Monday, January 30, 2006

Where Am I Going?

I posted a list of resolutions late last year - one of which was to drop 40 pounds. With very little effort I've dropped just a little over 5 pounds! All I've done so far is cut out junkfood between meals and modified my eating habits slightly. Now that I've proven I can do that part I will launch into phase 2: stepping up the exercise.


I got a momentary twinge last night when I realized I am now older than Homer Simpson is supposed to be. Damn never aging cartoon characters! For all those The Simpsons writers that read this blog: my oldest daughter was watching last night's episode with me and after Homer almost runs his car off a cliff she said, "I've seen this episode before." Note: it was an all new episode. I understand there will be a certain amount of idea recycling on the show: Homer says a few catch phrases, Bart gets in trouble, Marge does something stupid, and Lisa is the smart one (In fact I thought the ending last night with both Marge and Homer ending up in jail would have made for a great series finale - take that Seinfeld), but when a seven year old kid starts picking up on the redundancies inherent to any long lived series; perhaps it's time to pull the plug. Not to mention the fact that Homer is now younger than me....I mentioned that already? D'oh!!!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Call Me Mr. Lowbrow

A little bit of my taste in movies. Comedies, Jimmy Stewart, Tatum O'Neal, zombies, truckers, and people in gorilla suits. That just about covers it.

Create your own Movie List @ HotFreeLayouts!

WFMU always brings the goods

Murfreesboro / Nashville legends, Travis and Jonathan, have been noticed by WFMU. Their parody of Grizzly Man is damn funny. WFMU also has a great post on the bubblegum glam band Milk 'n' Cookies including a concert from the mid-70's recorded at CBGB.

CD Review: Magnet - The Tourniquet

Magnet, Even Johansen, has attracted acclaim for his low key pop melodies. He's a major star in his native Norway. There have been three EP's (Where Happiness Lives, Chasing Dreams, The Day We Left Town) for Ultimate Dilemma and one full length, On Your Side, all infused with a melancholic simple beauty. His new album, The Tourniquet, on Filter US Recordings continues in the same style, but with a more optimistic outlook.

Lead off song "Hold On" begins with a spare arrangement before ending with a Beach Boys lushness channeling some Friends era positive TM sort of vibes, but there's a James Taylor meets Sufjan Stevens feel over much of the album. "The Pacemaker" could pass as British mope rock. There's a sublime lullaby with "All You Ask" and "Fall At Your Feet" has a cinematic flair that suggests Magnet's ultimate future is in soundtracks. A bonus track is included on this American release - "This Bird Can Fly", but it has the sound of a leftover and could have been omitted.

The Tourniquet was recorded in Bergen, Norway among the fjords and was finished in the sunshine of Los Angeles assisted by Jason Falkner of Jellyfish fame. It's languid pop with a frosty exterior befitting such a pairing and while I might wish for a rawer American current, its Old World charm is quite winning when the time is right. You wouldn't listen to this to get yourself psyched up. It's chilling out music perfect for February twilight listening. The Tourniquet will be release on February 14th.

Battle Royal

Guy Mann-Dude versus Chuck Norris. Place your bets.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

We Have A Set List

Rock concerts; drunk and stoned fans, over priced concessions, concert t-shirts, long lines at the restroom, mosh pits, standing room only, whining pushy people rushing the stage after the show has started, lighters held aloft during the ballad, shouts of play "Freebird", scalpers and bootleg merchandise people outside the venue, gorillas in security shirts, and stepping over the puddles of vomit and people who've passed out after the show. That doesn't even include the actual music which can veer from transcendant to total crap depending on who's playing. Many times you'll go to a show and find an opening act that blows the headliner off the stage, or perhaps the opening act is so bad you can't sit through them, or the opening act is inexplicable in some way. Whatever the case, it's often the opening act that stays lodged in your memory and this is what this post is all about.

Blown Off The Stage (All events taking place in Nashville)

Magnapop opening for Mudhoney - April 4, 1993 at 328 Performance Hall.

I'd never heard Magnapop before the show. Their blend of classic and alternative rock along with their super cute girl singer made for a pleasant forty minutes with the big winner being their cover of the Big Star classic "13" which just about brought tears to my eyes. Mudhoney came on stage and proceeded to bore the hell out of me. I was a huge Mudhoney fan at the time and perhaps being mucho disappointed has colored the event, but the guys in Mudhoney were lifeless and the music felt the same.

Urge Overkill opening for Dinosaur jr. - Thursday May 9, 1991 at 328 Performance Hall.

I loved both these bands so I was stoked when the bill was announced. Urge Overkill didn't disappoint. They were out supporting The Supersonic Storybook at the time and once again a cover song caught my ears: their version of Hot Chocolate's "Emma" sent shivers down my spine. Dinosaur jr. were loud as advertised, but it was apparent that J. Mascis had no soul. Their set had thud, but no heart.

Y & T opening for Twisted Sister - some Saturday late in the summer of 1984 at Municipal Auditorium.

Dokken was also on this triple bill of metal and technically were the opener with Y & T being the middle act, but no matter how the gig was billed Y & T were the highlight. Dave Meniketti and his bunch lit up the place with their pop metal AOR groove. Then they got the crowd really amped up when the Y & T metal man joined them on the stage. Twisted Sister just came across like louts as Dee Snider did his usual berate the fans for not standing up routine. Even as a joke, it just came across lame.

Megadeth opening for Dio - Tuesday January 19, 1988 at Municipal Auditorium.

Dio was on the way down at this time. His stage show budget had been sliced to the bone and instead of fighting dragons he fought real cheap looking electronic spiders. Megadeth were on the way up to superstardom and their set was killer. I started some slamdancing with the Gonz and Mike and then got Mustaine's autograph between sets. Savatage were also on the bill and they too were better than Dio this night.

The Alarm opening for Bob Dylan - Friday July 22, 1988 at Starwood Amphitheater.

Dylan wasn't bad, He was actually really good, but he acted like he didn't give a shit and he barely played over an hour. DD Blank and I couldn't help but feel a little ripped off by him. We cooled our jets and decided to give the old man a pass since he was and is a living legend. We had The Alarm's incredible opening salvo to lift us up. Mike Peters was like a man possessed with the true spirit of rock and roll as he exhorted the crowd even if it meant running out to the soundboard in the middle of the seats once. It was anthemic and uplifting.

Worst Openig Acts

Barkmarket opening for The Pixies - Saturday February 1, 1992 at Memorial Gym.

Damn Barkmarket sucked. They were noisy, They were tuneless. They were sorta ugly too. That was probably their point, but I didn't have to like it or take it. After about five songs I told DD I was going to get a coke and that I would be back. I was telling DD a lie. I had no intention of subjecting myself to the full blast of their muck furnace. He found me a few songs later sitting at the bottom of a staircase and he gave me hell for bailing on him. We stayed there until Barkmarket finally finished both knowing we had shared an historical event - the worst group we were ever likely to hear.

The Nerve opening for Ted Nugent - Friday April 20, 1984 at Municipal Auditorium.

The Nerve, a local Nashville band, weren't supposed to open for Ted. Bon Jovi had been slated as the openers. I was actually relieved that I wouldn't have to sit through "Runaway" which was their big hit at the time. But The Nerve blew chunks. They were old looking, Some of them were even bald! And there seemed to be way too many people in the band. I guess they were some sort of hippie jam band based on their music...hey dude cue the bongos! The crowd wasn't too appreciative letting The Nerve know that warming the stage for a metal god like Nugent wasn't too cool. They started getting things tossed at them and it wasn't women's underwear. Lucky for us they split rather quickly.

Autograph opening for Van Halen - Saturday February 11, 1984.

David Lee Roth was jogging buddies with the lead singer of Autograph. That's how they came to open for Van Halen. They had yet to have success with "Turn Up The Radio" and were complete unknowns to the crowd who only had one thing on their mind; rocking out to Van Halen. The booing was so bad I felt sorry for Autograph who were gamely trying to win the audience's favor. They only way they were going to do that would be to leave the stage, which they did after the whiskey bottles started flying. My pity didn't stop me from throwing one too.

Afghan Whigs opening for Teenage Fanclub - Tuesday May 12 at 328 Performance Hall.

I really liked the Whigs before the gig. I had their Sub Pop release with the picture of the cut hand on the cover and it had become a constant on the record player. They had moved on to a little different sound by the time of this show. It didn't do too much for me. It was strictly dullsville; plus Greg Dulli was a pretentious nob the entire set. Their naked drummer didn't help out visually either. Teenage Fanclub were great. I've still got their setlist from that show.

Marky & The Unexplained Stains opening for Volcano Suns - late 80's or early 90's at Elliston Square.

Mark Nevers has gone on to be an excellent producer, but Marky & The Unexplained Stains was one terrible band. I believe they were trying to bring some NYC flavored rock to Nashville, but it was just a cacophonous mess.

The Inexpicable (strange and wondrous)

Firehose opening for Soul Asylum - Thursday September 19 at 328 Performance Hall

Firehose were their usual awesome selves, but it just didn't seem right for them to be opening for the soon to be megastars for a moment Soul Asylum. Sure, they were both out of the indie college alternative circuit, but Firehose were far superior to Dave Pirner's bunch in my opinion. I think they were on the same label at the time.

Dead Milkmen opening for Living Color - sometime in the late 80's or early 90's at the Cannery.

I bought Big Lizard In My Backyard after hearing "Bitchin' Camaro" back in 1985. So I was down for the Milkmen. My old band, The Dislocated, were known to bust out some Living Color songs like "Middle Man" or "Desperate People" so I was up for some Vernon Reid guitar slinging. But on the same bill? It was just totally weird. A huge contingent of Murfreesboro punk wannabe's came to the show just to see the Milkmen. It seems they'd all heard "Punk Rock Girl" and thought it was great. So they proceeded to slam dance and act like total idiots to the people who had come to see Living Color. I'd never thought of the Milkmen as being punk in any way. I ended up spending some of their set outside talking to a dude who had come all the way to Virginia just to see Living Color. He had gone outside because some of the Milkmen's fans had said some racist crap to him. He didn't want to get in trouble for kicking their heads in and then miss Living Color so he was cooling off.

The Replacements opening for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Saturday August 5, 1989 at Starwood Amphitheater

The first words Tom Petty told the audience were "We're a little different. We have a set list." His opening act, The Replacements, had just spent a good half hour drunkenly taunting the crowd. I had seen The Replacements before as a headliner at the National Guard Armory where they were awesome, but I knew about their reputation for dissolute drunken gigs. As soon as they walked on stage that hot summer evening I looked over at DD and we both said, "they're totaled." We weren't talking cereal consumption. They played a few of their own songs halfway decent and then they starting fooling around with "Walk On The Wild Side" and it went nowhere. It was just an aimless mess. Then they started taunting the crowd, which was packed with Petty fans that had never heard of The Replacements, while slugging down bottles of Jack Daniels. "F*%# You, but we love your whiskey," they snickered. They announced a drum solo by Chris Mars and he threw his sticks into the crowd instead of playing. It was completely awesome in its way. I overheard a couple of guys later talking about Westerberg and company - they'll never get anywhere with that kind of attitude. Sadly, they were right.

Julianna Hatfield opening for The Lemonheads - Wednesday August 12, 1992 at the Exit/In.

I think Julianna was ticked off about Lisa Loeb's success. When the audience wouldn't prostrate themselves at her feet after a few songs she started to talk about how lame we were. It's a Wednesday night in Nashville - you're lucky if you can get a crowd enthusiastic on a Saturday night here. We were politely applauding her very sedate and polite music. She wasn't horrible, but Liz Phair she isn't. So we weren't completely stunned when she said, "You're the worst audience ever" and then stomped off the stage in a tizzy. I'm proud that I was part of her worst audience ever.

Feel free to share your own opening act experiences at concerts in the comment section.

Porcelain God On The Front Lawn

It was the summer of 1986, or maybe 1987. It could have been the summer of 1988. Those summers are as indeterminate a haze now as the weather was back then. All of my friends from the high school days would be back in town from college and weekends were spent hanging with them. There was the pig farmer and engineering student Clyde, McDonalds manager Smooth, DD Blank, minister's son Drew Bob, divinity school bound Scott, hell raising Ralston, beer drinking Bruno, and future air traffic controller Duff. We were a motley bunch in transistion phases and the weekends could feature almost anything.

Classic recreational standbys were bowling, going to the movies, attending rock concerts, crashing MTSU frat parties, Clyde's summer parties, throwing frisbees in empty parking lots, bird dogging the girls at MTSU's cheerleader camps, renting videos, driving around town, annoying any of the gang who happened to have a date for the night, and the usual favorite: sitting around drinking beer. But the most spontaneous event of all was the weekend the gang went commoding.

We were sitting around bored one Friday looking for things to do when somebody in the group remembered seeing a bunch of commodes just sitting outside a certain nearby institution. Apparently they were being replaced. I guess the reason the toilets were brought up was just because the sight of so many commodes removed from their normal places was funny. Ralston wasn't around that night and soon a use for the toilets beyond a mere sight gag was devised. Ralston was renowned for his devious pranks. It was time to prank him (and others).

That's right, we decided to go get a bunch of the commodes and drop them at the houses of people we knew; like Ralston they all had it coming. A bunch of us packed into the cab and bed of Clyde's old truck and off we went to the porcelain zone. We loaded several of the commodes into the bed of the truck and were off without any witnesses to the heist. I think it was DD who first decided that a toilet makes a perfect seat, but soon all of us in the back of the truck were enjoying the view from a throne as we drove through a typical Murfreesboro summer night.

People started noticing the commodes and began yelling encouraging words at us. We were traffic stoppers. We were a spectacle. I'm still amazed to this day that the local Murfreesboro cop, Hiram, who loved busting young adults didn't spot us that night. We pulled up to one busy spotlight and a car yelled at us from a car, "You guys want some brew." Soon he was pitching some cold beer up to us. A simple equation was thus born: ride around on toilets in the bed of an old pickup truck and you will get free beer. Sidenote: there is some debate over when this incident happened - I say it happened on the first night (since I was present) and others say it was on the second night when I wasn't there.

We blasted out of town and dropped the commodes off at each victim's home. We wouldn't get to see the look on their faces, but we did get to hear about their discovery of a toilet in their yard wondering at the mystery of it all. The night of commoding was so successfull and fun that the gang went out and did it again the next evening while I toiled away at Mazzio's Pizza. I was just glad I lived so far out in the sticks they wouldn't want to commode my house.

So I no longer look upon commodes as mere utilitarian items. They can be a source of mirth. They can help build group bonds. They can be uniters. They can be something that baffles left on a lawn. They can be one of the many ghosts from my past that bring a smile to my face and leave me chuckling. Here's to the porcelain god!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Roller Boogie two

I used to be a roller skater. I was never a full blown roller boogie champ, but I got pretty good before I abruptly gave it up in 1982. One reason: heavy metal kids didn't roller skate. The second reason was that girls had stopped liking me. I guess I just wasn't cute and adorable anymore or maybe it was my taste in music which was shifting to only heavy metal. Whatever the reason, it wasn't any fun just going in circles without the chance of getting kissed. But that era's echoes reverberate with me from time to time.

A couple of things have conspired to make my mind wander that way again. My oldest daughter has been invited to a roller skating birthday party and I'm sure I'll lace up some skates for the first time in years. The other one was a random trip through the radio dial where I heard "I'm Allright" by Kenny Loggins. That song was one of my favorite roller rink songs. One verse was all I needed to zoom back to the past and soon all of my favorite songs were doing the hokey pokey through my mind.

So what were my favorite skating songs? I mentioned a few of them in my previous roller boogie post, but I didn't rate them or go into any great detail. This time around the rink you'll learn what made me smile and put on the extra burst of speed. Here are my top ten roller rink classics:

1. "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. I had been a huge Kiss fan for years, but it wasn't until I discovered AC/DC that I really started to become a heavy metal fan. The roller rink could have just played dance music, but instead they went with a mixture of AOR and R&B. It was a great mix with something bound to please somebody at some point in the night. "You Shook Me All Night Long" was a fist pumping anthem that just made you want to go as fast as you could, at least until the skate cops blew their whistle and sat you down. I was usually on the bench by the time Angus's guitar solo began.

2. "Backstrokin'" by Fatback Band. You had to roller skate backwards with a pretty girl by your side for this slice of bass heavy funk.

3. "Cars" by Gary Numan. When you're skating around in a circle, you sometimes imagine you're behind the wheels of a car. Enter the electronic cool of Gary Numan and a skating classic was born. You could also pull out some robot moves to it.

4. "Coming Out" by Diana Ross. At first I thought she was singing "I'm coming up" and that was cool since I was an up and coming high school kid. Then I figured out that it was "I'm coming out" and while not as cool it was still a grooving tune - fast and funky enough at that. I didn't have a clue to the subtextural use of the song.

5. "The Tide Is High" by Blondie. I was a big Blondie fan. My room was some unholy mixture of Blondie and Kiss posters. "The Tide Is High" was such a perfect song to skate to - it was bubbly and I could take pride in knowing I had been a long time fan. It was the first time I can remember feeling some hipster pride at all of the squares just now "getting it." Just ignore the fact that Blondie had been huge for years and let me have a little bit of credit.

6. "I'm Allright" by Kenny Loggins. I liked this song so much I bought the 45. Looking back I can't really see why I liked it so much, but it spoke to me in some way or other. It might have been the goofy fifties doo-wop bridge.

7. "Her Strut" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. This is about as hard rocking as Seger gets. What teenage corndog boy wouldn't like a song about watching a girl strut, especially with a pun like "I do respect her but..." included in the lyrics. My cousin Freddy and I spent alot of time analyzing the way girls walked back then; plus we worked on our own cool dude walking styles. We didn't really have a clue as why we should be watching the girls or wokring on our own attention getting swaggers, but our nascent idiotic ways are rather endearing, don't you think.

8. "Le Freak" by Chic. This song was at its peak when I first starting hitting the rink in 6th grade. Nobody would sit this song out. The skate floor would be one big lumpy mass of elbows askew and shaking heads. It wasn't good to fall down during it.

9. "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen. Fitting that a song which lifted from Chic would make the list right beside them. It's a total inversion of "Good Times" lyrically while swiping the bass riff. You could almost see people light up like fireflies when the needle dropped on this song.

10. "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen. You wouldn't think an 8th grade kid would dig this song, especially not in a skating rink. But I did. There was just something about the way it sounded that meshed well with aimless rolling. It also was a good tune to skate doubles to, even if the lyrics weren't fitting.

Honorable mention:

"Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg. It's sentimental and sophomorish to me now, but it was a window into adult relationships when I was in junior high and the adult relationship scene didn't look too appealing. You'd skate around to that song and then tell the girl you were skating with that this would never happen to us. Two weeks later you'd be skating with a different girl and telling her the same thing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I'd Like To...

I'd like to learn to fence. I'd like to learn to fly an airplane. I'd like to see some folks again and then there are some I could do without ever seeing again. I'd like to get wiser as I get older, but for now I remain just a wise guy. I'd like to go dip my feet into the ocean. I'd like my oldest daughter to have a better 1st grade teacher. I'd like to be at least a D list blogger, but I'm more like a Z minus lister. I'd like to finish a book again. I'd like to make a real power pop album sometime. I'd like to see the Aurora Borealis in person. I'd like to take a spin around the Daytona Speedway. I'd like to think I've been doing some good.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Those Hip-Hop Fisherman Blues

Glitch rock, folk hip-hop, blues, and a disconcerting since of played out evolution combine on Them Get You...Them Got You by jd walker. It's appropriate that his usual profession is being a fisherman from Maine; there's a clanking fish tackle stumble to the album and the location fits - it being the end of America in the East. The future of music seems to be with artists influenced by a poly glot of genres. This can a good thing, but it can also end up a gray mess of porridge. Them Get You...Them Got You falls somewhere in between; it's a serviceable craft and fairly seaworthy filled with the best artistic intentions.

He aspires to be part Johnny Cash and part Rakim, but can only reach the level of a Beck in Beck's laziest moments. This isn't a horrible thing. Hybrid styles can take some time to get used to and this album makes a slow lobster crawl with an emphasis on the ambient side. It's college radio progressive hip-hop intellectual electro-beat with murmured vocals and abstract poetry. Some highlights are "Nails Over Munjoy", "Since Saturday", Patients People", and "Them Get You...Them Got You Part 2." There are studio appearances from alias, bluebird, k-the-i, Sontiago, and lontime collaborator, producer and anticon co-founder sole. The album is available on Six Months Records.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Riding In A Car

The view from Walden's Ridge wasn't as spectacular as it can be when the afternon sun is shining brightly, but the lights from the city of Dunlap penetrated the gloom of the rain showers. I raced to the floor of the Sequatchie Valley and then began the ascent of the Cumberland Mountains with a little trepidation. The rain was mere mist here, but it had been raining steadily all day and I hoped there would be no rock slides. The radio was playing Pachelbel's "Canon In D Major" and it was a perfect match for the scenery. Water was rushing over the side of the mountains as white mist clouds floated skyward. I briefly wished it could be summer time, because if it was I would pull the car over and stand beneath one of the myriad waterfalls formed from the rain. This fleeting thought changed over to a meditative rhapsody in tune with the classical music and the scenery that slowly went by. I thought about how peaceful it can be just riding in a car and this led to thinking about other scenes of other days spent inside automobiles.

Sequences of ephemeral moments of transient transits rushed through my mind like an automotive flip book. There were the days when I was a small child riding in the ancient machinery of my uncle's Buick Roadmaster or his Ford Truck with the dashboard consoles out of my reach unless I stood instead of sat on the floorboard. Don't even think about wearing a seatbelt. Trees and telephone poles would march outside the windshield and the little imaginary man I would make with my fingers would leap over or cut them down while a fat orange sun collapsed into twilight. The road was invariably Manson Pike because we were either living there or my uncle and granny were living somewhere that had to be reached by way of it.

I'd ride with my father and mother in souped up Ford Gran Torino's with my mother screaming at my father to slow down. Which is but one of the reasons why she and I got in a taxi that took us to the bus station where we'd catch a Greyhound to Ripley, Mississippi without my father. Months later I'd repeat the trip back to Murfreesboro beside my father where I'd later watch as a U-Haul truck was loaded with our belongings. The ride back to Ripley was huge for a 4 year old kid. Getting to sit up high above the other traffic I was finally big enough to really see what was going on outside on a trip. Too bad I didn't have a clue as to why all of the events had transpired between my parents.

There were GTO's, Barracuda's, and '57 Chevy's in Mississippi. My uncle's on my mother's side of the family were hell raisers and beer drinkers of the sort that mythologies should be written. The scenery would wash to a blur when I rode with them. They loved to scare their nephew and liked to see me sliding across the seat when they'd take sharp curves. For all of my mother's protests about driving fast; she wasn't above putting the gas pedal to the floor.

After we moved back to Middle Tennessee we lived off Almaville Pike and the route home was Manson Pike to Burnt Knob Road and then Almaville. There was a hill in front of a Methodist Church on Manson Pike and if you hit it with enough speed it would make you feel as if the car was leaving the road and going airborne. She'd never hesitate to gun the car as I urged her to go as fast as possible.

My father had been read the riot act too many times by then and he now drove slowly. He'd traded in a Gran Torino for a blue and white Ford Ranger pickup with a camper top. I liked to ride in the back under the camper even during the sweltering summer heat peering out the back with my tongue hanging out like a coon dog. When riding in the cab I would put my arm out the window just like my father. My right arm would be darker than my left, but would match my father's left arm.

I also liked to stick my head out of windows. During my roller skating days of 7th and 8th grade I would wash my hair right before leaving the house and hang my head out of the car to dry in the wind for that feathered hair disco look that the young girls liked so much. I wouldn't recommend this method today.

The memories start to accumulate like a traffic jam on the freeway. An orange Vega on the way to breaking down in Ripley, riding in a Nissan Pulsar on the way to a rock concert at 90 mph, sitting on the hump in the back seat of a Pontiac Trans Am (rock concert again), riding shotgun in DD Blank's parent's Sunbird, keeping Clyde from falling asleep on the way to Florida in the middle of the night, and starting a fire in a Volkswagen Beetle (that's what happens when you tear out the back seat and set a wooden plank over the battery housing).

There's the day I was driving a Buick Electra I got from my parents to a party out in the county with a couple of girls that Bruno and I had picked up at a Monkees reunion concert and the back seat was full of TV Tempo magazines. It was a local free tv listing mag and I had so many because that particular issue had a coupon for money off at the Readmore Bookstore. It was for 3 or 4 dollars off and they hadn't specified books only so I was using the coupons to get free magazines. The girls were riding in the backseat and they started to tear the papers up and then throwing them out the window. We were in a convoy of cars heading to the party and there were TV Tempo's blowing all over the road behind us. The first car would get hit by them and the next few cars would whip them into the air after they hit the pavement.

There are numerous other events, but I've mused enough on this today. I hope all of your rides are as enjoyable as the ones I've listed. And if you're a driver with passengers; remember that you're participating in what amounts to a sacred trust.

Friday, January 13, 2006

CD Review: Bobby Bare - The Moon Was Blue

The Moon Was Blue, which came out last year, was Bobby Bare's first new album in over a decade. It was co-produced by Mark Nevers and Bare's son Bobby Bare Jr. which has led some to compare it to Johnny Cash's time with Rick Rubin and Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose project produced by Jack White. Rubin and White definitely added some hip rock credibility, but Cash's and Lynn's own strenghs as musical artists were the real calling cards in their associations with their younger producers. Older musicians often just need someone to challenge and champion them with respect.

This is just what Bare Jr. and Nevers have done with Bobby Bare here. There are subtle traces of rock and roll on the album, like the feedback on "Everybody's Talkin", but most of the music recalls the Seventies countrypolitan sound of artists like Ray Price and Charlie Rich. It's a perfect match for Bare's mellowed baritone voice. The songs chosen are serious ones ranging in mood from poignant to sentimental, but done with an easy going assurance.

"I Am An Island" is given an appropriate Hawaiian flavor. "Everybody's Talkin" is given a bossa nova touch. The album's title comes from a line in "Yesterday When I Was Young" and Bare does a great job on this tearjerker. Bare always has a way with a Shel Silverstein song and "The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan" is a highlight with its theme of exhausted suburban ennui. "Shine On Harvest Moon" sounds like what you'd get if Brian Wilson had decided to produce country music in the Sixties; Nevers and Bare Jr. are the ones really doing the shining on that one.

Let's hope Bare Jr. can get his daddy into the studio more often. The Moon Was Blue is available from Dualtone Records.

Roll Film

I used to be quite the movie buff (cue the Seinfeld reference, please). I met my future wife in a film class. I drifted away from watching films for almost a decade. There were other things out there to amuse me: a wife, music, books, and our children. Most of the movies we go to watch are with the kids. There's no movie theater in Smithville so the wife and I rarely go to the movies (they also just cost too damn much). I'm also not too keen on renting movies. But lately I've found myself buying lots of used DVD's. I stay up late watching them after the kids have gone to bed. So the cinema bug is still in me. I've found myself visiting IMDB often lately. I've also been digging the blogs Film Brain, Cinecultist/Crazy For Movies, and The House Next Door (Matt Zoller Seitz's blog). I think I'll add a film heading to the sidebar soon.

Tagged And Bagged

When D. Wooderson gives you an invite; how can you refuse. Alright alright alright. Let's play some internet tag.

Five jobs you've had in your life: telephone book deliveryman, skateboard shop manager, record store clerk, pizza cook, Wal-Martian.

Five movies you could watch over and over: To Kill A Mockingbird, The 400 Blows, The Bad News Bears, Paper Moon, Planet Of The Apes . Yes it's true I had a huge crush on Tatum O'Neal when I was a child.

Five places you've lived: Memphis when I was a baby in an apartment in Fraser, Murfreesboro in multiple places - trailers and houses, Ripley, Mississippi for a year - one house down the street from a shoe factory and in another one house over from a Big Star grocery store, Smyrna, TN on Prindle Drive, and currently rocking out just outside of Smithville, TN.

Five TV shows you love to watch: House, MD, Everybody Hates Chris, How I Met Your Mother, Junkin',Mythbusters.

Five places you've been on vacation: Panama City, NYC, London, Amsterdam, Orlando.

Five websites you visit daily: Nashville Is Talking, Slashdot, Stolen Pony, Geek Press, WJLE.

Five of your favorite foods: tacos, pizza, baby spinach, sushi, chocolate pie.

Five places you'd rather be: London, a Gulf Coast beach, fishing in a stream, browsing in a book store, hanging out with the wife and kids at an amusement park.

Five albums you can't live without:

Five people you'd tag to play this game: Jenny Valentine, Here Comes Trouble, Rex L. Camino, Jill, and Mo.

As D. would say, "Keep on livin'."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

CD Review: Randy The Band

The music you put on in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. Wake up in a bad mood and put on something maudlin like Lou Reed's Berlin and your day might be ruined by depression. Put the Dead Boys on and you might find yourself wanting to beat up the first hippie you see. Fugazi could make you beyond earnest. Talk radio might produce signs of schizophrenia. I've been listening to Randy The Band almost every morning for a month now and the results are always the same: pure happiness. Randy The Band's melodic noise is a regular punk rock Prozac.

Punk rock is old enough now as a sub-genre of a genre that one shouldn't expect anything new or revolutionary out of it. Randy The Band is no exception to this. Once ascertained that the construct hasn't been exploded one is left to just the songs themselves. I'm talking pure American Bandstand "I'll give it an 8 because you can dance to it" analysis. There are some token socialist tracks polluting the waters, but the real joy of this album is in the melodic songs that swim through the consciousness of the listener with an endearing surface buzz. There's some intriguing ideas under the water, but Randy The Band's songwriting chops gives the listener the choice of whether they want to dive to the depths or just enjoy the ride up top.

"Punk Rock High" kicks the album off with a blast. Even if the school of rock idea isn't all that new (cue Yo La Tengo video, Jack Black movie and so on), Randy The Bandy make it sound fresh and fun from the basic Chuck Berry underpinning all the way to the brief snatch of Brian May style guitar. A punk by the numbers song like "Razorblade" is almost as good as the masters, but it's "Better Than Art" which is a minor masterpiece mishmash of influences. There's Rancid on the verses and skinny tie New Wave on the choruses that proclaim "I like music better than art."

"Evil" is a gas with its definite Misfits kickback cool. "Bahnof Zoo" is the catchiest cut on the album with the eternal theme of youth versus their parents. It's timeless pop punk that could fit in any era and there's a special twist beneath the bouncy exterior. It takes its name from the notorious book by Christiane F.: Wir Kinder Von Bahnof Zoo. So basically Randy The Band is saying that kids like to do drugs. There are some rote anthems for punk rock Commies to sink their teeth into along with a speed metal rockabilly foray "Teenage Tiger", but the album falters for most of its second half.

The coda of the song "Promise" signals a return to strength. "The World Is Getting Bored" confirms it with a 2nd verse that lets the major music moguls have it:

The kids these days are fed up with the music industry
They don't care about the product so they download their music on mp3
This is what you get when you get too greedy for too long
The kids don't want your plastic box no more they just want the songs

And in the end the song is about much more than downloading as we hear "Who decided that we have to live like this? Together all alone." It's some nice existential angst to cap off an album with a winning percentage that's around .700.

Randy The Band - "Razorblade"
courtesy Fat Wreck Chords

House Quiz

I answered the questions in a way that would guarantee I would end up as House, my latest television addiction; a very House like thing to do, don't you think.

Take the quiz:
What House M.D. Character Are You?

Dr.Gregory House
You are the king of medicine! You are mean, snarky, and downright brilliant. People admire you, and sometimes think your a total bastard. Oh well, you dont really care.

Love Monkey Jill

Nashville expatriate Jill has landed a job in "visual" A&R for a music label out in LA. While nominally opposed to major labels I have encountered some perfectly decent folks toiling for them so congrats to Jill. That label better treat her nice or they'll have some ticked off Nash Vegas cowboys coming to visit.


Todd A has a new internet project up. It appears to be a pop culture dictionary. It's called Poptionary and it looks promising.

Chapelle Show Parody Come To Life, Sorta

Dave Chapelle had an outrageous skit about a black white supremacist on his show. Now it appears the skit wasn't too far removed from real life. Except in this case, the black man was investigating the hate mongers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It's The Eighties Out There

1985 was a big year for me. I graduated high school. I started college. But bigger than those events was Vanderbilt's radio station, WRVU 91 Rock, increasing their wattage. Where once I had to struggle to barely receive their signal; suddenly I could pick up the station throughout Rutherford County. I'd listen to it everywhere I drove and tape the station when I was at home. Those cassettes often contained some great songs by local Nashville artists. I recorded the station on cheap tape and most of them either broke or were lost. So I figured I would never get to hear some things ever again.

Modern technology to the rescue. I've found mp3's of a couple of my favorites from back then. I really liked Tom Littlefield's band The Questionnaires before they signed a major label deal which saw them release a couple of over produced albums. Their demos were much better. "Red Tears" was one that they re-recorded for their debut and it just got the life sucked out it. The original version has a walking guitar line that really adds some charm to a lyrically strange tune (the dude's crying metaphorical blood, jeesh) that is pure honeydew power pop. "Slug City" was the song by them that I liked best. Apparently an homage to the city of Smyrna, TN; its a great "Surf City" ripoff that I would always crank the volume up on.

The Wayouts were another 91 Rock staple and I didn't know anything about them. They must have broke up before the wattage increase. I recently learned that Jeff Cease was part of the band. He later played in Rumble Circus (perhaps a more mature Wayouts?) before joining the Black Crowes for a spell. He also played in Rayon City Quartet a few years back. "Do You Think I Care" by the Wayouts is great simple rock and roll with a little bit of a punk snarl to it.

The mp3's are dubbed from old 91 Rock carts so the sound qualtiy isn't the best, but it's close enough for rock and roll.

The Questionnaires - "Red Tears"

The Questionnaires - "Slug City"

The Wayouts - "Do You Think I Care"

Thanks to Allen Sullivant for the mp3's.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Anti-Society 1968

I did a fanzine during the 90's called Anti-Society. I've put the first two issues up previously. Issue 1 can be found here. Issue 2 can be found here. Here is issue 3: Anti-Society 1968. The 1968 refers to the French riots of that year which were fueled in part by the Situationists group. Everything was written by me under various pseudonyms, except for DD Blank's parlor game. Just click on the pics to make them readable.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

Martial arts was the thing when I was growing up. There was Bruce Lee, Jim Kelly, Chuck Norris, and Sonny Chiba. There were the Billy Jack movies and the Kung Fu televison series. Even Elvis was into the martial arts. I always wanted to take a kung fu class, but my parents's work schedule wouldn't have allowed it even if they had had the money; which I doubt they did. So all of my encounters with the martial arts are from the sidelines.

First it was through television and movies. Billy Jack was a must see movie for me and my grammer school friends. The Kung Fu show was okay, but the fighting was too sparse for us. Bruce Lee films were the ones that meant the most - especially Enter The Dragon. The ability to summarize Lee's works and life added greatly to your standing among other 5th and 6th graders. It might be hard to believe that our parents would let us watch kung fu movies even when edited on television, but most of us were latchkey kids so we watched whatever we wanted.

I had an older cousin who was a black belt. Ronnie was the older brother of Fat Sammy from Ripley, Mississippi. He attended Mississippi State and I guess he got into karate there. I never got to see him compete, but he won a room full of big trophies. I rarely got to see him since after he graduated college he moved to Florida. There were several photo albums full of pictures of him fighting. Whenever I'd visit my aunt's house I'd pore through the photos while listening to records Ronnie had left behind (Led Zep's Physical Grafitti usually). I once asked Fat Sammy what he would do if Ronnie ever tried to use his karate against him. Sammy just pointed at the corner of the unused dining room to a propped up shotgun in the corner. Leave it to the always cynical Fat Sammy to cut karate down to size for me.

Fat Sammy couldn't keep me down for long. I saw real time evidence of kung fu one day when I was in 8th grade. My best friend was a guy one year older named Jay Jay. He was obsessed with the Billy Jack movies. He said it was because he was part Indian too. He used to practice kung fu in his backyard never taking any courses in it. He was a tough kid too. There was a couple of guys that were my classmates that liked to throw smaller kids into trashcans, shoot rubber bands at you (the small ones used for braces), and spit on you. They walked home in the same direction Jay Jay and I did. One day they were behind us and they started making spit noises. This went on for a minute or too until Jay Jay turned around and pulled out a huge knife he had concealed.

"The first one of you that spits on me or him or anywhere gets this. Do you understand?"

They sheepishly murmerd okay, we were only kidding, before swallowing what they had hacked up. That was just about the coolest thing I had ever seen. I always looked up to Jay Jay like he was an older brother and here he was protecting me from a couple of creeps. It wasn't kung fu though. It took me being a bully and an idiot for Jay Jay to have to use what he'd taught himself.

There was a dude that lived one street over from us with a last name of Witty. This lent itself to him being called Witty titty. It didn't help that he was seriously overweight which meant he had bigger breasts than most of the 8th grade girls had. He would sometimes come over and hang out with us, but not often. Jay Jay and me liked to play sports or ride our bicycles (Jay Jay could ride a wheelie almost the entire length of Prindle Drive) and Witty just wasn't in shape for those activities. One day he walked home from school with us. Jay Jay got to his house at the top of Prindle Drive and Witty and I went on.

I lived about halfway down the street from Jay Jay. Soon after we'd left him I started insulting Witty. Which is weird because I wasn't usually into that sort of thing. I guess I was just full of it that day. I don't recall exactly what I said, but I was seriously pissing Witty off. We got to the foot of my driveway and we decided to fight. We threw our books down on the asphalt and it was on. I got a few quick punches in with no results. It was like punching a giant marshmallow.

Witty thew some errant shots then he connected a grazing blow to my stomach. It stung just a little, but I had avoided most of it by ducking away. I looked back up ready to pop Witty a good one only to see Jay Jay kick him right in the head. It wasn't a slight blow either. It was a put a big lump on your skull kick. Witty staggered around glaring at Jay Jay before picking up his books to walk home muttering about how two on one wasn't fair. I was a little ticked that Jay Jay had felt he had to rescue me, but that was sure one cool karate kick to the head.

Then Jay Jay gave me the worst lecture I ever had to endure outside of my parents's lectures. He'd seen the whole thing brewing from the top of the street. He'd heard the insults. He knew I was the instigator and probably deserved to have my ass kicked. But he also knew it was out of character for me and he feared that Witty would seriously hurt me. It was better to give him a quick kick in the head than to let the fight go on. I wouldn't need a dictionary to learn the meaning of chagrined.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Down By The River Missy Mac Got A Smack From My Hammer

I was a wild child when I was 4. I was downright mean and evil. I make no apologies for it. I was only 4. It's not like I was capable of much rational thought. I'd kill every bug I could find. Tear down spider webs. Throw bird's eggs against the side of the house. Steal matches from my mother's purse and set little fires so I could sacrifice Hot Wheels cars just to watch them melt. You never quite forget the smell of burning plastics. We lived on Searcy Street with Stones River right behind the house.

My dear Granny watched me while my parents worked. When she would upset me I would always tell her I was going to go down to the river. The adults were all terrified that I might one day go down to the river, fall in, and drown. So one day after I told her I was going to go down to the river I ran through the house and slammed the back screen door open before she had time to tell me I wasn't. I hid beside the house and watched as she emerged from the house headed for the banks of the river. I slipped back into the house and promptly hid in my toybox. I could hear Granny calling my name. It soon became obvious that she actually thought I'd jumped in the river. I don't remember how long I hid, but it must have been quite awhile. My Granny was distraught and in tears when I emerged. I figured she'd punish me good, but she didn't. I was good for a few weeks, but it wasn't long before I got mad at Granny for something and I threw one of my toy cars at her striking her in the head.

It wasn't just family members that had to take my little bursts of pure meanness. The worst thing I ever did according to my mother was when I hit Missy Mac in the head with a hammer. Missy Mac's grandfather lived down the street from us. I used to go over there and watch Sesame Street with Missy and her older brother sometimes. Their mother became good friends with my mother and soon Missy Mac was my best friend. I always liked visiting them at the trailer park they lived in. I'd get to play with her brother's Lego sets and Missy's Barbie cars. I don't recall any bad scenes happening until the day Missy and her mother dropped by our place and I wasn't home.

I was out with my father and uncle. My father used to like to drive aimlessly around the back roads of Rutherford County. I liked to ride around with him out on the gravel roads back in 1971. The gravel made for a bumpy ride and you'd stir up dust for miles. Somehow it was fun to choke on it as you rode behind another car. There wasn't usually too much traffic to worry about. We'd come to a bridge over a creek or river and just stop right on the bridge. We'd get out and stare into the water. I'd spit into the water below just like my father and uncle; except they were spitting tobacco juice.

This is what we were doing on the day Missy Mac came to visit my house. We were out driving around and had stopped on a bridge overlooking Overall Creek. My uncle must have forgotten about me because as I tried to jump out of the cab of the truck he slammed the door on my fingers. I screamed like I'd been shot. That's what my father told my mother later. He'd heard people get shot in Vietnam so there's no reason to refute him. It just wasn't good for a tough kid to yell and cry, but a good hand mashing hurts.

I was only bruised and not broken, but my father and uncle felt I'd had enough of an outing so we headed home. I calmed down by the time we got to Searcy Street, but I was still huffing and puffing enough that my mother knew something was wrong. The swollen purple fingers told the story - it was rather common for me to get my hands smashed in car doors for some reason. Once she figured out I would live she thought I would like to know that Missy Mac was visiting and was playing in my room.

It was then that I finally noticed her mother at our kitchen table with a steaming cup of coffee in our hands. My folks would drink hot coffee at any time and any season and I guess Missy's mother could too. I was happy for a split second that Missy was over, but my hurting hand quickly took over when I got to my room and saw her rifling through my toybox. She was just throwing my stuff all over the place.

One of the items in the doorway was a toy hammer. It was a toy only in that it was small. It was actually just a miniature hammer. I grabbed it and quickly made my way across the room where I beaned Missy Mac. After that smack she quit going through my toybox. She was only able to scream and stumble out the door to her mother. My mother found me calmly putting my toys away when she came to invstigate what had happened. The fact that I'm an only child helped me escape the total wrath of Missy's mother.

Years later (Missy graduated from Riverdale in 1985 with me) we would all laugh about the incident. My mean years didn't last much longer. By the age of 6 I was a nicer boy with a much higher boiling point temperature. I'm just glad that my kids don't seem to have inherited my, however fleeting it was, mean streak.

Zoo At The Back Of The Store

Things disappear. Houses get torn down. People die. Highways get built and traffic rumbles through a meadow where a small child played close to where a rock concert was once held. A good chunk of my childhood's locale has been wiped out by the city of Murfreesboro and the new medical complex being built behind Stones River Battlefield. A few years previously a developer built houses on the land behind my old babysitter's home too. There used to be a woodland and a little pond there. I would climb trees and just stare into the pond for hours waiting on my father to come pick me up. Bees were kept by somebody deep in the small forest. The little girl that lived next door to my babysitter found a small clearing on the edge of the woods and she brought toy furniture there for a playhouse. All of this land is gone now with its capacity to evoke memories cheapened toward loss.

Life isn't a static event. I'm aware of that. The bumpersticker reads "shit happens" for a good reason. I got hipped to change early. We lived in Memphis, then Murfreesboro, then Ripley, MS, then Murfreesboro. We lived in multiple places in these towns all before I turned 6. Then there was the McClellan's department stores. There was one on the square of Murfreesboro and one at Jackson Heights Plaza. It was where my parents liked to shop. I barely remember the one on the square, but the one at Jackson Heights lasted long enough to forever imprint on my mind. It was a huge store to me. It even had a small zoo at the back. The variety of merchandise with all of the different colored packaging was overwhelming to a small kid. It was disorienting in a delightful way. After shopping there we'd often pull in at a burger shop located in the parking lot and get a hamburger. I believe it was called Speedy's. They closed early in my childhood.

Though those places are long gone I don't feel the same sense of loss. The places may be gone, but the skeleton is still in the grave. Jackson Heights is still there. There have been businesses in the location of Speedy's ever since it went under even if they're not the same actual building. The spot still exists. The dust of memory can settle there with ease.

It's not the same with areas that have been changed completely. You're left to rely entirely on what's in your head. I can recreate the honey locust tree that stood in a small grove of trees in my memory from the 5 acre field behind the house we lived in off Manson Pike. Even if I wanted to I can't ever touch its thorns again. The house was sold long ago, but there was solace in knowing it was there even if the subsequent owners moved it closer to the road.

There were plum trees in our yard and one summer my mother made plum preserves with the help of my cousin Lisa who was visiting from Memphis. So much stuff happened that week. I remember Lisa and I walking barefoot on hot July pavement into the Big K store where we bought play money. We went to see Smokey And The Bandit when a bunch of my aunts and uncles and cousins came to visit later in the week. I was playing on the swingset and I bumped my head and my cousins laughed at me. So I chased them all around the yard with a baseball bat.

The paradox of this for me is that I refused to let my wedding be videotaped. I felt like my memory would be enough. I don't need to watch a tape to see my wife 's confusion between my right and left hand. I can still recall her coming down the aisle with crystal clarity. I doubt that if the small church was torn down tomorrow I would forget that afternoon that will soon be 10 years in the past. But I bet there would be that sense of something lost to me. While accepting change on the surface, perhaps I have kept too much of a child's feeling of permanence in the world.

Since even with the landscape changed, even with things being torn down and replaced; the bees can still chase me, I can drink imaginary tea with Shelley Davenport, climb over some limestone rocks and enter the shade of a group of trees mindful not to step on the thorns of a honey locust tree, or listen to my father gripe about the loud rock and roll concert being held on the land behind ours.

Bmarkey's Not Barnhart's Boy

Devendra Banhart comes off as an insufferable prick - writes Bmarkey in his 2005 Music wrap up over at #1 Hit Song. I'm not a big fan of the freak folk movement either. Go read the whole thing.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

State Of The Blog

There is one deathball high fructose corn syrup laced Atomic Fireball in the drawer of my desk. I am conjuring up the will to never ingest it. I've dropped a couple of pounds since the beginning of the new year and I don't dare risk falling off the wagon into the land of junk food enchantment. Enough about my cliched resolution and on to the state of the blog.

My tenure as a Blogcritic is drawing to a close. I'm leaving their fold for various reasons, but leaving BC means you probably won't be seeing as many music reviews here in the future. There'll still be plenty of music babble happening just with not as much frequency. More of the focus here will be on stories.

There's stories of old to be told - perhaps the night the whole gang went commoding or the night I almost kicked out of Martin Theater for smoking and cussing people during E.T., or maybe I'll tell of the time I whacked the neighbor girl on the head with a hammer because she was messing around in my toy box (I was only 4). That's where SS is headed this year. And it's not a mere nostalgia trip through the past as the Soulfish wife believes. It's because all stories happen in the past, perhaps even science fiction.