Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is It August Yet? *checks calendar* Dammit!

Since I am at heart a 13 year old girl, I can't help but fill out these stupid little questionnaires. Let me defend this first by saying it's like being fed lines for comedy. Second?'ll see.

Can you answer 48 questions about just 1 person?
Don’t change the friend half way through.

1) What’s their name?
Shelley "Two-Sheds" Leshin

2) Does he or she have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Some guy who looks like the ugly love child of Frank Zappa and Bam Margera.

3)Do you get along with this person all the time?
I would never guessed I'd be saying this - especially if you had asked me in April 2007 - but...yes. We really do.

4) How old is the person?

5) Has he/she ever cooked for you?
A few times, baked chicken (delicious), tuna salad (sorry, but it just wasn't the way I liked it - yuck.), and many sandwiches. In all fairness, I have cooked for her, too.

6) Is this person older than you?
I am older by 22 days. With any luck I'll die 22 days after she does. Eat it.

7) Have you ever kissed this person?
Classy gentlemen don't kiss and tell. So HELL yeah, I DOMINATE them lips!

Once again, missing a question! Are these kids all hopped up on dope with their iPhones and their Hannah Montanas and all that bippity-boppity music they listen to? Guess it's up to me to write one...

8) How did you meet?
It was because of an errant piece of chalk. And yet, I don't know whatever became of it... The fact of the matter is that it was such a bizarre series of events that it only made sense that we're, you know, in love now.

9) Are you related to this person?
If I found out tomorrow that we were, unless she objected, I'd still be with her. Just no kids of our own.

10) Are you really close to him/her?
Can't help but smile as I type this: yes.

11) Nicknames?
Occasionally Dopey, Sleeping Beauty, or if I'm feeling Moe Howard-esque "chowder-head."

12.) Do they have a nickname for you?
Besides dumbass?

13) How many times do you talk to this person in a week?

14) Do you think they will repost this?
You know what? I hope so.

15) Could you live with this person?
We have...we aren't now...we won't this school year...but maybe someday again...

16) Why is this person your number 1?
Because Frank Zappa, George Harrison, Keith Moon, and Edie Sedgwick are all dead.

No, but seriously, take a look at me. I need to hang on to whoever comes my way! You really think girls who like The Residents, Monty Python, The Kinks, and know who Jimmy Carl Black is just grow on trees on some farm somewhere?! Show me that farm. SHOW ME THAT FARM!

For real seriously, we just care about each other. Neither of us can really explain it...those of you who read and regularly comment (this excludes Squalus, he/she must be out saving the world, one bad piece of after-the-fact advice at a time) have witnessed it...we just get each other. We click. It's sheer chemistry, and it has only grown stronger.

Dammit! No number 17? Once again...

17) Why wasn't there a number 17 on this survey?
Because all the youth of today are too stupid. They're all a bunch of discourteous, text-messaging, Taco Bell-patronizing little buggers! (I really don't know why. It sucks.)

18) How long have you known this person?
Hard to believe, but a few months shy of three years. Though it has felt like a lifetime in a good way.

19) Have you ever been to the mall with this person?
Yes. She had never held hands with a guy at the mall, so I obliged her and bought her a cherry phosphate, Captain Beefheart style.

20) Have you ever had a sleepover with this person?
Heh-heh, they asked a dirty question!

21) If you ever moved away would you miss this person?
Ideally, she would come with me...right?

22) Have you ever done something really stupid or illegal with this person?
Yes. The former just about every day, the comment.

23) Do you know everything about this person?
She is totally for me getting the quadratic formula tattooed on my arm. What else do I need?

24) Would you date this person’s siblings?
Jared seems nice, I'll be he's a cuddler. He just looks like he'd take you out to an upscale steakhouse, maybe go see a show, then have some wine by the fire...frankly, he's just too classy for me.

25) Have you ever made something with this person?
Other than a steaming heap of broken bottles? Some movies, which I shall shamelessly plug once more:

Insomniac Romance (2006)

The Banana (2006)

I Am Woman, Hear Me Whimper (2007) - Shelley did this virtually unassisted by me. I just ran the camera and let her edit on my computer.

26) Is your #1 on drugs?
She kind of looks like an un-tanned Amy Winehouse...who knows?

27) Have you ever worn this person’s clothes?
A hoodie or jacket, and that's about it.

28) Does this person wear your clothes?
She sleeps in one of my old t-shirts and changes into a pair of my boxers when it's too hot at my place.

29) If it was “freaky friday” would you switch bodies with this person?
Yes, though I'd spend most of the day squatting over a mirror.

36) Have you ever heard this person sing?
Yes, and I will be the first to tell you it is one of those things where you give and A for effort...

37) Do you and this person have a saying?
"Hey! Don't get caught with your dick the mashed potatoes this time!" Long story.

38) Do you know this persons facebook password?
Yes. I change her status from time to time.

39) Have you seen this person naked?
Never. *scoffs*

40) Have you and this person ever gotten into a fight that lasted more than 2 months?
Other than that time we got pinned down at Mekong Delta and we held our ground for three months (Forrest was there, too), no.

41.) Have you and this person gone clubbing?
Clubbing, as in baby seals? No. Clubbing, as in getting all hopped up on Quaaludes and painting the town red? Nightly.

42) Do you know how to make this person feel happy?
I do, I do.

43) Do you and this person talk alot?
Nah, not too much.

44) Do you like this person?
She'll do. (Seriously, like is too lame a word for what's going on.)

45) Has this person yelled at you?
We aren't without our quibbles.

46) Have you and this person got into a fist fight?
Never out of anger, like a play fight...though one time she accidentally racked my nuts.

47) Do you want to go out with this person?
Only if she's buying.

48) Do you want to be friends with them forever?
More than that. I want to buy her a piece of jewelry. They have those 25-cent rings at the grocery store - she'll never know the difference!

Wait, crap, SHE READS THIS!

At least I can change it before I press...

What Was This Abject Misery?

"Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy" is one of my favorite Zappa songs. Terry Bozzio on drums, great playing on the verses, lets loose on the solo. Good groove on the bass from Tom Fowler.

Lunch with my parents went fine, to the point that I thought it seemed a bit short. We ate at Olive Garden then went grocery shopping. I'm pretty sure the grub should hold me over until August 13th or 14th. Still not sure when I'm actually moving of those two dates. Anyway, Mom told me after that Shelley seemed "more confident" and from all I can gather left a good impression. That's always good, right?

One thing I've noticed is that not only do all these things have a way of working themselves out, I often feel like I don't give my parents enough credit. It was as though we hadn't lost a beat, just picked up right from where we started. Much like Shelley and I wanted in the first place when we got back together.

Tomorrow I'm waging my all-out assault on the 1971 Kinks album Muswell Hillbillies. As the title may suggest, the album contains elements of British country, jazz, and blues. It wasn't one of my favorites when I first heard it way back in 2001, but now being a LOT more worldly wise I have come to love it for what it is: yet another in a string of masterpieces from Ray Davies.

One thing I might do is give you guys a paragraph or two (or however much space it takes for me to do a rundown of a particular song) and provide an embedded YouTube link. I'm sure that will tickle all your fancies.

I had a rough day today, my math exam kicked my ass, then I came back here and dozed off, thinking it was my day off. Thankfully, my supervisors are understanding and chill. I still have to have a "meeting" with them to discuss this, but I have already assured them today was a fluke. A complete stress-addled fluke.

Somehow I have this feeling that the next week and a half will crawl by and seem a lot more like a month in itself. Shelley, too, since she's working the art camp at the Waldron Center downtown. It's a shame, but I'm looking forward to the end of summer. It means the beach, it means moving into my apartment, it means work at both Spencer's and the Rock & Roll History Dept., and it means classes that don't involve functions or logarithms or any of that bullshit.

I'm feeling generous, so I present to you my paragraphs on one of my favorite Kinks songs, "Top Of The Pops" from Lola Versus Powerman & The Moneygoround. I wish there weren't so many limitations that are keeping me from posting the whole thing (it's waaaaaaaay too long, you guys don't know the album, etc.), but still, let me know what you think.

(Note: I published this at 12:55 AM, right after uploading this video onto YouTube. Might want to wait about an hour or so for it to be processed.)
"A drum-roll, followed by a chipper announcement of “Yes! It’s number one, it’s Top of the Pops!” introduces “Top Of The Pops,” a song sardonically named after the BBC music program. A true hard rock song, driven by Dave’s heavy riff and Mick’s fill-laden playing, the hero deals with his gradual rise to the top. Spotted originally at #25 on the charts, Ray smugly sings, “Life is so easy when your record’s hot,” no doubt a reflection of the runaway success of “Lola” on both sides of the Atlantic. The cockiness of the main character intensifies as he muses, “I might even end up a rock and roll god./Might turn into a steady job.” Once the hit single is at “number eleven on the BBC/But number seven on the NME,” he is tapped for an interview to discuss the topics of politics and religion. During the instrumental break, a barrage of spoken voices are heard: “I’d like to ask you about your influences…”, “It’s gonna be the show of a lifetime…”, the very material that rock journalism is made from. Upon the return from the middle section, it is revealed the record is at number three now, and the main character’s star power is such that female fans scream when they see him on the street.

To the main character, it’s a dream come true, though he notes “Now I’ve got friends I thought I’d never had before…” before Dave’s searing guitar solo. Ray finishes his thought, adding that “people want you when your record’s high/But when it drops down they just pass you by.” Keeping in mind their four-year absence and less-than-triumphant return in 1969, the superstar status they attained with “Lola” no doubt inspired both this lyric and Ray’s disdain for the record industry. That grim thought is kicked to the wayside, as the hero’s manager – the one who hates his music and his haircut – greets him with the news that his single is now number one. As Ray’s humorously voiced manager states over Gosling’s organ, “now you can earn some REAL money!”, rolling his r’s on “real.”

Musically, this is The Kinks in one of their finest moments as an ensemble. Not counting the hard-rocking bridge on “Brainwashed,” this is the first time Dave has laid out a heavy riff since his song “Love Me Till The Sun Shines,” way back on 1967’s Something Else By The Kinks. John Dalton’s bassline during the break, consisting of straight eighths on a single note, adds a touch of sinister tension. John Gosling lends an atmosphere of decadence to the song with his playing. Much praise should also go to drummer Mick Avory, as he deftly pounds out the same rhythm as the instruments during the turnaround before the verse, while throughout the rest of the song he fills up space in an already loaded musical atmosphere. The scorching version on Everybody’s In Showbiz’s live disc shows this song was only better on stage."


PS - I took a whiz on my car, but it was for a reason. A cooler was in the middle of Atwater, and in the other lane was a recliner chair. I had two choices: hit the curb and get a flat, or pummel through the cooler. I chose the latter, and liquid splashed up on my car. After Shelley and I dropped Graham off, a disgusting smell permeated the interior. The cooler was full of VOMIT. Fucking vomit! It was horrendous, so before it congealed I whipped it out and pissed on the car - almost vomiting myself, but it took care of the problem. Who would have thought such a juvenile act could actually serve a purpose?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stuff That Actually Matters In The Long Run

I received an email today from one of the CMCL advisors. She's working on a new undergrad brochure for the program and wanted quotes from students.

Here's my reply, with cynicism that would make FZ proud:
"Get a second major. Otherwise it will be as if you didn't even go to college, and more like you just lost $60,000."

Of course, the same can be said about a number of liberal arts programs: pair it up with something and/or earn two minors, OR go one for at least your M.A., or you will find yourself working at Starbucks, serving ninnies who are the way you were three years ago.

Bitter much? Yes.

In all truth, I will be reapplying to the CMCL graduate program. Only this time, I know just what I'll be studying. A grad student friend said that Rock & Roll History is actually a blossoming field in academia, and I would be just as welcome - if not more - in CMCL as I would in a music program. Just something to think about.

I did also write a real one praising the program's ability to expand students' methods of thinking and specifically mentioned that everyone needs to take a class with Joan Hawkins - she truly is one of the best professors I've ever had, always very mellow, easy to talk to, and has a great sense of humor.

But one thing I avoided saying in my "real" write-up was that this program opens doors and guarantees a job. I also avoided using the word "great" to describe it. I loved 5 of my ten classes, really liked one, thought two were just okay, and hated the other two. Three of those five were with the classes I had with Professor Hawkins.

In other news, I filled out all the necessary forms for the position as Andy's grading assistant - though one of the ladies was extremely icy and impolite saying, "It's not an A.I. job, it's an hourly paid position." Kind of - no, not kind of - a TOTAL bitch. The other lady was much nicer and actually had a sense of humor. The clock-in, clock-out thing made no sense, but I'm sure I can figure it out.

And - payments are direct deposit. Can't complain about that. I've got stuff to save up for.


"I'm free/I'm free/And freedom tastes of reality"

The Who's Tommy is my favorite album, tied with Preservation Act 2 by The Kinks. I've been wanting to quote something from it for a long time. Now's my chance.

Let me first follow up on my last post, then respond to each of you individually.

It dawned on me this morning as I biked to class that what had me so upset was that my existence was the result of a very delicate balance. But then I realized something: even without all that, the way human biology works, all of us are here as the result of a very delicate balance.

What matters is that I DO exist, and to make the most out of it. Oddly enough, this is advice I heard from Richard Dawkins.

m@ - I work Friday, but I'm free after 9:30 PM if you're still around then. Let me know if that works for you.

Shelley - What can I possibly say? You were here for me.

Squalus - In your anonymous omniscience, all I can say is thanks for imparting your opinion to me in such a timely manner. Since I still don't know who you are I cannot evaluate how qualified you are to say whether or not telling them was a bad idea.
I appreciate your support in telling me to stay strong, though I am still bothered by your lack of identity. You strike me at times as a poor man's m@, and other times oddly well-informed. I can assume you live in Seymour.

This wasn't a mistake. I needed to get it out into the open. I want Shelley to be there with me at Eric and Maddie's wedding, a major family event with lots of pictures. Also, I don't want to dance with anyone else - and she can FINALLY have the pleasure of meeting my grandparents, those lovable raconteurs.

But more importantly, we're going to have enough bullshit to deal with regarding Shelley's own about an uphill battle, seeing as in the 14 months since I last communicated with them I have remained a non-Jew. Shelley's parents are stuck in the 1950's and even more stubborn and set in their ways. They can (and will) pretend nothing is wrong. I still don't know which one is worse.

Anyway, the way I see it, the thought of my folks being the "good" parents in all of this - that is, the accepting parents - and having them on our side when push finally does come to shove with Shelley's parents is ideal. Otherwise, it wouldn't be good parents/bad parents. It would just be an elopement.

ANYWAY, I'm sure Eric and Maddie are trying their hardest to keep their plans for the wedding, etc., to themselves. It's just not easy. I feel lucky over here since I can recap my week in a telephone conversation.

Oh, and trust me, there will be head games aplenty.

Before I told her Shelley and I were together, she and Dad were considering a visit to Bloomington on Sunday. This morning in my inbox was an email that ended with "Think about coming over for a visit. Miss you." Not "Thinking about coming over for a visit" or "See you Sunday - call and let me know what time works for you", but a subtle urge to go back to that shit palace (the town, not our house - we actually have a nice house) for a night, and all because I have a morning class and free evenings.

Yeah, let me think about that...

Guess there's a general consensus of no, plus one "bloody fairy."

I don't even care what excuse I come up with. I'm not doing that in one night. It will get to be too late, I know I wouldn't be able to coax Shelley into coming (why, I just don't know...), waste of gas, and a shit-ton of deer await me on the dark curvy highways. I'm serious, those little bastards get me white-knuckled. I would love to travel down that stretch of road with Forrest, because 1.) I wouldn't have to worry about hitting deer, and 2.) Have you ever had deer jerky? Delicious.

At any rate, there's two of them and one of me. It's more economical that they come here.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Someone Help Me Off Of The Ground," Or, "When I Was A Boy, Everything Was Right"

The alternate title of this entry is a quote from one of my favorite Beatles songs, "She Said, She Said" from Revolver:

She Said, She Said
"She said, 'I know what it's like to be dead,
I know what it is to be sad.'
And she's making me feel like I've never been born.

I said, 'Who put all those things in your head?
Things that make me feel that I'm mad?
And you're makin' me feel like I've never been born.'

She said, 'You don't understand what I said.'
I said, 'No, no, no, you're wrong:
When I was a boy, everything was right.
Everything was right.'

I said, 'Even though you know what you know,
I know that I'm ready to leave.
'Cause you're makin' me feel like I've never been born.'

She said, 'You don't understand what I said.'
I said, 'No, no, no, you're wrong:
When I was a boy, everything was right.
Everything was right.'

I said, 'Even though you know what you know,
I know that I'm ready to leave.
'Cause you're makin' me feel like I've never been born.'

She said...(she said...)
I know what it's like to be dead...(echo)
I know what it is to be sad (echo)"
[Fade Out]

I told my mom that Shelley and I have been dating since April. She was shocked.

After an awkward 30-minute conversation centering around her inability to recognize that people can change, that she didn't "mind" us dating but couldn't see the two of us together for life - "I just hope you don't bring a child into the heartbreak", her insistence that Shelley never had any reason to fear her, and how she just couldn't understand why I would wait three months to tell her. She also couldn't fathom why I decided to lie to her.

Yeah, gee, I'm at a real loss as to why I would do something like that.

Cue Simpsons clip:
HOMER: "Oh, and by the way, I was BEING sarcastic!"

Can I only reiterate that it was hard keeping it a secret, never mind not an easy decision to come to in the first place?

A friend of mine came over late Saturday/early Sunday to hang out with me, Shelley, and Graham as he had just suffered a panic attack. He was stressed about a ton of other things, but the thought of the possibility for a human to willfully stop their own heart was enough to cause the onset. I thought it was a little strange, but we were there for him and just let him vent and caught up on life.

Now I know exactly how it feels.

I can't describe it, other than that I have a short list of people that I can truly say I hate. I would wish death upon them before this. (ARE YOU READING THIS, BILL O'REILLY?)

Before I could muster up the courage to let it all out on Shelley's shoulder, while we worked on my math homework this morning a song came on that I couldn't help but start weeping, quiet enough that Shelley didn't notice.

The song was "Morphine Song," from the album Working Man's Cafe. I had just received it Saturday from Eric, who delivered it for me...from Dad. The label is in his very distinctive handwriting. It's a combination of things: My dad is the reason I got into The Kinks. He bears some resemblance to Ray Davies. We saw Ray together in March 2006. The lyrics have nothing to do with my situation. But the instrumental backing at 0:55 (it sounds much better on the album, as first an accordion, then a brass section, play it) just got to me.

Proof that sometimes music speaks louder than words, my favorite lyricist, Mr. Ray Davies, performing one of the most touching pieces of music I've ever heard. I couldn't have heard it at a better point in my life. The memory is now inseparable.

It's just as beautiful as anything off of The Village Green Preservation Society.

At least it's off my back, chest, and mind, and out of my system. It's like taking a hearty shit after an equally hearty meal.


Friday, July 18, 2008


Mitt Romney is a colossal dick. In spite of running a nasty campaign against Senator McCain earlier this year, every time I see him now on CNN he is bouncing McCain's bone and doing everything BUT say he is ready to be Vice President.

Why? Because John McCain is knocking on death's door. If McCain gets elected, he'll most likely die in office - by the way, did you hear he is just now getting up to speed on how to use the Internet? - and Mr. Romney as Vice President would succeed him. If McCain loses this fall, which I'm just going to go ahead and say this: he will, then Romney has a clear shot in 2012.

Another thing I just saw on the CNN news ticker online is that Jesse Jackson got in trouble when a microphone "accidentally" caught him whispering to a colleague on Fox News that Obama is talking down to black people. Fox has also added to this by saying Rev. Jackson used the n-word - that Obama was "telling n*****s how to behave."

He issued a sincere apology, saying "There is no justification for my comments, and I hope the Obama family and the American people can forgive me." I have yet to see a journalist, commentator, or politician on the other side openly admit guilt and say they are sorry for something. Like the white bitch on Fox who DELIBERATELY confused Obama with Osama - oopsie daisy! - and then said they should both be killed. Her apology was as insincere as something from the Clinton campaign, blowing off her racial hatred as "a poor attempt at humor."

My response to her? Fuck you, get out of the field of journalism, and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

CNN went on to have a man in the street interview, where one gel-headed Caucasian mused, "I find it funny that they can say it, but we're not supposed to."

Tell you what: once your subdivision of the white race gets abducted, taken across the world, forced to do hard labor for no pay for 150 years, and have your captors come up with a derogatory name for your people, then can use a slur against your own people.

Black scholars have again and again come to the defense of the usage of the word to describe not all African-Americans, but a particular subdivision:

Those who meet the description of this fictionalized representation of Dr. King from The Boondocks are the ones Rev. Jackson is speaking about, and the ones Senator Obama is speaking to. As a white man, I'm going to digress from this point and say it applies to my own color, too. One of my dearest friends told me he wasn't going to vote this fall, because (don't laugh) this election "isn't important."

I don't care if you're voting Obama, McCain, Barr, Nader, McKinney, WHOEVER - no election is unimportant. You should understand that even if there isn't anyone running for President, you have people representing you in the House who are up for election every two years, and people in the Senate who are up for election every six. Not to give you a civics lesson, but if you want your voice to be heard, you need to vote - even for your municipal or state legislators.

That's called democracy. And when applied properly, it works.

All you have to do is take at the most an hour of your time out of the day to go to the polls, press some buttons, and then go back to work or school. You can miss an hour of work. You can miss class. As an election day, your employers and/or teachers will understand. And if they don't, report them for unethical behavior.

If you don't vote, don't complain. If you start complaining, and then tell me you didn't vote (and weren't under the age of 18 on election day), I will tell you that I don't want to hear your opinion. Because those of you who don't vote are a bunch of trifling, shiftless, good-for-nothing honkies, to paraphrase the above video.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Rules For Beatles Covers, Or, Why I Love The Residents

I generally consider Beatles covers blasphemous. While I say that partly as a joke, there is certainly some meaning behind it. It isn't that they are the best band ever - I would like to think by now that I've established a few other artists that I like more than the Fab Four, if only slightly.

Still, there are only two factors that go into it.

1.) Who is covering the song?

This is key. The artists who go for Beatles covers are more often than not, at the risk of snobbery, unworthy of handling such great material. The Beatles had their songs cannibalized on American Idol. I won't dignify the "artists" who ruined them by giving them mention. Nor shall I force you to suffer through a clip from Across The Universe, a nostalgic look at the 1960's somehow stupider than Forrest Gump, a revisionist version of the 60's where everyone was doing acid, everyone was fighting against the war in Vietnam, and everybody was listening to The Beatles. And for added Rolling-Stone-will-cream-their-jeans-over-this-piece-of-shit value it features Bono.

POP QUIZ: What Beatles album made the Billboard Top 5 Albums of 1967?
Trick question. More Of The Monkees was #1, followed by their self-titled debut, then the soundtrack to Dr. Zhivago, the soundtrack to The Sound Of Music, and lastly The Temptations Greatest Hits.

This same argument can come up over who is allowed to cover John Lennon tunes, with fine examples being Big & Rich covering "Nobody Told Me," Christina Aguilera doing "Mother," U2 doing "Instant Karma," Green Day doing "Working Class Hero," and all of the following artists have covered "Imagine":
+ Blues Traveler
+ Madonna
+ Avril Lavigne

One artist who performed "Imagine" did it out of spite against the media. After 9/11 ClearChannel blacklisted a number of popular songs from radio play, including "Leaving On A Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul, & Mary, "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan, "Hey Joe" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (funny, the original version by The Leaves wasn't on the list), "Ruby Tuesday" by The Rolling Stones, "Head Like A Hole" by Nine Inch Nails, ALL songs by Rage Against The Machine, "War" by Edwin Starr (you know, that one that asks what it's good for, and responds absolutely nuthin'?), "Wipeout" by The Surfaris (an instrumental!), "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" by The Smashing Pumpkins, "Burning Down The House" by The Talking Heads...the list goes on and on. I'll rain Hell about this in itself some other time.

Anyway, a televised benefit concert called America: A Tribute To Heroes took place only ten days after the attacks. Another angry rock and roller a damn-the-consequences attitude, Neil Young, did the song on live television. It was considered one of the highlights of the program, in spite of the fact that you couldn't hear it on Clear Channel-owned radio stations.

It's rare that a truly great musician or group goes out of their way to do a cover, unless of course you're a fledgling rhythm and blues band from London and you need a hit, which Mr. Lennon and Mr. McCartney gladly supply to you:

But it's not like Frank Zappa or someone like that covered The Beatles, right?

Oh. Still, it's good, if a bit goofy. The man singing is Ike Willis, who I consider to have one of the finest, most distinctive voices in rock and roll.

2.) Why is the artist doing this Beatles tune?

Is it for charity? Madonna and Avril's covers of "Imagine" were for the Indonesian tsunami and the "crisis" (which we still don't have the balls to consider "genocide" over at the UN) in Darfur, respectively.

Is it "a tribute to The Beatles" really a tribute to The Beatles...or a tribute to the artists ruining the songs?

Ah, but is it a tribute to a deceased Beatle? THIS is where we find some positives. The 1995 compilation Working Class Hero: A Tribute To John Lennon featured some great versions of Lennon songs by The Red Hot Chili Peppers (who did "I Found Out"), George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic ("Mind Games"), and Cheap Trick, who provided a BITCHIN' cover of "Cold Turkey.

After George's death, some true greats came out to pay tribute to the "Quiet Beatle," including Leslie West (of Mountain) did a blues-wailing version "Old Brown Shoe", Bill Wyman - former bassist for The Rolling Stones - funked up "Taxman", John Entwistle of The Who (before his own death in June 2002) made "Here Comes The Sun" kick a little ass, They Might Be Giants took "Savoy Truffle" and turned into a sprightly tune for children, Wayne Kramer of The MC5 droned through "It's All Too Much" (my personal favorite Beatles tune), Todd Rundgren did a soulful rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", and fellow Hindu Dave Davies did one of George's "could-be-a-love-song-about-God-or-a-girl", the sublime "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)". Needless to say, this encompasses a larger "who's who" group, and as such I can actually rank Songs From The Material World as one of the best albums from 2002.

Todd Rundgren was a Beatles fan, he covered "Rain" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" on his 1976 album Faithful, his band Utopia did an album of Beatlesque tunes from Merseybeat to the psychedelic stuff called Deface The Music, and he later toured with Ringo's All-Starr Band. Among the other musicians who graced the truly all-star lineup? John Entwistle, Billy Preston, Joe Walsh from The James Gang and The Eagles, Peter Frampton, and Jack Bruce from Cream.

The bottom line is, whether it's Cheap Trick or Todd Rundgren or Neil Young or The Smithereens taking one of my least favorite songs - George's "I Want To Tell You" - and making it good, the fact of the matter is that it's clear that these guys are Beatles fans in that they don't set out to one-up the Fab Four. Their tribute to the band who paved the way and inspired them to become musicians is done lovingly, in their own unique style. Instead of their intent on making the song a hit single, they instead let it serve as an acknowledgment of their roots.

Can Christina Aguilera really sympathize with the lyrics of John Lennon's harrowing "Mother?" Can Madonna really imagine no possessions? U2 might have been making a statement doing "Helter Skelter" on Rattle & Hum, in an era where they were both relevant and still in possession of their souls, but their cover of "Instant Karma," like almost everything else on the Darfur tribute album, is the work of a great songwriter converted into disposable pop trash. The musicians involved were more interested in self-preservation and attaching their names to the latest trendy cause. Too bad genocide in Sudan has been going on since the 1990's.

3.) Unless you can do it live, leave it the HELL alone!

The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 because their newer music was becoming more and more complex. It was impossible to replicate their studio sound live. But this doesn't stop bands from attempting "Tomorrow Never Knows", and badly. The song is rendered unique by its usage of studio effects and tape loops. Otherwise, you're just an idiot strumming the c-chord for three minutes trying to sing like John Lennon but instead sound more like an injured lamb.

In order to do some Beatles songs, might need a whole orchestra to back you up!

That is why I present to you something that can only be considered the best Beatles cover that will ever be. It is an interesting song choice - the song is "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - one difficult to replicate live no doubt, it is also devoid of political causes, and more importantly it DOESN'T involve Bono!

Godspeed, you eyeball-headed geniuses. Godspeed.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Some new things have gone on in the past week, and by "in the past week" I mean today.

+ Due to my successful interview and hiring at Spencer's, I came to work at Hot Topic only to be whisked into the back room, where I was told this created a "conflict of interest." I had two options: resign, or be terminated for violation of store policy. I opted to resign. Thankfully, I planned ahead and had an undated resignation letter in my car - I was going to resign at the end of this week. All of this came after my supervisor gave me two weeks with ZERO hours when I told her I had a pending job interview with the IU Telefund. Upon mentioning that I'd been given so little hours, my boss asked why I couldn't come in to tell her I was looking for other sources of employment. Maybe it was the fact that she was never there when I picked up my schedule. Maybe it was the fact that she was on vacation the week I had regular hours again. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't think there would be a problem...never mind that my termination came without a proper warning or reprimand.

But, in the words of a wise friend, "Watch me pretend to give a shit." I told her they were giving me more hours and more pay as it was.

+ Those of you who are my friends on Facebook already know this, but for Dan Crall (if he reads this regularly) and I'm sure a few others...and as Squalus Maximus confirmed so tactlessly back in February...I have gone public with my relationship with Shelley Leshin. She and I have been seeing each other for some time. And yes, it's serious. I will tell my parents within a week. Unless they already know.

+ By random chance, I bumped into a fellow tenant of Campus Walk who just so happens to be a guitarist who just so happens to need a drummer. His name? Eric. I know, weird.

+ Working at Spencer's seems like it will be a fun way to earn money. Their customer service policy is non-interventionist (unlike Hot Topic), where greeting guests as they enter the store is all that is expected aside from cash register small talk. I'm not expected to force a conversation about what music the kids are into, nor am I expected to slap as much money onto someone's purchase. Anyone want to know some hot sales techniques that are attempted to goad you into blowing your money? I'll gladly tell.

+ My Math midterm tomorrow...lame.

+ It is officially summertime in Bloomington, as it is hotter than Madonna's crotch right now.

Lastly, only 3 hours late, I would like to wish a very happy birthday to one Richard Starkey. He spent most of his childhood in and out of the hospital, suffering from pleurisy and appendicitis, eventually dropping out of school at age 15. The ill little boy grew up to become one of the most widely loved figures in the music world, especially upon his replacement of one Pete Best as the drummer in a band that had gotten its start in Hamburg, Germany.

The band was The Beatles, and the drummer was, and still is, Ringo Starr.



PS - One more thing. I began reading Cynthia Lennon's book on her famous husband, and I have to say I have rapidly lost respect for the man. This interview with his and Cynthia's son Julian (an unplanned pregnancy, prompting their marriage) shows his own perspective. I'll write more on him later. Till then, I need to rest up for my exam.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pass the ketchup?

Better break out some ketchup - or catsup, if you prefer - because I'm about to eat my words from the past. I just listened to The Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds. I can say with no hyperbole that this album lives up to all of the hype. Moreover, and again as cliche as this sounds, it was inspirational both musically and philosophically.

One of the songs put tears in my eyes. Yes, me, the guy who rocks out to The MC5 and The Who at maximum volume, reduced to gently weeping like George Harrison's guitar.

Once more, thank you YouTube.

(Brian Wilson/Tony Asher)
I keep looking for a place to fit
Where I can speak my mind
I've been trying hard to find the people
That I won't leave behind

They say I got brains
But they ain't doing me no good
I wish they could

Each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin' for myself
But what goes wrong

Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)

I guess I just wasn't made for these times

Every time I get the inspiration
To go change things around
No one wants to help me look for places
Where new things might be found

Where can I turn when my fair weather friends cop out
What's it all about

Each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin' for myself
But what goes wrong

Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)

I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times

For the record, it was the "Where can I turn..." line that did it. No reflection on any of you who read this, in fact I would consider m@, Forrest, and Shelley as those who have been there for me throughout a lot of the bullshit I've endured since I started writing a blog at this URL back in January, from the whole Jewish thing to Shelley's parents to our break-up to all the drama with Kate to my reconciliation with Shelley, and for your support of the latter. I never say this enough, but thanks.

Like my discovery of The Kinks, wherein Ray Davies was speaking directly to me about the world not being black and white but instead shades of gray, where it was okay to be uncertain, it was okay to be different, and that the little man always wins in the end, these words seem like they could have written by me.

What inspired me about this musically was the fact that his vocal lines aren't always in a definitive rhythm, one of the greatest stumbling blocks I've encountered while writing is tallying up syllables. Music that comes from the heart is undoubtedly the purest form of artistic expression. Couple this with my recent discovery of Syd Barrett, the superior predecessor of David Bowie with a little blast of Captain Beefheart styled asymmetry, and it really has me looking forward to studying music theory next spring. I'll finally be able to write real songs.

It is that very impact that keeps music alive: art influencing artists. It should also be mentioned that Pet Sounds was a HUGE influence on The Beatles - Paul McCartney especially - and quite frankly from a production standpoint (recorded 1965/1966) it is a seminal work, more so than Dark Side Of The Moon. Brian Wilson did a great job filling up space.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the song, or at the very least could see why it hit so close to home for me.