Tuesday, July 30, 2013

what I played today

neil young - I'm the ocean
melvins lite - baby won't you weird me out

monster magnet - cage around the sun

gardener - outside looking in
lush - undertow

curve - clipped
echobelly - bellyache

screaming trees - troubled times

subrosa - cosey mo
quicksand - fazer
jawbox - u-trau
faith no more - midlife crisis
helmet - renovation
god machine - the blind man
torche - leather feather
heatmiser - lowlife
50 foot wave - el dorado
fugazi - hello morning

nirvana - drain you
sonic youth - purr

elastica - waking up
john frusciante - second walk

sleater-kinney - all hands on the bad one

queens of the stone age - the lost art of keeping a secret
smashing pumpkins - geekUSA
the breeders- new year
palms - future warrior

alcest - autre temps
black math horseman - tyrant

Monday, July 29, 2013

cool front

I needed to get outside Saturday night, because it was so cool out and beautiful, and ended up wandering the old almost-hood with a former neighbor who still lives there, and we admire everyone's gardens and talk about gentrification as people go looking for the ice cream stand that's no longer by my apartment building that evolved from a place that sold now and laters and cheap soft serve to an emporium with flavors like ricotta fig. Yelp reviews don't equal sales and I can't afford three dollars a serving for minuscule delectables of ice cream when there's books and tunes that last a little longer than such confections, but it's good to see her again, especially given our incompatible work schedules.

After the sun goes down completely, we sit on the porch where a grand piano once lay sideways, it took five hours for her husband and the neighbor to chop it up into scrap wood and metal. I already have too many bits and pieces and art supplies including the oil paint my mom just found in the garage that I forgot about (how much does it say about the state of my materialism that I forget what I own). I love porch nights in the summer, we catch up on everything, and then move inside when the bugs took over and end up watching favorite bits of Spinal Tap.

And Sunday, after cleaning the apartment and restringing the guitar for potential weeknight rockingness, I wander over to the favorite record store to hear Tesco Vee and Steve Miller tell lurid tales of Detroit rock and roll and pick up their books, finally scored the "Touch and Go" zine anthology, and end up trading Michael Stanley stories and hearing the dirt dished about Iggy Pop and the MC5, who my dad actually got to see, and I remember being 15 and hearing the revelation that was "Kick Out the Jams," all that feedback and fury, a secret that none of the kids in school were hip to yet.

As always, the store is a vortex, and me and a fellow comrade in geekitude end up standing around outside talking for the next two hours telling tales of crazy neighbors and roommates and scene politics and world news geekery, the kind of things that are rare in discourse and full of laughter. We part ways when it starts raining and I realize I missed free Shakespeare in the park but it doesn't seem to matter really, and home feels welcoming, with a pot of tea on the stove, a pile of books to curl up with, and the rain coming down. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

the days were golden

It's been a good week for live music and companionship, Moroccan gnawa courtesy of the west side branch of the art museum, mingling with acquaintances turning into friends, going to sleep late, waking up early, caffeinating through work, caffeinating after work, watching the Melvins play with a record store homie, we were talking outside and missed the first act but King Buzzo rules so much.

No stage banter, just riffs and more riffs, and two drummers, and dudes rocking out next to confused girlfriends who seemed to wonder why I was so into this, so glad I had the ear plugs and a wall to lean against because I'm old and all.  And they played 'Billy Fish' which made me happy, and I could almost see the stage, and after the show I got hit on by some girl in the bathroom who started talking about 90's girl bands with me and then had me cornered by the sink and I've never really had that happen to me before so I broke through her arms and ran out to look for familiar faces of fellow station members and softball teammates. I always run into people at these shows that I never get to see. We stand around outside talking til 1am thinking the cops are going to chase us off but despite our hesherness, we're officially Old People now and therefore unthreatening.

And then at work the next morning I messed up something in my back and so that I wouldn't be a bitchy jerk, I took some sick time, crashed on the couch with a bag of frozen peas underneath me and went to the health clinic where I got some strong motrins and a sheet of exercises to do and then went a-darkthroning and a-dinnering with G. and drove through the Valley listening to Queens of the Stone Age. Amazing how distraction takes away the pain, and amazing how even the Saturday rain can't kill the buzz.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

acid tongued

I was going to walk yesterday and then the rain came, and then the hail, which was marble-sized. There's home movie footage of me in 1985 or so picking up chunks of sky ice in someone's driveway. I don't remember this, which is surprising because I have other toddler memories and that feels like something that would have been strange.

I crashed from all the caffeine needed to get through a work day post-rocking out, watched a movie with the usual suspects, talked politics and tunes out under the street lights as people hit us up for cigarettes (none of us smoke) and a guy drove by showing off the TV he was going to scrap. They identified the third girl who was murdered in East Cleveland and she was in one of my former coworker's summer programs. This city gets so small and sad so quickly no matter how the image consultants spin it.

One of my old coworkers knew the third girl that was murdered. I find that I agree with Cornel West way more than I ever thought I would. I never dreamed I'd say that five years ago but such is the world. This morning we talked about how people should be stripped of nobel peace prizes if they suck at not bombing their neighbors or promoting war by other means. Kind of like how Barry Bonds has an asterisk, we need these disclaimers for things more important than sports. Of course, dissenting in the face of tribalism obviously means I'm shilling for the other side, which is like saying if I say that Stalin sucks than I must love Hitler. Can't I just opt out? I think so.

Sociality has its downside, and with a plethora of acquaintanceships, I become more choosy, because I crave intellectual honesty, humility, the willingness to listen, the ability to admit that one is wrong and not to stick with what's comfortable when the truth is anything but. Randal once asked me why I enjoy the company of curmudgeons so much but it's for these reasons, because there's infinitely less platitudes and a way more realistic outlook that I crave when most discourse I see involves food and television or recycled flowerpower things that sound nice until you start thinking about them. Also, my cranky friends make me laugh way more, because unlike the idealists, they have a sense of humor.

In the meantime, I am amused by Tom Waits' Jewish curses, by the continued existence of traveling Estonian encyclopedia salesmen in the Arctic Circle, the discovery of the PanArabian Enquirer for my satire about douchey expats and Dubai, and Soviet bus shelters.

Also, holy crap it's a new Subrosa song. 
Female vocals, downtuned guitars, and those freaking violins of awesome.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the price of noise is three hours of sleep

I broke my no-shows-before-my-show rule last night, having hooked up a friend and her friend with tickets to see ...And You Will Know Us By The Length of Our Name Trail of the Dead last night. They were one of those bands I dug in college and forgot about with the exception of a few notable songs, and they tend to have pretty swank artwork along with the tunes, and it's one of her favorite bands so it was nice to see her enjoy rocking out muchly. We're Team Early 90's, she jokes, as we meet up and I'm wearing a Soundgarden t-shirt with the Badmotorfinger artwork on it and she's got an old Nine Inch Nails shirt from way back when. Judging from the band t-shirts around us, the smaller crowd seemed to be about our age or so as well. Ume, the opener we did catch, was enjoyable to watch, with a girl guitarist who could have been the kid of Kim Gordon with her stage presence, and Thurston Moore's squalling guitars.

The last time I saw them, they were following up their major-label debut with a record that people didn't buy, and I remember the slamdancing at that show being incredibly fun, though my indie rock compadre at the time hated it and stood in the back with his arms folded as I let myself go in the waves of bodies in front of the stage. The pit was full of other amiable kids straddling the lines between punk and pre-Garden-State alt-rock, and I left feeling awesome and he left being cranky that night, complaining that it was "too heavy" and "too punk." We ended up leaving early because he drove, so I got to hear "How Near How Far" for the first time live this time. I forgot how much noisier and energetic this songs were live, stripped of the production, calling to mind the more incendiary early shows that got them signed.
Sources, Tags, and Codes was the album we were all most familiar with, and the choice cuts from that one that came out, damn, ten years ago, got the greatest response. 

By the last song, we'd discovered how to recalibrate our bodies to move like they once did, as the band came out onto the floor with us and we left sweaty and satisfied by a band that almost tasted the bigtime and now is touring and thirsty again.

Monday, July 22, 2013

on surf guitar and the east side

On the other side of the river there's a suburb that's got a reputation for being openminded and progressive. They're a nuclear-free zone after all. When I think of the song California Uber Alles, I think of that part of Greater Clevelandia, the home of Harvey Pekar, where my older friends would tell me old tales of Coventry back when it was full of subcultural denizens before the city made a concerted effort to apply a veneer of bohemian sheen to what is now mostly chain restaurants and bars full of bros and yuppies and drunk girls.

The hacky-sackers, the buskers, the punks and skins and five-percenters, the guys trading rhymes, those are harder and harder to find down there. Yes, there's still a couple of bookstores that sell marxist lit, esoterica, and Kerouac, and a good music venue there, but it's hardly a bohemian mecca by any means. Trendy boutiques and boomer holdovers perhaps, but not what it once was. It almost makes those aspirations seem crass.

Also, they're the kind of town that loves to distribute parking tickets and tickets for everything. Heaven forbid you don't have a bicycle license. There's no late night greasy spoon diners here anymore, just an IHOP in the strip mall near the Wal-Mart. You can get ticketed for jaywalking. It's still a place to meet up with my east siders, but I find they like coming west now, more often than not.

I used to like hanging out down here, sometimes I still don't mind. We would park at R.'s house and walk over, the four of us, two interracial couples don't raise eyebrows over here, and we'd get dollar cans of Arizona tea and dollar slices of pizza and loiter in the plaza. We went to hip-hop shows in the basement of a shoe store where me and K were the only white girls in the room where a generation of young kids still swore by Native Tongues like we did our grunge bands.

But young black males freestyling in the public space is evidently more threatening than burned-out beatniks so usually they get moved along, and there's signs on the doors of a lot of these venues denying entry to those wearing hoodies and baseball caps and do-rags and whatnot, though if I was wearing a hoodie I'm sure that'd be completely different.

I find the sanctimony of the usual suspects reprehensible but on the other hand, the iron fist in paisley glove somehow bothers me more, be it this side of town or Bloomberglandia. A few years ago, some punkass kids decided to brawl at the street fair and the city council instituted a 6PM curfew. Which sucks if you're a teenager and you live near an area which has places to go out to eat and see good bands and you don't want to be chaperoned or have a note from your parents or saying you're studying at the library or working minimum wage bagging groceries or making smoothies. 

Like most emergency measures that inhibit the daily lives of people for the good of the well-heeled, this curfew is still in place two years later, and it's amusing to me to watch aging boomer liberals justify something that generally seems to single out teenagers of a certain profile, which disparaging my hometown, which, despite its crackerific history, doesn't have such things. And yeah, I've seen some pretty nasty fights go down there, but still. It seems like overkill. And they're not even having the festival anymore, which, despite my not having an affinity for tie-dye and 60's cover bands, is still a bummer.

But I end up here anyway on Saturday night, because one of my homies invited me to see Dick Dale with some of his coworkers. Like most people, I know him for maybe two songs, but I appreciate good guitar work and have a soft spot for surf music, and he delivered, with a good bit of curmudgeon and snark, and some divergences involving banging out melodies on the bassist's fretboard with some drumsticks and a harmonica solo that seemed to leave a lot of people confused. He said he pretty much plays whatever he wants, which he did, from the instrumentals that everyone knows to the oldies the boomers dig and 'Amazing Grace,' and such.

He's an amazing guitarist, and eschewed the wankery that comes with that whole realm of technical ability, and I think I appreciated it way more watching him do those weird harmonics and everything, with no pedals or sonic gimmicks, just an upside-down Strat and some hefty tube amps that were probably older than me. He looked like he was genuinely having fun, and I guess this might be one of his last tours, because the cancer he's been fighting for forever keeps coming back.

Crowd-watching was fun too, ex-biker couples, bros who probably like 'Pulp Fiction,' punk and rockabilly kids, underage kids who look like they stumbled out of an Urban Outfitters ad, boomers on a night out, the local Hell's Headbangers contingent, probably the most eclectic crowd I've seen since Godspeed You Black Emperor ten years ago. I still find it ironic that the guy who pretty much got everyone tremolo-picking is of a nationality that isn't terribly beloved by the more xenophobic cornerse of the black metal world.

We drove back in D's hoopty-jeep through East Clevelandia, where he told stories of delivering black and milds to corner stores and gas stations and he thinks I'll be freaked out, but I'm not, because I've been through here before, my friends live here too despite my lack of criminal teenagehood and suburban-white-girl visage.

The next day I realize that we drove past where they found all those bodies, and when I hear that they're going through abandoned buildings in the area, I wonder which ones, because there are so many. When I get accosted walking past the apartment building full of sex offenders down the street from me, I wonder which of them is plotting something, considering that neighbors said this guy behaved aggressively towards women in his neighborhood. I wish I didn't have to think like this, and I know that to some degree white privilege means I'm way less likely to go missing than the women I see on the corner at 2am and that's disconcerting to me too.

Friday, July 19, 2013

in every place

I ended up in the exurbs the other night, strange to be among immaculate lawns and corporate parks and long roads. One of my friends plays bass at a church out there and invited me to come out and hang with them, it's one of those groups for older young people which isn't called a singles group but could function as such.

I'm a little skittish around large groups of clean-cut people, I joke, but no one here seems to mind my black t-shirts and strange sense of humor. I'm so used to being around working-classers and underemployed liberal arts graduates that I go into a little bit of culture shock in a world where the girls are way more dressed up, and have accessories of affluence, really nice watches and whatnot, the cars in the parking lot make my beater with the broken fender look out of place, the guys are wearing things I never see in the city like the occasional chinos and topsiders and polos in pastel colors.

But everyone I talked to seemed very nice, and it was kind of refreshing to be somewhere full of people my age who aren't sporting any ironic affectation. You know you're sick of hipster accoutrements when you find a strange comfort in middle American normality. But it was the friendliness that got me, and the message that night wasn't intellectually vapid, so I might come back. If anything, meeting some nice girls and not running into anyone that seemed like future soulmate material made it easier. And I also talked to homie's roommate and we might be starting a band soon, since we like the same music and live near each other.

It's funny, we dress exactly alike, he says. And we do. Jeans and converse sneakers and t-shirts of bands we like. I'm way more girly than I once was, but I'm conscious of the lack of difference still. I drive home through the hot summer night listening to Nothing's Shocking and wonder how all the social anxiety I used to feel completely seemed to dissolve itself. There's still social situations that turn me into mush, but fewer and fewer do.

And yet last night I was driving home and feeling stupid for other things, for feeling things that are normal and human, of unrequition, of cynical sour grapes (it wouldn't work out anyway), of what-could-have-beens and it-was-never-meant-to-bes. The feelings of deep affection for my friends both male and female are probably more intense than some, but that's different than this. Absence maybe doesn't make the heart grow fonder, but it masks the inconvenience of seeing those day to day things that would render someone more human and less attractive, and sometimes it's worse to see them again and feel all of those emotions shuttered so carefully away bubble to the surface once more.  I could blame the hormones, and maybe that's all it is, but it's a terrible feeling.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

heat coming down

It wasn't until Monday morning that I found out about all this current events business after everyone else, kind of like how I didn't hear about the Boston bombing manhunt until after the fact. My friends who are sane folk say to stay off the interwebs but like a car crash I just can't look away completely and very few people are acting sane about the whole thing, because as advanced and progressive as people think they are, there's still that bloodlust. I did jury duty once for a civil suit and it was awful, and if you don't have enough evidence stacked up one way or another that's really concrete, these kinds of things happen. At any rate, there seemed to be a lot of testosterone, and something that could have been prevented if both parties hadn't decided to mutually escalate.Not to mention the whole racism thing that goes without saying.

But some people on my corner of the Internet are spewing race war rhetoric and others the usual tropes about punkass kids and a lot of smug yanqui feelings about southerners although we're not that much different. Kids get shot every day in my part of the world, and in lots of parts, and our government evidently was cool with blowing a teenage boy off the face of the earth because his dad had dubious political affiliations and won't even say I'm sorry.

So I guess I'm more bothered by powers that be who brag about their "kill lists" because that's ongoing and unaccountable? I don't know. It sucks. This is also the state where a white chick got off with killing her kid, so I'm just going to chalk it up to bad courtroomness with a sizable side of racism on top of that? Also, seriously people, it's like you just realized that the odds in a courtroom are stacked against the white guy? Where have you been the last two hundred years? And I'm wary about giving that already failed system more power than it has to do anything circumstantial, as Ken astutely points out here.

Anyways, I got to escape to Pittsburgh to go to a nice record store, eat pizza, and hang out with sundry folk, and we ended up going up some crazy hills to get to Trundle Manor to gawk and geek at absinthe-drinking taxidermied bears, sundry things in jars, a bottle of Bela Lugosi's grave dirt, and whatnot. 

 And then I hung out with nephews, and slacked on the front porch drinking libations left over from book club, (where we really couldn't come up with much to say about 100 Years of Solitude except that the Oprah analysis sucked mightily (Ooh exotic Latino bunga-bunga with MAGIC!)), with an old friend from the library school days. Strange how people cycle in and out, it doesn't bother me too much, as long as the terms are good.

And today is Jeremy Enigk's birthday, he was in one of my favorite bands in high school. Sunny Day Real Estate was something I heard on college radio and got from the library and from there delved further into indie rock and other strands of underground. My entry point was "how it feels to be something on," and I think I put bits and pieces of these albums on every mixtape I made for anyone between the ages of 16 and 18, back before Myspace and asymmetrical hair and whatnot. It's overwrought and emotional, and quite possibly the equivalent of Yes for indie rockers, but it sounded really good this morning for the last hour of my show.

Monday, July 8, 2013

too much beauty to sleep

We used to go on Cleveland drives all the time when we were younger, when we were twenty, of let's see how far this road goes and what's on it, we've never been to this neighborhood before let's go there, oh wow, how did we end up here ( in the projects at 2am on Martin Luther King Day, in the spooky dark national park listening to Patti Smith's Horses and feeling a sense of hauntedness, cruising through subdivisions cranking Jay-Z channeling the id of teenage boys, singing along to bad classic rock and slap-happy, listening to Minor Threat and yelling die yuppie scum at dressed up art walk denizens.

We found all sorts of strange beauty on these travels, and never felt afraid for the most part, because the car provides a tank-like sense of relative invincibility that bikes and two feet do not have. We haven't done this in awhile, with work schedules and in her case a significant other and my life's been one thing a minute too.

And now we're older and there is more weight on us, and we have no music, and so much to catch up on, and there are no new streets because we've traversed every neighborhood so many times over, and she goes into every hood in Cleveland for her job, so we cut through East Cleveland where all the streetlights seem to be out but the traffic cameras are everywhere, where the towering hulks of abandoned apartment buildings and decaying mansions loom on the periphery.

We'll need gas and a bathroom at some point but despite our intrepidity, the darkness is so intense, the heat and the corners make everything seem to throb with a what will happen next and we drive past no-tell-motels and storefront churches and I wish I felt like I could shoot photos without feeling like a white-privilege voyeur, and the eastern suburbs lack the sense of landscape, or it's the 1950s kind where things never really took off and half the store signs are for businesses no longer there, and we get late night waffles and talk about everything that's been going on, processing through the bad, laughing at the good, with little nostalgia given how I get sentimental about these things I love so much and we turn in earlier than usual, around 2am instead of 5am, and I wake up late the next morning feeling like half the day is gone.

There is time in the garden, and time catching up on sleep, and time spent pondering the universe with good souls, and walking up the street to an afternoon noise show where folks were friendly and I felt bad for holding my ears through half of it even with earplugs, and it was interesting, it reminded me of my prof who was in Fluxus back in the art school days but I'm just not a noise kid. I like noise with structure, I like songs, I like things that don't remind me of going to the dentist or hanging out next to a jet engine but that is me and purely me. 

I got the art stuff out last night because me and one of the radio girls wanted to get all collagey and I couldn't come up with anything, I need to not be so rusty with all that, it's just that when the days are this golden and lacking in loneliness, it's hard to.

Friday, July 5, 2013

things I never thought would happen

As mentioned in the previous post, there were two awesome shows going on in Fair Clevelandia on Wednesday night. As such, I went over to the gallery in Chinatown because my friend putting on the Evens show said he might need some help getting everything ready. So it doesn't seem so weird and awkward when I'm shaking hands with one of my early-adulthood heroes, because we're moving a wrought-iron canopy thing to the side, figuring out the logistics of the stage, and loading equipment and merch up a freight elevator.

I felt a little embarrassed when it was disclosed that I might be seeing someone else play that night but I ended up sticking around, sent his sister down the street to my favorite source of pad thai, watched the soundcheck, drinking cans of coconut water instead of eating dinner, working the door, taking money and distributing wristbands and then watching the show.

The fans were almost all my age or older, a few straightedge kids, a couple of families, people wearing t-shirts of 80's punk and hardcore and metal bands. I got to watch the show, sang along with the songs I knew, songs that were tightly wound on record and full of intensity live and relevant to the troubled times that we find ourselves in, of increased paranoia and surveillance and instability.

We were encouraged to sing along though I think a lot of us are way more familiar with the old bands, but everyone knew better than to say so. And he went on a digression about how awful drones are and how awful our powers that be are for continuing to use them to traumatize Pakistanis so mad props for that. He gave shoutouts to Charles and me and I'm glad no one knows who I am, because I'm pretty sure I blushed because this is something I never imagined would happen, ever.

Afterwards, I ended up running into a fellow congregant from church, of all people, the guy who is 75 and a former southern baptist minister from Alabama whose son is friends with a bunch of Dischordians and who invited him to the show. I always wondered why he liked my Billy Bragg take on the trad hymns and it makes way more sense now. The smallness of the world is kind of mind-blowing.

We marvel at this, and trade stories of DC and Cleveland with Ian's sister while I watched a line of kids take pictures and get their albums signed. I picked up the records too, but felt too shy there but got a parting shot in the parking lot because I want to remember this. We helped them load up at the end of the night, exchanged goodbyes, and hugs and I drove home too euphoric to sleep, so I hung Christmas lights on my balcony and talked on the phone because it was so beautiful out.

And then I wake up, clean the apartment, hang out with the family, and head over to the neighbors across the border to watch the fireworks, which I missed because my beater was turned away at their nice apartment building, so I missed most of the pyrotechnics but got to watch 'The Warriors' and talk tuneage so all was good. Eight hours of sleep in the past two days. It's a good thing it's dead at work today, though I think I'm still running off of afterglow and caffeine. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

the better of two goods

I've been a longtime fan of most of Ian Mackaye's work, heck, I played two hours worth of his tunes on my show a few weeks back prompting concerns from some listeners that the guy kicked the bucket.

As such, the Evens are playing tonight and I like their new record a lot, and so is Amadou & Mariam and I'm going to try and catch a little of both, because it's rare to never that either come through, and I'm still bummed they're the same time on the same night. At least this city's small and depopulated enough that I can get to the other side of downtown in ten minutes, I guess.

for once, it's firstworldproblems instead of rustworldproblems, go figure.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

summer's glory

This might be my favorite time to live here, when the days are long and we become languid and revel in the warm nights and the fluidity of time, when there are less commitments and the garden begins to bring forth its wealth. There are flowers all over my porch, ripening eggplants and frills of pale green Russian kale, and I'm going to hang out at the lake tonight with a home, plotting night drives with much-missed folks, looking forward to times of loud music and good conversation.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Canada Day for Clevelandians

In my days as an a solitary teenager in the summer, when my parents weren't home, I'd listen to the radio and read and on days when the weather and the winds were right, I'd get the rock stations from Windsor and hear other middle-of-the-road alternative rock and Neil Young songs that never got airplay on this side of Lake Erie. It seemed there must have been some minor fandom in Clevelandia, because we're still on the tour circuit for the likes of Sloan and the Tragically Hip, no doubt due in part to my generation watching MuchMusic in its glory days. My college roommate had VHS tapes full of old music videos that we would watch on the weekends while doing homework.

I still have a big soft spot for that first Our Lady Peace record. I don't know how many of you besides one even care, but here's a Canada playlist.