Friday, December 24, 2004

Jacking Christmas Snacks

When I showed up at work at noon there was a selection of bagels and crackers and Cold Pack Cheese Spread on the table. When I left work at close the container of Port Wine Flavored Cold Pack Cheese Spread was about half empty. By my own estimates about half of that missing cheese spread was in my own personal stomach. The Port Wine Flavored Cold Pack Cheese Spread is sitting in my refrigerator now, next to its less popular sibling the Almond Swiss Flavored Cold Pack Cheese Spread. I stole it because in the New Year I intend to keep things a whole lot more street around here, and now is as good a time and jacking cheese spread as good a place as any to start. I figure I'm only about a million miles away from being memorialized on bootleg tshirts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Another list.

Every day my shit job reveals a deeper, sicker example of humankind's basic inability to create anything but horribleness. Yesterday's top three:
3.) "Christmas Melody (sic)" by Ashanti - You always knew Ashanti was a hack. Even if she suckered you in and got you to actually like one or two of her singles, you knew that the Princess Of Hip Hop R&B couldn't give a shit about the music. Her yuletide gift to the world is a medly of Xmas songs produced by a kid who has just learned how to sequence up to three tracks on a Triton that kind of proves she doesn't. The songs (50s honky-crooner chanteuse pop) and her performance (the same) are so white you want to ask her for reparations.
2.) The 30-year-old compulsive liar I work with. Dude is like 5'4" and at least 170, so when he starts talking up the wonders Pilates can work on your abs you have to wonder if "Pilates" is some sort of code for "nachos".
1.) The piss-soaked pair of little girl's tights someone wadded up and shoved under a rack of clothes for someone else to pick up. The work of either one of the turbo-bitch yuppie newlymoms who roam Michigan Ave. with oversize strollers or an especially inconsiderate kidnapper. Either way, I don't want to have to deal with that shit.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Hot air.

Our heat's back on. I came home yesterday from making "It's Called 'Binoculars'" Part Two* flyers and the furnace was blowing out cold air. Some guys came over today and now it's blowing out hot air. Lots of hot air. One night without heat I feel entitles me to engage in some serious all-American-sense-of-entitlement natural gas usage. I mean it's not like we're killing people over natural gas. We're just killing the environment, and the guys on tv say there's plenty of that left. Within the hour we should be reaching our goal of pants-optional hotness levels in here.
*Featuring myself, Jessica Hopper, and the world-famous Tommie Sunshine. Sunday, December 26 at the Empty Bottle, no cover, 21 and over. Dress to impress.

Why Dinosaur?

Looking back at them, I can see my emails with my press contact at Merge Records acquiring an increasingly desperate tone as I reply to the press release announcing their remastering and reissuing (with bonus tracks and video) the first three Dinosaur Jr. records. My request for advance copies reads like a pleadings of a man who facing absolute extinction if he doesn't get what he asks for. I have no idea why this is.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


I'm in the middle of an experiment on how many Whole Kitchen BBQ Tofu Potsickers can fit in my stomach at one time. We're currently at 13; feelings of mild nausea, sleepiness, and euphoria.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

It's like even waking up right now feels like the most massive triumph. If someone wants to donate enough webspace to make a downloadable version of this, let me know.
The Seasonal Affective Disorder Acceptance And Avoidance Mixtape
TV On The Radio "New Health Rock"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Y Control"
Aloha "the new song that sounds like the Allman Brothers"
George Jones "The Race Is On"
The Nezema Kotoko Family "F. Kenya"
The Ex "Huriyet"
shutting the cat in the fridge when she tries to steal your pie
George Jones "She Thinks I Still Care"
Orange Glass "Feel 500"
Eric's Trip "Allergic To Love"
Nas "American Way"
learning to tie a Half-Windsor Knot
the Rolling Stones "Bitch"
The first song off of the new Holly Golightly record.
Randy Newman, Steve Martin, Martin Short, et al
"My Little Buttercup"
Bob Dylan "Don't Think Twice It's Alright"

Thursday, December 02, 2004

From our "Comments" section re: South Haven, MI

I've met many a meth dealer in my day. They can look like all sorts of different folks. In fact, I used to be one, once upon a time, but then I went to jail and decided I actually liked my freedom more than I did having no job but loads of drugs and wads of cash lying around. Long story short, meth dealers can look like just about anyone - not *anyone* as in *anyone*, they probably can't look like Queen Elizabeth or Godzilla - but not all of them have flowing mullets or go about in sweatpants. Some of them do, sure. And quite possibly, this dude was indeed a trailer-park dwelling meth dealer or tweaker or speed freak, what have you. But given that meth use and abuse is ever-increasing everywhere in America pretty much (crack for the 21st century, new and improved, and homegrown - or at least Mexican grown - to boot) it's a solid bet that the palette of possible styles and appearances for meth dealers collectively is growing as well. Meth dealers used to just be biker gangs, they owned the traffic pretty much, even up to the early 90's or so. Then the Mexican Mafia muscled in and now they're responsible for most of it, cooking it up in "super labs" out in California and the southwest. The hundreds of localized cooks and labs that get busted in every state year to year actually account for a far smaller share of the finished product that reaches the market, most people are doing dope made by the Mexican cartels whether they realize it or not. They have two cuts - one that's 92% pure on average, high quality and high price - gourmet speed, and one that's closer to 50% purity and is dirt cheap (for the mass market). They both look like clear/whitish crystals and powder, the impurity isn't the result of a sloppy synthesis, it's intentional and so cosmetically they look the same. Of course, as the stuff passes from hand to hand - multiple kilos, to kilos, to ounces, to halfs quarters eight-balls teeners etc., any dickhead who wants to gouge the bag and pad it with MSM or other shitty kinds of cut can and will do so. And by the time it bounces down the chain of distribution, that may have happened enough so that the prices can even out and the quality is diluted (which still makes sense economically, because you can toss less of the high grade stuff in with a bag of cut and expect someone to be relatively satisfied, if you use the low grade you need to put in more actual meth weight etc) - it's at the wholesale level that the distinction in price and quality is a more openly recognized factor, and then shit just gets sketchier and sketchier from there on down until it arrives in your nose. So, in conclusion, the top-dog meth dealers look like Mexican mobsters and if you ever see them chilling in a BP Amoco get their autographs or phone numbers or whatnot, they can make you into a meth dealer too if you want, but I bet you don't want, word is bond. And yes, I'm high right now.
Learning is nice. For the record, most of the meth dealers I've known in the past have been sketchy Camaro dudes from Kalamazoo's satellite townships or 19-year-olds trying to hold down ill-advised rave-gangsta personas. In terms of meth's user base, my favorite individual by far has been the gay ex-Mormon-youth-pastor who kept a loaded AK-47 underneath the bed he shared with a rotating cast of high school boys. He would hang out in our living room, occasionally pulling out an Altoids box full of drugs, politely offering us a bump before he did one.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Jazz Night

I ended up at Jazz Night again. I hate Jazz Night.
I hate Jazz Night because I think that everything good that happened to jazz happened between 1962 and 1969, and that everyone who made jazz interesting is either dead or Peter Brotzman. I ended up at Jazz Night because I was pissed off and needed a drink and a half hour away from the amniotic warmth of my apartment.
Tonight's performance was from a combo of mid-20s white kids. They looked college. The trumpeter was short and nerdy. The bassist I don't even remember. The drummer is the only good thing I ever see at Jazz Night, and I like him a lot because he plays drums with the seeming purpose of making them sound like things that aren't drums. He doesn't play beats; he plays sound effects. The sax player is like the living embodiment of everything I hate about people who play jazz, or in bands at all. He played like someone trying to play like someone who is sure to get his dick sucked as soon as he sets his instrument down. He occasionally stepped back and sat down in a chair, looking worldweary, the chair obviously set up before the performance by him for the purpose of sitting down and looking worldweary. He would sit in his chair and then stand up and approach his sheet music stand and glare at the sheet music and scowl and play a saxophone that looked calculatedly beat-up. All in all it was the most unspontaneous display of pre-scripted spontaneity I've seen since the last emo show I went to. The kid was actually wearing a beret. A black beret, as if he wanted everyone to know so desperately that he was into jazz that he actually wore a black beret out in public. "Has it?" I asked myself. "Has that actually ever got him laid?" I did some quick math in my head, estimated Chicago's population of female grad students with retarded social skills and a desire to get with anything sort of approximating "edgy artist" before settling down with a courduroy-clad English professor, and figured it had.
Meanwhile Bruce was behind the bar. Bruce plays sax too, but he plays sax in a metal band, so I think he's cool. And he gives me my first drink for free, and I'm broke and like to drink.
I got done with my second and last beer as the combo got done with their song. I stood up from the stool and walked out of the room and everyone applauded.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Black Friday. Irony.

Anti-fur activists were out on Michigan Ave. during Black Friday. If they think that the tourists bussed in from Niles, MI are here to pick up fur, they're grossly overestimating our economy. They picketed our store, where the closest thing we have to fur has some ungodly long chemical name and could possibly maybe be picketed under a "No Blood For Oil Which May Eventually Become Faux Foxhair" banner. Later on one of the picketers came in with an anti-fur sticker on her jacket and leather boots on her feet.
Our company's line of pre-destressed, pre-kneeworn, pre-patched jeans is called "Authentic".
I can't figure out if Sweden's comprehension of irony is highly developed or missing entirely. All I know is that in the U.S. of A. the streets are paved in it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

South Haven, MI

I missed the part of the conversation that led up to the meth dealer telling the teenage girl that she "could have been an abortion". It was at the Taco John's inside a BP Amoco station in South Haven. I'm speculating on the guy being a meth dealer. He had the professional wrestler haircut, the beard, the freshly bandaged hand that makes you think "bar fight the night before", and the overall aura of a meth dealer. Or maybe just casual user. He was at Taco John's with a kid who was either his son or more likely his nephew, and you could just tell that he had bought the kid a subscription to Penthouse for his sixteenth birthday. The kid was dressed like small-town rebellion: punk accessories with an outfit that approximates hip hop streetwear as closely as one can shopping at Target. The town of South Haven, Michigan is made up of nice houses for vacationing Chicagoans and ranch homes and trailers for townies. There is ample fuel there to ignite teenage rebellion in a townie. His girlfriend, who could have been an abortion I guess, mixed the Avril look with some white-girl cornrows. As they held each other in line the kid looked to his uncle or dad for approval. The dad or uncle was busy throwing joke punches at the fat kid and the black kid that were with them, joke punches hard enough to remind them where they stood in the group's power dynamic. The black kid got joke-punched the most, along with some racial humor the meth guy probably meant to ease any tension of that kind, but which just made the black kid look nervous. They ordered burritos, stared at us. I missed why the meth guy told the girl she could've been an abortion because I was busy following a midget around the gas station. I don't regret not hearing the meth guys reasoning: to the dedicated people-starer a perfectly-formed child-sized 30-year-old midget wearing a t-shirt that says, "The Problem With You Is That You're Stupid" is like finding a twenty dollar bill in your jeans on laundry day.

Monday, November 22, 2004

What Western Michigan is good for

Somewhere in Western Michigan there's a billboard on I-94 left over from the election. It says, "Bush Cheney '04". Above where it says that it says, "Do you want boots or flip-flops?" Somebody give that copywriter a raise. To simultaneously hit the "flip-flop" meme the Republicans were pushing so hard (and apparently successfully) while at the same time casually implying that voting for Mr. Bush's opponent makes one seem like a homosexual rather than a heterosexual is pretty crafty. Bravo, sir or madam, wherever you are.
Also in Western Michigan in the Taco Johns that we stop at every time we go to Michigan. If you are ever driving and you see a sign for Taco Johns, you should stop. It doesn't matter if it's early in the morning or you just ate or you're not in the mood for burritos. Just stop. Order a burrito. Get some Potato Oles. Then cry sweet tears over the beauty of perfectly-seasoned deep-fried potato.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

State of the Autumn

I have as much borrowed nostalgia for the 70s as anyone else my age, but I'm not exactly thrilled with 2004 turning into 1972 overnight. We've got a Tyrant in power and all of the idealsts are at home staring at their defeated hands, but all of the good prescription drugs have been taken off the market and we haven't gotten our Ziggy Stardust yet. As much as I like H.S. Thompson and love P.K. Dick, I never really wanted to live in their world, but here we are.
Tim's got this thing going where he's trying to stay positive in the face of our recent idealogical beatdown. This includes careful consideration of the way he phrases observations and also includes a compilation record he's working on. Myself, I'm just happy to have made it this long with the sun going down in the mid-afternoon without having any specific suicidal fantasies. Dreams where I am a drug addict do not count.
Go to Barr's website and download some mp3s if you need help staying positive.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Nine reasons to be happy even after Kerry concedes.

1.) Chicago TV Polish-language amateur boxing shows.
2.) White American kids posting comments on Japanese porn blogs pretending to be rich Taiwanese kids.
3.) White American hardcore kids whose favorite bands are clothing lines.
4.) "Drop It Like It's Hot"
5.) "Drop It Like It's Hot" dance moves.
6.) Slint reunion.
7.) The drawing of forest animals where it looks like one squirrel is telling the other squirrel a secret.
8.) Cats.
9.) "It's Called 'Binoculars'": Sunday, Nov. 28 at the Empty Bottle

Perfect Panther Update 11/4

Profile, photos, tunes here. The profile and photos parts aren't really done yet. You can be our friend.
Independent Chicago compilation, featuring the ("howling") track "Gun Court" and a liner note photo that I look kind of bad in available now on Fork Series.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Slate grey with a little white scribble.

The monkey's got the Big Desk for another four years, I'm in day four of a stalemated battle with some virus or another, it's dark out at 5:30pm, and I can't decide whether or not these things mean I should be listening to Astral Weeks or Brujeria. I'm hungry and broke. Someone tagged the Hall Of Justice, which completely ruins the Soviet Modern/Eraserhead view from my front window.
I have this idea for a comic book about a saber-toothed tiger who invents a time machine and uses it to travel through time killing historical figures such as George Washington and Paul McCartney.
I have this other idea about how we should just sell Florida. Put the risk and potential profits and losses in the hands of some greedy corporation and rid ourselves of the responsibility. Think of the money we'll save on bailing them out around hurricane season.

Monday, November 01, 2004


I started Saturday off at 7am chugging the last quarter of what looked for all the world, or at least my bus stop, to be a fifth of Absolut. I ended Saturday dressed in short shorts. In between I developed a comic/movie outline about a time-travelling saber-toothed tiger who kills people in history. There were some beers happening in there too.
My Gay Prostitute costume meshed serendipitously with JR's Gay Dad In Denial costume. I didn't make any money, though, or get any action. On the bus ride home from work there was a youngish white girl who was very popular with the male riders, maybe because she was wearing a long blonde wig and a black dress that went almost exactly to the bottom of her asscheeks, give or take a quarter-inch. She got off the bus when I did and walked north on Western like I did. Cars and especially trucks honked their approval of her costume and the wind that threatened every ten seconds to blow it over her waist. I never figured out exactly what she was supposed to be.
Today I am wearing a black tshirt with a panther head and gold and purple flowers on it, black jeans, maybe black Chucks if the rain lets up but probably grey-and-black Dunks. I've been wearing my black panther head off and on today, yelling at people walking in the rain on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Please excuse the lack of updates. There have been many things. Reading to do. Tasks to procrastinate. Scrabble games to destroy. A feeling of unsurmountable hopelessness. A laptop that recognizes its hard drive only intermittently, like an Altzheimer's mother with her child, and the mother only has a G3 processor so she can't run Garageband or ProTools properly.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

N. Western Ave. Mayhem Scrabble Rulebook Addendum

Extended Wordlist (modified)
Rule 34(a) Though a proper noun, "AVRIL" is legally playable.
Rule 34(b) "Avril" is legally expandable using standard pre- and suffixes (ie, "REAVRILIZE", "PROAVRILITES"), regardless of whether or not these words have ever been actually spoken by a human being.
Note: When playing an expansion of "AVRIL", the player is not required to provide a definition of the neologism, but doing so is considered proper etiquette.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

From the 773 to the NYC

Woke up on the second day of tour in the Economy Inn of Maumee, Ohio. Maumee is Toledo's shriveled conjoined twin, a clutter of strip malls and floundering economy, steadfastly Republican. It is also a gleaming paragon of the type of raw, uncensored rural Midwestern-ness that after years of being sheltered by the urban ambitions of Chicago and a series of college towns, that I now feel totally alienated by. Now I get what East Coasters say about the Midwest, and I know why they say it. The churches in strip malls, the car insurance places in old Taco Bell buildings, the manager of the Waffle House cheerfully begging us to Have A Nice Day and Live Life To Its Fullest before he ducks out into the rain to go about his business, which maybe will be at the Christian hotel/conference center across the street, but will definitely be somewhere inside Maumee, Ohio, which is a place that offers very little to be cheerful about.
On the expressway heading east we followed a storm front. The clouds were huge, complex, overwrought, even. They made the cornfields and turnpike rest stops greyscale. We followed lighting and rain into DC. Rocked. Got drunk. Rode the front of a cold front up to NYC, dropped Brooklyn down ten degrees and then heated it up from the inside. Danced. Got drunk. Got hit on in the most NYC fashion (on a crowded dance floor, a girl pushed me bodily aside to get to the bar, but left a hand lingering on my hip as if to say, "I know I'm a total bitch, but if you're interested..."), got mistaken for a Stroke. Walked around the LES at 9am Sunday morning, streets and subways all but deserted, everybody sleeping it off.
We stopped for gas and sandwiches in some town in eastern PA. Settling hill folk near a nuclear reactor breeds a rural slowness that makes Deliverence seem more than believable. Added another town to the list of places in America I will never visit again. Maumee's on there too, if you were wondering.
Spent the last hour of 13 driving back from NYC in the front seat with Tim, trading elaborate threats in the voice of Dick Cheney ("...And the last thing you'll see on this godforsaken planet is Dick Cheney pissing in your eye."). Drank some whiskey. Went to bed covered in hand stamps.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Being oppressed.

Happy belated Columbus Day, by the way*. I celebrated my proud and slight Native American heritage by being angry at white people all day.
Work is full of pairs and small packs of 18-yr-old rural Midwestern girls, freshly-minted college friendships. They buy matching trucker hats, overuse the phrase "on crack", plan on being each other's maid of honor. They talk about sororities. You can actually see the adreneline surge of adolescent freedom and terror on their faces as they walk through the city and world that they are suddenly free to do whatever they want to do in, which in many cases what they choose to do with this newfound freedom is to put something around a hundred dollars of discount clothing on their brand new "emergencies only, now" parental credit card. Something around one in twenty transactions I ring up involves the customer telling her friend, "Dad's going to be so mad at me." Significantly less transactions end with a customer who offers to lift me out of this wage slave drudgery that I'm too good for and to support me financially and psychically so I can realize my artistic potential and make everyone in the word swooningly jealous of my talents, but we're working on changing that.

*The American Indian Movement has a super kick ass logo (the pissed-off eagle one at the bottom of their homepage) that they for some reason do not have on a tshirt. If you are a person in the American Indian Movement who can affect merch-related change, please put that kick ass logo on a tshirt for me.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Typical show last night. Got paid in the usual way: congratulations from our friends, a $30 tab at the bar. At least the venue was considerate enough to tell us we weren't going to get paid when we were loading in, and at least the stage lights were aimed right in our eyes so we couldn't see half of the already-tiny crowd leaving during our set.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

All of the shows.

Perfect Panther's going on a micro-tour. We'll be kicking it live at the following joints on the corresponding nights listed. If you read this and you don't go to the show I heard that it negatively affects your credit rating. So you should probably be there.

Wed. Oct. 06 - 8PM - 21+ - BOTTOM LOUNGE
Perfect Panther
Quieting Syrup (ex Denali / mbr of Pinebender)
Robert Cherry

Washington DC
Fri. Oct. 15 Warehouse Next Door
Perfect Panther
The Creeping Nobodies
Barr/Bobby Birdman/1999

Brooklyn, NY
Sat. Oct. 16 downstairs at North Six for CMJ festival. 10PM
Perfect Panther

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

World Class

I don't remember actually exchanging more than four or at five at max words at a time with Fashionable Male, and these decasyllabic convos of ours tally up to something like half a dozen over the past three years. And yet we've had an intricate, complex realtionship with each other in this time that has developed without direct interaction or even exchanging meaningful glances. It's been carried out almost entirely by vibes alone, generated at each other across the bar, using shit-talking to our friends as our vibes-amplifier. It started out as simple contempt, mine for his his painful fashion victimhood and bad hairstyles, his (I'm only guessing here. Vibes carry a rich, layered information stream, but little of it is concrete) for my cultivated languishing-poet vibe and bad hairstyles. I assume he's talked a lot of shit about me. I have about him.
There's one small group of friends that I have that was born from almost entirely from mutually talking shit about him, and when he's not around our conversations are decidedly less animated, more small-talky. The passion just isn't there.
But our bond as enemies has mellowed and matured in the smokehouse we call the bar. We are comfortable with it. I'ts familiar. A couple of weeks ago I was doing drive-bys on different hipster bars, fliering for an upcoming dance party. Fashionable Male was at a fashionable bar, seated in a booth with a couple of my friends. I gave my friends fliers, paused, and set one in front of Fashionable Male. He looked down at it, picked it up, held it in front of his face for a second, then placed it back in the same spot on the table he had picked it up from. But face down. I can tell you, with every bit of drama-club respect I have gained for Fashionable Male, that this man is no ordinary street-level dick. With that one simple move he proved that he is truly worthy of the term World Class Asshole.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The names of things.

I'm doing some internet research for an art project, and in the process I have learned that Asian Black Metal bands are geniuses in the department of naming a band. Insanity Of Slaughter is a personal favorite. Unseen Darkness is a blazing icon of ESL semantic trainwrecks. Burger Kill is beyond amazing.
Our bathroom is stocked with an off-brand toilet paper from the cheapy convenience store down the block (the one that apparently decides the hours that it's open any given day by a roll of a twelve-sided die) called Beyond. For days now I've been pondering what it could possibly be beyond, or where beyond here it is supposed to transport me.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Operation Taking Care Of Business In The Respect Of Making My Bedroom Look Less Like The Dwelling-Hole Of Someone Who Obviously Has Some Depression Problems went down like a shot of Jim Beam: there was some burning, but now I feel much happier. For the third time since I started living on my own I have a real and actual bed. My last bed met with a rather sordid and ignoble end. This one, for better or worse, appears to have a long life ahead of it. Updates will probably not follow.

The reaction is like for one fraction of a second you want to tear out your eyes and then the eyes of everyone else on the planet.

If you're looking for a moment of frustration in its purest, most absolute form, might I suggest scratching your Disc 1 from Led Zeppelin's How The West Was Won right at the very, very last everyone-all-together-now downbeat right at the very last moment of "Black Dog". Right where the whole 5:41 wraps up and you and the audience in 1972 expect that final closure beat, and instead you get a little digital *scriit-it* and the crowd going shit-crazy over the micro-moment you missed.
You can borrow my copy if you want.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Caught Ssion last night. What used to be your average gay-kid-and-two-girls-in-animal-costumes-singing-along-to-a DVD-of-glamourclash/way-off-Broadway-pop-tunes-with-insane-animated-visuals kind of project has now turned into a full-on rock band. Like Rock And Roll. Cody's in Bob Dylan alcoholic hobo drag doing his best impression of Darby Crash's best Iggy Pop impression, and the statuary backing players blues vamp accordingly. I can't tell yet if it's better than the old Ssion, and I probably never will. I'm also not entirely clear on the current Ssion's statement or joke, but I laughed along a lot anyhow.
Cody's three best moves of the night:
3.) Breaking character from his mock-drunk, pratfalling, antagonistic Rock Singer persona to deliver a sincere and giddy "thank you" to someone who gave him a cigarette.
2a.) Writing a song with a three-minute "Hey Jude"-style "na na na na" outro that goes into a five-minute two-note bass solo that goes into a four-minute "na na na na" reprise.
2b.) Playing this song in front of a sweating, anxious mass waiting all the time less patiently for Gift Of Gab's set.
2c.) Throwing beer at these same people.
1.) Reclaiming Darby Crash as the gay icon he never was.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Sometimes you're just born with it.

You'd figure after something like 10 years of living on our own, that Zach and I could avoid situations like these. Spending the afternoon recovering from last night's overindulgance of drink and this morning's overindulgance of pirogie, neither of us capable of anything more than alternately internetting and sprawling on the couch reading the latest installment of our neighbor's cat's subscription to Maxim. You don't learn this kind of idiocy; you have to be born with it. I'm punishing our stupidity by putting current Maxim covergirl Avril Lavigne (she likes drinking, hates people getting up in her face) on iTunes. Loud. The acoustic version of "Complicated" is our penance.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

A reason.

From Deaf Nicaraguan children create the world's youngest language
The most inspiring thing I've read in forever. No misanthropy in the world is strong enough to stand up to the image of a child making poetic sign language to tell the story of Babar going to the city.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Current playlist:

Metallica Master Of Puppets
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell
Elliott Smith From A Basement On The Hill
The Eternals Out Of Proportion
The Dirty Things Movement Making Noises
Van Morrison TB Sheets
New Black s/t
Vietnam The Concrete's Always Grayer On The Other Side Of The Street
Bob Dylan Bootleg Live In 1975

I used to be called DJ Innocent Bloodshed.

SUN. 9/19/04 (10:00pm)
The Empty Bottle and Muy Romantico present HOTT/NUTTZ featuring:
DJ Yves St. LeRoc
DJ Coco LeRoc
DJ Champagne James
It's actually called HOTT/NUTTZZ, but the double-Z at the end is a little too hard for anyone to comprehend, so we can forgive the inaccuracy.
The basic thing is that it's me and JR and maybe Hopper if she gets back into town in time, and probably Ben Fasman on deck, working up a hot, sweaty vibe of funky white kids getting crunk somewhere between the Dirty South and Madchester.
You should come. I promise rare Sonic Youth and the new Lil' Jon track with the Ozzy sample.

Monday, September 13, 2004

How do you get a job only playing in supergroups?

To Live And Shave In L.A. played downstairs tonight. With-it advertising agencies should take note that, given the amount of high-end AV recording equipment and cutting-edge sneakers present at the show (grungy Andrew W.K. fans clutching disposable cameras and an earnest belief in the transcendent power of The Wolf close to their hearts notwithstanding), attendees of pretentious noise band shows are a lucrative demographic. Personally, I prefer the trashier To Live And Shave In L.A. 2 to the original, but I'm not much of a market share.
Yakuza opened and kept it gully: bad hair, dreadlocks in unexpected facial locations, real evil saxophoning. The closest a metal band has come to truly Lovecraftian mind-fucking in a long time. If you are a metal band and you have candles on stage and you personally carry your candles on and off the stage with your gear yourself, you are guaranteed a place in my heart.
In between sets Zach and I came up with a convincing theory about how The Lost Boys is an allegory for the Doors. Jason Patric = Jim Morrison, Corey Haim = John Densmore, Keifer Sutherland = acid, the Jim Morrison poster = the Snake, the grandpa = dead Indian. Think about it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I almost forgot it was twilight.

Every Elliott Smith fan will hear From A Basement On The Hill for the first time under their own circumstances. The album drops two days before the one-year anniversary of his death, and an informal poll shows that solitude and drinking are two popular elements in their plans. I chose headphones + the sidewalks of an interminably autumnal Chicago + an all-day hangover + romantic entanglements gone snarly for mine. I walk around and listen to half the record and I do what I do to every Elliott Smith record since Elliott Smith, which is be disappointed by it.
"I think what people don't allow bands to do is change," Jason Black from Hot Water Music told me in an interview a couple of weeks ago. "I'm not even saying change as a band, but as people." It's a trait I hate to see in myself, but I do. When you have someone whose songs gather meaning with every repeat listen, with every memorizedlyric, you don't want them to change. Sometimes there's someone that makes songs like that, and you love them in a passionate and meaningful way that you usually only see in teenagers latching onto the music that will define them for the next couple of years or the rest of their life. It's because of how much the music means to them, because of its potential to effect the rest of their lives, that teenagers are always the first to yell "Sellout!" at any artist's new album.
So I listen to songs where baroque arrangements and intricate pop sensibility are replaced by guitars that crash and swoon, hooks that swing wild and direct, production ideas that sounded like an artistic indulgence on "Happiness" turned into overall album-spanning concepts. I listen to half the record, then fall in with a bunch of drinkers. I put it on pause.
The next day I wake up and pick up where I left off. I skip track 8, "Ostriches & Chirping", which is actually just a track of ostrich sounds and chirpings, and I get "Twilight". Every Elliott Smith album has the opening song that's overarching and huge and sets the album's tone and theme, and there's the grand closing number, and somewhere in the middle there's the song that's the one that you put on when you come home drunk and alone or suddenly sober and not alone, the one that is your own personal jam, where criticism falls by the wayside and nothing exists but you and him. The Elliott Smith you don't want changed: the sad and confused troubadour talking just to you, telling you that how sad you feel is exactly how sad you should feel, that he's there being torn up and romantic just like you are forever and ever, whenever you need him there to do that for you. The guitar that sounds simpler than it is, the melody that's simpler than it seems, the late-night-phone-call vocals, lyrics that don't fuck around in making tragic mountains out of tiny dramas. Elliott Smith at his most archetypal. Suddenly the record makes sense. I think of people that I've seen drunk and crying in public, the moment that emotion overwhelms sense and they just have to let it out in its rawest and most desperate, scariest form. From A Basement On A Hill sounds, more than any of his albums, like the work of a man that has to, has to, make this music and say these words or else...or else what?
We all know how the story ends. Tragic poet in life, tragic poet in death, knife in the heart, dying in just the exact way that we feared and secretly (even to ourselves) hoped that he would. From A Basement isn't his last gift to us. It isn't the last, belated line to a suicide letter. It's not a closing chapter or a portrait of Icarus just above the waves. "Don't go down," he says in track 4. "Stay with me / baby, stay." If anything it's the scribbled poetry of someone who's risen and sunk again and again, only to find himself finally on solid ground and, as shaky as it is, determined to stay on it for however long he can.
I spend the next couple of days in front of my computer letting the songs sweep me away again and again. There was a man once who invited the twenty or so people that showed up for his concert onto the stage to sit with him. He sat at the bar and smoked Camel Lights with me for hours and showed up the next morning, eager and stunned by the morning sun and ultimately vunerable, at the coffee shop where I worked to get the free breakfast I promised him. "This is not my life." Track 6, "Fond Farewell". "It's just a fond farewell to a friend".

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Back to the valley.

Last weekend I went to the reception for a wedding ceremony held on an island off Michigan's western coast for two of my oldest friends and a small boat's worth of immediates. Their relationship has never been the kind that's decorated with romantic fanciness, so it was as surprising as it was touching to hear them talk about how much in love they are, how neither of them can imagine life without the other. As they stood in front of us, telling each other the reasons that they've spent the past seven years inside this massive love of theirs, even Morgan, who had never met either of them, was close to tears. I know I was. Recalling in the middle of this hugely deep thing the time, five or six years ago, that I walked into the living room of my house to find the man currently acting as MC for the event prone on the floor with a vegetable-oiled carrot up his ass on a dare, almost ruined the moment. But it didn't. About the carrot and ass thing, you have to understand: Kalamazoo's in a valley. Humid air collects there, and so does boredom.