Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dependable...what a good word!

There is a guy in my neighbourhood who does all the contract work on the townhouses. All the painting, and the repairs, and so on and so forth. Of course, the super does most of the little stuff, or at least he's supposed to. But often you will put in a request for assistance and 6-8 weeks later you will put in another. And 6-8 weeks after that, it might be done. Today I went to get one of those requisition forms, and the neighbourhood handyman was there. He told me there was no one home, and I explained my problem. The hot water tap in my tub is dripping. Well, it isn't really dripping. More like flowing. I have to crank it over so hard to stem the flow of water that no one else in the house can turn on the shower. Even then, the flow is stemmed to a rivulet, rather than a drip.

While the super is less than dependable in these situations, the handyman is solid. Dependable Drew is the name on the side of his truck, and so he is. He grabbed the two things he needed for the job, and in three minutes, it was done. Shut off the water, take off the tap, replace the doohickey, turn the water back on, test the tap, done. Had I waited the months it would have taken for the super to do this, I would have been moved out already, and the two months I am gone from here but still paying bills would have cost me a substantial amount in water bills. But thanks to Drew, it's done, and I no longer have to worry. Thanks Drew! It's nice to know that some people who refer to themselves as "dependable" actually are!

Play along at home!

Just in case you feel like playing along at home, here are my NFL picks for the upcoming weekend. And Jacob's. Five games, winner take all. All what, I don't know. But ALL.

Pick #1: Indianapolis at Houston. We both chose Indianapolis. The Colts are just too good, and Houston has been a surprise. The fact that they are 2-0 is big, and the fact that this is a home game for them is bigger, but I feel that a big reason for their early success has been Andre Johnson. And he may not even play this game, due to a sprained ankle. If he DOES play, he will not be 100 percent, and with Bob Sanders roaming the secondary for Indy, the Texans are in very tough. This was a game we agreed upon.

Pick #2: San Diego at Green Bay. We disagreed. I chose the Packers, he chose San Diego. His arguments were sound. San Diego has Drew Brees and LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. This is true. They do. However, Tomlinson hasn't done anything yet this year. In fact, he has 68 yards rushing, good for him #39 in the league right now. I will continue to discount him until he breaks out (which WILL happen this year sometime, just not this week) and I will continue to ride Brett Favre as long as he's on fire. And Favre at home, when he's on a roll - tough task for any team. By the way - guess who has the longest current regular season winning streak in all of football? Yep, Green Bay - 6 games. And their young players just keep getting better and better.

Pick #3: Jacksonville at Denver. We disagreed again. The Broncos have put up huge numbers the last couple of weeks, but they have fallen way short and have lacked the ability to close out teams. In fact, they really deserve to be 0-2, rather than 2-0. But they will put it together sometime, and I think this will be the game. Jacksonville has looked awful on offense, 23 points scored in two weeks. Yes, they did win last week, but it was against the Falcons (without Michael Vick, they are the worst team in football - well, the NFL anyway. I think they could beat Hamilton. In fact, I think I could beat the Tiger-Cats.) Jacob, however, is a Jaguars fan, and he went with his heart. I find that commendable.

Pick #4: Dallas at Chicago. We both chose the Cowboys. With this one, I went AGAINST my heart, because I really hate the Cowboys. But I think they are the best team in the NFC this year, and they are in a position to prove that with a statement game against the defending NFC champs. Chicago I think will be just like most other Super Bowl losers this year - fairly mediocre.

Pick #5: Monday nighter, Tenesee at New Orleans. We both picked the Titans, Jacob because of Vince Young and the backfield, which he finds impressive. My reasoning was slightly different. I am not really picking Tenesee so much as I am picking against the Saints. Although I think they will turn around their season and become average, or even good, at some point this year, I think the weight of expectations was a bit too much on them after last season's improbable run to the NFC title game. A whole year of being America's team, the team everyone rooted for, and the Cinderella story of the year, they are merely coming down, and playing like the team they really are - good, but not great. And I think that pressure that is dragging them down right now will never be so great as it will be during a home game, with a Monday night audience.

So there you go. I may be right, I may be wrong. I may win, or I may lose. Play along at home, and see if you would beat either of us! (Jacob, by the way, apparently picked 12 of 16 games right last week. With that total, he would have won our office pool, where eight people tied for the weekly win with 11 wins.)

The agony and the ecstasy.

First, the ecstasy. I defeated Doc, for the second time in two contests, yesterday in golf. We played the Canadian, a course with which we are both very familiar, and I won. 106-108. So, I didn't play that well, and I didn't break 100, but I felt pretty good nonetheless. We played with two older guys (yes, older than even Doc) who were great. You know how sometimes when you're just two people, you get stuck into a foursome with two other people, and they are either staggeringly inept at golf or incredibly good, and you either get frustrated, or you get scared that you ARE frustrating for the really good golfers? Well, these two were fairly evenly matched with Doc and myself, and although they were not keeping score, would have shot about 110 or 115 I think. In fact, because Doc and I were getting competitive, I think we intimidated them both into playing "proper" golf - taking an extra stroke for moving your ball from behind a tree, and so forth. They would ask about rules. I really didn't know. All's I know is - free drop from the cart path. If we bothered you with our competitiveness, my apologies, Tom and Bob.

I have now declared myself the golf champion of the Doc and Woody show. Not one of those other guys has defeated me this year. The fact that Randall has not played at all does not affect this outcome. The fact that Doc is injured does not count either, although Woody suggested this morning it counts for something. I disagree. No one gives the Super Bowl to the team with the best players but most injuries who did not make it to the game.

Speaking of the Super Bowl and football in general, this brings me to the agony. This morning's bonus code was "loser". I thought this was very big of Doc, acknowledging his defeat the previous day at the Canadian in such a humble way. But no, it turned out that "loser" was meant specifically for me! Even though I had WON the previous day! No, they have set up a contest of sorts, where I compete with a seven year old in football picks. We choose 5 NFL games, and the two of us pick our winners, and next Tuesday, we will find out who is a better prognosticator. The boys felt SO confident in the fact that I would lose to this seven year old, that they made the CODE loser. Thanks for the vote of confidence, fellas.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One last word about Rush.

I am now receiving a sizeable amount of hate mail concerning my disdain for Rush. I will reply to it here, so I can answer those emails with a curt "check out my blog", which in the end will save me from writing this forty times. First of all, let me just say for you doubters out there, that I have no problem with people congregating to celebrate something they all love. This is fine. Simply finding something hilarious and being against it are two different things. A lovely phone message for me was left this morning. A fine gentleman suggested that I was against people coming together and meeting over something they collectively enjoy was a sign that I have no friends, and I cry by myself in solitude at home, wishing I had some group to whom I could turn for solace and companionship. Then this classy gentleman attacked my love for the Who by questioning whether I thought Pete Townshend ever downloaded internet pictures of me as an eight-year-old. We felt this was not appropriate for broadcast. But I do think it is funny enough for my blog.

The reason behind all this is that we were interviewing a woman this morning, a woman who (with four other women) are putting together a Rush Convention in Toronto. This convention will take place the day after the Rush concert here on Friday, so all the rabid Rush fans can go to check it out and have a full weekend of Rush-themed revelry. I say to those Rush fans, go! Enjoy! I promise I have no problem with it! But I will make fun of you a little. Here is the information, for those of you who would like to attend:

http://www.prnewsnow.com/Public_Release/Broadcast/157804.html

There will be tribute bands, prizes, and a rousing game of "Snakes and Arrows". No costumes, please. Now, the biggest problem I have with Rush fans is that they suggest I am a bad Canadian if I don't like Rush. The same, I can only assume, goes for Blue Rodeo, Triumph, April Wine, Moxy Fruvous, Nelly Furtado and Celine Dion. You HAVE to love them! You are CANADIAN! Or at the very least, I HAVE to support them. Can you imagine if this was true? Can you imagine if every Canadian supported everyone simply because they come from our country? We would be innundated with Rita McNeil TV specials, Ben Mulroney would host everything, Paul Anka and Theory of a Deadman would be constantly touring Canada to sold-out stadium shows, we would see Ralph Benmurgui and George Strombolopoulousasaurus on National TV every night and the suicide rate would skyrocket.

The thing I found funniest about the Rush Convention (other than the fact it is called RushCon 7, further stamping it's nerdiness) was that it was organized by five women! I have met many, many rabid Rush fans in my life. Very few of them have been women. Then I thought - hey! Maybe this is just a genius ploy by these women to meet some (sure to be) single guys! It was either this or a Star Trek convention, and at least a Rush convention is slightly cooler and does not involve constumes!

Who attends these conventions, we asked. Oh, we're all very similar - we all had braces, we all grew up in suburbs and still live with our parents, and we all love Rush, she said. Now, I would also like to state for the record, that most of the mockery directed at this convention (and this poor woman) came from Woody and not me. I had been bound and gagged, a pair of left-over bikini bottoms that had been left around the station had been jammed in my mouth and my hands had been tied so I could not make fun of this woman. Yet somehow, everything I was thinking in my head was coming out of Woody's mouth. Finally, when my gag was removed, and I was able to participate, Woody was so caught up by my impressive Jedi mind trick that we continued having merciless fun at the expense of RushCon 7 attendees. Ah, good times.

Speaking of Jedi Mind Tricks, Doc suggested that saying THAT is far more nerdy than attending a Rush convention. In some ways, he is right. In many ways, I am far more nerdy than the standard Rush fan. Sure, the Rush fan is likely a graduate of the school of magic cards and Dungeons and Dragons. Sure, the Rush fan likely has long hair and reads comic books and plays Doom online until 4:00 in the morning. I am not this kind of nerd. I am the kind who watches foreign films, who reads philosophy rabidly, and who opines on movies, music, and the political climate in the world. The kind who listens to Miles Davis and John Coltrane while sipping cognac, reads Dickens and Dostoevsky while listening to Coltrane, who watches Kurosawa and Bergman movies and knows the lines, and who is constantly spewing in my blog. Some may call this nerdy. I call it being cultured. Cultured enough to find RushCon 7 ridiculous, and cultured enough not to hate those who attend. But rather to mock them. See, culture!

Speaking of Metal Machine Music...

This is my favourite album review ever. The greatest music reviewer who ever lived, Lester Bangs, believed that Metal Machine Music (mentioned in my last blog) was the greatest album ever recorded. In fact, I bought the album because of this review, and not because of Lou Reed or the album itself. Here it is (parental advisory...oh whatever. Just read it.):

It has been suggested that in my annual regress report to the stockholders, published here last month, I neglected in all five thousand words to ever once mention why Metal Machine Music is a good album. So here, especially in light of Coney Island Baby, are the reasons:
If you ever thought feedback was the best thing that ever happened to the guitar, well, Lou just got rid of the guitars.
I realize that any idiot with the equipment could have made this album, including me, you or Lou. That's one of the main reasons I like it so much. As with the Godz and Tangerine Dream, not only does it bring you closer to the artist, but someday, god willing, I may get to do my own Metal Machine Music. It's all folk music, anyway.
When you wake up in the morning with the worst hangover of your life, Metal Machine Music is the best medicine. Because when you first arise you're probably so fucked (i.e., still drunk) that is doesn't even really hurt yet (not like it's going to), so you should put this album on immediately, not only to clear all the crap out of your head, but to prepare you for what's in store the rest of the day.
Speaking of clearing out crap, I once had this friend who would say, "I take acid at least every two months & JUST BLOW ALL THE BAD SHIT OUTA MY BRAIN!" So I say the same thing about MMM. Except I take it about once a day, like vitamins.
In his excellent liner notes, Lou asserts that he and the other speedfreaks did not start World Wars I, II, "or the Bay of Pigs, for that matter." And he's right. If everybody took amphetamines, all the time, everybody would understand each other. Either that or never listen or bother with the other son of a bitch, because they'd all be too busy spending three days drawing psychedelic lines around a piece of steno paper until it's totally black, writing eighty-page letters about meaningless occurrences to their mothers, or creating MMM. There would be no more wars, and peace and harmony would reign. Just imagine Gerald Ford on speed- he might manifest some glimmer of personality. Or Ronald Reagan- a blood vessel in his snapping-turtle lips would immediately burst, perhaps ridding us of that cocksucker. As is well known by now, JFK enjoyed regular injections of Meth and vitamins from happy croakers. 'Nuff said. Hey may not have actually accomplished anything (except the Bay of Pigs- wait a minute, Lou hasn't been doing his homework), but he had style and a winning smile.
I have heard this record characterized as "anti-human" and "anti-emotional." That it is, in a sense, since it is music made more by tape recorders, amps, speakers, microphones and ring modulators than any set of human hands and emotions. But so what? Almost all music today is anti-emotional and made by machines too. >From Elton John to disco to Sally Can't Dance (which Lou doesn't realize is one of his best albums, precisely because it's so cold) it's computerized formula production line shit into which the human heart enters very rarely if at all. At least Lou is upfront about it, which makes him more human than the rest of those MOR dicknoses. Besides which, any record that sends listeners fleeing the room screaming for surcease of aural flagellation or, alternately, getting physical and disturbing your medications to the point of breaking the damn thing, can hardly be accused, at least in results if not original creative man-hours, of lacking emotional content. Why do people got to see movies like Jaws, The Exorcist, or Iisa, She Wolf of the SS? So they can get beat over the head with baseball bats, have their nerves wrenched while electrodes are being stapled to their spines, and generally brutalized at least every once ever fifteen minutes or so (the time between the face falling out of the bottom of the sunk boat and they guy's bit-off leg hitting the bottom of the ocean). This is what, today, is commonly understood as entertainment, as fun, as art even! So they've got a lot of nerve landing on Lou for MMM. At least here there's no fifteen minutes of bullshit padding between brutalizations. Anybody who got off on The Exorcist should like this record. It's certainly far more moral a product.
Charisma. Lou's been slipping of late, but for those who remember and understand the Myth, the Legend-i.e., he was an emblem of absolute negativism- MMM has more charisma than a cage full of porcupines has quills.
All landlords are mealymouthed bastards who would let the ruins of Pompeii fall on your four-poster before they'd lift a finger. They deserve whatever they get, and MMM is the all-time guaranteed lease breaker. Every tenant in America should own a copy of this album. Forearmed!
My pet land hermit crab, Spud, who sometimes goes for days at a time curled up inside his shell in a corner of the cage so you gotta check to see if he's dead, likes MMM a lot. Every time I put it on, he comes out of his shell and starts crawling happily around the sand and climbing the bars. It is, in fact, the only time I ever see him get any exercise. Either that or he's dancing. 10. I have been told that Lou's recordings, but most specifically this item, have become a kind of secret cult among teenage mental institution inmates all across the nation. I have been told further that those adolescents who have been subjected to electroshock therapy enjoy a particular affinity for MMM, that it reportedly "soothes their nerves," and is ultimately a kind of anthem. If anyone out there reading this knows any more about this phenomenon, please get in touch with me immediately.
I played it for President Idi "Big Daddy" Amin of Uganda when he flew me and Lisa Robinson over there to interview him for upcoming cover articles in Creem and Hit Parader, and he absolutely loved it. I gave him a copy, and now by special edict he has it piped through the Muzak vents of ever supermarket (all thirty-five of them) and doctor's waiting room (all eight) in his great nation, so that the citizens there may be inspired to ever fiercer heights of patriotism for his regime and all that it stands for. He wanted to declare it the Ugandan national anthem, but I told him that I would have to check with the American teenage shock vets first, and being a wise, fair, graciously diplomatic politician, he of course immediately assented, and then, genial host that he is, whisked us off to see a life multiple snuff film done sans cameras and celluloid. "We can't afford them," he explained. "And besides, the next time you have a dangling conversation with Paul Simon, you can inform him that the theatre is not really dead."
I think that, in this time of recession/depression and with the whole music business tightening its belt, it is truly thoughtful of Lou to cut recording costs as much as MMM must have, especially when you consider the stupefying self-indulgence of so many of today's rock "masterpieces" with their overproductions so baroquely lavish it all turns to tinsel. Only James Brown, I think, approaches Lou's achievement here in terms of sheer economy and minimal booking of expensive studio time. MMM is actually, far from some nihilist rampage, one giant WIN button. Or more precisely, two since it is a two record set.
And why this is, of all Lou Reed albums (and the man's songwriting prolifigacy is indeed astounding. "Just lock Lou in a room for an hour," Dennis Katz told me once, "and when you let him out he's got fifteen new songs!" The reason why he keeps on recording old Velvet Underground outtakes he wrote upwards of a decade ago is that he's saving all his best new stuff for 863 LPs to be released, one every two months, after he dies, assuming that he ever does. "I'm not gonna let those bloodsuckers rip me off and tarnish my memory like happened to poor Jimi," he confided to me once over two Schaefer's drafts at McSorley's. "My fans will never get less than A+ quality, as my friend Bob Christgau would put it, and besides it's quite likely that I will live forever, because me and some doctor friends I hang out with just discovered that there's a secret, heretofore unknown ingredient in methamphetamine which retards the aging process.
So theoretically if you can get and just keep shooting this stuff, you could live for the rest of human history, which is why we're doing some resynthesizing experiments to see if we can bring this certain ingredient a little more into the foreground of the compound. I think it's called atropine. It's been around for a long time, the Indians knew about it but recognized in the face of their dog race inferiority it would be more moral to forget about it and submit themselves to extermination by white Europeans, who were the only ones with the technological knowhow to extract the raw chemical and refine it into a form you can cook up and shoot. But anyway that's where you got that Ponce de Leon business, and his only problem was the fucker, being a dumb spic, naturally had no idea how to prepare it in any potent form. So everybody concluded it was a myth and forgot about it until I came along, and potency is my middle name. So now you can let your readers in on the little secret that not only am I the toughest, baddest, most well-hung stud in show business, which actually is only because in 1973 I went to Sweden and had a transplant so now instead of a cock I got a horse doctors syringe, not only that but there's a damn good chance I'm even gonna cut that punk Cagliostro at his own riffs and live forever.
Of course, you never can discount unforeseen circumstances, plane crashes and the like, which is why I got these eight hundred albums in the can just in case. There's all sorts of stuff, like one is I rewrote my own version of Rigoletto, you know that opera by Scriabin, except it's set in this Puerto Rican leather bar where all the customers are amputated at the thigh and rolling around on these little carts on wheels. They keep trying to have punchouts, except their carts keep bumping and they can't reach each other. So they got very frustrated. I sang all the parts myself, and I stole all the lyrics off old 'Lucas Tanner' dialogue, but nobody will notice the difference because I made the music salsa and it's so fucking loud you can't hear any of the words. But I'm not gonna put that out just yet. They'll have to wait a while for that. What my next album is gonna be is the follow-up to Metal Machine Music, which sounds exactly the same except it's gonna be a concept album about all this stuff I was telling you before about aging and a five-record set in a gold embossed box with a booklet inside featuring blown-up Polaroid SX-70s of me tying off, hitting up, sterilizing my works with alcohol and then going out Christmas shopping for Andy and all the kids at Bloomingdale's and the Pleasure Chest, where the last pic is me modeling a cock ring on my horse geezer.
I predict by that time the general public will have grown ears and gotten hip enough to appreciate Metal Machine Music, so this follow-up, which I'm gonna call Triumph of the Will, will be the best-selling LP of all time and those ratfucks in Chicago can suck my asshole along with that little blob Elton John who could use some speed almost as bad as Leslie West but can't have any of mine, because as I think it was Pat Ast said in that fabulous review of Coney Island Baby in the Soho Weekly News 'I have seen rock's future and its name is Lou Reed'"), a double album, you ask? Simple- the two discs are, according to Lou, symbolic of two tits ("There's never more than two," he explained), to signify that this is, albeit mechanized, a very sexy album designed to cut in heavily on the hot Barry White market.
Everybody knows that drugs come in sexes. Down are feminine, speed is masculine. Down make you all nice and sweet and pliant and tenderized with E-Z Bake, whereas speed makes you aggressive and visceral and forthright and a real take-charge kind of guy/gal. (Makes no difference because all humans are the same sex, except albinos. It is the drugs that, obviously, determine the gender of the being.) So which one you take when you get up in the morning just involves whether you wanna be Donna Mills or Joe Don Baker that day. It's totally your prerogative.
Similarly, Coney Island Baby, fine and indeed heartfelt as it is, is a downs LP. Not putdown involved- Lou's favorite old Velvet songs were always the ballads, and he's got a right to get sweet on himself. Love is silt. Anybody who has ever taken Quaaludes and wound up loving the rest of the human race so much they ended up in bed with a human turnip knows that. The lyrics are better than any Lou-nee Tunes in a while, but not that not since Transformer have so many of them been explicitly preoccupied with the, er, ah . . . "gay" scene. Which certainly can't be said of CIB's immediate predecessor. Me, I like sex with vegetables, but I nurse this lingering paranoia that someday, some drunken night, I may get a radish between the sheets and discover it's homosexual. Thus I feel threatened by Coney Island Baby, just as I feel threatened by Valiums, Tuinals, Seconals, Quaaludes, and Compoz. Metal Machine Music, on the contrary, reinforces my sense of myself as a man. Under my blacklight presidential campaign poster of Hunter Thompson, I bolt upright in repose, my rifle casually draped cross my lap, listening to MMM and dreaming of My Lai as starring Fritz the Cat. So fuck downs, avoid Coney Island Baby like guys who wear green on Thursdays, and keep it (your fist) up tight.
MMM is Lou's soul. If there is one thing he would like to see buried in a time capsule, this is it.
It sounds better on Romilar than any other record I have ever heard.
It is the greatest record ever made in the history of the human eardrum. Number Two: Kiss Alive!

taken from- Creem, March 1976

Happy, KISS fans? And to think Rolling Stone wouldn't give this guy free reign to do what he wanted to do! If you ever get a chance, grab his book, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, one of the greatest rock books ever published. I lent my copy to a girl a long time ago, but now I can't remember which girl or when or why. But then again, I had stolen it from the library, and paid 70 bucks in late fees, so I really didn't deserve it either.

Rush...the antithesis of KISS. Only much worse.

I have received so many emails about my "bashing" of KISS that I felt it necessary to write another blog post, explaining that I was not "bashing" KISS, as such. I was merely saying that they are hilarious because they think and act as though they are much bigger and more important than they are. But I do not hate KISS. I just think they are musically irrelevant.

Rush, as you may have heard on the radio this morning, are a band that absolutely infuriate me. KISS makes me smile, Rush makes me seethe. I hate Rush with the white-hot intensity of 1,000 suns. That is because they are the exact opposite, the antithesis, if you will, of KISS. Everything that makes me smile about KISS makes me furious about Rush. Rush, you see, are tremendous musicians. Alex Lifeson - very good guitar player. Geddy Lee - above-average bass player. Neil Peart - fantastic drummer. Sum of those parts - absolute garbage.

Just because you can PLAY really good does not mean you ARE really good. I am of the school of music lover who absolutely hates the overly technical - I can't stand listening to Angela Hewitt play Bach. (With the exception of the Six Partitas, which are basically a technical excercise for piano.) She is too technical. Glenn Gould, a pianist I sometimes enjoy, was far better in his youth when he attacked the piano, rather than later on in his career where he was all about the perfect notes and the perfect progressions and the smooth, soul-less playing. Gould, I might add, later on in his career, became completely enamoured with Walter Carlos and his switched-on Bach, which was basically a computer program he had created that played the musical pieces note-perfect on a synthesizer. Gould loved this because it could never play a wrong note. It was as perfect, as impersonal, and as plastic as a velvet Elvis or Andy Warhol's art. I guess for Gould, this switched-on Bach was Walter Carlos' Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

Warhol, since I am on the subject, gave rise to the career of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, so something really great actually DID come out of his impersonal, plastic art. If you were going to hang a picture of something in your room, would you want a Jackson Pollack painting or a perfectly rendered painting of a soup can? Pollack, I assume. After all, you could just go and GET a soup can. Take a photo, frame it...brag to your friends about your fondness for minimalism...good times. Lou Reed actually did an album much later that perfectly embodies the Warhol artistic ethic, called Metal Machine Music. It is four tracks, about 20 minutes each, of nothing but guitar feedback. It is the type of album that one might own just to own it, but it would never be listened to for any reason. But at least the Velvets were worth listening to.

Walter Carlos, while I am on THAT subject, went on to become Wendy Carlos, and he/she continued to record innumerable synthesizer-computer records of music by Pachelbel, Offenbach, and so forth. But I digress. The point is, perfect tempo, note-perfect playing, pitch-perfect music removes the soul. That is why I much prefer KISS. They are showmen, they are an act, they are thousands of times more interesting than they are skilled, and at the very least they are enjoyable when listening, because you can imagine them being so completely in love with their own image and popularity. Rush is not. Rush has no soul. Their music has no soul. Their lyrics are staggeringly nerdy, in a Ronnie James Dio sort of way, all dragons and mythical figures and flames and heroes, only without the hilarious excess and gigantic voice that is Dio. And without the full-on musical assault that is Sabbath. Their songs are all in 4-4 time. Beat beat beat beat. You have one of the best drummers who ever lived! DO something with him!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rest in peace, rock and roll concert ticket lineup.

As I made my way to the Scotiabank Place parking lot this morning, I had some time to reflect on the fact that the line-up for rock tickets is a dying beast. It is a ritual that is on the verge of extinction, thanks to the internet and credit card over-the-phone shopping. Thankfully, there are still artists of the caliber of Bruce Springsteen who can create enough of a buzz to cause at least a minor line-up. Only the Stones, U2 and Springsteen have done that here in Ottawa. The Who? Barely anyone. Genesis? No way. Rush? Please. Aerosmith, CSNY, Bob Dylan and John Fogerty have been through town recently, and there was barely a ripple outside the venue.

I find this sad. MY only real experiences with Rock and Roll concert ticket lineups have been for the Stones and U2. And both were basically lineups that were manufactured by CHEZ. Had I not been camped in a trailer outside the St. Laurent shopping centre for nine days for Stones tickets, there might have been a lineup of twenty people when the doors opened and the tickets went on sale. That one turned out to be well over three hundred people by the time the tickets went on sale. Of course, there was a time where 300 people was not a very big line. There might have been 300 people in line already two days earlier. Back when that was the only way to get tickets. But this time, the people at the end of the line had no hope in hell of grabbing any tickets to that show. They just came for the party and the bonkers atmosphere that was the St. Laurent parking lot for more than a week.

The U2 lineup was maybe 7 people when we got there, the morning before. A few of us got into line, our promo people and myself, during the Doc and Woody show. The next morning, when the tickets went on sale, everyone was absolutely frozen, since it had gone down to maybe minus eleven overnight. The guys at the front of the line had brought a tent, we brought the entertainment, and the lineup had ballooned to about 150 people. When the tickets went on sale, the Capital Tickets website was not equipped to handle the volume, and it went down. The phone lines instantly became jammed, and the only way ANYONE could get tickets was to show up right at the Scotiabank place. I called Jacki on the air and explained the situation, and before we knew it, there were 500 more CHEZ listeners who shoed up for their tickets, and they ALL got some. Our promo people, in fact, just kept getting back into line again and again, and maxed out every credit card they had grabbing tickets. We had more tickets for that show than any other. Except the Stones, of course.

This time, the lineup was a great idea, since it was the only way to guarantee yourself tickets to the Boss. There are 12 wickets at Scotiabank Place, so if there are 48 people (as there were when 9:00 rolled around) then it is just four waves of people through the wickets, and it should take less than 10 minutes total. Last time Springsteen came with the E Street Band, the show sold out in 21 minutes. This one took a little longer, but it was certain to sell out. It's too bad this doesn't happen too much any more. I'd be all about a few more campouts.

Genesis. The band, not the bible book.

I have never been a huge Genesis fan. Or a Phil Collins fan. In fact, I would go so far as to express a dislike for Phil Collins and his offensively inoffensive pop-sissy musical half-assery. But last night I was impressed. With the exception of Invisible Touch and I Can't Dance, every song Genesis performed was excellent. At the very least, they did not play In The Air Tonight. And I WAS worried they might. But the band is tight, the early years were extremely well-represented, and the show was fantastic. I think I would actually go see a Peter Gabriel solo show, much more so than a Phil Collins solo show, and the Peter Gabriel Genesis is something I enjoy far more than the Collins era. I was afraid that Phil Collins singing the Gabriel songs would be obnoxious and wouldn't come off great, but it was great. It was better than great. It made me realize just how good Genesis really were in their day.

There was a big screen (I was told it was Hi-Def) hanging down beside the stage that must have cost a couple of million dollars on it's own. The stage itself was huge, with a massive wall of lights and screens, where the images projected looked like some kind of crazily pixillated 80s video. And the images were straight out of an 80s video. In fact, the massive amount of technology that was involved in the show was more of a distraction for me than a positive thing. I usually feel that bands with that much of a multi-media show are doing it to distract people from the fact that the music is not as good as it should be. But in this case, it was more distracting than it should be, because the music was better than I expected. The sight of Phil Collins close-ups in the big screen was kind of hilarious. He constantly looked constipated from up close, and that made me smile. And he kept hopping back behind the drums, which was kind of cool, after all, he really is a great drummer. But also kind of unnecessary, since they had another drummer who was just as good, playing the exact same things.

I took my buddy Jasen Colson, who is a drummer in a local band, Twelve Thirty-Four. He is also the biggest Genesis fan I know. Yes, and King Crimson, and all the prog-rock in the world, if you need an expert it's Jasen. And he knows drumming. He told me the drummer Genesis had for this tour was fantastic, and I believed him. At that point, I couldn't really tell, because I was kind of in the bag. This was one of the few concerts we've done that took place on a Saturday night, and one where I wasn't doing the concert before the concert or the concert after the concert at the trailer, so I was free to indulge for once.

After the show, we headed to Philthy McNasty's, which is also where we were that afternoon. I guess it's become sort of a Kanata hot spot since it opened a few weeks ago - it was absolutely jammed with young people, most of them much younger than the crowd at the Genesis show. But of course, there were some other stragglers coming in who had just enjoyed some quality rock and roll. I met some listeners, and hung out with two great guys, Dave and John, and we drank until the wee hours of the morning. I left their place at about 3:00, I guess, and for the first time in about two years, I made that long and fairly glorious stumble home, weaving around parked cars, climbing fences unnecessarily, sometimes twice, purchasing bizarre and useless items at gas stations, and generally having a blast. I love that walk! I miss it, a little anyway. I don't miss the next morning's hangover, but it had been so long since I had one of those that it kind of felt like an old friend as well.

Here's something hilarious. And frankly, rather obvious.

Last year in Mobile County, 4,629 new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported -- enough instances of the sexually transmitted diseases to account for one out of every 87 people, according to a Press-Register review of state and federal statistics.
That was about three times the rate in New York City and more than twice as high as Washington, D.C. Eight counties -- poor and sparsely populated except for No. 2-ranked Montgomery County -- had higher STD rates in 2006 than Mobile County, statistics showed.

In Alabama public schools, students are taught abstinence-based sex education as part of a half credit of health education in high school. Students learn that "abstinence is the only protection against pregnancy, HIV/AIDs and STDs," said state Department of Education spokeswoman Edith Parten.

This is fantastic! Well, not the rate of STDs in Alabama, but that they still teach abstinence in schools! Here I was worried that in this day and age, the ideals of a bygone era had been completely passed by. That instruction based on planting one's head firmly in the sand in order to avoid any problems was a thing of the past. But no! Creationism is being taught in schools in Kansas, abstinence in Alabama, and flat-Earth theory in Utah, I assume. hopefully we in Canada will soon adopt these practices and teach our kids abstinence, creationism, and the theory that global warming can happen only if you read the research on global warming. And you can't read research while driving an SUV. Oooh. I can't wait. Think of the sexy results. It strikes me that if the teachers had taught us abstinence in high school, I would have got laid an awful lot more. I missed the boat!