Tuesday, March 28, 2006

every man is evil, every man a liar

Just worked up a piece on Two Gallants, a perfectly good outfit from San Francisco doing the guitar-and-drum retro-rock thing. Fair enough, there's plenty of room for that. I kind of felt a little bad for the kid, whatever the thought process behind his forming a band with his friend in the early '00s, it must not be fun to constantly get paired up against the White Stripes, the Black Keys, Mr Airplane Man and so on just because they couldn't be bothered to hire a bass player either. I mean, he didn't say this but I take his point--no one compares every quartet to the Beatles just because they've got a similar lineup.

OK, maybe they do, but not just because of the numbers.

Anyway, there's a track on Two Gallants' new album that formed the meat of my piece, this song called "Long Summer Day." It's not a bad song, your basic slice of southern country-blues choogle, but then right there in the middle of the song--a couple of times, actually--there's that word. Nigger. It's awful just to look at, so unaccustomed are we to even seeing it in print now that it's become 'the N word' in our (mass media) lexicon. You can practically see the waves of foul feelings coming of the letters.

So naturally whatever the song was doing or trying to say instantly becomes, "Holy shit, they just said that word. Wow, I've got to think about this...oh man, they just said it again!" And these, naturally, are two white kids from SF, something that now is probably getting brought to this band's attention even more than the White Stripes thing was in 2002 when the band's first record was released.

The song's written from the point of view of a slave who's about to launch a rebellion of his own, and the band's singer was pretty forthright in saying the song was his way of acknowledging this time in history that spawned music very dear to him. AND, he countered with wondering if he was only allowed to write songs from his point of view, as a 21st century white kid in SF. Fair points, those.

But, regardless, I think the song belies an unfortunate mix of experimentation mixed with hubris. Yes, you can write from a point of view other than your own. That's why you're called a songwriter and not a diarist. And yes, avoiding the word as vigorously as we as a society have only seems to empower it in a sense. But it is an undeniably ugly word, and now that you've used it that's all we're talking about. Song? What song? Whether it's shame or self-censorship, society has placed that word firmly out of bounds. We--the city on a hill, the beacon of freedom, America--stole people from a country and enslaved them. And it was 'ok' then because of what they looked like. Reprehensible. I don't think banning this word is sweeping that time under the rug, I think it's an acknowledgement of its ugliness. Our penance for that sin is we've lost our rights to that word. So be it.

So. Good effort, Two Gallants. I'm not going to post the song right now because I really don't want them to become 'that band who said this word in their song' any more than they might already. They tried something and I don't think it worked--that doesn't mean they should be saddled with that misstep from this day foreward. If you ask and think it's warrented, I'll put it up in my next post and let you decide.

In the meantime, here's another song, seemingly from the same era Two Gallants sought to acknowledge but in what I think is a more wise manner.

"Black Soul Choir," by Sixteen Horsepower

Even removed from any acknowledgement of race, this is one passionate song. I've never seen Sixteen Horsepower, and in fact never heard much beyond this, which appeared on Jim White's "Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus" soundtrack. I imagine the lead singer practically convulsing in religious fervor in the middle of a tent revival, and I'm pretty much right there with him thanks to that insistent, almost sinister banjo and a driving martial snare. Preach it, brother. Sing it.

Monday, March 27, 2006

mine's not a high horse

Terrific post over at OneLouder this morning, and one that sorta taps into my earlier frustration with the redundancy of 'independant voices' here in blogland. A good rule of thumb, I'm thinking, is if it makes you feel good, write about it, and if that's something that you think has been criminally overlooked up to this point, that much better.

Okay, now that I've curtailed some redundancy of my own, here's one for ya'll:

"Wires," by Voyager One

This may not have come up in the past, but I've got a huge, achilles-shaped weakness for the almighty drone. The shoegazer sound, for want of a better term. Maybe that came across in the Nels Cline or maybe Earlimart posts, I don't know, but the late '80s and early '90s were pretty much a golden age of effects pedals, and I loved 'em all. Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver (to a point), more more more. Beat me over the head with that flanger pedal until my head pops and releases sparklers like one of those spores from the time-lapse National Geographic shows.


Yes, Voyager One. Great little band out of Seattle on the aptly named Loveless records. This is off their 2002 release "Monster Zero," and hear-tell they've since released a new record, but it's one that I think found them drifting more toward a rawer, garage boogie kind of sound (at least on the two songs I heard). But here's where I think they really tapped into not just the original guitar-meets-drugs formula, they dropped it into an electric blender until the fuse shorted out. Enormous squalls of noise threaten to overtake the vocals, but between the verses an extra flourish cuts through the haze, like a blast of heat lightning. It's like one of those beloved shoegaze bands from days of yore but this time they're dressed in silvery spacesuits, fighting to escape an arcade in a flash flood. Hold on, just five more minutes and you'll make high score.

Friday, March 24, 2006

buy the ticket, take the ride

My God it's an incredible day out.

I hereby apologize in advance to anyone who's still snowbound, down feather-bound, or otherwise subject to cold weather on this the tail end of march and the front end of spring but MAN. This is why it's so terribly expensive to live here.

Granted, if I craned my neck around my house to look at the low-lying hills in the distance, they're probably shrouded in some sort of smog-mess, and beneath that there's probably a knot of traffic (at 10:30!) that shouldn't be there, and inside each car is some industry tool barking at his/her assistant/child/phone/fellow commuter, but RIGHT NOW, things are grand.

I want to post a 'things are grand' song, and I've got a few choices at my disposal. But let's set aside the big rock once more and indulge my freaky jazz experimental side once more.

"Bubblehouse (Live)," By Medeski Martin and Wood
(with Marc Ribot)

Yeah, you've probably heard of MMW, and you've probably got a picture in your head of some twirling hippie, noodling around the room and getting in your space with his hair and his sweat and his fried enthusiasm. Well STOP. Just let it go. Yeah, those people are there at the shows and doing their thing, but so what? Look at decades past, they knew what they were talking about when it came to music.

Now. I'm never going to post Phish, String Cheese, Umphrey's McGee or whathaveyou here, and I'm not even going to get into why. But what I will get into is why this jazz trio (and yes they're a jazz trio) deserves your ear. This song isn't one of my favorites (something from the magnificently unkind "Dropper" earns that distinction--more on that later), but it is definitely a joyful, energetic, and very unhinged 10 minutes where four remarkable musicians deliver a instrumental rollercoaster.

The song has this gradually accelerating and decelerating tempo that reminds me of some cheesy hockey arena anthem, the kind that gets played before a power play to remind the crowd there's beer a few steps away. But Ribot's guitar has other ideas. He's driving the train here. It starts in this grimey blues-funk place, speeds through some latin neighborhood where that kid with the big eyes is having a birthday party, then slows down to cruise through the ugliest part of town with its windows rolled down. Go ahead and take a look around, we'll wait. Then just as the sun's on your shoulders things speed up and get all noisy and punk-funk and back again. By the time the ride's over, you're exhausted, spent and covered in circus peanuts. How'd that happen? Never mind, let's go again.

Spring's coming, my pets. Hang in there.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

what about the sun king?


I had this whole masterplan for this post, and a lot of it centered around posting a song from Earlimart, a really solid, airtight around the edges band from LA that I got to see last night along with the aforementioned Band of Horses at King King. But, unfortunately, I've run into some technical difficulties (insert profanity here). Soooo, maybe you'll get that song later, maybe not, but for now it's going to have to wait.

ANYWAY, good show. I thought Band of Horses lived up to the line-around-the-corner hype quite nicely, definitely benefitting from a subtraction of some the fuss and fuzzle of the studio. Had a really raggedly energetic presence, with a nice indie Neil Young thing going on, right down to the lead singer's plaid shirt and trucker hat (Trucker hat? What year is this?). There were two songs, one from the record, one a cover, where I thought they really leapfrogged their influences and became something else, something that stood up and started shaking hands around the room. I'm looking forward to hearing more out of them and where they go next, but they've got a few steps yet before I stop thinking of them as more than My Morning Jacket's kid brother.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Earlimart, meanwhile, needs something, and I'm not sure what. They got a lot of well-earned love for their last album "Treble and Tremble," a lot of which because of its dedication to and inspiration from lost friend Elliott Smith. And it's a good record, fantastic in spots even, as was everything they played last night. But...they're really at their best when they get good and noisy, when their delicate and occasionally Grandaddy-esque swooshes and grandeur gets mucked up with some sloppy guitar and some just blood and bullets energy.

Like this: "Unintentional Tape Manipulations," by Earlimart
(Thank you, Savefile!)

This song is one of those instances where the band takes the noise and chaos and beauty of big guitar rock and embraces it....loosely. Everything in these five minutes sounds just filthy. Broken down, and not a little angry. Much of the time Earlimart's sound can be very constricted, controlled...cold even. Here things are breathing, shifting, running into eachother and maybe even happening at random (at least as random as you can get in the studio). Live they flirt with this messy side much more, but when ever they get right to the edge of some real craziness they always pull back before breaking through the edge. A lot of people may like that little tease, that floral-lined trip to the brink, but I want to know what they would find there! Where would they go? Would all my hair fall out? Would I go blind? And I want them to want to know as well.

They're unsigned right now and shopping around some songs, but here's hoping they get a little nudge soon, a little invitation to a place that might allow for a few more unintentional consequences.

Monday, March 20, 2006

i can't stand the rain | against my window

I'm not sure if it was Tina Turner who first voiced such a sentiment or not (sometime before she declared she didn't need another hero), but either way she was onto something. Not that I'm not a fan of rain, it's a fine mood enhancing drug, it's just at times its percussive qualities can be, oh, shall we say, a little less than the zen, waves-of-water-in-a-teacup mythology its cracked up to be.

Right now a surprisingly stubborn storm is dropping this arrhythmic drum solo on the window-mounted air conditioner. It's not relaxing, it's not thought-provoking, it's not even rain anymore. It's this crazy free-jazz freakbeat that defies time signature and any expectation of a pattern. And it just. Won't. Stop.


Funny times in blogland today. Take a look around this little site to see WHAT'S HOT out there and you'll notice several sites hawking the songs of Band of Horses, a nice outfit from Seattle. And, you know, as well they should, dammit, BUT, it's a strange coincidence that this groundswell of internet support launches on the same day as Pitchfork drops the much ballyhooed Best New Music banner all over their review.

This is fine. Theirs is a good record, sure, and maybe the dog's still wagging the tail and folks are just looking to get some page views on this the Christmas Day of the Band of Horses hypestorm. A little bit of service journalism blogging..."You just heard about this band and NOW you can hear them. Presto! I am Blogdor, your MP3-bearing Hero. Come, let us plunder."

But, it could also be something uglier. A certain interweb groupthink where a legion of like-minded indieheads doth mobilize to further Pitchfork's agenda with their newly hip golden children. A certain bandwagoning now that a band's been deemed worthy. Hmmm. I'd rather not think about that one.

So, to end the cycle (while STILL offering the heartiest congrats to Band of Horses--nice record, honestly. A lot like My Morning Jacket, but I love those guys too, so you're fine in my book), let's change gears and transition toward a place of discovery, a place where you read a few words and ask, "Hey, who's this guy and what's all this noise he's talking about?" You remember, a vast interconnected electronic web where you can hear from various individual points of view. Who knows, maybe you'll read about this on Pitchfork in the next few days.

"Black Market," by Weather Report

Yep. Nothing sets young hearts aflutter like early jazz fusion. But hang on, stay with me. Granted, I've got a thing for this song because it will always remind me of renting a house in Northern California owned by an extremely mellow elderly gentleman named Tony who had a white pompadour and a fondness for walking around shirtless. True story. My roommates and I imagined this song was one of his favorites, especially on evenings where he dabbed a little extra English Leather on his neck and pulled his 'good' ascot out of the drawer. Nights where someone he only called his 'ladyfriend' came by for Thai food and that authentic Egyptian hookah in the corner was soon after loaded with something stronger than apricot tobacco.

Follow Jaco's river-bound bass lane. Immerse yourself in Wayne Shorter's winding saxophone as he conjures the ghost of 38 virgins sacrificed in a volcano. Look around you...there's palm trees, a steaming river and fireworks exploding into pillows off in the distance. But most of all, don't look at my landlord's navel. It's got this creepy periscoping thing going that looks like a ligament of some sort, and that kills a buzz.

Buy at Insound

Thursday, March 16, 2006

sunny days and grayer nights

On the way into work today I saw him again, the same guy who waits in the Median on this stretch of Glendale Boulevard that cuts through Echo Park. He's got long stringy hair, a perpetually sad face and a yellow dog with a pink eraser nose that's always sleeping at his feet. Today he was holding a sign asking for 25 cents, taking whatever anyone from the line of cars seeking passage between two freeways handed him. I wasn't one of those who gave anything to him. I never have been.

He's been there for at least a year now, maybe two. You lose track quickly, especially among the home-deprived population of the city.

I see a handful of them on the way to downtown...they rarely stay around for long. I guess that sort of goes with the title, the inherent rootlessness of it all where you stay someplace as long as it feels good, or, more accurately, feels less bad. Then, you're gone. I like to think some of the local homeless people I'd see every morning--the sharp tongued old woman whose crinkled cheeks and sunburn looked straight out of South Boston, the cheerful and smiling black woman who called me 'baby' as I walked into the office--had, like the shizophrenic violinist who got his name in the paper found a way off the streets, into some ramshackle apartment that promised, or at least allowed a view of something better.

I don't let myself think about where else they can be. Working and living downtown gets a lot harder otherwise.

At any rate, not to get too 'We Are the World' (I didn't really intend for this post to go this direction when I sat down), but this song's for all of the above and everyone else. It has no real message (it's an instrumental)--in fact it's a pretty grim, cacophanous mess with, to my ears, a wee sparkle of hope buried in the dark background toward the end, but it might not really be there. It seems to fit.

"View of a Burning City," by the Appleseed Cast

More fun tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

there's something in the popcorn

opprobrium: N. Disgrace arising from exceedingly shameful conduct; ignominy.

For whatever reason have that word in my head, like this crazy itch on the back of my brain that I can't stop scratching. It's a pretty good one, you have to admit, rounded off from beginning to end with all those p's and that b in the middle there. It's suitable for framing. You wouldn't think with a word that looks as sanded down as be quite so unpleasant.

I just re-encountered the word in this fantastic auto review in the L.A. Times written by the reliably fantastic Dan Neil, who for those of you unfamiliar is easily the best writer at that paper, and probably the best automotive writer walking this Earth if his recent Pulitzer carries any weight. And I don't even particularly care about cars, least of all the new Mercedes SUV.

Anyway, I'm not here to contribute to the swelling SUV-burning dogpile (not yet anyway), but between having that little piece of sound--'opprobrium'--jammed in my head all evening and the justifiably acclaimed 'Head On' on the tube, we're smack in the middle of not just an auditory fixation, it's a full-blown word of the day phenomenon (WOTDP).

Thus: 'You Belong to Me,' by The 88

WOTDPs require special measures, and this song qualifies. I have to say upfront I'm not a big fan of the 88. Their songs aren't quite adventurous enough for my tastes, though they've picked up a nice following with some really contagious power pop (though I think they could do better than the mod-fetishizing cover art--c'mon fellas, let's freshen up a bit). But these guys nailed it here with this big slice of self-loathing, which has to be one of the better emotions to pull off within the context of a three minute ballad.

Should you be in the midst of your own personal opprobrium, this is the song for you, preferably paired with stern grip on a half-empty tumbler full of iced brown liquor (your third) in an an empty bar. This song comies on the jukebox and its your only friend, you heartbreaking wretch, you terrible excuse for a human being. And hey, if you just watched your lover go to jail for murdering someone you were committing adultery with, and your family wants you dead, it sounds that much better.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

waiting for the worms

Nothing much new to report today, just taking up some space at work. But I wanted to throw something noisy up and at you. Look out!

"Hydrofoil," Nels Cline & Devon Sarno

There's nothing resembling Wilco or the Geraldine Fibbers here. This is Nels at his exploratory best, but it's a slow, steady kind of search, like you're feeling your way around your grandfather's cellar, the one that hasn't been cleaned or sorted through for years. And this isn't your father's father, the one that smiled a lot and used to tell you straight-faced stories of nonsense (and you'd buy them because you were a kid), this is your MOTHER'S father, the one you didn't know very well, the one who lived up in Maine and died when you were little.

What did he used to do with himself? After he retired we saw less and less of him, your grandmother says, her voice smelling like stale bourbon and fresh bitters. Sometimes they'd hear music, sometimes some mechanical noises, but mostly everyone let him keep to himself. "Go see if there's anything you want," she told you. "I'm not going to touch it."

Weird dusty machines hopelessly try to resist cobwebs in the corner, and there's so much stuff piled up that it seems to be leaning over your head. There's just this narrow path of beaten wood floor that goes from one workbench to the other, leaving only a little space for a washing machine that hasn't worked since the '60s. It's scary, but there's plenty of light, isn't there? Thank God that bulb over your head hasn't burned out, there's not nearly as many shadowy places for things and ideas to hide.

Say, some of this stuff is pretty cool. Is that a tesla coil wired to a Ham radio? How many car batteries are hooked up to that thing? And what's that smell all of a sudden? Now that you think about it, there's nothing to be afraid of...in fact, all this looks....kind of interesting, actually. I bet a few of these things would fire up if you tried hard enough. Let me just check the wires, maybe get a new transistor or a new set of couplings. In fact, down here things aren't so bad. A little bit of dusting, maybe some WD-40, and everything'd be good as new. Why don't you just have a seat. Is that door closed?

Monday, March 13, 2006

i ain't no adobe hut

the following took place 88 hours ago. Or so.

It doesn't matter how close you walk to a building, if there's no awning overhead, you're going to get wet.

The sky's been lazily trying to decide whether to really get serious about this whole rain thing or just say the hell with it and make the whole city go shithouse with a good old fashioned blizzard. So what if it's March, who's in charge here, right?

Either way, it's been wet, all kinds of wet. And cold, as my block and a half walk from my blister of a rental car as reminded me. I grew up back east, but there's a definite difference, I think, between the kind of cold you feel when you're a kid and the kind you feel when you're grown and your limbs are further away from your central heating core. I'm flat cold and getting colder the longer I walk, and it's definitely the California in me talking.

The snowflakes are coming in bunches, like the torn stuffing from the world's tallest stuffed animal, and appears Mama Earth's committed to this whole winter thing for the rest of the day. Maybe all this mess will finally start sticking and I'll be trapped on this side of the river for good. It's time I grab some lunch.

I step into the cafe and to my disappointment it's the same damn one I ate in two years ago, the last time I was in this city. Much less bustling on a Thursday afternoon, but it's the same little breakfast hole. I remember it being a good place, but when you're visiting a new city--particularly one you're considering as a place to live--there's no point in retracing your steps. The waitress tells me to pick between two tables near the window and I do.

One of them is closer to the door and has a new alt-weekly already there and waiting for me, along with a half-empty (yep) glass of water on the other side, surely left by a busboy since there's not so much as a crumb of anything else on the table. I look to the counter and sitting under a pile of fliers is a copy of the city's competing alt-weekly, so I grab it and figure I can compare them both while the weather clears up. One's about WalMart and the other's about the new psychedelia--guess which I read first?

I'm seated barely a couple of minutes before another waitress corrects me: "I'm sorry, you're going to have to move. Someone's sitting there." I nod and gather my papers and my jacket, which I'd already looped over the back of the chair (c'mon, just because it's that cold outside do we have to amp the heaters up to the tropics?).

At that point my former table's original owner approaches. She's a big woman, there's no way around that, and she couldn't look more Of Her City if she had a Suicide Girls tattoo on one arm and "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" emblazoned on the other. Her hair's wadded up severely into a blue bandanna and otherwise she's dressed all in black, except for her top which is a deep navy blue sailor smock. She looks about 5'10" from where I'm sitting, though a third of that's probably boots.

Really, I'm not judging. Stay with me.

She sits down quickly next to me and barely looks my way from behind black-rimmed glasses as she says, "Can I have my Mercury back, please?" Her tone is filed down and poison-tipped in a way that leaves little doubt she's done this before.

I look down and sure enough, her paper's right there in my hands. "Oh yeah," I smile and half-chuckle. I'm caught, so let's just own it and have a laugh. "I kind of ganked it from you there."

"Yeah. You did," she says. She doesn't look at me as she speaks, biting the ends of each of her words like half a pretzel.

I'd been in a car alone, a Chevy Aveo, mind you, for the last three hours, with nothing but a buzzing iPod for company. I'm in no condition to really engage in a conversation, much less an etiquette misunderstanding. So I didn't even look her way; I was too busy wondering, "Did that just happen? I thought everyone in this town was supposed to be all nice and mellow. What the fuck?"

Her Gardenburger arrives a short time later, which she consumes quickly and disappears, her free alt-weekly jammed safely in her purse. I leaf through my competing, non-Mercury, paper and chew my sandwich. It was warm. A few minutes later the snow gives up and I grab a Mercury from the shop next door. There were plenty to go around.


So this one's for you, my new-found friend. Sure, I'll tell everyone here over the next couple days how we're not moving and that a switch to the rainy country isn't in the cards, at least not yet. But you and me, we know the truth. We know it's your harsh urban justice that sent me back to whence I came. Kudos. I've learned my lesson, and I hope ya'll out there have too. Free papers are never free.

"Nietzche", by the Dandy Warhols

Come on, let's be pals.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

the rolling stones gather

Today I offer a salute to the kind of song that I ordinarily twist and bend against, especially now when nostalgia might as well be considered a controlled substance. The kind of song that usually makes me feel carsick because it inevitably recalls my being strapped into the backseat of my parents' Plymouth Volare as we sped through some stretch of midwestern nothing on the way to Boston, the movies, dinner, what have you. Like any kid, the car stereo wasn't mine, and it was always tuned into what can only be called, for want of a better term, 'mom rock.' Not to be sexist--it's dad rock too certainly--but I've seen that term applied to maturing, semi-acoustic bands as Wilco these days, and though I vigorously disagree with that sentiment, I'm not going to invite that kind of confusion either. This is music that wasn't yours, and if you had control of the dial, even at 8, you'dve fixed it.

I came to hate all varieties of mom rock from my little beige backseat, and in the '70s there was an abundance of it. You couldn't buy gas, but you could cry on your steering wheel. Air Supply. Ambrosia. Orleans. God, they all sound like pastel-colored party drinks. But, somewhere mixed in among them was this song, a big gust of soft rock sap from Peter Paul and Mary.

Now, what differentiates this from the bearded simple-syrup merchants listed above? I mean, these are the people who brought Bob Dylan to flyover country, buffing out all the keening imperfections into one perfect, harmonous blend ready for top 40 stations, the kind of stations who weren't into the funny thoughts and funny smells coming out of the big city folk scene.

But, this song captures a mood, there's no denying it. It's filled with all this sun-drenched sadness, loss and regret, and most of all Love, big bubble-lettered love in every sighing note. It's the kind of swollen-hearted ballad that only really goes with trips on airplanes from back when you could still wave at your family from the top of the stairs before your boarded.

My mom used to sing it from the front seat when it came over the radio. We weren't and she wasn't leaving on a jet plane, mind you, she just liked the song so much she couldn't help herself. I'm sure she liked how beautiful it was, and especially liked how it was my older, tougher brother's favorite song when he was small and my dad had to, in fact, leave on a jet plane. And it IS beautiful--certainly not at that moment when I was hearing it--but it just gets brighter and glossier the further I get from that station wagon. You're a kid, the sun's in your eyes because you picked the wrong side of the backseat, and your mom--your mom!--is singing this crazy swooning ballad about jetplanes. Who says 'jetplane' anyway? Why are the vocals all warbley like that? And if someone is that broken up and really 'hates to go,' why don't they just stay? Twenty years later you figure that song and that moment out. That's true mom rock, and I hope everyone has a song like this from way back when, no matter how much it might've made your head hurt.

Peter Paul & Mary, "Leaving on a Jet Plane".

I will, in fact, be leaving on a jetplane tonight, but don't worry, I'll be back. 'Til then, champions.

Monday, March 06, 2006

i've been riding with the ghost

hello my pets.

Where have I been, what's been going on? You never blog, you never call.

It's not important, really. I've been sleeping, okay? Nodding off into my lap between one corner of the Internet and this corner of "The Daily Show."

Forgive the inflammatory rhetoric, although, really, we haven't approached the matches yet. But I can feel it coming in the post. These things happen when exposed to a copy of 'Adbusters,' spine bent and left, incongruously, on a counter inside the gray concrete walls of a gray concrete office building that's a gray concrete feather in the cap of a gray concrete media conglomerate. This is where I work.

Things move slowly there. People move slowly, change moves slowly (if it bothers to get out of its chair at all). It's not often terribly offensive, it's better than a lot of places (sadly) but never ideal, and everyone wants Ideal. Nothing changes except the time, and that moves quickly. Like it or not. Hey look, a magazine. You see?

Anyway, yeah, Adbusters. No one within the sound of my encoded voice, I'd hope, is completely unaware of their wares and their philosophy. Good people, surely. I was, at least in an intimate capacity, unaware up to this point. Asleep. Certainly I'd seen their past issues, their provocative political-type covers, their self-explanatory name. "Yes. I get it. You hate ads, and you are working to stop them. "Bust" them, as it were. It's right there in bold sans serif and what a wonderful job you're doing, Ray Parker Jr."

The cynicism comes easily, you see. I am a target market.

I knew what they were against, sure, the proliferation of corporate monoliths and shareholder greed, the orange, barbed-tail silhouettes walking straight off the dvd box. Noble work, that. And it's all done with an angle toward activism and creativity that I can appreciate, well thought out poems and essays. It's a wonder I hadn't picked them up before with my lefty distaste for the current regime, the current social climate, the current proliferation of news masquerading as entertainment and distraction masquerading as news, and so on.

But I didn't.

I always walked by it, whether in Borders or, hopefully, in my Local Independent Bookseller, when I could be in the neighborhood. I never learned much beyond how expensive the magazine was to take home, and how expensive those previously described ideals must have been. Instead I stepped to the left and leafed through Paste, Stop Smiling, Magnet, any number of music magazines that feed my addiction, the collector in me searching for what's new out there to hear, what's eager to become my New Favourite (and yes, I think the 'u' is appropriate). I heard many things, i check this space (this=the internet) to learn more. I listen. I evaluate. I stretch my perceptions. I consume.

I won't stop. Forty-five minutes with a randomly placed magazine isn't about to fix that. I'm too far gone.


I'm at a crossroads. It's not necessarily Adbusters-based, but it relates, I think. Before me sits a choice, all chimney orange and halloween red (as a friend might say). One is my home, my comforts, my gray concrete. My simple life of least resistance. My ability to enjoy the company of my loved ones as well as certain things I've grown accustomed to, which is all tied in with turning part of me off for seven to 9 hours a day in the hopes I can turn it back on again when i'm done. Just don't touch me, don't stain my clothes and we'll be all right. Three minutes or six years, I'll give you my time you give me my kibble, are we clear? And when we're done I'll quietly take my seat and see you tomorrow, deal? Deal.

On the other path, mystery. Potential to reach my own, yeah, potential, but a complete uncomfortable unknown. Fear, terror, discomfort and, yeah, rain. Lots of that. So, two choices, sun on one side, rain on the other. Safety over here, danger, peril and perhaps failure over there. Here I have the Johnny Olsen new car. There I have cheaper beer, tighter budgets and a pressing of the reset button, a return to start from all that's among the palm trees. On my/our own, away from the nest in figurative and, yeah, literal senses. Which way do I go, boss? Which way do I go. Safety? Stability? Insecurity? Rain? Shine?

Two songs, no wait, three songs. One's tied in with the subject, Mr Jason Molina doing his thing in a way that makes me happy. I've been told I grew up with him, or at least met him on the soccer fields of northeast Ohio when we were small. Who knows if it's true...you can't trust a writer. But you can trust a big guitar and a big voice raining down from the rafters like Neil Young in a dirigible.

One half I'm gonna use, to pay this band. The other half i'm saving...'cause I'm going to owe 'em.

"John Henry Split My Heart," by Songs: Ohia

Two more songs. One a velvet-gloved battle cry, maybe, one I don't think I'll ever mean. The other the sound of a slow search. I'm not saying the first, but I'm feeling the second. Sad, hopeful, beautiful, scared, uncertain. You have to give to get, so they say, and I've been devoting too much time to one side of the column. One way or the other, this state or the next, that has to change. I'll eat leather, I'll wear steak, but the gray concrete will never be safe, no matter how sturdy it seems.

"California," by Rogue Wave.
"S," by Labradford.

* Sorry about the mp4s here and there, it's all being done in the heat of the moment, in the interest of getting things out there while my head's hot and my fingers want to move. You don't like it, let me know, I'll fix it and go with the more universally loved and adored (and less corporately sponsored, I might add, mp3).

These just had to get out there. Welcome back, kids. It's been too long. One a day, that's all i want.