We're So Anxious" turns the dial up another notch. This one goes up to 11. The Michael Argento powered drums and Phillip Freedenburg bass go on the prowl for the bridge of "Gasoline" while guitarist and vocalist Wesley Doyle takes a short break. It's hypnotic and powerful because you just know that when Doyle rejoins them the song is going to be exponentially more explosive than before. It's a simple trick in dynamics that some bands never bother to learn.

They make like a harder edged Mummies with the nervous energy of "Right Between The Eyes" which features a spidery guitar riff framing the song like a web. "Cut It Loose" is cruddy, muddy, and bloddy good stuff. The album is all exposed nerves with razor sharp tight lines that never let up. There is even potential for power pop lurking with "Infatuation Of The Girl" which might have been a good Undertones song 25 years ago. There's a definite hint of Feargal Sharkey in Doyle's voice when he's really singing.

He mainly sticks to yelling and it matches the songs to perfection. He treats his guitar like a weapon, too. "Dirty Water" (not The Standells song" hits with a physical force. The last song "Raised By Wolves" uses some deft slide guitar to bring the album to a fitting ending. It was produced by Jim Diamond in Detroit and he gives the album a gritty Seventies abandoned muscle car tone. If Footmen Tire You... by The Bloody Hollies is out now on Alive Records.

CD Reissue: Run-DMC - King Of Rock

"The baddest of the bad, the coolest of the cool" kicked it up a notch with King Of Rock, an album as heavy as anything Led Zeppelin ever did. Run-D.M.C. were doing the rap and rock thing long before Kid Rock, Korn or Limp Bizkit. They did it better too. Slamming beats, stun force guitars, and super def rhymes abound on Run-D.M.C.'s sophomore release now reissued by Legacy with 4 bonus cuts. If there was any doubt before that hip-hop could cross over into rock and roll, it had to be dispelled by King Of Rock.

I can trace my appreciation of Run-D.M.C. to two people; one was my mother's best friend's kid, Larry, and the other one was David Letterman. I first heard Run-D.M.C. thanks to Larry. He was around 5 years younger than me and he was really into roller skating. They were playing lots of hip-hop at the roller rink. He started talking about how great Kurtis Blow was first. Then it was "Planet Rock" followed by Grandmaster Flash. It was interesting, but I was just starting to listen to punk rock and I figured Larry was a lightweight when it came to musical appreciation. I was wrong. I was wrong to be a musical snob and I was wrong about his love of hip-hop. He became obsessed about the genre. Soon he became ahead of the game. He'd get records before they even came out and he had an insane ability to pick whether something would be big or not.

So I had heard Run-D.M.C. through him. It was my appreciation of Late Night With David Letterman that would really seal the deal. The "King Of Rock" music video features Run-D.M.C. visiting a rock and roll museum and the tour guide is Larry "Bud" Melman from Late Night. The simple fact that he was in the video got me to watch the whole thing. The genius of it all came down on me with the assault of a thousand drum machines. It was quite punk. I went out and bought the record and became one of the millions who couldn't wait to see "Jam Master Jammin'."

King Of Rock is one hell of a record from start to finish. The one-two punch of "Rock The House" and "King Of Rock" begin the show before "You Talk Too Much" adds some comic relief. It's ironic that rappers would be dissing somebody who talks too much. "Jam Mater Jammin'" could pass for industrial music. Yellowman makes a guest appearance on the dub flavored "Roots, Rap, Reggae" and Rick Rubin gets credit fo the mix to "Can You Rock It Like This" which also featured some ghost writing by LL Cool J. "You're Blind" chugs along with voices meshing so you can hear a new culture coalescing while the drum machines pound. Highlights of the bonus tracks: "Slow And Low" which would later show up on the Beastie Boys Licensed To Ill album and the performance of "King Of Rock" at Live Aid - Run-D.M.C. were the only rap act invited.

You "could use some glasses like D.M.C." if you can't see the greatness of King Of Rock. So "let the poppers pop and the breakers break" because together we can all celebrate Run-D.M.C.'s continued influence and impact. They are forever "brand new, never old school."

Monday, September 12, 2005

CD Reissue - Run-DMC

You try to bite lines, but rhymes are mine

Youse a sucker MC in a pair of Calvin Klein

Comin from the wackest, part of town

Tryin to rap up but you can't get down

You don't even know your english, your verb or noun

You're just a sucker MC you sad face clown

from "Sucker MC's"

Run-DMC's self titled debut dropped in March 1984 and it was big. It became the first rap album ever to go gold. The innovative mimimalism, the heavy beats, and the addition of some hard rock flourishes propelled Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and "Jam Master" Jay Mizell of Hollis, Queens to the top of hip-hop. They proved that the Bronx didn't have a monopoly on funky fresh rhymes and like Public Enemy later was to rap - "that a deejay could be a band". The next few years would see the hip-hop culture cross over into rock and roll with Run-DMC leading the charge with the guidance of Russell Simmons, Larry Smith, and Rick Rubin to help along the way. Those people who were uprockin' to "It's Like That" in 1984 knew the music was on the one, but I wonder if they knew how big it would eventually be. Run-DMC was a template for the future.

Sugar Hill Records had been dominating the rap game with tracks which fairly gleamed of studio polish, but a style born out of economic necessity would change that. Run-DMC were signed to the tiny Profile label and producers Larry Smith and Russell Simmons didn't have access to big budget studio equipment or a cadre of studio musicians. Their first single was "It's Like That" with "Sucker M.C's" on the flip side. "It's Like That" was musically like Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" minus the bells and whistles. From the liner notes, Run says, "Ours is the hood version. We made a nasty, grimy version of 'Planet Rock.' But, innocent, too." "Sucker M.C's" was even sparser. It's just a drum machine, beats and electronic handclaps which is all the syncopation needed for Run and DMC to lay down some of the dopest lyrics around.

When Run-DMC starting blowing up they enlisted their friend Jay Mizell to be the deejay and soon Jazzy Jase became Jam Master Jay, The Big Beat Blaster. His scratching masterpiece "Jay's Game" became a highlight of the full length album. The lead off cut was a cover of Kurtis Blow's "Hard Times" which ended up doing better on the charts than "It's Like That", but the monster track had to be "Rock Box". Russell Simmons wasn't into rock and Run didn't want to do it, but Larry Smith persuaded them to put some heavy rock guitar played by Eddie Martinez on the cut. The rock and rap hybrid worked becoming the first rap tune to have its video played on MTV. Run ended up loving the song.

Soon people all across the globe were loving Run-DMC from the beats and rhymes to the casual street corner hustler clothes. Hollis, Queens was not only on the map. It was the map leading an explosion in American musical culture not seen since the Sun Records days back in the Fifties. The kids call it old school today, and if it is then class is still in session because Run-DMC is still timeless to me. The just reissued disc contains four bonus tracks. Grab one today and soon you'll find yourself "chillin' in a b-boy stance."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Frontier Index Is Like Cold Mountain Brewed Beer

Two posts about alcohol in a week? Maybe its been too long since I had a drink. Actually this post only concerns alcohol in an analogic sense. The post was supposed to mainly be about Frontier Index's debut record.

I didn't like the first beer I tried. I was around fourteen years old attending a party given by a Cajun musician whose son was a little younger than me. I walked up and a beer was immediately thrust into my hand. It almost gagged me when I took a sip. It was a taste one had to get accustomed to, but a most pleasurable one once this happened. The obvious reason I bring this up is because music is sometimes like that. You listen to something and it does nothing to you for the longest and then the mysterious happens and you find yourself suddenly enjoying it. This Rainbow Quartz debut by Frontier Index was like that for me.

I listened to the album at home. I took it on the road with me. But I couldn't get into their mix of country twang and Beatles derived power pop. I was just about to write the album off as a rare miss from the Rainbow Quartz label, but I'm a glutton for punishment so I kept listening to the disc every few days. Then it happened; Frontier Index went down like a cold mountain brewed beer. Laid back grooves I once found dull fairly glowed with a touch of back porch philosopher genius.

Frontier Index hail from Toronto comprised of Corey Hernden - vocals and guitar, John Hunter - vocals and guitar, Matt Francis - bass, and Mick Jackson - drums. Their style has been referred to as being like "singer/songwriter type tunes, sung by CSN&Y backed by Crazy Horse" but I hear Jayhawks and Beatles myself. I like the yearning strumming of "Collide" and "If It Don't Work Out" which features the kind of song dynamics that Ryan Adams has used to become both critically praised and scorned. I don't know how it will work out for Frontier Index, but I appreciate their control. "Silver Suns" is both elegaic and epic like a late September summer afternoon fading toward autumn woodsmoke.

So give the Frontier Index a chance to work its magic. Perhaps it won't take quite so long for you. I know I'm glad I kept on listening. Their self-titled album is available from Amazon and other fine purveyors of retail goods.

FEMA Always Slow?

The Daily Howler makes the point that FEMA has never been the swiftest. Which isn't surprising - bureaucracy rarely is. So there's plenty of blame to be placed on local, state, and federal government going way back. My heart is just gladdened by the outpouring of support here in Smithville and the rest of the country for the evacuees of Katrina. I know I was dismayed at the looting of non-essential items last week...I wonder how those selfish jerks feel at the selfless actions done by complete strangers who care. Sure, America's got its share of problems, but the majority of people here are decent loving folks.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wally's Adventures In Binge Drinking And Other Stupid Stuff

Once upon a time I was a wild young drinking lad. The difference now is that I actually like to drink in social situations. That and I don't get stupid crazy drunk. The story below is true, but names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

Picture the roof of a revolving restaurant atop a Hilton Hotel in a major Tennessee city. If you look close enough you will see 4 men in their late teens to early twenties scampering around like idiots. The rooftop was much smaller than I imagined which in turn made it scarier than I imagined. There was also the nagging fear that either the hatch to the roof would be closed by a wandering maintenance man or even worse that we would be caught and thrown in the slammer for the night. Why were on the roof in the first place? I think it began when we stopped at a liquor store and bought a couple of huge bottles of cheap wine before we went to play miniature golf. That was just the way things went in those days.

Going caving? Let's buy and drink some beer first! Just got off an exhausting 8 hour shift at the pizza joint where we all worked? Let's go to Doug's and watch movies all night, but first let's shotgun a six-pack of beer before the real drinking starts. Going fishing at a well stocked illegal fishing hole? Be sure and drink plenty of whiskey before we leave. Boucing super balls off the parking garage at the Hilton? Well, you know how that day started.

I wasn't an alcoholic. In fact I didn't really enjoy the drinking all that much. I was just 19 and if I wanted to fit in with the older crowd I had to drink. So I made sure nobody ever left me behind. I could binge drink with the best of them. Lucky for me, most of them never got to see the aftermath. There were the days when I could barely crawl to the phone to call in sick because of a hangover. I learned that when you drink way too much, you can end up throwing up blood, which really sucks. But my body's tendency to hurl at a certain point probably kept from becoming an alcohol poisoning casualty. I eventually learned that when my lips turned numb it was time to start downing some water, but it took about three years for me to figure it out. I bet I drank more alcohol between the ages of 18 and 21 than I have in all the years since.

It began with vodka. I was nuts about it, either mixed with some Mountain Dew or taken straight. It was an insiduous beast. I discovered its full power one night while hanging out with some friends in the MTSU dorms. I was visiting the Shelbyville Kid probably watching Eraserhead when our friend T-Jam rang us up with the news that he'd written a new song and that we should come over to hear it. He lived just across campus and it was a wonderful autumn night so left Shelbyville's room lingering to stare at the St. Pauli girl poster looking so lovely on the concrete wall. As I made my way to T-Jam's the vodka, which had been having no effect on me suddenly decided to let me know; hey you big dummy you're actually quite drunk. Instead of walking across campus I wobbled.

I had been mixing my drinks with more and more vodka at Shelbyville's dorm room. I was royally wasted by the time we got to T's place. T-Jam was an interesting guy from Knoxville who had a love for punk rock and most of all The Jam. He was an insanely gifted bass player and all around nice guy. He played us the new song he had written and I kept drinking. He had gotten on to me just a week before about my drinking, but I had told him I was just following in the path of Jack Kerouac. Somehow he had seemed to make drinking romantic. I wish I would have read Big Sur sooner. The punk rock posters on the walls began swirling around like fireflies and my body began to ache. T-Jam was extolling the merits of the first Police album, "its actually really good", when I started to vomit on his carpet. It was the first time I had ever gotten sick drinking and I went downhill fast, moaning and retching as they rolled me outside so I'd quit ruining the rug. T-Jam's roommate came home and siad, "Damn, I'm glad I didn't bring a girl over" and from there events began to happen as through a heavy gauze bandage smelling of regurgitated vodka, I did manage to figure out that they had called my buddy Bruno to drive me home. It was embarrassing and the only thing I learned from the event was to never get sick in front of people again. Well that, and never to drink vodka again. Just writing about it makes me queasy.

That didn't stop me from drinking though. There was always beer, whiskey, and gin. Especially beer. Pitchers of beer at the pizza joint. Cases of beer at parties. I remember going over to somebody's place once on a Sunday. A party had been happening since Friday night and there was a mountain of beer cans stacked from the floor to the ceiling taking up a huge chunk of real estate in the living room, a teenage exploitation film come to life. There was all you can drink nights at Jabbs; Milwaukee's Beast by the kegs would get consumed by drunks playing darts. Beer could deliver that last bit of courage needed to climb the fire tower on Tiger Hill just south of Murfreesboro. You could sway right along with the wind in an alcoholic zen state while you watched the sun rise before heading to Krystals for gutbomb burgers.

But no matter how I tried to romanticize it, I knew that hanging out watching The Song Remains The Same for the umpteenth time was just another wasted day. Which is what we did alot during the winter months. There was also cardboard box slides down townhouse staircases and parking lot football at 3 AM which never failed to get the cops called on us. There were late night beer runs and drinking games like Pass Out that were only played when ladies dropped by. All of it conducted in various inebriated states. I spent most of my time in a funk, never really feeling a part of things. I knew this lifestyle wasn't my thing, but as it was the only social life I had at the time I didn't listen to my heart. The threat of loneliness was a powerful thing at that age.

Which was why I ended up with my co-workers from the pizza restaurant on that rare Saturday when were all off. I was a miniature golf fanatic so I liked the idea of playing against them. So first we stopped at the liquor store for the wine. For once I decided I wasn't going to drink with my buddies. My mind was on winning at mini-golf. They were acting good and drunk and stupid by the time we began to play. A cute lady was playing with her family right behind us so I starting hanging back to chat with her. She told me to come by and visit her where she worked at in Hickory Hollow Mall. I wasn't acting like a knucklehead and my day was going great. I won the two games of mini-golf and met a girl so I was good; ready to go home.

That's when I was informed that we were heading into town because they wanted to bounce super balls from the top of the parking garage at the Hilton. They got some beer to top off the wine and I decided to take a stand. I was going to be the stick in the mud for two reasons: I was tired of the whole drinking thing and I figured one of us should stay sober. We got to the parking garage and they started the super ball assault on the sidewalk below. It was kind of cool, but not all that great so when I noticed a leather jacket clad punk rock dude in a corner I decided to see what was up with him. He turned out to be a homeless punk rocker who had ended up in Tennessee by way of Pittsburgh, PA. While my friends continued to conduct their experiments in gravity I talked about punk music with him. We bonded over our mutual love of Minor Threat and M.D.C., but when I offered him a little cash he refused. He had a cousin somewhere in town and he figured he'd find her soon. He was a little strung out, but he still had his pride even if he was going to crash for the night in a parking garage.

We left him and ventured into the hotel. Some more drinks were purchased at the bar so I just waited in the lobby by a grand piano. I tinkled the keys softly with boredom as the evening was starting to get late. Next we rode the glass elevators which was a big pastime in those days. Then the plan was hatched to climb onto the roof of the revolving restaurant which sat atop the hotel. One of the guys I was with knew how to get into the maintenance room. You could climb a short ladder to the hatch from there. Since I was stone sober I didn't like the idea one bit, but did I refuse to take part?

I had taken a step toward my own social independence by not drinking that day so I wasn't going to rock the boat too much at this point. So I climbed up the ladder along with the rest. I have to admit the view was breathtaking, a super reality that was heightened indeed by factors not even related to booze for me. I was the first to bail citing the need for at least one of us to keep watch. They stayed up there for a good hour and I wondered when the day that began with miniature golf was going to end.

It evnetually did, but not before a spin around Centennial Park after hours where we almost ended up in the pond. Even though I was sober, I was outnumbered by the drunks who wouldn't let me drive. The near miss at the pond brought them to their senses and I wheeled us toward home, stopping at a Dunkin' Donuts shop just as the sun was coming up. I would still hang out with them every now and then, but my binge drinking days were officially over. My days playing in rock and roll bands were just around the bend.

Type Is Right

I found this delightful link about the resurgence of typewriters at the ever interesting Geek Press. I've owned many typewriters over the years, the best being a Royal that my mother had originally bought for herself but after her visions of being a secretary died she let me have it. The musician Scott Miller collects Underwood typewriters. I wonder if the next big thing will be word processors.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Liam - Mad and Happy

From punk rock baby angst to an adorable dude in 4 short months.

College Football Predictions Week Two

It's week two of college football and I'm battered and bruised from a disastrous first week of picks. When I said I didn't know what I was doing I didn't lie. I shouldn't feel too bad since I went with the odds on most every pick. I'm at least as smart as the Las Vegas types. My record from week one:
picking winners: 4-6
picking by the spread: also 4-6

Here are my picks for week two:

Kansas State by 9 1/2 over MARSHALL
winner Marshall
spread Marshall

MICHIGAN by 7 over Notre Dame
winner Michigan
spread Michigan

MARYLAND by 1 1/2 over Clemson
winner Maryland
spread Maryland

California by 8 1/2 over WASHINGTON
winner California
spread California

GEORGIA by 17 over South Carolina
winner Georgia
spread Georgi

Stanford by 3 over NAVY
winner Navy
spread Navy

ARKANSAS by 11 over Vanderbilt
winner Arkansas
spread Vanderbilt

AIR FORCE by 6 over San Diego State
winner Air Force
spread Air Force

ALABAMA by 13 over Southern Mississippi
winner Alabama
spread Southern Miss

tcu by 15 1/2 over SMW
winner TCU
spread TCU

If my track record means anything, now you know who not to pick!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bob Denver RIP

Yahoo is reporting that Bob Denver has passed away at the age of 70. I was a Gilligan's Island nut when I was a kid. I used to wish I could be Gilligan. It's a shame he got typecast after playing Gilligan. Denver was also great on The Many Loves Of Doby Gillis as Maynard G. Krebs - I used a picture of him on a Dragula gig flier years ago, and I also loved him in the movie For Those Who Think Young and the Saturday morning show Far Out Space Nuts - "I said lunch not launch!" He will be missed.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Roller Boogie

The bit I posted about the old Top Five lists I used to make back in 8th grade led to the memory synapses firing so that my mind is busy watching a fireworks show circa 1979-1981 and the only way to get it to stop is to put it all down on paper or in this case the ether. It's all related to the roller boogie disco of the times. The reason the years span from 1979-1981 is not because it took me that long to get through 8th grade, but because it all began during a 6th grade school party.

It must have been in the spring near the end of the school year and my class and another one had won some sort of reading contest and both classes got a skating party as reward. My mother had taken me to the roller rink a few times before and I didn't like it much. I spent my time holding on the wall with a death grip of fear cringing when others got near. So I wasn't looking forward to the party. But when one of the other class's kids jumped onto the skate floor rolling backwards as Chic's "Le Freak" boomed out over the sound system something happened inside me. Some small seed of confidence bloomed and with the help and encouraging words of some of my class's cuter girls I let go of the wall and shoved off into the middle of the floor. By the end of the afternoon party I wouldn't go so far as to say I could rollerskate, but at least I was no longer petrified or falling down every minute. I wouldn't go back to the rink until near the end of 7th grade.

I never knew what the rink's name really was. It had Skatecenter written on the facade, but all of the kids called the place Jack's since Jack owned it. People who were teenagers in the 70's and 80's in Murfreesboro all knew the place well. I think it's still there to this day run by Jack's son. I had become an incurable romantic by 7th grade falling for girls all the time. When I learned that one particular girl went skating every Friday night I soon talked my mother into taking me just so I could pursue the girl. I never got the girl to like like me, but I decided to go to the roller rink as often as possilble. It was a completely magical place where 3 hours time would seem to last forever, but in the best way. Plus my younger cousin Freddy went almost every Friday and Saturday night. It was always a blast to hang out with him, especially since he had a way with the ladies even at that young an age.

Scoring with the ladies was what it was all about. Scoring here is a relative thing. It could mean you got to skate with the girl of your dreams or maybe hold hands with her. The ultimate though was to make out with your girlfriend in the corner. This was just a regular kiss or two, nothing really heavy although there were rumours of some couples French kissing, whatever that was. What seems really weird to me now is that the kissing sessions were always watched by other kids who would stand in a semi-circle around the couple so the adults wouldn't stop it. I can remember skating around and seeing kids I knew start to congregate in one of the corners and I would know Freddy was a girl. He was a regular Romeo. I didn't do as well as him, but during 8th grade I took a few turns in the corner of the rink.

It wasn't just about the girls. It was also about the music. Jack's played lots of different music every night with no theme. One minute it would be Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" and the next you might get the Fatback Band's "Backstrokin'". I still remember the adrenaline pump that would go through my body like an eletrical charge if a song I loved came on. AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" would always make me go nuts, skating full out in a frenzy hoping the skate cops would make me sit down. It was a badge of honor to have the skate cops force you to sit out for five or ten minutes, sometimes more. Your buds would come by and commiserate with you, maybe even get sit down themselves so we could bond in our hatred of their authority.

My main crew was Freddy, who was called Fro due to his kinky hair, Mike, and Slim who was a very large kid who used to work as what I would call a hustler for carnivals when they would roll through Murfreesboro. He would hang out by the little bulldozer quarter machines and get all excited while telling people the next quarter was bound to be a big winner. I always figured Slim would end up as a skate cop even if he said he loathed them like Freddy, Mike, and myself did. The skate cops were so smug with their whistles and the girls we adored would drop us in a second if one of them asked them to be their partner during a couples only song. The skate cops were twenty something creeps. What were they doing asking 8th grade girls to skate anyways? The place wouldn't have been the same without them.

Little random rollerskate moments course through my mind. Suicides were what we would drink. I'm sure most know what that is but in case you don't: a suicide is when you mix every soda from a concession stand together. Freddy in his never ending quest to be the coolest came up with his own drink: Dr. Pepper with a dash of Sprite or was it Sprite with a dash of Dr, Pepper. Time has fogged my memory on that one. There was the ritual of the hokey pokey right around 9 PM with the agonizing decision to be made: do I join in or am I just too cool? I usually joined in. I got my own pair of rollerskates for Christmas in 1980; size 8 if my memory is correct. They were brown with orange dayglo wheels, a super righteous gift since the rental skates were always hit or miss. It was a drag to end up with rentals that pulled to the left or right badly. Sometimes you'd have to go around the rink doing small circles the whole way.

I stopped skating at Jack's soon after 9th grade started. The crowd had begun to change. The place had always been about junior high. Plus they started putting the video games in. I got disillusioned with the scene so I begged my mother to take me to the rink named Hot Wheels across town. Older kids hung out there. It had a cement floor, instead of wood. They mainly played R&B and hip-hop records. There was just a grittier vibe. Freddy didn't skate much anymore, but when he did it was at Hot Wheels. There was real making out going on there and we used to sneak Jack Daniels in and drink slugs in the bathrooms. I was getting to be a regular freak and instead of skating I started spending most of my time playing pinball games. Even though there was soul music rocking on the sound system I felt rather soulless and I began to miss Jack's. But as is the case with growing up and losing one's innocence, I never went back. You can never really go back except in memories and dreams.

Soulfish Stew Of Years Ago

When I started this blog a little over a year ago I wrote about where the name Soulfish Stew came from. It seems that the name stretches farther back than I thought. I can't trace the actual genesis of the name, but it was going to be the name for a fanzine that never materialized around 1990. I discovered that I was using the name even before then as a column title for another fanzine that never got off the ground. The year was 1988 and the aborted fanzine was to have been called Free Scientist (An Exercise In Futility). I found the cover and contents page in a box of junk. The contents would have included:

Cruise Nazis - presumbably a piece about the Murfreesboro police force's antagonization of teenage cruisers. There was one particular cop who really had it in for us. I find it interesting how we were using the nazi epithet years before our politicians started using it as a catch all insult. Like the politicians of today, we were over exagerrating to the point of stupidity.

Subdivisions - I've still got this piece somewhere in my files. It was written by my good friend Chris who was dismayed at the encroaching suburban dwellings that were popping up like mushrooms down Manchester Highway. I wonder what he would think about this subject now. I'd ask him, but he's over in Kuwait right now where I hope he stays safe.

Soulfish Stew (Records Reviewed) - Where the seed for this blog was planted, pre-dating by two years its appearance as a fanzine title. The records to be reviewed were Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions..., Cruel Blue, and something by Dwight Yoakam. How's that for eclecticism. The Dwight Yoakam album would have to been reviewed by DD Blank since I didn''t have any Dwight albums. Cruel Blue were a local Murfreesboro band; one of the best to ever grace stages. They were a trio and they played punked up rock with very good lyrics.

Tennessee Walts - this would have to be a review of show by the Tennessee Walts. I don't know a thing about these guys other than they were lots of fun featuring a guitar player who could spin the guitar around his back as good as Warner Hodges. They just appeared in the summer of 1988, played a bunch of shows and disappeared.

Top 5's - Top 5's of something or other. This probably would be a take off on something I used to do in 8th grade. I would go roller skating either on Friday or Saturday night of each week. After I would get home I would type up my five favorite songs of the week, my five favorite TV shows, and most important my five favorite girls of the week.

Collage - would be an actual collage.

More Bitching And Whining News - just random griping...much like this blog.

Poem and Frog - would have been one of my lousy poems and a Frog story. Frog was just some hapless character I had invented that always had something bad and usually deadly happen to him in every story.

He Was A Punk - I don't have a clue what this was to about. Maybe it was to be a story about Darby Crash. I had a fascination with The Germs around that time. It might also have been some fictional story. I used to write lots of one page stories about punk rockers beating up jocks. It was all very SLC Punk long before that film got made.

The Free Scientist never made it beyond the planning stages. I was pretty bad about starting stuff and not finishing it then. I'd fix that a few years later when I launched Anti*Society which was a pretty successful little free fanzine. Now there's the bloggy goodness of Soulfish Stew which is full of ingredients from the past.

R.L. Burnside Passes Away

Sad news today - blues legend R.L. Burnside has died at the age of 78. I only got to see him play live once - opening a show for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the Mercury Theater in Knoxville, TN. He was dynamic that night laying down some trance blues shuffles with ferocious power. The whole night was magical. A perfect demonstration of the healing power of music. My friends and I spent the time after the show talking about it, which is always a good sign. According to R.L.'s long time record label Fat Possum, memorial donations can be sent to:

Freeland & Freeland Trust Account
Burnside Memorial
P.O. Box 269
Oxford, MS 38655

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Barbarians In The Bowl

Peggy Noonan asks "I wonder if the cruel and stupid young people who are doing the looting know the power they have to damage their country. I wonder, if they knew, if they'd stop it." I doubt they know and even if they did they wouldn't care. Selfish thugs only understand one thing - a good beatdown, which is what should be delivered to them. The longer punks are allowed to walk the flooded streets of NOLA carrying guns and sticking people up, the longer it will take to regain control of the city.

Another column about the looting written by Michael Graham has the following quotes:

One news story quoted a local named Mike Franklin, who stood nearby and watched the looters' progress. "To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society," he said.

"Get back at society?" You mean the society that gives you, for free, 12 years of education? Whose cops patrol your streets and whose taxpayers provide billions in welfare payments, health care and other benefits-not to mention billions in FEMA money? Is that the "oppressive society" you have in mind?

It is a tenuous thread that society clings to with NOLA a good example of what happens when people are taught from an early age that they are victims. It's times like these that I'm so thankful for my parents. I grew up just as poor as many of the looters are reputed to be. I remember hanging out at the unemployment office and having to go the county health department because we couldn't afford a doctor. But I was also taught the difference between right and wrong. Of course, that was in the age before plasma TV's.

If you're like me and you wonder why didn't the people leave when there was a "mandatory evacuation" order from the Mayor of NO - here's a little clue why. He needs to stop crying about the Feds.

Musicians Missing In NOLA

Many of the greatest musicians of our time have gone missing in New Orleans. Man I hope they find them all. Now I think I'll go put on some Irma Thomas albums and have a good cry.