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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My first show

This week's edition is with Meric Long from the Dodos. We had a pleasant little 10-minute chat and that's what you get.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Here come Omar




Last week, I decided to make a purchase that some could say was foolish, but others could see as smart. And I couldn't help being self-conscious about it: I bought The Wire on DVD.

There's a joke about being white and liking this HBO show that ran for five seasons. (Read probably the best explanation why right here.) Seems like everyone I know that has seen the show loves it, and will profess its greatness at any given moment. The day I purchased the set, I quipped on Facebook that I was "officially white."

I have yet to hear anyone say a negative thing about this show, but there was some hesitation when I considered buying the whole shebang. This show was on HBO, a network that has its tendency to have original programming where people you don't normally root for as protagonists. But since this show's on HBO and not network TV, you can't say anything bad about it, right?

Well, I still have burns from being a big fan of Six Feet Under before the show made me eventually hate all of the characters. And I still remember watching a handful of episodes of The Sopranos and realizing that mob stuff is not of great interest to me, even though I think The Godfather is great.

Then, there's this little factoid: as of this writing, I've never seen a full episode of The Wire.

You might think I'm the epitome of stupid by laying down some good money for a show I think I'll like. Since the price I paid for it was too good to pass up (a one-day-only Amazon deal that pulled the price down to only $73, while it normally runs for double that amount) I decided to take the risk. I decided, if I hated the show, I'd give the set to one of my friends who loves the show and leave a nasty note.

But I'm quite sure that won't happen.

What interests me about the show can be credited to my enjoyment of watching shows like The Killing and The Shield. I'm not the biggest fan of dramas with cops, robbers, and inner-city life, but with what I've lived around in a gentrified neighborhood (and worked around in the media), a look at how cops, criminals, political leaders, and journalists intertwine fascinates me.

And knowing that, I'm reminded of when I decided to pick up Scott Walker's In Five Easy Pieces box set back when money was tight, but Tower Records was closing and selling everything drastically cheap: sometimes you have take a small risk for a big reward. The key is sometimes because you don't to drop a lot of dough on stuff that has yet to fully prove itself to you. But, every once in a while, you have to go for it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lovely Lovely Lady

Normally, I don't stay up incredibly late to cover a local band's set, but I didn't have to get up at 4am today. Here's my review of Burning Hotels' CD release show.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Serve the Servants

If your life was changed in 1991 or 1992 by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, you shouldn't be surprised there is renewed interest in talking about how good things were back then. You know, it's only been twenty years. (Cue rolling of eyes and head-slaps to those that remember this era like it was ten years ago.)

From here on out for the rest of the year (and maybe some of next year too), you will hear plenty of reminders about how much albums like Nevermind and Ten were game-changers. Writer Simon Reynolds recently wrote an excellent piece about 90s nostalgia, tying it in with his book, Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Past. He starts off talking about how Nirvana's '92 performance at the Reading festival will be shown at this year's edition of the festival. Then he throws in plenty that is well worth your time.

This got me thinking about how I have responded to news about Nevermind's reissue, Pearl Jam's forthcoming documentary, Twenty, and the deluxe reissue of U2's Achtung Baby. I will definitely want the Nevermind reissue (mainly due to the DVD moreso than the B-sides and alternate mixes) and the Achtung Baby reissue (mainly because the original CD version sounds very thin and quiet) and I would love to see the Pearl Jam documentary (because I can't say no to documentaries on bands I like).

Am I falling into a trap of nostalgia here? I don't think so. I think I'm briefly circling my wagons, but not parking those wagons with a resigned attitude about how things were better in 1991 and 1992.

Not to sound narcissistic, but with my own books, I'm trying to not give off an impression that everything was better "back in the day." I'm trying to give a perspective on how things were and point out differences with the present. I know intentions can get lost in the interpretations of the final product, but I definitely did not want to sound like an old codger who hates all new music and new bands.

When I began writing and researching Post, I was reminded every single day how nostalgia is sold (and resold to future generations). Working at a radio station that specialized in the oldies format, groundbreaking artists with a plethora of hit singles were reduced to only a couple of songs in medium or heavy rotation. And they were songs you've heard all of your life and you tend to get sick of them.

Plus, knowing how people love to talk about one-hit wonders ("It's a one-hit wonder weekend!"), I had the bad feeling the first and final word on emo would be with Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle." (Not that I think Jimmy Eat World is a bad band or "The Middle" is a bad song. It's just there was a lot that led up to this: a whole book's worth.)

Consider my efforts noble to get the story straight, and not give into compromises I knew I'd regret down the line, but I had to self-publish Post to get my ideas out there. I'm happy to say I have no regrets, though I wouldn't object to reworking the cover and write a new afterword.

Now with another book almost done, set between 1993 and 1997, I don't want to make it sound like I'm this kind of guy who constantly pines for the past. Sure, there are some things I miss about playing music when I was learning to play the drums, but there is a hell of a lot I don't miss. More than anything else, I want to show how people like me and my friends got on the path we are today because of coming of age in the 1990s. I especially want to make things clear with the choice of years When We Were the Kids is set in, because too many rock critics think American rock music 1993 and 1997 meant less and should be made light of.

I write about what I know best and I try to at least put an effort into something rather than whine all the time. If I choose to revisit records that greatly turned the tide for me as a seventh grader, that doesn't mean I'm trapped in the past. I'm merely taking a look back while also looking forward to many other things down the line.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My first show

This week's edition is with Casey from the Dear Hunter and Andrew from Life On Repeat. This is what happens when one guy answers the questions well in advance, but the answers are short and to the point. So when another band is playing in town and a member is willing to elaborate, you get this as an end result.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer on the links

A little update on my golf game. I'm still playing and there's no reason to stop playing.

Lately, Matt, myself, and Jeff (Matt's father) have ventured far and wide in the area to play. Sure, there are plenty of courses around here in the Dallas area alone, but we've recently played in Gainesville (which is about 90 minutes away) as well as in Marietta, Oklahoma.

Why play so far away when there's so much to offer around here? Well, when my golf partners want to go there, I tag along.

Prior to playing in Oklahoma, I had never stepped foot in the state. Yes, after living under the state for 26 years, I finally paid a visit. I'd like to go back there soon, just not when it's 105 and sunny. It felt like being in a fireplace, waiting for a match to be struck at any minute.

There's an old-school charm to these courses and I love that. Shorter holes without any fancy water fountains or brand new houses next to the course. (Not that there's any wrong with that. I'm merely saying it's like the kind of golf courses you see in black and white movies.)

Playing wise, I have good contact, but I still have a ways to go. I tend to get into this cycle: when I learn how to do something, I try to improve, but when I don't improve by leaps and bounds, I stay at the level I'm at. And there's no reason to stop playing because some shots I make go everywhere but straight. Playing is so much fun and there is no reason to stop.

A few weeks ago, Dallas got some rain early one Saturday morning and it remained cloudy the rest of the day. We three decided to check out a course in Pleasant Grove and it was pure magic. I'm not saying our playing was pure magic, but the whole day felt so peaceful and relaxing.

Even though it was back to 100+ degree heat the following day, I got a glimpse of playing well into the fall and I liked that sight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On (Still) Reading . . . The Dark Tower

The year has past its halfway mark and I'm still trying to climb up the Dark Tower with Roland and his ka-tet. I wasn't planning spending all this time dissecting Mid-World, thankee-sai, and Blaine the Mono, but that's how it's gone.

You could ask why would I bother with such a difficult read. Well, since I'm a fan of easter eggs in books, TV shows, and movies, this series is ripe with them. And I still agree that if you read this mash-up of King Arthur, Lord of the Rings, and the Man With No Name trilogy, you have a much better understanding of Stephen King's other work.

While I was in Florida, I read two non-King books in four days. Those who are friends with me on GoodReads know that is warp speed for me, but I think my patience with the Dark Tower series helped me immensely. The pacing of the series is slow, but after I read The Stand, I'm used to that.

A few weeks ago, I decided to read a short story from Full Dark, No Stars in one morning. There were no moments of todash, specialplates, or rose sightings. It's not like I expected those, but reading through and along helped me zip through this short story in an hour or so.

This all made me think of challenges we're willing to take on end up really helping us down the line. Helping us out in ways we never saw coming.

Believe me, if I thought the Dark Tower series was a bunch of pretentious, drug-fueled fantasies tying every loose end together, I would have given up in The Wastelands. But there was enough to hook me in and want to read to the very end. Even though I've heard plenty of whiners about how the story concludes. (Yes, the Internet is still perfect if you want to viciously rip on something but backpedal about it in person.)

All I can say is, the journey's still going and I'm not giving up. I passed the give-up point long ago any way.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My first show

This week's edition is with Kyle from the Globes. I'm glad the band is coming back to town, especially since they were here only a few months ago.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"We don't do brutal"

Busy weekend for me in terms of covering shows. Saw Torche Friday and it ruled. (Read the review here). And I covered the Maleveller show on Saturday night. (Read the review here) More stuff with Maleveller is in the works, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Livin' the good life

The Shield is a show I missed while it was on the air, but I'm thankful the entire series is available on DVD. All accolades I've heard on the show have been proven to me and I'm swimming right along through the series.

I know how the series ends, but how the show gets from what transpires in the pilot episode to the final episode intrigued me. As things twist and turn, I stay locked in.

The thing is, I still want an element of surprise when those twists happen. But when merely looking up an actor's name on the Internet leads me towards spoiler territory, it's a little frustrating.

I'm really bad with wondering, "Hey, I've seen this person in something before." It happens almost every time I watch a TV show or movie. I blame my natural curiosity to connect the dots. With The Shield, two actors in the first couple seasons were series regulars on AMC's The Killing. Looking one of them up online, I got a sneaky suspicion one of them wasn't going to be a regular guest star. And when the character's fate was mentioned in a episode commentary that preceded that episode, I wondered something.

Is it possible to truly experience something these days without a hint of spoilers?

It might be easy for my parents, but they're not online as much as I am. And they like to watch stuff that is predictable (and I don't mean that as a slant -- it just comes with what they like). I still stick by the idea you can really judge the quality of show knowing full well of some spoilers. If the show is truly ruined by a plot point or character's death, then was the show really worth it after all?

All I can say is, I'm thankful for Shield fans I know who have kept things vague with me. It's been a great ride so far.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

My First Show

This week's edition is with Andrew Elstner, lead guitarist from Torche. I saw them play a few years ago and was blown away. I'm glad they're coming back to blow Dada's roof off.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Ode to a bodyboard

If you were to tell me as a kid that one day, I'd have to break my bodyboard in half after twenty years of usage, I'd probably break down and cry. Alas, that's what happened on my recent trip to Destin, Florida. But I did not break down.

There was a time in my life (roughly, second grade through fifth) when I was immensely attracted to skateboarding, surfing, and California life. Hell, I even wanted to change my name to Steve because it was much more of a fitting (and cooler) name. Living in states (Louisiana and Texas, respectively) where an ocean with big waves was nowhere close, my mind was frequently facing west.

I did go to California a couple of times during this period to visit relatives, but eventually, my body went in different directions, away from skating and surfing. And I blame puberty -- something I jokingly say ruined my life.

I'd say the aura of skating and surfing really attracted me to this way of life. Yet when I constantly fell down trying to nail a Lance Mountain move one morning, I started to have a change of heart. Plus I heard how difficult surfing was and that made it less appealing.

But a yellow New Wave bodyboard would be my favorite weapon of choice while on the beaches of Destin, a regular vacation spot for my family. I could ride waves that were only a few feet taller than me. I wouldn't be far out in the deep, where my legs would be eye candy for sharks. And I probably wouldn't get hurt on it (which I thankfully never did).

After a thirteen-year hiatus, I visited Destin once again with my whole family (now with a brother-in-law and twin nieces) for most of last week. The waves were not strong or really high. Catching any waves was almost impossible. Instead, I spent a lot of time floating, looking at the sky, and meditating until a wave would toss me around and push salt water up my nose.

On our last day at the beach, hoping for some waves, I lied on my board and heard a large crack. I looked underneath to see the break all the way across the middle. I showed my family as I walked back onto the sand. Knowing I can get another board at any time, I still gave my board the equivalent of a Viking funeral: I folded it at the break and tossed it into a large garbage. Tapping on it like a coffin filled with a love one in it, I walked on.

I bring this up with slight humor because it's merely a board that can be replaced. I hope to get back onto a board soon and ride full waves. But I bring this all up in the sense of how you can be told about something adulthood as a child and find it terrifying and sad. Yet if (or when) you get to that point, there's nothing sad about it. You feel like enough time has passed and there is not a lot of sadness. And good memories never die.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My first show

This week's edition is with a band I've only seen once, but loved immediately: Burning Hotels. I look forward to seeing them in a few weeks for their record release show at Club Dada.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Two hours

Earlier today, I tweeted the following:

While we moan about the lack of videos on MTV today, please remember that 120 MINUTES is back on the air. #goodwithbad

Sure, I've heard plenty today about how shows like Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant dominate the airwaves that once belonged to all videos, all the time. As someone who watched MTV every day between 1987 and 1998, I rarely watch it now because its programming does not appeal to me whatsoever.

However, I DVR-d the return of 120 Minutes on Saturday night and I plan on DVR-ing it for the foreseeable future.

On a personal note, host Matt Pinfield was a major influence on me as I developed into the music fan that I am today. You can always impress people with your knowledge about music if you speak up. Prior to that, I kept that mostly locked up in my brain.

All these years later, along with many different avenues to be exposed to new music, I fondly welcome back 120 Minutes. Artists that I am still fans of today were first exposed to me via the show. From Suede to Ben Folds Five to Beth Orton, its playlists always led a trail to lifetime fandom.

I wouldn't say I must have someone point me in a direction towards good new music, but I've always appreciated a filter with all the new music that comes out every week. Even though Pinfield wasn't the guy picking the videos back in the 1990s, his factoids were always appreciated.

So, yes, in life, you can bemoan how crappy things are, but there will always be crappy things out there. It's up to yourself to find the good stuff around all the crap.