Saturday, December 26, 2009

Scenes From a Restaurant #1

[A family - father, mother, son and daughter - sit at a family restaurant talking about work. The father is a police officer. The son, a substitute high school teacher.]

Son: The thing that annoys me the most is when they make me cover a class during my break period. As far as I'm concerned, after three periods my job is done and anything I do beyond that is simply out of the goodness of my heart. Just the gall of these people to ask me to cover another class, essentially for free! Seriously. They obviously have no idea what it's like being a sub - covering four periods ought to make you eligible for Hazard Pay. What about you, Dad? What calls do you hate taking the most? Is it domestic disturbances, because you don't know what you're walking in to?
Father: No. [Thinking it over for a few moments.] I hate the hangings, because then you have to cut the guy down.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts on Cardinals-49ers

When one teams turns the ball over 7 times and the other still only scores 24 points, you know you've just watched a Bad Football Game. As the Cardinals limped off the field after Kurt Warner's third turnover of the first half - and the team's fifth - I could imagine Ken Whisenhurt turning to an assistant before taking Warner out behind the shed: "Son, that wolf was rabid..." He just looked so confused out there, throwing to phantom recievers who would have been triple-covered anyway, and holding onto the ball so long it grew mold. On one of his interceptions, Warner threw into a pack of 49ers defensive backs so thick they blotted out the sun. It looked like he misfired into the 49ers bench.

Not that Alex "19-of-35, 144 yards" Smith was making a case for Canton either. At one point in the third quarter, you could see the thought crossing his mind: "Thank God Kurt is so bad tonight that all I have to do is complete a 10-yard-out once in four tries and I look like the second coming of Joe Montana." He would have had to set Frank Gore on fire to have had a worse night than Warner.

Scenes from a High School #2

Another actual exchange with a student, this time in Childhood Development. She was a sophomore, and very, very Brooklyn Park. There wasn't an ounce of sarcasm in her voice, so either she has the driest sense of humor in comedy history or this is real shit passing through her brain. To wit:

Me: "Ok, everybody. Today we're gonna watch a movie and you guys are gonna take notes. It's called Stand and Deliver."
Student: "Aww shit. Is this gonna be about childbirth?"
Me: [Picturing a doctor yelling "Stand and deliver!" at woman in labor. Smiling broadly.] No. No, it's not about childbirth, thankfully. It's about teaching AP Calculus.'ll see. [Presses "play" on the VCR. Eerie string section creeps in. Footage of some flags waving in slow-motion, like they're underwater.]
Student: "Is this about whales?"

Thursday, November 12, 2009


[Editor's note: I wrote this a few years ago and recently decided it could use some cleaning up. I've always wondered what happened to this guy.]

Keith Curley was a pizza delivery man in Pasadena, Maryland in the late-1990s, who moved into my friend Elliott's folks' bungalow down on Bodkin Creek the summer before our senior year of high school, which is how he came into our lives. He was a few years older than us, in his mid-twenties, tall and thin, with a nest of long red hair that was always hanging in one huge tangle on his shoulders. He wore baggy, drab clothes and sandals and smelled like patchouli and gangrenous feet. In short, he was like a posterchild for the burnouts who became labeled hippies, solely for convenience sake - the kind who solely refer to people as "brutha" and everything as "cool beans." The kind of guy who couldn't pick Timothy Leary out of a line-up but probably believed that Terrapin Station was a real place.

Keith fancied himself a big-time show promoter in the making, and the first we heard of him was when he delivered a pizza to Elliott's house while our old band was practicing. He offered his "services" to us, and without really knowing what he did, we took him up on his offer to have a sit down. We were 18 and didn't really know any better.

We met him at the bungalow, which he had only lived in a for a few weeks at that point, though he had already converted the hall closet to a greenhouse and there were dogshit stains everywhere, even on the kitchen floor. A filthy Lhasa Apso who smelled like a compost heap was tearing away at it's fur in the corner. "Althea!" he yelled, and the dog scurried away. I remember not wanting to touch anything.

Keith broke the ice by asking if any of us had ever taken a canoe across the creek, which of course none of us had. He proceeded to enlighten us.

"You go across there in daytime, man, it might take you an hour. But you go out in a thunderstorm, man, those waves are just like SLAMSLAMSLAM! SLAM! SLAMSLAMSLAMSLAMSLAM! SLAM! SLAAAAAM! ROCKIN' THE BOAT! SLAM! SLAM! It's some wild shit, brutha!"

From that moment on, Keith was known to us simply as "Slam."

Slam managed to get us a few decent shows in city bars that wouldn't normally deal with underage bands, and he always kept the money. Whenever we would come by the bungalow to collect the $60 or $80 he perpetually owed us, he would go to ridiculous lengths to pretend to not be home, even when both cars were in the driveway and we could hear him dropping things in the kitchen. Once, his girlfriend called for him to open the door while we were standing there knocking, and he simply refused to answer her. Finally, to settle the score, Elliott and Heath started going into the bungalow when Keith wasn't there - he never locked the door - and taking the loads of weed he left sitting out in the open. Keith never caught on. Later on, when Elliott would go through the charade of buying weed from him, Slam was always surprised by how little he had left. "Man, I could have sworn I had more in here yesterday - I must be getting burned out, brutha!"

One time Slam brought his best friend's band up from Annapolis to play a show with mine and Elliott's band in Pasadena. They jammed for an hour-and-a-half on what felt like the same chord, and then managed to convince Keith to give them nearly all of the money from the night because they were "going on tour" to Philadelphia the next night. While I was in the middle of a world-class conniption fit, the band's bassist ran in the hall with a terrified look on his face. "Keith, you gotta get out here - the cops are here!" I darted outside to see Keith's friends' band's van hooked up to a tow-truck, with half of the band in handcuffs on the ground outside a squad car. I was impressed at how quickly karma had acted. Turns out the local fuzz had made a sweep of the parking lot after the show and discovered some of the band smoking weed in their van - they arrested them and then had their van - and all their instruments - impounded. Looks like "tour" was being postponed! Keith was completely distraught as the van was towed out of sight. "Not cool, brutha - not cool" was all he could mumble to himself.

As the months went by and Slam made plans to move out and slowly stopped coming around, we would still occasionally run into him when we went drinking on Elliott's pier in front of the bungalow. One time, Kuhlman and I took Slam's canoe from beside the house and rode it across Bodkin Creek in the middle of the night. Every time the oars hit the water we'd yell, "SLAM! SLAMSLAMSLAM! SLAAAAAAAAM! ROCK THIS BOAT!" When we finally made it back, we were so tired that we simply left the canoe on the beach and walked away.

A few weeks later, we were drinking on the pier with my friend Dan, who decided in a drunken rage that Slam needed to be dealt with, for no real reason. He staggered onto Keith's deck and grabbed both of his trashcans and his recycling bin and threw them into the creek. Gathering steam, he then pissed inside Keith's grill and all over a pair of sandals he had left out on the porch before finally hurling a pair of Keith's shoes and a hackysack into the creek as well. Just as we were getting ready to bolt, Keith appeared out of nowhere, visibly upset.

"You guys happen to know who might have taken my canoe out last week?"

I prayed no one would sell me out.

"If I get my hands on that guy, there's gonna be some trouble. That asshole didn't even bring it back up off the beach, and high tide carried that motherfucker a mile downstream. I had to wade underneath some dude's pier to get it back."

We sat there in the dark trying not to laugh, watching Keith's trashcans float slowly up the creek.

"Anyway...anybody want some burgers?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Deep Thoughts #1

1) When shopping for more than one box of cereal, you should be cognizant of how the different flavors will taste together, should you get to the bottom of both boxes around the same time.

Scenes from a High School #1

Actual exchange with a kid today:

" da lac neh monuh be ruh?"
"Do da lac neh monuh be ruh?"
"Say it again - I can't understand you."
"Do da LAC neh MONUH be RUH?"
"I'm sorry but I still have no idea what you're saying. Slow it down."
"Damn yo. Do. The. Loch. Ness. Monster. Be. Real."

Thursday, August 13, 2009


So yesterday Cardin held a second "town-hall meeting," this time in Hagerstown. And this happened.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scenes from a Bar #1

[Int. Night. Dimly lit hipster bar. A band caterwauls in the background as a young man bellies up to the bartendress.]

Guy: No, I'm good. I think five's my limit. Thanks. [Motions for her to lean in.] Hey, I don't mean to sound sleazy with you working here and all, but I think you're really cute. My band is playing the Ottobar tomor-
Girl: WHAT??
Guy: My band is playing the Otto -
Girl: WHAT?
Girl: I have to work tomorrow. [Immediately walks away.]
Guy: Ok.

[Edit - This is an old one.]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Oy vey.  This health care business is about enough to put an infected boil on your ass, which I hear automatically disqualifies you from living, if Obama's "death panels" find out.  The stakes are getting pretty high.

I thought long and hard about going to the town-hall meeting hosted by Sen. Cardin at Towson University the other night, just to catch a glimpse of the rabble first-hand.  In the end, I stayed home and slammed my head against a doorknob over and over again, and after reading the Sun's coverage of the event - and the one that Cardin hosted in Hagerstown this morning - I'm not convinced I didn't end up better off.  I'm continually amazed at this nation's almost boundless love of ignorance - we love not knowing shit.  We are dangerously incurious.  We fear knowledge and facts because we like to believe that we are Masters of Reality and facts are immutable things that challenge that assertion, so we avoid them.  Collectively, we need to feel like we know everything at every given moment.  That feeling is our true American birthright.

Right now, a good number of Americans sound like battered wives defending their husband to the cops: "He didn't mean to hit me!  He's a good man!  Leave him alone!" while they're try to stop their nose from bleeding.  When did our current system become so unimpeachably perfect that the very idea of meddling with it provokes Chernobyl-levels of blind rage and hysteria?  How great are things really going when 46 million Americans don't have access to health care, and the ones that do can be dropped or have their rates raised at any time, or have preventative care denied for an number of unchallengeable reasons?  Alot of folks seem unnecessarily comfortable having the Free Market being the only thing standing between them and the uninsured masses they are really having a good time looking down upon right now. I don't know the ins and outs of the entire thing, but it seems to me that we ought to be able to hold an adult conversation about joining the rest of the industrialized world and guaranteeing every citizen a minimum level of preventative care.  Why is that such a scary concept?

For starters, about .05% of the people attending these mob gatherings have any idea of what the fuck is really going on.  They heard Glenn Beck say something the other day, and Hannity seems pretty worked up about it, and someone told them that Obama is planning to kill grandmom, shortly after he gets done making sure each illegal immigrant has one white slave a piece.  So there they are in all their buffoonish glory, shouting down reason, shouting down each other, and shadow boxing horrific specters that aren't really there, and not allowing rational adults the chance to figure this shit out.  One man stood up at a town hall meeting in Columbia, South Carolina last week and said "The government isn't getting it's hands on my Medicaid!"  And thats about all you need to know about who you're dealing with - ignorant white people, many of them old, who live in mortal fear of change, and have become incapable of independent thought.  I'm about to sound like an asshole, but I think if Thomas Jefferson knew how stupid the populace was to become, he might have had cold feet on this whole democracy thing.

But even beyond that, I think alot of this is the manifestation of stunted emotional maturity.  Some people never seem to grow socially beyond the age of 7, by which point directing your life according the maxim "I need to be the happiest person on the Earth, and fuck everyone else" should probably be revealed as juvenile horseshit.  Everyone wants all the toys to themselves, as though the reason that they were never on the outside looking in is directly due to their own efforts which began immediately at childbirth.  We're all functions of where and when we were born, and to whom, and those of us that were raised middle-class and white have been endowed with advantages that some people will never make up in their lives, no matter how hard they work.  That's fact, and you can point to fantasy scenarios of some kid born in West Baltimore and rising from the ashes to become a great neurosurgeon, but there's a reason why those stories make the papers - because they're really fucking rare.  Most poor people in this country - black and white - were born poor, they will live poor, and they will die poor.  And somehow, a lot of people have become entirely comfortable telling this huge swath of the country to just do without, for no reason besides sheer perversity.

We are a selfish nation and the only thing we love more than having something is being able to prevent someone else from having the same thing; we are like children, greedily grabbing as much of the pie for ourselves on the principal that "Might is Right."  These are obsolete impulses that may have proven evolutionarily advantageous thousands of years ago when we were fighting dodos for flax seeds, but it's time to grow up, and in the case of America in 2009, it's time to enter middle school and realize that there are benefits to making the world around you better, even if it comes at a slight cost to your having-shittedness.  Bill Hicks said "Evolution didn't end when we grew thumbs.  Now, its about an evolution of ideas."  And as always, the Man is right.

I had a conversation with someone in advance of the last election, that began with her saying "All us Obama supporters just need to band together and take over this nation."  This sounds very easy living in the East, where the concentration of educated people capable of rational, adult thinking is higher between Boston and D.C. than anywhere else in the country.  You are surrounded by people who, more likely than not, share some version of your vision.  But once you go beyond this Cradle of Civilization you are struck with the fact that there are an awful lot more of Them then there are of Us, and by "Them" I mean people who distrust the news because they can't process it, who are overworked and overworried and can only respond to base human stimuli, like hate and aggression.  People who will believe anything if Rush Limbaugh says it, because it makes them feel good to hear another well-off white person welcoming them to the fold.

In the run-up to the election, I also came across an article somewhere in which an evolutionary biologist was suggesting that the differences between liberals and conservatives might be biological, and the human race may be splitting into two sub-species.  He said that on a brain scan, we process information differently and respond to different stimuli, and we might be witnessing the beginning of a divide that will appear much more defined when we look back from hundreds of years down the line, when Brains and Brawn have completely divorced themselves from each other.  At the time, I dismissed it out of hand and tried to forget about it.  But since then, I've found myself unable to shake the idea that maybe we ARE different kinds of people now; that maybe we're not the same species anymore.  And whenever I see the footage of some flag-waving moron shouting that she refuses to go before Obama's "death panels," the idea haunts me anew.  There was a time when I thought that I understood their side but just didn't agree with it.  But now, I just don't understand it.  It's not in me like it is them.  I feel like Cutty in the Wire: "Whatever it is that let you do like you do, and flow like you flow?  It ain't in me no more."

And the real shame is that fighting these battles against organized insanity is sapping our energy and creativity, and holding back our evolution as a species.  The best and brightest among us have to spend an inordinate amount of time refighting The Dark Ages, so that the rabble don't elect another one of their inbreds to run this country even further into the ground.  Rather than trying to convince a wide swath of the populace that the government has no plans to summarily try and execute their loved ones, we ought to be going after the Big Questions - What is reality?  What is beyond the universe?  How did this whole thing start?  Then we might be able to place our humanity in a proper context, and then maybe so many of the illusions that have captured an embarrassing amount of us will be exposed for their fallacies, and fall away like wheat before the scythe.

I realize this has gotten a little bit out-of-bounds, but I just can't help myself anymore.  This country is willingly throwing itself against the shoals and I can't understand why.  I also fully expect any national health care system to be a fucking mess at first.  It's probably going to be a calamity for the first few years, and people are going to be righteously pissed off.  But this is a Big Goal and it's not going to be fully achievable in the next four years, or even the next eight, and maybe not in the next twenty.  But the choice that we're confronted with is whether this is a goal we need to be aiming for, and if it is, then we've got to start somewhere.  And the only way to know where we stand is to stop arguing fucking nonsense and debate the issue.  If we're not going to start going down the path of a more compassionate society now, then when?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I just came across a small sliver of paper that I had used as a bookmarker during this past semester of substituting.  I actually had about three of these that I moved from book to book, only retiring them when there were fully covered in scrawled notes to myself recounting my favorite overheard exchanges between students.  Once I learned to laugh with the kids, the job got a whole lot cooler.  

Here's what was written on this one, with some minor embellished details that I couldn't fit on the paper at the time, but remember somewhat clearly:

"Yo, don't mess with that turtle.  He bite you."
"Ain't no turtle gonna bite me."
"Yo, I'm telling you.  I got bit by a turtle once.  That's why I'm always biting my nails."
"'Cause a turtle bit me!"

"Um, we looking for some geese. [Points to ditto.] That a geese."
"They all geese."
"Well that a geese that chase you."

"Where's your homework?"
"Oh, you know...I just came off being sick and my eyes ain't working right and all..."

"Damn yo - I'd hate to be an animal.  Lying around all day, doing nothing, waiting to be fed.  Damn, yo."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More L.A.

This has been an up and down week.  On Thursday, after four days of valiant efforts, we decided that everything we did at Ocean Way was unusable.  We were intending to keep just the drum and bass tracks and overdub everything else when we got back to Kevin's, but in trying to re-record the piano, it became obvious that this just wasn't coming across right - it all felt stilted and rigid.  Our band lives and dies on "vibe," so instead, we all set up in Kevin's personal studio - a very impressive room in and of itself - and spent two days trying to nail entirely live takes, with Rod going for keeper vocals as well.  We're really intent on this record feeling like a live show, albeit without all the hair and spurs.  We stayed at it for three more days, landing keeper takes of "Full Growin' Man" and "Don't Break the Needle"...before finding out that those takes were also unusable - the bass guitar was bleeding into Rod's vocal mic too much, and my cymbals were overpowering the drum track (which has been a recurring problem since we've been out here).  Needless to say we were all gutted - 11 days in L.A. and nothing but boxes of unusable tape to show for it.

But we rallied gamely.  Kevin devised a third set-up whereby Rod could record a scratch vocal while playing his piano (easier said than done without bleed) and if a cymbal screamed, I was getting caned.  We rose above the disappointment and banged out all five songs again on Tuesday, and those sound ridiculously good right now.  Billy is downstairs getting ready to start guitars...I'll feel confident when it's entirely finished.  

(A minor tragedy in all this is that Zach and I had to give up tickets to see a live taping of Bill Maher on Friday, as well as The Price is Right on Monday.  Could you really see Zach showing up for that and NOT getting called to come on down??)

But while the recording got bogged down, one area that has been picking up steam steadily is the industry response that's been drummed up simply by inviting people down to the studio and playing them the demos that we recorded over the holidays.   It's been a very L.A. situation - one well-placed person takes a liking to you, and before long everyone is sniffing around to make sure they're not getting scooped.  Since we've been here, we've had a meeting nearly every day, and today we've had two.  It's all very vague and superficial at the moment, and half of the people who show up on our doorstep have never heard a note of ours - they just know that other people have been here.  The main thrust of these things seem to be the label trying to gauge how together our shit is before they decide whether to take it to the higher-ups.  But they've all been going well - tomorrow we're having our first follow-up meeting downtown with some folks who came and met us last week, and I have high hopes that this leads to an expensive lunch of some kind.

Other than that, I've been enjoying walks to the library in the morning, the hot tub in the evening, and I've settled into a wonderful late-night routine of milk-and-cookies and the New York Times, cover-to-cover, just before bed.  Zach impressed upon me "Slaughterhouse Five" and I'll probably start that today.

Oh yeah, we just heard today we'll almost certainly be playing with The Drive-by-Truckers at Bourbon Street in Baltimore on June 3rd (a week from today!).  Its a new club down by Sonar.  See you there...?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Alive, But For the Living

I have no idea what that means.  It was on my lips as I woke up this morning and I've spent all day trying to figure out where it came from.  Probably a Smiths song.

We're in L.A., and frankly, it feels magical.  The effect of driving through L.A. for the first time has got to be akin to when people first visit New York and the iconography almost overwhelms you.  Everything is famous!  There's the Sunset Strip!  And Rodeo Drive!  Holy shit - are we in Beverly Hills?!  And there's the Chateau Marmot, where if I squint hard enough I can actually see Gram Parsons debauching half of Laurel Canyon.  And the mountains, and the taco trucks...and the palm trees!  Again, maybe this is the movies talking, but they just make everything feel right as they stand there tall and looming, most groomed better than the people walking under them.  L.A. is a scene.

The flights out here were my first times in an airplane, and I loved it.  I think because of all the hours we spend in the van where my life is in the hands of someone else - someone's who's probably not slept right in three weeks - I could relax enough to enjoy most everything, even the slight turbulence.  (What did suck was being in the window-less last row of the plane by the bathrooms for the flight from D.C. to Atlanta - that part can fuck off.)  Dove had told me how gorgeous it is flying into L.A. at night and he was right on - it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.  As we approached, it was just a sea of lights that rolled all the way from Anaheim to the horizon, and washed over the mountains.  It was incredible...the world became luminescent.  

But I didn't come here for the sights, or the best Mexican/sushi/thai food I've ever had, or to see the drummer from No Doubt walking his dog the other day.  We've been recording relatively non-stop since we touched down on Thursday night.  On Saturday we knocked out five live backing tracks in a marathon 16-hour session at Ocean Way studios, a big shot L.A. address that was the scene of the "We Are The World" sessions, most of the Mamas and the Papas catalogue, a bunch of 80's Stones stuff, and all of Sinatra's 60's output (there's a fabulous picture of he and Nancy singing together there, posted outside the control room) along with many, many other things.  It looked amazing in there, with the original parquet floor and old muffling panels hung on the ceiling.  When I was going to bed the night before I had an attack of the nerves, but once we got rolling it went surprisingly easy...we're all knocked out by how good the finished tracks sound.  The only casualty is my 70's-era Zildjian ride cymbal, which was mortally wounded on the Murder by Death tour with a growing crack around it's belly, but remained playable until about the eighth take of "Full Growin' Man," when it finally became so shredded that it now sounds like a china cymbal.  I grew personally attached to that cymbal, as other ones came and cracked and were replaced by new models, but it withstood the abuse seemingly gladly, singing better and louder the harder it was hit, almost goading me on.  I don't know what I'm going to do without it.  They just don't make them like they used to.

Since Saturday, my part in the recording is essentially done, with the exception of scream-along backing vocals later in the week.  This is giving me plenty of time to delve into L.A., which I am plotting with relish.  We're staying in North Hollywood and I just discovered the unheralded L.A. metro system, which stops right across the street from our loft.  It doesn't have many stops, but one is at Hollywood and Vine, one is in Los Feliz, and one is two blocks from the Chinese Theatre, and those are all good ass-hoofing HQs.  Zach and I walked around Sunset this afternoon and hit Amoeba Records (you have to have a shopping list in here or you will lose your damn mind) and then, for perverse kicks, we went into the "Psychiatry: The Science of Death" museum, run by the Scientologists.  It was as fucking nuts as you can imagine, portraying modern psychiatry as an updated version of Dr. Mengele...literally.  The Scientologists are all over this place...I just want my thetan levels read while I'm here.  I NEED TO BE THETAN CLEAR DAMMIT!

All right, that's enough for now.  They're tracking vocals downstairs and I think I heard someone talking about enchiladas.

Be well...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Life in Albums

Again, these are the fruits of a Facebook meme.  I'm seriously fucking stalling for time, and I enjoyed the group headings more than anything else, so here's this.  Hit me with your thoughts on where it all went wrong...

Formative Years

1. Poison - Open and Say Ahhhh!
2. Bel Biv Devoe - Poison
3. New Edition - New Edition
4. Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Game Changes

5. Nirvana - Nevermind
6. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
7. The Lemonheads - It’s a Shame About Ray

The Dischord Years

8. Fugazi - Red Medicine
9. Rites of Spring - Rites of Spring
10. Jawbox - Jawbox/For Your Own Special Sweetheart
11. Shudder to Think - Pony Express Record
12. Nation of Ulysees - Plays Pretty For Baby

Pop Fag Reborn

13. The Beatles - Revolver
14. Guided by Voices - Under the Bushes, Under the Stars
15. Superdrag - Regretfully Yours
16. Big Star - #1 Record
17. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
18. Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With the Arab Strap
19. The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
20. Lilys - The 3 Way
21. Elvis Costello - Trust

Sad Bastard Years

22. Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
23. Whiskeytown - Strangers Almanac
24. The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo
25. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue


27. Neil Young - Harvest
28. Bob Dylan - The Basement Tapes/Another Side of Bob Dylan
30. Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On
32. The Replacements - Tim
33. Teenage Fanclub - Bandwagonesque
34. The Pernice Brothers - The World Won’t End
35. Broadcast - The Noises Made By People

City Dweller

36. Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die
37. New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
38. XTC - Black Sea
39. Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
40. The Shins - Chutes too Narrow
41. The Pixies - Trompe Le Monde

I Get Old

42. The Louvin Brothers - My Baby’s Gone/Satan is Real
43. Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Sings Newman
44. Sam and Dave - Double Dynamite
45. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Burnin’

Friday, April 10, 2009

22 Things

It's been awhile.  I've been busy...oh man, I've been up to sooooo much stuff, it's literally, like, pretty insane how much stu...ahhh fuck it.  I've been lazy as hell lately, and this blog was one of the first casualties of that.  So while I iron my shit out, here are the results of a Facebook meme I spent entirely too long working on a couple of months ago.  I was pretty jazzed about it initially but it's a bit corny in hindsight.  Oh well.


1. I really want to move down South in the next few years. I feel like it's where I belong. They have sweet tea and Cracker Barrell and I hear one of the requirements of being a police officer is the ability to sing in three-part harmony. Plus southern girls.

2. I went to college and became an atheist and a vegetarian, just like Hannity warned me.

3. My favorite album of all-time is "Tim" by the Replacements, and the 'Mats are my favorite band. Though they're popularly considered punk, they're everything holy about rock n' roll to me. They're perfectly sloppy and Westerberg is one of the most underrated songwriters ever.

4. I'm an inveterate night owl. Even on nights where I have to get up for school at 6 a.m., I can't go to bed before midnight. I just feel indignant towards sleep - how dare it tell me that I have to give up a portion of my day? Fuck sleep - I'd just as soon stay up forever.

5. I've noticed that the amount of sleep I do get is inversely proportional to the amount of sense I make the following day. On days after I get little sleep, my brain seems to be too tired to be as scattered as it normally is, so all it can do is reason and respond logically. This especially works to my benefit on tour, when it allows me the ability to reorganize my life while I'm running on 3.5 hours of sleep and wearing the same underwear for the third straight day.

6. The first band I ever got truly obsessed with is New Edition. Just me and 5 million teenage black girls.

7. The first cassette I ever owned was a collection of mid-80s pop stars doing cover versions of oldies for a California Raisins compilation. I was particularly obsessed with the version of "Stand By Me" by some unknown dude, and Phil Collins's version of "You Can't Hurry Love." I've looked for, but have been unable to find this cassette anywhere. If anyone can find a copy, I will pay top dollar for it.

8. Though none of my immediate family is interested in music - at all - I have distant relatives in Michigan who make up a gospel singing group called The Colmus Family, as well as a long-lost also-ran 60s country singer named Johnny Colmus, who worked a stint on the Grand Ole Opry before cutting out on his own as a singer-songwriter. The apex of his career had to have been when Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubbs recorded a version of his song "I'll Just Call You Darling" on their album of duets, "Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be." But I might be underestimating what it was like to write "Freida the Sand Witch."

9. Though I made it official in college, I first came to the realization that religion wasn't for me when I was in Catholic middle school. I remember looking around me during Stations of the Cross and thinking to myself, "This makes absolutely no sense." But even years after I gave up on religion, I still prayed to God almost nightly. Then one day I realized I was doing it because I hoped He was out there, not because I knew it or felt it. I realized that wasn't faith - that was covering my ass, and it was time I started being honest with myself. Initially it was scary, but I've been alot happier ever since.

10. The three philosophers I've taken the most inspiration from are George Carlin, Charles Schultz and Bill Hicks.

11. I've taken the Gettysburg tour guide test twice in my life, and for a two-year stint in high school, I was a Confederate Civil War re-enactor. I'm only slightly embarrassed by this because I never subscribed to the politics that most of those guys did, and firing a muzzle-loading gun is pretty fun. And I am a gigantic fucking nerd.

12. I've never flown in an airplane. Ever. My mom has a severe fear of flying, so growing up we spent our vacations at either Ocean City or Busch Gardens. I'm fairly determined to take my first flight this year because I can't be the only 30-year-old in America that hasn't flown in a goddamn airplane.

13. I started listening to Fugazi when I was fifteen because a girl I was digging lectured me on how awesome they were and I pretended to know what she was talking about. I went out the next day and bought "In On The Killtaker," and instantly hated the living shit out of it; however, by this point, I had convinced myself that any chance I had with this girl rested on my ability to be able to talk about Ian MacKaye, so I sat there for weeks dissecting that album, trying to find what was so great about it. Gradually it all made sense and I became completely obsessed with the entire Dischord catalogue and went straight-edge for most of high school. Yes, I completely regret that last part.

14. The nine albums that shaped my musical education thus far have been: "Open and Say Ahhhh!" by Poison, when I was 8; "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe, when I was 10; "Nevermind" by Nirvana when I was 11; "Red Medicine" by Fugazi, when I was 15; "For Your Own Special Sweetheart" by Jawbox, when I was 16; "The Boy With the Arab Strap" by Belle & Sebastian, when I was 19; "Pet Sounds" when I was 20; "The Soft Bulletin" by the Flaming Lips, when I was 20; and "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits" when I was 21. I've had my mind blown since then, but those were the ones really made me rethink my shit.

15. McDonald's would get daily business from me if they served breakfast all day. If I can eat an egg-and-cheese bagel and a platter of hotcakes with a hashbrown, and chase it down with some orange drink, my day has already kicked ass and everything else is just bonus.

16. It sounds corny, but I think the awesomest thing in the world is making somebody laugh.

17. I miss having a cat.

18. I very rarely get blasted, but apparently I'm a very friendly drunk. The band has dubbed my drunken alter-ego "Scott," and Scott just wants to be everyone's best friend. Scott is not above kissing you either.

19. I don't know how I feel about the after-life. On the one hand, heaven doesn't seem likely to me - at the very least you've got no reason to believe it's true. But we know so little about the true nature of our universe that I haven't written off the idea that we'll all see each other again someday, in some other place far from here, and maybe if we're lucky we'll recognize each other and it'll be like we never left.

20. Despite all of the above statements, whenever shit goes horribly wrong, I still talk to my late grandparents. I don't know how that fits into my worldview or where I really think they're at, but it almost always makes me feel better.

21. I've been playing drums in bands since I was 15, and I still don't particularly think of myself as a drummer. It's just what I happen to do in the band.

22. 21 items is a perfectly good stopping place for this.