January 31, 2005

Creeping Fascism, Part MCXXXVIII

This AP story on Salon says fewer so-called "young people" know or care overmuch about the First Amendment. For the nth time, lemme just say Jesus Creeping Shit.

Update: I know I said I'd say more later, but it's later and I need to sleep.

January 26, 2005

MLB in Vegas by 2008?

Via Rob's catch at 6-4-2. I agree that the Devil Rays should just go ahead and move now. Tampa/St. Petersburg doesn't care, and Rob's right in that they'll be marginally more competetive vs. the AL West (specifically, Texas and Seattle).

We can get used to the standings right now:

Anaheim (oops, that's, um, the Los Angeles Somethings of Somewhere)
Las Vegas

Cause really, someone tell me when the Rangers will contend for anything. If they go to the postseason at all (which, come to think of it, they almost did last year), I'm going to be superficial enough to say that it's only because their ex-part-owner is now in the White House.

No, I know that makes no sense. Ask me if I care. Anyway, since this is supposed to be about a new Las Vegas baseball team and the Devil Rays (a lame name, no?) are the likely replacements, will they rename themselves a la the Montreal Expos becoming the Washington DC Nationals? Any ideas? This could be like all those great drunken nights trying to Name Your Band:

The Las Vegas...
Card Sharks?
Elvis Impersonators?
Quickie Weddings?

Ah, I can imagine Vin Scully's voice saying it, too: "Now pitching for the Strippers, it's an old hand named Joe Blow. Blow, who has taken a lot off recently in terms of his screwball, hails from Podunk, BFE, and he cut his teeth in college with Cal State Fullerton before..."

Or hell, the Las Vegas Elvis Impersonators could have bitchin' uniforms. The only question would be real or fake rhinestones on those jumpsuits. Guess they'd have to keep the payroll low for the real rocks. No sliding, either.


Let the water wars begin.

January 21, 2005

U2.com Will Not Get My $40

I'm not paying that much money for middling content dressed up as "exclusives!" Nor am I wasting my dough on an opportunity to enjoy crashed servers while trying to sign up for "fan-club only!" deals on concert tickets. I don't care that much. When the U2 organization fosters the cliche that they are rock's Sole Remaining Superpower and swaggers and stomps with the same old bombast, I can't stop yawning enough to belatedly call Bullshit.

And I consider myself a fan. I guess. I grew up on the bizarro-world U2 of the 1990s, and was too much of a freak about that for a long time before I finally calmed down a bit. So how did it come to this? Step in the wayback machine, Sherman:

I didn't really mind that "The Complete U2" iTunes box set advertises its 400-song-strong girth, even though many of the tunes are repeated and if you buy the whole shebang, you end up paying for many of the same songs two and even three times.

I accepted the fact that "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" would be a feverishly overhyped but extremely conservative (in terms of sound) album, and that most of the lyrics weren't half as deep as Bono made them out to be.

I had no problems with the Vertigo iPod ad other than that it ran way too often, and it made the song seem silly and superficial- which, come on, it kind of is anyway.

I didn't mind that the Boston and Slane Elevation concert DVDs, nice and sparkly as they were, still, STILL did not include the entire concerts from beginning to end.

I didn't mind that "The Best Of 1990-2000" was a half-baked piece of shameless revisionism that pissed all over U2's great 90's output. I didn't mind that "Electrical Storm" was a bit sloppy in the lyrics department and that "The Hands That Built America" outright sucked, sucked, sucked.

I don't care that Clear Channel/SFX sponsored the 2001 tour. I likewise didn't mind so much that the only show I saw on that tour was a royal pain to get tickets to- and that they ended up being 85 bucks for last-row, back-against-the-wall-of-the-Staples-Center seats. I only minimally bitched that U2 played a largely greatest-hits type set.

I didn't dwell on the fact that "All That You Can't Leave Behind" was terribly, embarassingly overrated, with only two really good songs ("Walk On" and "Kite"), and one of those- "Kite"- hobbled with dated references in the lyrics.

I didn't freak out when I first heard U2's remake of a shitty B-side called "Sweetest Thing" for their 80's hits compilation, even though I knew for sure that things might go downhill from there.

So I guess, if I'm going to be a whiny jerk about this, I could say I've been more than patient with the continuing foibles of the Four Jerks and their Police Escort. Or I could just say that none of this is really a big deal, since aside from this post I've grown out of being a freak about anyone's band anywhere.

Except mine.

Update 1/25:The pre-sale melted everyone's heads. LP says so too.

January 17, 2005

Blowing All The Other Kids Away

This Secret Machines album is kicking my ass. Specifically, tracks 4 and 5, "Nowhere Again" and "The Road Leads Where It's Led". Bryn played the disc for me several times, and like these things usually do, it took a while to set in, but when it did, we were driving on Interstate 5 in the no man's land between LA and Bakersfield on the way to Grass Valley for the holidays. Man, the Grapevine/Gorman area is a prety bleak-looking place- it's where the San Andreas Fault cuts through the area bordering LA/Ventura/Kern counties. Everything way grey and brown, and you could see the folded geology from when the rocksides were blasted open to put the road through.

Anyway, the album, or specifically, those 2 songs, are on Drive-Everyone-Else-Nuts-Repeat mode for me right now. Reviews will say that they're a cross between krautrock road-tunes and Zeppelin. The latter I can hear in the drums. The former I have no frame of reference for at all.

So, that's all. I'm still bent out of shape over the possibility of us invading Iran. Ridiculous. Anyone who believes that is willfully endangering this country and everyone in it, and should be mocked back under the filthy slime they arose from.

Bryn's theory on "Now Here Is Nowhere" is that it's chock-full of the best kind of anti-war protests- smart, cliche-free, well-built metaphors juxtaposed with more direct language in just the right balance. Sounds good to me, bro. Way to use them interpretive skills.

January 14, 2005

Top Spins 2004

No no, not politically motivated lies about Kos and MyDD. Just albums I listened to a lot in this year (the year of being a part of the first full-length pro studio album with 3 guys who let me be in their band and one guy who liked to record us).

Anyway, I don't do "reviews" anymore- I've found it to be silly now that my own music is out there in the world for everyone to judge. I'm just mentioning what I listened to. So, lots of these albums were from 2003- I always tend to get into things a lot slower than when they actually happen but here goes:

January- Played Josh Homme's latest "Desert Sessions" album quite a bit this month while doing some tech writing work for Demarc in Goleta. Homme's voice is one of my favorite tones in a singer in a long, long time. Bought this CD solely because of how much I liked the Queens' "No One Knows" and I wasn't disappointed. I like how he releases demos like these to test whatever waters he's about to cannonball into. Oh, and PJ Harvey's on it, moaning away like she loves to do (and oh how I lover her for that).

February/March- I actually tuned out for a while here. Caught up with a lot of other things and knuckled under to do some work on Honey White material, so I guess I listened to my own band's stuff for most of this time. Kinda embarassing actually. It was good, though, promise.

April- I can't believe no one told me about Explosions In The Sky until now. My life was literally incomplete. 2003's "The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place" is one of my very favorite albums. How much so? It made me re-think my whole recent crusty opposition to long, suitelike, instrumental rock music. Once Brian found out he knew he had won.

May- Another 2003 holdover that I can't stop listening to is "One Bedroom" by The Sea And Cake. Great sunny, funky pop. Sam Prekop's voice is the perfect thing to go on top of it. I liked their other albums, especially their 1994 debut, but their latest is far and away their best. For some reason it always conjures up images of Isla Vista/Goleta, in the same way that Mermen albums always make me think of Dana Point/San Clemente. No idea why- I just enjoy that it happens.

June- Have I said how much I love PJ Harvey? Have I? Well, she gave me another reason with "Uh Huh Her". "Stories From The City" really won't be topped for me, but this one was a great stab at it. Also, Wilco made a good follow up of their own with "A Ghost Is Born". "Spiders" might be one of the best krautrock ripoffs to drive to in ages.

July- Gina Villalobos finally released her "Rock N Roll Pony" album (long backstory, sorry) and it was really worth the wait. Perfect soundtrack for the drive moving from I.V. to Ventura.

August- Picked up Snow Patrol's "Final Straw" since they're rumored to be opening for U2's 2005 tour. Not bad, but not the next Coldplay (as if that's worth anything). Both bands really, really need to work on their lyricism. Oops- that's an uncalled for opinion.

September- Oceansize's Effloresce ruled over all others this month, thanks to the supreme crush and release of "Women Who Love Men Who Love Drugs". In fact, I can't think of anything else that I listened to.

October- Snagged a lot of fall releases here- REM ("Around The Sun": ho-hum), Costello ("Delivery Man", better than '02's "When I Was Cruel" but not by much), Bjork (still relatively unlistened to), Cake (ditto), and Camper Van Beethoven (woulda been a killer 12-song disc but is bloated at 20). All were subsumed by Elliott Smith's posthumous "From A Basement On A Hill". What a kick in the teeth that disc is, man.

November- This month became unhinged once I found online copies of the new U2 album. Oh, and by the terrible election results. "Atomic Bomb" isn't the second coming, but it's head and shoulders above the overrrated "All That You Can't Leave Behind". I still went out and bought it and listened to it frequently. Oh, and Emily and I saw Wilco in LA. Fantastic show.

December- I belatedly take up Bryn's offer of a Secret Machines copy, which totally swallows up most of my vacation time. We listened to this a lot driving up and down California. That and my better-late-than-never appreciation of the meaty middle of Built To Spill's "Ancient Melodies Of The Future". Oh, and the Mark Sandman box set of noir-effluvia wasn't bad either.

January 13, 2005

Snow, Raid, Mud, and Death

Heavy, heavy shit just 5 minutes up the road in La Conchita. The kind of storm that usually makes us Californians look like pussies ("Wow! There's snow in the Santa Ynez mountains!") has instead buried people in mud and demolished families. It's a silly comparison, and I'll probably offend everyone involved, but it's like the Indian Ocean tidal wave on a highly localized scale, and the pictures are a nightmare. Anything helps.

Fresh off bitch-slapping our already NCLB-abused teachers, the Gropinator declared Ventura County a disaster area, and if he can convince President Pinhead to make it one of federal status the lost 3 days of no school need not be made up, funding-wise. Also, the 101 is closed over the weekend so we're cut off from Santa Barbara and points north- the 126 is closed past Fillmore to Magic Mountain. People are taking a ferry from Ventura to SB to commute to their jobs. There's shit and debris everywhere on the beach and the harbor is full of slime. Building websites for people- hell, going to work- seems like fiddling during a fire. But here I am anyway.

2005 is shaping up to be a banner year for Random Acts of Destruction, not to mention the on-going pre-emptive ones. Better stop there. Nick would bitch-slap me himself if he read that.

January 12, 2005

Grow Up and Get Over It, Part MCXXVIII

In the spirit of meticulous research into the not-so-stinky cesspool of liberal academia, let me present Exhibit A of Why UCSB Students Are Even Dumber Than When I Was There:

Using the front of the class as a platform for spouting off their personal political agendas is not the right of any professor.
But wait, there's more:
Questions arise at that moment: Will my grade be affected if I dare say something that goes against my professor’s school of thought? Is that a risk I’m willing to take? Do I just bite my lip and let these irrelevant and discriminating comments continue? That is precisely why I feel that it is my responsibility to speak up now. I have one request to the professors teaching the youth of this country: Hold back your personal political opinions until after class, and do what teachers are supposed to do. Teach, don’t preach!
News flash, babe: at a populous university like UCSB you might just come into contact with opinions and points of view that directly clash with yours, and getting passive-aggressively huffy over hearing offhand boilerplate remarks doesn't really point to the security of your own beliefs. The last time I checked, in this country it was indeed the right of any professor, or anyone for that matter, to make a fool of themselves by randomly spouting off undercooked political rhetoric anywhere or any time- be it on cable news, from a concert stage, at the head of a lecture hall, or in the Reader's Voice. Everyone on both sides is doing it these days, and claiming offense seems very thin-skinned and naive on your part- unless, of course, the College Republicans put you up to it.

Look, the education that you paid for isn't made to order, but if you get your money's worth, you'll definitely be able to endure your professors' political harping. Remember, they have to fight over tenure, publishing, and a relatively low salary just for the privilege of telling you the President sucks. How many conservative "intellectuals" would give up their cushy op-ed columns, talk radio gigs, and think-tank jobs to do that, and without an expensive lecture-circuit gig in Campbell Hall?

Yep, Big Fat Zero. You're welcome.

Update (1/13/05): The Nexus ran this as a LTE. Ah, the Nexus. My name hasn't appeared in those pages (specifically, in Artsweek bylines) in many moons. I'm sure they count their blessings every day.

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