Category: Music

Cops and Breeders

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet.

My absolute favorite show on the radio is This American Life, hosted and produced by Ira Glass since 1995. It is what it says it is—people talking about life in this country—and defies further description, as their website acknowledges:

One of the problems with our show from the start has been that whenever we try to describe it in a sentence or two, it sounds awful. It’s a bunch of stories—some are documentaries, some are fiction, some are something else. Each week we choose a theme and invite different writers and performers to contribute items on the theme. This doesn’t sound like something we’d want to listen to on the radio—and it’s our show. . . . It’s a weekly show. It’s an hour. Its mission is to document everyday life in this country. We sometimes think of it as a documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries.

Anyway, it’s really good—in my opinion, the most enjoyable hour of radio produced anywhere today. I thought to mention it tonight because I was looking for this past weekend’s show online (it’s not there yet, but each show is archived in streaming RealAudio. Give it a listen).

Incredibly, I found out in my search for archived installments that Ira Glass is going to be here in Minneapolis, two weeks from tonight. Not only that, but he will be having a conversation with Chris Ware of Acme Novelty Library fame (also brilliant) about alternative forms of media! So if you’re anywhere near Minneapolis on February 18, 2002, at 7:30 pm, don’t miss this. It’s sure to be extremely entertaining and edifying.

ornamental divider

Unfortunately, not having done any writing of note in the last week-plus, I now have two weekends to summarize instead of one.

As promised, Cops and Breeders: On January 26th I went home to Hartford to hang out with my mom and see the new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. On the way out of town Saturday morning I realized, “Hmm, it might be a good idea to get tickets to the Breeders concert at the 400 Bar on February 20th that Amber and I plan to go to (the first really good 21+ concert after her 21st birthday), since I noticed they weren’t on sale online anymore.” Though I haven’t checked with the 400 Bar box office, I may have gotten the last two tickets available to that show. How do I figure that? Well, the Electric Fetus (record shop) was sold out. Ticketweb was sold out. Global Village, a store next door to the club, was my second-to-last hope. The woman at the counter, after I asked about the show, checked the outside of the ticket envelope to no avail. “We must not have gotten them in yet,” she speculated, not seeing the name of the concert written on the envelope. My heart sank, assuming that since Electric Fetus had gotten them and sold out of them, Global Village had as well. Then she searched through the envelope. “Wait,” she said, as she pulled out exactly two tickets to the Breeders show, with a rubberband doubled around them. She remarked that it was strange that the name of the show wasn’t on the envelope. My first thought was that someone who worked at the store was saving the last two for themselves, but I kept quiet about that. After I ran to my car to get my checkbook, the tickets were mine.

With that triumph, I left town on Interstate 94, heading east. Much like many other drivers on that route, I tend to drive at a high rate of speed. Some, such as those who nobly assume the awesome responsibility of enforcing the laws of the land, might consider that rate of speed excessive. However, I’ve been extremely lucky that, most times that I drive in excess of the posted limit, I don’t get caught.

A little over a third of the way through my trip, about a half-mile from a rest stop, I was preceded and followed by drivers of similar hasty inclination. I noticed, as I often do, a police cruiser on the side of the road after pulling over some unlucky offender. Seconds later, I saw another one. After that, I saw a third cop. This was all within a quarter of a mile. I decided to stop at the rest stop. I hung out for about 10 minutes or so, doing the usual rest stop things. When I left, after I pulled back onto the freeway, I saw another cop with another (probable) speeder. Unbelievable! Four speeders caught by four different cops within a half-mile, and I was none of them. I lead a charmed life.

Anyway, the museum was great, and I had a good time hanging out with my mom and stepdad, as I always do.

This past weekend, February 1-3, I went to Madison to spend time with some friends from college (Pete, Todd, Gief, and Jess). We went to see Lord of the Rings (me for the 3rd time, Pete for the 6th!), had reasonably good Chinese food, and played lots of Simpsons Road Rage (almost reason enough to buy a Playstation 2. It was for Pete, anyway). Also saw the incredible new office that HBG moved into after I left and played a little Quake (a very infrequent indulgence, which explains why I sucked so much). Good times.

Top Ten of 2001

As this very strange year comes to an end, I believe it’s entirely appropriate for me to compose my year-end Top Ten List. I’ve decided to end the year focusing on the positive. Maybe I should break it out into categories, but I’m just too lazy.

  1. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring twice in one weekend, with Nick and the gang on Sunday
  1. Surviving the year despite one or more incidents in which being in a car could have gotten me killed
  1. Hearing that my brother was hired as a police officer in North Carolina
  1. Seeing a baseball game in Milwaukee with my brother (and spending time with my mom, and my dad, and the rest of my family, the rest of the year)
  1. Enjoying the Land of Evermor in Baraboo, Wisconsin with Amber
  1. Discovering new (to me) music by Built to Spill, Quasi, Death Cab for Cutie, Guided by Voices (um, and, oh yeah, seeing the Minders and Of Montreal in separate shows)
  1. Visiting Seattle in the summer, and seeing Jonathan (and going to the web design conference, at which I got to meet Zeldman briefly)
  1. Launching
  1. Trekking out to Ohio for the Sloan shows in Detroit and (especially) Cleveland, and road-tripping with Will
  1. Enjoying a sunny, lazy day at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in early April with Amber

Barely missed the top 10: my summer road trip to Chicago and Columbus; the end of the state employee strike; finishing the design, though not the production, of the new Minnesota DNR web site. Fairly far off the top 10: shaving off my six-month-experiment full beard (but that was a good thing—believe me).

Happy new year, everyone. See you in 2002.

“for the love of god, just play!”

In two days, it will have been one year since I wrote my first anti-blog entry. I think it’s been good for me. And I’ve already got the bug to redesign (this design is only 9 months old).

Turns out I’ve written 71 entries in a year. That’s once every 5 days, on average… not too shabby, but not too great either. I can do better.

Sloan-fest: It did rock. Here’s some stuff (slightly edited) I originally wrote on the Official Sloan Message Board:

Overall I had a great time at both shows. The Sloan lads were really impressed, I think, with the Cleveland audience, even though they complimented the Detroit crowd more. Murphy seemed at least somewhat affected that the crowd was audibly singing along to everything including the new stuff. The band was definitely in a great mood and played excellently. The Detroit show wasn’t quite as good, but it was still… good.

That part of downtown Detroit, though… sheesh. I hope there are better areas of Detroit than that. It’s worse than most parts of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, New York, Columbus, Cleveland, Sarasota, San Francisco, or Santa Cruz that I’ve ever walked around in. It compares unfavorably with Tampa and Oakland as well, though I have little experience with those two cities (like a day or two). I define “worse” as

  1. looking more economically depressed and
  2. looking less aesthetically pleasing.

I must admit there was some promising development in that area (Comerica Park, a couple theaters and restaurants), but it sure has a long way to go.

I was really impressed with Cleveland, in contrast, and we walked from the venue to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (a little over a mile). I would HIGHLY recommend a trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to anyone who can get to Cleveland. Try to go before the end of 2001, because that’s when they’re taking down the incredibly moving John Lennon exhibit.

Okay, from here on it’s fairly Sloan-oriented, but still a good read. Skip to the rest of today’s entry if you really don’t care.

In Cleveland, Sloan came out planning to play the same setlist as the night before (a slight disappointment) but changed a couple things after polling the crowd (“who’s here from the Detroit show last night?” got a roar from at least half the crowd, conservatively).

The best thing about the club (Peabody’s Downunder, whatever) was the superior sound quality. The mix was perfect, I thought. (For example, It’s In Your Eyes sounded really good as a loud rocker there, and it just sounded messed up in Detroit.)

Otherwise, Peabody’s was a joke. The tickets and the sign posted in the window said that showtime was at 7pm. They didn’t even let us in until 8 or 8:30 because they had to put up 100,000 Guinness signs. They definitely could have sold more beverages had they let us in, the morons. I purposely didn’t buy anything there because they left us out in the cold (okay, it wasn’t that cold, but there was a lake effect). Plus between the bands, twice, some tool producer of a radio show in Cleveland came out and plugged Guinness annoyingly.

The club makes a laughable attempt to “categorize” the bands that perform there on the oversized calendar hanging in their window. Listed for Saturday: “Sloan / Emo Rock”. Since Sloan is obviously not “emo”, we diehards outside speculated that some band or person named Emo Rock might be opening. Then we saw the poster: “Ultimate Fakebook WITH Sloan November 17th.” with the fakes’ web address at the bottom. Uh, yeah, whatever. The club also has such useful and distinct categories as “Hard Rockin’ Rock” and “Extreme Hard Rock.” Credible as hell.

Unbeknownst to us, three bands were playing. The first band, “Sad Davie,” was actually pretty good, I thought. [Were they emo? Someone who knows, tell me.] Amusingly, the members of that band were the people we annoyed (?) through the window by holding up notes asking what was on one of their shirts that was partially obscured by a jacket (disappointingly, “Life is too short to drink cheap wine”) and offering the lead guitarist (we didn’t know) a piece of gum to let us in. He then pantomimed some other things he’d rather have (I swear that one of them was shampoo).

Okay, then Ultimate Flakebook played the exact same stuff as the night before the exact same way, with plenty of flashing of monotonous devil signs. They’re okay but fairly bland. They did sound better than the night before, which was encouraging.

Chris and Patrick [two members of Sloan] attempted to make a joke (that fell flat) about the guy who was wearing the shirt that said “at least I’m still cool to one girl” [a Sloan lyric]. It’s not really worth explaining. I pleaded, “just play the song!” Chris saw me and echoed my gesture, saying “for the love of god, just play!” It was funny at the time.

Anyway, it was a great show. I asked Chris after the show if they were coming to Minneapolis, and he said, “not this time, but in the new year.” Hope that’s January-March, not November-December….

Apparently Will’s friend Penny had an even better experience at the New York City Sloan show. He says she was the one that got picked to go up on stage and play Chris’ bass during their song Underwhelmed (a Sloan tradition). And, unlike anyone I’ve seen up there, she actually PLAYED it. Apparently the band wants to keep in touch with her. Wow. [Photos below courtesy of a friend of a friend of a friend.]



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This site blows me away: The All Music Guide. It makes connections between… well, between pretty much every band that’s put out any music in the last, oh, century. It’s part of the All Media Guide, which apparently tracks games and movies as well. It’s completely amazing. Just put in a band you like and get more information and more leads for more good music than you can even imagine listening to.

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I should find out by the end of tomorrow whether we MAPErs approved our contract or not….

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