Thursday, December 09, 2004

"This is not my life, it's just a fond farewell to a friend..."

Somewhere, packed away in anticipation of the move, there is a box of photos. In the box of photos there are some pictures of him. Pictures of us. He was just an acquaintance—a friend of my friend R.

R was the most rabid music fan I have ever known. He was younger than me but had a musical knowledge leaps and bounds above me. We both had a penchant for the weird and obscure, so we traded tapes all the time and turned each other onto some great stuff. We also both loved heavy, fat bass chords and nasty metal guitar licks. Neither of us were “metal-heads” in the broad sense of the term, but we loved to crank up Soundgarden’s BadMotorFinger and Monster Magnet’s Spine of God.

R traded tapes with a lot of people. One of them was Phil Anselmo, who later became the frontman for Pantera. Through R, I got to meet and hang out with the band. There was always a standing invitation for free tickets and aftershow passes. One time I was invited to dinner with the band, and we took over Allyn’s CafĂ© and had a blast. They were a lot of fun and a great bunch of guys.

“Dimebag” Darrel Abbott, former lead guitarist with Pantera, current guitarist for Damageplan, was gunned down onstage last night at Alrosa Villa in Columbus. I didn’t know Dime that well, but from the times I hung out with him I thought he was a good, decent guy with a twisted, hilarious sense of humor. And he was a helluva guitarist.

R.I.P. Dime.

Friday, October 29, 2004

"We've got nuthin' better to do....than to watch TV & have a coupla brews!"

I'm currently watching VH1 Classic's "The Alternative," which I recorded on the DVR. They always show a few gems I haven't seen in AGES, and tonight it is Black Flag's "TV Party!!"

The budget for that video was a couple of six packs, a tiny portable tv and a yellow beanbag chair. It's one of the most honest, fun, low budget videos ever (right up there with The 'Mats "Bastards of Young"). It was great to see it again.

I saw Black Flag at the Jockey Club about 20 years ago. Tickets were around $6.00. The Jockey Club was on York Street in Newport, KY, back when Newport was a scary place to venture. The Jockey Club was a dive in the true sense of the word, but my god what a great place to see punk bands! In less than two weeks, CR and I will be moving to Newport--about ten blocks from where the Jockey Club was.

Like Black Flag, we'll be living low budget. We'll probably be having many a TV party for lack of funds to do anything else!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"But the radio is playing all the usual...and what's a Wonderwall anyway?"

Taking Typing I & II in high school was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, as it has continued to serve me well. Unlike, say, “Business Shorthand” and “Home Economics: The Art of Meal Planning” and the forgettable college courses I took, like “The History of Greece 404 to 146 BC” and “Case Studies in Organizational Communication.” But I digress...

Before the rise of the internet, I used to have loads of pen-pals. We swapped stories, photos and the occasional cassette tape. We shared aspirations and dreams. One penfriend in Japan was a huge Jesus & Mary Chain fan, like me. We shared photos--hers were spectacular--she stalked them to the Tokyo Shinkansen and took wonderful photos of Jim Reid. I, on the other hand, had to admit failure in that when I met Jim in Columbus a few months prior, I’d burst into tears in his face and compelled him to leg it onto the tour bus and the safety of a large bottle of Black Label Jack.

Then there were the scores of up and coming bands I corresponded with, most of which never “made it” but whom I still look back fondly at the letters we shared, and I still own and listen to their music. There was Bon Von Wheelie from Girl Trouble. We wrote back and forth several times and I’ve kept her letters tucked safely inside the Hit It Or Quit It LP. She hooked me up with Calvin Johnson, the head guy at K Records in Olympia, Washington. Calvin and I took up a spirited friendship for awhile and he sent me loads of great 7” singles released on his label. I sent him a bunch of I Wanna Label stuff in return. Somehow along the way I got hooked up with Robert Griffin from Scat Records in Cleveland and we shot letters back and forth for awhile. I adored his band Prisonshake and he sent me loads of music related goodies. Favorite item was probably the Scat Singles Box that had lots of silly toys inside. He later signed Dayton’s Guided By Voices (whose first LP was on I Wanna) and moved to Chicago. One time I got a lovely (and sexy) birthday card from Mark Kramer, head dude at Shimmy Disc Records and one half of the neo-psychedelic band Bongwater.

Then there is the penpal that I married! We sent countless letters and "FunMail" whizzing back and forth across the Atlantic. The day he sent himself across the big pond was one of the best moments in my life. We've been together ever since.

Ocassionally I still get a piece of FunMail from my best mate Rodney, a multimedia artist now living in San Francisco. Back in college we regularly stuffed each others university mailboxes with fun and interesting items (purple pantyhose doused in glitter, feathers, scratch & sniff books we’d made ourselves, bags of safety pins) and he still sends me an oddity every now and then, and it never fails to amuse and delight me.

It’s an even greater joy, however, to be able to meet up with friends face to face, and share laughter, stories and music with them. That's why I think the internet is such a wonderous thing. I've met a lot of great folks whom I have so much in common with, and who share the same interests as me, and for that I am forever grateful.

I know what I did before the internet and wouldn't change it for the world. But I can't imagine life without it now.

Monday, August 02, 2004

"The voice is a miracle..."

Tonight I visited an old friend. I've ran across this friend many times but I'm ashamed to say I overlooked them, leaving them to gather dust, so to speak. I simply passed them by without even acknowledging their existance. We were never that close, really, passing aquaintances is perhaps a better term.

But there was a time when I listened to what they said, and enjoyed their company. Even then, however, it was always in smallish doses. There were times when they genuinely "wowed" me, and really made me think. Sometimes I was touched by their sentiments, sometimes they scared the hell out of me. Other times I just couldn't be bothered. And over the years, I couldn't be bothered more and more.

So tonight I walked across that burning bridge and reaquainted myself with The Legendary Pink Dots.

I wasn't planning to. Simply, I closed my eyes for a moment, then reached out into the CD collection and pulled something out. I thought to myself, "If you don't want to play it--don't want to hear it--then get rid of it." And with that, I opened my eyes to stare at The Legendary Pink Box.

"Hmmmmm....not sure I want to listen to this one," I said to myself, but then the other part of me said, "Okay, if you don't want to hear it, get rid of it." So I thought it best to give it a spin before consigning it to the Half.com or eBay pile.

The Legendary Pink Dots are not everyone's cuppa. In fact, a lot of the time they aren't mine either. There are a few songs that I think are otherworldly, like "Waiting For The Cloud" from 1987's Any Day Now. Just thinking about that song give me chills. I loved listening to it when I was in college, and I still spin Any Day Now occasionally. I hadn't played The Legendary Pink Box, however, in YEARS.

Partly it's Edward Ka-Spiel's voice that grates on me. He's wistful and haughty, contigulously, plus he's got that clipped British accent mixing with the Dutch "r" that sounds like a "w" going on all the time. Words like "river" sound more like "wiva," which shouldn't bug me....but does.

Then there's the music. Most of it is synthesizer driven, and can veer from cheesy to spacey to downright wicked in the span of a four minute song. And I guess that's what I love about The Legendary Pink Dots. The music can swerve from soaring and gay to plummeting into the depths of dispair and hell, all in a matter of moments. That's exactly why I love "Waiting For The Cloud" as I do. There is so much gloom wafting about....but then the synthesized organ and trumpet come in around the fourth minute and it's like a tiny ray of light winking at me across a barren, radiation-swept landscape. Fucking amazing.

But "Waiting For The Cloud" isn't on The Legendary Pink Box. A lot of other worthy songs are, however. And although I won't visit them very often, it's good to have them around. The Dots' slogan, which is printed on every one of their releases (and also on Edward Ka-Spiel's solo efforts) is a good one to know and remember....

"Sing While You May."

Friday, May 28, 2004

Many years ago, as Reynolds and I goofed off at the record store and got paid to do so, we decided that we should try to learn something new each day. Sometimes what we learned was informative, sometimes instructive, and occassionally destructive. We could be especially creative in learning ways to look busy while doing as little as possible. We has massive cut'n'paste sessions with the promotional posters and flats; we had races to see who could organize artist CDs from first release to last in the least amount of time; we devised an elaborate game of hacky-sack in which the goal was to knock as many country artist cassettes from the shelving as possible.

Although I haven't seen Reynolds in a while, I still think of him whenever I learn a new task, and wonder if he still tries to learn something new each day.