Friday, April 27, 2007

A Day In The Life

I know it has been a little to long between posts, but I'm just uninspired. But I feel like I have to write something since my friend Joe has told me that I need to post more often as it is, and I might get another email from my brother-in-law telling me to get off my ass and post something more often than once a week.

But do we really want to force it? Do a little surfing around the blogosphere sometime. 98% of blogs are boring shit about people's boring lives. Why some people think that writing about their parent-teacher conferences at their kids' school or their tip to the dentist is interesting to anyone besides them I'll never know.

But hey, if you want quantity over quality (not that you get either here) I can play that game. So I'll tell you about my mundane day yesterday.

I puttered around the apartment in the morning, drinking coffee. The last of my Mexican blend from Whole Food, so I made a mental note to get more coffee. My beautiful wife came home briefly in the mid-morning to grab something to have for lunch since she wouldn't be able to get out later. That was nice, but it made me leave later than I wanted to run some errands.

I took off for the subway to run downtown. I grabbed a 5 train from 59th/Lexington to Union Square. I had two things I needed to accomplish there. First, my Sony CD Walkman has been slowly dying for the last several weeks. The buttons don't work all the time and I have had to whack it a bunch of times before I can get it to play. It finally got to the point yesterday that it wouldn't cooperate even after multiple smacks.

Being without my portable music is like being without legs, so this has to be remedied immediately. I went to the Virgin Megastore to check out their selection. Guess what? They have no selection. What the fuck? They sell CDs but not portable CD players. Tons of fucking iPods and mp3 (or as I like to call them, shit files) players, but no portable CD players. So I run over to the Circuit City to see what they've got.

Now normally, having my headphones on in these kind of stores is crucial because their employees are always trying to help you and I hate that. I just want to look at shit and pick out what I want on my own and if I have any questions I'll call you dammit. But my player is crapped out so I had to just leave my headphones on and pretend I was listening to something. In this situation it was really useful because when you go to a store to get a CD Walkman these days some ass hole ties to get you to buy an iPod instead. And I wasn't really in the mood to explain to some snot nose with his pants waist around his knees that iPods are for novice, uninformed, casual music listeners and that I'm not one of those so please kindly fuck off.

Anyway, they had like two to choose from there ans they both sucked. I ran over to the Staples across the Square for something else I needed.

Last week I got one of those Case Logic wallets that has pages and pages of sleeves to hold non-cased CDs. I've been needing a way to store my live show bootlegs. At this point I've been putting them in single two-sided sleeves and leaving them just kind of stacked around the apartment. This is not my lovely wife's preferred way for me to store them. Or mine, I can never find what the hell I'm looking for. So I got one that holds 208 discs. Anything bigger than that was too bulky and I figure when I needed to expand I would get another instead of having one that holds over 300 because those are just too huge. And I figured this one would be good for a while.

Wrong. I didn't even come close to fitting all my bootlegs in that one.

I needed another so I went to the same place I got the last one since I wanted the same exact thing.

One thing I hate about the big stores like Staples lately is that they camp an employee out by the door to say hello to people. This always weirds me out. Even though I'm 36 years old I still feel like I'm being watched like a teenager in a record store when this happens. The person at the door says "Hi there, how are you today," but I know what they really mean is "I've got my eye on you, so don't even think about stealing anything you stupid hippy."

I walked into the Staples and I couldn't figure out what was going on. The whole place was switched around and nothing was where it was the last time I was there. And then when I finally found the media storage stuff, horror of horrors, they didn't have my 208-disc holder.

"Dammit, I'm running 0-for-2" I thought.

Then it hit me that I was at the wrong Staples. I had bought it at the one over in Chelsea not the one in Union Square. And that one is right across 6th Avenue from a Best Buy, which would have made it a much better place to go than Union Square. Crap.

Now it's too late for me to go up to Chelsea because I've got to get to the Lower East Side. I catch the subway down to 2nd and Houston and buy a couple of tickets at The Mercury Lounge for next month's Southern Culture On The Skids show that my buddy Joe and I will be attending. I like to buy tickets at the box office whenever possible to avoid service charges.

Now it's almost 1:30 and I have to get back to the Upper East Side for a training session for a standardized patient case (I wrote about this line of work I'm in before) I'm playing next month at Cornell Medical School. I catch a M15 bus up 1st Avenue.

Despite New York City being the center of good public transportation in America, the east side of Manhattan is woefully under-served by the subway, which is why I'm on a slow moving bus heading north on 1st Avenue. On the plus side they come about every 30 seconds during the day, but on the down side you are stuck in the same traffic as all of the ass holes who think driving in New York is a good idea. On top of that, since I didn't get a new CD player I had to listen to people talk on their cell phones on the bus. Another thing, among the hundreds, that's better about the subway is that cell phones don't work under ground.

I get done with Cornell at 4:00 and I'm still annoyed that I only got one of three things done that I wanted to get done, though I am really happy that I got the Southern Culture tickets. But I'm the kind of person that gets really obsessed with, well, everything so I just can't accept that I don't have my CD player or my disc storage thingy yet.

Once again I'm on the subway towards downtown. I hit the Staples and Best Buy in Chelsea and have the stuff I need in no time, which makes me even more annoyed with myself for my earlier bad decision to hit Union Square instead. But at least I've got my new music player and music storage case so I'm happy. And I make it home in time to greet my honey when she comes home from work.

So that was my day.

See, that's the kind of mundane nonsense that I could give you everyday if I wanted to make sure I was posting often enough. It would be OK if my life was more interesting, but it's not. Don't get me wrong, after we go to Southeast Asia in November I'll have a bunch of interesting journal type entries to add.

But do you really want me to keep a daily diary like all of those bored housewives with blogs out there?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Change Like Bobby Brady

In this week's Roundtable, Suzanne is looking for a change. She's itching to change something about her life but she doesn't quite know what.

To help her out, she wants to know what you would like to change about your life.

How this helps her with her need to change something I'm not sure. But go ahead on over to Perfecting The Fine Art Of Procrastination and tell her anyway. She's dying to know.

Oh, and I promise to do a post this week. Really, I promise. I've just been uninspired this week.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Evan Kremin Live On Stage!

Time once again to reach into the old comment bag and see what people have been saying to me since the last time I did this a few months back.

Today I'll just do one. I got this comment last month on my post about Evan Kremin from last October, from some guy who calls himself Richie M.

I've been to a few Emergenza nights and seen Evan Kremin perform. Out of dozens of bands to compete, his band keeps making it to the next level. I'm not saying the whole room loves him universally, but a lot of people seem to think he's doing something right.

But his music is beside the point. Think it through for a minute: This guy writes his songs, rehearses his band, probably pays them for non-paying gigs, and then sticks his neck out performing in NEW YORK FREAKIN' CITY, the toughest crowd on the planet. He's creating something and, whether you care for it or not, he has the nads to get out there and try like hell to sell it over. What do you do? Is this blog about the sum of it?

Worst of all, when someone searches his name on Google, as I did, the first hit to come up is your blog. Think about what that does to a potential fanbase, let alone to the guy himself.

Listen to your friends and your conscience (which you reveal), and at least take his name off your blog. Offer him the same anonymity you grant yourself. Call him "EK" or something.

I don't see what roasting him does for you. You seem like a fairly witty guy -- decide whether to use your brain for good or not.

OK, let's assume that Evan Kremin himself did not write this, despite my inclinations to the contrary. We'll go ahead and assume it is just one of his friends or family members, which is his fan base.

Yes, Richie, if that is your real name, the crowd at the Emergenza nights (i.e. battle of the bands) does seem to be into him. But have you noticed that after the show he walks up to just about every person in the room that was cheering for him and seems to know their names and gives them a hug? Being able to fill a bar with your friends so that you can win a meaningless band competition doesn't make you any good. It makes you pathetic, and his friends aren't doing him any favors by encouraging him like that either. A real friend would pull him to the side one day and explain to him that he sucks and that mullets haven't been hip since 1986.

And like I pointed out in the original post, Evan's got an ego the size of Montana and people like him deserve everything they get and more. I also said that I considered not bashing the guy in my blog that day but after seeing his myspace page he became more than fair game. He describes himself on that page as having "sex appeal," being a "gifted singer-songwriter" and even calls himself a "golden boy." He also claims that they are one of the "Top 5 bands city wide!" Seriously. He should call it his masturbation page instead.

If he was really one of the 5 biggest bands in the city of New York, why can't he get a gig any other place than the one where he is the sound guy? One thing I learned from spending so much time in the clubs in Seattle, the sound guy's band always sucks. That's why they only play the club where he works and usually on a Sunday night.

I still can't think of anybody I've seen in a while that deserves to made fun of more than this twit. He is a legend in his own mind and no one else's. That's why I used the Christopher Guest analogy in my original post.

And his music is the most god-awful shit you've ever heard.

As far as what I get out of "roasting" him, did you see my blog's under title? That should make everything pretty clear.

And I'm not hiding under any sort of cloak of anonymity as you claim. That is my real name in my profile and my real city location. So I don't get your point there.

As someone who once had a fledgling theatre career I've had my work reviewed many times, in real publications too, not just some random guy's blog. And some of it was bad. One show I did in Boston a couple of years ago earned me a serious dressing-down from a local paper. So what? For starters, I got what I deserved on that one. The show plain sucked. Second, that's what happens when you put your art out there. Some people are going to hate it. A big chunk of the time it is deserved.

So what did I do when bashed like that? Well, nothing. I certainly didn't get one of my friends to write the author to bitch (wink wink, Richie). I even saved that review.

But tell me, Evan's friend, what are the rules for using anonymity? What if I loved his music? Then it would be OK to use his name?

Sorry, you don't get it both ways. If you want the good stuff to have your name, you have to take the bad. Roger Ebert doesn't bash on the latest Lindsay Lohan vehicle and refer to her only as LH during the review. That would be stupid.

By the way, I think that warning people about Kremin's music before they find themselves in a club exposed to it is doing good. A public service if you will. I know I wish someone would have warned me about it before I walked in that night.

Though that's not really true. I was really happy for the blog fodder. I've been thinking about going to a club to see him again so I can drink some beers, have a few laughs and get more material. It really is like seeing a Christopher Guest movie come to life. Or the fun of watching a really bad TV show or movie á la Saved By The Bell or Grease 2.

And oh, yes I did know that when you typed in his name to Google that my blog was the first thing that came up about Evan Kremin. I was pretty proud of that. I even emailed my friends to point that out. It made me giggle because I figured he was the kind of guy that Googled his name a couple of times a month in a vain attempt to find some actual reviews of his work.

Well he finally got one didn't he? If I'm the only guy that's written anything about one of his gigs, what does that tell you about his music?


But alas, have lost my top spot on Google for "Evan Kremin." It appears he clicked his myspace page enough times to put that on top and some listings for his upcoming gigs, at the previously mentioned place where he's the sound guy, coming after that.

I've fallen to about fifth or so now.

Hopefully with today's post title I can take back the top spot.

So thanks for reminding me Richie.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Backward And Forward

There are basically three kinds of people in the world. Those who live in the past, those that live in the future and those who are always in the moment. Then there's me. I seem to be a hybrid of the two that I'd rather not be. I'm either lamenting the days gone by or planning for my next big move even if it might be years away.

Add in a little obsessive-compulsiveness, mix well, and you've pretty much got me.

We all have that friend that lives in the moment, right? Drives you crazy doesn't it? Sure it does. We're jealous as hell. I've tried, I've really tried. I look at my good friend Ray and I just can't believe how in the moment he can be sometimes. Like to the second. This is why he can be so hard to get a hold of and takes too long to return calls. He's just too busy doing what he's doing at the moment. It can be infuriating and admirable all at once. I've always tried to be more like that, but not very successfully.

I'm always wishing for things to be like they were in the past in one form or another. I loved college and still think it was one of the best times of my life. I miss living in Seattle like crazy and I'm always wondering why I left. Though the whole timing of leaving Seattle was kind of perfect. I lived there in the 90s when I was in my twenties, and I left right after the 90s ended and I turned 30. Makes for a nice back story about myself when I meet new people.

I'm sure that if you asked people who knew me when I was in college or in Seattle they would not tell you that I was a guy who seemed totally content and happy with where he was. They would probably tell you that I was always bitching about wanting to go somewhere else. Though I'm not sure.

Of course I'm not always looking back. I seem to always be looking for my next move. Those who remember all of my writing while I was living Boston know that for three years I was jonesing to get the hell out of there. Heck, I was even told my wife that if she took a job at the Mayo Clinic that I would be OK with that, even though it is in the middle of Nowhere Minnesota. So my obsession with getting out of Boston was just because no sane person want to stay there.

But now I live in New York. This is one of the greatest cities in the world and I totally love living here. But I still can't help but start looking at what our next move will be. And I'm already trying to influence the decision. I've been talking the town up lately, kind of just laying the thought in her head as a primer for a future date.

My wife's job basically dictates where we live, being the one with the real career and all. Since she has basically said she doesn't think she'd be able to get a doctor job in another country, I've had to, regretfully, make myself give up on my dream of living outside of America.

But since we know her job here is not a permanent one it means that we will be considering another move in a few years. Of course I'm already obsessing about it.

We have a very limited list of cities we are willing to live in. In the States anyway. Add Europe to the equation and it would be a lot longer, but I'm working with our realistic options.

For some reason I've become really enamored with the idea of Portland Oregon being our next city. I don't really know why, except that I always like moving to cities that I've never lived. I really love exploring new towns. I've been to Portland a few times and I just love it there. Great music scene, good weather, nice people, close to mountains and outdoor stuff, micro brews and, something very important to me, one of the only real good public transportation systems west of the Mississippi. Plus, since we're probably going to breed at some point, it would be a great place to raise a kid.

And it seems that Portland keeps coming up in things I read lately, including the travel section of last Sunday's New York Times and my last issue of Trains magazine. And one of my favorite songs in the last couple of years is Portland Oregon by Loretta Lynn with Jack White. So it's like a sign, if I actually believed in that nonsense.

I've been planting the idea in my wife's head as much as I can lately, trying to put in early influence for when she has to start looking for a job again. I've even looked up transit maps online to see what neighborhoods we would be looking at based on which ones the light rail lines go through. Though that probably has as much to do with my map and transit geekiness as it does my planning the future. I've spent hours looking at maps of the London Underground, Paris Metro, Metro Roma, Metro Madrid, even the St. Louis and Denver light rail lines. I don't expect to end up living in any of those places.

Don't get me wrong, if given the chance I would go to London or Rome in a heartbeat. It just ain't gonna happen.

So I'm resigned to ponder where we'll end up next, and hope that maybe it could be as cool as someplace like Portland.

But damn, I'm going to living in New York, a place where I've always wanted to live, for at least a couple more years. Why can't I just enjoy it and stop planning my next move?

Friday, April 13, 2007

...Aim, Fire!

I'm a little late in posting the link to this week's Roundtable, and it is being hosted by my good friend Joe. So even though the conversation started yesterday, go check out Hairshirt and see what has gotten Joe worked up into a tizzy this week and add your thoughts.

The question he's asking is who would you like to see shot out of a cannon and into a brick wall?

That's my kind of survey.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Jesus Can Kiss My Ass

How's that for a provocative title? I figured I'd go with a religious theme today in honor of Easter, which for some reason people felt the need to keep reminding me last week that it was yesterday. Like I cared.

At some point last week Joe asked me if my wife and I wanted to come over on Friday and color Easter eggs. He told me I could draw anti-Christian messages on them if I wanted, which was a really sweet thing to say. We wanted to go, because we just like hanging out with Joe and Megan for any reason. They are not really religious people themselves, but they get really into the holidays. Joe has what I consider an unnatural relationship with Christmas that just don't get. He lives for it. He's fairly normal in most other ways. I think maybe his parents put egg nog in his bottle as a baby or maybe he got hit on the head by a star falling off the top of the family tree while unwrapping his Pong machine.

We ended up not going only because Joe and I have successful, career-driven wives who were wiped out at the end of their week, not because of my usual aversion to anything to do with Christian holidays.

But the whole thing did raise a question for the wife and me. We are thinking about having a kid at some point in the near-ish future and we have to kind of deal with the whole holiday issue at some point.

As two people who are either atheist or agnostic, however you want to define it, do we celebrate these holidays as a cultural or seasonal thing? Do we do all of the stuff that people do at the holidays because it is fun for kids and just ignore the religious aspect? I know a lot of people that do this. Hell, Christmas is barely a religious holiday at all anymore so what's the big deal.

Well my gut reaction answer to these questions is "fuck no." I don't think we should celebrate Christmas, Easter or any other holiday with its origins in religion with our kid. I know that the Easter Bunny and Santa can be all cute and fun for kids and everything and that most people are of the opinion that it is good for kids to have these magical things.

But that's how the indoctrination begins.

Super religious dingle-berries like to bitch and moan that things like the holiday mascots are taking the religion out of what are supposed to be Christian celebrations. But I don't think anything could be farther from the truth. Giving the kids cute and fuzzy things is how they draw you in and begin the propaganda and brain washing. I remember Easter as a kid being a fun holiday where you hunt for eggs and get a bunch of candy, like a spring Halloween. But at some point when I got older there was somebody there to start telling me the "true story" behind Easter and what it was really about. The next thing you know I've got some ass-hole filling my head with Jesus dying for my sins and other such nonsensical bullshit.

Same goes with Christmas. I'm not sure when it happens but at some point during childhood Santa suddenly turns into Jesus, who doesn't bring you a goddamn thing, and I'm suppose to make the holiday about him instead of me getting a lot of great toys that I'll play with for a week and a half and then put away until the next garage sale. The world's biggest bait and switch.

These are not things I want to see happen to my future child. And if I celebrate these holidays with him or her, even in a secular way, there are others out there who take it as an invitation to teach your child the "true meaning of (insert Christian holiday here)."

Just this week my born again Jesus freak mother bought little plush toy Easter bunnies for my sister's kids, who are being raised without religion (my sister being the other sane person in my family).

Know what was printed on the front of the cute and fuzzy bunnies?

"Jesus loves me."

And this isn't the only type of person (grandmothers) that pulls shit like this. It's a lot like how this last Christmas we got a super religious form letter/Christmas card from my brother and his wife that had phrases like "praise His name" and "celebrate His name" so many times I lost count. And why the hell is Jesus always get His pronouns capitalized anyway? The rules of the English language don't apply to Jesus?

These are the kind of people that are going to constantly be barraging my child with their fairy tales to try to draw them in to their lair.

And why do people think this is OK? I've said it before, and I'll say it again, would people do this to a Jewish friend? Do they think it's OK to send them a "Jesus loves me" toy or a letter that praises His name? Most people would say that in no way is that OK, and it is even offensive. But for some reason these whacked-out Christians think it's fine to do it to the atheists/secularists/agnostics of the world. They have some sort of delusional idea that we are looking for someone to show us the "answer" or something.

Well guess what? We're not, so leave us the hell alone. And that includes my future child.

Screw Easter, screw Christmas and screw Jesus.

I know that sounds harsh. But you have to actually say things that hardcore and offensive to them to get them to stop the madness. For a long time after my mother went cuckoo for Jesus, and also discovered email, she was constantly forwarding me religious propaganda in the form of heartfelt (usually fake) stories and inspiring messages about faith. No matter how much I explained to her that I didn't believe in religion she continued to send them to me.

So one day I hit reply and wrote "Fuck your god."

I've never gotten another religious email from my mother.

I'm working on a reply to this year's Jesus propaganda letter from my sister-in-law that we will get in December. I already know how I'm going to sign it, and all other letters to people who send me religious messages.

In Satan's name,


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Back To The 70s Future

This week's Roundtable is being hosted by Stephen at Serenade In Green. And he sure is pissed about how wrong everybody in the 60s, 70s and 80s was about what life would be like in the 2000s. He's really annoyed that we don't have our hovercrafts, houses on the moon or robocops. I suspect that what he's really annoyed by is not having the holodeck porn.

Personally, I can't wait until 2015 when, according to Robert Zemeckis, the fashion craze for men will be wearing two neckties at once side by side. Tres Chic!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Document The Passion (Music Geek Night part 2)

A great show. One of my favorite singer-songwriters. A band in fine form. Meeting and chatting it up with a fellow obsessive music geek. A great bartender working the front bar. Talking to Amanda Palmer before the show. All in all a nice night out at the Knitting Factory.

After the set I went back out to the front bar, got another beer and sat there talking to the bartender for a while. Eventually the band was out in the crowd that was left talking to fans and signing various things. I made my way over and spoke with Scott McCaughey for a while. As I alluded to in Friday's post, I used to work with a guy who is Scott's best friend since high school and I've talked with him a few times before. I also know a couple of other people in Seattle that I figured he knew as well (like a buddy of mine who books shows there) so I kind of talked to him about that for a while. I'm not really an autograph hound or anything, but since he was there I grabbed a copy of the new Minus 5 CD from the merch table and had him sign it for me. He was standing there with a Sharpie in his hands so why not? It was cheaper to get the disc there than at the record store anyway.

I ended up close to Robyn Hitchcock at some point and made a few comments to him as well. Now, I've been in this situation before having seen him so many times and in small venues where you can hang out for a while after the show to meet the band. It never really turns out that well with Robyn. There are a few reasons for this. A lot of the time I've had a couple too many beers by the time the show's over and just kind of say something stupid or maybe unintelligible. Also, there's not really all that much to say to one of your favorite musicians besides "I love your music man," or "great show," and I'm sure he already hears that a hundred times a night. I certainly don't want to start asking him about the meaning of his songs because most songwriters hate that. Plus, he's pretty damn eccentric, so half the time you can't tell at all if he appreciates the comments or if he's a huge dick.

I'm not into the hero worship aspect of it like some people seem to be. I just like to talk to musicians about their music and music in general. That doesn't always work too well with legendary people like Robyn, but can be a really cool thing with smaller and up and coming acts. I think that's why it was so easy to talk to Amanda Palmer about her career and kind of discover what stuff she's into, tell her how I've turned other people on to her music and to talk about mutual love of other acts like Robyn. Or the time I sat at the bar at TT The Bear's Place in Cambridge, MA talking to Tracee Miller from Blanche, while the Ditty Bops played their opening set, about topics ranging from the Carter Family to the kind of fans they attract. Truly an interesting person. Had a great conversation after the show with her husband Dan, the leader of Blanche, about things like his musical style, working on the Loretta Lynn album and being in the Johnny Cash movie, among other things.

With Robyn that night I believe my conversation went something like this.

"Robyn, I wanted to say thank you for playing The Ghost Ship at the request show in November at Maxwell's."
"Did I play that?"
"You did, and I was the person who requested it."
"Oh, OK."

And that was about it.

I was pretty much getting ready to take off when I noticed Peter Buck was actually hanging out without being bothered by a ton of people. I've been in this situation before, where I've been in a small club and seen Peter Buck hanging out and it would be really easy to walk up and talk to him. But I've never done it. With him being the actual bona fide major rock star in the room you really feel like he gets bothered by fans more than enough times in his life. But this time I decided to walk over.

You may remember my story from a couple of weeks ago about how the album Document saved my life. Well I decided to tell Peter Buck this story, without being as long-winded as I was in the blog posting (I hope), just to let him know what his music did for me. You don't get this opportunity with too many artists and I decided not to let it go again. I wasn't sure if he would think I was a total dweeb or not. I even said at the end of it, "I don't want to sound like the total dweeb fan and creep you out or anything, but I just wanted to let you know what that album did for me my senior year of high school."

He was very cool and seemed pretty genuinely flattered by what I said. After commenting how young I was, because I was a senior in high school when Document came out, he said, "No that's not dweeby at all, that's very cool. I really appreciate that."

We talked for a little while more and he mentioned that he had albums that were the same for him (specifically Patty Smith) and we talked about living in Seattle and growing up in Georgia, two things we have in common. And some point he told me, and I'm still not sure how this came up, that he was getting divorced. I told him I was sorry and he kind of shrugged his shoulder and said something along the lines of, "Yeah well, what are you gonna do?"

I bounced on out of there before I allowed myself to order another beer and made my way to the subway, happy to have been able tell someone what their music did for me and what bleak times it helped me through.

And even happier that he didn't seem to think I was a total loser for doing so.

And my extreme, obsessive music dorkiness gets rewarded once again.