July 2008 Archives

New York City

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We've been in NYC since Sunday (actually early Monday due to Sun Country's 4 hour delay!) It's hot and muggy which leads to interesting smells but you learn to live with it. As you can see from the picture above we got into a David Letterman show. It was pretty interesting. It's Friday night's show actually and Richard Simmons and Mary Louise Parker are the guests.

Wicked is on the agenda and today is MOMA and the Dali exhibit. Coney Island, the beach, and Harlem too. And George, we are right around the corener from D.B.A so I'll try to check it out (have to get by the Hells Angels who live between me and the bar).

East Village is very busy and lots of people out at all times of the day. Place is changing though as yesterday I went to a Whole Foods Grocery at a place was a nototrious open air drug market in the 80's.

Below is a pic of one of the temporary waterfalls you can see on the East River

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Off to NYC!!

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I'll be in NYC for the next week and actually hope to include a post or two from the City. See you from Gotham!

Friday Random Top 10

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Which was your favorite John McCain moment this week? Mine was when he was touring the grocery store and a stocker knocked over a display of canned peaches right next him, right in front of the cameras. Talk about your metaphor. With that here's your top 10!

1. 4th Time Around – Bob Dylan
2. Dear Lover – Social Distortion
3. Are You a Hypnotist – Flaming Lips
4. Hesitating Beauty – Billy Bragg and Wilco
5. Dimension – Wolfmother
6. Hooray for Me – Bad Religion
7. Cracklin’ Rosie – Neil Diamond
8. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire – Urban Guerrillas
9. I Must Be High – Wilco
10. Broken Home, Broken Heart – Husker Du

I like this list, nothing too obscure but not songs you hear everyday. What’s your Top 10?

Monday Music List (Thursday Edition) -- Funeral Songs

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What songs would you want played at your funeral? It is an interesting question. You want the songs to be representative of your life and interests. You also want to assure and comfort your survivors. Plus you have to be respectful. Even though it’s “your funeral,? you have to recognize that there will be many sad people there. If I had my druthers, I probably would like to have the Replacement’s Gary’s Got A Boner at my funeral. It’s a fun song, it rocks, and would be good representation of the music I love. It’s also extremely inappropriate for a funeral. Another example is It’s Time For Me To Fly by Reo Speedwagon. It may have some poignant lyrics, but would be way too cheesy for a funeral.

My brother requested that we play MLK by U2 at his funeral. It was a perfect funeral song. It was one of his favorite songs by one of his favorite bands, it set a somber but inspiring mood, and could be enjoyed by young and old, U2 fans and non-fans alike.

Given that criteria, here are the songs I would like to be played at my funeral (btw, I am not dying and don’t intend to invoke this request anytime soon).

Elvis Presley – Amazing Grace. It includes a nod to Elvis, which is important. It’s a religious song and Elvis just nails this rendition. This would be a good song to open the service. Elvis’ Peace in the Valley would be a good alternative. Heck you could just play Elvis’ Ultimate Gospel CD, have Mass and then send everyone to the reception. Now that would be a funeral.

Johnny Cash – Meet Me in Heaven. An absolutely gorgeous song about assuring loved ones that you will be up in heaven waiting for them. This one’s for the family. This could be played after the testimonials. Of course there are a bunch of other Johnny Cash songs I could request as well. I think I would make everyone read my treatise on Cash’s American Recordings series as part of their attendance however. Download file

Bob Dylan – Forever Young. I know this one is a little clichéd but it gives a little hope to the survivors. If you want to get high-tech, you could play this as a powerpoint with a bunch of pictures from my life showing on the screen. This would be played at the end of the service on the way out the door.

Of course there are many, many other songs that I would like to be played and would be appropriate. However, I have a theory – not fully formed – that Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan are the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of popular music. Playing these three songs would be a nod to the premise. Who knows, maybe by the time I need to invoke these songs at a funeral, I will have figured it all out and those who have read/heard my theory with will get the acknowledgment.

What songs do you want played at your funeral?


Watchman Trailer

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If you saw The Dark Knight this weekend (I did not, maybe in the next couple of days) you saw something that every fanboy has been jonesing for since 1986: A trailer for the movie version of the graphic novel The Watchmen.

The Watchmen is considered the greatest graphic novel (comic book) of all time. Heck even Time Magazine listed it as one of the 100 greatest literary achievements of the 20th Century. So naturally we gotta have a movie version.

The trailer (and a few other things that have been released from the film) portend to good things. Many of the scenes in the trailer are shot-for-shot the same as can be found in the book. The costumes look the same as does the vibe. Now of course these trailers are to get the true fans excited so they aren't going to show deviations from the story just yet.

If you aren't familiar with The Watchmen, be prepared for the hype machine to go into overdrive these next 9 months. I would suggest getting a copy, read it. Put it down for a month or so and then read it again. It is truly an amazing story and could be an incredible movie.

Friday Random Top 10

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You know that image on the Minnesota State Quarter? The placid lake surrounded by majestic pines with a Loon in the middle? That’s where I was the last three days. 15 minute canoe paddle to the site, sitting around the fire telling bawdy stories, swatting mosquitoes and horseflies, and retiring to a tent and a cozy sleeping bag. Now back to the grind and only 9 days to NYC. Anyway, here’s your Friday top 10!

1. I’ll Cry Instead – The Beatles
2. Man Out of Time – Elvis Costello
3. Mother – Christina Aguilera
4. About You – Teenage Fanclub
5. I’ll Go Crazy – James Brown
6. Straight Time – Bruce Springsteen
7. Teenage FBI – Guided By Voices
8. God’s Children – The Kinks
9. If I Could – Simon and Garfunkel
10. Red Rain – The White Stripes.

Over 7,000 songs on my I-pod and the one Christina Aguilera song pops up. What are the odds? (actually 1 in 7,023). Don’t worry it’s from the John Lennon tribute/Darfur album. Other than that a nice little list. A broad scope of music. What’s your top 10?

P.S. Anyone see the VH1 Rock Honors of the Who last night? The Flaming Lips played a medley from Tommy that just kicked ass!

Monday Music List -- Rock and Roll Movies

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Music has been a mainstay of movies since the first talkie: The Jazz Singer. Although there have been a lot of poor movies about Rock and Roll (Streets of Fire) and some just plain weird movies (Magical Mystery Tour), there actually has been a number of very good rock movies both fictional and documentaries. Here some of the best:

Almost Famous (2000). One of my favorite movies. Much of the early film was shot on location in San Diego where Cameron Crowe lived this story. When the Cameron Crowe character finally gets in back stage and Yes is playing on the soundtrack gets me everytime. I’ve watched this movie 15 times and could easily watch 15 more.

Rock and Roll High School
(1979). Goofy fun but the Ramones steal the show. The first scene with the Ramones is classic.

Filth and the Fury (2000). Documentary about the Sex Pistols that is both very well made and extremely interesting. The emotion in Johnny Rotten’s voice when talking about the death of Sid Vicious (“he was one of the Johns?) is palpable.

School of Rock (2003). Wears its love for Rock and Roll on it’s sleeve. The montage with the Jack Black character teaching about the history of rock and The Ramones playing in the background is fantastic.

Dont Look Back (1967). The classic documentary about Dylan in England following his “going electric? at Newport. This is Dylan unfiltered and a critical point in his career. My favorite scene is with Donovan in a hotel room. Donovan sings this song with some flowery Elizabethan lyrics sung to a Dylan tune. Dylan counters with a new song: It’s all over now baby blue and right there you know Donovan will never be “the new Dylan.?

Decline of Western Civilization (1981). Documentary about the L.A. Punks of the early 80’s including X, Fear, Black Flag. Hard to find these days but a perfect document of an important musical scene.

24 Hour Party People (2002). Fun, semi-accurate account of the Manchester scene as seen through the eyes of Tony Wilson. The scenes with Joy Division are fantastic.

I know there are a lot more out there. What have I missed?

Friday Random Top Ten

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It's hot and muggy and I get to paint this weekend. Oh boy!

1. I've Just Seen A Face -- Jim Sturges
2. So Much Love - Dusty Springfield
3. It is Divine - Guided By Voices
4. I Want to Hold Your Hand - T.V. Caprio
5. I Like Gumby - Jonathan Richman
6. Promise - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
7. Sons and Daughters - The Decemberists
8. I Fall to Pieces - Patsy Cline
9. Unsatisfied - The Replacements
10. Just the Other Side of Nowhere - Johnny Cash.

A little refelctive in today's list plus add a couple from the Across the Universe soundtrack and you have a so-so list. What's your top 10?

Mongol

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I must be getting old. I have really no desire to see the tired comic book hero movies and lame-ass comedies being pushed off on the movie-going public this Summer. And don’t even talk to me about Sex in the City or Mamma Mia. While some of the animated children’s movies seem to be well made, I want a little more substance for my $9.00 ticket.

Finally I got my wish as last night we went to see the film Mongol. It is the story of the rise of Genghis Khan from that of a hunted boy to the ruler of Mongolia. Further films are promised that will cover Khan’s eventual rule from China to central Europe. Although the film falls squarely in the “art film? category, it has plenty of blood and guts to satisfy anyone’s summer testosterone fix.

The star of the film is its epically filmed grand scale. Filmed on location in Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan, one is overwhelmed by the beauty, scale, and nature that gave rise to the Mongol horde that at one time ruled nearly half world under Genghis Khan and his children. The acting is understated but there is an intensity that boils just under the surface in both Temirdgen (Khan when he was a boy/young man) and Borte his wife and life-long partner.

Although slow at times, the grandeur of what is one the screen overwhelms and propels the story along. The battle scenes are gloriously filmed with a blood-spurting budget that would rival Kill Bill 1. Through Mongol, one gets a better sense of the forces that shaped Genghis Khan how he eventually became a great warrior and leader of men.

Jesse Helms - Good Riddance!!

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Jesse Helms died this past week and while I feel sorry for his family I feel no remorse for his passing. You see Jesse Helms was an avowed racists and used his position of power to push his racist views. Among other things, Helms was an strong believer in black intellectual inferiority, an hysterical opponent of interracial marriage, called the 1964 Civil Rights Act "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress," and said of civil rights demonstrators, "The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men's rights." Helms' "vision" of civil rights for African-Americans was that there should be none.

Want to read more about Helm’s odious views? Click Here.

What concerns me is that the obituaries and commentary over Helm’s passing whitewashed over these views. Reading about Helms over the weekend and you’d never even know that he was a white supremacist and, unlike George Wallace or even Strom Thurmond, maintained those view until the bitter end. Have we gone so far down the road of political correctness that we can’t even call out someone who held and promoted views that are embraced by only a few far right cranks and dead-enders?

So long Jesse Helms, don’t let the door hit you in the ass as you pass through the gates of hell.

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Normally I stay away from and generally loathe reunion tours. But I do get the attraction. Bands love them because they get to re-live their glory years and make some nice coin, sometimes more than when they originally were recording and touring. Who knows, with enough Viagra they might even score a groupie or two along the way. Fans like the tours because they can relive their youth or those who were either not old enough or cool enough to see a band the first time around get to see and hear what the fuss was all about.

I guess I don’t need to experience things that I wasn’t part of. I don’t lament the fact that I never saw the Beatles or the Stones or Elvis live on stage just like I don’t mind that I didn’t experience V-E day or the golden spike for the trans-continental railway. Those events happened before my time and I’ve got to experience a lot myself like KISS’ Destroyer tour or Paul Westerberg singing Unsatisfied for the first time in public.

Having laid that out, here are five real and imagined rock and roll reunions I want no part of :

1. Nirvana featuring Courtney Love or Frances Bean Love. This would just be plain creepy. Also since Courtney Love is known to hate the other two guys in Nirvana, it would be obvious that they were in it solely for the money. A show like this would be my worst nightmare.

2. Public Enemy. Flavor Flav is just a clown now and they would probably film the whole thing for his next “reality show.? Plus given the fact that we are on the edge of electing a black president, some P.E.’s political songs have lost their punch.

3. Boston/Journey/Styx/Foreigner.
I know variations of this line-up has toured or is touring to this day and it just makes me sick. I hated these bands over 25 years ago why wouldn’t they be even worse now that each band member has 60 extra pounds, less hair (which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing) and slower movements? If someone told me in 1983 that 25 years from now we would still be hearing Journey in public I probably would have rented room from Ted Kacszinsky.

4. The Who/Rolling Stones.
O.k. not officially a reunion as these bands have really never broken up and they even tour every couple of years but come on. Going through the motions so that you can sell $50 t-shirts and give someone the opportunity to see a band with their kid and grandkid is no reason to tour. Both bands’ legacies have been severely tarnished with their unwillingness to just stop and retire to the villa on St. Moritz. People need to realize that watching these bands from the 37th row of a dome stadium in 2008 is not the same as seeing them in a nightclub in 1968.

5. The Replacements. Loved the Mats. Saw them 50 times at least, both the good and bad shows during their hay day. But those last two albums were really bad and you can’t recreate drunken brilliance 25 years later. It’s just not possible.

So what about you? Any reunion shows you’ll be avoiding like the plague?

Come And Feel The Feelies

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Back in April I wrote that the Feelies had decided to get back together and were scheduled to play at Battery Park with Sonic Youth. That day has finally arrived and I lament the fact that I couldn’t find a way to abandon the family for the holiday and get myself to NYC to see the concert scheduled for July 4th.

As a warm up for the big July 4th event, The Feelies played a couple of shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey and the reviews with pics and/or video can be found here and here. Also here is a blog by drummer (and Yung Wu vocalist) Dave Weckman’s percussionist Stan Demeski's 18 year old daughter. Of course a comeback wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory New York Times article. Which can be found here. The upcoming nostalgia tour hasn’t been confirmed, but definitely hinted at.

So why does it matter? The Feelies were never that big of an act; (sadly) none of their albums are going to rank high on any best of the 80’s list: they don’t have a signature, recognizable song that if you hummed a few bars, someone would say “oh that band, yea they were kinda cool, whatever happened to them?? It was basically music embraced by a relatively narrow slice of music hipsters who could enjoy a little hypnotic guitar work to complement their Husker Du, Pogues, and Minutemen.

Of course part of the appeal is nostalgia. Listening to The Feelies brings back those simpler days when curing hangovers and juggling girlfriends reigned supreme whereas today concerns about mortgage payments, high cholesterol, and work deadlines seem to take over. But I think it’s more than that. There’s something about the permanence of music. It’s always there, it doesn’t change and sure it can bring you back to your care free days but it also evokes emotions that lie within you, that need to be expressed somehow, regardless of whether gasoline is over $4.00 a gallon and the trim on your house needs to be scraped and repainted.

That, in a nutshell, is what’s important about the Feelies getting back together. The fact that those shimmering guitars can still swirl around you and bring you someplace else even though your life is completely different in 2008 than in 1988 proves that you are still alive, you still care, you really aren’t just going through the motions waiting for it all to end but that you have deeply felt moods, senses, emotions and that they aren’t gone, they just need to be felt.

Sailing on Lake Pepin

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Take a beautiful Saturday afternoon with a stiff breeze, throw in a 31-foot sailboat, and a super cool captain, and you've got yourself a wonderful afternoon.

A couple of weeks ago we went sailing on Lake Pepin and experienced all of the above. The captain, Dave Sheridan, is a great guy and regaled us with stories about sailing, Pep(p)ie the Lake Pepin Sea Monster and life on the eastern shore of Lake Pepin/Mississippi River. Plus it was relatively cheap! $50.00 a person for a couple of hours on the lake. Plus we got to steer the ship.

If interested, I highly recommend checking it out. Say hi to Captain Dave for us if you go.

P.S. I hope the two other women in the picture above aren't too upset I included them in this post without their permission. Consider this an apology in the remote chance you come across this blog!

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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