Follow by Email

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fit at Forty

No secret that in mere months my sorry ass will hit the big 4-0.  It's not a big deal really.   Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows there is zero chance I will actually act my age.  That will become really clear next week at the M83 concert in Montclair.  Nothing says pathetic more than a 40 something bobbing and weaving near stage with a bunch of 18 year olds at a synth heavy Frenchman's gig.

I'm reminded of what my wife overheard in a concert's ladies room not long ago.

Girl X:  "I'm leaving.   There are, like, 30 year olds here."  Hehe.

I likes what I likes.  Age should not be relevant in doing what you love.

That said, it would good if there was a long, productive and healthy future ahead of me.  Which is why, after a brief hiatus I have joined a gym again.  Truth be told a client's harsh words a few months back helped kick it into gear.

Me:  "How are you today?  Good to see you."

Client:  Middle aged Asian woman I had not seen in about 3 years.  She is tiny, maybe 80 pounds, yet looks as if she could bring you down with one quick strike, or worse:  "Oh my God you got so fat!"

No "Hello."  No, "I'm good, thanks, how bout you?"  Arent't those the standard responses to my greeting?  Even if I was, say 10-15 pounds heavier, can't you work that in subtly?  Maybe a drink or two first?

Right into it!  "You're fat.  You look like crap.  You will be dead soon."  Is it too broad a stereotype to suggest Asian woman have as much social filters as say, toddlers?  Is that kind of forthright dialogue progressive and maybe we are all just candy asses?

Least that's what I heard.  I walked the City that day like Terry Fox through Canada.  It was a hot August afternoon my friends, wait, sorry.

You get the point.  That was a hard right cross to my french fry, ice cream, and beer loving mouth.

So I boldly re-enter the world of over tanned faces and spandex.  Three or four days a week (way optimistic schedule that is!) the treadmill, and weights, and steam baths, and smoothies will act as new friends (read:enemies.)

Because the truth is the whole gym thing does not suit me.  No one wants to see me efforting to "jog" 30 minutes at 4mph.  No one should have to!  And don't get me started about my sit ups.  Feeble to put it bluntly.   Oh, and those weights?  The older ladies in spin class can be overheard giggling about them.  "Look at him covering the number on those barbells...  you know they are 20, not 50 pounds."

And apparently a dress code is in effect.  Whatever it is, I don't have it.  Lycra on a man?  No.  Short shorts?  No.  Tank tops?  What am I, Fredo Corleone?  No way I am buying neon sneakers at a month's membership cost either.  Cargo shorts, concert T's and antiquated cross trainer's sounds about right.

Let's not discuss the locker room either.  Ugh!  Bad enough I have to see my naked body on occasion...  Now others??!!!

There really is no other way.  My client was right, in a way.  My weight has gone up.  Add in some thyroid issues that are lingering and the excess pounds pose a real health concern.

But judging by the schedule I keep and my reluctance to "diet" it has to be.  It is rather clear the weight will not come off sitting at home.  That is where the ice cream is!

Another beginning in a life full of beginnings.  Let's just see how it all shakes out.  And no, that is not a reference to the shaking of my stomach!

Boy I need a nap, or a sundae.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Re-Inventing Ourselves

A Facebook comment from a childhood friend got me to thinking. She posed to the online world: "Is it too late to reinvent myself?"

Can we reinvent ourselves?

As I hit my forties, I fell into "The Rut", a pattern of rationalization for not trying new things, while fooling myself that I had a hard-won worldly-wisdom that "every yes is a no to something else, and such is the tragic nature of life" -- all I needed was a beret, a cigarette, and a baguette under my arm to complete this image of the dime-store existentialist.

And I felt an uneasy contempt for people who, in my view, change with the seasons and blow with the wind. I vocally touted and respected those who stay the same no matter what the circumstance or situation, jealous of their "steady as a rock" flinty navigation of life.

Reinventing yourself is the great American myth.

Two of my favorite Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, were masters of reinvention.

Ben Franklin skipped out on his indentured servant obligation to his dullard older brother. Penniless, Franklin conned his way onto a ship bound for Philadelphia by telling the ship's captain that he had knocked up a serving girl. The worldly seaman, undoubtedly in a "there but for the grace of God go I" moment, allowed Franklin to board without fee. This scofflaw reinvented himself as a wealthy printer, diplomat, philosopher, scientist, and bon vivant.

Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies, the illegitimate son of a impecunious Scottish merchant and a bigamist mother. His smarts led him to Kings College (now Columbia University), to the army, to Washington's aide, to drafter of the Constitution, to Secretary of the Treasury (and, de facto, prime minister) before Aaron Burr plugged him at age 49.

The Founders' generation granted us the great promise of reinvention, that "all men are ...endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights...Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Many of us are descended from immigrants who embraced that promise, and came to America, changed their names, changed their clothes, perhaps even changed their religion, and became an entirely new person, an "American". During the Depression, people crossed the country looking for work, moved west (California being to the American East what America was to Europe)and started new lives.

Today the long, wide and deep digital footprint we leave in our wake makes it all but impossible to perform this type of reinvention. And our pop culture heroes reflect our fascination with the idea of reinvention. They are defined by their struggle, and ultimate failure, to reinvent themselves.

Tony Soprano struggles in therapy and gropes toward escaping his mob life through a fantasy family life, blind to how violence inescapably permeates his world. Dick Whitman switches dogtags with Don Draper, and becomes a wealthy advertising executive, but is haunted by the same empty hunger he experienced in his abusive, impoverished upbringing. Walter White deals meth to support his family, and finds himself ultimately not driven by love and manly duty, but by much darker desires for power and domination.

Wait! So what is this ambivalence about reinvention? Isn't reinvention the path out of The Rut.

I don't think so.

I, and maybe you, have the moments when The Rut drops from our eyes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson noted that "Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim."

These "moments of transition" confront us daily - a headhunter's call, a sudden glance or passing flirtation, or even road construction that sends us off the path of our commute.

In that moment, there is a rush of adrenalin, a fresh, crisp, cool breeze blows through our soul. Suddenly, what was a narrowed view constrained by memory, emotional scars of the past, and the dry comfort of habit, is thrown open to reveal abilities, perspectives, or passions that were always there operating behind the crusty, dusty walls of The Rut.

And we learn that we have been living a lie. We see The Rut.

The playwright David Mamet says that "Every reiteration of the idea that there is no drama in modern life debases us."

Mamet goes on to say "All drama is about lies. All drama is about something that’s hidden. A drama starts because a situation becomes imbalanced by a lie. The lie may be something we tell each other or something we think about ourselves, but the lie imbalances a situation. .... if you’re someone you think you’re not, and you think you should be further ahead in your job, that neurotic vision takes over your life and you’re plagued by it until you’re cleansed."

We see that our lives are an ongoing drama, not a set table.

So what of the pursuit of happiness?

In the Founders day, happiness did not mean a smiling, peaceful warm feeling. It was derived from Aristotle's idea of eudaimonia, which means "good daimon" - 'daimon' meaning one's spirit, or soul, or one's essential self. It meant being who you really are.

And, if you read carefully, you see that our right is to the "pursuit", not the happiness.

Maybe our reinvention myth is built on a misunderstanding, a lie.

The lie is that we need to reinvent ourselves. The drama of our lives is the pursuit, to struggle against the lie that we need to reinvent ourselves, and embrace the terrifying challenge to be who we really are.

As for me:

I am starting a new job with responsibilities that I have never had before.

I am starting a leadership role in a religious organization, which I have never done before.

I am working with my co-blogger Hank B to take this blog to the next level.

I have way too much on my plate.

My daimon is very, very good.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Still Fighting It

Ben Folds Five released a new record (hate the title:  The Sound of The Life of The Mind) this week.  Yes, the same Ben Folds that judges singing contests and has produced a steady stream of solo records over the last decade.  He managed to get back with the old band and put out new material.  The results are pretty darn good.  The single, "Do It Anyway", has all the manic energy as their earlier work.  The video boasts The Fraggles (great to see them!!) and Anna Kendrick.  Fun stuff.  Stick around (or fast forward to the end) and watch the cast sing The Fraggles theme.  It is great to see Mr Folds and Co (bassist Robert Sledge and percussionist Darren Jessee) back creating relevant music.  They are especially important to me because they have been around for a great deal of my "adult life."  They performed a free show back in State College, PA in the late 90s as I wandered aimlessly through my early 20s.  They broke up, but Folds music remained a soundtrack to my life.   The new record brought me back to many times.

"Underground" reminds me of playing NBA Jam at the best bar Wilkes-Barre (you know who you are Par 4 Cafe) ever saw.  Mitch Richmond was a beast in that game!!  Auction Chicken and Veal Moose on the menu.   Bold Belgians in bottles.  Endless goofing around, laughing and "wondering who to be."  Immaturity, laziness and abject carelessness spent mostly looking for a quality buzz.  Wasted potential.  Worse, wasted words.

"Still Fighting It" is rocking my daughter to sleep in our tiny apartment and wondering how on Earth do you "father?"  Wondering if we would be able to make rent.  Would I ever get a job best suited my skill set?  What the hell is my skill set?  Guilt and uncertainty coupled with joy and euphoria.    Does that sound like your 30s??  Was it just mine???

"You Don't Know Me At All" featuring Regina Spektor  A more recent track again conjures up mixed thoughts.  Some good, some bad, but all very clear.  Some memories need not be repeated here. 

That is the wonder of music, and all art for that matter.  Seeing or hearing something can instantly take you to a place, a time, a moment.

Now, new material to bring me up to age 40.  And with it new questions, new uncertainties.

Is this house too small?  Can a man with two woman in the house live with 1 shower?  How much could I get for a pure bred Whippet?

Is Private education better than Public?

Is this a Recession or Depression?  Will it get better in my lifetime?  Or more importantly my daughter's?

Will Matthew Perry ever have a career post Friends?

Does the NHL not realize losing a season, again, would be a colossal failure?

How does Facebook make money?  Why does everyone who has an Iphone have to get the newest Iphone the moment it is released?

Does joining a gym automatically make you lose weight?  Is it indeed tougher to shed pounds at this advanced age?

If I go full midlife crisis and buy a convertible does that mean I surrender my hair?  Seriously, what is the percentage of bald men driving Porsches???

Will I ever have to know the difference between a Sirrah and Noir?

Should I take up golf?

When do I pick up one of those days of the week pill holders?  Is this the year I no longer subscribe to a newspaper, periodical?

Should I buy white Reeboks and wear high waisted dungarees.  I'm gonna start saying "dungarees" naturally.

Verbally abusing waitresses and clerks is acceptable at 40, right?  And saying "Come Again" or "Beg Your Pardon" when I can't hear a damn thing.

Lots to look forward to, or not.

And I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm glad to know that music will be right there with me.  Now if someone can find the darn clicker I need to turn it up.

Have a terrific weekend everyone.  And let's all hope Michigan beats ND.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jayhawks and Maps and Atlases double bill, Brooklyn, NY

This past weekend provided perfect late summer/early fall weather here in the Northeast.  Yankee games in the Bronx couldn't have been better (unless of course they were swept.)  Madonna in Atlantic City was probably a wonderful event.  Shopping in Soho... Apple picking...  you name it.  If you spent the weekend inside shame on you.  It was that friggin good.

It was a also a great opportunity to check out the new outdoor music venue, Williamsburg Park in  Brooklyn.  Seasoned Midwestern alt country act The Jayhawks gave a free show Saturday night and the results were decidedly mixed.

The band, still led by Mark Olson and Gary Louris, is very much a professional act beyond capable of rocking and/or rolling.  Problem is this cavernous parking lot just felt odd.  It might of been because of the price of admission, or lack thereof.  People were coming and going as they pleased.  It was nomadic.  Families with children shopped for granola while others talked LOUDLY to the their neighbors.  At its best the crowd was lukewarm and disengaged.  It seemed as if no one really made an effort to go see the band.  It had the feel of a novelty act.  It probably didn't help that they played in the far more intimate Wellmont Theatre the night before.  Those who really love the band probably found it more interesting to see them there.  There was probably a greater police presence than Jayhawks diehard fans.  

Or maybe the folks in Brooklyn realize Williamsburg Park is in itself incomplete.  It's a giant, personality lacking parking lot that happens to have a stage.  And "giant" is not an understatement.  From the food tents at the back of the lot you are easily 100 yards from the stage.  Prospect Park it is not.   The sound was good and the Jayhawks performed their songs well.  The harmonies on "Blue" were pretty darn good and their new material had some nice life to it, particularly the single "She Moves in So Many Ways."  They were affable.  They were tight and efficient.  They were just painfully out of context.  It just felt weird being there.  

Gotye plays Williamsburg Park in a few Saturdays and it will be interesting to see what he thinks of the place.  Maybe his youthful, paying crowd will breathe the necessary life to this otherwise moribund new venue.  

The Jayhawks, now nearly 30 years in existence, were unable to do it.  

Which is why we headed back up the street to Brooklyn Bowl.  We did not know who was playing when we arrived.  Frankly, we just went there to eat and drink.

After a terrific meal (honestly, this is some of the best bar food in NYC) we feasted on the sounds of Chicago band Maps and Atlases.  This four piece formed in 2004 and have their share of followers.  That is, a handful of folks knew some words and bopped around during a song or two.  They are led by beard wearing guitarist/vocalist Dave Davison.  About 48 hours after the set the beard seems to be the only thing that comes to mind.  It is that impressive.  Long, ZZ Top manicured hair that stood out far more than the music.  There were some decent beats and groovy bass lines here and there.  But nothing that came out and grabbed you.  Their T shirts were pretty cool too.  Well meaning kids out living the dream.  That ain't bad.  There are just plenty of acts doing it better these days.  

But perhaps most importantly we were able to secure tix for Men Without Hats, 11.30.12 at the Bowl.  Thinking this would be the perfect 40th birthday event.  Anyone interested??  $10 bucks for Christ's Sake.  Meet there?  Rent a bus/van and party hard??  It all sounds so juvenile and silly that it cannot go wrong.

Hope to see you there.  More details can be found here:  Men Without Hats!!!

Jayhawks, Williamsburg Park 9.15.12

Badass Strobe, Brooklyn Bowl

Maps and Atlases, Brooklyn Bowl 9.15.12

Zargo Machine, Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn Bowl Carnival Art

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Songs that Should Never Be Heard Again (Part 1)

There is plenty of music out there.  It amazes me that new songs are created day in and day out.  Not to mention the catalog/canon of jazz, pop, rock, classical standards  from years past.  Which is why there are some songs that simply need to go away.  These songs have become tired caricatures and should be laid to rest.  Together, we can help make a difference.  Future generations will thank us.

1.  Van Morrison "Brown Eyed Girl"  Van the man has at least two dozen songs that deserve more airplay than this little diddy about a girl and her dark eyes.  The opening chords alone send douche chills up my spine and I know I am not alone.  Well, since the unauthorized clip listed has well over a million hits maybe I am.  Not to mention all the drunken sing alongs overheard at college parties, tailgates and weddings.  But the song sucks.  It did in 1967 and it does now.  Try this instead...  it won't hurt a bit:  Van Morrison "Wonderful Remark"

2.  Lynryd Skynyrd "Freebird"  The quintessential Southern Rock Anthem.  Over long, over played and in a word,  over.  We love these guys and wonder what might have been if that plane didn't crash.  But that does not excuse this mediocre anthem from filling the airwaves over such gems like "Tuesday's Gone" or "Saturday Night Special".

3.  Led Zeppelin "Stairway to Heaven"  Although Robert Plant's live improvs ("Does anybody remember laughter?") are amusing this song is not.  Long, cumbersome and played the hell out.  Yes, Jimmy Page is legend.  Yes, John Bonham and JP Jones absolutely kill it.  But they did all that on just about every record they made.  (Save for "D'Yer Maker" and a few other notable misses.)  They did it with acoustic guitars.  They did it in 3 minutes.  They were incredible.  Take this for example:  "Gallows Pole"  or "In The Light"  Why these songs never get radio play is a mystery.  They make "Stairway" look pedestrian in comparison.

4.  Jimmy Buffett "Margaritaville"  The whole Parrot Head Nation thing escapes me.  Not that Buffett isn't good, as his many loyal fans will be quick to tell you.  It's just this song...  this stupid, stupid song.  Wait, maybe I was thinking about "Cheeseburger in Paradise."  Ugh, that should be banned too.  He has quality stuff, right?  The Hoot Soundtrack was pretty darn good.  Yeah, let's direct you there:  "Good Guys Win"  or "Floridays"

5. Neil Diamond "Sweet Caroline"  So many things wrong here.  Is it written about a child?  Rumors say he penned it for Caroline Kennedy.  Can we tolerate old folks adding lyrics to the chorus "So Good! So Good!"  No.  Awful and cringe worthy is an understatement.  Sing-a-longs are creepy to begin with.  This track takes it up a notch.  It's like writing an anthem about the US no one was asking for.  Oh wait, he did that too:  "Coming to America" 

Let's leave you with some goodness.  It is September after all.  "September Morn"  Now that is how you do it!!

What say you?  Any tracks that need to go away forever?  Are those listed off limits?  Offended?

Who cares?  "We danced until the day became a brand new day."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Changing the Rules (if for one weekend)

All of England is celebrating today now that Andy Murray has won his first tennis major championship.  Congrats Mr Murray on your fantastic summer.  A gold medal in London (satisfying the Queen!) and a US Open trophy in Queens, NY.  Now, we will forget for a moment that Murray is from Scotland.  Does that make him British??  Ever hear Sean Connery say he was from England?  He's a Scot, right?  So was Mike Myers in So I Married an Axe Murderer and as "Fat Bastard" in Austin Powers.  Scotland has its own identity, right?  They have like, their own kings and stuff, don't they?

Can we claim an Puerto Rican as American when, say, they bring home a batting title in the Major Leagues?  Can my lily white townsfolk march in the Puerto Rican parade next summer?  It's confusing.

Murray is a deserving champion and yesterday's match against Novak Djokovic was nothing short of a masterpiece.  As was the women's final Sunday afternoon which saw Serena Williams (American, right?) beat Victoria Azarenka.  All four finalists showed grit, determination and raw power.  Serves were in the hundreds of miles an hour.  Forehand winners looked as if they were shot out of a cannon.  The game has moved so fast they frequently refer to a camera to judge line calls.  We cannot expect glasses wearing folk to make correct calls when balls are traveling so fast.  Throw in some rowdy New Yorkers, dusk, heat, etc...  and you get the point.

It's a matter of time before players are serving into the 170 mph's.  Worse, someone (probably a linesperson) is gonna get seriously hurt.

And kudos to Murray, Roger Federer, Rafi Nadal et al for their commitment to weight training and overall fitness.  But those guys, and most of the men on tour, are not that much stronger than Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and the like, are they?

Of course not.  The equipment is stronger.  The game has been radically altered due to graphite improvements, tighter strings, and other technological help.  What would Boris Becker do with these new sticks they are using?  Or Goran Ivanesivic?  They would win majors, that is what they would do?

Which is why it might be time to hold ONE major tournament using only antiquated equipment.  Picture Federer using the wooden toothpicks his predecessors had to play with.  How's your slice backhand now Roger?  There will be more finesse and strategy during this fortnight too.  You will need to serve and volley a bit.  You will not be able to rely on a booming serve to carry you through the early matches.  Creativity will be required!

And since the players will use modern equipment during the rest of the year it will provide for some added excitement.  Maybe an American man can win something?  Think Michael Chang in baggy shorts.

Yes, they will be permitted to wear modern clothing.  Although short shorts are kinda funny.  We can get back to that.  It might be too much to ask.  They do however do throw back uniforms in other sports.  That is not a bad idea either.  Football players can wear leather helmets and no pads one week.  Baseball players have to wear those crazy Roy Hobbs mits.  No helmets for hockey players!!

What, too many injuries?  So friggin soft we are.  We want the violence and mayhem...  but don't want to see anyone get hurt.  Hypocrites!!  Anyway, where was I???

The point is unclear whether today's pros are really that much better than yesterday's.

Clearly the Australian Open is best suited for this rule implementation.  Since they are a day ahead of us playing with ancient tools might even things up a bit.  Not to mention it is the first major of the year so it will give an added unpredictability.  And it is Australia.  They do what we ask, right?  We can threaten taking the major away from them and giving it to New Zealand or something.  That should convince them.

The same rule can apply to golf too.  Golf's fourth major, The PGA, is ripe for the picking here.  Other than being golf's last major this event really has no identity.  They play at a different course each year.  No names win the thing more often than not.  Who would really know the difference?  Then we can find out if Rory McIlroy really is this good?  And he is Northern Irish.   Does that mean he is English?  Can England say he is their greatest champion?  Would Daniel Day Lewis play him in his biopic?

Was Tiger Woods 1997 that much better than Jack Nicklaus circa 1966?  And no Tiger, we cannot suspend TMZ for that weekend to accommodate you.

Let's see Tiger and Rory remove their plush club covers to reveal a 1970s Wilson 3 wood from the Sears sporting good department.  Sweet spots are in certain areas, not the entire club head.

Oh, and the winnings for this tournament should be greater than other events during the year.

If you win the PGA's Milwaukee Open we say "good for you."  But let's curb your winnings a bit shall we?  After all, -34 over the weekend is a little suspect, isn't it?  That ain't work...  that's four fun days of birdies on a less than challenging course.  Do it on a near impossible course with wooden sticks for four days.  Then your oversized novelty check will have some serious zeroes attached to it.

Of course the rules will never change.  Guess we all like scoring too much.  And we like it fast and hard.  Brainless if you will.

It is why soccer will never succeed here.  It is why baseball has lost its allure (replaced now by the NFL as our pastime.)

Put points on the board.  Break records!  Bigger. Faster.  Stronger.

Better?  Not so sure.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sounds of Summer, Part 4 (Road Trip Edition)

As stated in the previous post (Been Around the World)  I spent enough time in a car this summer to last a lifetime, or at least a few summers.  NYC to Toronto.  Toronto to NYC via Niagara Falls.  NYC to Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh to NYC via Elysburg, PA (you know what's there, right??)  And lastly Hilton Head, SC to NYC via Charlotte, Roanoke, Harrisburg, Easton, PA.  14 1/2 glorious hours in the car.  And without SiriusXM it would have been an out and out disaster.  Hertz sells the service for $2.50 a day.  How could you go wrong?  How is their stock so low?  Why doesn't everyone in America have this service?  $15 bucks a month is pissed away on far less.

Priorities, right?

In any event, the soundtrack to Interstate Summer 2012 gave plenty of smiles, rocked, and rolled.

What was your favorite track?  Best live show?  Album?  New Artist?

Here are some of my late summer highlights from the summer that was.  Bring on the cold weather and bad reality singing contests!  We will still be here posting stuff slightly off the mainstream rader.

Passion Pit "Take a Walk"  The second LP from Massachusetts electro-pop master Michael Angelakos, Gossamer, is a smart, funny album filled with catchy hooks.  Nowhere is that more apparent than this diddy about finance, marital relations and the overall state of the various unions.  Politics aside I could sing along with the refrain for hours...  as evidenced by the 14 1/2 hour drive ^.

Scissor Sisters "Only the Horses"  Another feel good, toe tapping dance track that does not get near enough airplay.  If this song is not on Glee this season than they have entirely too many straight folks on the writing staff.  Love, love, love this song!

Of Monsters and Men "Mountain Sound"  Another song that enters into your bloodstream and spills out of every pore.  Sing along.  Stomp feet. Smile.  These Icelandic kids are easy to root for and, as this clip demonstrates, kill it live.  Feel free to fast forward to the one minute mark (to avoid the pre song banter.)

The Head and The Heart "Rivers and Roads"  Is it gospel?  Folk?  Alt?  Country?  Whatever.  It is beautiful.  A clinic in simple songwriting and pitch perfect execution.   Something to be said for a Seattle band playing in a Seattle setting.  Go Seahawks!!!  And by the way, Live on KEXP  is a wonderful resource for live music on the interweb.  Do check it out:  KEXP is cool

Brandi Carlile "Raise Hell"  This little spitfire kicks so much ass it's hard to put it into words.  Hence this clip you MUST check out!!  A voice like this comes around about once in never.  A more underrated singer/songwriter walking this the Earth I know not.

Dawes "If I Wanted Someone"  LA based Dawes are an amalgam of a lot of the acts listed above.  Or perhaps those other bands are more an amalgam of Dawes.  Folk.  Rock.  And brilliant lyrics and exceptional chops from front man Taylor Goldsmith.  "If I wanted someone to clean me up I'd find myself a maid/If I wanted someone to spend my money I wouldn't need to get paid/If I wanted someone to cut me down I'd a handed you the blade."  You don't get much better.  Here the song is performed live from Bonnaroo earlier this summer.

Walk the Moon "Next In Line"  These Ohio kids scored big with their smash "Anna Sun."  This track from their debut record happens to be my personal favorite.  Oh young love... how sweet and naive.  "Won't you stay shotgun until the day I die?" singer Nicholas Pitricca exclaims in this fast paced and synth laced dance number.  I liken them to Foster the People, 2011's band du jour.  It will be interesting to see what both bands do for an encore.

The Killers "Runaways"  Brandon Flowers can flat out write, sing, and implant a hook deep into your brain.  You swear you have heard this beat somewhere before?  Was it a Bruce song?  Hooters?  Tom Petty?  Yaz?  Everything these days is borrowed from source material.  Are we even capable of original thought anymore??  That is open for debate.  The Killers making seriously infectious tunes is not.

Keane "Silenced by the Night"  It's easy to compare East Sussex, England's Keane to The Killers.  More specifically lead singer Tom Chaplin is very similar to Brandon Flowers.  Soft, soothing lyrics transform into aggressive, yet restrained power vocals.  The mood and tempo of their works lean heavily on pop ballads, but present modern twists.  A whole lotta words but the simple truth is they have a good beat and you can dance to them.

Tennis "Petition"  It's US Open time in Flushing, NY.  But wait, Roddick retired, Nadal is "hurt", Federer lost and who knows (read: cares) what is going on with the ladies.  Is Monica Seles still around?  Well here is some quality Tennis...  take a stab at it.  see what I did there ;-)

Been Around the World and I, I, I

After a long hiatus, the longest since this blog began, it's time to dive back in.  And what better time to get re-energized than Autumn in the Northeast.  The smells, the colors, the NY Jets and NY Yankees pending debacle.

This past summer I had the good fortune to drive thousands of miles in and out of our great country.  Really, it was.  In my opinion the best way to see the World is by car and they best way to explore a City (or anywhere else) is by foot.  But that's another column.  For now, this travelogue will note there were lessons to be had.

First, and I admit the sample size is small, people for the most part are more friendly everywhere outside  the greater NYC area.  In Toronto strangers engaged in conversations and were more willing to nod as you passed them on the street.  "Scorcher eh?"

In Hilton Head, SC everyone says hello and they smile without provocation.  "Mornin'"  "How ya'll doin?"  They move slow down there, but the older I get the more I feel I get get used to that.  In fact I only sighed a few times when the lines were taking an eternity.  OK, Hilton Head in itself is reason to smile, but you get the point.

Granted, if everyone in NYC said "Hello" as you passed them one would never get to the office.  But we live in the suburbs of NYC, and folks don't say a thing to you on the streets.  In fact, many times they cross the street rather than engage.  Oh wait, that's just me.  And it's just that one neighbor.  Everyone has one right???  The over the top political type with a penchant for rescuing animals.  So eager to save animals she swept our 18 year old house cat up and took her to the shelter this past weekend.   Last time we let the old gal take a walk huh?  She has little to look forward to these days.  Can't she roam the streets without ending up in a cage listening to repeats of Janeane Garofalo's Air America radio show?

This isn't to say NYC is not without its merits.  Mainly, the customer service and bar/wait staff at most pubs and restaurants is the best I have seen.  Makes sense too.  In the hungry (pun intended) City actors, singers and assorted other hopefuls are all vying for coveted jobs (both on Law and Order and/or waiting tables.)  If you cannot keep the customer engaged or at least, content, there are others eager and able to take your spot. Drinks seldom sit empty for long.  Food gets to tables quickly and it tastes pretty darn good.  Sure, these things happen elsewhere (Hilton Head does come to mind.)  But the frequency of successes coupled with the insane volume makes NYC's service industry stand out.

Found it odd that almost everyone we spoke to about our trip to Canada in July asked if it was cold there?  Really?  Is our general perception that anything from Buffalo North is a giant iceberg?  It was 30 celsius people!!!

Driving home from South Carolina last week we decided to take the scenic route.  That means avoiding the blight that is Interstate 95.  If there is a worse road in America I have not found it.

What was curious though were the prevalent billboards and advertisements for adult mega stores, excessive eating factories and fireworks.  As the DNC wraps up in Charlotte this evening a thought:  What if a candidate proclaimed his/her love of blowing sh*t up, buying his/her companion sex toys, and eating massive amounts of fast food.  Oh, and they fully support settling the NFL referee hold-out, love True Blood and are huge fans of Honey Boo Boo.  My guess is that candidate could be a viable 3rd party threat.  But what party is that?  The "Real American" party?  Think Larry the Cable Guy meets Don Draper.

After all, does either Romney or Obama speak to this group?  And isn't that the group that keeps this Country moving?

Wait, let me check my Facebook page because there are sure to be about a dozen rants from both sides of the aisle exclaiming the real truths.  "Obama is trying to take your money!"  "Romney is out of touch!"  "Ryan lied about his marathon time!"  "Biden thinks slavery is coming back!"

Bla.  Bla.  Bla.

My colleague Doc S made this adept analogy of the aformentioned Honey Boo Boo as it pertains to the upcoming election:  "Frankly, its six of one, half a dozen of the other. Both shows are about freakish 
contestants in a tasteless beauty pageant..."

At least that hillbilly family has no visible malice, unlike the debacle we call American politics.  

This Fall try to embrace the simple things: leaves changing colors, football Sundays, back to school and the continuing saga of The Guide to Somewhere.

We ain't going anywhere.  And we want your feedback, involvement and overall good vibes.  Cause there is more to this life than what big media stuffs down your throat on a daily basis.   

Maybe this space won't be as  scatterbrained next time either...  maybe.