Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Just got back from Portland, where I spent the weekend supporting my dear friend Tessa B at an indie comic book convention, and visited another dear friend, Brent W, a recent Oregonian and host extraordinaire. Having spent a total of four days in this marvelous city, I do believe I know nearly everything there is to know about Portland. Here are some basics:
(Warning: the following contains material both graphic and erotic in nature. The viewing discretion of my mother is advised).
1. Everybody loves yeast: every single cafe and restaurant had a jar of nutritional yeast sitting among more common condiments in Parmesan cheese containers. I asked the lady at the counter of a movie theater, "So...yeast is pretty hip among the kids these days, eh?" She was busy helping other customers and didn't give it much thought before saying, "I 'spose it is, honey, I 'spose it is."
2. Churches are a curious thing: the first "church" I saw was in fact a pub, "Chapel Pub," owned by the McMenamins group, who've also been credited with turning an elementary school into a bar and public bath house, as well as turning a segment of an old movie theater into a pool hall/bar. Also, there are strange "religious groups" which gather to do their god-knows-what. This one, which I found on Alberta street in some random residential strip mall, had some scheduled events posted in their display window. Below the pictures of Jesus, Buddha, Thich Nhan Hanh and Maya Angelou was a sign for an April 30 event, where "a talking donkey" was scheduled to appear, apparently.
3. Public nudity is encouraged: One day I discovered an ad in a local newspaper which read: "Hawthorne Cutlery/Shop Naked/we carry switchblades, daggers, swords, battleaxes, maces, armor!/The only sword shop in town where you can shop naked"! According to Brent, there are more strip clubs per capita in Portland than any other major city--people love them some nudity. Later that night, on our way home, me and Brent found ourselves driving alongside two fine gentleman on a bicycle built for four. As soon as they noticed our vehicle slowing down, they promptly moved their bare backsides upwards and moved them about. When I hung out the window with my camera they said, "Welcome to Portland!" before completely loosing control of their large bike and careening into a ditch. I was laughing so hard I couldn't manage to take a complete shot and zoomed in a little too much:
4. Karaoke jockeys are corrupt: I'm going to have to be honest here and just say it..I'm really angry about this one. The karaoke bar I went to, a tiki bar called The Alibi, had the most corrupt KJ I've ever experienced. Sure, the place was great for ambience--sunken, fern-shrouded booths, slot machines and cocktail specials with titles including things like "pirate's booty" and "scurvy", an extensive song list, and a large space for people to dance. But when I tried to place my song request with the seemingly-friendly, drunken lady working behind the machine, she smiled and pointed to a very large fish bowl and said, "Tips are one dollar!" I complied. Later, I made everyone wait for me to go up for over an hour when half of our party had already left. It was strange because my friend Ben had been called up just 10 minutes after putting in a request. I went back up to her to see how much longer it would be. "You know, if you tipped me more I could give you more priority!" she said, smiling again like she was being helpful. I went back to my friends to discuss, and considered many other options, such as taking my dollar back or perhaps everyone's dollars back. Or just calling her on her shit and making a scene, yelling something like, "What kind of corrupt quid pro quo bullshit is this!" But I don't think my cries would penetrate the then-hiccuping, dancing KJ. Instead I just went up and said, "You can take me off the list, my friends are making me leave." She then miraculously put my song up next. I sang, all the while wishing it was gangsta rap so I could intimidate her by threatening to put a gat in her ass in the socially-acceptable context of karaoke.
4. Coffee reigns supreme: I know Seattle has the reputation for the best coffee in the country; even my own city is supposed to be superior for the morning sauce. But hands down the best coffee I've ever had was over the weekend. The places I started my day at were Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Albina Press, and Extracto. Extracto was so good I would have wanted to go there at least three times a day if not for the maddening caffeine rush and subsequent crash that left me craving a nap at odd hours. At Extracto we would order lattes and cappucinos "Canadian style"--with maple syrup and cinnamon. They made little leaf patterns in the foam with grains of cinnamon floating about. I was in love.
5. Open markets are a way of life: The Saturday arts and crafts fair was the best community market I've ever been to. They had the best goods because you could tell that they were made with love and extremely well-honed skills. And there are so many local shops and brands of nearly every sort of item you can think of that it makes you feel like everyone is hawking something. Also, sometimes we would drive by small trailers or literal shacks that sold food and there would be a ton of people waiting in line. I'll bet everyone that lives in Portland knows or is a merchant of some sort.
At the Saturday Market, I saw one of the best street performers ever. I didn't catch his name, but he said that the item on what's left of his right arm is an electrical conduit he found at Home Depot. When I first heard him, I thought someone was playing Bruce Springsteen:
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
(Illustration of Chris taken from Colbertnation)
So a few weeks back, former NYT correspondent Chris Hedges came to speak to about six or seven of us from my newsroom. Hedges is one of my co-workers' former instructors from NYU. He was in the area to give a lecture at Berkeley and thought he'd swing by.
Hedges has a Master's from Harvard Divinity School, and religion is a constant driving force in his life, from what I gathered. He spent seven years in the Middle East as a war correspondent, and covered both the war in Bosnia and the war in Kosovo. He told us it took him three years to get over PTSD. He said:"You have several hundred instances of profound trauma and you can't connect with anyone around you."
He recounted an instance where, while embedded in Gaza, he saw an IDF soldier yell at a 10 year-old Palestinian boy that his "mother was a whore," and when the boy came towards him, the soldier shot him in the head from about 10 feet away. For his NYT coverage of the Gaza Strip, Hedges wasn't considered a humanitarian, but simply pro-Palestine.
Hedges may best be known for his anti-war stance; particularly for a speech he gave at Rockford College about war and empire just five days after Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Hedges recalled that about 1,500 audience members just went "berserk" throughout his speech--not only was his microphone cut twice, but a few men tried to maul him while on stage.
He lost his job at the NYT after the WSJ gave a scathing editorial condemning the speech at Rockford. Of his former colleagues, Hedges said they were "cowards" and that there were no tears when he was forced to step down.
"I didn't want to leave the Times, and I did have a choice, but the choice was unacceptable," he told us. "I wouldn't keep my mouth shut."
He says the war in Iraq is an "illegal war," and he will not vote for anyone but Ralph Nader this election year because he cannot stand for someone who would keep our troops in Iraq any longer.
Hedges told us that around 10 percent of war correspondents actually want to write about war. The vast majority simply rewrite embassy hand-outs. He said: "Most journalists have become nothing more than courtesans at the feet of power." But he also stated that he likes foreign correspondents because they are "total shitbags" and they don't pretend to be otherwise. He said that so many of them are so very full shit, and when I asked him to name names, he said Rod Nordland of Newsweek, for one.
Hedges summarily gave a rather bleak picture of his experience in the journalism field, as well as institutions in general.
"People who assert themselves in life move from one institution to another," he said.
This man's words resonated with me for a great deal of time after our discussion. I've tried to read several of his articles online, and recently purchased his book, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning. I am incredibly fascinated by him because I've never met a more courageously spiritual, upstanding patriot than Chris Hedges. He has truly challenged my conceptions of what it means to be both patriotic and religious and/or spiritual. And his rule of thumb about good journalism echoed my own deep-rooted beliefs: you gotta ask yourself, "Would these people have a voice if I weren't here?"
Here's the first part of his speech in Rockford. (I like how jolly and sweet the deaf interpreter looks as she translates the term "pariah." Also, when Hedges says: "...the circle of violence is a death circle, no one escapes"):
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Today is not only Hitler's birthday, but it is also my mother's. Her name is Debra and she lives in the Chicago area. And she is the greatest woman I know.
(Note: I have removed the poem that once was here to transfer it to a hard copy).
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Keanu Reeves: Revisited
I've always held a great love for the actor Keanu Reeves and his impressive body of work. It all began with Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which led me to seek out The Razor's Edge, My Own Private Idaho, and of course Point Break. (Side note: Point Break--the next Rocky Horror Picture Show?) His range is ambitious--the man played Buddha for chissakes. He turned down the Val Kilmer role in Heat to play Hamlet in a Canadian theatre production. Also, he once conversed with me, mono a mono, for no shorter than 10 minutes at an L.A. diner. I told him one of my favorite films of all time was Point Break; he said he was sorry because it is a really cheesy movie. I was sure he must have been high, having strolled in with his motorcycle helmet on even after sitting down and taking a booth (it had been removed after I struck up a conversation). It was everything anyone could ask for in a celebrity encounter. He told me that if I wanted to get to Palm Springs that day, I'd better leave soon to beat the traffic. Later, as me and my friends sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I told them, "Keanu warned me about this." It was rad.
Anyways. He has a new movie coming out called Street Kings and I highly recommend viewing it to celebrate 4/20. Here is a classic before-he-was-famous gem:
And here's a story about his new film, hot off the UK Press Association:
Reeves Street Kings shoot 'intense'
Keanu Reeves admits he found himself in the middle of a pretty intense shoot while filming new cop movie Street Kings.
"This shoot was very intense but you didn't have time to unwind and get ready for the next day so that focus I really enjoyed," he says.
"When the film was done there was some couch time."
As LAPD cop Tom Ludlow, Reeves was involved in every scene, and had to immerse himself in a much grittier, violent world.
"I got a lot of help from my director (David Ayer)," he says.
"He kind of felt I was a little too fuzzy and warm so he put me in situations to get into my non-fuzzy world.
"I met with a lot of police officers who were very generous with sharing what the job was like and I trained with some weapons guys so it was just really imagination. Trying to internalise the stories that I heard and going from there.
"In the end you're trying to fulfil and hopefully realise the scene."
However, despite the gritty subject material, Keanu still has faith that not everybody can be completely nasty.
"No I don't think we're all bad, otherwise what would Santa do?" he smiled.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Hogzilla One-Year Anniversary, Sneak Preview
Today I'm going to jump the gun on this subject before the mainstream media catches wind of it first: folks, we are approaching the one-year anniversary of the slaying of Monster Pig.
It was around this time last year (May 3,2007--mark your calendar!) that 11 year-old Alabama resident Jamison Stone shot down a mammoth wild boar after chasing it with a pistol through the hills of a commercial hunting park for three straight hours. Eventually he shot the beast point-blank.
Stone told the Associated Press: "It feels really good. It's a good accomplishment. I probably won't ever kill anything else that big."
The claims made by Stone and his father--that the boar weighed over 1,050 pounds and was nine feet long from snout to tail--have been widely criticized, as the scale used could only weigh objects at 10 lbs at a time. Basically, there must have been a lot of guesswork involved. Skeptics also question the guestimate as the 2004 National Geographic discovery, Hogzilla, weighed 1,000 pounds. Monster Pig, if weighed correctly, would be the meatiest monster of them all, even thought it was actually three feet shorter than Hogzilla in length.
But some also claim that the image of the Monster Pig has been doctored to make the creature look larger than it actually was. Who knows, but check out all these badass pics of kids killing animals on the Stones' personal website. Do you think they could have all been doctored?
To honor the occasion, the magazine meatpaper, a magazine dedicated to meat, has traveled through time to capture future remarks made by the Monster Pig sharpshooter:
May 25, 2008Read the rest of the article here.
12-year-old Blows Away Own Record by Bagging 2,102-lb. Hog!
“I guess it just goes to show you the stupid things that come out of your mouth when you're only 11-years-old!” Jamison said at a press conference.
“In terms of life accomplishments, this brings shame upon my homemade potato clock! And it makes my Monster Pig from last year look like a Mini Pig, like Hog-Bambi! I think it's safe to say I PROBABLY WON’T EVER KILL ANYTHING ELSE THAT BIG IN THE FUTURE!” (laughter from reporters)
“If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have my first taste of alcohol.”
May 25, 2009
Huge-Hog Hat Trick! 13-year-old Wastes 4,204-lb. ‘Boar-hemoth’
“Of course I’m fr8ked out,” Jamison said in a text message. “Evry year the pig cometh on same exact day, 2? LOL! WTF?”
May 25, 2012
Baby “Swine-stein” Blasts Previous Record with 8,408-pound ‘Moby Pig’! Teen Says Sixth Consecutive Record Hog Kill has got Him Thinking about “Some Deeper, Cosmic Kind of Stuff”
“You’re out there in the woods,” said the 16-year-old in a hand-written letter. “And you start noticing bigger patterns? Like mathematical things? Such as the rate that these pigs are growing? X times two? Is anybody with me?”
-Stinkyjournalism.org reports that an Alabama grand jury is investigating the Stones on animal cruelty charges. This has led to bad press for the Lost Creek Plantation hunting grounds where Monster Pig was gunned down. As of January of this year, the park was up for sale.
-The story of Hogzilla, based on the 2004 boar, is currently being made into a movie, with a plot line offering absolutely no bearing in reality. Jamison Stone has been offered a cameo.
-Monster Pig's head now R.I.P.'s at Jerry's Taxodermy and Deer Processing in Oxford, AL.
-Speaking of big "pigs", here is some footage of a real live boar that some Serbian dudes found roaming the city streets of Nis. Enjoy:
Sunday, April 13, 2008
So tonight me and some housemates finally found out who Poison front man Bret Michaels chose to be his "Rock of Love" on the VH1 show of the same name. It was intense, and as Michaels put it: "I'm not here to find my rock of like, or rock of lust, I need to find my rock of love." He also was fond of ending his on-air "dates" with, "Now let's go have hot monkey sex."
From the 15+ silicone-lovin,' fishy-lipped, and tatted up groupie ladies Michaels had to choose from, last night it all boiled down to two lucky contenders: Ambre (pronounced "Amber") and Daisy, like the flower/stripper name. But what was more dizzying than the whirlwind romancing of dozens of these fine ladies was the obscene number of do-rags Michaels sported. Me and Jon W., through a very meticulous, scientific tallying system, narrowed it down to about half a dozen power do-rags that seemed to help him harness his hoe-weeding skills (ooh lookout--double pun!) to their full potential. Although we did have some disagreements as to which were truly the most stylish and brought out his eyes (I liked the paisley), I do believe we were in agreement about the basic black/charcoal number--it was worn during every power decision of elimination, and thus had to somehow hold a secret laser beam inside. We took notes on this handy paper plate:
(Note: Jon spelled do-rag "dewrag." Not me.)
Oh, and Ambre won. I'm glad I didn't make any bets with anyone, because I would've gone with Daisy the stripper. In washed up rocker reality/dating shows, you always bet on the stripper.
So I got this book-of-the-month-club offer the other day, and it was addressed to "Mr. Amith Beardlen." Yeah, it was wrong on three fronts. First and last names--wrong. Also, I am not a man. But that's ok, oh wee office administrator. Typing and transferring names into never-ending excel spreadsheets is not what god put you on this glorious green earth to do. And I get that, and I just want you to know that I get that. I'm not mad. And by not only getting my gender wrong with the "Mr", but taking it a step further and inserting the word "beard" --you made me chuckle. You are a clever one. I get you, I get you inside and out. You are a bright shiny star whose brilliance has yet to be discovered. And obviously this fascist book-of-the-month club doesn't get that about you. But I do--you are so much better than this adminofascist banality you have unwittingly become a slave to. So this one's for you, office administrator/data entry clerk. (as set to the tune of Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"):
We both lie silently still
in the dead of the night
Although we both lie close together (symbolically)
We feel miles apart inside (because you're in Indianapolis)
Was it something I said or something I did
(Did my name sound funny to you)
Though I tried not to hurt you
Though I tried
But I guess that's why they say
Every snowflake is special
Just like every night has a star
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every snowflake is special
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Helen Zia, Chinese American journalist and open lesbian, will be tasked with passing the Olympic torch here in San Francisco tomorrow, and wrote an Op-Ed about her feelings on China in the SF Chronicle today.
She is basically making the argument that American anti-Chinese sentiment is fraught with oversimplification of the Tibetan crisis and residual cold war fears. She postures herself as a noble voice of authority in that she claims to have done substantial cultural research in China as a reporter, more recently attending the Women's World Conference in Beijing in 1995. She claims that:
Up until I left China just before the uprisings in Tibet, the Chinese government was heavily promoting the Olympic spirit and teaching Olympic values of friendship, understanding and fair play in the schools.
She concludes with:
...the calls to boycott the Olympics and to label everything about China as evil can only serve to isolate China and the United States from each other. China is not a monolith, and blanket condemnations of China and its people are as simplistic as blaming all Americans for the U.S. human-rights violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
But China's government is a monolith! As a reporter of international affairs, I wonder how she can reconcile her own Western freedoms with the oppressive, censorship-loving propaganda arm of the Chinese government. A propaganda machine that's done everything in its power to make the Tibetans look like the oppressors and aggressors.
When we boycott Chinese products and condemn their lack of labor standards, they tend to not try to poison us as much. So, hopefully, when we boycott and condemn their country for attempting to symbolize this peace-loving, civil world power while supporting the Sudanese military in its genocide and violently oppressing a non-violent religious community at home, whose borders are deemed meaningless in their quest for domination, they will have to, at least, address the issue in some way or another.
This brings me to my snap of the day. Here is my favorite comment to Ms. Zia's article:
Ms. Zia, I disagree completely that the only result from protests now can be to drive China and the West (US) apart and into a cold war stance. It is China which is choosing to take this position by flooding Tibet with a military crackdown on peaceful protesters. This is not at all what we were promised 20 years ago regarding "engagement" nor what the Chinese promised in order to host the Games. The world is nearly universal in its appeal now to China for better treatment of Tibetans and to have a real discussion about meaningful autonomy for Tibetans. As a so-called "human rights activist" how does it feel to be on the wrong side of an important international issue and a Chinese apologist at this defining moment?Oh snap!
Monday, April 07, 2008
Feeling Check: Today, wanting to be in London
I stumbled across this review of an opera version of David Lynch's 1997 film Lost Highway today, which is currently being performed at the Young Vic theatre in London. FYI, Lynch's dream logic horror noir is, as of last week, finally out on DVD. I found this to be one of the director's most inaccessible films to date, and here I'm taking Inland Empire and Eraserhead into consideration. Don't expect Lynch to give any special insight through commentary in the bonus features, though--he doesn't do that because he knows it will piss you off.
The opera version, re-worked by Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth, began its tour in 2003, and is now making a more high-profile comeback. Today I am feeling that I seriously need to be in London watching this opera--like right now.
But since I'm stuck in an office in San Francisco, I shall try to savor this review and accompanying pictures. And some behind-the-scenes videos. Here are some highlights:
...Neuwirth's text sticks closely to the original screenplay, making just a couple of significant alterations, and delivers most of it as speech: there is no singing at all in the first third of the 90-minute piece. The baffling tale, involving what is known psychologically as psychogenic or dissociative fugue, unfolds as a sequence of disconnected scenes. Jazz musician Fred Madison is sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, and while on death row he is transformed into garage mechanic Pete Dayton, who has his own problems with the underworld. Whether the two men are one and the same, or just unwittingly connected, is never made clear.
The score involves live digital transformations for the ensemble and voices; the resulting sounds are projected around the auditorium. It includes quotations--from Kurt Weill and a Monteverdi madrigal--but otherwise the fine detail gets homogenised by the electronics, an aural emulsion that is generally just a a neutral background to speech and song.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Sent all the way from Sean, who lives in America's hat, a brilliant mash-up parody of the Sarah Silverman "F**king Matt Damon" video.
And no, still not tired of the election yet. This primary is like political foreplay, and I can't wait to what happens when Obama just nails the hell out of McCain.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Honor King, never vote for McCain
Today marks the 40-year anniversary of the assassination of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To mark the occasion, I spent this morning watching John McCain on CNN, he was on the stump at the very motel where King was shot down in Memphis. I spent the morning cursing and getting angry, basically.
Funny how a congressman who voted against making MLK day a national holiday in 1983 is now soiling the very place where bigots like him took MLK down. (Yes I use "bigots" in the plural, lots of folks were glad that day happened. Lots of folks who will vote for McCain.)
He voted against it in 1983! It's not like the Civil Rights Movement had just begun a few weeks ago! And he was 47 years old, it's not like he was some young hot-shot politician that hadn't formed his beliefs yet! Even Newt Gingrich and Lord Darth Cheney voted for the holiday!
It's true that McCain told USA Today that vote was a mistake in 1987. But then he voted in 1994 to cut funding from the commission that promoted the holiday!
And what was it, exactly, that motivated him to make those votes in the first place?
And what is his motivation today for aligning himself with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference? What is his motivation for claiming to embrace all the issues that King gave his life for?
Because if he really did accept King's teachings, he would want to get us the hell out of Iraq, and he would actually want to help the working class poor rather than provide more tax breaks so that their numbers grow.
King's son wrote a beautiful Op-Ed yesterday about poverty in America. Did you know that this nation's government does not consider a family of four making $21,000 a year impoverished? King's son is calling for a poverty cabinet to address this plague of starvation and financial ruin. If McCain wants to put his money where his mouth is, he'd heed the advice. But we all know that will never happen, so f**k you McCain.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Last month, the Washington Post cited a new study by UCLA political scientist Michael Ross, that claims oil-rich, impoverished nations are more likely to oppress women than poor nations that do not have a booming oil industry. Ross gives what appears to be a proven link between higher levels of oil production and lower levels of civic engagement among women.
His study, which was based on more than four decades of data from 169 countries, claims that an economy based primarily on oil and construction oftentimes cancels out the growth of industries that women in poorer nations dominate--namely, textile manufacturing, where women greatly outnumber men.
In communities where women are not able to work outside of the home, they are not able to socialize with other women. They are also not able to value a quality education, because it may seem pointless. In turn, they will never go on to becoming community leaders and organizers, and their government will have little incentive to protect their rights.
This study is ground-breaking in that it shatters what the World Bank and others have long asserted: social development and gender equality are obvious results of economic growth.
Now of course, the crazed Islamophobes and wingnuts had a field day with this, reducing Ross to nothing more than an "Islamofascist apologist." How, then, do they explain why oil-poor Tunisia and Morocco have a higher percentage of female legislators than oil-rich Algeria?
Of course there are social parameters associated with Islamic tradition. No one can dispute this. But c'mon people, wake up. Stop relying on foreign oil from economically underdeveloped nations. Not only does it breed tyranny, tribal and global warfare, environmental and economic devastation, but engenders the oppression of women as a byproduct.
You know what this blog is lacking? Ads. That's right, ads (the Brits fancy saying "adverts"). So here is an ad for you, because you know what you guys? Content doesn't come for free. Everybody needs to advertise sometimes. Granted, this is a not-for-profit blog, but still, I don't make up the rules here, it's just the American advertising way. Enjoy:
From the Bonsai web site:
"Awesome sandals! It's like an Ugg and a Rainbow sandal got together and had a Bonsai!"
-- Danny R., Santa Cruz, CA
"I love my Bonsais! The sheepskin really does keep my feet warm, and now I can walk around in flip flops even though it's cold outside. Thanks for letting me stay such a lazy slacker!"
-- Steve P., Newport Beach, CA
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
With a cold. And you know what? I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of this...sick sickness. You know what else I'm sick of? All the guys in my office that are such babies about it. Because it's not just any cold. It's a "man cold":
(From the BBC show "Man Stroke Woman")
Yesterday I read about the mysterious June death of a local San Franciso man. The article said that the police won't classify it as a homicide, but can't quite classify it as a suicide either. My heart goes out to this man's next of kin, as well as his ex-girlfriend who has been working like mad to get this case solved. Even the French government is involved, as he has a dual citizenship. From the article:
Police were summoned at 8:30 a.m. Saturday after a neighbor saw blood on the stoop. Officers had to break down de la Plaza's locked door. Once inside, they found no knife by de la Plaza's side. In fact, while they found plenty of blood, they found no bloody knife. But they saw something they thought might be a remnant of blood on a knife in the sink. Their theory was that de la Plaza had washed the knife after stabbing himself, but tests on the blade showed no trace of blood. There was no suicide note. On a notepad, however, someone had written two sentences: "Learn as if you were to live forever," and, "Live as if you were to die tomorrow."
I have a point, and my point is this: this quote is like the video from "The Ring." Eerie.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
So I bought the hype, and thus the new R.E.M. album Accelerate the other day. I haven't listened to it yet--except for "Houston," which made me hopeful. I hear it's political though, and marks their "return to greatness." We'll see. I'm skeptical.
All I can say is, they lost me at 2001's Reveal. Maybe it was that the world was not the same after 9/11 and that's what I was feeling. I don't know, but they just barely had me with '96's New Adventures in Hi-Fi. The standout being "E-Bow the Letter" which was one of their finer moments among a whirl of forgettable tracks. Then Reveal came along and that was it, they had officially turned too commercial-sounding, too poppy, too un-College Radio, too un-R.E.M. for me.
But today I would like to commemorate one of my most favorite bands in the world, although I probably haven't admitted it to anyone in over 10 years.
Here's to magical, coming-of-age songs like "Nightswimming," "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight," and "Strange Currencies" that make you want to eat popsicles on a big trampoline on a hot summer's day, stay at the fair past dusk, or, perhaps, go nightswimming with a schoolyard crush. Or to mysterious instrumentals like "Rotary Ten," "Zither," or "New Orleans Instrumental No.1" that seem to come straight out of a movie soundtrack. Or should have inspired someone to make a movie, at least.
Or to the just plain fierce, passionate songs like "Orange Crush," "Let Me In," or "Fall On Me." I'll never forget the day I caught an R.E.M. song on "Beverly Hills, 90210." I think it was Dylan who swaggered into the Peach Pitt all James Dean/Rebel Without a Cause-like, threw those quarters into the juke and brooded to "Loosing My Religion." It was hot, and I think it turned a lot of people on to R.E.M.
Here's a list of my favorites, with the exception of a few that could not be found ("Rotary Ten" is on Dead Letter Office and I could listen to that one all day long.)