December 17, 2011

TOP ALBUMS--2011

10. THE WHOLE LOVE-Wilco
Wilco, always the go-to for Americana experimentation, roar back with The Whole Love. Jeff Tweedy reigns supreme as the most daring and fruitful songwriter of these times and with a crack professional band backing him up, another page turned in their history. From the blast-off of “Art of Almost” to the quiet, stirring confessional “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)” Wilco cement their feet in the palace of rock and roll.

9. BAD AS ME-Tom Waits
Tom Waits is baaaaack! The scrap metal blues are alive and well in 2011 with Waits grumbling and moaning of leaving wherever he is right now. Bad as Me is all about unrest and anxiety and with two and three minute songs, it sounds that way too. Enlisting the help of Keith Richards, Les Claypool, Flea and Marc Ribot, Waits crafted a funky, brash, junkyard treasured album for these monolithically troubled times.

8. HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART 2-Beastie Boys
Yo, throat cancer ain’t nothing but a bitch to the Beastie Boys. Put on hold after Adam "MCA" Yauch discovered a cancerous tumor intruding his salivary glands, Hot Sauce was finally released this year and I almost trashed my entire room by the end of opener “Make Some Noise.” After experimenting with instrumentation on The Mix-Up, the B-Boys returned, a little older and more grizzled, to their trademark goofball raps. All you crab rappers, you’re rapping like crabs.
7. HELPLESSNESS BLUES-Fleet Foxes
Words that have described Fleet Foxes: pastoral, melancholic, folksy, harmonious. After the wild success of their first album it’s easy to get frightened that expectations will get the best of them. Not so with Blues. They made a record that sweetly illustrates the struggle of today’s common man: dragging oneself to work while dreaming of the peaceful woods and searching for moments of tranquility and acceptance. The harmonies are prevalent and folk strumming comforting. This is home, wherever that may be.

6. BLOOD PRESSURES-The Kills
The greatest girl-boy duo since those siblings in red and white stopped production, The Kills return with the very fine Blood Pressures. The songs are quick, to the point, drenched in reverb and tinged with that subtle nostalgia that keeps you coming back. Alison Mosshart vocals slice through the distortion of guitarist Jamie Hince creating end-of-the-world black ballroom music.

5. 4-Beyonce
Beyonce very well could be the supreme diva of our time. It’s so refreshing she didn’t take the electronic pound-it-in-your-head dubstep route other divas (Lady Gaga, Rihanna) have taken to broaden their sound. Each song touches on different genres of pop music to create a well-rounded album. It starts with a downcast mood reflecting on troubled relationships (c’mon Jay!), but pulls itself from the mud to emblazon the speakers with songs like “Love on Top” and “Countdown.” Get it girl!

4. SMOKE RING FOR MY HALO-Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile woke himself up long enough to record this layered acoustic gem. Still less hazy than his previous albums, Smoke Ring is the soundtrack to the marijuana-laced dreams you can never remember. He takes Kurt Cobain’s angst-fried snarling and pours cough syrup all over it. There’s a comfort in lethargy as the world swoons all around your bedroom.



3. THE KING OF LIMBS-Radiohead
The most challenging record of the year is also the most rewarding. Radiohead raise their ceiling of creativity with each new release and The King of Limbs, certainly, is no different. At first you’re not sure if the drum tracks are lined up with the electronic tracks and then you’re wondering what Thom Yorke is saying and before you realize it the song is splashing in glorious ponds of connectivity and all is right with the world. Inside of 38 minutes, but demanding repeat listens, Radiohead prove, once again, why they are skyscrapers above the rest of the pack.

2. WATCH THE THRONE-Jay-Z & Kanye West
Docked from the top spot only because “Made in America” is a terrible song and totally disrupts the mood, Watch the Throne, fulfilled its promise to be the biggest release of 2011. Jay and ‘Ye get deep dissecting what it means to be black, rich and successful in America—pretty fucking fun, but also lonely and disengaging. Their thoughts move past bling and supermodels just long enough to reveal a landscape of paranoia, distrust and insecurity that may give its white audience something to think about before they mutter ‘nigger’ to their friend in the passenger seat. Let’s hope these fuckers never leave their zone.

1. LET ENGLAND SHAKE-PJ Harvey
England’s angel soars above the clouds to deliver the most poetically scathing portrait of her homeland. Dreamlike on arrival, but haunting in tone, England captures the drifting prominence of the United Kingdom as well as America and the rest of the E.U., for that matter. Harvey reflects on the atrocities of war and the unrelenting aftermath that follows. “The Words That Maketh Murder” offers a soldier’s deathly perspective as he walks the battleground filled with an unknown regret. It’s national pride gone awry, turned inward and defensive, and it comes through on the haunted breeze that is Harvey’s voice.

October 23, 2011

DRONE CONTROL

NATIONAL BALLSUCKERS ASSOCIATION
     Okay. Enough is enough. It's time to feed fatbody David Stern to the lions. The NBA commissioner and his band of super-rich owners have turned a prickly, uncomfortable situation into an ugly funeral march. After three straight days of negotiations, including one 16-hour day, the talks between owners and players on how to divvy up finances in a flopping economy have been halted. Any morsel of positivity that was dangling above the marathon meetings has been gulped down into the blackness of uncertainty.
     As the players come down percentage point by percentage point on revenue sharing the owners continue to stand undeterred and unwilling to compromise. It is their way or the highway. And that highway leads to a fractured, if not totally destroyed season, loss of fan interest and the end of some critical hall of fame careers.
     Earlier in the month there was verbal agreement from both sides on a 47/53 split siding with the players, but before that had time to fester, Stern and company tip-toed back shamelessly asking if the players would consider 50/50. The players balked and walked away.
     It's appalling why the owners would keep up such a hard stance in these negotiations. Last time I checked owning a major sports team cost quite a bit of cash. These owners' bank accounts were overflowing well before they purchased their teams, and wasn't it the sheer love of basketball that urged them to buy? As true lovers of the game it's hard to understand why someone of wealth would put dollars before actual action. Sure you may not be making as much as you could, but at least THERE WOULD BE GAMES.
     To ask the players to make as much as the owners do is totally ludicrous. They've already come down huge, from 57% of revenue, which does stand to be a bogus-load of income. But let’s face the facts: the league would not have two legs to stand on if it weren't for the players. Last season had the highest ratings ever. Why? Because people were interested to see what the Miami Heat could do. They were interested to see what Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and that other guy, could do. When the Heat came to Sacramento to play against the lowly Kings, fans bought tickets just to watch those guys play and if you weren't rooting for them, you were vehemently hoping to see them fail. It's the players who drive competition and spark fan excitement. Without that kind of personality attached to the game, it'd just be a couple dudes sweating in a gym. Nobody wants to watch that.
     After the Dallas Mavericks pounced on the Heat in the Finals and the labor talk rumblings began, it seemed it wouldn’t be too big a burden. Now it’s become a nightmare. There goes training camp. There goes the preseason. There go the first two weeks. There goes November. Once Christmas games are officially canceled the nightmare will become fully realized and the asterisks will abound.
     When I shut my eyes at night I have visions of basketballs spinning in my head. I imagine alley-oops, no-look passes and pick-and-rolls perfected. When I wake the only news is Stern’s melting Jabba the Hutt face. Go Bruins?

October 22, 2011

DRONE CONTROL

DRAW YR SWORDS, CUT SOME SLACK
     As Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's body begins the process of decomposition and the now-free Libyan's fire bullets victoriously into the air, the focus immediately returns back to the States with President Obama's announcement today that he'll keep his campaign promise in ending the senseless nine year Iraq War. By year's end all remaining troops in the region will make their way home (leaving behind only a scant group of contractors). The first image to flash in my mind upon reading this news was the one of a sailor returning home from World War II and quickly scooping up a pretty dame for a deep, passionate, home-town kiss in Times Square. Bring the Boys Back Home!
     There may be harsh waves of noise swarming the President, and the government in general, but one cannot deny the focus he has shown throughout. He didn't jump the gun in the War Room when pressed about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, but rather, listened, carefully to all opinions and scenarios. He stood firm in his stance on how America should help Libyan rebels deal with Gaddafi, even when many in his respected circle, including Vice President Biden, urged him to think differently. As a result bin Laden (as well as numerous al-Qaeda lackeys destined to take his place) have been eliminated, and a deranged dictator has been removed so that a whole nation of people may find their own prosperity.
     He has done what George W. Bush could only enact slogans and banners for. Talking hard in a thick Texan drawl doesn't magically create progress. Obama has proved it's possible to honor the American rite of justice without a balls-to-the-wall, "lets git ‘em" mentality, and actually take the time to look at the whole scope of the situation and its following decision. It’s Chess, not Ping Pong.
     Now with today’s reassuring announcement, the attention becomes fully pinned on taming the unrest mad-dogging the country. It's a large step forward, symbolically and financially for us. Don't it make ya feel great for the tough brutes crawling in desert dirt without much inclination of why or for whom? We don’t need to be losing dollars and lives for causes abroad right now, or ever. It’s an important day for America and for the President. Hopefully it doesn't get drowned in mock rebuttals and shoulder shrugs from the right. It’s time to cheer for a President who listens to the ills of the public and not be waiting with condemnation cloaks on the sidelines. Not everything in American politics will ever be perfect, but the little victories do pile up if they’re allowed to.

September 28, 2011

DRONE CONTROL

GIVE GOOD RADIOHEAD
         Trying to buy tickets to Radiohead's two-night stay at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City is like being one of billions of sperm trying to penetrate the Egg of Life.
         At precisely 10:00 a.m. last Monday, when tickets officially went on sale to the general public, I refreshed Ticketmaster.com and waited patiently with my green plastic credit card. For fifteen minutes I watched a rotating circle as the site searched for an available ticket and my heart pounded as unevenly as the drumbeat for “15 Step.”
         The band has been storming the concrete beaches of New York City this week. First they opened the new season of “Saturday Night Live” performing “Lotus Flower” from The King of Limbs and the unreleased “Staircase.” Then they expanded “The Colbert Report” to a full hour, participated in a very bashful interview and played six songs. Tonight and tomorrow night they’ll play to a packed house at the Roseland Ballroom and I, unfortunately, will not be there, but instead will be drinking cheap rot-gut wine and closing my eyes tight as their full discography plays as loud as the buttons will allow.
         Tickets disappeared about as fast as factual information on global warming leaves Michelle Bachmann’s head. And with good reason. In today’s market of cheap melodic thrills and faltering musicianship, Thom Yorke, Ed O’Brien, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway are the most important act around.
         They continuously push themselves as artists, never falling back on what worked. Starting out as a loud British rock-and-roll band, they’ve evolved into a socially conscientious, progressive musical entity that defies any real labeling. They could’ve made different versions of OK Computer at least three times before venturing into the electronic death-zone of Kid A and Amnesiac, both released over ten years ago. But they’re after more than marketability and dollars, which is something most bands today can’t say. They exist for their own merit and for the challenge of making music that transcends what’s already been popular.
         By putting 2007’s In Rainbows online for the price of the consumer’s choosing, they took a big chance. But since then other artists, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Wilco, Kanye West and countless others, have followed suit. They recognized the death of the record industry and took action into their own hands. For this, their fans will forever feel a kinship towards them.
         In February this year Radiohead entered the Internet and spooked us all again by announcing the release of The King of Limbs, their eighth album. I for one had my reservations about where the album would go and when I first heard it, I admit, I felt a little lost. The 9-song collection is a swamp of loops and echoes and was at first difficult to find moments of connectivity (except for “Lotus Flower,” which claimed itself an instant classic). Since then, however, it has flourished and been injected into my bloodstream. (“Little By Little” is my favorite.) The fact that they pull off the complicated rhythms and loops live is a testament to how god-damn good this band is. They make the Beatles look like Hansen.
         I hope those selling tickets online for a thousand dollar profit soon enter the jaws of hell and choke. I hope thatchu choke.
         WINE REFILL

September 27, 2011

SHAKY INFRASTRUCTURE

The crash and the wave
for wood paneling and faith
ambulance sirens have replaced
in the morning dew church bells
and all is laid to waste. Pillars
of structures deemed functionally
obsolete the megaphone don't
switch on anymore but the
throats still yell from the floor
George Washington crying in
the gutter green tears like mint
julep a forty dollar dish I
can't afford any more than
what I can afford, 99c fries,
soap, a bus ticket and the
sunlight, somewhere, on the
afternoon of a lifetime
uprooted in chaos.
Slowly we unravel our
hands reaching from the
gravel to the sky that turns
to space is much too far to
travel and there are lengths
to go, despair to share and
a thought process to keep
ignited against the blare of
misinformation that stabs
(they don't care) the chords
along our necks have
amassed much wear
and tear.

September 14, 2011

TEN YEARS GONE: September 11, 2011

TEN YEARS GONE
Through the blocks around Ground Zero, September 11, 2011

“Then as it was, then again it will be / And though the course may change sometimes / Rivers always reach the sea” – Robert Plant, from “Ten Years Gone”

**

     Pushing South on Church Street toward the 9/11 memorial in New York City ten years to the morning of America’s most horrific moment brought one of many scenes of cringing confrontation. A young woman clearly torn emotionally made sharp dashes through the crowd toward the railing that lined the sidewalks.
     “Show some fucking respect!” she shouted over policemen, across the street, at a large mob of 9/11 truthers. They held colorful signs depicting possible government involvement in the attacks. The woman tried to walk away, tried to keep her cool and push their messages from her head, but she kept slinging back fiercely to the barricade, almost toppling over. Each screeching curse she shot out was met with unforgiving chants of “No Justice! No Peace!” and “9/11 was an inside job!”
     In the aftermath of 9/11, in New York City, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, were heaps and piles of debris with haunting questions rising above, flowing and swirling with the air currents above the whole country, and the rest of the world. Now, ten years gone, the debris has been carted off and disposed of, but the questions still remain. The events of that day turned Hollywood hijackings into historical realities and in the utter confusion Americans found comfort in the stronghold of each other’s arms, a shield from the unprovoked fear, but on September 12, 2001 the erosion had only just begun.
     The mood on the morning of the tenth anniversary was dour. Nearly all eyes were thrown to the sidewalk walking through the mass. A “credible, but unconfirmed” threat days before kept the streets sparse and eerily silent for the largest metropolis in the world. On every block a pair of police officers stood, grim-faced and eyes scanning. More walked through the crowds, as did packs of Marines in their light-green get-ups. Gates were placed along the sidewalks, and if anyone lingered for too long to try and get a glimpse of the ceremonies two blocks away, they were ushered along
by an officer with an expression almost begging for no argument.
     The persistent 9/11 truthers bemoaned the usual conspiracies of World Trade Center 7 and the supposed explosions from within the towers that were prematurely reported on that morning, but never given credence afterwards. They held out pamphlets and constructed poster-board presentations for the public to scan, making full use of their First Amendment right to ask questions and seek real answers.
     It was a disheartening sight. Vendors sold exclusive memorial t-shirts for twenty dollars. Journalists scribbled notes and conducted interviews. Boom mics hovered above television reporters getting the scoop for the afternoon and nightly news. The cackle of protestors mixed with the hours-long loudspeaker death recall. There was no complete consensus on how to behave, no full commitment to understanding.
     An old man with thick black-rimmed glasses, a Harry Carey smile and pants pulled up to his mid-stomach, held up a picture of Osama bin Laden that celebrated and thanked President Obama for the erasure of his existence. The man was very quiet and unalarming, but even he was hassled by a hot conspiracy theorist who flipped open a book and pointed to supposed facts regarding bin Laden’s lack of association with the attacks. The old man was patient, though a little taken aback, and finally muttered, “Tell this crowd that.” The man attempted to rally the passing folk, turned and shouted, “Osama bin Laden was not responsible for 9/11! Wake the fuck up people!” But there was no response, only a confused silence.
     New Yorkers have an intense ability to stand defiant in the wake of disasters because, well, the world is always watching them first, but yet, with 9/11 there is an inability to move on. A young man walking his bike through the crowd-sludge was overheard saying, “It’s over,” with a tone teetering on disgust. A much older white man with cornrows responded bluntly and with full conviction, “It’s never over.”
     This sentiment could be heard in the quivering voices of family members as they listed alphabetically the names of the deceased. Only family members were allowed entry into the opening of the memorial and able to participate in the accompanying ritual of name-reading. After ten years, one has to wonder, will this dragged-out, televised grieving stop, or at least minimize? Six bells rang for moments of silence in remembrance according to the exact timeframe of terror and death: four for when each flight crashed and two for when the North and South towers collapsed. How does one fully get over tragedy when it’s mimicked and recited again and again?
     The ceremonies began with current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reflecting on the lives lived under the umbrella of catastrophe. Former President George W. Bush, President Barak Obama, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani all played a part and read a few words. Paul Simon and James Taylor provided the comfort of song and all around the city were events and special commemorations. The somber tone was dreadfully evident early on, but as time pulled past noon, the lively, wide-eyed New York City started to shine through again. It was a strong relieving sigh.
     Construction cranes now poke out constantly from the most famous city skyline. Where the towers once stood are now waterfalls of reflection in a design by Michael Arad. The water fills in the square dents those skyscraper beasts first made when construction began in the late Sixties. The names of the fallen are etched into the surrounding steel so that generations of families and tourists will know who it was that suffered. In all its unfinished glory stands One World Trade Center, which when completed, will rise 1,776 feet high and reclaim the title of tallest building in the United States like a giant middle finger to those who spend their entire lives triggering hate for this country.
     Ten years ago nineteen members from Al-Qaeda, with bin Laden’s prodding, took a chunk from the bottom of our structural national confidence, knocking us to the same level of countries that have risen and fallen many times before. The reality that came into view once the smoke cleared was that we may not always be at the top. We can no longer assume that just by simply being America, or American, we are the best. What September 11 did was remind us that we have to work for that title. It no longer just is. The terrorists succeeded in injecting a frothing fear into the country, a distrust of one another – but that will dissipate in time. What they didn’t expect was the shattering of complacency to aid the energy to fight, to stand up from the rubble of corruption and be heard.
     America is rife with contradictions, unfairness, and a sometimes incessant ringing in the ear canals. But it also has what other countries lack and that’s the platform to peacefully protest, to challenge authority, to ask questions. As we deal with each new problem of the 21st century (of the - gasp! – post 9/11 world) it’s important to remember those ideals, handed down to us by the Signers of the Declaration. All closed-door policies, idiocy, and secrets aside, we can still band together and make our points loudly, by cell-phone, through internet, by shouting, with hands held in human chains. America is always ours for the taking should we amass enough vigor to take it.

September 05, 2011

Tweedy & co. get those juices flowing

With mud on their palms, Wilco climb up the slide for 'The Whole Love'
         This just in: Wilco have stepped off their plateau and scaled up another mountain. One of the most progressive and hypnotically evolved rock bands of this early 21st century chime in with another notch on their belt of creativity with, The Whole Love. On September 27, the band will release their new album on their own infant label, dBpm. It streamed for free on their website, wilcoworld.net, over the weekend, giving the world the chance to experience new music all at once, just like old times. The revolving image of a vinyl record made it seem that much more real.
         After phoning it in for 2009's Wilco (The Album), lead singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy, guitarist Nels Cline, drummer Glenn Kotche, bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalists Pat Sansone and Mikael Jorgensen come surging ahead, out front where they belong. And what a fresh breath of air it is!

         The album dives deep into the jumbled rhythms and vibrations of opener, "Art of Almost," swims to the bottom, then comes up gasping for air and almost blacks out. Instantly, it could be considered a Wilco classic, following in the footsteps of “At Least That’s What You Said,” off of A Ghost is Born and “Bull Black Nova” from Wilco (The Album).

         At their own Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts this year Wilco only previewed one new song, the first official single, “I Might.” Without the torrential rain that obscured their set it reveals itself as a jaunty pop song with whirling carnival organ and some sweet backing vocals. It’s shocking why they didn’t try more of the new material out at the festival. Possibly they needed more time to rehearse, because these songs are loaded with waves of sound and imploding structures.

         The title is accurate because it fills the speakers up to their edges. Rarely are there moments of empty space. The first quiet song is "Black Moon," and it finds Tweedy lovelorn and sappy. It gets a lift from Cline's graceful slide guitar and expands and recedes with thick orchestral strings before fading off into the moonlight. Next comes the blasting, "Born Alone," sounding like the musical adaptation of fourth of July fireworks. It beats into the brain with ecstatic glee, but pins the listener with the conflicting line, "I was born to die alone," and the celebration becomes distorted.

         Lyrically, The Whole Love is filled with the usual melodramatic, but clever and quirky, lines by Tweedy. He teeters between self-mockery and heart juice spillage. On the swanky "Capitol City," he's stuck in a corner unsure of what to do with himself. "I wish you were here, or, I wish I were there with you," he laments. The song could be the soundtrack to a brisk walk through the most postcard-ready city summer scene. It's not hard to imagine Tweedy kicking his feet before him in a Jiminy Cricket shuffle down the avenue as animated sky-blue birds flutter around his mop.

         Maybe all those annoying, undeserved “dad-rock” labels did something to Tweedy and he saw the decline of boring his band was falling into. At Solid Sound Festival they did a simple walk through the hits without much enthusiasm and it was difficult to see where they would fly to next. On The Whole Love, though, it’s clear their musicality is still relevant. They are still striving to push themselves beyond their limits and the results here are stunning as ever.


Key Tracks: “Born Alone,” “I Might,” “Art of Almost”

September 01, 2011

DRONE CONTROL

THE SWAMP IS INFESTED DEAR GOD
         Mr. President, my cherished Mr. President, I have stuck by you like cement to the sidewalk, spoken back to co-workers labeling you foolishly as a socialist, even signed your 50th birthday e-card, but, Mr. President, I now have to ask, Where is your backbone?? Did it spill out of Martha's Vineyard down the gargling throat of Irene the tease? Has it been chopped and spliced by the chefs of congressional deceit? Is it folded up in Mrs. President's handbag? For the first time since your historical election I'm thinking against you and I don't like it.
         House Speaker John Boehner, the thorn in this country’s political side, has jumped from out of the shark tank again. Baffled at President Obama’s announcement that his speech on job creation would come on the same date as the next Republican debate, Boehner asked him to reschedule. The House Speaker asked the President to move a speech concerning the one and only issue on every voter, congressman, and candidate’s mind so as not to interfere with a conversation between a group of knuckleheads trying to become the next president?! And without much skirmish or fight, the President bowed down and changed his plans?! Why is the President kneeling down so swiftly to Boehner and the Republicans? Tell me it’s a programming issue! Tell me it’s a calculated silent attack I’m too dumb to get!
         Possibly Obama is thinking that after the Republicans fidget around their ideas of how to get Americans working again, he can then get on the media outlets and roast them with his concrete details. If he were to speak just before the debates then maybe the fear is that his talking points would be swallowed in headlines of ‘Bachmann vs. Romney!’ ‘Perry vs. Huntsman!’ ‘Gingrich vs. A Scented Candle!’. Sorta reasonable, I guess. All I know is the time to fight fire with fire is long overdue. Washington is as toxic as Fukushima right now and the President is simply throwing a couple of slushies on to cool it down. Why hasn't his presidential boot thumped into the dirt yet? He should be hollering from the mountaintops, “THIS IS THE PLAN MOTHER FUCKERS, GET BEHIND ME OR GET MURDERED!” (Metaphorically, of course).
         The Republicans have shown they are fearless -- stupid, but fearless -- in the face of their higher authority. As batshit and disconnected as their ideals might be, they do go after them full throttle. It pains me to say it, but there are shreds of respect drifting somewhere in that statement. They are playing a cruel game where a compromise is equal to losing. Mr. President, I know that’s not the game you came to play in Washington, but you’ve got to stop letting their bullshit rhetoric rain down on you like pigeon shit and pump up the volume. Make “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor mandatory listening every morning in the White House. Tattoo a tear on your eye socket. Anything! Stop cowering and attack them with your swords! Please don’t let rich white man ethics continue to brutalize this country!

June 16, 2011

MICHAEL

The black carpenter ants that crawl on the

walls, the floorboards, across bathroom tiles, over

front porch under back porch, can lift their body

mass by twenties in a cinch pinchers clenched and for

4.5 hours every few days I'm working hard, or, hardly

working, trying not to flashback to the steps I made to

avoid my current part-time post-collegiate situation. I

stare at the tiles to pass the time and walk quickly, or,

stand in one spot thinking of everything but time.

When my eyes close I see green fields before me

milking the sun and just before I jump into

hallucinatory somersaults my eyes open and there

are the tiles reflecting back oblong spheres of light.

Customers of varying degree ask for googly eyes,

double-sided tape, anniversary banners, candles, the

restroom. I point. * Two great big arms wrap around

the building connecting at the entrance with interlock'd

fingers closing us all in with a fun sugary hug.

Triangular Dog Ears


         The dogs run this land.
         Their paws have pressed into the burning red sand that starts and ends with the horizon. They travel together in packs, but each independently searches, panting and confused. They yap back and forth at each other, at snakes camouflaged in thorns and rocks and the automobiles that, every so often, slowly come to a stop before returning in the opposite direction. Always on the move, always surging ahead, then the dogs are off, blitzing to where the sun warps sight.
         Once domesticated, these dogs have left walls and linoleum kitchens behind to find a newfound freedom in the dirt road. They are the shades of dirt. Soot black with sharp brown tips. Muddy brown, burnt tan. All have ribs that curve out like the bones of a ship. Some have spots, some have clouds of dust that follow them and some, more than others, stink.
         These dogs don’t understand the lengths and limitations of time. They float above sea level and their shadows constantly morph dragging over sun-baked boulders and angulated plant forms. If one has but a single chance to center their gaze through the eyeball of a canine, if only briefly, they will witness the whole vastness of the desert and a life occurring in circular expansion.

         The sun shone ancient as ever. Its rays dug right into the earth, slowly drilling, deeper and deeper with the afternoon. The landscape was always some shade of tan, the color of dust, or sometimes a burnt orange like hot coals, or even a pale, fading purple just before night gulps it down in blackness. The midday horizon was a conniving lake reflecting the jagged whale mountains that appeared as a row of handmade tools. There were no trees, though, every now and then a mesquite tree would materialize, languid as hell, and weighed down by its own exhaustion. Nothing, nevertheless, to take the pleasure of shade in.
         Avoiding the heat was a near impossible game the members of the tribe were constantly forced to play. Peak heat hours found the grown, and growing men, huddled in their teepees joking, or witling a new tool, a decorated walking stick or chubby figurine. A face contorted looking up toward the sky or a mother figure carrying baskets of bread. In mid-squat their sweat would collect and drop to the dirt floor. The old grandmothers and young girls taught each other their differences through the strategic guise of cooking, sewing. The mothers cared for the infants, nursing them for the dreaded patterns of history, but doing so with easy smiles. Smiles the infants eagerly returned and then everything was like the arctic for a moment.
         Chief Hell Hawk was their leader. His eyes could penetrate the orifice of the lone soul and his skin was like so much shredded burlap. In legend his height may reach fifteen feet, but, in actuality he stood just under seven. His headdress shimmered with the colors of traded macaw feathers, sandwiched between alternating black crow and dark brown hawk feathers. Only within the confines of his triangular teepee corner did Chief Hell Hawk lay down his headdress, and then only to sleep right beside it. When Chief Hell Hawk had some announcement to give the entire tribe encircled him and regurgitate his words days after. When his eyes suddenly veered slight, but proficiently, to the left in alarm, each head of those nearby snapped in that direction.
         Through the process of familial hierarchal elimination, Chief Hell Hawk was given control of the land on which his tribe sat. Many long summers of blood-shedding that routinely turned to winters of rigid devastation, passed before the land became the unending plane of disheartened neutrality it was now. The long-ago battles were no longer realities, but articles of history, the past, myths of exaggerated importance. Sometimes they fell upon deaf ears and sometimes they frightened and shocked, raising an excitable anger. The eldest of the tribe were roughly a generation removed from personal relations to the veterans of these battles. The humiliating pain and dissension suffered by their Great-Greats had become folklore to bounce off the children and, as each generation grew more distant, it became harder and harder for them to identify with the past.
         Chief Hell Hawk was a young void of flesh, barely able to comprehend a fresh root from a dead branch, when he witnessed the struggles of his grandfather, then his own father, as they tried in vain to adapt to a way of life they’d never been given the time to appreciate. Their ancestors enjoyed a borderless life and now they were being put in place and given laws to live by. Chief Hell Hawk sighed at these thoughts and looked at the parched youth with hopelessly slanted eyebrows. When his vision extended further, however, and he saw that desert reaching, a smile curved his expression and his brows relaxed. The noncombustible land, with its invisible walls of distance, was everything and would always be there, trapping them, but at least leaving them be. Hope was always in the air above the tribe, but hope was still, only air.
         The seer of the tribe shook when his thoughts – the thoughts only few could attempt to understand – struck him, unpleasantly, in the back of his mind. The last dying membrane of the tribe, grown into a life of mass delusion, silent prayer and taught the tales of ancestors who’ve disciplined with gods and have shed so much skin for the sake pure being. His mind was trained to follow the particles of thought that fell deep into oblivion in order to arrive at some haunted wisdom. His pupils would orbit, disappearing beyond his lids, and that’s when the elders knew a vision had knocked him. He’d be flying through some myth-laden awareness and they’d be looking impatiently at one another with mouths going crooked. Only those brave and close enough to the seer would ask him of his vision. Only rarely did he speak of it, and only then for fear of losing the memory. Mostly he’d crane his head toward the sky, take in full complete breaths, then slowly rise and disappear beyond the teepee.
         His life was getting late. Among the tribe, they knew he was a rarity that might even outlast his prestige. His red mountain skin sagged from his elbows, neck, cheeks, thighs and ass. Days would pass leaving him completely voiceless, staring at the sun, sitting on rocks or walking until his wet ghost danced in his place.
         His actions were never questioned. Everyone trusted his grasp on life and knew his family history was not to be discredited. He had witnessed miracles, glimpsed the future, spoken with long-dead ancestors in the way ants communicate. Nothing anyone else could ever do or say could be translated appropriately enough to make him change his mind. The children would remember him creeping in the background of group events -- a kooky, old, stubborn man with some high silent status they were too young to understand.
         The seer awoke one morning to the sound of a distant howling -- a common noise that blanketed the flatlands often. When he took his first gaze at the fresh sunlight he noticed an encroaching blackness in the upper-right field of his vision. His right eye itched. It felt like a thumb was pushing it from behind when closed. It started to swell shut lop-siding his real visions of nature. The mountains were bruised and the sun light dimmed. He found that if he shut his eye too tight, a gushing pain erupted behind his eyeball. He sniffed at the pain with open nostrils. He looked at his feet as he walked on the cardboard-flavored ground. By afternoon his right eye had closed completely. A dark purple spread, vine-like, across the socket. The lip of his lid, a dark red slit, folded upward slightly, looking like the opening seconds of sunrise over the ass-black ocean.
         A cloud canopy cooled the sunlight. He sat before his teepee on a chair his grandfather crafted. Two fat logs raised him above the ground. People out in the calm air walked past him many times. They wandered from the obscurity of his wound and their worried expressions eased into him. He tried to ignore it. What if our great seer cannot see? They asked themselves. A man in black snapped a picture. The unraveling of secrecy allowed a crowd to form. Amidst low rumblings they stared at the seer and he, back at them, both with equal amounts of uncertainty on their faces. Flies landed on shoulders.
         Slicing through the crowd, politely tapping shoulders, was JP Morgan Medicine Man. He wore a helmet of horns and seemed to lack eyelids, for his eyes were in a constant state of bulging hysteria. He was informed of the strange contusion on the seer’s eye and left his teepee at once. When he walked up to the seer’s face everyone fell silent. Chief Hell Hawk looked on with arms crossed. JP inspected, wide-eyed, about two inches from the wound. He told the seer he knew of a root that lay out in the desert just waiting to be plucked. It would surely cure his pruning eyeball he assured. Just then, JP left on an excursion and returned days later. To the seer, though, it was as if he blinked his good eye only once and the medicine man was back. In his hand was the chunk of root, freshly green and turning whiter at the torn end. Clumps of black dirt clung to it falling one by one. “Let’s go inside,” he said. With Chief Hell Hawk following, they went in.
         JP clenched his fingers over the stalk, squeezing it into a thick paste while staring at the seer’s blemish. “Let me rub this on your problem.” He swiped a dollop of the crushed root with his pointer and middle fingers and gently toiled it into the bubbling eye socket. The green paste, when smeared, turned more and more opaque, melting into his pores. The seer stood patiently, his arms anchored to the floor. Through an opening in the teepee some gawkers peered onto the scene. Chief Hell Hawk abruptly flanked the opening shut and stood in their way. JP stepped back, examining the seer with his bad eye glistening. “Now you will sleep, and let the root work its magic,” he said.
         The seer, with back to the ground, stared at the top center of his home. As the sun shouted at everything he drifted into heightened sleep. ** When he awoke in the sleep region it was dark. He walked out of the teepee to a cold evil wind sweeping across the top of the rock ground. It blew his hair wildly and caused rapid blinking. The desert had turned into some strange new Arctic terrain and the skies were the inner depths of the decaying ocean. No other teepees were around. After he took a few steps from his it rushed away in the arms of the wind. He was alone.
         As he walked he noticed a large dark mass waltzing through the clouds. It was difficult to identify its exact size or shape. He slowly approached filled, half with cautious fear and half with an electric youthful exuberance. The shape broke through a cushion of clouds to reveal itself as a giant fish swimming through the skies and it looked straight at the seer’s face with its big lifeless eyes. After surfacing, the fish erupted, spitting another fish out onto the desert ground. It landed, sloppy and drowned, a few feet before the seer. The skies closed.
         Curiously compelled, he walked to the fish and knelt. A piece of red cloth dripped from its mouth. It was drenched in placenta goo the likeness of pumpkin innards. The seer tugged on it and felt it tighten. He pulled harder, but had to hold the dead fish down to keep it from moving with his pull. Pinning the back fin to the ground with his left hand, he yanked the cloth with his right and noticed a small rupture pop from inside the fish, then felt a slackening with the cloth. He wrapped the cloth around his hand, cranking, until he pulled it completely out. At the end of the long cloth the fish’s heart was tied, dangling in an uneven circle.
         Blood dribbled out from the fish, half-way turned inside out -- filleted. Its dead eyes reflected the anxious weather forecasting doomsday above. The seer stood stunned as the winds walled around him. His fist around the cloth opened allowing the fish heart and its leash to be taken away by the air. Staring down he sensed, for the first time since infant ages, fear. He fell to his knees and began to weep. The tears gushed, flowing with dry memories. They fell from his eyeballs and splashed away into the vortex of movement.
         A red cloth brushed his shoulder and though he didn’t at first realize it, it persisted causing him to look over his shoulder. The cloth hung before him and led endlessly into the sky. At first he wasn’t sure what to do, but soon gave into his own fascination and increasing desire to leave behind his tragic findings. He clenched it and held on as he sailed up into the colliding skies. **
         When he woke up he could smell his body baking in the triangular oven. He sat up and looked around. Next to a hand-weaved blanket a clay bowl with a bit of the mashed root still spread on sat. He felt his swollen eye noticing his vision fully intact. The root dried up the sore. As he stood up the wind that sucked into his body gave him a thankless nausea that almost made him sit back down. He gathered himself, breathed deeply, then moved through the flaps.
         Sun seared the cracked ground. It was hot, but not burning enough to keep the entire tribe from stepping outside and the seer wondered where they were. A close mile away he saw them clumped together. Their bodies seemed to sprout suddenly like a forest. Each of the near-sixty heads in attendance sunk below the collar bone. Chief Hell Hawk stooped over a miscellaneous heap he had trouble comprehending. A land dog lay out on its side, breathing patterns absent. The lines in Chief Hell Hawk’s face pointed toward the body, inches away. The dog eyes were frozen and rolled and the dried-out tongue spilled over the teeth. The head bent upward cracking the neck at the throat. There was no blood. Curling out from the neck gap were veins of all colors.
         Chief Hell Hawk, filled with sorrow, warmly pet the dog with a sadness that threw dents in his brows. His pupils were crow black and shrinking. As he rubbed his hands along the fur, its coarseness turned altogether smooth. His hands gathered oil as little sprockets of fur fell off. His sadness turned to horror then morphed into bewilderment in the span of twelve strokes. He rubbed the dog harder, wildly distraught, until he felt the unusual gumminess of its skin. The thinning fur revealed a layer of spoiled, gelatinous tissue. It leaked with a substance like watered-down Jell-O.
         He stepped back quickly, frightened, upon noticing the goop clinging to his hand. Twisted gasps rolled out from the crowd. Eyes darted from Chief Hell Hawk’s hand to the hole in the dog, which mostly drained. Beyond the liquidated dog viscera was a mysterious grey. Not like the grey of the skies before a heavy rain, or the grey of the falling feather of a peasant. This grey was flat, two-dimensional and dully reflected the sunlight back into everyone’s eyes. Chief Hell Hawk eerily moved back to the canine. He felt the opening and noticed it was hard. When he tapped it a metallic chink sound rose up and echoed through all ears. Faces found disorder and perplexed expressions.
         When the seer walked up he was suffocated by their confusion. “What is wrong?” he asked the closest person as he made his way through. “This dog is not right,” a young man told him trembling with total damnation in his throat. “My vision is repaired and I see you all distressed,” the seer remarked as he approached the center. “What to think?” Chief Hell Hawk asked, locking eyes with the seer. “This dog is dead. But not only that, made of materials far from that of bone, flesh and skin. This dog is from the roads,” he concluded. The strips of pavement were a grid they never understood. There was nowhere to be found at the end of the roads. They lead out into regions they wished not to believe in. Beyond the mountains and beyond the heat is where you get lost.
         At the furthest visible point of the most distant road an automobile moved. It seemed to grow in the distortions of heat. A hallowed roar barraged the airspace throwing everyone’s attention opposite the dog. This wasn’t one of the rare, but harmless vehicles that sometimes flashed their obnoxious colors around. This was pure machine with a centipede body and armored layers. It was not on any road, but sliced right down the middle of the dirt. They could see it was made of the same solid grey that shone from inside the dead dog. As the details brought difficult questions, the weak and weary fled, inharmoniously, into the folds of their teepees grasping for some protection. Their screams mixed with the hard hell-noises growing louder through the dust.
         Chief Hell Hawk stood defiantly, the strange dead dog motionless at his feet. There was nothing he could do of the panic in the minds of his people. He hardly knew what to do himself. Before him something he was unsure of threatened his existence and he didn’t know what to do about it. He could only allow the deep insertion into madness to begin. A few feet before him, the seer fell to his knees, almost giving up. His eyes shut so tightly his lashes interlaced with each other. A quivering ran from the core of his neck to the backs of his knees. It was as if his heart were attempting to saw its way out of his chest. Chief Hell Hawk walked up to him.
         “This is our final fight my great friend,” Chief Hell Hawk said, clamping his palm down on the seer’s shoulder. “May the dogs find their own way.” His grasp let up and the seer watched as Chief Hell Hawk ran towards the horizon line and the growing beast he would not defeat. The dust kicked up from his tightening ankles and fluttered in his wake.
         The automobile had become more than that. It was a strange machine, a hunk of malnourished metal eating up the desert, a devouring god and it obstructed the landscape blowing a screen of blasted rock before it. It created sounds at levels they had never experienced. The seer stood up and watched helpless as it obliterated all he’d known.
         The tribe barked and foamed. Raw strength was all they knew and they put it before everything in their last ditch effort to eliminate their demise, or at least maybe postpone it for considerations of negotiation. The fight raged on a timescale distorted by space. The fresh color of sodomized sparks flashed orange and corroding red hues. The sound of their cries turned into the sound of flesh hitting metal, metal hitting rock, which gave way to the sound of the machine’s solo chugging. The enthusiasm of color eventually dulled until there was only grey and brown. Bones shivered and dropped as the sun sadly slouched, out of touch and feeling hideous, between the mountains.
         Over time the grill-top ground turned pale with cement, thick and established, abetting the horizon. A cinder block grey, laid out like a blanket. Keeping progress warm and allowing conventional ideas to rest and fester. Upon scorched tones of grey were stacks of shapes, each differing slightly from another, and of a shade a slight touch different from that of the dog and its following machine. The final battle told to no one, covered by letters of neon. The end of land, the flood of real estate and television assignments galore.

May 22, 2011

DRONE CONTROL

AMERICA THE HOAXLAND:
When H. C. gets sucked off by a bunch of suckers
         It's Sunday, a little over twenty-five hours since the world, as predicted by Harold Camping, was supposed to end, or at least, begin its demise. So what does that make today? Either the heavenlies of the world disappeared under our noses, leaving the rest of us here to deal with fire, floods, famine, earthquakes and nuclear devastation, or, the days, like always, are continuing their endless descent to the beginning.
         It’s always frustrating when the tool of power that is Freedom of Speech is damned by some irritant fool. In this case it's 89-year-old mother fucker Camping, a Christian radio-broadcaster who aligned the correct Biblical numbers in his head to calculate the absolute end of the world as May 21, 2011 (with the oncoming and final destruction arriving October 21). And because he milked his thoughts into otherwise empty-headed conformists, moving them into action to paint vans and billboards with his proclamations, the whole country has to discuss it and be totally enamored by it. The Power of Advertising. One poor sap put $14,000 of his own cash into the campaign. I wonder if his fingernails are broken from scratching lottery tickets this morning?
         All Saturday conversations of the rapture could be overheard, but in an eyes-to-the-back-of-the-skull kind of way. "They said we'd all get the axe in 1999, too." We've heard about End Times since Time itself began, but the last few decades have really pinned it in our conscience and now we're ready and willing to submit to a swift and timeless death. It is always on our minds and it fascinates us. We swallow Romeo's tonic and shit out ancient Mayan pyramids. Won’t it be great to wake up January 1, 2013 when all possibilities of the end are erased from the calendar? Maybe then we can all shut the hell up and just live life as it happens. When it all ends there won’t be time for reconciliation and nostalgia, there will just be death.
         It’s hard to fathom a group of people finding credibility with Camping’s prediction because he pulled this same stunt in 1994, but oh, his figures were off then, he’s said. Why would God, the most powerful being in our collective imagination, allow some hack to steal his might? The Bible states that when End Times come and suck us all into a dimensionless hell (saving the holies) no one will have any idea what had happened. God is a performance artist and he thrives on the knack of surprise. We’ll all be dumbfounded, bloody and pulpy, suddenly pushing boxes of rocks in ten-thousand degree heat before we can even find the mental capacity to think, oh shit what happened, should I have prayed more often than I did? God’s secrets don’t leak online before they’re released.
         The worst part of this massacre of the mind is that millions of dollars have been raised for the cause. In today’s economically strapped world it’s hard to be impacted by large sums of money going to waste anymore, but let’s pause and look at it in all caps. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS HAVE BEEN RAISED, for a campaign depicting the end of the world. Millions of dollars for nothing and I have to fight to get more than twenty hours a week at work a year after college. Fuck this guy.
         Camping reportedly hid in his California home on the rapture; probably sitting on stacks of money and jerking off to timetables. I hope when God finally does come he spends extra time separating the limbs of this washed-up mercenary and scatters them at the far ends of the earth, then shoots his body to space and plants his head into the lowest point of Hell where lava flows in and out of his mouth, eyes, ears and nostrils for all of eternity. Let this false prophet decay but never die for letting our nation worry about death during our true and only holy life.

April 28, 2011

Beastie Boys be gettin' psychoactive

Put this on your zip disk and send it to a lawyer, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two has revealed itself
       After the Celtics blew the Knicks and their playoff hopes out like birthday candles Sunday night, Madison Square Garden emptied of disgruntled fans. Fortunately, there to fill the void, a single boom-box, at mid-court blasted the first full listen of the Beastie Boys’ new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, from the famous arena’s sound system. Basketball may be over for New York, but at least their rap icons have returned.
       Their eighth studio album was scheduled to arrive in the fall of 2009, but Adam "MCA" Yauch discovered a cancerous lump in his throat and the whole moment was postponed. MCA took time off, stir-fried the lump in his wok, and made a full recovery. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two will stack up on chain store shelves everywhere this Tuesday, but it's been streaming fo’ free at http://www.hotsaucecommittee.com/ all week.
       The gonzo skwonking on the opener, “Make Some Noise,” starts the party off right. Like the beginning of all their albums, it instantly puts you in a good mood. As usual their zany beat arrangements shift songs into new rooms constantly keeping the listener wandering through the house. All the ingredients for mom’s home-made Beastie Boys’ album are here. We’ve got the spastic rhymes dashed with corny clown samples, live drums, stoner space jams, creeping robotics and nearly every song is anchored by a tremendous bass line.
       "Too Many Rappers,” the first track to leak, sounds heavier and coarser than it initially did streaming online. A quaking metal guitar throws Nas and the boys up against a cement wall of noise. It withers perfectly into “Say It,” a rumbling call-to-action drenched in feedback loops and junkyard bass. It has the same energy as “Sabotage” (as well as some of the same effects) and could be the song that destroys at the end of a long set list.
       A hazy hook from Santigold on “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” lies horizontally with hot horns and a dripping dropping guitar. The echoes swim around and the desert sun swallows your head whole in mirror images. I would bet they’re saving this one for a summer time single. “Long Burn the Fire“comes next. MCA starts off with his prodigious growl as caterwauling synths drop off in the background. If your body doesn’t do some kind of side-to-side rock and sway then you must be a corpse washed ashore. When the Beasties come for you in the middle of the night this song will be playing.
       For non-fans who discarded the instrumental jams of The Mix-Up or the political overtones that blemished To The Five Burroughs, the new album is a welcome return. The closest line to a political statement could be, “running lines like rats at Taco Bell,” but that's a stretch.The three musical blendings that have kept the Beasties so alive in music for twenty-five years -- funk, punk and rap -- are all present and sharp. Their funk is galactic and strong on “Funky Donkey.” “Lee Majors Come Again” takes claim of the hidden punk-rock gem that side-swiped their earlier records and “Tadlock’s Glasses” feels like the exact point of time when the nitrous oxide hits your brain mister hot air balloon head. Mix all this with the fact that their goofball genes have not diminished whatsoever with age and you have a classic among classic B-boy albums.
       This is Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch and Adam Horovitz (of course also Mix Master Mike and Money Mark) crafting a cherished record. With their sound fully realized and all their tools in a pile right before them, they know what they’re doing and oh mercy me is it exhilarating!

Best Tracks: “Long Burn the Fire,” “Say It,” “Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament,” “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win”

April 03, 2011

The Strokes shuttle back to Earth

New York City band returns with five legs in the sack and five legs running on Angles.

         It’s been a squeamish five years for fans eager to hear where the next phase of the Strokes leads. Their last album, 2006’s First Impressions of Earth, didn’t quite make any significant leaps into new territory, even though it did spawn some great overlooked songs. Since that release each band member has stayed busy in music in some form and threw the Strokes to the back of their minds.
         But oh, what teases! After jump starting the short second-coming of rock & roll in 2001 with their debut, Is This Is?, they’ve been tip-toeing around their mighty platform releasing only four albums in those ten years. Now they return with Angles. And yes, it’s a pretty good Strokes record. It’s poppy, it’s hip, it’s a feel-good experience.

         Their aesthetic of the choppy rock song filled with guts and attitude is still the blueprint, but they do draw outside the lines a bit. It’s just as slick and straight-forward as their other albums, but this one veers into psychedelic territory that is sometimes engaging, but other times can feel like an outtake from a John Hughes movie soundtrack.

         “Two Kinds of Happiness” and “Games” pour on wet synth-sounds; probably the inspirational remnants of Casablancas’ debut solo album, Phrazes for the Young, leaking through. Not necessarily a bad thing, but surely the least exciting part of the album. “You’re So Right,” buzzes and hops along like a Bond-style theme song played during an erratic chase scene through a forest. It glides with rolling high-hats, in-charge guitars and Casablancas’ distressed, lost-in-space vocals.

         The on-the-run feeling of “Metabolism” constantly climbs in pressure and finally, harshly, spirals out-of-bounds. The real interesting progression the band has made is their riff structuring. On songs like “Under Cover of Darkness,” “Taken For A Fool,” and “Machu Picchu” Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. trade licks with the same interconnectivity Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood had for Some Girls-era Stones.

         “Taken For A Fool” demands immediate attention as the album’s best song. The purest of Strokes choruses is hidden between so many sliding, twisting verses and one miraculous bass line from Nikolai Fraiture in the sudden gap of guitars. The lyrics come from Casablancas’ usual carefree attitude in the usual troubled scene. “You’re so gullible, but I don’t mind / that’s not the problem,” he sings deadpan. “I don’t need anyone with me right now / Monday, Tuesday is my weekend.” You can see the hung-over grin.

         For all the great songs on Angles, it lacks the continuity that made their first two albums so easy to listen to repeatedly. At times it lags and depending what kind of fan you are, you’ll love that or hate it. They never fall stagnant for long, fortunately, always bouncing back into familiar, head-bobbing, hip-oscillating territory. But, for the band, who shared songwriting duties for the first time, this new album brings a full evolution of their sound, expanding, but not drifting; experimenting, but staying grounded in their genetic code. Mostly, they pull it off, but after five years it’s nothing to hustle and cuss over. The Strokes may be of the saliva that drips from the Rolling Stones’ fat red tongue, but they’ve got a few more classics waiting to be made if they want to even begin to dream of having the longevity that band has.

Best Tracks: “Taken For A Fool,” “You’re So Right,” “Under Cover of Darkness,” “Gratisfaction”

February 20, 2011

DRONE CONTROL

WHEN GANGRENE SETS IN

         Tonight for the All-Star game the jerseys for the East team may as well be Celtic green. Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will all come off the bench at the command of their own coach, Doc Rivers. Who knows, maybe Shaq will sneak in there and the Eastern Boston Celtic All-Stars can trounce on hairballs like Carmelo Anthony and Tim Duncan.
         At the celebratory half-way point of the season it's become clear as day breaking in the desert: The Boston Celtics are the red-eyed mother fuckers no one wants to visit come playoff time. But can anyone be that surprised? They were just as strong last year leading up The Finals against the Lakers, but unfortunately lost Kendrick Perkins to injury in Game 6, and then their rebounding edge in the final minutes of Game 7. Redemption is on the horizon.
         They've stitched themselves back up and their bench has only improved since. They have quietly maintained their stance atop the league's elite, ailments be damned. First off they spanked the Miami Heat like a bunch of doms in their first three meetings. (Their final match is April 10.) They've rotated through injuries with very slight hesitation. For a stretch earlier in the season only 9 players were active. When Rondo was out, Nate Robinson stepped up and filled the void. When Perkins was out, there was Shaquille, when he went out there was O'Neal, and Big Baby has remained consistent.
         The Boston Celtics are the perfect team. If they weren't playing basketball they could easily take on the roll of a street yard gang or assemble together as crime-fighting super heroes (or crime-causing super villains). Rondo leads all point guards with 12.2 apg and has helped to keep their standard of toughness alive. KG is like an ox digesting adrenaline glands at the top of every hour. In nearly all the games leading up to the break he got into some scuffle, verbal or physical. His nostrils flare open and his veins pulse. I wouldn't be surprised if he plays with a switchblade tied to his thigh because he always looks ready for a fight. Allen inched over Reggie Miller's three-point record grabbing the number one all time spot and Pierce hasn't required the assistance of a wheelchair to get off the court yet.
         There is chemistry. There is drive. They have no threats because they are the number one threat. Everyone wants to hype up the Miami Heat, but let's not shake that stick too soon. If Lebron James is going to pass up game winners to Eddie House and Mike Miller, then clearly something wrong still lingers within that team. They might wow us all season-long, but they'll stumble when it matters most. Their psyche is a fragile one, fending off numerous distractions.
         The Celtics, though, are focused. Game 7 replays on the walls of their minds and they're all about getting back to that moment. Obviously anything can happen and anything is possible in the playoffs, but if Gang Green stays healthy through June, and if Garnett's eyeballs don't pop out of his skull before then, these fuckers will be taking that Larry O'Brien hunk of gold back to The Garden. Swear by it.

January 02, 2011

DRONE CONTROL

DOWN TO THE RIVER

Alright. All the terms and events linked to the past year are finally deemed irrelevant. We can put that dirty year in a black bag, tie it with a slip knot and put it behind us. Then, with the back of our foot, kick it into the lake before anyone notices. 2011 has burst from the eggshell of time and we’re still climbing up the ladder of doom!

Every year of this early decade of millennial outreach has proved weirder and more deathly than the year before it. A crooked election, then some planes and some buildings. A mission accomplished, a re-election, and a hurricane. There were pirates, underwear explosions, and an armed vice president. The title for World’s Largest Skyscraper was taken in fantasy land Dubai while two- and three-bedroom homes crashed all over suburbia. We elected Barack Obama, but defined anyone with a slight Mexican resemblance as criminal. Pot-smoking has become more accepted in mainstream culture, but if you’re going to build that mosque there, then I’m going to burn this copy of the Koran here. Equal levels of hate and love fight for space. The Tea Party is not, like first thought, a place to get wild with a cup of Earl Grey and Wikileaks leaked a bunch of secrets like spilt milk.

So now another chunk of time begins (as if it actually started and stopped). We are now aboard a cemented-shut vehicle traveling faster than Justin Bieber’s growth rate. The next twelve months could either start to produce a financial turnaround for the country or mash us further into the mud. Maybe the middle-class will rise up with boards and nails and enact a full assault on the rich, wealthy and complacent. Or maybe we’ll just lie down like dogs -- this isn’t Spain, anyway.

The ingredients for Election Day 2012 stew will start to be thrown into the pot and stirred all year. All eyes will be on every step, misstep and television appearance of any would-be politician. The Republicans, with their disgusting nonfactual guts, will throw their weight around trying to undo the glorious Health Care bill passed last year (which, thankfully, now keeps me insured and jobless for another two years). There will be fights; there will be explosions, arguments, misunderstandings and apologies. So let’s drink a glass of John Boehner’s tears and say cheers to our beloved future! Hosannah in the Highest! I miss you.