Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lost But Not Forgotten-Album Edition

Over the years I’ve bid farewell to several albums, most in the easy-to-lend and easy-to-steal CD format. Some have been deemed great enough to buy twice, although I usually make a strong effort to find them used as this doesn’t seem as egregious as buying a CD new twice. Others, I just mourn while cursing the name of the suspected thief.

Fishbone’s Truth and Soul
Ahhh Mas Cardenas. Mas, short for Tomas, was a punk rocker too cute for his own good and, alas, too young and too short for me to add to the official column of boys that I liked in high school. I was a senior, he was a sophomore. Tainted love indeed.

One night I got drunk and staged an impromptu cougar party with my best high school friend, Angela. In attendance: Angela, me, Mas, Chris (younger brother type friend and actual younger brother to one of our friends), and a bespectacled boy who I labeled “some dude” in the extensive—so as to have pictures of Mas—photo documentation of the night.

Sadly, this was my weekend night M.O. When I couldn’t find suitable teenage shenanigans outside the house, I snuck some Bacardi from the parents’ liquor cabinet and proceeded to get wasted before calling up a few select pals and inviting them over to watch movies in my basement. Were I in pre-school, my parents would have been advised to urge me to work on my sharing skills. For I would finish—or claim to finish—off all the liquor before my guests arrived. Angela didn’t drink so that wasn’t such a big deal and she loved making fun of me while I was drunk so we had achieved a symbiosis in this respect, but the troupe of younger boys would have relished a trip down drunky lane. Anyhoo, on this one night I felt uninhibited enough to slip my arm around Mas’ shoulders when we snuck out for a smoke break.

“Sure is cold out here,” I slurred.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Want another smoke?’ I asked. At least I was kind enough to share my Camels with the youth of today.


However he did want to borrow my Fishbone CD. Being as stingy with my CDs as my liquor, I almost said no, but he assured a swift return.

Over the next few years we ran into each other at shows, at youth group meetings, and the occasional party.

“Fishbone!” Mas would say.

“Yeah, you got it with you?”

“Nah, but I still have it. Next time.” He slapped my shoulder.

I guess he earned it.

My important lesson learned—you gotta get the guy drunk too if he is to succumb to one’s questionable cougar charms.

The Smiths’ Strangeways Here We Come
Fucking Josh Regan. I should have never lent him this CD in the first place. He borrowed it only to add more weapons to his ever-growing arsenal against my musical tastes, what he so eloquently called “Fag music.” Perhaps he caught me in a moment of weakness after he handed over a nude picture of Iggy Pop as a Christmas present. I was not happy to receive this picture. It scared the living sexuality out of me and I threw it away as soon as I got home.

“Uh sure, yeah, take all The Smiths you need,” I said, dazed by Iggy’s schlong.

I probably could have used Morrissey’s soothing words to make it through the night, to be reassured that celibacy was an option.

I also lent Josh Living Colour’s Vivid, (ColoUr with a "u?" Really? How pretentious is that?) which was eventually returned (and eventually sold by me during the college years when this hard rock morphed into cheese rock in my humble opinion). I did replenish my Smiths’ collection after finding it used on cassette.

The Pixies Surfer Rosa/Come on Pilgrim
Man, owning this CD made me feel cool! The combo of EP and full-length album on a limited edition CD that came out after The Pixies hit it semi-big with Doolittle. I worked at a record store my junior year of high school and was lucky enough to have several spirit guides in the form of the older employees. Cathy turned me onto The Ramones. Dave turned me onto Jane’s Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and assorted other hard-core/metal bands. Holly fed me more Athens music than I knew what to do with. I can’t remember which one suggested the Pixies, but I was hooked from the first listen. I specially ordered Surfer Rosa/Come on Pilgrim, and liked it even more than Doolittle. So raw and weird and mysterious.

This one disappeared in the black hole of The Neighborhood, the group house where I spent the best of my college years. I eventually did purchase both of these, but separately and wishing a CD curse on whoever had taken it from me.

Shudder to Think Funeral at the Movies/Ten Spot
When I was a PoFo nerd, Shudder to Think was the shit. Second only to Fugazi in the D.C. rock kids esteem. (Well, not counting all the old school harDCore bands whose disbanding everyone constantly bemoaned.) They did something different. Craig, the vocalist, had operatic aspirations that made them stand out from the usual skull-capped fare. This CD disappeared during my time at The Neighborhood. I delayed replacing it until moving out to Portland when I got a case of homesickness for the DC scene (DsCene?). After a yearlong search for it used, I broke down and ordered it from Amazon. After a single listen, I regretted replacing it. My memories of the CD far outshined the actual music. It sounded cheesy and dated. Always a danger in listening to the music of our youth.

Care to share any tales of lost music loves? Any Neighborhoodians out there with a few mystery CDs that match these descriptions?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blister on my Soul

I am doing my usual morning internet rounds. First I cleanse my prurient soul with a skim of the New York Times before moving onto what I’ve really come here for: bitchy celebrity news courtesy of dlisted, humorous tales of parenthood (alternadad) as part of my self-directed campaign to not be so freaked by the concept of having kids, and then a website that makes me long for my carefree, stupid twenties, Fart Party.

My deep thoughts are interrupted by a familiar tune filtering through the floor. My office sits above one of the music department’s practice rooms. I work in the theater department, which harbors a rivalry with the musicians. Some days I think the practice room is a conspiracy to drive the theater folk insane. Those days consist of halting scales, "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" played poorly for hours (Christmas season above the band rehearsal room is a layer in hell), or the repetition of that one hard tuba part in "Flight of the Valkyries."

Today I halt my internet scan and listen. Nope, yep, it is, it can’t be, oh shit. Some band, the orchestral kind not the black t-shirt and ripped jeans kind, is playing that old time alt hit “Blister in the Sun.” A horn solo kicks in at the Let me go o-on part. No fucking way. I resist the temptation to email the high school pals that I’m still in touch with because all four of us don’t need to feel old and confused on this particular Monday. I’m taking one for the team this time. If I remember correctly, “Blister in the Sun” is one of the cleaner Violent Femmes tunes albeit one about masturbation. When I was a young punk wannabe, it certainly wasn’t as fun as belting out the lyrics to “Add It Up.”

Why can’t I get just one kiss?
Believe me some things I wouldn’t miss,
But I look at your pants and I need a kiss…

Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.

Ah, the Violent Femmes. I let Andy Duran, who I was in total teenaged love with my freshman year of high school, borrow The Joshua Tree in exchange for the Violent Femmes who I knew I would love because I loved Andy and thought their name was wicked clever. (Other wicked clever names according to high school me: Dramarama, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ten Thousand Maniacs.) Primed for worship, I popped it in the tape deck and was pleasantly surprised that I wouldn’t have to try to like this band as was occasionally necessary in my early days of discovering punk music. I loved the weird, whiny vocals, the curse words, the undercurrent of desperation that buoyed what really are some fine pop songs. Man, where can I get their t-shirt? I wondered. Sam Goody? Not likely.

Downstairs the upright bass has its own little solo. Let me go o-on. As folks of my generation, that labeled X, climb the rungs of the entertainment industry more and more of my beloved “alternative” songs seep into music soundtracks, TV shows, and the public consciousness. I hate it. I won’t say that my teenage years are being raped, or pillaged or violated but I really would like to know, what the fuck?

When I was a teenager in Manassas, Virginia cassettes of the Violent Femmes, Minor Threat, the Sex Pistols, The Smiths, The Cure, 7 Seconds were passed between a ragtag troupe of weirdoes like notes between classes. In my high school, the weirdo population, including the few hippies, totaled 20 on a good day when nobody was cutting class to drive to Georgetown and buy more Sid Vicious t-shirts. We weren’t all best buddies and everyone was on constant poseur alert, but for the most part we smiled at each other in the halls and were excited to talk music.

The rest of the school was a sea of heavy metal, radio pop of the Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force ilk, and rap. One of my darkest days was realizing that some of the popular kids shared my musical tastes. I questioned everything. How dare they! How could they? They could never understand Morrissey’s pain in their Esprit sweatshirts and cloud of Polo cologne. When I wore my U2 and R.E.M. concert shirts, I felt proud but also didn’t like all the compliments that they garnered me. So now that I’m wearing this t-shirt, I’m cool, but tomorrow you’ll make fun of me to my face for my white creepers (which were totally ridiculous golf shoes and deserved mocking, but still).

What did I actually want? I wanted to keep my outcast status because it made me special while being worshipped as coolest of the cool from afar. I wanted all the lip glossed girls and jarhead jock dudes to respect and admire me while knowing that they were not brave enough to be me (thus all the teasing and not falling in love with me). I wanted to be popular and unpopular at the same time. To spit in the face of all those who were full-time disdainers of the freaks by choosing to hang out with the misfits.

As I look around the pop culture landscape now, I feel that same sense of the popular kids encroaching on a world that I thought was mine, reserved for the fat kids who wear all black, the gay guys who got beat up for existing, the drama nerds, the mocked, the depressed, the poetic, the deep. VH1 shows videos that I would have gone nuts for 20 years ago. Kids today don’t believe that VH1 once meant Lionel Ritchie, Lisa Lisa with Cult Jam and Full Force, Anita freaking Baker. I feel like the popular culture memory is remembering a reality that never existed. That when the deejay spins a Cure song at my 20-year high school reunion (should I actually get invited this time) and everyone screams “wooooo!” I’ll still feel left out as I am one of the few who remembers that the wooo-ers made fun of my Cure shirt and that “fag with the lipstick.”

I own my Joanie-come-latelyness. During its early heyday I did not like rap. I loved the Beastie Boys, considering them a guilty pleasure on par with Milli Vanilli, but on the whole I thought rap was for somebody else. That somebody else being black people. Rap music didn’t mesh with the punk outsider vision I had of myself. Besides that, a posse of black girls at my school picked on me and they were big into rap music so I associated rap with their hollers in the hall and their pint-sized emissary, Harry Jones, who delighted in ripping bows from my hair and other such juvenilia. (Yes, he did this in high school and, yes, I wore bows in my hair. In high school.) I lived close to Washington DC and could have caught some amazing old school hip hop and go-go bands had I been alert to the awesomeness of this kind of music, but I wasn’t. And I don’t pretend that I was anything but clueless on the rap front.

This is all well-covered ground in the Kt Crud oeuvre, but still, “Blister in the Sun” as interpreted by the Blahblah University Pep Band?

I’ll keep you updated on disturbing trends in orchestral arrangements of beloved songs of youthful rebellion.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Wire Me a Life

(Warning—some Wire spoilers in this post. Get watching, my peeps.)

Aside from laughing hysterically at cakes that resemble penises, my main diversion these days is keeping Mr. Crud and me from diving into the shitty weather inspired depths of depression. The only things standing between me and a day-long crying jag is yoga and my new TV obsession, The Wire. (You thought I was going to say a penis-shaped cake. I do my best, short of showing up at the door swaddled in saran wrap, to keep things surprising around here.)

The Wire is the new Sopranos in Crudland. When I’m not flogging myself for working on novel attempt #4 (don’t ask), buoying the spirits of the Crud unit, or pretending my life is a musical (not hard to do when an entire brass quartet is playing beneath me—wait, no, not like that, I work in an office located over a music practice room. Yuck, you nasty.), I am puzzling over The Wire. My latest puzzle: Match the Wire character with the rapper who most embodies their essence. Most of these are gut feelings and not based on some principle that I could defend in a five-paragraph essay. Let’s get participatory up in here—Agree? Disagree? Let me and the crud-loving world know.

Marlo = Clipse

Prop Joe = Notorious B.I.G.

Avon Barksdale = Ghostface Killah

Stringer Bell = Jay Z

Snoop = Snoop (nah, she has more of a Yo’ Majesty vibe except for all the joyless killing.)

Slim Charles = Ice T (voices that ooze smooooothe)

McNulty = House of Pain

Cheese = Method Man (yeah, obviously)

What of Bodie? The murderous Chris? Webay? Stinkum? And my favorite, Omar? I need to get Nathan Rabin on this pronto.

Friday, February 1, 2008

That's It For Me, Folks

This picture made me laugh until I cried fat, silent tears. I think it's time for me to go home. It's a cake, a, um, basketball court cake.

(Thanks to The Sneeze for the needed moment of hilarity. You should check out the post, and The Sneeze. Good stuff.)