Dec 30, 2009

It was 20 years ago today

Well, not today as much as this year...

Before we say goodbye to 2009 and the first decade of the 21st century, I must direct Beets' attention toward a point worth remembering:

The year was 1989 and, for some reason, it was an astounding year for music. Watershed releases from De La Soul, The Stone Roses, 2Live Crew (I know!), Fine Young Cannibals, Fugazi (x2), The Grateful Dead (x2), Tom Petty, Milli Vanilli (x0, turns out), Queen Latifah, The Pixies, The Beastie Boys, XTC, The Cure, The Offspring, The Sugarcubes (say, what kinda name is "Bjork"?), Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Replacements, Prince, The B-52's (comeback!), David Bowie (comeback!), Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden- oh hell, just visit the link and see for yourself and be amazed. 

It was a year book-ended by some great albums as well. Public Enemy got us coming and going at the decade mark with It Takes a Nation of Millions... in '88 and Fear of a Black Planet in '90 ("WTF happened to hip-hop that matters" is a subject of another very long, table-pounding discussion we should have sometime over a 40 of OE). The Sundays also punctuated the beginning of crush-pop with 1990's precious (in a good way) Reading, Writing & Arithmetic. Oh, how I would have kicked a boy for you, Harriet Wheeler...

Sure, I was just getting into music and out of high school that year, so perhaps my hindsight lens is stuck on its greatness along with senior year, driving, making out and generally poor risk assessment. And of course, there were great albums that came out since then, but really, anyone who considers 3 Feet High and Rising, Doolittle, Paul's Boutique or Don't Tell a Soul non-essential listening obviously hates music.  Oranges and Lemons? The Raw and the Cooked? 13 Songs? Come on! And while Billy Joel and Elton John continued to wage their war on rock-and-roll that year, 1989 answered back with Suicidal Tendencies' underwhelming-yet-expertly-titled Controlled by Hatred/Feel Like Shit... deja vu. We heard overtures of greatness from misfit power-trios called Nirvana and Green Day. Even Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan made respectable showings that year*.

What was it about 1989? Anyone?

So here's to 2009, okay sure, see ya later. Musically, though, you're no 1989. Now get off my lawn, Lady Gaga!

*I will leave this point to be debated at length by the rabid fans/haters of said artists. I'm not about to get into a slap-fight over those two dinosaurs.

Oct 22, 2009


Do you even read the headlines you write?
Optional public option enters health care talks
First of all: "Enters" health care talks? Like, "oh hi fellas, it's me, Public Health Care Option. I know you haven't been thinking about me a lot so I'm just gonna go ahead and enter all up in your considerations right about now. Hope I'm not a polarizing factor in the discussion or anything! LOL!!!1!!!"

And second, an "optional public option", huh? That grammar makes me want to drive my vehicular motor vehicle into a brick wall brick wall.

I bet Olympia Snowe totally does not approve of that headline. Watch your stock price.

With concern,


Oct 16, 2009

Internet immortality in 3... 2... 1...

I have just invented the opposite of Rickrolling.

I call it Rushrolling, and I bet you can figure out what it means.

See you suckers on the cover of Wired!*

*That's a print magazine devoted to cutting-edge technology, btw. I know, it's ironical.

Oct 14, 2009

Explain please

I really don't know what to make of this.

"I think, therefore I'm single"
Misogynistic? Self-effacing? Passive-aggressive?
I spent way too much time weaving in and out of traffic trying to figure out this bumper sticker today. Help me, The Internet!

Aug 25, 2009

Now it can be told

I'm [an extra] in the new Pearl Jam video:

I'm in the front row of the crowd - first glimpse of me if you pause it at 0:15, in the green shirt just to the right of the singer. Arms up, mouth open, bearded. Then in various cutaways after that. At 1:28, for example. Not that I kept track...

I was legally bound (BOUND) to keep my mouth shut about it until it was released, but it was a fun shoot. I've never been an enormous PJ fan (extras weren't told what band we'd be cheering til we got to the set. Super secret!), but they rocked it. Total pros and amazing musicians to see up close.

And I have to say, the song is pretty good too. Heard it once and tapped my foot. After hearing it 12 more times during the shoot, I was genuinely, as they say, rocking out.

Aug 21, 2009

You waited this long...

...just for a stupid meme:

It would take 15 Manhattans to kill me
So there you go, would-be assassins. But I warn you: I get pretty "handsy" around #5, so leave your boundary issues at the door when you come to do me in.

Jul 18, 2009

It is all about me right?

Really, why post at all unless I have something completely selfish and commercially relevant to talk about?

Hang all your sordid flaming invective: I'm in pictures, see. My friends do things that make them (and by extension, me) very important. Perhaps someday you too will understand what it's like to have your likeness made available for online purchase AND rental, but until then, take my word for it, friends. It is a heady and exhilarating sensation. It would probably be too intense for you to handle, actually.

To life! To celebrity! To effortless brilliance!

May 27, 2009

Attention Summer

You were made for classic rock, ideally from a car stereo, volume at maximum, car windows fully lowered.

Air guitar not necessary. Steering-wheel drumming OK.

That is all.

Apr 7, 2009

An open question

Following this article, I wonder yet again about the purpose of maintaining a trade embargo with Cuba.

Am I missing something very important? Help me understand, blogosphere! This issue seems as irrelevant as communism!

(I know, politics??!)

UPDATE: Holy crap! Apparently, this blog kills fascists.

Apr 5, 2009

Pretty much

Thank you, Seattle Public Library gift shop for having the courage to say what we're all thinking.

Mar 27, 2009

Auto bailout

Let it never be said that I am not the fan of The Cars.
Classic rock devotee that I am, Ocasek and company are solid radio friends in my book (at least with their early- and mid-career material). This was not always the case, and now it is. I am without shame on the matter. Full stop.

That said, I just got a little creeped out by "Let the Good Times Roll" in a surprising iPod revelation.
The tune by itself seems a little dark for the subject matter, though I always thought this was kind of an ironic juxtaposition and never really paid much attention to it. It sounds like something you'd find in a New Wave haunted house (I just made that up, but wouldn't such a house be kind of awesome? "Aaaare we not mennnnnn? WE ARE DEEEEEVOOOO!!! BOO!! BOO!! BOO!! BOO!!").

Coupled with the lyrics, however, the song takes on a decidedly sinister, cult-like tone:
If the illusion is real

Let them give you a ride

If they got thunder appeal

Let them be on your side

Let them leave you up in the air

Let them brush your rock and roll hair

Let the good times roll...

First of all, I do not know what "thunder appeal" is.

Second, "let them brush your rock and roll hair"? What kind of hackneyed, Malibu Barbie-gone-bad, freshman-level beat peotry is that? I must call lyrical bullshit. Besides, isn't the goal of rock and roll hair to remain unbrushed? I mean, combed, maybe (or even picked for the cork-screw-haired artists), but definitely not brushed.
Okay, so that one's just a stumper.

Third, I can't help picturing a 'luuded-out, feather-haired, glassy-eyed, 80's dance club acolyte being led up to the VIP room where questionable activities are sure to take place on or around her person with or without her consent:
"Yeah baby, come on up, let's keep the party going... it's a gas, isn't it? They all love you, baby, everybody loves you, yeah, it's a big party and you're the star. Ride the tiger. Very groovy... You need another bump? Sure you do. You look sleepy, you want to lie down? Say, I've got a brush right here in my desk, why don't you let me take pass at that rock and roll hair of yours. Right on, right on..."

You, sirs, are SKEEZING ME OUT!

Then the chorus is chanted about 400 times at the end:
"Let the good times roll, let the good times roll, oooo won't you let the good times roll...", no doubt with the goal of coaxing even the coyest of wallflowers into the party trance imperative. You have to hand it to The Cars for their sheer tenacity here. But still. Jones, party of 500? Your Kool-aid is ready.

Now, rock bands playing Pied Piper to our precious, feather-haired and 'luuded-out children is not news, of course. Rock and roll, combined with youthful stupidity, peer pressure and illicit substances, has been The Debbil's most successful tool in leading the youth of today/leaders of tomorrow out into the dark territory. That is the way it has been, is and should always be forever and ever, world without end, amen.*

I suppose it's mainly that the good times I always associated with this song were not, in fact, the rolling good times its authors meant to conjure. So color me naive.

Or maybe I'm wrong and they were exactly the same good times. I'll have to take another listen. And then another,
And then another,
And another...

Gosh, all this blogging is making me... a little sleepy. I'm gonna go take a nap up in the VIP room.

[*I will deny this statement if my daughter ever brings it up. This blog post never existed. I don't even know you.]

Mar 17, 2009

If I was ever afraid of a black planet...

... it's safe to say that fear has passed.

[l.-r.: Calendar from an auto parts company, Public Enemy poster]

Crappy phone photo taken in the common room of my band's practice space. Apologies to Ida, to whom I already told this joke.

Mar 3, 2009

Office scene

Lights up on the kitchen at my office. Enter ME with empty coffee mug to put in the dishwasher. At table stands NANCY, talking to MONA and JUDY:

Did you say there's a shoe sale at Barney's?

Yes! I'm going this afternoon! They're' serving free cocktails and appetizers, too!

Are you serious?! What time?

Five o'clock! Wanna come?


They exit effervescently. I close the dishwasher and silently begin to wash my hands. DON enters.

So, shoe sale at Barney's, huh?

Yup. Free booze too.

Good for them.


Is there anything that cannot be sold with free alcohol? Fork lifts and maternity wear, perhaps. PerHAPS.

Also: What economic crisis?

Feb 18, 2009

This is not a blog post

It's like the Price Is Right, where the cameras sweep the audience while the drum rolls, until...
"Come on down!"
Zoom in on amazed expression, screaming, crying.
Now down the aisle through other screaming, clapping non-winners.
And hold on the podium.

As of this week, we - the American arts community - are the next contestants in the wacky game of government bailouts.
Our dreamy new president and his bad-boy congress gave the NEA some walking-around money from the stimulus package to the tune of $50M. Don't take my word for it: Google "2009 stimulus package arts" for all the opinions and info you could ask for (but finish reading this first!).
Now, forget that this is essentially chump change, a small sliver of a fraction of the total package and equivalent to the combined annual operating budgets of roughly 6 regional theaters (I'm guessing). In this case, it really is the thought that counts. We had to fight for it, the undisputed underdogs, and we won.

You know what this means, don't you? It means now we're on the radar. That fabled golden government egg that always goes to the military or Area 51 or illiterate kids in Yemen? That mean old government that refuses to support the arts in this country like they do in Amsterdam or wherever and how come we don't get the props we deserve from those jerks in Washington?
Well, it ain't Amsterdam, but it's a start. Some good people in DC, along with a lot of very vocal arts advocates, just stood up for us - all of us - and made a difference. And don't think they're not gonna watch where that money goes with hawk-like attention.

So, thank-you notes. First and foremost.

And then it's time to face up to a new, long-dormant idea about the arts: we're part of the marketplace. Someone just put a value (however nominal) on the life of the arts in this country. Artists got to stand front and center among The Big 3 Automakers and the Wall Street scavengers, all with their big puffy hands out, and we got a piece of the pie. The arts directly contribute to the well-being of our society. That statement is a matter of public record now, and it's got the cash to back it up. It's weird to hear someone else say it for once, isn't it?

We are part of the marketplace.

Does this mean we are compelled now to make corporate art for our new BFFs in congress? To kowtow even more to nonprofit funders? Nothing but landscapes, tap dancing and smooth jazz? I hope not. Corporate rock still sucks. Everyone knows that.
But maybe we can step away from the post-modern fraud of art-without-an-audience that helped make the idea of arts funding such a toxic event for so long. Elitist, offensive, impenetrable - all slings and arrows suffered by modern artists and not entirely without cause.

Can we now also revisit, and perhaps de-claw, the concept of "selling out" as an artist? Truly celebrate the craft of art along with the art of art? Is a furniture maker is less of an artist than a wood sculptor? Hard to say. I'd have to see the chair. And the sculpture, I suppose. But really, what's so funny 'bout peace, love and a little populism in your art?

We can no longer afford to deny that what we do has real value, and that value is indeed a commodity that can and should be traded, bartered and appraised like any public consumable. It is the stronger, smarter artist who must navigate the world of commerce according to their own needs and desires instead of simply opting out altogether.

And really, if anyone can do it, we can. Creative thinkers and generative artists who can work collaboratively can do great things for a community. Besides the art itself, things like city planning, infrastructure, law enforcement and neighborhood development would hugely benefit from the artist that decides to come out of their hovels and start to play nice with the other kids. Just, you know, don't forget the sunscreen.

The camera has finally stopped on us.
Amazing, yes. Now we have to head for the podium.

Artists of America, come on down.

Feb 6, 2009

Overheard in the car

"...but if they can't replace the tires before Sunday, how will I get to the roller skating party?"*

*said by Ida, thinking aloud.
Yes, there really is a roller skating party on Sunday.
These are the conversational moments I live for, frankly.

Jan 29, 2009

I do not know what these things mean

This (unretouched photo), I can take a pretty good guess at:

I assume it's got something to do with helping "the red man get ahead, man", or whatever Obama plans to do about racism in crosswalks, I didn't pay very close attention to his inauguration speech. But, you know, hope and change and all that.

This (unretouched photo), however, has me quite flummoxed:

While I do look forward to someday dwelling on the logical and syntactical corn maze that the statement itself presents, I can't quite get past the, um, cavalier attitude towards punctuation here. Punctuation that exists on a billboard, by the way. Who was at that design meeting?
All I can figure is the sign's underwriters (The Concerned Citizens for a Better America, is what the small print in the lower right says) feel that America is simply too awesome for an ellipses with only three dots. The fourth dot stands for Freedom! And this statement is so powerful, it needs to be put in quote! Get it up on that billboard outside the YWCA! People need to be shocked and awed by its bad punctuation, questionable rationale and jingoistic message! No time for a proofreader, they are tools of the corporatist elite!
If we stop shrieking, the terrorists have won!

Jan 23, 2009

Pea soup

I haven't yet decided if this fog is better or worse than the cloudy drizzle we usually get this time of year. There is something nice about being prompted by the weather to draw your focus in closer, like pulling the blankets up over yourself for a little while. And I do like walking around in it, pretending I'm all mysterious and literary. You just can't do that in the sunshine.
But I would like some more sunshine. Soon, please?

And now, the late, great Stephen Stucker:

Jan 20, 2009



(sorry, I just...)


(Okay, really.) mmmmmMMMAAHAHA!

(It's just hitting me now that) hee! (I don't have to think about NOT calling him "President" Bush anymore) HOOOOOAAAAHHHHAAAAAA!!
(Man, that is a load off!)
(Also, I just watched a room full of old white men stand the hell up for a black president. You're damn right you gotta.)
(Also also - happened to walk by a Nader '08 bumper sticker this morning. Felt a little puzzled and impatient. Resisted defacing it. In other news:)

(More coherent musings here.)

Jan 7, 2009

The Bold and the Musical

John Osebold of local funtime dork-pop orchestra "Awesome" has a pretty, um, fantastic alteregosideproject he calls Jose Bold. He's got a new album that's, um, really really good and available for free download on his website and he's playing at the Rendezvous here in Seattle on Jan. 29.

Listen here.
Check it out.
It's going to be, uh- oh hell, it'll be awesome.


(Fancy customized Jose Bold TuneWidgettm provided by ReverbNation. Which I'm guessing you already know by now.)

Jan 5, 2009

A rant to begin the new year

I'm trying to be more patient this year.
I'm trying not to let the weather get to me.
I'm trying to remember that I like snow, I grew up around snow, I used to ski on snow.

But King County Metro FAILS.

When, after 2 weeks of system-wide communication meltdown, unannounced route closures, inaccurate re-scheduling information, jack-knifed buses and surly, snippy drivers...
After at least ONE yearly snowstorm to ostensibly clue us in that we need some kind, any kind, of comprehensive backup plan...
After the deafening silence from city and county "leaders" about just what the hell kind of World Class City leaves one of its major infrastructure elements to basically swing in the breeze (Do we even have a mayor?)...

After all of this, about which I have been relatively even-headed, to this morning put my bus on an UNPUBLISHED REROUTE is the final straw. What the hell does an "unpublished reroute" even mean?
If. The Route? Is Unpublished? How. Do. People? Find. The Bus.
Question Mark.

Can we please stop pretending, in our heart of urban hearts, when we pull a major civic boner like this, that we are a World Class city? Because, um, hell no.
We need to once-and-for-all admit this to ourselves. It'll be okay. Other cities will still think we're cool. Right now, though, I can't even imagine how utterly foolish and impotent we must seem to a city like, say, Minneapolis.

World Class cities don't behave this way. Junior high school students don't behave this way. The World Class stoner in my junior high school English class didn't behave this way.
Maybe that's it. Maybe Metro is totally DUI. Or else maybe they should be. I can't tell anymore because apparently I'm now residing in Ridiculouston.

We have snow nearly every year.
We have heavy rains, floods, Windstormstm and other inclement weather, too. Every. Damn. Year.
There are six major, treacherous, steep hills that have been in this city EVERY YEAR since literally forever.
Why do we act surprised every year when the sky becomes white instead of grey?
Why do we sit slack-jawed watching this familiar train bear down on us every year?
How do we think it will turn out differently? Snow falls, people act stupidly, city shuts down. Sound familiar?
Why has no one thought that maybe, possibly this kind of stuff should be anticip...ated...? Planning isn't necessarily major spending. It's just planning! Making a plan and communicating that plan is NOT THAT DIFFICULT in the scheme of things. I plan things and they generally seem to make my life easier. People do it all the time, don't they? Or am I now the Mayor of Ridiculouston, living on Ridiculous Avenue in Ridiculous Mansion?

Okay fine then.
My fellow citizens:
The people that tell us that nothing could have been done, that they don't control the weather, that, gosh, we sure learned some valuable lessons from this and we sure won't let it happen this way again are MORONS. We will let it happen this way again, we HAVE let it happen this way again. It happens this way, to some degree, EVERY YEAR.

Seattle, your youth is fading, so you better damn well get some smarts behind those wrinkles. You can be a pretty attractive middle-aged city if you can figure out how to swing it. Right now, though, you're still fooling around with lip gloss and Mai Thais.

Fix please.
And how about no more fare increases until I can trust you not to do this again?

Jan 1, 2009

When the laughter stops

It's over between me and
What used to be clever "song chart memes" and "music and culture in chart form" (their words!) has devolved of late into AOL-grade Seinfeld rip-offs.
Witness the titles of some of the latest charts:

"Things that go wrong in public restrooms" (where to start)
"Reasons I do stuff" (wow, gripping)
"Usage of my back seat" (are we still using the term "hanky-panky"? Really?)

I'm going to unsubscribe so hard from your RSS feed, Graphjam. I'm sorry. It's not me, it's you. Next time, try to use less suck and more good. Please make a note of it.

And no, this has nothing to do with my graph not getting enough votes to be featured on their main page (Dame Celebrity, why do you ever spurn me?). But come on, The Beatles and Highlander? How is that not better than "Reasons I do stuff"?