Follow by Email

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rules of Summer (Best of June, 2014)

It's not really a summer "break."  In fact, you could argue these days are more aggravating, and fleeting.  Is it easier that your kid doesn't have a set place to be for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week?  Sure, some of you transition your children right into camps that last anywhere from 3 days or until September.  But that is hard work too.  You have to find the right fit, at the right cost.   And then get all the stuff you want to get done while they are away.  Don't kid yourself- that is a deadline.

Work hasn't stopped either.  (more) Deadlines, anxious clients, and the unhinged co-workers you would like to escape from, most likely never leave.

You try to expedite the minutiaa so you can enjoy all that sunshine.  We passed the longest day already, right?  Was it last weekend?  Damn.  The days are already getting darker,right.? I try not to think of November afternoons that darken around 4pm. But they are coming!!

No!  Seize the day.  I even managed a walk before the work day this morning.  Of course, a stranger pushing his infant boy felt compelled to inform me "It looked like I had a rough night."   Thanks random stranger!!

Um, I kinda didn't.  Home early, better than average sleep, early shower, and up and at em.

What is it I look like?  Felt pretty good actually.

the writer enjoys breakfast

Whatever, I'm still gonna rock this bitch.

But wait, this isn't a camp day.  How is she going to be emotionally when she wakes up?  Are friends around or will I have to come up with about 4 hours of activity?  And what about food?  Will I have enough?

The day to day struggles and many joys, aren't going anywhere.  Like all the seasons, summer is about time management and setting realistic expectations.

There are also rules.

1)  Get a third party opinion on your choice of swimwear.  I dig that you are confident and secure with your body.  But there are things that should not be seen in public.  Things you cannot unsee.  That goes for me too.  I plan on wearing the latest Haz Mat bathing suit.

2) Posting pictures.  Refer to rule 1) in particular.  But let's all be extra careful about oversharing.  New locations or the first day of your holiday are great.  We do not, however, need to see every breakfast, or every monument.  It's cool, you are away.  But I don't do the tour guide stuff when I go away.  Watch, I am going away next week and I am gonna be a total d bag over sharer.  *insert band pic here.  * dinner spot  * feet at the pool  * head in sand  * baseball stadium  * zoo/museum  * 3 generations of something  * 99% of people can't watch this video for 5 seconds  * shameless Buzz Feed poll  * onion headline.

3)  While we are talking about the beach, another reminder.  Boom boxes are off limits.   Its hard enough to find time to play music.  Now, with everyone having headphones, you decide to bring the Casio and play the Hits (n)one FM channel.  I would never force my shit on dozens of strangers.  Thats called a party.  And you didn't invite me...  and I didn't show up uninvited.  We are all here.  And sometimes we don't like what you like.

4)  No power tools til 9am.  Yeah, yeah, yeah...  I know what you are gonna say.  "Its the only time the landscaper can come." or "Its my only time off that week."  Probably both fair points.  But I am sleeping.  I get maybe 4 Saturdays a year I can stay in bed until 8am.  I will help you even, like 7pm or something.  Hell, you can pay me and I might have time to do it during the week- ya know, business hours.

5) No fireworks after 11pm.  Or whatever.  Do what you want.

Don't forget to build on your summer soundtrack too.  Iggy Azelea and Lil Jon don't need your help.  They have a young fan base and 30 somethings need not apply.  Take command of the Volvo's dial and check some of these tunes out.  The Best of 2014 (so far) can be found here.  Like the page, connect, join the conversation.  And whatever your quest is this summer make it amazing!

Happy Summer all.


Boy & Bear "Southern Sun"

Aussie Aussie Aussie.  Soft folk rock!!!  Formed in 2009 the South Wales rockers have 2 very successful albums- a World away.  They are making a name for themselves with this 70s California guitar inspired, smile inducing, road song.  It speaks of "waiting for the day/to be able to run."  If that does not define the first days of summer- at least for kids leaving school.

Lana Del Rey "Brooklyn Baby"

It is clear Ms Del Rey is a contrivance.  She burst onto the indie scene a few years back with her debut record, Born to Die.  She appeared on Saturday Night Live.  Critics in the alt world revolted.  It was in part due to her failed pop act Lizzy Grant (her birth name.)  They pointed to her transformation into moody, pout stricken ingenue.  "It wasn't authentic!" they cried.
They might still protest- but her follow up, Ultraviolence, is a wonderful record.  Like Boy $ Bear she borrows a lot from 70s LA- "West Coast" for instance is a blatant "Edge of Seventeen" ripoff.  Black Keys' Dan Auerbach produced the record in Nashville and its hillbilly roots are quite visible.  This song, a goofy mediation on millennial hipsters (yeah Williamsburg, she is talking to you) is just great.  Weird all that transformation works in the pop world (Madonna, Britney, Miley).  But when a girl goes from pop to alt- Fader and Pitchfork be trippin.

Milky Chance "Stolen Dance"

OK, German pop-folk, reggae, electronica.  Maybe that is why I protested this song so much.  After all, it was released about a year ago.  I like it way more than the German soccer team, that's for sure.  They better not win the World Cup!  But man, they are friggin talented.  Like a machine I tell ya.  But who can watch those games and think they are nothing more than WWE Mondays.  Men writhing in pain and grabbing each other for 90 minutes.  Refs who seem in on the joke and pull cards out of their pockets and send them to their room.  Expect them to make fair calls?  HA!!  Its cool the US moved on- but lets be honest, they should have won the damn group.  Bradley's play at midfield against Portugal cost us a certain win.  Then to back in after losing to said Germans.  That's kinda lame.  I.  I believe.  I believe we are still on the outside looking in.  Go prove me wrong!!

Big Data (featuring Joywave) "Dangerous"

I like the fact that Big Data wrote the content of their Wikipedia page.  It might be more original than this song.  Beeps and boops with a catchy hook.  Sometimes that is all you need.

Waters "Got to My Head"

San Francisco rockers who sound an awful lot like Grouplove.  That is all

Spoon "Rent I Pay"

Britt Daniel is a force.  And his Austin band, Spoon, is back!  In August they will release their 8th studio album, They Want My Soul.  That is very good news for those who like guitar music.  Its hard to find these days.  For every Jack White there are a dozen Jason Derulo's and Adam Levine's.  Not putting those guys down, just saying they are way more popular.  Ok yes, I am putting those guys down.  Why are they more famous???

OK Go "Writing's on the Wall"

At this point, Chicago alt-rockers OK Go are more known for their visual work, than they are their songs.  Their latest project, is an art nerd/film geek's wet dream.  They have come a long way from the treadmill video.    Take a look.

Grimes "Go"

Rhianna turned this one down.  Hmm.  Has Grimes lost her touch??  This is definitely a huge lead toward dub step, which should raise eyebrows.  What say you?

Parquet Courts "Black and White"

Post-punk rock from Brooklyn.  Their latest effort brings a bit more horn to the party.  The results are post-punk and ska, as evidenced here.  "Black and White" is an appropriate title.  There is little nuance here.  What you hear, is what you get.  If what you like is power chords, booming bass, and hastily shouted ramblings this is your scene.

Sam Smith Live at Letterman "Stay With Me"

As David Letterman begins his farewell tour it should be noted he has ALWAYS been a champion of the alt music world.  Kimmel and Fallon would be nowhere without him.  It is a big reason I could never take NBC seriously.  You hitched your wagon to uncool folks (Leno?  Really?)  His reactions to artists has always been fun.  Recently he gushed over the Orwells and asked the Dum Dum Girls if they could come back every night.  When Smith performed his mega hit Letterman was left fumbling for words.  This guy (Boy George's doppleganger, right?) can bring it.  What an amazing voice.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What'd I Miss?

Remember back in the 1970s when some do-gooder would give up television for a month and then write about it?

They would take a break from M*A*S*H, Welcome Back Kotter, and Kojak. By the end of the experiment, the spouses would be honeymooners again, and their formerly slack-jawed, glassy eyed children would be speaking three languages and playing chamber music while mom oil painted and discussed Voltaire with dad while he recited Shakespeare's sonnets.

I always hated those people. 

Their smug superiority. Their strident puritianism, like the reformed whore in her starched black dress and Amercian Gothic severe bun raging about sin and virtue.

When I took a month off from Facebook and Twitter I had these schoolmarmy types in mind. And I knew I would return to blog about it and post it on Facebook and Twitter.

So this will not be a soul searching rant about how Facebook and Twitter, in the wrong (my) hands can reduce the entire spectrum of human experience and interaction, like a Shrinky-Dink, into a glowing palm sized rectangle.

Instead, I will say that I learned just one thing:

Sometimes we like to think of ourselves as having a "real me" that is separate from what we do day to day. I think this is an illusion. There is no "real me". We are, in fact, exactly what we are doing at any particular moment.

So, at one moment I am wearing tan shorts and a red shirt listening to my friend talk about how her boss is a jerk and maybe its time to find a new job and while she is annoyed she is also kind of excited about a new opportunity and meeting new people and learn a new business and I am drinking a martini while I stand leaning against the bar with one arm on the back of the barstool feeling the martini's magical cool warmth trickle into my chest....

And at the next moment I am wearing tan shorts and a red shirt listening to my friend talk about hey there's another like on my post with the link to my blog who is it oh its John he left a comment I feel good he liked it i'll like his comment what's that her boss is a jerk that's too bad let me post a quick comment that plays off John's comment ha ha that's a pretty good one if I say so myself wait let me take a picture of my martini and post it i bet David is the first one to like it so she might look for a new job huh hey a tweet awesome "Community" has been renewed for another season I'll re-tweet so glad Dan Harmon came back as showrunner.

I am 45 years old. Statistically, its likely that I have fewer moments, or "Me"s left than I have already used up.

Spend wisely.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Best of May 2014, is anybody out there???

I have been hesitant to do full on concert reviews the past few months.  Let's be honest, this readership either wants to see live music or it doesn't.  If you are in your late twenties and never found live music compelling, than it is most likely not going to click for you.  When you do the math, it's a tough sell.

Drive or train into the busiest City in America.  That, in itself, is a costly proposition- both in time and money.  From the 'Burbs it is an hour on the best day (door to door at least.)  Rarely do you go just for the show.  You have to eat right?  And drink...  boy do you need to drink.  Sounds like $150 to $200 before you make it to the venue.  I am assuming your sorry ass can't find NYC free street parking.  If so, add $20.  If its Midtown double that.

Should you make it to the venue and find the bar, add $10 to the drinks you order.    How does that $12 beer taste?  $20 cocktail?  Little more yummy in that plastic cup isn't it??

Now, get ready to stand with 300-1500 of your friends.  Please note, they are loud, drunk and mostly obnoxious.  Some of them are half your age too.  

Right.  You guys are mostly out of that- why wouldn't you be?  Especially having never been in it.

Me?  I am in it for the long haul.  

I will put up with the aggressive head case calling out song requests.  I love seeing kids trust one another and crowd surf.  Beer on my foot??  Sure, no problem.

Eels at Apollo Theatre.  

Cage the Elephant at Terminal 5 earlier this Spring.  Do get to see them if you can.

The Jam band Dopapod at MHOW last month.  Good times.

For me, it is spiritual.

When the house lights go down my heart still skips a beat.  Watching the roadie duct tape a play list to the ground and setting up the drinks gives me goose bumps.  Hearing my favorite song, like I have never heard it before, provides a smile.  Sharing a moment with a friend who is sensing the same thing is incredible.   Better, seeing your wife or girlfriend embracing the moment, laughing and dancing is like nothing else.

For me.  I get it, not you so much.

Still, it is what I know.  And when the time permits, it is what I find I can write most intelligently about.

Seriously, you want me to talk about College Softball?  Reruns of Louie?  My take on the hostage release or Benghazi?  

I saw Of Mice and Men on Broadway with James Franco and Leighton Meester Sunday?  Yeah, double booked and missed about 1/3 of the eels show at the Apollo later that night.  Tragic.  Quick note about that event.  The Apollo Theatre, and most importantly its staff, were easily the most friendly and accommodating I have seen in NYC in a long time.  The Theatre itself is a wonder.  Like The Stone Pony, which I first visited earlier this year, I am glad I finally entered the place.  That eels, easily my favorite show, played it, was icing on the cake.  

My friend was injured in a freak accident last year and has been wheelchair bound since.  He and I share the same passion for E and his mates.  When we arrived to the show several attendants opened the door, asked if we were al together, did not bother to look at our tickets other than scanning them, and personally escorted us to a front row private box.  Amazing.  

E and his band were in fine form.  As mentioned, we were held up so it felt short to us.  Perhaps the biggest disappointment was Steve Perry's absence.  He had played with E in Minnesota and Washington, DC.   Next time Mr E...  cause you can be certain when you play next, I will be there.

A word of encouragement to my pal DC too.  Many people in his condition would be locked down at home with a "woe is me" attitude.  

Last weekend DC, wheelchair and all, went to Yankee game, college alumni dinner and eels show.  What did you do last weekend???

His path may have taken a crooked road.  But his ambition and perseverance are straighter than most.  
He continues to inspire me and many, many others.  I am now more encouraged than ever that he and I will walk into an eels show in the not so distant future.   Although I will miss getting the VIP treatment his chair provided.  Settle down, he can take a joke too.  

Back to Franco and the his play...  care for my two cents?

I didn't think so.  Do yourself a favor though, watch Freaks and Geeks or Bridesmaids instead.  Start a pledge asking for Meester to be voted out of all actors unions to while you are at it.

Well that's that.  Music good.  Hours in day not enough.  Summer can't get here soon enough- school over for God's sake!  

A summer without a soundtrack is like JLO without an endorsement deal.  The following represent what's on my radar and playlist over the past 30 days.  What will your summer soundtrack sound like?  What is the best of 2014 (so far?)  Any concerts on the horizon?  Festivals?   

Have a great summer all, wherever you are.  Thanks as always for reading/following. 

Baltimore duo Wye Oak

Editors Note:  6.6.14

A Friday afternoon, after a sleepless and restless night.  Funny what can get you going these days.  Last night it was rules interpretations on the 5/6th grade softball field.

In one game, I told the other team they were batting out of order without being a dick and calling them out.  Another time a girl tried to score from third on a dropped strike (you can't steal home in the league) and I had my girl tag her out.  Ump reversed call.  He did not call dead ball so we lose out. 

Finally, girl on first with one out.  Ball hit to pitcher and she goes to first.  Runner on second looks to advance to third so our girl throw a dart to third preventing it.  Girl panics, after touching second base, and retreats toward first.  My thought was she established herself at 2nd so I have my girl once again find her on the field and rage her out.   Other team protests and call overturned, again.  

Whatever, we won in a rout anyway.  But everything, I mean everything, is a fight.  Hell, we are 13-2 now and playing in the semis of a 15 team tri-town league tomorrow.  But I find myself more miffed and frustrated than anything.  Are the kids having fun?  Are they learning??  Why do adults make everything so damn hard?!  

I just passed a truck full of kids who were clearly on their way to the Shore for the weekend.  Maybe they just graduated?  Perhaps they are home for the summer?  

One thing is certain.  They were smiling.  Just like I should be.  My kid is working her ass off and doing well in school.  My wife is amazing.  We have a roof above our head and probably spend 2 grand on organic strawberries every year.  

Every now and then I get a little sad though.  And that is ok.  How can you not really?  Life can be overwhelming, a challenge.  Who knows if we will ever get it right?  This weekend I will try to find some more joy in the World.  

It might be on a softball field, or at a concert hall.  It might be on the couch with the ones I love.  

A June sunset would be nice.  Watching fireworks on a lawn too.  Summer is here.  Time to cut the shit and rock this bitch.

Coldplay "A Sky Full of Stars"

My Name is GTS and I like Coldplay.  There, I said it.  Yes, the Paltrow coupling and un-coupling scores Chris Martin major douche points.  Naming their kid "Apple" doesn't help either.   Only selling their new record at Target gets under my skin a bit too.  But we still sing along to notorious child molester Gary Glitter at every sports arena in the World.  Martin and Company write simple and catchy songs.  He never apologizes for it and damn it I will not apologize for digging it.

Woods "Moving to the Left"

Brooklyn, NY based Woods is a folk rock act in the Wilco, Portugal, the Band, Band of Horses vain.  Gutiar and psych grooves and trippy vocals are abundant here.  They have been plugging along since 2005 and cranked out a lot of material.  Yet another band that has escaped my attention for nearly a decade, until now.  There latest record, With Light and With Love, is a little treasure.  This song is an addictive stand out.

Black Keys "Turn Blue"

Ohio based duo Black Keys are another polarizing band, like Coldplay.  After Jack White ripped into them, that divide has been further lengthened.  His argument, they have a guitar and drummer so they are ripping off The White Stripes.  Oh, and there is a love triangle involving White's ex wife too- sure that has nothing to do with it.    Their new record has a more psych, trip feel to it.  Perhaps Ray Manzarek will come after them next.  Is he still alive?   Anyway, I am not their biggest fan either.  But I think I know what qualifies as good material.

Fear of Men "Descent"

Brighton, UK dream pop led by Jessica Weiss- art student turned singer.  Two things, this drum line has all the tendencies of an early The National song.  Secondly, this song and style has been done about a thousand times.  But unlike Jack White I choose to see the originality and elegance in the presentation.  Could it be 80s Throwing Muses?  2010's Frankie Rose?  You bet it can.  Won't stop me from chilling on the easy chair smiling to it.  "Easy Chair?"  Who says that???

Wye Oak "Glory"

Uh oh.  Baltimore duo- but lead singer/guitar (Jann Wesnter) is a girl and drummer (Adam Stack) is a boy.  Bizzaro White Stripes??  I remember them as headliners a few years ago at a small NYC show that featured Caveman.  Seemed like an odd pairing as these guys relied on computers and overdubs for their live act- and Caveman simply kill it with rock!  They were featured on an episode  of The Walking Dead soon after I saw them.  Now they are back with Shriek, their 4th full length LP.  Here they continue to polish their sound.  The results are good.

Ejecta "Eleanor Lye"

There are two things that impress me a little more than some.  One, the ability to go on stage and perform- especially sing.  Two, getting naked and letting the World see.  Leanne Macomber does both here for her side project, Ejecta (she has performed and been associated with Neon Indian to this point.)  I came for the nudity, but stayed for track-  a celebration of synths and pixie vocals.  Try it without the first.  I am sure that swayed my vote.

Moon Taxi "River Water"--

Granted, this record from Nashville alt-rockers was released last year.  I would ask you grant me some leeway.  Easy going southern rock on the menu here.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Wild Cub "Thunder Clatter"

Another Nashville 5 piece, but way more poppy.  Think Atlas Genius meets Kings of Leon.  Hated and ignored this song for most of this year.  Now, it has got me.  Maybe it will enter your bloodstream too.

Hamilton Leithauser "Alexandra"

Just heard a poor live show from him on Sirius.  His voice was shot, from overusing it no doubt.  How these guys go gig to gig, city to city, without sleep and likely boozing and abusing their body...
Whatever the case I am not itching to see Mr Leithauser live anytime soon.  He has left The Walkmen to release a solo record, which this joyous track comes from.  The voice is quite nice on record thank you very much.

Thee Oh Sees "Encrypted Bounce"

Unsure if these guys are broken up, active, fooling with us...  etc.  California garage and psych rock straight out of Haight-Asbury ladies and gentleman.  Picture an opening credits motorcycle ride through the desert.  Yeah, this will be playing.

Enjoy responsibly.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parenting 101- Is this a pass or fail course?

Good Parent or Bad?  Both??

So it occurs to me we (parents) know too much.  And they (kids) don't know shit.

Groundbreaking, right?

That is, we now have to be cyber sleuths.  Over the past few months my household has been immersed in internet and social media tutorials.  We have to learn what oovoo is.  We have to follow everyone on Instagram.  Worst of all we have to learn the intricacies that are Snapchat.  Images "disappear" after a few seconds?  Could this site be used for anything but evil?  How many genitalia shots can possibly exist in that data base???

There are countless other outlets where kids are "connecting" nowadays.  And before my middle schooler ends high school there are certain to me several more.

This, in addition to the most sinister of all outlets, texting.

A few weeks ago we intercepted some graphic texts intended for our little one.  It was a nauseating, repulsive, and altogether enlightening lesson for everyone.

First, it is now ON.  Well, it was before.  But now for real.

"Do you know what this means?  Do you know what your body is capable of?  Do you know boys are evil?"

All of this and more.

But, does that mean the phone gets taken away?  Does it mean I have to engage the parents of the culprit?  The youth himself?  Should school be involved?  Police?

Um, no.

Kids will make mistakes.  Kids have been making mistakes forever.

What would my generation have done with cell phones?  I shutter to think of some of the nonsense I did at 13 WITHOUT technology.

But I made it home for dinner at 5... and bedtime whenever that was.  My work was (mostly) done.  My rap sheet was (relatively) clean.  My parents were none the wiser.

I was able to look an adult in the eye and say "Yes please" and "Thank you Mr. Smith."

Don't get me wrong, it was a good thing we uncovered the texts.  If nothing else we can better parent OUR kid.

But it is not my responsibility to parent every one else's.  We can only hope our child navigates the would be prep school date rapists and other miscreants.  Our tutorial has started sooner rather than later, but such is life.

The question is, how much monitoring should we do?  Is it more helpful or harmful to be so engaged?

At some point our kids will have to navigate the waters and make mistakes.  Let's be honest, we all did the same shit they are doing- just without smart phones.

Recent data suggests teen pregnancy and abortion are at all time lows.    Does this tell us kids are capable of governing themselves?  Or do we all take credit for scaring the holy hell out of them with our constant hovering?

However you want to keep score, the fact is they may not need our interference.  

Just as we did not need our folks bugging us...  etc...  etc...

Now, will I stop checking her phone?  Probably not.  But when she wants to go a friends house (with boys) or wants to go downtown after school (with boys) I will not be following her every move.  I do not, at this point, want to put a GPS on her phone.

Sooner or later we have to trust.

We wanted the same from our parents, no?

And look how good that turned out.

Wait, what?

Well, back to the drawing board.  Off to coach yet another game because far be it for me to trust someone else watching over her.

This parenting stuff is intense.  How do you all do it???

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why don't I care about Movies anymore???

An Early hero

I Studied film in college.  It wasn't film school mind you.  It was just your run of the mill liberal arts school for lesser minds.  Well, at least my lesser mind.  For whatever reason I had a thirst to learn and double majored and carried max credits.  The English and Sociology majors were neat and all.  But any chance I could sneak in a funky elective I did.   Women and Film and a semester long independent study on Martin Scorsese were academic highlights.  I would spend afternoons catching art films at the glorious Kirby Theatre.  On any given Sunday I wasn't watching the NFL, but hours of hours researching the film canon.  All About Eve into Mean Streets into Satyricon into Wings of Desire.  Brando into Pacino into Kinski into Cusack.  Lots and lots of movies.  My early "writing" career included stints in a college paper and local gay zine.   The movies consumed me and for a while it appeared I might find employment in the entertainment industry.

That was a long time ago.

Now, in the Golden Age of TV- and lets be honest, it is, I could care less.

Is it the overpriced and overhyped theatre experience?  $15 to get in.  $5 for a water.  Noisy theatre goers who do not understand that silence is golden?

Or is it the product itself?  Teenage angst and retread family cartoons.  One Smurf film is too many.   Doe we need three Twilights?  Three Hunger Games?  How many Harry Potter's are there anyway?  I lost count after 2.

Super Heroes or monster remakes- A Spiderman, even with another actor, is still Spiderman.  Godzilla is, I can assume, gonna wreak some havoc before either dying or setting up another sequel if the receipts are good.  X-Men, King King, Marvel whatever...  played the hell out!!

Editing is an issue too.  Judd Apatow has made some good movies within his overrated movies- if only he knew how to splice a bit.  3 hours or so for Funny People.  Well over 2 for Knocked Up and This is 40?  Not needed.  Some scenes don't work.  It's really ok- promise.

The few times I have bought into the hype recently I was deeply burned.  PT Anderson's The Master was a boring turd and clinic on how NOT to edit.  Silver Linings Playbook had an epic third act collapse.  Dance contest?  Really???  Those films are from 2013 aren't they?

I took a look at last years Best Oscar noms and I think it marks the first time I haven't seen a nominated film since before I hit puberty (so, like 5 years.)  No American Hustle.  No 12 Years a Slave.  No freaking interest.

Typically these arts films and award seekers arrive for our consideration from September through March.  Now that there are 10! nominees who has the time to catch them all?  How much time and money is required for such an endeavor?   When it was 5 nominees I suppose I could rationalize it.  

Documentary filmmaking still has some compelling ideas.   But do I need to go to the theater to see opinions on the food industry or war in Iraq?

It is almost June and I have not been to the theatre once this year.  What happened?

Is it just part of the maturation process?  Things change, friends change, life changes.

I used to love NL baseball and then my team moved to the al.  So now I have no interest there either.  The steroid debacle sure has not helped.  I prefer get them on, get them over and get them in.  The subtleties, if you will.  While monster HR's are nice, especially late to win a game, most of the time its the grunt work that leads to success.  A timely walk, a hit and run, or, dare I say, a nicely turned double play.

But I never watched CBS Sunday Morning with such devotion (as I do now.)  Or got my news from the internet rather than newspapers either.

Perhaps it is simply the eb and flow of life and I am simply navigating through it.

It is sad though, that something that I had so much joy for is now simply gone.  And it's funny, I read my favorite film reviewer every Friday.  I am aware of what is out there.  A new Adam Sandler movie?  Ugh.  The start of the summer blockbusters.  Yawn.

What will it take to get me back?  Do I even need to try?

And don't get on me for being stogy either.  Those who read this blog know I love seeing new, often unknown bands.  I am up for unique, and adventurous.

Baseball got too loud, and too explosive.  Bigger is better.  We now keep distances on home runs.

But it's roots lie in deep thought and stoic gamesmanship.  "Are they going to bunt here?"  "What will he pitch on a 2-0 count?"  "How long should we give our starter to get out of this mess?"

While films throughout history have relied more on action and mesmerizing special effects, it too has its roots in silence.  The first movies had no sound and yet they captivated the World.

Today each frame tends to be crammed with loud actors, with loud clothing, pontificating loud thoughts.  No silence.  No nuance.  No imagination.

The Seth Rogen/Zac Efron movie Neighbors exploded the box office last weekend.  It was the 3rd biggest R rated comedy opening in history.  But for me, someone who not too long ago laughed my ass off watching Step Brothers, I am indifferent.

Something tells me I have seen that movie.  And I don't care to see it again.

I can't even commit to all the amazing television there is.  And as mentioned, this is televisions finest hour.  Over the past 5 years I have missed, in its entirety, Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men to name a few.   Judging by ratings, social media and basic pop culture 101 those shows are life changing.

I will take your word for it.

Cause for some reason it has all escaped me.

What will fill this void?  Has it been filled already?  Am I missing anything???

Theoretically I will have more free time as I get older.  Am I getting enough culture?

Something is amiss.  Or maybe everything is wonderful.

I am not certain which, but I am confused nonetheless.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

The World We Live in (and the best of April 2014 music)

Maybe these things should be called "worst" of...

That isn't to say my World and the World around us, is not filled with joy and beauty.  I can sit here and rattle off a dozen things that put a smile on my face.

The green grass, and white buds that have enveloped Main Street.

The first sip of an overdue coffee.

The laugh from your child when she thinks what you said was funny.

My dogs reaction to us returning home.

The smell of hot peanuts on a cold New York City evening.

My wife's head on my shoulder at the end of a long day, or at the beginning of a new one.

Reading something my daughter has read.

NHL playoff hockey.


When the hair stands on end listening to your favorite band kill a song.

A nice pint.

The vicarious thrill watching my middle schooler compete.  Not just sports either-  I mean compete.  She studies to make the grade.  She navigates the social World of school, adolescence and this brutal, unforgiving section of the Northeast.

It's a battle.  But one worth fighting.

But there are times, and boy do I try to ignore them, that I wonder.

For instance, I do a bit of youth coaching.  This year I took over my daughter's schools middle school softball team.  They had not won last year.  I had a bit of success with the basketball team.  A marriage was formed.

It is a terrific group of girls, and easy to root for and attempt to lead.  The season is short, too; it is 8 games and a playoff.  After 2 games we hadn't lost.  Things were looking up.  Before spring break I held one more practice before everyone went to an Island.  We did too, work in Manhattan, but who is keeping score?  Right, everyone.

As the practice ended and we gathered our gear to leave, one of the kids mothers approached me.

"Hi, Im (insert mom name).  How are you?"

Soon I was being told where her daughter preferred to play.  And that she played there "all last year."

Yeah, well, that is not very safe anymore.

Then she gave me the line of the year:  "I was not aware it was merit based."

Huh?  Isn't everything?  If not, what the hell are we doing here?  I can get a bowl cut and be Kim Jung Un's bitch I suppose.  Or I can try and work real hard to get ahead in life.

And you better be sure I am not telling my kid to sign up and expect greatness.  Some kids are not capable to do ONE certain thing.  If we keep telling them to try everything and expect to excel.  And if, for some crazy reason, you are let down or fail- blame everyone else.

My girl is not a scholar.  If I sent her to the math bee and had her school's reputation on the line there would be a lot of unhappy people around.  Most of all my daughter would suffer psychological wounds.

All these kids want is an opportunity to succeed.  We, as parents, need to present options that best suit  them, not us.

There are 30 NFL quarterbacks, maybe 15 that are talented.  Clearly not every kid playing Pop Warner is gonna make it.

Lets let these things work themselves out a bit, shall we?

Nurture skill sets.  Teach them to wake eye contact and communicate with words and complete sentences.  Make sure they are polite and respectful.

Steer them in, what you think, is the right direction.  It is understood that there will be issues along the way.  We can't all agree on things and what fun would that be anyway.

But do we want them to end up like the other story that resonated over the Easter season.

A friend of mine is a City cop in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  He does some serious shit.  Task force stuff.  Buying drugs and making arrests.

Whether I agree with the efforts or not, I can assure you he works hard.  Maybe harder than anyone I know.

We shared some beers a few nights back and he told me of his latest shift.

It was a good one.  He took weapons off the street and made dozens of arrests.  Dozens I said.  1 shift  I said.

As he was bringing one of the suspects back to the precinct house his captive had some chilling words.

"Yeah, you did good tonight copper.  You did good.  I will do 3, maybe 5.  But I'm 23, I will be back out here.  And when I come back, I will still be your worst nightmare."


I have got a pal out there busting his ass and risking his life.

And he is chasing after kids who value NOTHING.  They go to school in Wilkes-Barre to learn how to sell drugs.  Gangs from Philly and New York send their youth there to nine their craft.  Once they learn how to deal with a hard scrabble town of 30k they graduate to the big leagues.

Funny, they have minor league hockey and baseball up there too.  They can only wish to be as successful as the drug trade.

Ok, so that is pretty freakin gloomy.  We are all better than that, right?

We are all going to prioritize and make sound decisions.

Or die trying.  Starting.....  now!!!

In other news, let's keep pushing new music.  The following are the 10 tracks that have caught my attention.  Use them wisely.  On the treadmill, or in the car. or chilling in your favorite easy chair, these songs represent what is hot or at least should be, in all things alternative.  Enjoy.

And don't be scared to share your opinions.  What are you listening to?  What do you love?  Hate?

Who are you seeing on tour this summer?   What is the best festival?  Worst?

Happy Spring all.  Let's all shake off the winter from hell, shall we?
From Fun, to maybe the most fun song of 2014- Jack Antonoff from Bleachers.

Bleachers "I Want To Get Better"

Jack Antonoff is today's "It" alt rocker.  He is on sabbatical from his immensely popular band Fun.  Nate Ruess might get all the headlines from that act, but Jack plays lead and writes his share of music.  He is also dating Lena Dunham, who is herself the "It" girl of TV.  He grew up among privilege in New Jersey and attended exclusive schools including NYC's Professional Children's School (where he took Scar Jo to prom.)  I should probably hate him.  But nope, I root for him and respect the hell out of someone who could come out of that scenario with hit after hit.  And this song, and the video his girlfriend directed, are a joyous romp.

Lily Allen "Sheezus"

A cockney accent, little bit of attitude, and a penchant for talking shit- yeah, I missed Lily Allen.
Here she takes on Lorde, Gaga, Katy Perry and of course Kanye.  It is as much spoken word as anything.  But when you speak "Give me that crown bitch/I want to be Sheezus" you have my attention.  Love it!

Paramore "Ain't It Fun"

Sometimes a pop song just knocks me out and puts a smile on my face.  Maybe it was because Hayley Williams impressed the hell out of me at MSG last year.  Whatever the case, this simple pop diddy (with some gospel thrown in) is infectious.  She said it was written as an anthem of adulthood after her band went through some inner turmoil.  Or at least that is what my 11 year old told me based on her Instagram knowledge.  There are worse sources, believe me.

Gardens & Villa "Colony Glen"

Yes, I am a sucker for synths.  In particular, I dig me 80s inspired synths.  Harold Faltemeyer and Thomas Dolby must be endorsing this track from California "Galactic rockers" Gardens & Villa.

Kongos "Come With Me Now"

I know I heard this song sometime last year promoting a cable show.  Was it Vikings?  Or something else on AMC?  Point is, it is not all that new.  It is gaining in popularity, that is for certain.  Toe tapping arena rock performed by Aussie brothers- yes they all share the last name Kongos (Johnny, Jesse, Dylan, and Daniel.)  A little pedal steel, organ, and wait, is that an accordion??  Totally digging it.

In The Valley Below "Peaches"

LA duo Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob have created a moody, 90s inspired, synth power ballad.  Both kids sing, trading verses and harmonies effortlessly.  Just when you thought you heard the definitive "Peaches" song this thing comes along.  A nice, easy going mediation on fruit, and the feeling one gets enjoying it.
Swedish sisters First Aid Kit have a new record coming out.  Dig it!

First Aid Kit "My Silver Lining"

A few years back these Swedish sisters rocked not only my World, but the alt World as a whole, with their dreamy and elegant debut record.  One wonders how they became so polished, so fast?  Their influences are clearly rooted in 70s alt country like Gram Parsons and their muse Emmylou Harris.  They could sing the phone book and I would be interested.   When everyone these days seems eager to mimic the 80s, 90s or otherwise let the auto tune do the work, these ladies are a welcome throwback.  Hell, the repeating lyric in this first single from their sophomore effort is "Try to keep on/keeping on."  Old school indeed.  And I am very much on board.

Lykke Li "Gunshot"

Another Swedish songstress, Lykke Li will be releasing her third LP, I Never Learn, in the very near future.  This is the third single released and it is easy to tell she is a Stevie Nicks disciple.  Having seen her live it is as much visual as her singing.  She favors dark lighting, long flowing clothes, and more than a little mystery.  When the Fleetwood Mac tribute album was released a few years back she destroyed (in the best way) Nicks' wonderful "Silver Springs".   She will be playing Brooklyn Bowl Monday 5.5 to promote the new album.  Wishing I could be there!!

Real Estate "Crime"

NJ band done good.  These guys are labeled a lot of things, repetitious and monotonous is one.  I for one dig the low key, surf rock sounds they are pushing.  Their latest record is full of god vibes and chill tunes like this one, which is probably my favorite.

Lydia Loveless "Really Wanna See You"

A few years back I stumbled out of a lifeless Tanlines show at Webster Hall.   Before leaving the venue I walked through the Studio (Webster Hall's intimate basement club.)  The evening was instantly transformed by a spirited set by Lydia Loveless.  It comes as no surprise that her debut record is full of life.  This is country rock, make no mistake.  Like First Aid Kit, Loveless herself is a throwback.  Simple lyrics.  Simple chords.  Simple happiness.

Enjoy all!  Remember to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Quiet Please

Will you be able to relate to your teenage child in 10 years?  Can you understand and socialize with twenty somethings in the work place?  Has technology and social media killed the conversation star?

My 11 year old daughter uses text messaging, and Instagram.  There are rumors she is “dating” a boy in her school.  Oh dating in 6th grade…  is there anything more adorable?

My guess is they have spoken, you know, with their voices, only a handful of times.  I cannot envision a World in which she would lock herself in a room and talk on the phone for hours.  I can remember vividly hanging on the phone getting to know a girl.  Who can remember the content?  Probably nonsense for the most part.  But there were real topics mixed in there.  Sometimes it was counseling.  Sometimes you both helped each other navigate your way through adolescence.  There were laughs.  There were tears.

Emoji’s and cryptic texts have replaced phone calls and face to face dialogues.  You can’t capture a sigh through a text.  You can’t hear the pain, or longing of a voice.  There is no subtlety, no nuance.   You think debate club was a skilled group 20-30 years ago.  What about today?  Can you get a kid to look you in the eyes? 

The other night I misread the caller id and told her she missed a friends’ phone call.  There were a few issues.  One, who calls our home phone??  Why do I still own a home phone?  Oh, right, my carrier informed me it would be MORE expensive monthly if I dropped it.  “My bundle package is tied into it.”  What kind of life is this?  Could it really be more expensive to NOT have something??   If true, and I continue to abide by it, does that make me America’s biggest fool?  Seems like a lot of work.

Where was I?  Oh, yes, the phone call.  We fought a bit, and she ultimately relented and phoned her back.  Turns out I read the name incorrectly and her friend did not call.  When that awkward couple of seconds passed so too did the phone call. 


“You called?”

“I didn’t call.”

“Oh, sorry.” 

Click.  That was it.  I don’t think they even said each others names.  Or laughed.  More importantly I do not think they knew how to talk on the phone. Don’t get me wrong.  They are able to talk.  But it’s how they are talking that makes me wonder.  What is being said in person has more power than what’s read smart phones or computer monitors.  Communication is weighted, and the scales are not balanced.

The inability to communicate is a social problem as these tweens age.  Because judging by how they behave at concerts things look pretty bleak.  The past few weekend I was able to attend some concerts in NYC.  They were both weekend shows with a younger crowd.  Without sounding like the crotchety hipster, oh who am I kidding, allow me to be the aging hipster.  At both shows we were forced to move all over the venue to avoid loud and incessant chatter.  Imagine a tiny club and a full set of blaring Marshall stacks.  Now picture not being able to hear the music.  Because that is how it is anymore.  Is this the only time these kids talk to one another?  It’s cool to need a little liquid courage.  But if you don’t have courage outside the bar, who needs you?

Oh, and show a little respect.  People in the audience are there to hear/see the show.  If I wanted to watch awkward, clumsy courtships I could binge watch My So Called Life or a good John Hughes film.  There are a thousand bars in NYC- take your talk there.

Or will that be too quiet?  Too intimate? 

Scary right?  Who wants to talk to someone? 

Well, I do.  But only if it isn’t at my concert.  There are countless social mores in this crazy World of ours.  Many of them are under attack.  IDK   WTH?  TTYL