Friday, March 05, 2010

I've been living in Chicago since July, which is long enough to take for granted the stuff that I thought was weird about it when I first came here. I wanna keep that perspective on this place though, and keep reminding myself that this is a unique place to live, so I guess I'll have to write about things that make Chicago Chicago.

I thought the hardest thing about living here would be the cold, but I've gotten used to that. The environmental factor that's actually the hardest to live with, and in fact is the most terrifying, is actually how diabolically flat this place is. The fact that it's so flat here actually lends itself to the streets being laid out in a neverending and seldomly interrupted grid that stretches out for I don't know how long. Standing on Chicago Avenue where I live, about 20-some blocks from the lake, and looking in either direction, you will never see the end or even any change of direction of the street. It's a little mind-numbing, and I try not to think about it cause it can be sort of depressing. I mean, if you drive down Chicago, through some dangerous and dilapidated neighborhoods of the West side you'll eventually go past a super nice suburb where Frank Lloyd Wright and Earnest Hemingway used to live called Oak Park, and then you'll I guess continue on to some other suburbs, past where Wayne's World took place, and then I don't know what suburb you'll be in after that. And the road probably won't ever even change directions. I used to feel dwarfed by the size of New York, but here I feel dwarfed just by the structure of this place.

That same structure does make this place a pretty convenient place to live though. Easy to get around, easy to find stuff, easy to know where you are, bla bla bla. And it wouldn't make sense to make the roads go off in a bunch of jangled intersections and changes in direction just to keep things interesting. That would've been crazy. So I'm glad the streets are like that too. I guess the whole thing with the streets being straight is the same as the whole dizzying blankness of the prarie that existed here before the city did.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I got an email from Obama the other day. He says he's gonna push for a Health Care plan to be pushed through Congress! Isn't that awesome? It's also a little confusing, cause I thought that's what's supposed to be happening for like a year now.... but anyway, here comes round 2! Or maybe round 1 million. Either way, he finally says he's gonna do reconciliation so he can push it through without 60 votes. Oh, wait, no, he didn't actually use the word "reconciliation." He's gonna leave it up to Nancy Pelosi or maybe Harry Reid to use that actual word. Awesome.

So, Obama is actually so popular, or he was so popular, that he's afraid to use his popularity to do anything! Finally after a year he's willing to do the same thing Bush did 2 times for his tax cuts. OK great, whatever, he's finally doing it. I don't know why he didn't just let them filibuster anyway. They've beaten filibusters before, and I don't know what the republicans could've done 8 months ago that would have made everyone hate them even more than they already did except for doing a damn filibuster. Sometimes you gotta call these guys on their bluffs. Hopefully the democrats in there will be able to get some type of a fucking skeleton of an actual bill through before the republicans mop the floor with them in the 2010 congressional elections. Way to go guys! Remember when we used to actually discuss a public option and stuff?

I guess I'm rambling now. Point is, whatever they plan to do now, this is their last chance to do anything. So, it should be exciting to see if anything gets passed! Oh, and when was he asking for congress to give him a bill? Tomorrow? Monday? Next week? No, actually, he's just asking them to do, um, Something, in the next uh... few weeks....? So, actually, disregard this whole post, cause basically nothing is any different now anyway.

Hey! It's been a minute. How's it going?

I kinda miss writing. Time to start writing again. Don't know what I'm gonna write about, since I barely ever listen to any new music anymore. But I can still write about other stuff.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"Misunderstood ain't gotta be explained/ but you don't understand me so let me explain/ stood in the heat/ the flame the snow/ please slow down hurricane/ the wind blow/ my dreads swing/ he had hair like wool/ like rain/ dropping ashes in the bible/ I shake them out and they fall on the rifle/ scary. Hail Mary no tale fairy/ all real very/ extraordinary/ perry mason face it/ the barrel if the tattle/ my god is my judge/ no gown, no gavel/ behind a rabble/ down to battle/ now or never/ i would never in the ever/ fucking fantastic/ fuck if you agree/ i'm bright but I don't give a fuck/ if you see me"

I think this is my favorite Wayne verse ever. I dunno if it beats "Oh No" or not, but it's definitely my favorite on the Carter III. I kinda like all the rambling that comes later, but it's cool he buries this shit in a 9 minute track, not even a song, at the end of the album. I like Fab's shit about pasta and pimp my ride and stuff, and I still love Lollipop, but this is a great moment of apocalyptic imagery that's gonna stick around in the same corner of my brain as "cell therapy" or the patter of Delia's feet. I like "Georgia Bush" but I think this goes a lot deeper than just the obvious anger at the government or "Get Your Hustle On."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yo! haven't posted for a couple months, but here's a new mixtape

This one's kind of a departure. I try to keep a certain continuity on my mixes where I don't use the same songs on more than one, at least that I'd write about. I also try not to use the same artist twice and I keep them to about an hour. The difference on this one is that it's chronological a-la High Fidelity. So it's a bunch of songs that have been like theme songs for me at different times of my life. This one was actually a lot of fun to make, especially just to look back and say "what the hell was I listening to in sophomore year of college." One thing I do continue with is trying to have the songs tell their own narrative on top of my own reminiscing.

1 - Outkast - "Humble Mumble" - Not to start out too heavy handed, but this is the song I put on when I came home after going downtown on 9/11. I had just lived in England for a year after High School and came to New York as this wide-eyed, bushy tailed kid, not exactly expecting to come face to face with devestation and hatred. This was one of my favorite songs when I was living in England, but it took on another level of meaning for me when I came home and sat in my dorm room. The chorus goes "Humble as a mumble/ in the jungle of shout and screams/ that's the way the cracker crumbles/ so I guess I'll have to reroute my dreams." It helped me keep my head above water that September. I'm sure everybody had their own song for the same reason then. I remember that Destiny's Child song "Survivor" was huge then, and I also loved that Outkast song about 9/11, "The Whole World."

2 - The White Stripes - "The Same Boy You've Always Known" - This was my favorite song way before I was ever in one of their videos and Jack White called my brother "some actor asshole." The lyrics are I guess about a breakup/ get back together situation, but I just liked it for the way this dude can carry a tune on just a few notes. It does get heavy at times, but this little whiff of reverb keeps the song from getting workhorse like some of their stuff.

3 - Mississippi Fred McDowell - "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" - It's embarrassing that this guy has to stick the name of the state he lived in so that hippies would snatch his shit up on some novelty workingman/nature worship paternalistic impulse back in the 70s, cause his music speaks for itself. He's a master of slide guitar, and actually forms the backbone of this song on a ridiculous amount of sliding and polyrhythmic fingerpicking. It's music for blues nerds first and foremost, but this is one of his more accessible songs.

4 - Johnny Cash - "Hurt" - I loved this as a Nine Inch Nails song, but I think Johnny Cash owned it. I like the way he changes "crown of shit" to "crown of thorns," cause he censors it but also changes the meaning and emphasizes what he's talking about in a totally different way. By the way, I swear not all the music I listened to in the first couple years of college was mad depressing.

5 - The Streets - "Could Well Be In" - I bought this album right when I moved to the Bronx. Living there actually is a great backdrop for the Streets, cause it can be gray and really colorful and vibrant at the same time. This dude is also from the part of England I had been living in. It was crazy to hear a popstar speaking in this think Brummy accent, cause over there this accent is universally laughed and more than any other. I think he blew up right after I left. On a side note, my boss's kid's half-brother's friends apparently sued Mike Skinner for stealing lyrics from them for his first album. True Story. This song jumped out at me cause I'm really a cheeseball at heart and this is unapologetically sappy without being weird.

6 - Big & Rich - "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" - This is a fun song. A whole lot of elements come together that should be a complete mess, but for a minute these guys had tapped into enough tongue in cheek, self aware personality to make this work. I'll always remember driving this big 15 passenger van full of drunk kids and puke into Manhattan one night, cause that's what I did for a living, and the kids next to me totally geeked out when we turned onto Broadway just when they were singing about driving down Broadway.

7 - Rolling Stones - "I Got the Blues" - I had been hugely into the blues at one point, but by the beginning of Senior Year I really wasn't anymore This song jumped out at me as more of an homage to a style of music than an actual example of it. I remember listening to it on headphones while I conducted an experiment on a virtual rat in a computer lab and mentally devouring the random organ solo on this song.

8 - Kanye West - "School Spirit" - Still my favorite Kanye song, bar none. It's really thick, which is something dude has been getting better at, but this one still has that old soul music vibe. He was rapping about hating being in college, and by senior year, I hated college too, so there you go. What I like about his song is it complains about something but is still fun and sunny, kind of like the Voodoo Glow Skulls singing about jocks. That would definitely be on the prequel to this mix.

9 - M.I.A. - "Amazon (Diplo Mix)" - This is the song off the remix, with Ciara's "Goodies" beat over top of the vocals that had different music on Arular. I loved those first few Ciara singles, and I was all over that Piracy Funds Terrorism mix, so here I am killing 2 birds with one stone. I wish Diplo had left a Petey Pablo verse on this, but I guess it wouldn't have made any sense.

10 - Clipse - "Definition of a Roller" - I don't even really know the name of this song or who's song it actually is, but it's the one after the last song on Piracy Funds Terrorism. I didn't even really notice this track at first, until one time when I was listening real close to my headphones on the Chinatown Bus. This song's beat is actually creepy and desolate like the first half of Soul Food, but these guys rap with so much focus they bury it.

11 - Notorious BIG - "Things Done Changed" - "Back in the day our parents used to take care of us/ look at 'em now/ they even fucking scared of us/ calling the city for help because they can't maintain/ damn shit's done changed." I've said it before, but I wish I had known about all this awesome mid 90s rap back when it was coming out. I don't know why it took me this long to get into Biggie, but whatever. What can I even say about this song?

12 - Jay-Z - "It's Hot (Some Like It Hot)" I kept going back and buying up classic albums I had missed after I got out of college, and I remember living in the copycat building in Baltimore when I got obsessed with this song. I had busted windows and crackhead roomates, but this song oozed precision. I guess I haven't been paying enough attention to the themes discussed on these songs, but this one's easy cause it's just straight up shit talking. I guess at this time I was doing big things and setting myself up for better stuff to come, but the way I was doing it was by living in squalor for a minute so I could save some money for later. It worked out really well for me, and it was helpful to have this slick assurance in the midst of an off kilter minimal beat.

13 - 'Lil Wayne - "Oh No" - As soon as I heard this song, I loved it. The beat actually reminded me of that one Moby album, which would probably make the prequel too. There was something something in my bro's blog the other day about how 50 says 'Lil Wayne doesn't really make good songs even though he can rap. I guess part of what's great about Wayne is that he doesn't need choruses and hooks and bridges and stuff - he can do that, but here he just raps for 3 minutes straight. He's done some really good stuff like that on mixtapes lately, showing everybody that he can rap on all kinds of beats and whatever, but I still like him best when he's on some bass heavy, humid shit like this. "while you pussy n*ggas is sleepin/ I'm thinkin/ deep in thought/ the boy ain't even winkin'/ Bob Marley got me stinkin'/ stacking figures/ I'm standing firm/ life's a slinky."

14 - Otis Redding - "That's How Strong My Love Is" - This song immediately evokes warmth, which has obviously been missing from the last few songs. There are a few Otis songs I could've put on here but I think this one's my favorite. This is the type of shit where you come home from work, it's 104 degrees outside and you don't have air conditioning, and it's humid as shit cause it's Baltimore, and you just sink into your vinyl couch and become one with it to the point that you know you'll make a velcro sound when you stand up, this stuff will put you straight into a blissful sleep.

15 - Rolling Stones - "Moonlight Mile" - This is a song about how things never stop changing. It's not really a celebration or a lament - as far as that goes it's like it's flat. It kind of reminds me of "Oh Me." It's really orchestral though, and the ending goes a little long. It's actually the end of an era for the stones, really the last song on their last good album.

16 - Little Big Town - "Boondocks" - This is out of chronology a little bit as far as the story of my life goes, but it fits in well with the tape. I reviewed the album for the City Paper, but the only way I knew about them was hitting seek on the New Jersey turnpike one time and stumbling onto it. That was when I started really liking country radio when I was driving, so it's a shame that there's no country station in New York. This is just a standard country pride anthem, but it's funky and happy.

17 - Rodney Atkins - "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows You're There)" - This song is kinda dumb, but I like it. It's a great example of how country music has become arena rock but has also kept being country. If this song was a drink it'd be a Sparxxx.

18 - Waylon Jennings - "Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way" - This is just a thumping beat, 2 chords, and a lot of reverb as far as music goes, but Waylon totally wraps his voice around it. "Lord it's the same old tune/ fiddle and guitar/ where do we take it from here?" This song's all about looking for a change in direction but not knowing where to go.

19 - Bob Dylan - "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" - This song is night and day from the Waylon song before it musically, but they're ultimately talking about the same thing. One's disillusioned with the country scene, the other the folk scene, and they're both being hated for wanting to do something different. This is one of the last songs on Dylan's last album before he went totally electric. People were mad at Dylan for changing, which probably made him more determined to change than any other one thing, but it's too bad because he always actually was better at being acoustic. He could carry a rhythm and a tune and not become a huge sloppy mess like he does no Highway 61. He had a way of smacking one particular note even when he was playing a chord which nobody else does.

20 - The White Stripes - "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)" - Dunno why so many of these songs have parenthesis, I swear it's not a theme. Right before the bridge in this song, you hear Jack White yell "Hey!" Not into the microphone or anything, it's hard to pick up - you get the impression from this guy that he still loves what he's doing, and he's almost surprised how well he's doing. It's like he's passed 300 on a streak in Guitar Hero and just finished a Star Power. The thing about him is that unlike Dylan, he's able to reign in his electric guitar to the point that he can still be staccato if he wants to be, and he has this great hollow, dry sound. It only works if it's aired out by some dead space and overreaching vocals, but he works all that together here. Plus it's just a catchy song.

21 - U.G.K. Featuring Outkast - "International Player's Anthem" - I really doubt anyone reads this who doesn't also read my bro's blog, so I'm sure you've read enough about this song. Had a nice moment with this song at his wedding, singing along with Andre's part and dancing to the rest. Outkast is still one of my favorite bands ever, and they're hit or miss now, but it always sounds great to listen to them let loose.

22 - Born With It featuring B.O.B. - "Stack My Paper Up" - This song is great. Too bad it'll never really come out. It's sentimental about money, and not ironic or assholic about it at all. One guy says "drill like Michael Jordan do" - I think it's not just about having money or even getting money, but working for it. This is the type of shit you listen to on the subway before dawn on your way to work. More than that Rodney Atkins song, it's motivational on a gut level.

So anyway, there you go. This was fun to write, I hope it was fun to read. if my computer didn't suck I'd post some of these.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The video for "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash is such a clusterfuck of random cameos it's ridiculous. I didn't even know this song had a video, I just found it by accident when i was looking at stuff like this. I wish I had been around when Johnny Cash had a TV show, it must've been so surreal. The set looks like he took over the home shopping network or something.

I finally got around to seeing that Buddy Holly movie with Gary Busey. I really like Busey in it! I don't know if Buddy Holly actually walked around beating up producers and threatening to kill people - he never seemed that macho to me, but maybe. I really liked it when he smacked this one producer and then hit the same fighting stance he did when he fought Chris Farley in that one movie: the open-handed shoveling motion that says "I'm not just gonna punch you, I'm gonna tear you limb from limb!" No, but it was a good movie.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I saw the Hold Steady at Prospect Park a few days ago. They're a trip, cause they get away with being so cheesy that it just comes across as really sincere. They're like Indi-Emo. I think for me they're one of those bands that I like a lot better live than I like their CDs. I saw them once before, years ago at the Ottobar in Baltimore, which is this big bar/ little club. They seemed totally in their element there, and they made a point of saying how they thought they'd be a bar band when they were in the bandshell at Prospect Park. "This is a big bar we're playing tonight." They seemed a bit out of element in the park, but they ended up filling up the stage. It was a good show. For me, the best moments were when the keyboard player played accordian on one song and the Star Power moments when the guitar player threw his guitar over his shoulder.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I took a road trip to Detroit this last weekend. It was a fun drive, you go over the Appalachian mountains and then these hills, and then you round this one corner, and suddenly the landscape is flat for as far as you can see. It's nuts. I opened the window to let some breeze in and all this wind was flying around in the van.
Yeah, Detroit is cool. I can't really say nothing much about it, cause I was a total tourist and didn't see much of the city. We drove into Grosse Pointe to get some pancakes though, and it's true about how you cross one road, that later becomes 8 Mile Road, and how all of a sudden it goes from boarded up stores and general dilipidation to English Manor-type houses on the side of the lake and stuff in no time flat. It's a little disconcerting. The pancakes in Grosse Pointe were good though. We also drove past the old lion stadium, and it just looked like some boarded up old movie theater on Main Street or something. It looks like they left it there, no as a monument, but just because nobody bothered to tear it down. There was this parking lot next to it that was covered with little tufts of grass. It was actually kind of cool.

Last episode of the Sopranos didn't piss me off too much, but they should've gone ahead and let something happen. I always figured they were putting off a big confrontation happening just cause they wanted to drag the show out, but I guess the show was actually always just about all the day-to-day bullshit rather than the traditional old Gangster Story Arc. I like that Dylan song AJ was listening to before his SUV burned up. Dylan is so hit or miss, I never got as into him as I always knew I should. I figured out the song is called "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", so I went out and bought the album. It's a whole lot better than Blonde on Blonde or Highway 61, I honestly don't know what's so great about that stuff. I have one of those live recordings I like a lot, and I always like Nashville Skyline and Freewheelin', but that was it. Liked the book too. Anyway, this album's good, maybe I'll get back to exploring all that. I'm rereading the book now, and that is some great subway reading, especially on the way home from work. Reading him write about New York in the 60s reminds me of before I ever lived here when my Dad would talk about coming here as a kid from St. Louis and staying in the Bronx every summer. This place looks a lot different once you get used to it, but the rest of the world also looks different once you get used to this place.