Monday, January 31, 2011

D.R.I. - Dealing With It

In many ways, D.R.I.’s second long-player Dealing With It may be the greatest concept album about teen angst ever recorded. There are some obvious holes to this theory: the band name (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles), cover art, and simpleton themes running throughout the album don’t exactly point to an archetypical concept record. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty certain that none of the members of D.R.I. have ever gone on record to state that Dealing With It is a concept album at all, let alone try to explain a story line.

Allow me. Dealing With It is the story of four teenage boys coming of age in the 80’s, dealing with issues of social alienation and feelings of worthlessness. They notice the crass consumerism of those more fortunate than them and begin to notice the hypocrisy of Ronald Reagan’s voodoo economics. While they’re not able to completely understand or eloquently address the ills of society, they’re able to determine what’s right and wrong, and they struggle with why those who are presumably more intelligent than them can’t see the same things.

They all share of love of things hardcore and punk, a combination that had not been fully examined in the early 80’s. The four start a band inspired by this love of music, and because they understand that time is precious, most of their material barely reaches the one-minute mark. The songs within Dealing With It represent the manner in which they survived their teenage years, an audio document on how they dealt with the forces against them, turning an outlet forged of frustration into a sustainable band.

Vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy started Dirty Rotten Imbeciles a few years prior, along with Kurt’s brother Eric on drums and Dennis Johnson on bass. The four would practice at the Brecht’s house, usually finding their practices interrupted by Kurt and Eric’s father. He would berate the boys, calling them a bunch of “dirty rotten imbeciles” and kick Spike and Dennis out of the house until the next evening when they’d start over again.

For most of us, that repeated intolerance would surely be enough to dissuade. To the members of D.R.I., they turned it into a band name, a song (“Madman”), and an album cover. As a reminder-and a motivational tool for those facing similar criticisms-they included an audio sample of Brecht’s father pulling the plug on a rehearsal during a fairly cantankerous mood at the beginning of “Madman.” You hear the father bang on the door, advising them “Look…The party’s over!” before reminding his sons “You have to go to school and these others (referring to Spike and Dennis) are dropouts.” Spike takes offense to this implication, challenging the father with the fact “We all work.” The dad squares up Spike with the strut of a homeowner: “I don’t need you…When I come home, I want to relax!”

Ironically, so did D.R.I. The two just took different paths in how to get there.
By the time that Dealing With It was recorded, the band had moved out of their parent’s house and found common refugees in San Francisco. Eric Brecht eventually left the fold and Dennis Johnson headed back home, but Kurt and Spike forged ahead and turned the remnants of their teenage angst into the best album of their career.

But what makes it such a landmark album is the maturity that is prevalent in their musicianship. No longer being content with the fastest band in the world, Spike Cassidy begins to demonstrate a unique knack of balancing between punk and metal riffs. With this album, he identifies himself as a thrash pioneer, a perfect compliment to Kurt’s limited vocal range. It is his talents that ultimately save D.R.I. from becoming just another footnote in the annals of punk. Unfortunately, it is also those same talents that began to consider the possibility of a wider audience, and D.R.I. started to examine those possibilities with subsequent albums that took on a more metal direction.

The thing is, the band’s weaknesses began to really show the moment they began pursuing those “crossover” ideas. Dealing With It is a perfect balance of the two genres, as any shortcomings are diminished with the reactionary nature of punk’s tradition.

Consider such lines as “I won’t fight your stupid war!” (“Stupid, Stupid War”) or “I’ve lost all usefulness/I want to die!” (“Nursing Home Blues”) or “Every day I get more pissed/Slit my wrists! Slit My Wrists!” (“Slit My Wrists”) and imagine how they’d fare in complex arrangements or with times exceeding a minute or more.

You’d be looking at an album with so much creative contradiction that any power behind it would be lost in the guitar solos, tempo changes, and repetitive lyrics.

Thankfully, the band left us with one album to document their transition and it should be recognized as one of the blueprints of such bands as Slayer, Anthrax and other bands that went on to bigger acclaim. More importantly, it’s a wonderfully enjoyable album filled with riffs, speed, humor, and inspiration on how to properly deal with the negative forces that slight one’s environment. Dealing With It serves as a healthy self-help program for any teenager looking for a way to channel the aggression of their young angst.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

D.R.I. is appearing tonight at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines. Doors open at 5:00pm. You should go.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Couch Slouch: How I Can't Muster The Energy To See D.R.I. On A Weeknight

I’m totally bummed.

And it’s because I’m old.

When you’re old, you’re subjected to fatigue. When you’re old and have kids, you’re subject to immediate heart failure after too little sleep.

Which is what I’m faced against when there’s a band in the state that chooses to book their shows at 9:00pm on a weeknight, which is exactly what D.R.I. are doing Monday night in Des Moines.

The fact is, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles are on the short list of bands who invented thrash. Sure, they started out kind of squirrely-the novelty of a band releasing an album with not one, but over two dozen songs on it, most of which are a minute or under.

By record number two, the band cradled the delicate balance of metal and hardcore. Even with content that barely stretched beyond twelfth grade angst and a singer with a vocal range a few pegs below even the most limited metal singer, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles were a band that happened to be groundbreaking by dumb luck.

This wasn’t in their equation; they probably flunked math anyway. They played by a code of loud fast rules, perhaps at the behest of a father who always pulled on their rehearsals anyway.

“Dad usually starts getting pissed twenty minutes in, so let’s see if we can cramp our entire song list in that amount of time.”

They were pushing past twenty before they got tight with those breakneck rhythms, but thank God someone had the brains to hit the record button at one final take of sheer juvenilia. It was when D.R.I. began to try to sound their age when things went south. That was also around the time when they started to recognize their part in the evolution of thrash metal, identifying their acknowledgement with titles like Thrash Zone and the call-it-like-it-is Crossover.

But goddamn, the debut was as challenging as it was gimmicky and Dealing With It was/is just flat-out awesome. I still throw out fists in the car or at home whenever I hear “There’s nothing to fight-fuck-ing-for!!”

A friend of mine brought home the debut from the East coast and we admired the band’s punctuality. The cover was a sloppy black and white effort that looked like it wasn’t made at Kinko’s. It looked like it was cobbled together at the public library.

Another friend in college had Dealing With It. That cover looked like it was a cartoon that one of their stoner buddies drew out at some art class at the alternative school. But inside it was wonderful. I could have used that album as a senior in high school.

I copied the entire record for that one.

There’s an opportunity on Monday to see Dirty Rotten Imbeciles at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines. That’s a downfall of living in Iowa: you’re often stuck with shows that are merely drive-bys to Chicago, Minneapolis, or-believe it or not-Omaha, Nebraska. They get the weekend scene-makers while we get the gas money gigs that fund the drive.

I’ve made that late night drive to a weeknight gig too many times to mention. It was a pain at 25 and it’s a killer at over 40. You’re wiped for at least two days and if you have kids, you really don’t get a recovery time anyway.

So if you’re close to Des Moines and stay up for Jimmy Fallon, shut off the television and head down to Vaudeville Mews to see D.R.I. If you’re one of those more fortunate souls that have them in town for a more reasonable day of the week, they should definitely be part of your agenda.

Just remind them, for old farts like me, of their own age and don’t have the stamina to attend late night rock shows that make us deaf and cranky at work the next day. We’ve become the “Mad Man.” When we come home, we want to relax, Goddamnit!

Don’t you dummies ever learn?

And be sure to tell them that Dealing With It still rules. That’s what makes missing Monday night’s show such a bummer.

UPDATED & CORRECTED: The show is a 5:00 pm, which is very reasonable and appreciative. Will I be going? Unfortunately, my wife is working late that evening, otherwise I would have definitely made the trip.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Disregard Of Timekeeping

I may have a son with no rhythm.

It’s worrisome to me and even my wife gets visibly frustrated.

He’s been hinting at wanting to mess around on my stuff for a while, back-ending the hints with suggesting that he wants to learn how to play.

“Give it a few years.” I reply, “Let your hands grow some more, so you can grip the neck.”

We got him an annoying Paper Jamz guitar for Christmas. It might be spelled with an “s” at the end, but I’m willing to bet they went with the hip “z.”

When it’s powered on, it automatically goes into some shitty Ok-Go song. I figured out how to set it to “freestyle,” which enables you to play it like a regular guitar with pre-loaded chords.

It took him a few tries to learn how to set it to free style, and once he had, he just runs around with it, strumming fast and licking out his tongue. I tried to point out that you could actually play a song with it, if you put your mind to it, but he ignored me and watched his reflection on the sliding door to the deck.

I used to do the same thing with a tennis racket.

Last week I was making dinner for the family, and I had my IPod in a docking station in the kitchen. I put the thing on shuffle and did a little dance with my daughter to Elvis Presley’s “His Latest Flame.”

The boy must have noticed and felt a little jealous about the one-on-one time with my daughter. He ran upstairs a grabbed his little toy guitar and ran back downstairs. He came into the kitchen-the stupid OK-Go song blaring over my music while E proceeds to take off his shirt and flick his tongue wildly.

I tell him to cut it out because he’s disrespecting me and The King.

Suddenly, D.J. Shuffle goes from Elvis to The Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner.”

“That’s an idea!” I thought, noticing how impossibly simple the song is. It’s merely two chords, certainly enough for even my son to learn.

I borrow the Paper Jamz and quickly determine where the fingers should be on the guitar in order to plan along with The Modern Lovers. I give him back the guitar and point out where the finger placement should be.

There wasn’t any trouble in putting his fingers on the correct frets, but he was really struggling with the timing of the chords. They were fast, they were slow, and they follow no linear rhythm at all.

“It’s real easy! Listen! Ba ba bom! Ba ba bom” I repeat, in unison with the song in the back ground.

“Follow the beat, buddy.” Offers my wife who stopped in as she walked by the kitchen and noticed what I was doing. She clapped her hands to help him find the beat.

“One. Two. Three. Four.” I tell him, using my index finger like a baton.

It’s no use. He’s not following.

My wife throws her hands in the air with exaggerated frustration. “You’re not going to be one of those kids who can’t keep time, air you?” she questions, knowing that there is no way that he can really answer that question.

“It’s ok. I don’t need to learn how to keep time. I’ll just solo!” He explains, glancing again at his reflection while returning to what is apparently his signature move: playing one chord fast while scrunching up his face as he flicks his tongue in and out of his mouth.

While I admire his gumption, I tell him that even lead guitarists have to keep time-unless you’re Yngwie Malmsteen, and everyone follows the vapor trails from his meticulous shredding.

I try to explain that timekeeping is an essential part of any instrument and think of ways to better explain it. He’s good at math, so I begin talking about 4/4 rhythms and beats per measure.

It’s no use. He’s now incorporated putting the guitar behind his back while playing and wagging his tongue.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Keith Richards - Life

Before I read a word, I’m transfixed by the back cover.

It’s a picture of Keith, casually sitting with his shirt completely unbuttoned, his left hand holding the side of his head, visually stating “Whatta ride, brother!”

But it’s not his pose that captures my eyes, it’s his dangling right hand, the one that features his predominate skull ring, another one of Keith Richards’ numerous accessories that illustrate the dangerous attributes of his fabled past.

Another accessory would be a guitar, of course, and I always seek out a guitar player’s hands-just to see what kind of package they’re holding. Not in any “guess his penis size” way, but to see if their hand dimensions could potentially strangle the neck of their guitar. I’ve got small hands, so I’m in awe at Hendrix’s banana hands, or any guitarist who has hands big enough to qualify as an added appendage.

Richards’ also addresses hand size in Life, the autobiography that any self-respecting rock fan will have already read, downloaded, or physically purchased by the time of the review your reading right now. And with Richards’ image so vast and legendary, you could even imagine a few non-Stones fans wanting to get a glimpse of the pages just to see if there’s any logical explanation as to how he survived countless years of neglect and abuse.

There is no answer, of course, but Keef leaves no stone (ha!) unturned as he documents what may seem as insignificant points like his diet, sleep habits, and the pets that he’s had over the years.

To that point, Richards’ logs more words about cooking shepherd’s pie than he does about the death of his infant son, Tara. And what little he does say is terrifying; Richards’ recounts that he didn’t even leave the Stones’ tour to address his own son’s death. In fact, the day he learned about the child’s passing, he still found his way to the stage. I bring this up not to illustrate Keith’s sense of duty, but to point out that Keith Richards can be a real cold-hearted bastard.

To give another example would be to mention that, while he didn’t miss the stage on the day Tara died, he did once purposely push back a Stones concert by a few hours because someone cut into a freshly cooked shepherd’s pie during a pre-gig crew dinner. Keith barked at the hungry offender, demanded that a new shepherd’s pie be crafted and cooked and told everyone that he would not set foot on the stage until he had an opportunity to be the first one to cut into the still hot dinner.

Once the pie was delivered backstage, Keith brought out a knife to cut into the crust and immediately walked to the stage after making the incision without even taking a bite.

There’s a bunch of stories like this throughout Life, some funny, some dark, some with absolutely no relevance at all. All of it is delivered in Keith-speak, a writing style that takes a moment to find a proper cadence, but once developed, it’s like Keith is right there next to you.

This brings up a personal story of a dream that I’ve had about Keith Richards on more than one occasion. It involves Richards’ being in my neighborhood or within close proximity to me for inexplicable reasons. The dream progresses to where I am with my wife and with Keith Richards, a third wheel scenario that I have no problem with. I place my wife firmly in the background while I eagerly listen to his endless tales, each one getting harder to understand as he drinks us into the wee hours of the night.

At this point, my wife retires to the bedroom while I absorb our guest until it’s close to dawn and he finally begins to tire. Rather than make up a place on the couch for Mr. Richards, I promptly invite him to our master bedroom where we get into bed with my wife unceremoniously pushed over to the side of the bed. She voices some displeasure over the sleeping arrangements while I promptly scold her for not being a very good host for Mr. Richards.

I would totally still do it too, probably with a keener eye on my back. After reading Life, I’m more familiar with Keith’s tactics, temperament, and skills with a blade. He paints himself as an unpredictable character, one that’s capable of quick action if placed in harm’s way. Of course, he also admits that he likes that about his image, even if some tales are exaggerated or, at the very least, not edited for accuracy once the story hits the tabloids.

Life is written with a huge portion of unflattering portrayals of band mates, ex wives and lovers, and counterparts. The most fun is, of course, the tales and ridicules of Mick Jagger. It’s a relationship of complex proportions, reduced to nothing more than a business arrangement for the past quarter-century, but with the brotherly strength of the previous quarter-century binding them to a point of unconditional love, even when they’re not on speaking terms with each other.

The first half of the book flies by at a rapid pace; you’ll be beyond the halfway point in no time. And right around the time you’d guess-Mick Jagger’s solo effort She’s The Boss-you get the sense that things are slowing down. The singer/guitarist arguments sound more and more like an old couple bickering, playing these warped psychological games with one another, each spat a jockeying for position instead of any real conflict.

The material gets less interesting too as Richards’ lists a bunch of handlers, housesitters and home office employees. He peppers their stories with tales of criminal backgrounds and streetwise education. It’s telling, because the same time period brought us albums like Voodoo Lounge and Bridges To Babylon and there’s barely a mention about the creative aspects of those releases. I did learn that Voodoo Lounge is named after a cat that Richards’ rescued during a heavy storm, and that the cat eventually got lost just a few years ago.

It’s frustrating, but it’s Keith. You can feel him aging as the pages draw to a close. It ends with a woefully long recount of his more recent head injury, a final denial of the “I snorted my dad’s ashes” allegations and a quick bit of acoustic guitar to help his mum pass on.

But while it ends with a slow, squeaky brake, it’s loaded with so many awesome tales and antidotes that you’re really not interested in hearing the other member’s tales for any future books that they might have planned. It sounds like Keith’s lived enough to make their recounts a bit mundane.

I ended my time with Life and took one more look at that back cover shot, and looked at his skull ring hand a final time before putting the book in its new home on the bookshelf, right next to Bill Wyman’s whiney Stone Alone autobiography.

I notice what appears to be some evidence of arthritis on the knuckles of his hand.

I then see that there is dirt under his fingernails. How awesome is that? Even when faced with a planned photo shoot for his book jacket, Keith Richards couldn’t be bothered with a quick bit of grooming before the flashes start. In fact, his entire appearance suggests that even a shower wasn’t in the routine up until that point.

The photo is a perfectly depiction of what’s inside the book: and weary-headed dirty old man telling a bunch of hard-livin’ tales that’ll draw you in completely. And while the photo represents a good hint at what you’ll find inside, it’s the words within Life will clearly explain why he’s cracking a big smile in that same shot.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Celebrity Relapse with Dr. Drew

I love Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

I don’t schedule my day around it, but then again, I don’t have to these days.

I can count maybe one or two shows that I ever bothered to set a VCR for-the last one was probably Twin Peaks on the “LP” setting-and it doesn’t seem to be a requirement circa 2011. Most of the television shows today are repeated ad-infinitum.

And with kids, forget about it. Ours rule the television until 8, at which time it’s at least an hour ordeal to round the little shits up and get them pointed towards bedtime.

Adult shows have to wait until at least 9:00, and then it’s a battle for television dominance. This means I head down to my basement and seek entertainment.

If Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew comes on the channel directory, I go “Ooh! Dr. Drew’s on!” because I secretly want to be Dr. Drew in real life and I find his patience with people-some of who are incorrigible-a very admirable attribute.

If you’ve ever watched the show, admit it, there are people on it who you’d like nothing more than to knock a few teeth loose. This season, it was that socialite-I think his name was Jason Davis-a rich nobody who’s claim to fame seems to be nothing more than to be the first one to announce that Lindsey Lohan’s public hair, apparently, matches the curtains.

But the big news, at least for me, was the introduction of Leif Garrett as a cast member.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him. He used to be a pop star.

You think I’m joking, but in all seriousness, my wife had no idea who he even ones. I told her that a year or two before she was born, Leif Garrett was like the Justin Bieber of his day. It put it in perspective for her, but she really had no idea of his impact for millions of American girls who then proceeded to grow older and completely forget about Leif altogether.

Aside from those like my wife who had no inclination about Leif Garrett, he is probably known more for his after career slide into addiction, which seems to pop up in the headlines every other year or so. It seems like the moment the story arc of Garrett’s recovery is planted in the press, along comes another skuzzy mug shot and a sad tale of Leif buying narcotics from a cop. Or him falling asleep on a park bench with a crack pipe in his mouth. Or Garrett doing something equally stupid that you immediately think, “That dude is incredibly fucked up to get busted this much!”

Your predisposed into thinking that every tale-at this point-of Garrett’s recovery will undoubtedly result in a return of addition, and he did not disappoint with this season of Celebrity Rehab. He came into this season in the warm feeling of one final hit of junk, turning into a puking mess of withdrawl, transforming into a tense bundle of “Give me a reason to skip out of rehab!” and then into a smooth talking man of appreciative gestures, vaguely hinting at some mumbled post-treatment care that ultimately never arises.

By the reunion show, months after the show’s original taping, Garrett joins the panel with shades, coat, and a hat-visually demonstrating that he’s obviously hiding something inside. And we all know that secret has something to do with a wagon, and Garrett falling off of it.

You could see he was embarrassed by it. But he was lucid enough to get defensive with Dr. Drew’s careful suggestion that he still has a problem and Bob Forrest’s don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining glances.

You can’t fool Bob. He’s been there before you and probably done a few drive-by’s in the meantime.

In fact, Dr. Drew acknowledged that Leif reminded him of Bob at a younger age-and he hated him during that period. Now he and Bob both know that Garrett still hasn’t figured out what rock bottom is yet, and he may die before he even reaches that point.

Some may call Celebrity Rehab exploitive and others might consider it a bit voyeuristic-the idea that the show is publicizing something that may be better served with a much more private approach.

I think it’s fascinating, and I have yet to find any evidence that Dr. Drew doesn’t have his patient’s best interest at heart. Sure, he likes the notoriety and fame that this show provides him and his bank account, but I don’t believe that he’d like to register some success with his efforts. In most cases, it seems to work-with varying degrees, depending on the personality.

In the case of Leif Garrett, it seems like a failure for now, but you’ve got to admit, it takes some balls to broadcast the shittier moments of his profession-the days where one addict still just doesn’t seem to get it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Flavor Flav Chicken

To be honest, I had no idea before today’s announcement that Flavor Flav was teaming up for a fast food franchise that opened its first restaurant here in Iowa.

To be honest again, I have no idea why Flavor Flav would even want to start up a fast food franchise in what he himself referred to as “out here in the middle of some place.”

That “some place” is Clinton, Iowa-a dirty river town that, like other small Mississippi river town, was founded on manufacturing jobs that have since been made redundant. There are many river towns that have changed course and begun a small rebirth, but there are many others that have not, and they have been losing ground in trying to stay afloat with a crumbling work force.

Clinton is one of those towns.

Will it succeed? Probably not, I just don’t see the connection. Iowa is predominately white and there is very little evidence of a sustainable urban culture in these parts. In other words, I don’t see a lot of Public Enemy fans around these parts, or enough to seek out a chicken joint. To be fair, I understand that most of Flav’s fans nowadays are because of his reality show, and even with that notoriety, I just don’t see a lot of interest.

The few pictures that I’ve seen of the restaurant don’t appear to have any real forethought into future expansion. It looks like some local artist just drew up some amateurish caricatures of Flavor Flav and none of them look to be anything that can be mass-produced.

And is it just me, or does the connection between Flavor Flav and the restaurant seem suspect? So this is his recipe that he developed or is this just an arrangement with his likeness? I mean, sure, he claims to drop in from time to time to prep, cook, and sell the fixins’, but why am I feeling that Flav won’t feel a pinch when this weirdly devised pairing finally hits a dead end.

Full story over at the Clinton Herald.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Old Skull Brother J.P. Toulon Found Dead

Jean Paul Toulon passed away on November 13, 2010-but I just heard about it tonight.

“J.P.” was in the band Old Skull, one of the worst bands this country has ever produced.

Jean Paul and his younger Jamie hailed from Madison, Wisconsin and in the late 80’s, their father Vern-himself an old punk rocker-prompted his sons to pick up a few instruments and start their own punk band.

Vern had them join forces with a kid who’s father happened to be in the band Tar Babies, and soon the band had a record deal with Restless Records.

It’s not the idea that bothers me, but what did at the time was the fact that this band-more story-line than substance-suddenly got tapped by one of America’s larger independent labels for a record of complete garbage.

What’s more, it’s was painfully obvious that the boys didn’t pen one song-and if there is an element of truthfulness to their songwriting credits, it’s clearly the inspiration of someone feeding them a bunch of shit to say.

There is no musicianship, lyrics amount to such memorable barks of “I hate you Ronald Regan!” and “Kill a dead eagle!” and there is no evidence of songs forming a semblance of structure. It’s just a bunch of kids dicking around on instruments, and I thought that was an injustice to legitimate bands still pining for a record deal.

I personally boycotted Old Skull’s debut album Get Out Of School! at the radio station I worked at because of my conviction. I wasn’t around for their second release, which came about four or five years after the first one.

To be honest, I hadn’t though about Old Skull at all for years. It wasn’t until I learned of J.P.’s passing (no word on the cause of death) in Minneapolis that I think I’d even considered the band since first coming across the band’s stunningly terrible debut.

As I read further, I saw how the band went through and incredible round of bad luck that not only found the lead singer dead, but his younger brother a panhandling heroin addict in New York City.

And what’s more, WFMU DJ Clay Pigeon actually recorded an interview with Jamie last August, not knowing who the person he was talking to until a few minutes into the discussion. Jamie struggled for responses before mentioning that he arrived in N.Y.C. as a musician. Clay pressed a bit, and you can almost hear his jaw drop the moment the homeless man fesses up that he was in a band called Old Skull-a band that Pigeon was familiar with.

It turns out that their mother died shortly after the band started and Toulon’s Svengali father passed away about ten years ago, homeless like his son.

Here’s a sample of Old Skull’s music for reference, a cruelly ironic song called “Homeless.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Newly Unearthed Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen Slow Jams Discovered

It seems like every other year some coming of age female artist gets in trouble for tarting up her image while making the big jump over to a more "mature" persona, nobody seems to remember how the Olsen Twins released a very seductive video when they were still pre-teens.

The evidence:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

OCD Chronicles: Diesel - Sausalito Summernnight

Plagued with an unmemorable name and best remembered for a minor hit with an even more unmemorable song title, I finally purchased the song that resides in many radio station libraries as one of their “Wow” tracks.

Wow tracks are those songs that didn’t or barely reached the Top 40-some of which are merely regional hits-that are played sparingly to generate a “Wow! I haven’t heard this song in ages!” feeling from the listeners.

In this case, the song is “Sausalito Summernight,” an infectious, new wave-y tune from the early 80’s from the band Diesel.

You can barely understand, let alone hear the song title in the chorus. It’s there; underneath the bigger exclamation of “All Aboard!” you can hear some deep voiced dude mumble “Sausalito Summer Night.”

How I found the song was by typing in the lyric about driving around in a Rambler. From that, Yahoo brought up this curious song title from an unnamed band located overseas.

I didn’t know that they had Ramblers in the Netherlands, or that fixing these relics was relatively cheap (“And $80 dollars on repairs”).

I always assumed that the Euro’s value was higher than the dollar.

“Sausalito Summernight” has a clever guitar riff, off-kilter and reminiscent of new wave flavors of the day. What the search for this record did for me is provide Diesel’s follow up attempts, ones that evidently discarded any evidence of new wave undertones for a firm adult alternative, almost country flavor.

Whatever the band’s future direction, it became clear that “Sausalito Summernight” would be the band’s only brush with the American charts. It’s a tune that was catchy enough for me to throw down a buck for an impulse purchase, even though the band should send me a dollar for the time it took in figuring out what the song title actually was.

Since acquiring this song, I’ve been muttering my own chorus to this song and it works much better. Sadly, my own lyrics to the song-“All aboard! The excrement express!”-was incredibly well received by my song, particularly after explaining what the word “excrement” meant.

The new lyrics, however, were not well received by my wife.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Zakk Wylde Reminds Us That He Was In 'Rock Star'

I found this in my junk email folder:

JANUARY 13TH, 2011



(New York, NY) - Guitar enthusiasts and fans of SHOWTIME's over-the-top smash hit comedy series "Californication" will get a very special treat when guitar god Zakk Wylde makes a guest appearance this Sunday, January 16th. Tune in to SHOWTIME at 9:00PM, ET/PT to witness Wylde make his hilarious premium cable acting debut. "Californication" stars David Duchovny in his Golden Globe®-winning role as hedonistic novelist Hank Moody who struggles to raise his teenage daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin), while still carrying a torch for his ex-girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone). Although primarily known for his incredible guitar prowess, Zakk Wylde is no stranger to acting having appeared in the 2001 film, "Rock Star" with Mark Wahlberg, and more recently in the independent film, "Bones."

Actually, I wouldn't rave too loud about Rock Star.

And am I the only one who feels Californication is getting a bit tiring? Dude is just a whore, parading around like we believe the idea that an author can really do fuck-all and afford to pay a mortgage.

The show was pretty cool initially, but I felt a little gross after he fucked that underage chick.

That's where we're all at now: desensatized to the point where we have to imply statatory rape to titilate us.

My recommendation: turn off the tv and read Last Exit To Brooklyn.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Baker's Dozen of Things My Co-Workers Overheard Me Say In 2010

My job is a drag.

I don't let it bum me out too much; I do things to keep things interesting and all of my aggravation leaves my body as I walk to the car every night.

But during the weekdays, you can find me speaking to a variety of different people. From the dumb and poor to the rich and stupid, it takes all kinds and it takes a patient man to listen to some of the bullshit that I have to listen to.

I don't exaggerate when I say that I do with two primary things: money and death. It can be a challenge sometimes, which is why my finger is frequently on my mute button so that I can smart back to some rude and abrasive fuck or poke fun at some amazingly stupid people.

And I don't mean stupid as in low intelligence. I mean stupid as in having too much of an ego to consider logic. I can confirm there is a new level of retardedness in this country and there are a lot of really mean people in this world who like nothing more than to take their personal frustrations on others and who think that it's everybody else's fault but their own.

Still, it beats managing retail, for sure, and a lot of that is due to the fact that I have a mute button.

Someone actually saved some of the comments they overheard me say to people on the phone-mute button on, of course-during the past year. I received a copy of some of these and have narrowed it down to my top 13.

A Baker's Dozen of smartass remarks=all of them true-compiled without my knowledge and now said to be moving around in other departments.

Reportedly, there is also a rumor that these comments led to my termination, which isn't the case since no one on the receiving end heard any of these.

But because of this, I have toned down the rhetoric just in case someone important happens to be listening to my shenanigans.

1.) “Yes m’am we put the wrong policy number on your statement. That’s how we like to do things. It’s actually a mass conspiracy against you. You know like the people who killed Kennedy.”

2.) “Thanks Cindy…lay off the Nyquil.”

3.) “You keep talking to me like that and I’m gonna take you to Granite City for dinner.”

4.) “Well we encourage you to pay back the interest so the loan doesn’t keep getting bigger OR you can just keep talking and not listen….that’s fine too.”

5.) “You’re kind of a miserable fellow aren’t you?”

6.) “Those are savings bonds m’am… threw them away? You just threw away money. They’re like checks from the government and you discarded them?”*

7.) “Sure sir, I’m glad I could help…Now take that cookie out of your mouth right now.”

8.) “Excuse me Marilyn? Can you turn down the Maury Povich show?”

9.) “Excuse me m’am…are you in some type of other universe where what you’re saying actually makes sense?”

10.) “Thank you have a nice day….and go change that battery in your fire detector.”

11.) “Yeah after Kurt Warner threw that touchdown in the Super Bowl, I pooped my pants.”**

12.) “I’m uncomfortable explaining how to sell a product to an agent who’s licensed to sell that product.”

13.) “Yes my name is Todd…..but you can call me Carl.”

* I actually didn't have the phone muted on this one.

** This is almost true. I made this huge Super Bowl spread for my family and after ingesting a large amount of fancy cheese, crackers, and other snack items, I suddenly came down with the flu and spent 3/4 of the game shitting and puking. I did manage to see Kurt Warner throw that last effort touchdown pass and I did go defecate immediately afterwards, just not in my pants.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Nils - "Scratches and Needles"

I think I've figured out my next Lost Classic candidate.

The Nils could probably be best described as the Canadian Replacements. They started out young, contained a pair of brothers who based out unbelievably tight punk with a wonderful sense of melody.

But unlike the Replacements, The Nils never found much success stateside; the band's most popular record, the eponymous debut that finally got released in 1987, only sold about 50,000 copies.

That's actually pretty respectable for a band's debut.

Unfortunately, The Nils signed a contract that prevented them from recording after their label went under. And the legal wrangling to try an remove themselves from such silly litigation wore the band out.

I had totally forgotten about them until tonight, when I noticed that debut album and immediately burned it to my ITunes library.

Sadly, when doing the obligatory "Where Are They Now" search, I found out that the lead vocalist/guitarist for The Nils committed suicide about 6 years ago last month.

He jumped in front of a train.

Alex Soria was one hell of a songwriter, adding yet another comparison to our Replacements counterparts. With a few better breaks, we may have spoken about him on the same level as Westerberg.

But life doesn't always work out like we plan it.

I was the same age as Alex, and it's a drag when you notice someone who has way more talent than you fall beneath the cracks.

But it's even worse when they don't even bother to get back up and try again.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Not Necessarily The News

Sorry for the delay.

I was went through an intense Bob Dylan phase for the last few weeks, and after determining that “Visions Of Johanna” may be the greatest song ever made, I ended up with the new Duran Duran album.

Talk about a complete 360.

I’m also completely immersed in the Keith Richards book, Life.

Yes, it’s awesome.

Yes, I’ll tell you about it sometime.

But for now, I will tell you about my recent foray into a couple of news stories that I’ve become fascinated with.

You should know something about me first, and that is how I used to be motivated by politics. My family is, at least on my Father’s side, heavily Democratic. I think that it stemmed from my Great Grandfather, a World War I veteran that saw enough frontline horror that he never talked about it that much.

He kept it inside.

He also found favor with Harry Truman’s direction during the Second World War It didn’t hurt that my Great Grandfather hailed from the same state as President Truman, so he was quite familiar with Harry’s state efforts before he called Pennslyvania Avenue his home.

Here's a picture of the long-since-closed movie theatre that is on the Main Street of Hopkins, the small town in Northwest Missouri where my Grandfather lived. I'd like to rent this place with my cousin someday and play a punk rock show there. If one person came, it'd be a success in my mind.

I mention this only because I’ve noticed a tremendous amount of vitriol from the Republican side of the aisle, beginning almost as quickly as Obama was elected. I get “politics,” or at least I thought I did, but to be honest-the dialog seemed to take a nasty tone early on in his presidency.

And then it got worse.

Look, I won’t be the one who says that all of the general nastiness in politics caused the recent tragedy in Arizona. It’s abundantly clear that the shooter was not healthy and he associated some aspects of his mental illness with an innocent target and acted on his faulting wiring.

While the verbal hostilities may not have had any influence on motivating the tragedy, they certainly didn’t prevent it either. So what’s the harm is trying to “E” a little bit.

That’s my friend Ed’s slang for “Take it easy.”

“You’ve got to E, my friend!”

So why do we have to revolt against the notion-just the notion that maybe tone it down a bit because there is a large population of crazy fuckers in this country that are susceptible to triggers that cause them to snap.

Maybe it’s time to be aware of the people who listen to us, and how their instabilities may not understand that we’re not really bringing a gun to a knife fight or that Sarah Palin’s website didn’t really suggest that we shoot a U.S. Representative.

Don’t we bite our tongues around the children and not let the word “Fuck” blurt out?

Then there’s a golden-throated homeless man-a radioman, how ironic-who goes from panhandling to the Today show in a fucking week, and we wonder why he just can’t hang with the notoriety.

Did anyone think to run him through rehab prior to sitting down on Today?

Did at any time someone ponder the obvious: “There’s a reason why he’s homeless?”

Did we really think that a You Tube video would erase his prior demons and turn him into a productive member of society, eternally grateful to the man who pulled up to an intersection to make him dance for his change while recording it for the rest of us.

“Hey look! That bum’s got pipes!”

I’ve become so cynical with America that I absolutely relish going to church to be around people that try to tackle all of this world’s shit even in the face of impossible odds.

Sometimes, all we can do is pray for them to just do the right fucking thing.

Is it any wonder why I listen to the news anymore?

After all, in the same amount of time that it takes me to commute to work in the morning, I could have listened to Devo’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

Add your own sniglets to the comment section.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Funny Or Die Is Down With The Clown

The new season of Funny Or Die is on.

There's a new episode of the Juggalo News on it, which reminded me about this one:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Want David Bowie!

There are moments where I understand this.