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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Topsail Island, NC (Part 1)

Day 1 

Funny how the drunken stream of consciousness discussions eb and flow. Debates over Christina Hendricks breasts versus Dolly Parton. The discipline it takes to care for and smoke cigars. The age old question of what percentage of straight men take yoga, and become yogis? The music we all choose speaks to our behaviors. My friend from Charlotte has gone native and brings country to the mix. Makes sense, would not be a surprise if he had a gun in the back of the truck. Turns out I might like it too. I trust him so that makes it all more credible. Other friends play the Police and like Amos Lee. How am I not going to get behind that? Now, we plot on one friend remaining fish less all week. We dissect how he can continue to fail while other friends bring in fish like Popeye. I would love to take a picture of someone pulling in a monster fish and smacking fish-less friend in the face. Boy that would be funny. Childish, silly nonsense. This was a very good day. Doesn't hurt the little one told me "Daddy, I had a really great day.". How many times have I heard this sentence this year? How many will I hear it again?  Guinness, sunshine, perfect weather and perfect companions. A family in need of relaxation. And finding it.

 Day 2

By the second day thoughts and conversations turn to why don't we live down south and when can I get here.  The pro and con lists come out. We have lived in the Northeast forever. We work in the greatest city on Earth. Our daughter protests it when we mention moving to Brooklyn. What would she do if we told her we are moving down south?  No more friends you grew up with. No more same school. Nothing but change. And for what? People who say hi when you walk by them? Lower cost of living and an unmeasurable reduction of stress. Cashiers who look you in the eye and actually want to help you. Yeah, that would really suck. I'm sure I will be loving the north more tomorrow morning when I head out to the golf course. This is really not the my thing. Gotta rest up so I don't embarrass myself.

 I did happen to see Chaz Bono is a participant on Dancing with Stars. Will he lead?   For the first time I am compelled to watch. I do hope the image does not give my nightmares right now.

Day 3

Made it to the golf course and managed to make it 18 holes.  I like the idea of golf.  It is indeed nice to get away for a few hours, enjoy nature and escape.  The hitting the white ball hundreds of yards in an  attempt to put it in a hole...  I am not as big a fan of.  I managed to have a hole I was putting for birdie on and chipped in another shot.  Overall, a much better experience than it had to be, or was in years past.  Feels good to un-think for a while.

We managed to have an excursion to Wlimington, NC last night.  Nice town indeed.  It reminds me of Savannah, Ga and probably many towns that call themselves Atlantic Ocean "port" towns.  Had a tremendous meal at Crow Hill (  The biggest problem I run into during vacation is the excess.  This has proven true yet again.  Lots of food and drink the first part of this week.  Does riding the waves burn calories?  Surely the 100 yard walk from the house to the beach is a workout?  Sometimes there is a large beach bag and (2!) chairs!!  A real struggle, I know.

It is a good week so far.  Now, we debate what to name it.  We wonder to one another if this week is different from the norm.  I question whether we would be able to stay with 4 other familes?  How about one other family.  This is in many ways a sociological experiment.  5 families, each from different areas and from different backgrounds, together in an oversized house for 7 days.  Well, in some cases 5 or 6 days.  I could acknowledge we were here Saturday before 3 other families, but I won't.  Hurricane Irene would not stop us!  Figure it is worse in NJ now anyway.  Only reason I know is because work help is non-existent so I am all too aware.  God forbid my colleagues or boss could help out a bit in our absence.

I digress...  I was writing about the sociological event we call vacation.  One of my older friends and his girlfriend, dog.  His friend (and wife/teenage son.)  Their friends and young daughter.  Our friends and their twin 8 year old girls and 2 year old boy.  A microcosm of middle America.  We have all had moderate successes but are very much worker bees.  And yet we coexist without issues.  Strike that, the dynamic is comfortable, easy and downright pleasant.  We have meals together, but also time alone.  We congregate at the pool and on decks.  More often than not we laugh.  It is a rare gift to count one good friend in your life.  How fortunate am I to have the folks here, right now?

Last year was the 1st effort and obviously it was a rousing success.  We are here now and are planning round 3.  Topsail has probably been eliminated for a repeat visit.  Funny how the scorecard is filled out.  More bugs here, house had no AC for a day or so, not bike riding friendly, no one has caught a fish, etc...  Probably trivial to most...  but it all matters.  So they scouting will continue.  Although I am partial to Hilton Head, SC.  That would be a hard sell I think.  In which case we effort to do it ourselves.

We named last years vacation "Leave It."  That was the command use to train their one year old puppy.  As you can imagine, with a bunch of depraved degenerates we thought the expression had far greater (and numerous) meanings.  The early favorite for this year is "Mommy, what's wrong with Frank?"

This was the exchange that occured after 3 year old girl watches 2 year old boy bang his head repeatedly off his pack-n-play.  Naturally, she looked at her mother and asked the question.  Nevermind the boy's name is not Frank.  We love it because, like "Leave it" its meanings and usages are endless.  We already cast the Lifetime movie.  Valerie Bertinelli is the mother.  Kiernan Culkin is Frank.  We worked up the trailer:  "In a world, where academics are all that matters, and the class separation grows wider, one boy set out to make a difference.  With help from his mother they challenged the system until the tests came back positive.  And everyone was asking...  "What's wrong with Frank?"

And what is wrong with all of us for finding such joy in the absolute absurdity of it all???  Not a damn thing.  Bring on the communal dinner!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

So this is Vacation?

I don't even know where to begin.  We will make an attempt to head south tonight with all indications there is NO WAY we can check into our North Carolina vacation home tomorrow.  My wife in particular did not want to go away this coming week but the house we wanted was not available last week.  I take full responsibility for this and apologize.  Let the record state we will never vacation the week prior to Labor Day.  If we do, it is only because we had several other vacations planned during the year.

It does not help that we have no less than 6 jobs installing next week so the Ipad, laptop, smartphone, etc... will never be too far away.  Truth be told it might be the best thing in the world if all the electronics wash away in the storm and we come back to an empty lot.  Granted, we would feel bad for our cat, but she has had a good run.  Actually, she would probably make it through unscathed and continue to keep us awake at night with her deafening yells.  I would imagine those screams would be much harder to take in a tiny two bedroom apartment (our next option.)

In any event the car leaves around 6pm tonight for points west.  Perhaps we stop just inside the Virginia border.  We had always planned to break the trip up so have yet to deviate from the plan.  Tomorrow holds the greatest questions.  Do we head to our friends place in Charlotte?

Christ where the hell did I leave off???  Started this post about 3 hours ago and now we are T minus a few hours away from going, to who knows where??

All I want is a week away.  All we need is to get the hell out of New Jersey.  I am tired of the NYC skyline.  Tired of the Pulaski.  Tired of the 6 train.  Tired of mistakes made by vendors and apology emails.  How exactly did it spiral so out of control?

Now a freakin hurricane wants to take a post Indian food dump all over what promises to be a good week.

OK, that was rough.  But man, can there be any justice here?  Anybody have cheap Northern Virginia/Northern NC day trips should we not be permitted into our home tomorrow?  How about if the house disappears into the Atlantic altogether?  Thoughts?

The open road awaits.  78 W.  81 S.  77S.  95S.  All very much unknown quantities.  Good to see the panic is in full swing here in NJ too.  Grocery stores were out of water.  Liquor stores were jammed like New Year's Eve.  Can a brotha catch a break one time?  Is this really all my doing?

And will the little one give us a break during the endless time spent in the car?

I am going to try and remain positive.  Even though it hardly sounds it.  WE have our health.  We are fortunate enough to be able to take the time.  Whatever happens out on the open road and, we hope, our destination, will make for fun, excitement and a break from the routine.

We must trust that shelving can be installed without us babysitting.  Freight will arrive on time and without damage.  Quotes can wait a few days before being sent.  Life, as we know it, will all be there when we make it back North.

And, when we return, we blow it all the hell up.  Because this is really not a healthy way to live.  We need to get out of this house.  We need to work better and more efficiently.  And if we are going to be busting our ass this hard and really be this "needed" (my wife far more than me I readily admit) then we should be compensated accordingly.

Too much to ask for I am sure.  But as the Avett Brothers say so beautifully...  "Decide what to be and go be it."  I have them in mind as they are from North Carolina.  Of course they are in Europe during Hurricane season.  Smart.  Bring it on week of 8.27.  No need to fear anything anymore.

Nothing can stop us.  Except of course everything.

Stay safe East Coast!   I have the Ipad, Imac and smartphone.  Gas tank is full and hotels have been located.  Tune in all week to see if I make it out alive.  Find out how much a man can push his wife and child before they turn and retreat for a better life.

The soundtrack will go something like this:

Aforementioned Avett Brothers tune...  Amazing song and amazing video.  Inspiring and beautiful.

Deerhunter "Nothing Ever Happened"  Sad I missed them this time through NYC.  Will not let it happen again.

Ryan Adams "Lucky Now"  New happy music from Mr Adams.  Can he be as successful without the anger.  I have no doubts.  Keep doing what you are doing Mandy Moore.  It seems to agree with Ryan.  Arguably the best songwriter working today.

Wilco "I Might"  Ok, Jeff Tweedy writes great stuff too.  "Its alright, you won't set the kids on fire, but I might."  Indeed Jeff, you just never know do you???

Cut Copy "Need You Now"

Foster the People "Houdini"

Songs of Summer so far...  will it be enough to get me/us through.  How much Katy Perry/Pitbull/JLo will I have to listen to?  Godspeed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Earthquakes and Hurricanes

It has been a while.  We have sent the daughter away to Camp Grandparents so we can (JOY!!!) work our asses off before vacation this Saturday.  I know I shouldn't bitch but I am staring at (2) straight 12 hours NYC days.  I realize this is far from the worst thing in the World and I do intend on enjoying the City (like I did yesterday) prior to leaving tonight.  In fact, my hope is to enjoy it sooo much we miss our Tuesday therapy session.

I had tix available to Deer Hunter at Webster Hall.  Maybe I can do that?  Or a movie?  Dinner?

Wait, it might very well be End of Days.  Do I effort to get out of here and see my little girl?  After all, folks in my office, including my wife, felt an earthquake that had an epicenter hundreds of miles south of me.  She called me as I was walking downtown in a frantic state.  "I think we are having an earthquake.  The building is moving."

How do I respond to that?  I was walking the streets 20 blocks south and things couldn't have been nicer.  I was watching 2 cabbies fight over a fender bender oblivious to this development.

That is the fear of working here.  We are both 75 miles away from our girl and who knows what could happen here.  Maybe a natural gas explosion or terrorist attack takes us down?  Now I guess earthquakes are in the mix.  Nevermind the constant threat of terrorism.  Does it make me feel better that Libya has fallen? How about the 10th anniversary of 9/11?  Nope.  These are all daily reminders that working and playing in NYC are increasingly dangerous choices.  I just keep telling myself I could bite it anywhere.

Headed to North Carolina this weekend and I keep reading about Hurricane Irene.  Not gonna let her stop us.  Truth is I could get hit by a car in my tranquil little suburb later on tonight.  Or maybe have a heart attack next time I lace up my sneakers on the basketball court.  That would actually be the most exciting my game would look in about 20 years.

I do fear the days when my wife and I are both in the City.  What would happen to our girl should we both perish?  Is it fare to both work in the City?  Selfish?  The whole point of this decision is to provide her with all the opportunities we never had.  For now all we can do is hope for the best and trust in the fates.  It is tough when she emails you from afar telling you she is scared and worried cause she just watched the news.  Vacation has to be better than this.

In Other News:

The Earthquake took DSK off the front page.  And that angers me.  And don't get me wrong, this guy is a scum bag and I really don't have much credibility to defend him.  But if he went through all of this and NO charges are filed how will he ever be vindicated??  What about his position at the IMF?  His chances of running France are now gone?  He is out thousands, if not millions, in lawyer fees and costly apartment rentals.  And for what???  Will his accuser be convicted of anything?  What, if anything, will she lose?  It is an absolute injustice that this ever made the news in the first place.  Even worse, I am stuck defending a Frenchman.

I cannot on the other hand defend the hikers who were detained in Iran for unknowingly crossing over their border years ago.  They received an 8 year sentence last weekend and I for one do NOT care.  Hikes and the outdoors are terrific and I myself happen to enjoy them once in a while.  This much I know for certain:  there are about a bajillion places on this Earth (and this Country for God's sake!!!) that are beautiful, worthy and safe to take a hike in.  The Iraq/Iran border is not and never will be one of them.

How about some unprotected sex in Amsterdam's Red Light District?
Maybe you prefer a swim in the Seychelles wearing a chum covered bathing suit?
Perhaps investing in Lehman Brothers is more your speed?

All of those things are better choices than the 3 folks who decided they should go extreme hiking.  And if they are indeed spies shame on them for getting caught.  As a Country we can do better so let them do their time and think twice about their actions.  Ok, it will be more than twice cause who knows the horrors of an Iranian prison.  Know what?  I will never know because I will never be anywhere near there.

Got plenty more to say but I am sure locusts and/or frogs might be falling from the sky at any moment.  Wonder how they will get along with the mouse that lives in our office?  We have joked he moves the fastest out of all the workers here.

What a freaking life this is.  It is decided, we need to have some fun tonight.

Hope you do the same.


So funny listening to Mayor Bloomberg recite his press release in Spanish.  It reminds me of Michelle Bachmann trying to speak English.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Week in review and Download "G"

Slowly recovering from an end of year softball party we threw last night.  Anyone interested in left over burgers or dogs?  Cupcakes and/or cookies?  After several years of hosting we never seem to get things right.  We either have too much food or not enough.  Clearly, as I look at a fridge full of meat that could feed my neighborhood, I would rather error on the not enough part.  Oh well, least everyone got their drink on and had fun.  Weird to still be in bed by 11 though.  I was just getting going.

A few things on my mind before I head into the letter G.  First, I am anxiously awaiting the Port Authority's vote on proposed toll increases today.  More and more each year something, someone or everything and everyone, is making it near impossible to work in NYC.   At what point do I just take a barista job down the street and try this writing thing full time?  How can I be expected to pay $15 to come into the City via car?  Where is the money going?  You better believe New Jersey Transit, which freezed their rates this year, will follow suit and raise their fares accordingly should this pass.  $11 one way will probably be more like $14 too.  And for what?  Perpetual tardiness, surly conductors and the worst passengers on Earth.  Either we move into NYC and cram ourselves in a studio apartment or we shove off to Topeka and live like royalty.  My belief is the middle class is no longer welcome in Morris County, NJ.  A shame really, cause I kinda like it here.

And enough please with the bashing of Obama for taking a vacation this week.  He has clearly been unable to get much done while working.  Perhaps some time away from the vitriol and poison that is DC might do him some good.  We all need him well rested and awake for his final few years.  It can't be any worse.

By the looks of his opponents you all better get used to him anyway.  What exactly is the Republican party's objective here?  Bachmann?  Perry?  Romney?  This is not a political murderer's row.  And why are they so insistent on bringing faith and morality into the fray?  I grew up in and was educated under the harsh Roman Catholic school system and as far as I can remember I was taught to embrace the separation of church and state.  What will it take for that fairly basic (and essential) paradigm to once again be the standard?  I don't want CNN anchors asking folks their position on masturbation and/or gay marriage.  I don't want my candidate holding prayer rallies where NBA teams play.  I want sound minded, fiscally aware and responsible men and women to lead.  A Friend told me Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's radical idea this week and I am smitten.  He penned a letter to CEO's around the country to stop donating to politicians until the debt crisis is solved:  Radical right?  So freaking simple and effective that it would work.  But will the CEO's do it?  Probably not.  At this point everyone is in someone's back pocket and/or trying to get there.  How do we move forward with this as our standard?  We don't.  We need a total overhaul and destruction of our system.  It cannot however include a party with faith as its backbone.  We all perish for sure should we continue to rely on faith to get us out of this mess.  Too bad Warren Buffet is a bit old...  I would support him for our highest office in a New York minute.


As I wonder how many of you really listen/look at the songs/artists I present I am going to keep this short.  Also, the letter G is a bit of a challenge for me.  Sure I could go into a long Grateful Dead thing or  the Go Go's.  True, they are both hugely important.  More important that Gram Parsons, Grand Funk Railroad, Gato Barbieri, Gnarls Barkley, Glee, Gary Wright???  Maybe.  But I am gonna focus on one of the bands that moved me away from the rock canon and into new alt, Gomez.

I am still stinging from them canceling their show a few weeks back.  Really?  Singer can't sing so you can't perform?  Fail.  But back in the mid-90's their sound and smarts fell a bit under the radar when Oasis and Dave Matthews were dominating the charts.  I urge you to take a closer look.  I will grant you their past few albums are softer and bit more bubble gum than their early work.  Even Paul McCartney has his misses...  "Silly Little Love Songs" and "Say, Say, Say" anyone???  Trust me on this one folks, these Brits are fun, infectious, and full of hits.  To wit:

"78 Stone Wobble"   The first track/video I heard of them.  No turning back after this.

"We Haven't Turned Around"   I could do the research and confirm this was in the brilliant "American Beauty" but I should really get to work today.  Love this song.  Pretty, haunting and sung with great emotion.  Everything I am not.

"Revolutionary Kind" 

"How We Operate"

"Get Miles"  This song has been played on countless films and tv shows...  namely House MD during House's drug induced trip.  They open with this sometimes and it sends chills up my spine.  Enjoy this live version.

"Nothing is Wrong"  Another great live version of another great Gomez song.

"Devil Will Ride"

"Options"  New single from their latest LP.  Not as great as their earliest stuff but better than Pitbull or LMFAO, right?

Finally, since it pertains to my condition right now:  "Hangover"

This is a small sampling of an impressive catalog.  I am very much hoping they get back on the East Coast when healthy as they are one of the better live bands I have seen.  Here is hoping you get on board.

Quick Hits:

Gerry Rafferty:  Drunken, down and out Scot layed down some of the defining songs of the 70s.  He is missed but his songs live on forever.

"Baker St"  Also, maybe the best Baba Booey song parody on Howard Stern.  This is a weird, weird "live clip" from a 70s show.  Creepy.

"Right Down the Line"  It was you, wooo-man.

Guster:  Boston alt rockers who have had a nice career meshing catchy licks with smart lyrics.  Groovy, charming and fun.

"One Man Wrecking Machine"  Video is funny too.

"Satellite"  Will always have a special place for me since my daughter loved this song a few years back.  Nothing like a 5 year old singing along to Guster to put a smile on your face.

Finally, sometime this weekend this blog will get its 10,000 reader/view.  That is assuming the stats and figures Blogger keeps are accurate.  Granted, 9000 might very well be my family, I am still very thankful for the continued support.  I understand there are many, many things you could be doing with this 5, 10 minutes of your life.  That you intentionally read through this and maybe even tell a friend means a great deal to me.  Thanks again and please provide any and all feedback you desire.  As Sandra Bernhard says, "Without you I am nothing."

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Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Music and video for you to like (or not)

On a bit of a tear here...  wrote two pieces for another outlet (again, unpaid) and still feeling motivated.  Had some thoughts on a music piece as summer and songs are vital to my survival.

I wanted to do a "things I can't get enough of" piece and ask for responses.  I know, I won't get any.  But anyway, here it goes, in no particular order, the best of everything.  Stuff I can watch/hear/get absorbed into at any given moment.  Please feel free to add your own.

First, ta word from our sponsers.  Take a look at this WPIX break from the mid 80s featuring the great anti-pills ad "This is serious, we can make you delirious."   Go to about a minute and a half in...  classic:

And while we are on WPIX please take a look at some Magic Garden with my two favorite milf hippies...  Carole and Paula were so hot.  And a little something from the chuckle patch...

Boy, I can get sucked into a PIX tangent...  maybe Wonderama next?

Back to the music...   Cannot avoid, and am really not trying to Dawes song of summer "Time Spent in Los Angeles."  Here they perform it, real well, from Letterman in June.  Wilco, meaning Jeff Tweedy, are quite simply amazing.  There new album is weeks away and the new single, "I Might" gives you a pretty good idea what to expect.  You guessed it, goodness.  Foster the People's "Warrant."  The third time I posted it and folks, it ain't cause Jani Lane died and my mind is focusing on Warrant.  They opened with this last week and I was so hooked by Mark Foster's ebullience I became a believer.  Commence name calling, I can take it.

OK, that's enough, I have feelings.

Feel real bad for Portugal, the Man.  Heard there van was stolen at Lollapalooza last weekend.  They found the van days later, but all their equipment was gone.  Like their music, but some concert tix or merch, and get em on the long road home:

"Do You?"
"People Say"  This is a special song.

Ok, let me go put my daughter to bed...

(5 minutes elapse)

Well that was easy.  And stop judging!  I took her to NYC today (she had some fun) and she was reading while I wrote.

Others on your radar should and WILL include:

Cage the Elephant.  Country kids who can rock out.  Itching to see them live.  I give you "Around My Head" because aforementioned daughter finds it appalling and amusing at once.  

Squeaky clean Euro's Two Door Cinema Club have had come on like wildfire.  No wonder.  Take a look at these pop gems.  "Something Good Can Work."  Tremendous bass line and quality vocals.  This is a good band.  "What You Know" offers much of the same...  and that is a good thing:

A few other notables that can't seem to escape my frontal lobe:

Grouplove: "Colours"
Naked and the Famous: "Young Blood"
"Punching in a Dream"
Young the Giant: "My Body"

Seems like plenty.  And I know I could do this through the night.  Can anyone introduce me to more?  That is the beauty of all this.  What is obscure for me is mainstream for many.  Let the sharing begin.  If you want to send me your email I can send out Spotify invites and get it moving.

The revolution will be heard.  And Mark Oliver Everett will be our savior.  Too much?

Ok, but you gotta admit Eels rock.  I leave you with them since there show in Williamsburg last month is a stand out!!

"Fresh Blood"
"Not Ready Yet"
"Hey Man, Now You're Really Living"
"Losing Streak"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Curse of Comfort

Seems I speak out of both sides of my mouth, and often.  On one hand I have trouble with the vast majority of film and television.  Yet, at the same time I waste countless hours watching the same things over and over again.

Could I have found something else yesterday rather than watching Fantastic Mr Fox for the 10th (conservative estimate) time?  How about Friday when I got sucked into A Mighty Wind again?  I think I might have watch about a half hour on Saturday too.  Saw Good Will Hunting in pretty much its entirety the a few weeks back.  "You like apples?  Well I got her number so how you like dem apples?"

Sad really.  No one needs to say that movie more than once.  And here I am sucked into a mindless vortex I fear I may never recover from.

Seinfeld will do the same thing to me.  Puffy shirts and smelly limos...  Masturbation contests, recycling adventures and shrinking Yankees uniforms.  Who knows how many times I have seen them?  Short answer: too many.

Not like I was much better when I was younger.  Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family episodes were known verbatim.  This has to speak to an advanced idiot.  Someone able to totally escape for minutes, sometimes hours, on things experienced over and over.

Do I not want to challenge my visual mind as much as I say I do?  Why then is it different for music.  I would not dare listen to the Stones Exile on Main Street tonight.  I have heard it and respect it, but have simply moved on.  There is the rock cannon I feel very comfortable with.  You need to know Abbey Road.  You should have a good idea what Zeppelin 3 is all about.  The Who, Clapton, Dylan, Bruce, The Band, et al should be in pocket and familiar.

If Godfather or Godfather 2 show up on tv tonight I am hooked.  Same time frame as the above rockers, but I cannot look away.

80s brought us U2, Midnight Oil, Madonna, Tears for Fears, more Bruce, Hair Rock, Eric B and Rakim, Whodini, et al...  And I love it all.  But I cannot listen to entire albums from those folks.

Ferris comes on later, or Some Kind of Wonderful, Caddyshack, Stripes, Kramer v Kramer, Mad Max, Blade Runner, I could go on forever...  I will be watching.

Why the disparity?

Why is it all I wanna do is see live music from new bands?  And why am I done with large venues?  Shouldn't someone in my advanced age want upholstered seats high above the stage (and headphones?)

I had some damning thoughts at Cut Copy last week.  Never mind the kid next to me who did not know who Weezer was.  No, my thought was maybe I have turned into the pony tail wearing d-bag I always goofed on.  But if I cut my hair now does that man the whipper snappers won?  How am I the bigger d-bag?

Such troubling questions.  Thankfully I will have some dreadful repeats of something I have seen over and over to fall back onto tonight.  Maybe I just embrace my inner (read: outer) idiot.

In the meantime I do like some good music.  Take a look:     Foster the People "Houdini"  Foster the People "Warrant"  Naked and The Famous "Punching in a Dream"  Naked and the Famous "Young Blood"

This seems appropriate to...  The Thrills "The Curse of Comfort"   Please excuse the OC clip.  It was the only video of this song I could find.  What happened to these guys???  And what happened to Mischa Barton???  Truth is the first season of this show was very good, except for Peter Gallagher's eye brows.  Am I really to believe Andie McDowell and Laura San Giacomo both would have slept with him in 1988.  The more I think about it "Sex, Lies and Videotape" might be the most overrated film made.  And really, what has Steven Soberbergh really done since then?  He does have some badass glasses that I wish I could find.

Finally take a look at Clem Snide...  cause he is cool and this song was the opening theme for the classic NBC dramedy "Ed."

That is all.

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For the record the little one is discovering "Wayne's World."  Odds I get sucked in?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Have you been Spotified???

I broke down and purchased the monthly plan.  Should you want an invite I could provide one.  It is a remarkable service and I strongly recommend it.  You are able to create and share playlists.  You can download and listen to just about anything ever recorded.

Crazy, sick, innovative and hopelessly addicting.

Rainy day in the Northeast so this is the perfect day to get on board.  I hate to be their shill since they are doing fine by themselves, but this might be the best way I can share all the music I write about to my reader(s.)  Conversely you could share playlists with me.

As I have no concerts scheduled for (gasp) 3 weeks, I need a new fix.



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Waiting for Superman and The Help... not too different really

It had occured to me not too long ago that for someone who writes about pop culture I certainly see too much crap!!  My concert experiences have been pretty solid the past year or so, namely The National and Caveman.  However the movies and TV I have seen continues to disappoint.   Hell, I know I saw the Oscar winning best picture last year but I can't for the life of me think of what it was right now.

I am late to the Mad Men TV phenomenon and am slowly catching up on Netflix.  But does anybody really enjoy True Blood these days?  Are we all just grasping at straws thinking this is Sopranos reincarnate?  I mean really, were-panthers, witches and fairies?  Give me something I can use, please.  And I am sorry, Anna Paguin is the worst actress working today.  

This weekend I was able to get back on the winning side thanks to two very different movies.  The first, Waiting for Superman (, is a 2010 documentary about America's terribly lacking public education system.  Now, before you jump up to defend it and tell me how wonderful teachers are, let me stop you.  I agree, teachers have a most difficult job and are far too under-appreciated.  That said, the unions and bureaucracy that make it near impossible for incompetent teachers to be dismissed HAS to be changed.  The Feds oversee the States.  The States oversee the Counties.  The Counties oversee the Towns.  By the time the teacher enters the classroom student X stands very little chance.  More to the point, student X from inner cities has very little chance.  Much like the rest of the country, more affluence equates to greater success.  

The argument for higher crime in areas like South Central LA, Detroit and the Bronx leading to poor education has been turned on its head.  We can now correlate the failures of our education system to the rise in crime in these areas.  The name termed to describe troubled high schools is "Drop out Factories."  Send a kid through elementary school unprepared and within a year or so of high school they are on the streets.  Small wonder we are seeing flash mobs turning from cool dance routines to violence, right?  What chance to these inner city kids have?  The cities that gave us significant industrial advances are now known more for crime than achievement.  What do you think of when you hear Dayton, OH?  St Louis?  Detroit?  Do they make tires, beer or cars anymore?  If so, at far smaller scale and probably with poor quality.

And Asia continues to move ahead.  And India.  And everywhere.  This is a service industry nation, and we do that with such an easy ineptitude I wonder why we even bother.  We are entitled and too good to take menial postitions and/or work in fast food.  Yet, we bitch and moan when hungrier folks risk life and limb to come work here.  To further illustrate that point take a look at Alexandra Pelosi's Citizen USA which recently aired on HBO (  Her film examines folks from several countries become US citizens.  Their love of our country is unconditional and real.  They are hungry for a dream they still view as attainable.  When you see the two films side to side it is hard to discern if both films take place in America.  One is strikingly optimistic while the other realistically pessimistic.  I suppose the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  I plan on showing my daughter both films in the near future.  She needs to understand just how lucky she is (or reminded...  this as she and my wife purge her room of a mound of unwanted and unneeded clothes and toys.)

She did happen to join us for a matinee of "The Help"( this afternoon.  This is a perfect film for an inquisitive and alert child.  Also, a bit perfect for someone unaffected by race divide and/or class struggle.  Although, given our house can fit nicely in some of her friends living rooms I think she has some sense of class struggle.

The film is based on the 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett.  It takes place in Mississippi during the early 1960s.  Long story short (and this film is long...  @ 137 minutes) young graduate (Emma Stone) returns from college and takes a writing job.  Her educated world view is significantly different than her peer group.  Blacks, in her mind, should not be segregated.  They should not be forced to ride the back of the bus.  And, to this end, should she want to interview the maids of Jackson, MS to find out their innermost thoughts it should NOT be illegal.

Well, this formula has been played out dozens of times previously and with mixed results for sure.  "The Help" works mainly because of some fine, fine performances.  Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer shine as the housemaids strong enough to take action against their captors.  Stone is a bit out of her league as the nerdy but headstrong writer.  This has as much to do with her antagonists (Bryce Dallas Howard-frenemy and Allison Janney-mother) being far more polished actresses.  

Either way the story is told very well.  And, although fictional this story is enveloped in facts.  White folks treated (and still treat) blacks as inferior.  White folk have a tough time admitting mistakes and/or wrongdoings when it comes to said injustices.  White folk fall into two camps these days...  those who wish to forget this awful time in US History and those who wish it never ended.

Good to show my 9 year old that this time in history wasn't too long ago.  I was pleasantly surprised when she realized the context during the film and recognized MLK Jr was alive.  "So this is what he was fighting for dad?"

Indeed.  And in many ways he would still be fighting it.  I can see him on Washington marching for better education in inner cities.  I can see him imploring fathers to stand by their families rather than shirking their responsibilities.  I can see him asking himself "What on Earth went wrong?"  He would still very much have a dream.  Only this time it would be many tiered and near impossible to fix.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Night in Brooklyn, Foster the People and Cut Copy Edition

I am gonna be all over the map here so please bear with me.  Or maybe you can ignore it like just about everybody on this planet.

It starts with a friend writing of my obnoxious, ubiquitous Facebook post from last night's concert in Brooklyn:  "Hey, you are the Lester Bangs of Morris County."  True enough I would later learn.  You see, I was so oblivious I had to research the name before my rebuttal.  Take a look should you be as uniformed as I am/was: .  Mr Bangs lived for music and seemed to find his calling following and writing about it.  I can dig it.  I cannot dig his accidentally overdose close to my current age.  Fact is, standing at a show with like minded fans, absorbing and letting loose for a few hours, is about as good as it gets.  Last night, under the most perfect weather conditions, proved my point.

Brooklyn's Prospect Park looked like a different venue altogether from my June visit.  Gone was the rain and our tree that we camped under hour after hour.  Turns out you can get close to stage.  There was a totally different concession stand with hot food stage right.  Oh, and there was Foster the People and Cut Copy.

9 piece Brooklyn band Midnight Magic actually started the proceedings.  I would quickly say they had super talent and a big, brash sound.  But it was sooo disco and Donna Summer flashback for me I was a bit taken back.  Let's just call it a context issue and perhaps under different circumstances I can get into it.  Or not.

Foster the People on the other hand have something I am very much interested in.  Formed a mere two years ago by Mark Foster, Mark Pontius and Cubbie Fink this LA band has exploded onto the scene.   I was hearing different things from reliable sources who have seen them live prior to last night.  It was up to me to decide if they were contrived Left Coast MGMT wanna bees or a legitimate threat.  Threat indeed.  As Foster took the stage and coyly stated "If you had told me a year ago we would be standing here opening for Cut Copy I would have thought you were crazy."  That "awe shucks" nonsense disappeared quickly as they rolled into "Warrant" from the debut album Torches.  Foster prowls the stage with confidence and sings with conviction and glee.  Alternating between a falsetto and deeper register comes as easy as switching from keyboard to guitar for him.  His supporting cast does much the same.  The lowlight of their 45 minute set was the big hit "Pumped Up Kicks."  At this point who cares. I was wanting to hear the stuff I was unfamiliar with.  And each song was more lively and fun than the previous.  They put on spirited renditions of "Houdini" and "Helena Beat (the encore)."  The rest of the album sounded terrific and even in a setting that was probably not ideal for the band, I came away impressed.  When they pulled out a spot on cover of Weezer's "Say it Ain't So" I was sold.  So what if the kids next to us did not know who originally recorded it.  Really?  I am so old that Weezer is classic rock for the kids at these shows???  The 90s is that far behind us.  Excuse me, when I was 21 I knew about all the bands that led us to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, et al.

Foster and mates have an unbelievable upside and I am counting myself as a firm believer.

The headliners, Cut Copy, did not disappoint either.  A few things to note before I get to them.  Well, not really about them, but about the scene.  Without getting into too much detail let's just say there were many short shorted men and/or skinny jean wearing, tight shirt sporting, "twinks."

It's cool.  I am Suburban Man and I am as tolerant a human being is.  As we drove home from the show the Carpenters came on and we all agreed that they make Cut Copy look like GWAR or Megadeth.  This is a soft, soft band.

And I find it highly entertaining.  These Aussies have been at it for about 10 years.  The mission is pretty clear.  Dance and techno beats with enough energy and smarts to move your body.  Make no mistake though, this is Dan Whitford's band.  His tall skinny frame behind the keyboard cannot be ignored.  Once he starts singing or dancing (much like his Aussie fore father Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil) the stage is his.  And he can sing.  His voice takes you back to Manchester 1981 with a touch of late 80s LA.  Wang Chung/Danny Elfman/Thompson Twins are all some of the bands that came to mind watching him have it.  Whatever he was selling my young, liberal brothers were eating it up like sales at American Apparel.

Having been familiar with only their latest LP Zonoscope I was anxious to hear how it played live.  The answer is darn good.  Highlights were the opening song "Take Me Over" and "Take it From Me."  This is glow stick waving synth goodness.  Drummer Mitchell Scott, guitar/sampler Tim Hoey, and bassist Ben Browning round out this talented group.  I take slight issue with the sampling, but there is such care and precision from the band I can overlook more than say, Wye Oak.  Witford is very commanding on stage too.  His exhuberance is so contagious it is hard not to get caught up in it.  There is a NJ show in a few weeks (  I am tempted to check out.  Take a look at that link as the promoter does a nice job explaining their sound and recent keys to success.  I wonder what this band looks like in an indoor setting?  Limelight circa 1986?  Do I own shorts short enough?  As I went into the pit last night I thought it was funny when a friend texted me "You gonna leave your wife for a guy?"  Um, no.  But I will not back down!  Music is meant to be experienced and enjoyed.  Cut Copy brings it all.  If only that same friend had eaten dinner and not gotten fall down drunk maybe I would have seen the encore.

But hey, what's a concert night without parking on Canal St to vomit or having a Little Italy restaurant whip up a brick oven pizza for the ride home or waking up your friend to tell him we are dropping his wife off and he will have to go get her car from the train lot?  Par for the course I always say.  Anyone want to join us next time???  Lots on the agenda for sure:

The National in Philly, Caveman in NYC, Widespread Panic in Brooklyn....  See Live Music!!!

Additional Notes:

Canal Street and most of Chinatown is NOT NYC's shining moment.  We had the luxury of parking on Mott St and drive a bit south of Canal trying to revive our drunken soldier.  It was the first time I saw a rat trolling the street.  And he was bigger than most squirrels.  It looked very much like a Scorsese film circa 1976.

Celebrate Brooklyn is super cool.  The summer long music and art fest does all it can do to promote the borough.  Last night within the theatre we sampled goodies from The Farm on Adderly ( and Ample Hills Creamery (  I love that all the merchants are from the area.  I love it more that they are all great!!

I happen to get a very good feeling when the roadies bring the bands beers on stage.  It is at that moment I know the show will begin.

There was a buzz and/or electricity in the pit moments before Cut Copy appeared.   They have a very rabid following and I had not felt that energy in a long time.

Ace Frehley's "Back in the NY Groove" should be played before every NYC show I ever see.

Highlights from the show should you want to take a listen/download:

"Warrant" from Foster the People/Jimmy Kimmel appearance  Perhaps here you can appreciate how young they are.  This also gives you an idea of how they play live.  They opened with this and grabbed my attention immediately.  This is also about the same scale as Prospect Park.   Please stay with it...  they have about a minute and a half intro.  I am thinking a straighter version of Scissor Sisters.  Or MGMT's little brother.

"Take Me Over" by Cut Copy from Coachella a few weeks back.  They opened with this and set the tone.  Great percussion work and the bass line is rock steady.  Witford's voice is indiscernible from the album track.  He is a performer on the top of his game.  Do any of you have as much fun doing anything in your daily life?  And he will be getting loved by thousands again tonight in Philly, then the next day, etc...  Also, funny reading the youtube comments on this post...  exactly how I feel.

Jealous I am.  Least I have my reader(s)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Best Laid Plans

A few months back we were rained on for 2 hours or so watching The Decemberists perform in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.   Although they rocked and the overall experience was pleasant, I felt a do over was required.

Enter this evening's event, Foster the People and Cut/Copy.  The weather is great and since it is an early start 6:30pm, it would appear mission accomplished.

Until my wife takes on an impossible illness and may be laid up.  As she heads to the doctor I have several options.

Head to the show with my sister and friend and trust she will recover with much needed rest.  The guilt will be enormous.  Dare I post a picture on Facebook showing the scene exclaiming "Perfect night for a show."  Perhaps I could have a beer in the frame rubbing salt to the wound?  There is no possible way I could enjoy myself under this scenario.  Maybe with significant inebriation I might.  But since I am driving I really can't do that, can I?  Hmm, now more moral dilemmas.  Ok, right, I can't do that.

Bad enough I feel guilty not taking my 9 year old.  I accidentally mentioned she was off to Mema's so mom and dad can see a show.

"Who are you seeing?" she asked.

"Umm, Foster the People and Cut/Copy" I hesistantly responded.

"What?!! I am the only who turned you onto that band."  And yes, she used the phrase "turned me onto them."

"Yeah, I know.  Sorry it is not all ages."  I told her, not sure if that is true or not.  Should she be going with us?  Now all of the sudden I am looking for shows she can go with, preferably before summer's end.  Could I possibly sit through a Big Time Rush show?  Talk about needing to be inebriated!!

The other option is going all "Weekend at Bernie's" on her.  She has been trapped in bed for days, coughing with fever.  It's probably a virus or infection that has not affected anyone else.  Fresh air might do her good, no?  Bring a blanket and picnic snacks, lie down in the wonderful park, and take it all in.  Not like I am gonna be in the pit dancing around with a glow stick.  This is chill music.  Grab a spot next to my older, granola eating friends and relax for a few hours.  She will have the finest driver on the East Coast taking her to the front entrance.  A few hundred yards away lies an outdoor therapy center.  Feasible, right?  I might even throw a Hawaiian shirt and cheesy mustache on her.  Hell, I bet I could probably get Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman to meet us there.

Time will tell.  She feverishly texts me work questions as she catches up from the doctor's reception area.    I know the room, awful magazines!!  Is it that hard to have 4 quality subscriptions in an office?  9 out of 10 offices I enter are worthless in terms of literature.  8 out of 10 are worthless when it comes to their fild of expertise.

Bad I haven't named the 3rd option?  Elephant in the room?  Not going at all.

Hmm, I guess that's an option.  But I could barely find my 4th once a friend bailed on us.  No way I find 3 folks in 3 hours.  And truth be told I would HATE eating $150 bucks.

The clock is ticking.  Thank God our fearless President decided to visit Lower Manhattan tonight!  It makes things so much easier to navigate from Jersey to Brooklyn.  I have said it often but it bears repeating:  President's should never come to NYC!!!  Especially when I am there!!!

No clue where the night will take me but pretty certain I will be entertained.  Will it include any of this:


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summertime Blues

It hit me a little bit during the past hour or so.  Writer's block.  I have had a nice little run the past few months but today, as the rains wipe out the swimming party my daughter is attending, I am in a bit of a haze.

I think the main thing isn't the endless softball nights, or work days in the City.  Rather, it is the constant schoolwork and other obligations my daughter is consumed with.  I am wondering if she, like me, is becoming overwhelmed.

She slept til around 10 this morning and after a nice breakfast I have to put this little girl to work.  She has a tutoring service ( that requires she do daily math worksheets.  As she is a lot like her father we find it IMPERATIVE she does not fall behind in math.  More importantly she needs an overall confidence builder.  The more folks tell her she can't do it she believes it.  I was unaware this trait was passed down from the generation before it.  Of course she objects to the work and fights it every bit of the way.  I bribe her or tell her how important it is in her development.

She does not want to hear it and who can blame her??  This is her vacation after all.

But wait, there's more.  She has about (30) math assignments on line that have to be complete by 9.7.11 (the first day of school.)  This is a mandatory requirement from the school.  It goes without saying the assignments grow more difficult as the summer goes on.  The questions jump from 10 to 15 too.  I can appreciate the need to keep pace, but it is still tough to pin her to the computer for schoolwork.  This is a girl who is using Spotify to hear songs from artists as varied from Miike Snow to Selena Gomez.  Her playlist these days goes something like this:

I am curious when I am going to be asked what a "menage a trois" and "hickey" are?  I refuse to edit Katy Perry or anything else for that matter.  I am not going to show her 9 1/2 Weeks or anything.  But I do not see the harm in some profanity and innuendo.  Especially when it comes to sexuality.  We continue to repress and/or not engage in healthy conversations about sex with our kids.  You think this is part of the reason oral sex hardly counts in teenagers minds?  Keep it away from them folks and I can tell you they will be after it the first chance they get.  And stop pretending you don't know what I am talking about.

But back to my point, she can barely indulge in the music and film that I was digging when I was her age.  In fact, 30 years ago I was her age and MTV was hitting the scene.  I think I watched non-stop for months.  Now I am awakened by thoughts of Thomas Dolby, Thompson Twins, Eddy Grant, and Richard Marx (and is it me or did he look like every woman field hockey coach in 1985??)  Those were good memories.  I played with friends all summer long.  I headed out when I woke up, came in for dinner, then back at night for sleep.

What will she remember?  The stress that keeps her up at night wondering if she will finish 3 books before school starts.  We have one down!!  Oh, and we have to finish reports for 2 of them.  I say we because as I mentioned, she is 9!!!

She might remember the softball season that provided her some laughs, and successes.  Not to mention, it  have her a 2nd place trophy she displays proudly.

She might remember the trip to the lake or vacation in NC later this month.

But she might very well remember that this was the year things got real tough.  The window is closing so rapidly on her being a kid.  Will this be the last year she wants to have family movie nights?  Will she not want to sit on the couch with me after a long day and fall asleep in my arms?  How long until I get away with no tv in her room?  Or no cell phone?

She has been "adultified" for years and the majority of that blame falls on my shoulders.  Hell, what do I know about raising a child?  Let alone a female one???  August has a few more weeks in it and I have to start holding on tighter.  Her camps are over and she has been coming into NYC a few days a week with us.  Who can afford child care?  Bad enough it costs about $75 a day to work in the city.  Add in the never-ending collapse of our economic system and you understand my dilemma.

There are a few more weeks where she can be 9.  Somehow we are going to have to navigate through the homework to see it happens.  If not, she slips through my hands further.

That said, I am going to go watch her play at this party before it ends.  I mean really, at some point the 25 girl backyard parties stop too, right???

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tiger, Tiger burning dimly

I don't pretend to be the biggest golf fan in the World. And those who know me well will attest I am perhaps the worst golfer in America. But for the past 15 years or so I was always intrigued when Tiger Woods played on Sundays. He breathed life into the gentlemen's game and polarized everyone who watched. No one took a passive role when it came(comes) to Eldrick Woods. There were and always will be two ways folks view el Tigre. You love him or you hate him. And I am not going to sugar coated because I have heard plenty of the jokes, lots of the haters do so cause of the color of his skin. Sad, but true, so please don't bother denying it. His brash and unapologetic demeanor made it far easier to dislike him. Or in my case enjoy him. The white folk and their presses pants and collared shirts had themselves some difficulties when Tiger was locked in. 14 major tournaments and for a while it looked like many, many more to come. Then it all came tumbling down. I forget which comic said it, but it was brilliant. Tiger ran his car into a tree the other night and a bunch of women came out. It is not an issue that he was not the same soon thereafter. Clearly he had to work through the divorce with Elin. Then he had to rebuild his image, and brand, and finally his game.

It ain't looking good.  And after losing to by 18 strokes and failing to compete on his comeback tournament this weekend, I may be losing faith.

The best part about this, or the worst depending on where you sit, is who won this weekends event.  Adam Scott destroyed Woods and handled the rest of the field to capture the WGC Bridgestone.  This is a tournament Woods had won 7 times previously.  Scott is no slouch.  He has 8 wins including a Tour Championship a few years back.  The beauty here is Steve Williams, Woods caddy up until just last week, was on Scott's bag.  And I happened to catch his post match interviews where he was quick to tell David Feherty this was his "Best Week of Golf Ever!!!"  Really???  Better than the Masters, and US Opens, and British Open's he won on Tiger's bag???  He was so emphatic.  And he kept going once that interview ended (

Tiger's meltdown and fall from grace are more the story than Scott's win.  Williams wanted to let everyone know Tiger was a liar who didn't fire him face to face.  His cowardice is still very much evident and the bravado that made him a great champion is now sorely missing.

Rory McIlroy isn't scared.  Ricky Fowler, in his absurb clothing and un-folded hat, isn't scared.  Lefty isn't scared.  The aura is gone, his body is aged, and I fear, quite logically, that Jack Nicklaus may just kep that record for most major victories.  And although I like some of the players on tour I am far from compelled to watch Sunday afternoons.  AS the final major of the 2011 season is upon us (PGA Championship in Atlanta this coming weekend) you can be pretty sure I will be poolside, manning a grill or getting my drink on unless Tiger is in the mix.

It just isn't as much fun rooting for or against anyone else.  May as well be Tom Kite and Larry Mize out there circa 1987.

Reason I am so bitter probably stems from my allegiance to the worst baseball team EVER, the Houston Astros.  I cannot remember a season where I watched as little baseball as I have this year.  And why should I?  ESPN is once again showing me the tired, played out Red Sox v Yankees game.  I just tuned in and a 1-1 game is in the 6th inning...  nearly 3 hours after it started.  Who can sit through these things???  And why do they bother playing anyway.  They are both about 10 games ahead of the nearest wild card team.

In the NL I am going to expect to see the Phillies (made up of some of the Astros finest ex players) storm back to the playoffs along with notable squads like the Giants.  Boring!!!

I cannot believe I am going to say this, but bring on the fall.  Bring me college campuses brimming with action as football grabs the spotlight.  Bring me incoherent ex-players telling me who is going to win the Bills/Titans game and why.  Bring me men in suits replicating plays on faux fields in LA or Bristol, CT studios.  Bring me Rex Ryan putting his foot in his mouth, and then getting excited about me writing "foot in mouth."

The summer sporting season has been a total bust.  Maybe if our soccer women could have held a lead I might be less bitter.

At least I had some quality softball to watch, with both my wife and daughter.  It made the dog days much more tolerable.  But as the Pink Ladies season comes to an end this week I am very much looking ahead.  Seems pretty clear it will be a fall without Tiger.  One of these years I know I am going to get a fall without Boston or the Yankees.

Picture if you will an Orioles, Royals, Mariners and Indians AL playoff.

Naturally, the NL would be Astros, Nationals, Padres and Pirates.

Right, if I am dreaming I may as well go to sleep.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"F" this

I am still trying to navigate a day that began with a 2(!) hour dentist appointment.  Ugh and then ugh some more.  I understand thorough and as it was my first visit I do like that extra attention was given.  But I have good teeth!!  Half hour and out, right?  I did not even get x-rays.  I think they are a waste unless you are having dental pain.  During my formative years and dental development I was never given an x-ray.  After my dentist finished his cigarette he would give my mouth the once over, use his training to ascertain if more help was needed, and send me on my way.

Today I get questionnaires, tutorials, and lectures.  I am a big boy.  Clean my teeth and talk to me during the examination.  I am as captive an audience as you can get.  And enough of the "your gums are bleeding" routine.  This exchange is best summed up with this classic bit from Dr Katz Professional Therapist.  I can add no more:  As I was surfing I did get side tracked by this clip from Dave Chappelle too.  Man is he funny.  Why did he have to flake out??  You mean Jim Carrey continues to make movies and Chapelle has to be the one starting Charter schools in Africa.  Bad that these things trouble me more than our economy's failings?

I could go on but I must appease my reader and his/her weekly dosage of music.  And although I am still flying from the Eels show last week I will stop myself from recommending more of his stuff.  You either have drank that Kool-Aid or not.  I am hopeful you have.


White Denim is a terrific Texas band with a few albums under their belt.  You can just tell by their raw sound they MUST be terrific live.  I have vindication from a mutual music blogger that they indeed are.  "Street Joy" ( has such rich and complex chords mixed wonderfully together.  "Keys" ( comes off like M Ward overing the Jayhawks.  Good stuff indeed.  They are currently touring overseas but I will indeed keep you posted when they arrive stateside again.  Maybe a March trip to Austin for SXSM??

I wrote a few months ago about California band Young the Giant.  I have to take a closer look.  Their follow up to the rocking good fun "My Body" ( is another tune I cannot get enough of.  Take a look/listen to "Cough Syrup" (  Guitar, Drums and a big voice.  Simple and effective.

Also check out Ray LaMontagne's "New York City is Killing Me."  Cause it is.

The Letter F:

I would be a fool to not start with Fleetwood Mac.  They are simply the finest dysfunctional, California meets England, romantically challenged and creatively brilliant band EVER!!  We all understand how wonderful and successful their album Rumours was.  But with all the fanfare and commercial play that album received I often times head for their follow up album, Tusk.  Put the candles on in the dining room, open an adult beverage and give this one your full attention.  In my opinion it is more polished then its previous record.  The fog has been lifted after all the tumult of broken relationships and in band squabbles.  But it ain't all optismistic.  Some choice tracks:

"Walk a Thin Line"

"That's All for Everyone"

"Sister of The Moon"  This is a terrific live version before the record ever came out.  Stevie Nicks is an absolute gem.  And Lindsay Buckingham is far and away the most under-rated guitarist of the past 30 years.  And my boy does not use a pick!!  I was fortunate to have seen them once and it stands out as one of the best shows I have ever seen.

Staying on the left coast, but a bit much more contemporary and in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, I give you Fleet Foxes.  Pastoral, bearded hippies on a mission I tell ya.  There breakthrough performance on Saturday Night Live made me a believer.  See if you agree:


"Blue Ridge Mountains"

"Grown Oceans" from their latest LP Helplessness Blues

A few notes on Foster the People...  the California band who have exploded the past few months.  Riding high from their hit "Pumped Up Kicks" I see no end in sight to their rising fame.  I am cautiously optimistic prepping for their Brooklyn show in a few days.  I have folks telling me they were genius live and others telling me I will be disappointed.  This I am sure of, their debut album is quite good.

Some notable tracks other than "Pumped Up Kicks" include:


"Helena Beat"

Quick Hits you should have on your MP3

Frank Ferdinand "No You Girls"  These guys are real, real good.

Flaming Lips "Do you Realize?"

Flying Burrito Brothers "Christine's Tune"  Gram Parsons was very much the Godfather of alt country.  Know him and understand please.  Much love to Bookstore Bob for showing me the way!!!

Off to get ready for the weekend.  Enjoy it everyone and thanks again for the support.

Take a look at for my first pay gig in about 20 years.  Become a fan at Facebook:  Or follow me on Twitter @ suburbandad23.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reality TV as Therapy

Leave it to the abyss/wasteland to make me feel real good about myself.  Had a chance to channel surf for about 45 minutes and I feel like Leo on the bow of Titantic.

Hoarders: Buried Alive.

Ice T Loves Coco.

Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Shark Week.

And I will not dare watch the Season 4 premiere of Jersey Shore.  For some reason that show makes me feel a bit bad about myself, and in particular for my state.  I have good memories of Seaside Heights.  Our glorious Aztec Hotel vacations with sandy sheets and paper towels for linens.  Nights spent walking the boardwalk in hopes of winning a Budweiser mirror or tattered concert tee.  The good times if you will.

When I watch these over-tanned, liver poisoning train wrecks it destroys my "wholesome" memories.

This isn't to say I don't get it.

Bruce Jenner was once the most decorated athlete on the planet.  Now he more resembles a male Joan Rivers (tonight spooning chicken soup to his sick child.)  Icky times a bajillion.  Me=winning.

Ice T was once a tough talking gangsta rappa warning cops to watch their back.  Now he is televising 10 year renewal vow specials with Coco on E!  Coco?  What on Earth can I say about her?  I admit, I was transfixed for a good 10 minutes.  Is this really happening?  Does that ass really exist??  People have you seen this thing???   Me=winning.

And what of my favorites, the Hoarders??  I just do not get it.  Climbing over mouse crap and piles of dirty clothes to make coffee is not normal behavior.  Yet week after week this show displays (2) case studies over the course of an hour.  And my fear is if they had the budget and staff they could do episodes every night, of every year, until I die.

Me=super winning.  Sorry, that sounds like dated Charlie Sheen taglines.  But I am being honest.  As sad and embarrassing as it is to admit, we watch this stuff for schadenfreude alone.  How else can we explain it?

Do we really want to know if Khloe and Lamar have a nice marriage?  Or if Ice T can secure Don "Magic Wand" to preside over his renewal ceremony?  Will you not be able to sleep tonight if the Hoarders kids talk to mom again?

Hell no.  You will sleep a bit better knowing there is a bigger train wreck down the street or in the middle of the country.  Goes without saying the left coast and fly over states has more than their quota.  

Ronnie, Snooki and crew don't help our case though.  That is ok.  Delusion and abject failure knows no limits.  Somehow I am comforted knowing I can get off this computer and find it with one tap of the tv remote.  The trick is to feel good without resorting to that.  

You guessed it, I will not turn the tv at all.

With that said I have been mesmerized and energized by the European internet/app sensation: Spotify.  I am not 100% certain how it works and have barely grasped all the functionality it contains.  I do know this: it is the future of music sharing.  Itunes meets Pandora meets Facebook.  I urge you to take a look and solicit your free invite.  I was fortunate to get on board and I can tell you with all certainty there is NO looking back.  In preparation for next week's concert in the park I was able to pull up the catalog of Cut/Copy albums and Foster the People's debut LP.  No need to purchase or download.  I simply type in the artist and it all appears.  Stay tuned for more info once I figure it out but please take a look.

Here is a sample of what you have been missing:

More tomorrow when I take a look at the letter F.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hollywood Hates You and other Smurfing Nonsense...

There was a time, and not that long ago, when children's movies were enjoyable.  And I don't mean the Animated Disney classics, like Pinnochio or more recently Alladin or The Little Mermaid.  I am thinking more Gremlins, or Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Movies for kids a little bit too mature for that Disney hocus pocus but too young for Cujo or Carrie.

Turns out I have a tweener in the house these days.  She can withstand the rigors of Poltergeist and laugh along with Caddyshack, or gasp, Step Brothers.  But she also has a penchant for awful, unwatchable horsesh#%4 no adult should be subjected to.

It was Judy Moody a few weeks back.  It's Big Time Rush or Victorious on some lazy weeknights.  And for 2 glorious hours yesterday afternoon it was The Smurfs.  Sweet baby Moses this piece of crap might be the worst thing I have ever seen.

I cannot in all god consciousness give it an ample review.  Let me see if this works.  Cartoon figures go about their day prepping for the blue moon festival.  Clumsy Smurf naturally sets off an epic chain of events that sends the lovable creatures through a portal to Central Park.  Gargemel and his CGI cat follow them there in hopes of extracting essence from Papa Smurf.  Doogie Howser is somehow married and expecting a child (pre gay marriage bill so it's a woman.)  Doogie and woman take them in and darn it, learn a little something about life and love.

Oh, and Doogie gets the big promotion, is less pensive about the prospects of parenthood, and the Smurfs end up back in their Nether World blue with giddiness.

Somewhere along the line Hank Azaria, Tom Colicchio, Liz Smith, Joan Rivers and Sofia Vergara surrender any bit of credibility they were hanging onto.

Add in the bus full of campers that crowded the air condition challenged theatre and you can see why I give this event a mighty SUCK IT!!!

Not a complete loss as my daughter and friends seemed to have a good time.  Either kids are too nice to say it sucked or just glad they got 2 hours of junk food and big noises.  Not once did my girl tell me she hated a movie.  When does that filter start???  She had no problem telling me my shirt was too small 10 minutes ago.

A few things please.  1) Can we be done with the live action meets animation?  What exactly is the point here?  I can't get to 2nd base with Jessica Rabbit and Smurfs are not having heart to hearts with little blue creatures.  I can suspend disbelief like the best of them.  I was the guy who thought Mr Brady might actually enjoy putting the bookmark in.  Let's keep Smurfette in his forest and Doogie in scrubs.  Never should the two meet.

2)  Enough with the animated characters singing along to popular songs and/or engaging in sing/dance numbers.  The Smurfs incorporated Guitar Hero into the mix which set off D-Bag alarms I had not heard in years.

3) Give NYC a break with kids movies.  I see The Muppets is making it to theatres later this year and NYC is back in the mix.  Joy.  I hate Times Square (and most of midtown for that matter) already.  Do I have to be reminded of more trivial, Hollywood wackiness when I see Grand Central or TKTS.  Let the next adventure happen in France.  Show me the capri wearing, beret donning men getting chased or chasing after some animated rascal.  Or maybe LA???  Des Moines???  NYC has its own problems.  Do we need Muppets, Smurfs or Jim Carrey too????

Thankfully I have some drama to fall back on.  Shark Week baby!!  Friend posted a good one earlier: "They never sleep, they're violent and they have crazy, jagged, fucked up teeth. Sharks are clearly on meth."    I am worried I may have a little one afraid to go back in the water.  But hell she saw me get bit by a sting ray a few years back and went in the water later that day.  Sometimes good to haev a kid with no empathy.

A few other notes...  First, really mixed feelings about MTV turning 30 yesterday.  Especially when I saw this:

I mean, really???  What has happened to Nina Blackwood????

I have grown up with it and it has remained a constant barometer of pop culture.  From Prince and Madonna to Gaga and Kings of Leon.  From Remote Control to Jersey Shore.  It introduced us to reality TV and continues to push standards and boundaries.  

Is it still relevant to me?  Not as much.  And that might be why I am sad.  After all, I am more likely to ask Nina Blackwood about her thoughts on the middle classes role in the debt ceiling debate than if she wants to get X and party all night these days.  Wasn't I just driving my 79 Monza looking for a pick up game yesterday?  Or outside at a keg party huddled around a campfire?

No, I was coaching softball or sending out emails apologizing to clients.  

All good for sure, but the little one was right.  The shirt I am wearing is too small (meaning I am too big.)