July 30, 2008

Get Your Hands Dirty, Part 2

The Invasion of Art from Ojai continued during the week between baseball vacations, when I went back to the basement studio to muck around with paint again. It's funny how messy these things end up. Anyway I went with warm colors this time, to match scraps from an old atlas that I pasted on.

Here's the first painting:

July 29, 2008

Summer of Baseball 2008

Continuing the quest to visit every one of the 30 major league baseball stadiums, we cruised first to San Diego and then to the Bay Area. We have of course been to see the Dodgers, Angels, and Padres countless times, and it was nice to get all the California teams covered. Warning: Oceanariesque, photo-filled post ahead...

San Diego: For the 2nd year in a row we went down to SD to catch the Padres when Atlanta was in town. The Padres are terrible this year, and the Braves took the series 2-1, but before Game 2 the Pads trotted out their 1998 National League Championship team (who went on to lose to the Yankees in the World Series) for a reminder of how good they used to be. They don't need a pennant- they just need a winning season (like 2005 and 2006), and it doesn't look like '08 is gonna be one- they're currently in dead last.

Petco Park faces downtown San Diego.

You can get there by trolley car.

The Obama campaign (and all its fans) was in town speaking to the temporary Casa de la Raza in the convention center across the street. McCain would creak into town the next day.

Oakland: Two weeks later we ended up at Lis and Nick's in San Jose and took in some A's vs Texas with the extended DuBois/MacAllister clan. The Rangers stomped Oakland, but we had a good time.

San Francisco: A foggy July day lifted by the 5th inning of our Giants game (vs. Arizona), but that didn't help the home team lose any less. The extended fam was here as well, and we all agreed that despite the phenomenal bayfront setting of AT&T Park, the trip to the S.F. Museum of Modern Art for the Frida Kahlo exhibit was the high point of the day. Hey, she had a better career than the one Barry Zito's having. The Giants' pitcher got destroyed.

So that's Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego (both old and new), San Francisco, and Oakland checked off. We've been to Fenway in Boston, but not during a game, so that doesn't count. I think maybe Phoenix, Denver, or Seattle might be next, but not this year. Maybe L.A. or Anaheim again in '08. They're closer.

July 24, 2008

Yeah, What Winston Wolfe Said

"Let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet."
Indeed, Winston. Oh sure, the news from Berlin is fantastic (how often do you get to type that one?), but if my calculations are correct, it's still July 24, 2008—not January 20, 2009—and the junior Senator from the great state of Illinois is still a long, long way from his desired November election result. None of that "thirty minutes in ten," "three months in one" shit. Not only that, but we're all still an eternity away from the much-vaunted "realignment" election result we all desperately, maniacally crave. Today, the Germans merely saw us get our hands wet, not wash them.

Yeah. When Vincent accidentally (or maybe on purpose, who knows?) blew poor Marvin's skull apart back in 2001, we knew we'd be in for some major, major janitorial work. No one doubted that we were in big fuckin' trouble. When we ended up at Jimmy's banana-slug bungalow in Toluca Lake to wait for Mr. Wolfe, we knew that Winston'd make us his bitches while laughing along with Julia and ripping us about life in the sticks. We ended up characters with no character, but under the circumstances that was acceptable, so we would deal with it.

But we were still pretty fucking far from okay there on brain detail, with a salad of cranial matter in the back seat. And in the front seat. And on the dash and the carpet and in between the seat cushions and in Jules' fro and even mashed into the keyhole. It was horrible. We really felt for Marvin, man—wherever he might be at the moment—but we were more shit-scared for our own necks if Mr. Wallace ever found out, but when he did, one name was all the negro had to say, and now Mr. Wolfe has arrived to assist. Sure, it's hard to keep up sometimes—he thinks fast and talks fast—but the dude is here to help, and we definitely appreciate it. We couldn't argue with the pretty-please cherry on top, after all.

Dig it, we cool with that. But we weren't prepared for three more months of solid work, dude. Like, a national operation? When only 14..wait-18...wait-25 states in play? Oh hell no. Doing all that shit dressed like Santa Cruz beach bums was not on the agenda, my man. I mean, Barry can walk da earth all he goddamn well wants to, of course, and we're down with that, from the border to the bay, from the east side to the west side, from Bruges to Baghdad, from Pasadena to the Malibu pier, but too much brain detail will turn even a righteous man into a mushroom-cloud layin' motherfucker, motherfucker.

And we sure as fuck weren't prepared for the reupholstery, new paint job, disinfectant bath, and forensics test we had to do to the damn car, man. Nobody signed up for that, yo. Hell, even Green Dean on his meanest lean wouldn't ask that. Well...maybe, but we'll never know now. Anyway, let's just say that the task ahead is substantial. Birthright-watch-in-your-ass-for-seen-years substantial. No no, I'm not saying it can't happen. Never into tearing people down or dampening that precious enthusiasm. No. But polls are ephemeral. Bradleys are affecting. Dies are bold, and The Man always, always cheats. Even when he's 73 and crusty and out of it. And the soccer moms, man, they just neeeed their PeopleMag, and the Nascar dads and videot kids need their fixes too.

I dunno. Maybe we can pull it off after all, but it's a lotta work, and many more "insightful" hitmen besides me will bitch and moan and fret and fear before November. Some will even be paid for it. Listen, why don't we bail for a few minutes, man? How about we go down to the diner and talk about it over some five dollar milkshakes? My credit is good there. I'm a bad motherfucker. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?

Cross-posted: dkos, dd, pff

July 23, 2008

Shameless Revisionism: My Band Rocks #2: Honey White

Popular demand is a relative thing, but under the circumstances I think it can be humored right now, so this week—ta daaaShameless Revisionism comes early! Yeah, don't all applaud at once, but for this second installment of My Band Rocks-related writings, you get all Honey White all the time. No no, you can thank me later, really, and I'm only half-joking when I say that, because in all honesty, being part of a band like Honey White is probably the artistic high point of my creative life; at our best, Brian, Bryn, Bill and I make some great noise together.

Of course writing about a band's work doesn't really do it justice, especially if you're...in the band, but last week in the Mojo Wire entry I mentioned that in 2006, after playing in bands for ten years I'd been feeling a little anthologistic, or compilationary, or re-evaluatory, or whatever, and thought a little history was in order. Kind of like now. So with the model provided by NME and Uncut, I was off and running with a big old band-related writing project, which was only stopped by the impulse to write fiction.

Anyway, like last week, I've got album essays to show off, plus some extra bits of scrawl as a chaser, so let's begin in the fearful year of 2002 and just let the ego-validation continue, shall we?

The History Mix: Instant Gratification (May 4, 2006)
For some reason, the Honey White "History Mix" essays are a little more serious in tone than the Mojo Wire ones, which is kind of regrettable, because Honey White didn't really take ourselves so seriously (though we did take the music seriously!). Fortunately, this essay for the My Band Rocks E.P., our first studio recording, spends more time on the music than anything else:

Demo discs are strange animals. There are all sorts of unwritten rules involved about recording skill, number of songs, palpable hooks, smart (but not too smart) lyrics, professional composition, thorough presentation, and a myriad of other subjective attributes a band's demo must have in order to merely get a passing glance from someone who thinks their opinion matters. Even so, the least boring, most unique demo discs often sport amateur production value, tentative and unfocused artistic expression, and a limited range of musical proficiency. E.P. discs are weird too; once a relic of the vinyl era, they're often the standard first release by emerging indie groups. Not a single, not an album, but usually more of a bargain than either, an E.P. need not be encumbered by concepts or themes that are inevitably attached to albums, serving as unabashedly incomplete opening salvos in a band's never-ending war of forcing the world to pay attention to them.
The History Mix: Performance Enhancement (Sep. 10, 2006)
Honey White's live albums are certainly a mixed bag, but the fact that there are four of them speaks equally, I think, to the amount of good performances we had, as much as to my compulsive reflex of recording everything we did. Mashing together the first two (Live and Unprofessional and Epic Noise Now) into this essay puts them on more of a level playing field with the studio discs, which is fitting because even though they're the "best" of the self-produced stuff we've got, and have a unique and fun slapdash energy, they can't touch the professionally-made stuff. Anyway:
Unencumbered (at first) by the time constraints of a conventional club gig, Honey White steadily compiled a massive arsenal of songs for their 2002-2003 sets. The few originals from the new My Band Rocks E.P. alternated with jumpy, frantic versions of Bryn and Keir's best Mojo Wire tunes, plus two Bryn solo instrumentals, and spiced up with some unique cover choices, notably Jeff Buckley's "Lover, You Should've Come Over", Cracker's "Been Around The World", Neil Young's "Dead Man" theme, Johnny Cash's version of "Wayfaring Stranger", and the occasional Radiohead song done solo by Bryn. The actual locations varied widely, from the usual backyard Isla Vista keg parties (and one outdoor carnival in Goleta) to smaller indoor venues in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara, and on campus at UCSB. The band adjusted the sets for each appearance, sometimes throwing them out altogether pre- or mid- show, but always managed to pull off a comprehensive showcase of their songs, and both these discs exemplify Honey White's wide range of material.
Some Reassembly Required (Aug. 15, 2006)
Not exactly an album essay; more like a warm-up for the "Performance Enhancement" one above, full of extra stuff I couldn't fit into that essay. It's basically a song-by-song commentary on one of Honey White's early accomplishments: easily re-working lots of older songs by other people for the sake of fattening our sets, and I liked the idea of describing how the songs grew and changed. It even got a bit gonzo for some:
One Last Hallelujah: The Mojo Wire played “Hallelujah” like a demented twin of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse: loud, pounding, and out of control. Honey White didn’t exactly tame this beast, but they did allow it a nice big space to roam around in. “Hallelujah” sprang to life when they released it live, bouncing along as all the other old Mojo songs, swinging furiously beneath Keir’s shouting vocals before Brian’s and then Bryn’s solos took it off on divergent trails of sonic safari. Post-2003, “Hallelujah” was revised to an ambient, moodier arrangement that better complimented the How Far is the Fall material, but that version has only seen a few performances. Definitive Take: 11/16/02 on Del Playa.
The History Mix: Feeling Gravity's Pull (Apr. 23, 2006)
I actually still like this essay a lot; I thought it was pretty clever in terms of describing what our full-length studio album was all about, which we didn't really think about while we were actually recording it. The whole time was such a great experience: driving like bastards for 500 miles to be on time for the studio appointments in San Francisco, rumbling the rafters when we got there, meeting and befriending our engineer Jon, and generally making the best music we'd ever made, and at the best possible time.
Some people are fearless in the face of the unknown. Some people long to test themselves against the most sublime experiences life will throw at them. Some people need to push every boundary, voraciously explore every avenue, and risk danger in order to feel alive. Honey White's full-length debut album How Far is the Fall is not about those people. Instead it revolves around the feeling of standing at life's cliffs and taking a long, hard, appraising look at every possible detail before making choices about anything. Paralyzed indecision and self-conscious over-analysis pervade almost every lyric of each song, and everything is blown up to newly epic proportions by a hazy, spacious void of sonic effects and instrumental textures. It's not the soundtrack to the rest of your life. It's the background noise for the time right before you have any idea what the rest of your life will bring.
The History Mix: Few and Far Between (Dec. 1, 2007)
Honey White's third and fourth live album (Saturated Songs and Deluge and Drought) are described in this one, and they couldn't be more different. What I like about them, though, is that they are the beginning and end pieces that sandwich the How Far is the Fall studio album, showing how we road-tested the songs before recording them, and then how they changed (mostly for the better) after the studio album's release. Play all three albums back to back to back, and you'd get a pretty good picture of Honey White's second, and best creative phase.
Moody studio rock epics usually don't go over well live, at least not without a killer stage presentation and plenty of smoke, mirrors, and playback. Forcing a live stage show to duplicate the intricate vagaries of a band run amok in the studio has often meant career suicide for countless rock bands, famous or otherwise. In Honey White’s case, however, the gaping hole where the idea of "career" was unceremoniously filled by "fun but expensive hobby" continued to let the music speak for itself even as practicality and logistics finally eclipsed the group's gig and rehearsal time. Their third and fourth live discs take up the baton where the first two left off, blotting indie-rock posterity with songs from the extended victory lap of live shows that supported their How Far is the Fall studio album. The tentative muddiness of Saturated Songs and the casual confidence of Deluge and Drought marked a complete progression of creativity from start to finish, informally presenting Honey White’s most adventurous music with ease.
Honey White Lyrics: Protracted Sagas of Paralysis (May 8, 2006)
This one matches the previous Mojo Wire lyrics piece, but of course it's a little newer, and with some exceptions, a little less verbose. The rambling analysis is still there, but I think it's a little less self-important about the whole thing—which is ironic, since I consider my Honey White lyrics a little more well-developed than my Mojo Wire tunes.
The Lightning Rod (December 2001): This lyric is the one that mercilessly gave me the most hell and was the hardest to finish. The actual music was composed in December 1997, and ended up on the second Mojo Wire album as "Under The Sun," but that lyric did not age well at all. We refused to give up the tune, cause it's good, but finding the right combination of lyrical point of view and attitude to go with such a huge, sweeping piece of music, and not come off as pretentious wankers was a tough thing to do. Basically, how do you write a clear, direct lyric to such an epic monster? It's a tough contradiction, and thematically it's probably still the most pretentious thing I've done, meshing several narratives into a complete whole (and I know that sounds like something Sting would say, but it can't be helped) that amounts to the last of the abandonment songs. The narrative is I vs. You yet again, and it's mostly a conflation of 1) getting kicked out of my dad's house at Christmas when I was 19, 2) every breakup I've ever had to go through, and 3) (warning- this is where things get pretentious)- concerning the expulsion of a certain angel from heaven after he decided to do his own thing. Seriously.
Introduction: Marring Posterity Forever (Sep. 10, 2006)
Yeah yeah, putting the intro at the end is weird, but that's when you're supposed to write it, after all. How will you know what to introduce if you haven't finished everything else yet? Anyway, this quickie was supposed to be the "foreword" to the band book project—the tortured logic explaining the whole thing. Luckily it's a lot less pretentious than that. Besides, looking back over three phases of the Mojo Wire and two more of Honey White (be thankful that I haven't written too much about the Low Tide stuff yet) definitely makes me ansty to play again. It'll happen.
So why write about it? Why bother? The historian in me says it’s because ten years have passed since that fateful day when Bryn called me to say that he and Adam had written “the best blues song ever!” with Kevin. The realist says I’m doing this because no one else will care enough to do it. They’re both right. The four bands I’ve played in (actually two, but the first had three lineups) kept me sane as far as balancing the other stupid inanities of life, like work, school, and busted relationships, though I think I might have driven them all insane at one point or another over time. So thanks to Bryn, Adam, Brian, Bill, Joe, Kevin, and Brandon for letting me be in their bands and putting up with my maniacal managerial failures and steadily less rudimentary bass playing. Hopefully all of this shit will continue to mar posterity forever with our unapologetically unprofessional, noisy fun. Thanks also to our friends and fans (and musicians and engineers) who supported all this by coming to shows, buying CDs, offering advice, and generally showing impressive reserves of patience. It was not wasted.
So...there will probably be a little hiatus in the revisionism for a week or so—for various reasons—but when we return, the craziest is yet to come before the end: two posts each for some political gonzo screeds and lots of unfinished, pre-"Weapon of Young Gods" fiction. Should be fun, so stay tuned.

July 20, 2008

South Ventura by Bicycle

Specifically, the farm field bike trail between the 101 freeway, Olivas Park, and the Harbor. Grey July day for a ride.

July 19, 2008

Shameless Revisionism: My Band Rocks #1: The Mojo Wire

Okay gang, brace yourselves, cause this week and next week the DV's Shameless Revisionism series will be all about band stuff. See, when Honey White was winding down its second phase in 2006, I realized that by that point I'd been playing in bands for a decade. Getting used to the idea of measuring your life in decades is always a head-spinning proposition, but in this case it was really validating because of all the great work I'd been a part of, first in the Mojo Wire and then in Honey White.

I got inspired to write seriously about it thanks to special editions of UK music magazines like NME and Uncut, which began publishing entire issues devoted to a single band or artist. In particular, I really liked the presentations they made for the U2 and Smiths/Morrissey issues, where NME would dig up contemporaneous interviews and features, and lay them out alongside new reviews and analyses for each album or period in the group's career. Naturally, the ego demanded that I do this for the Mojo Wire/Honey White.

I pulled together as many MW/HW writings as I could find, and had great plans to augment my album essays (written in third person to match the NME mags) with revisionist articles from each period of each band's history. It soon became a massive project, and near the end of the year I decided to lay off the histories and get started on something new, which turned out to be my first novel.

Of course, this whole Shameless Revisionism thing is all about wallowing in the past, but who cares? Being a bassist in rock bands was probably the best creative outlet I've ever had, and I'm so glad that there's all this work to pore over and have for posterity. Anyway, let's start at the beginning: the dark, decadent years of 1996-1997 with the Mojo Wire. Buckle up.

The History Mix: Twelve-Bar Ruse (Sep. 6, 2006)
Two years later, I'm not too sure if I like the whole third-person approach on these essays, but whatever. The writing is still good and definitely worth reading in terms of a band history. I originally posted them on the My Band Rocks blog under the "History Mix" catch-all title, and actually wrote the album histories out of order, but they'll make more sense if presented in the order that the discs came out. This first one is for the Mojo Wire's debut disc, released in 1997.

First albums, by anyone, are almost always momentous and fun: some bands stick their toes in the water, working their way up to greatness and competence on later records; some jump in head first, splashing their pent-up talent (or lack thereof) all over everything. Committing the creative impulse to posterity for the first time often results in outpourings of good, bad, and ugly originality, but it's rarely unmemorable for everyone involved. Some debuts seem to come out of nowhere with surprising freshness, and some crawl out of the distant artistic past via long-ignored or discarded stylistic roots (and routes). Some are labors of love, some are by-blows made to avoid boredom, some come from improvised chaos, and some are complete accidents. All of this can be said about the Mojo Wire's debut album Battery Acid Blues.
The History Mix: Don't Mix Your Drinks (Jan. 29, 2006)
This one was actually the first album essay I wrote for the ill-fated "band book" project. It's a bit less serious than the one for Battery Acid above, but that one was written near the end, and generally I kept a less-pretentious attitude about the admittedly less-professional-sounding Mojo Wire albums. Guess this was a good one to start with, then:
Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before: a confident, well-oiled machine of a rock band comes off a banner year full of a whole new set of wild ideas that they're just dying to impress upon the wider world, and in the process of actually recording anything and everything they can think of (usually under the guise of "progress" or "growth"), the earnest, lovable, and hopelessly deluded young men instead cough up a formless gob of tunes that makes everyone wonder what the big deal was about them in the first place. Okay, well, maybe that's not exactly what happened, but it's the best description that fits around the genesis of Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor, the second Mojo Wire album, released hard on the heels of the first one, and giving off a distinct whiff of undercooked tunes slathered in a myriad of gooey sonic effects.
The History Mix: No Lifeguard On Duty (Feb. 5, 2006)
For some reason, the Mojo Wire's third album, and the year or so during which it was made, had always been a really special memory for me. I'm not sure why; it could be the idea that we'd successfully re-invented ourselves creatively, or maybe that it's the first truly excellent album cover I'd ever designed, or even (thanks in part to Emily) my gradual descent from the certifiably insane state of mind I'd been in for most of 1996-1997. Most likely, though, is I'd become a confident songwriter and lyricist.
Let's face it- "trouble in paradise" is probably the oldest and most banally superficial cliche in the history of popular songwriting. It is initially, however, a real kick in the head when you happen to notice it. Exposing the nasty, poisonous underbelly of some idyllic Shangri-la is one of the first rebellious impulses that anyone learns, and if they're lucky, they won't forget to apply it to any subsequent promise of perfection. Righteous anger doesn't exactly have much of a half-life, of course, but it tends to go down easier with a nice slathering of sweetness on top. That was the eventual modus operandi of the Mojo Wire on their third album, but the mostly acoustic, folky surf-noir of Seaside Hamlet Skids doesn't easily place itself in the canon of pretentious bubble-bursting, despite some loosely-focused effort.
Hitting the Skids: The Band from Ignoreland (Jan. 16, 1999)
This piece is the first of the contemporaneous stuff I'd planned to pull in to flesh out the pretentious and over-analytical History Mix essays. It's a fake article written around the time of the third Mojo Wire album, right after the Adam/Joe/Keir/Bryn lineup began to solidify as a performing band. It's not great, and I think that's because it's not as derivatively gonzo as my older Daily Nexus columns, but back then I'd been trying to get away from that sort of thing and go straight in terms of a writing voice. Needless to say, it was a creative dead-end.
Adam Hill is on a roll. Five beers after his band, the Mojo Wire, has finished a gig at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, the frontmanly singer-guitarist has forgotten the screwups and PA malfunctions of the performance and is holding court with his friends on the balcony of his Isla Vista, CA apartment. Adam, 20, joins drummer Bryn DuBois, also 20, in telling tall tales of the band's previous shows while Bryn's brother, bassist Keir DuBois, 22, and guitarist Joe Zulli, 19, look on and occasionally throw in comments of their own. The drummer, who has refused alcohol tonight after a hideous hangover from yesterday, carefully translates Adam's increasingly surreal flights of fancy for fellow revelers and reporters alike. It sounds something like this:
—Adam: "Did I ever tell you about how we found Jesus? Yeah, we jammed with him! We found Jesus the other day. No, not in the religious sense- we saw him at a party!"
—Bryn (interrupting): "Actually, it was just a friend of ours named Chris who lives a few blocks away. He has long hair and a goatee and looks a lot like Jesus, but is not in fact, the Son of God."
The History Mix: Things Fall Apart (Apr. 21, 2006)
I was sort of in a philosophical mood about bands breaking up when I wrote this one (as we return to the History Mix essays for the final time this week). Honey White had just decided to scale back our band time together due to logistics and real life and stuff, and it occurred to me that I was okay with it, which was absolutely not the case when the same thing happened to the Mojo Wire five years before. It sort of trained a too-harsh light on the Mojo Wire's end, and that was reflected in this essay.
When rock bands destroy themselves on record, it's usually a group effort. The Beatles bickered like babies on Let it Be, the Eagles slouched into the sunset on The Long Run, and the Police drove each other crazy making Synchronicity. Some musical self-immolations, however, are the result of one band member's driven, monomaniacal fixation on Finishing The Project At Any Cost. Elvis Costello did it to the Attractions on Blood and Chocolate, and David Lowery did it to Camper Van Beethoven on Key Lime Pie. On a much smaller and, probably justifiably ignored scale, Keir DuBois did it to The Mojo Wire during the making of You're On Your Own, a slab of vintage indie-rock that would prove to be their final album.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Press Releases (Nov. 2001 to Mar. 2003)
Back to the contemporaneous stuff, a la "Skids" above, but this time with more of an irreverent sense of humor. I had lots of fun writing these four faux-press releases for Mojo Wire- and Honey White-related events and pseudo-events, and I make no apologies for how silly/dumb/embarrassing they may be for anyone and everyone involved.
ISLA VISTA, CA (AP): According to Mojo Wire bassist Keir DuBois, "the band re-naming situation has become a little more complicated." DuBois notes that first of all, Mojo guitarist Joe Zulli has publicly stated that any and all name changes must be, in his opinion, "better" than the Mojo Wire (messrs. Adam Hill, Joe Zulli, Keir DuBois, Bryn DuBois). "If any suggestion does not pass Joe's iron hand of justice, then may God's mercy be upon it, for we shall show none, and continue on as the Mojo Wire." 

Also, drummer Bryn DuBois has abstained from any further comment upon new nomenclature and all monikers, because of the conflict of interest concerning his efforts to assemble a new band under his leadership with guitarist Brian Wolff. However, today Keir has speculated that in fact, his brother's retreat from all comments had more to do with "Bryn not liking anything I thought up" as well as "threatening that if the three of us couldn't come up with anything decent in four days, he would arbitrarily choose a name and we'd have to live with it."
Mojo Wire Lyrics: Retaliatory Self-Martyrdom (Sep. 2, 2002)
This piece (and a concurrent one for Honey White that you'll see next week) is basically just more self-obsessed rambling analysis from me, this time about Mojo Wire lyrics, their creation, and "meaning." I was really bored in the UCSB HR office at the time, and did this instead of working. Each song has about a paragraph dedicated to it:
How Far Away (May 1998): The first lyric that I put any real effort into was still essentially a whiny breakup bitchfest, the perfect weapon for a 21-year-old man-child. It was loosely directed at an ex-girlfriend for (as I saw it at the time) scurrilously defaming me as some kind of superficial gigolo. Calling her Cassandra was a cheap and toothless insult that seemed fitting, so I ran with it. It wasn't cathartic, though- it was more like a festering cut, and I found it dangerously easy to progress from false prophecies to something nastier. Slashing with the Sylvia Plath knife was callous and ignorant, but like I said in the lyric, I was the last one to find out about any of this. I've always hated being the victim of inside jokes, so since everyone else knew I was getting dumped except me, I thought it was more than fair to fight fire with napalm. It's a total hyperbolic stretch from what actually happened, but it's okay to be a little cartoonish in a pop lyric, right? Naturally, it had no effect on her whatsoever, but the band dug it. The music was happy and loud, so that was the only thing audiences heard anyway.
Next week will be similar stuff, but all about Honey White. It may be up as late as Monday night, though, so sit tight. Um, assuming this is all incredibly riveting stuff, of course.

July 15, 2008

Fanning the Flames of Terminal Narcissism

As a raging egomaniac, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I enjoy getting my narcissism validated on a regular basis. This past week it happened in a big way. Relatively. See, as a designer/wordsmith/rockstar, a few years back I got to be part of a magazine redesign, and it went off like gangbusters. Client loved it, colleagues loved it, and after a while it even got nominated for some awards. Took a few issues to get it running smoothly, but now that the wheels are greased we get some great work done.

So imagine my glee when Em comes home one afternoon from another teacher’s house. Now, my wife’s known all this time that I do this magazine—not only because she’s seen my copies of it, but especially since it’s education-related and she is, in fact, a teacher—but stuff like this is always made cooler when it shows up in random places. Turns out Em’s colleague subscribes to this magazine, and so Emily's all “hey, my husband designed that,” and the other teacher was all “no way—is his name in there?”

They turned to the inside page to peruse the publication info and boom: there I was, listed as “illustrator” (one of the redesign’s features is author cartoons, a la the New Yorker, and I draw them). My name in lights. I mean, in ink. Whatever. Anyway, it was a minor rock-star moment—more like a county fair gig than a slot at the Roxy—but not any less awesome. And I didn’t even have to be there to bask in the glow of adulation that (surely) would have poured over me like liquid gold. Except liquid gold would have been really hot and probably would have burned me to death.

Anyway, the ego marches on. Always remember, children: Terminal Narcissism is good for you!

July 12, 2008

Shameless Revisionism: Genre-Bending Gonzo

This week's edition of SR is sort of a mixed bag: three music reviews, a weepy political post, a faux-gonzo email exchange, and a two-part email interview with a U.S. soldier in Iraq. They don't really all fit together under any special category, so in the interests of shameless revisionism they're now honorary Dubious Ventures posts, and since there's no over-arching thematical thing going on let's get to it:

Dealing with the Hassle (Jan. 18, 2002)
I wasted lots of UCSB's time when I worked in the Human Resources office in 2001 and 2002, mostly writing emails to the guys in Honey White (and, well, everyone else I knew too), testing the fiction waters, and spewing out quickie music reviews of my favorite artists and albums at the time. This one's all about Superdrag's third album, an indie-rock tour-de-force called In the Valley of Dying Stars. I...well, I liked it. A lot.

Everything sounds the way it should, every tune is sequenced perfectly, a short enough running time for vinyl audiophile nerds, etc etc etc. Frontman John Davis lays the record’s themes on the line right away in the first lines of “Keep it Close to Me”: “I want rock and roll but I don’t want to deal with the hassle; I know what I know but I don’t want to feel like an asshole!”—a to-the-point intro for an album that simply sounds like a band having fun at what they do best- admitting they "can't concentrate on melody waiting for some kind of tragedy".
Harsh Realities at Crunch Time (Feb. 17, 2002)
This one's actually a joint review of two albums that fit well together in my mind: Elvis Costello and the Attractions' Blood and Chocolate (1986) and Camper Van Beethoven's Key Lime Pie (1989). The two records both represented messy endings for both bands concerned, and both bandleaders (Costello and Camper's David Lowery) were two of my big inspirations as lyricists and songwriters. I also identified a bit too much with their monomaniacal (or so I thought) ways of record-making, as I'd just done the minor-league version of that when making the final Mojo Wire disc in 2001.
There comes a time in an artist’s career when brute force seems like the only course of action needed to complete a project. In almost every case, the effort is a Herculean waste of stamina, ego, and willpower- a last gasp of desperation before the known world crumbles. That is essentially true for both of these albums, but not necessarily the whole story, as both were creative impulses dominated by a single, unswerving totalitarian vision, namely that of Elvis Costello on the one hand and David Lowery on the other. Both albums are a hard listen at first, but ultimately succeed if heard as the final statement of unadulterated artistic ambition and the dashed hopes that inevitably result from one person’s attempts to make their idea a reality via a group effort.
Pulling Off the Perfect Con (Jul.18, 2002)
A review of U2's Achtung Baby for that bastion of tastemaking known as Amazon. I was still in the middle of my tenure writing for the @U2 fansite, and some of my more egregious enthusiasms spilled over into this one. Even so, it's interesting to see what I made of the 1991 album eleven years later, considering 1) it exerted so much aesthetic pull on me at sixteen, and 2) I'd actually written my senior thesis for a Techno-Gothic Lit class on the postmodernist similarities between U2's Zoo TV tour and Bladerunner.
I think what really happened was that the band was fucking desperate, and they stole what sounds/ideas they needed, perhaps knowing that their own creativity (and back catalogue) would fill in the gaps. In doing so, U2 behaved just like a sampling rap group- let's say that they slummed, but mostly innocently, for this record. It's almost like inverse development of the stereotypical rock-star ethic—U2 were socio-politically conscious first (however childlike and sincere) and then applied what they learned from that to their material on a more personal level, in effect creating an album more human and arguably easier to relate to. Also, this album has as one of its central traits the only really good thing about "postmodernism"—the placing of the individual's needs above any desire to universally emancipate mankind. It may be a coldhearted gesture to many, but it reminds the person doing this of who they are and who they can become.
Worst Birthday Ever (Nov. 3, 2004)
You'd think that in a compilation including not only my first stumbling tirades at the Daily Nexus, but also my fanboy-rants from @U2, I'd have nothing more embarrassing than those examples of misplaced passion. You'd be wrong. See, once it became clear that the Kerry/Edwards ticket would get stomped by Bush/Cheney in the '04 presidential election, I began to...take it personally. For whatever reason, I'd forgotten the cynical lessons I'd learned as an impressionable youth during the Clinton vs. Gingrich craziness of the 1990s—not to mention the quasi-education I'd gleaned from Hunter Thompson's political screeds. I include it here to illustrate how much I've had to jettison when trying to get back to the healthy skepticism of gonzo that the 2008 campaign demands. I'm not really there yet. The only good thing about this pathetic whining was that I got some great "buck-up-kid" responses from sympathetic friends and family. Oh yes, I'd mass-emailed it to everyone. Ick.
So. I'm now 28 years and some hours old. It's 2am and it's hard not to take this election result personally. Next time I swear I'm gonna be one of those people who only pays attention to politics for 5 minutes a year. It'll be a hard habit to break- I've been on it since the 5th grade- almost as long as my addiction to rock&roll and only beaten by my jones for baseball. But you all know me, that's what I do- I take things personally when I shouldn't. I mean, I have a good job where I can be creative. I live in a nice California beach-town apartment with a beautiful woman who loves me. I'm white, straight, male, educated, and American. I'm even 1/4th of an ass-kicking rock & roll band (we still have an album to finish, too). I have everything going for me, right?
A Floppy and Useless Scion of Gonzo (Feb. 22, 2005)
Immediate and woeful reaction to the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson. For better or worse Thompson was my foremost inspiration to write, and his death, though not surprising, was still a big bummer to read about in the middle of a rainy weekend. My buddy Jon Neal was the first to call me about it, and in thinking about his gonzo-rific adventures in politics, it occurred to me that a fitting tribute to Thompson would be a celebration of my friends like Jon who were, in their own ways, chasing the nth-degree impulse of True Gonzo: Sean Blashcke in west Africa, and Nick Clemente in Iraq. At the time I'd thought that my vain work in music and writing didn't add up to Jon's, Sean's, and Nick's efforts in politics, peace, and war, but these days I think I was being a little too hard on myself.
Jon Neal called me sometime between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning to leave a glum message that Hunter S. Thompson had fatally shot himself....but I didn't have the heart to call Jon back and talk about it. He has been in the middle of several political campaigns by now, and I thought that meditating on the genius of Thompson's documentation of the 1972 presidential campaign might hit a little close to home. Either that or dredge up long-dead tales of various late-'90s maniacal substance-fuelled episodes in the nubile cesspool of Isla Vista, which I won't do here. The pissing rain that drenched southern California this weekend put me in an equally pissy mood that only this coming Saturday's gig might cure. Nor will I subject everyone to my history of Thompson-appreciation. The people who'd care about that already know anyway, and since I'm not as big a fan or as eloquent a writer as so many others offering up obligatorially astute reminisces about the Doctor I won't bother about that. It did make me think about people I know who are off pushing life to their own particular limits, however, while I sit floppy and useless creating things for my own amusement.
Desperate Notes from Diamond Bar and West L.A. (Mar. 15, 2005)
"Desperate Notes" is only three emails between me and famous Mojo Wire frontman (and Bryn's best friend) Adam Hill, but the extenuating circumstances (Adam's move to Newport and Hunter Thompson's death) apparently goosed us to appropriately manic flights of gibberish. It was so much fun to write—and the first real gonzo I'd written in quite a while—that in the interests of my own creative sanity, I decided to get back into the cultivation of periodic Thompson-esque bursts of verbiage. Thanks to Adam for filling in the role of Super-Duper Special Guest Star.
Hot damn, dude! The sybaritic shindigs at Rodman’s Newport mansion pale in comparison to the yakuza crack dens of Diamond Bar. Jesus creeping shit indeed. Dare I ask if you speak of these things from personal experience? Or have you only innocently “heard tell” of such awful things from more, shall we say, “well-traveled” individuals? I’ll admit that much of what I know of illegal controlled substances stems from the experiences of others, as for the past five years at least the mere whiff of even the most flaccid joint sends me into a jabbering tailspin of paranoia in the thirty seconds it takes for me to stagger to a horizontal position and lose consciousness. Many would laugh, but I know better, for I am Doobie, the Original. Steve Imbilli had no clue as to the eventual ramifications of his harmless epithet for me.
A Second Lieutenant's Grim Commentary from Iraq (Jun. 22-24, 2005)
Special Guest Star number two graces these two posts—my old high school friend Captain Nick Clemente, who was at the time serving as a 2nd. Lt. tank commander north of Baghdad. I interviewed him over email, for the edifying benefit of myself and everyone in his address book. In Part I, he answered a series of general questions I had about events on the ground:
"The final thing I always notice is FEAR. Everyone is afraid and not too many people are doing anything about it. In America if a car blew up on your street people would be outraged, would organize and fight anyone who jeopardized their kids. It doesn’t work like that here. People have been brutalized for so long that it seems as if they are just accustomed to the violence and feel powerless to stop it. Lastly, they are frustrated that the USA has been unable to solve their problems already. The way they see it, if we can put a man on the moon how come we can’t get the power working? A pretty reasonable question but not a simple one. This frustration undermines our relationships but we do our best to combat it."
For Part II, he elaborated on a few follow-up questions, and one in particular is worth emphasizing:
I can’t give my true opinion of what is going on over here because I am an Army Officer which precludes me from enjoying many of the freedoms I defend, however let me make one thing clear...Anti-war sentiment does not derail my morale nor do war hawks bolster my morale or that of my men. When you are where we are, “knee-deep in the shit” as we say, the only thing that matters is accomplishing the mission and getting you and your people home alive. And, sorry to say, when it comes to a lot of the missions that we do here, getting home alive actually becomes number one pretty quick. As the character in Black Hawk Down says, “I think it don’t really matter what I think...when that first bullet flies by your head all that politics goes right out the window.”
Nick also gave me a great band name:
"Feel free to use the name I thought up the other day, 'Jam Nut Actuator and the Tubeless Regroover.' Those are all things on tanks that make a good name for a funk band."
And speaking of bands, for next week's edition we'll be going back into the sordid history of the Mojo Wire and Honey White. Not so revisionist, but pretty shameless.

July 09, 2008

Sneers and Gloating at the FISA Hearings

So apparently some people missed the FISA vote protest. Well...shucks. You snooze, you lose. Not me, though. I was there, and it was AWESOME. 100,000 bloggers stormed the Capitol, dressed in preppie business suits, carrying pocket Constitutions, and wielding their laptops like deadly maces. People trampled each other to kick Harry Reid in the balls. The old coot put up a hell of a fight, but in the end the numbers were against him, and he submitted meekly, like we knew he would.

We even asked Feingold and Dodd if they wanted a go, but Chris demurred and Russell said it would be Wrong. They'd used up all their spinal fluid on the floor of the Senate, and they needed a refill. Fat chance. That precious liquid is now trading at like $380 a gallon, and even on a Congressional salary, that's only a week's supply.

The Republicans thought it was hilarious until we turned on them. Let's just say that the hallowed halls of Washington ran thick with blue-blooded muck and leave it at that. I know, I know- you'll never get the real story from the Liberal Media either, but hey, in this case that's because we stripped their credentials and herded them all into the Tidal Basin for ritual cleansing at the hands of Helen Thomas.

Hell, by the time the hippies showed up, there was only some mop-up work to do, and they were "totally not into that, man." And yet they found plenty of time to passive-aggressively guilt-trip her us all over again, that is until we snapped their collective-consciousness' spine with our righteous fury.

A few celebrity bloggers tried to hog some glory, but we stuffed their mouths with cash and reminded them that no one's name was on the Netroots Nation marquee in Austin anymore. We left them under the guard of voter-registration fanatics until further notice, and lemme tellya, those kids will not be denied. No sir.

That wasn't enough for some people, though. You all know who I mean. The ones who ignored all the surrounding silliness and sped like heat-seeking missiles for the office of Barack Obama. Alas, he was forewarned of their sortie, and was nowhere to be found. Only Ted Kennedy stood firm, jabbering something about "I dare you motherfucking kids to mess with me, yo. I'm even freakier with only half a brain, bitches!!!"

Teddy didn't get a chance to lay a finger on any of those unfortunate souls, though. Michelle Obama had her way with them. It was ugly. Or so I'm told. I wasn't there- I'd made my way down through the Rayburn building, looking for Waxman. I had a sternly worded letter all ready for that dude, but Conyers and Kucinich picked me out of the crowd from fifty feet away, and they sicced the Speaker on me.

And Nancy was not kind. She humiliated me in front of my wife, shamed me in front of my friends, and exposed me for the ass that I am. "Keir," she said, towering over my cringing form and twirling her gavel, "Come on, sweetie. What would you rather do? Tar and feather me, ME, or try for the easy way out?"

She stood aside and showed me the fateful choice, and I knew I would Sell Out with all the rest of them. I knew I'd become just another Humorless Suburban Liberal all over again, just like so many times before.

You see, the Speaker had a leash in her other hand. It was a good thirty feet long, and though it strained with great force, she held it firm. It was an astounding feat of discipline. "Holy fucking shit," I heard a girl whisper from behind me. "Who ARE those people?"

The guy next to me knew, but he only hid his head in his hands. Another grizzled protest veteran shook his head quietly, and the smell of slime soon overwhelmed us all. It ran thick on the pavement ahead of us; the ground was positively greased with the burbling excrement of bowel-shaking fear, and it was emanating from the direction of the end of the Speaker's leash.

Ten or fifteen Congresscritters were lashed together in a huddling mass of angst, whimpering like whipped dogs, trembling and cowering and slathered in blue paint. The only one I could really recognize at that point was Hoyer.

The Speaker smiled calmly. "Now children," she said, "you will have your chance to commit meaningless, self-aggrandizing acts of vengeance upon the chosen Punished. You will all get five minutes each. Make it good. Everyone has full immunity. We don't care if you tell everyone about it. In fact, we'll encourage it, and now no one will be blamed."

We gaped in astonishment, but she wasn't finished. "Oh yes, you can brag to your friends and family, but only if you're on an AT&T plan." I don't remember much after that. We became One with our own personal Bacchic revenge, and many horrible deeds were committed in the name of Purity.

I woke up the next morning covered in welts and bruises, with blue paint chips under my fingernails. I didn't recognize the people sleeping around me, and had no idea which hotel we were in. The less said about the morning after, the better. Even the President wept when he heard the news. They were, after all, His Creatures.

Cross-posted: dkos, pff, dd.

July 05, 2008

Shameless Revisionism: @U2 Essays, 2001-2005

Okay, well, I don't know what to say about this edition of Shameless Revisionism other than "it seemed like a good idea at the time." No slight to the dedicated and happy fans of @U2, because they like what they do and they do it well, but these days I frankly don't think I should have expended so much fanboy-energy in this way. I think my mistake here was to pour energy into appreciating another band (who are, yes, a long-standing corporate monster of Teh All-Powerful Music Biz) when I could have expended the effort in a more constructive way for, say, my own bands at the time. It didn't happen that way, though, and so I'm left with a small and mildly embarrassing portfolio of work for @U2. Well, the concert reviews were pretty good, but while re-reading the rest of my U2 stuff I was struck by how often I seemed to be projecting myself and my misplaced enthusiasms about The Way Things Should Be in Art and Life onto this band and their work.

Short version of how it all came about: @U2 is one of the best and most informative U2 fan sites on the web, and periodically they solicit contributions from readers. I was working for UCSB at the time, bored on campus in an office cube and between bands (Fall/Winter 2001-2002 was the gray area after the Mojo Wire and before Honey White), so I sent in my senior thesis (comparing Bladerunner and Zoo TV) for bonafides, and @U2 head honcho Matt McGee posted my Elevation Tour review in November 2001. I wrote sporadic @U2 articles through the next album and tour, but again found that I work opposite to how a journalist should work. I wasn't interested in traveling all over the place to see multiple expensive U2 concerts, and could only come up with so many critical-analytical pieces of observational wankery about the band's recordings, and the Vertigo tour review became my last piece for @U2.

So, my thanks to Matt and his crew for all the nice things they said about my writing, and it was fun to meet some of them at the Vertigo show three years ago. May they all enjoy the new album this year, even if it does actually suck. As for me, unfortunately it wouldn't be the last time I got too emotionally involved in things I shouldn't have; if you think this stuff is silly, just wait for my weepy political screeds from 2004. As before, click on a link to read the whole column:

Elevation 2001: My Nose Is Still Bleeding (Nov. 13, 2001)
Bryn and I spend a day driving around L.A. before the city's third Elevation show, visiting the studio where No Doubt made their big album (I was scoping out places to learn engineering), and were pretty tired and disappointed when we found out that our expensive tickets were literally against the back wall of the arena. I wasn't therefore in the best mood to write a review of the concert, and turned in this bitchy little thing.

Eighty-five dollars for last row upper-deck seats. A two hour drive in traffic from Santa Barbara. Rain, and lots of it. Thirty dollar T-shirts. Ten dollar beer. A cavernous arena, Los Angeles' Staples Center, and the muddiest, mushiest sound mix that I have ever heard at any major concert. Instead of PJ Harvey we got No Doubt, local heroes dwarfed by the venue and the stature of the headliners. U2, one of the most exciting and dynamic live rock bands, delivering one of their most predictable and impotent setlists ever, a jukebox of crowd-pleasing '80s hits and almost no surprises and twists. If U2 are looking to be empathetic to the United States in our time of crisis, they're doing it in an unfortunately unpalatable way, at least to this spoiled California kid.
What's Wrong With Vague? (Jan. 30, 2002)
This one might be the worst of the lot as far as my U2 stuff goes. You know you're too emotionally invested in a band you'll never meet when you're defending them against legitimate gripes from a critic you'll also never meet. I'm still surprised that Matt ran this one; its only redeeming quality might be that it served as a template for my "Top Ten Lyrics" article later that year.
A recent front page article on MSN's Slate.com sought to balance the stifling accolades the band has received this past year with some mild criticism at the expense of U2's lyrics and "political" credibility. Slate's criticism is levied at the idea that U2 and, in particular, Bono is able to fool fans into thinking their vague songs and lyrics have profound social and political meaning and laugh all the way to the bank. It's my opinion that this does happen quite a bit in U2's '80s work, but it's nowhere near as conniving and calculated as this article would like us to believe, and if so, no more than any other pretentious and egomaniacal artist. For U2, these are age-old criticisms and generalizations and not all of them are true; many of Bono's lyrics on U2's '90s work are very personal pieces with universal appeal.
U2's Top Ten Lyrics (Sep. 3, 2002)
@U2 ran a series called "Top Tens" in conjunction with the '90s best-of album the band released in 2002. Naturally I was arrogant enough to consider myself qualified to pass summary judgement on something like lyrics, so I took the assignment and ran with it. It's not terrible, but not exactly any more unique or insightful than other hyper-passionate fanboy bleatings.
U2's lyrics are so often second fiddle to the manner in which they are delivered that making a list of their "best" scrawlings is almost wholly dependent on assessing the quality of Bono's performance. In many cases, especially on much of their '80s material, the actual words and phrases are so awful and cliched as to elicit embarassment at the least, and jealous hatred from sniping pseudo-poets (who don't get as much attention for their self-conscious "art") at most. More often than not, Bono's stage presence, and seemingly total conviction in what he's bellowing out, helps even his worst lyrics over the hump.
The Fly is Dead, Long Live The Fly (Oct. 16, 2002)
Despite protestations to the contrary, I think I took it a little too personally when my favorite U2 song didn't end up on the Best of 1990-2000 album here in the States. At least I was self-aware enough to acknowledge that it might not be healthy behavior.
The volume of fan response to even the possibility of its exclusion was surprising, even without the "is it, isn't it" teasing of the U2.com official track list. I didn't mind either way--as I told some friends, I already had the single on CD, cassette, vinyl, and video, just like a good fanatical freak should. After all, what song needs validation from the band when it's helped power two of their best tours? What diehard needs this kind of validation from their band just so they can feel like "their song" wasn't excluded from what amounts to a cash-cow release for casual fans?
U2004 Pontifications (Jan. 2, 2004)
I missed a deadline to contribute to the "Looking in Our Crystal Balls: U2 Predictions for 2004" feature that @U2 ran at the end of 2003. By then, though, I'd started the Dubious Ventures blog, so I just ran it here. It's the first time where I actually seem to have a sense of humor when it comes to U2.
2004 is looking to be one of the meanest, nastiest twelve months in history. Any self-righteous theologically political rock band will have sensed this intrinsically some time ago, and will have either run screaming and wailing into the comforting arms of nostalgia, or instead will have decided on blundering gamely inside the gaping maw of mass media to suffer gross misinterpretation and crushing overexposure before being mercifully cut off from all supporting record conglomerate cash flow, leaving the field to the bland ravings of hyper-hip art rockers, loopy hip-hoppers, and libidinal pop tarts.
Rich Irish Dorks (Nov. 27, 2004)
I made deadline this time, and got my tepid take of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb front-loaded on a group review of the new album. Both have not aged well- "Bomb" sounds even more stilted than it did four years ago, and my reivew is a little too bet-hedgey. Oh well.
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb seems to be the album U2 have made in the mold they imagine most of the world perceives them to be. Elaborating on that point involves all kinds of silly nit-picking that's ultimately irrelevant if, in fact, this is the album they wanted to record at this unique point in their unique career. I mean, it's their record, right? I can say all sorts of things that are superficially judgemental, such as Atomic Bomb is head and shoulders above the good half of All That You Can't Leave Behind, or that it's not as good as Achtung Baby, or it's "mainstream", "too safe", or "slickly clean", and hey, even if I did just say that or even if I believe it, which I do, that doesn't matter. The fact is that U2 has decades under their belt, a few knockout albums back there, a killer live show, and has yet to become complete crap, and for some reason, for better or worse, that quashes any arguments as to the quality of this disc. They're up against themselves again, and I'm happy they made a good record in spite of that.
Vertigo 2005: Whiplash In The Peanut Gallery (Apr. 16, 2005)
I came out of this show with a good review, but I think it's the last logistical nightmare of expensive travel I'll endure for U2's sake. I'd spent the last six months making plenty of trips up to the Bay Area to record a Honey White album, and while it was fun to hang out with some @U2-ers and see the band pull off a good show, Emily seemed to have much more fun hanging out with my sister and her friends while I was at the show.
One of the dirty little secrets gnawing on a few of us @U2 staffers is that we don't get to go to as many shows as we'd like. I'd been to one PopMart show (San Diego) and one Elevation gig (LA 1, 3rd leg), and was all ready to have my token Vertigo experience be overwhelming, for good or ill, reprising my role as the bitterly kvetching peanut gallery freak. One constant remained from Elevation: muddy arena acoustics. Sure, U2 succeeded in pulling off their patented hat-trick of making a huge place feel as cozy as a club, but the sound that reached me, six rows from the back, was pretty slushy, though it must have been awesomely crisp and punchy for the first hundred feet or so. Other than that, I don't know if this show was "better" or "worse" than the others I've seen, but I definitely enjoyed this one much more, for all the little superficial reasons that people cite when they choose to pass passionately severe judgment upon necessarily subjective things like art or music or nerve-damagingly tight vinyl pants.
Next week's Shameless Revisionism promises to be another mixed bag. There will be some more rambling music pieces, a shameful political observation, and some refreshing gonzo and wartime observations from (respectively) two of my most awesome special guest stars, Adam Hill and Nick Clemente.

July 04, 2008

Weapon of Young Gods Promo Clip #1

A video teaser for a novel? Well, why not?

The first draft is still going strong here.

July 03, 2008

Fourteen Years of Creeping Nostalgia

Another huge photo post: Pieces of the Big Collage (1994/95 to 2007/08). Because terminal narcissism is good for you, kiddies.

1994/1995 (Dana Point): senior year of high school.

1995/1996 (UCSB): weird first year of college.

1996/1997 (UCSB): stressful second year of college + The Mojo Wire

1997/1998 (UCSB): decadent third year of college + The Mojo Wire

1998/1999 (UCSB): heavy fourth year of college + The Mojo Wire

1999/2000 (Isla Vista): last quarter at UCSB + The Mojo Wire + doin' time at the bookstore.

2000/2001 (Isla Vista): doin' time at UCSB HR + The Mojo Wire

2001/2002 (Isla Vista): doin' time at UCSB HR + The Mojo Wire + Honey White

2002/2003 (Isla Vista): doin' time at UCSB HR + night school + Honey White

2003/2004 (Isla Vista): Jobless + night school + Honey White

2004/2005 (Ventura): BBM&D + Honey White

2005/2006 (Ventura): BBM&D + Honey White

2006/2007 (Ventura): BBM&D + Honey White

2007/2008 (Ventura): BBM&D + Music + Fiction

Supposedly we may be acquiring the vast DuBois-MacAllister photo library from Grass Valley. Back issues shall be compiled, of course.

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