Category Archives: Personal

Commentaries of a personal nature – could be about family, myself, friends, the blog itself, etc

Three cents about … “Ten bands”

And yet again I see a little hate directed toward the whole “10 bands” viral thing. Hey, that’s cool, most of us get irritated with one viral / meme or another now & then.  But I’m a little bumfuzzled about this particular one.
 
Here’s the part I don’t get: the high percentage of those who are worked up enough to bitch about it that seem to be connected to the music business in some way.  Let me be clear though: not all musicians were snarking about it, only a few really.  And not every mealy-mouther has a connection to music.  But there was a noticeable overlap between music-related workers & complainers, at least in what I saw.  Well over half the gripes came from people — often tertiary types — that have some relationship to music
 
I can’t imagine an actor complaining because people were talking about movies or plays. I can’t imagine a preacher complaining because people listed their favorite scriptures. I can’t imagine a grocery clerk getting bent because people were talking about food.  And yet …

Now let me also try to make something completely crystal clear before I go any farther.  If you happen to be a musician that got annoyed simply by the viral repetition or whatever, you’re not the subject of my rant here.   See above, about how we all get tired of one thing or another. No, what follows here is about those folks who seemed to take some sort of bizarre offense at the very existence of the topic.

 
Since I happen to actually like a fair number of musical folks, let me try to help out their kindred who seem to have missed both the point of the whole exercise and any understanding of why it caught on so well:  I thought AdWeek hit on a big part of it as they analyzed the sudden success really,  it wasn’t about what bands you’ve seen, it’s about using your understanding of how people perceive you & playing around with it.

It was about conversations.  I saw a LOT of these across my FB wall in the past 2-3 days.  Virtually all of them not only talked about the bands mentioned but also about how they fit into the timelines of their lives.  Not the bands but rather, how the concert experience came to occur.  Where you sat, where you saw it, why you went.   You know, actual conversations rather than the same ol’ picture shares, meme shares, hoaxes, and fake news links.

It was about nostalgia.   A growing portion of the population doesn’t remember when “camping out for tickets” was a thing.  If you DO remember, odds are you have some fond recollections to go with the uncomfortable attempts to sleep and freezing your butt off.

It was about shared experiences.  “You were there too?  We didn’t even know each other then, how funny is that?” and “do you remember that one guy, down toward the front, who kept trying to …”.
I was there, you were there, that’s a connection.

I’m looking back through the things I saw and find myself even more perplexed by the angst they seemed to generate for some people.   I don’t see anything that does another musician any harm.  I don’t see anything that diminishes anybody in any way.  I don’t see anything that requires any more effort to ignore or avoid than any of dozens of things that must surely upset the equilibrium of these hyper-sensitive souls every single day of their glaringly unhappy existence.

Well buttercup, if you think those lists yanked your chain, let me show you what a REAL tug on it feels like:  take your pitiful little complaints, shine ’em up reaaaaal nice, and shove them up your tightly puckered ass.   You’re either so pathetically self-centered that you can’t fathom not being the center of attention for fifteen (more) minutes and you’re just pissed that everyone isn’t kissing your feet & posting about youyouyou OR you’re so out of touch with how actual humans connect with each other that you’re unlikely to contribute much, if anything, to the social media sphere.  Don’t go away mad, just go away.

Ah hell, who am I kidding? As long as you shut the hell up with the whining, I don’t really care if you leave mad or not.

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Helpful Hints: fast food edition

Having just spent close to twenty minutes awaiting the successful assembly of four simple
(3 ingredients) fast food items, I’ve decided to be proactive.

Anyone can merely point out problems, I’m here today to offer some handy preventative tips that might help reduce the ridicule your establishment receives or deserves.   If you have hiring authority in this industry, please consider the following tips.

1) If Donqartavious shows up for the interview with red, glassy eyes and then shows up for work with the same slack-jawed blank expression while struggling to focus on objects directly in front of him … fire his ass.    Don’t allow the mistake you made in hiring him initially to be compounded by retaining him.

2) If Billy-Bob (or his wife / first cousin Billy-Sue) cannot successful spell “cat” on the third attempt after you’ve spotted him (or her) both the “c” AND the “a” … do not hire them.    Their IQ is not going to rise significantly no matter how many times they screw up the simplest of tasks.  Avoid the suffering they will bring to your co-workers, yourself, and your customers.  #JustSayNo

3) If Sharqarnevia arrives for her after-school job interview twenty minutes late, with a baby on each hip, a boyfriend, an ex-boyfriend, two cousins, her grandmother, and what must be her younger twin siblings all along for the visit … don’t hire her.   You already know she’s not going to be on time, you already know her judgmental abilities are questionable, you already know there’s going to be disruptions connected to her employment from the get-go.   So … just don’t.

4) If identical twins Lemonjello and Orangello show up for an interview but one keeps slipping away to inspect your security cameras and the alarm systems while the other is talking to you, take trust that slightly uneasy feeling you should be getting.   Employment for either is probably not going to end well … at least not for your/your location.

While I realize that these are only starting points for improving the customer experience at most fast-food establishments, we have to begin the process somewhere.   The simple tips will move the majority of locations a noticeable step in the right direction.

You’re welcome.

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O Happy Day … sorta

It’s about to get political up in here.   You’ve been warned.

{polite pause for the scrollers}

Ding dong, the fence post turtle is gone.  That’s the good news.

And yes, I’m a happy deplorable in the sense that we got the best (by FAR) possible outcome from the available options. Do not confuse that with me being particularly optimistic.

Trump is, at best, a rather pale imitation of my policy desires far too often for me to be too encouraged just yet.  There are encouraging signs, there are discouraging signs, the proof will be in the proverbial pudding.

I hope he proves my lack of starry-eyed optimism wrong.

I hope he is more aggressive than I expect, that he more successful at bringing the nation back from the abyss, even more resolute and adept at moving mountains that I anticipate.  I hope he exceeds my expectations ten-fold and the fears of the liberal left twenty-fold.

I hope he channels Conan the Barbarian, exemplifying what is best in life “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.”

I’d like for “Hail To The Chief” to be suitably replaced by Kid Rock’s “You Never Met A Mother****** Like Me” by the mid-term elections.  For more formal occasions, Nazareths’ classic “Hair of the Dog” can be substituted.

Because one part angry mutha and one part S.O.B. is what it will take to undo eight years of damage presided over by the second-worst President in U.S. history.   (Yes, I still think Carter was actually a worse President, a truly unique combination of damned fool and inept bungler)

I’ve spent eight years being mortified on a regular basis, eight years being downright embarrassed to be an American.   Sorry if that rankles some uber-patriots but it’s the cold hard truth and I’m not inclined to lie about it.  Thing is, that isn’t Obie’s fault, he’s just a symptom.  The disgraceful disease is the rampant liberalism that allowed such a worthless empty-suit to be elected in the first place.  And THAT is what I want President Trump to address.   Treat the symptoms so that we can survive, secondary complications from such a serious malady can kill you, so they have to be dealt with.

But then, well, ideally Trump becomes the national form of chemotherapy.   The personal embodiment of a merciless assault on the terminal illness that plagues a once-great nation.  Every time he smacks down some idiot in sore need of a backhand, we take a step toward recovery.  Every time he speaks a straightforward truth, we move a step back toward reality and away from “safe-space” nonsense.  Every time he shows a little backbone, hopefully a cell regenerates in the national spine.

Today was a symbolic step in the right direction.  It’s a reason to hope, a thin silver of sunshine after eight years of steady, and sometimes torrential, rain.  It will take extraordinary resolve to repair the damage, let alone begin to rebuild.   Trump has defied the odds repeatedly, here’s hoping he can do so again.

And, at the very worst, we get perhaps the biggest upgrade in First Lady’s EVER.   And that is, at least, SOMETHING.

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… and the horse you rode in on

Ever had a friend that you just really feel the need to slap the shit out of?

Fair warning: considerably more profanity will probably ensue here.  If that’s a problem for you then it’s probably best that you stop right here.
{pause} {pause}  {pause}

That’s essentially my initial thought toward the now format-flipped Bulldog 93.3 here in Athens, GA.   I suspect a lot of their listeners are about as happy with them as I am right now, probably able to relate to my inclination.

After a month or so of “stunting” with Christmas music, the former active rock station has gone to what amounts to AAA, or Adult Album Alternative.   Gosh, wonder what I think of that move?

It’s a format that probably needs a different label.  Something along the lines of CLWFH maybe.
That’d be a more accurate description, if a bit unwieldy.  Candyassed Lightweight Worthless Fucking Horseshit would certainly be more descriptive if nothing else.

From a business perspective a couple of things have to be said here.  First, if you own it then you’re  largely free to do whatever you want with it.  I apply that to most all situations, it applies here too.
Next, radio is a hard cruel struggle these days and I can’t swear that there’s any way to make a real rock station particularly  financially attractive in a town with such a high percentage of safe-space, participation trophy loving twits.  In short, I don’t know whether there IS a magic formula that makes a rock station work in a place that might lack a sizable potential fanbase.   If the situation is bad enough then there is a time to cut your losses.

But as a listener, hell even just as a person with ears that work reasonably well, there’s the matter of HOW you wave that white flag.   And that’s what I take umbrage with.

Bulldog ownership already fired a torpedo into its own hull once, with a misbegotten attempt to create a classic rock station about a year ago.  That braindead experiment lasted, give or take, about a month before they reversed course.  I say braindead because attempting to clone something that a MUCH better situated station with almost infinite resources is already doing is a fool’s errand destined to failure.  Simply put, they weren’t going to “out-River” The River, and anyone with a handful of working brain cells knew that.   The misbegotten move also robbed the station of whatever momentum it might have had managed to gain since launching in June 2014.   It also illustrated a lack of commitment to the identity, to both listeners and advertisers, and breaking that trust is hardly ever a good move either.  Still, at least some portion of rock fans in the area tried to forgive, forget, and forge ahead in 2016.

That number included me, which in a roundabout way led to my interesting few months as one of three “guest reviewers” contributing to an album review segment that aired in their weekly Classic City Countdown show.   That was a good experience as a writer if for nothing other than it forced me to listen to some of the absolutely worst dreck I’ve heard in my life.  That really was good experience for me, since I had to find different ways to express dismay for what actually gets recorded at times.    The station gave me enormous leeway with that task, trusted my judgment (and ability to stay somewhere inside the broadly drawn lines), treated me with nothing but respect throughout, despite really not being sure of much more than me being an overaged rock enthusiast with a keyboard and opinions.  Whether it was the ops manager, the show producer, or my fellow reviewers, I have nothing but good feelings about that experience.  I thank them each and every one for that.

Alas, sometimes your friends end up in a mess not of their own making.   And if they’re standing in the middle of a manure pile then some splatter may be unavoidable.

That’s pretty much where things stand today.  I’ve known about the impending change for a month or so, have had plenty of time to internally debate what I might say afterwards.  (Yes, I’m pretty sure those that knew me figured full blast was coming).

The problem here — aside from the marketplace — strongly appears to be ownership.   The founder is badly overmatched by the sizable challenge in my opinion, and lacks the necessary commitment to overcome the odds.    That last bit is critical to me, as AC/DC noted “it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n’ roll”.   Instead, self-indulgent specialty programming, a lack of creativity, a lack of courage to do anything other than follow the the mildest and meekest of paths, it simply doesn’t add up to success.

Then again neither does four formats in 2.5 years.  Active, to classic, back to active, to a Christmas stunt, to this useless fucking dreck.  I know attention spans are getting shorter but damn.   I could have had more respect for pretty much any decision than the one that was made.  It’s the very sort of worse than useless shit that I’ve now spent literally years railing against.   Better to have turned out the lights or burned the (figurative) building than to have done THIS.

This isn’t just “no longer rocking”, this is the antithesis of rock, propagating the cancerous alternacrap that has left the rock genre weakened & watered down to the point that its very survival is very legitimately questioned.

Bulldog 93.3 didn’t just quit, it joined the enemy.

It would have been better to have gone quietly across the rainbow bridge.

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Election Day 2016

You can almost feel my excitement jumping right off the page can’t you?  Yippee.  Yahoo. Whee.

Barring mishap, I’ll once again make the trek to the polls on Election Day, and while you may have guessed (correctly) that I’m less than overjoyed about it, a few thoughts seemed appropriate.

Oddly, for as imperfect a field as we have at the top of the ballot this time, I’m actually more enthusiastic than I was four years ago.  That is indeed damning with faint praise, but still.  If you’d have told a younger me that I’d ever see a ballot where I could not in good conscience cast a vote for a Presidential candidate I’d have figured you for nuts but that’s what 2012 brought me.  My lingering regret over voting for McCain as the lesser of two evils four years prior was still fresh in my mind, I vowed not to regret a vote I knew was wrong for me again.

8 years later, I still regret that ballot for a lightweight like McCain.
4 years later I have no regrets about passing on Malleable Mitt.

And that brings me to this year’s ballot topper, and the odd journey to my vote/non-vote this year.

Without rehashing too much of the over-long primary season, half the clowns in the GOP clown car were non-starters with me from Day Zero.  It took very little for the rest to eliminate themselves from contention one by one.  Throughout the primary season I kept waiting for the last man standing with me to foul up, to step on any of several political third-rails that would eliminate him from consideration but he never did.  Came close once at least, but I managed to forgive that slip under the great Southron tradition of “bless his heart, he just doesn’t known any better”.

And so on March 1st, with a middle finger thrust quite gladly toward the party establishment, I cast a pretty willing ballot for Donald Trump.   Maybe it propelled him toward his eventual victory, though he never did thank me from stage or anything.

Have you ever heard me mention the notion that “nothing is ever simple”?   Sure enough, DT decided to prove it.

It took him less than two months to find one of those third-rails with me that he’d somehow avoided.  An ill-advised interview remark in late April in opposition to North Carolina’s HB2 effectively rendered the only candidate I’d seen any reason for hope from moot, a dead issue.  Simply put, if you can’t manage to get something that obvious right then how in the heck can I expect you to accomplish anything meaningful?    And from there, I basically spent the remainder of the year politically detached.  I kept up of course (how could you miss the basics after all?) but it was with roughly the same detached feeling I have for the results of Dancing With The Stars or some other crap I don’t watch.  It exists, I’m aware of, I’m just not worried about it.

It’s actually a fairly relaxing state of mind, that detachment.  There’s a certain peace in a state of being where all hope is lost, so you just ride the whirlpool down the drain.  I found amusement with it all wherever I could, mostly in the sad apoplexy that afflicted some of his detractors.  At least there was comedic value there.

Then over the past few weeks I started to waver.   The more handwringing I saw about Trump’s lack of political correctness, well, the appeal of tweaking that in the nose took on a new light.  Maybe there is some purpose to be found in that particular vote.   Trump is, after all, kind of a very lightweight version of me on my better days.    He’s too lenient, he lacks a necessary amount of common sense, he isn’t remotely reliable on much (if anything) I care about … but there’s a comedy value at least.  And, hey, he might accidentally stumble onto doing something right somehow.

I’ve wrestled with it for these past few weeks,and finally reached a conclusion.  He’s woefully inadequate to the task of saving a country that’s been spiraling down the drain for so long that I don’t actually believe anything can stop the momentum, much less reverse it.   Why not at least take advantage of an opportunity to extend that middle finger one more time, for not only myself but for all those who have known the right paths for America but strayed from them.  The ones that know, deep down, he’s right more often than he’s wrong but they’ve lost the nerve to stand by that knowledge.  He’s probably no more than an aspirin for a patient suffering multiple traumatic injuries, but that at least fractionally better than nothing.  VERY fractionally, but still.

Plus, hell, literally NOTHING would be better than the other choices.  You’d have needed to include the likes of certifiable idiot Sanders to have come up with a field worse than what Trump faces.  I’d have happily  moved to Illinois and died just so I could vote for Clinton twice against a nutjob like Bernie, if they were somehow matched head to head in November .. and I wouldn’t piss on her if she spontaneously combusted before my eyes.  Luckily, it didn’t come to that, but I did at least have a plan in case it somehow came to pass.

So barring mishap or misadventure, I’ll stand in a long line with the rest of the overjoyed masses and vote Trump on Tuesday.  If nothing else, one more rude gesture before what’s left of America disintegrates.

Otherwise, a very light ballot for me with no local contested races & few statewide.  I’ll vote with great disdain for Isaakson for U.S. Senate,  vote enthusiastically, though with no hope of it passing, for Amendment 1 (state takeover of failing schools), vote against a poorly and too broadly worded Amendment 2 (ostensibly assesses criminal penalties to go toward sexually exploited children but included an unwarranted ‘assessment’ (i.e. new tax) on legitimate businesses), vote strongly in favor of replacing the Judicial Qualifications Commission,and cast a blase vote in favor of directing existing taxes on fireworks toward trauma care & public safety.

There ya go.   There’s my endorsements, such as they are.

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Walking Dead premiere reaction

My intention here is to be spoiler-free, I’ll do my very best.

Maybe now some of my comments around social media in the past few days make a little more sense. I honestly don’t know that an American TV audience will prove willing to deal with this level of … brutality.  

 
For those that don’t watch The Walking Dead, consider everything you’ve seen on television — fiction, reality, any & all — and then consider that what just aired has me sincerely wondering whether it’s maybe just … too much.
 
I don’t mean from a should they/shouldn’t they aspect. The creative team was well within their rights & then some. This IS what the source material is. This is what always had to happen.
 
But will that have an audience on television?  I have my doubts to be honest.

The Walking Dead isn’t going anywhere any time soon.  I don’t mean that the audience suddenly goes away overnight.  But I do expect as much as 30% – 40% of the audience to be gone a year from now.  In my heart of hearts, I just don’t believe the level of cruelty on display is something that we en masse are looking for.  We get enough of that in our every day lives, one way or another.

It’s often brilliantly done television, hell, writing & acting period never mind the medium.
It’s a tribute to all those involved that we have such strong reactions.

But is this … entertainment?  And if we aren’t being entertained, what motive to watch do we have?

I’m really having some doubts about that in recent days, tonight did nothing to change those.

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Concert review 8/5/16 – Stuck Mojo

Stuck Mojo / NoSweat / Shifty
Action Church– Canton, GA
August 5, 2016

Of all the rock shows I’ve attended, I’m not sure how many will ever come close to feeling as unique as this one, for a number of reasons.  I’ll address some of those things as we go but that’s really not why you’re here so why don’t I just head straight for the main event for a change?

Stuck Mojo isn’t exactly an unknown commodity.   Founded in 1989, the band was among the earliest pioneers to fuse rap & metal into a form all its own.  Over the next two and a half decades they would become one of the most influential and successful acts in the niche, breaking down barriers, selling records, touring large swaths of the world, touring with some of the biggest names in the business, and kicking countless asses.

The band was not however entirely immune to some of the downsides of the business, including the dreaded lineup changes.  As founding member Rich Ward noted from the stage (paraphrasing), those kinds of changes aren’t always popular with fans and are never easy on anyone, and so we come to last night with a known entity that’s entering a new era.

On the one hand, with Ward and drummer Frank Fontsere still in the saddle, you know that there’s reason for considerable optimism.  On the other hand, new bassist Lenwood Sonnier and new vocalist Robby J.  hadn’t been seen with the band since the release of the (often brilliant) new album Here Come The Infidels.   As a fan you’re hopeful, you’re optimistic but until you see and hear it, it’s hard to be … sure.   Heck, we didn’t really know what the set list would even look like.

After opening with a couple of songs from the new album (as I would have correctly guessed) the band quickly started reaching into the catalog and specifically went to Pigwalk for a pair of tracks early in the set. From there, the new songs and the older material were intermingled consistently, never lingering too long on one specific era or another.  No obvious mishaps that I noticed, just an enjoyable approach that seemed comfortable for the band and, from my observation at least, for the audience familiar with the material as well.  The music was on point, the vocals were confident and solid, really just a nice steady groove.

And then, somewhere past the midpoint of the set, there was one of those … moments.  I don’t always have those, you can’t really predict them or plan for them, they just have to happen.   And when the band followed more of the new material with “Monster”  (another track from Pigwalk) … I knew.  I knew a lot more than I did when I arrived.

I knew that I wasn’t watching “the new Stuck Mojo” … I was simply watching Stuck Mojo.  No more questions about “the new material vs the old”, no more internal analysis about how Robby J would handle the catalog songs vs the new songs he helped create, no more questions about much of anything really.   That’s when it became crystal clear to me that this simply .. works.

That “the moment” happened with a song that I wouldn’t have previously listed as one of my five (or possibly even ten) favorites of the band’s long career made it a little more surprising for me but that’s certainly not a complaint in the least.  Might even make it better somehow.

Rich Ward is … well, how do you even try to describe what he does?  I’ll go with “he’s a master of his craft” in lieu of a few hundred words that wouldn’t really come close anyway.  (My son’s comment to me en route to the car after the show would have been a good alternative though: “He’s … a musician’s musician.  It’s what he was meant to do” ).  Frank Fontsere is some sort of steady force of nature — like wind or rain — he just keeps coming at you.   Len Sonnier fits seamlessly into the lineup, while Terry Chism on keyboard/backing vocals is a talented artist that makes a welcome contribution to the effort.   And that pretty much covers … oh, wait, I almost forgot.

Robby J., that young guy with the microphone.  He was … okay, I guess.   Nah, can’t do that.  Not with a straight face.

I honestly don’t know when I’ve seen someone perform for the first time and walked away more eager to see them the next time.   I was impressed enough by his performance as it was but my biggest single takeaway about the new vocalist was that he’s simply going to get better & better.  And unless  I miss my guess, I mean rapidly.  Considering where he is already, that’s a really high ceiling to consider.

It was a night to remember, for a lot of reasons.   And I suppose that brings me to my traditional “GBU” for the evening …

The Good — A lot of things that need to make their way in here.  Let’s start with the event making charitable contributions to both the #ForCanton food pantry (www.facebook.com/ForCanton) and the family/expenses of recent cancer victim, beloved local musician Chris Chandler.  The rock genre probably doesn’t get enough credit for doing this sort of thing, and to see it be done at such a personal & local level was particularly rewarding … The venue, and yes you did read that correctly earlier:  Action Church is relatively new to the area and that they were gracious hosts to a rock show kind of illustrates my point that they aren’t exactly your stereotypical church.  I’d say that’s a good thing in a number of ways so while my familiarity with them is limited to a few hours on one night, I’ll happily recommend that anyone curious discover more for themselves at their website  http://www.actionchurch.tv/ … Opening bands Shifty and NoSweat ably warmed up the crowd, with the latter making an exceptionally good impression on me.  I’d gladly see them again in a heartbeat and hope for a chance to do so at some point.  The vocals in particular are downright scary good … Witnessing the best mosh pit ever formed in a church in Canton, Georgia has to be noted here as well

The Bad — This is kind of stretching it, but I need to at least fill one more section of the GBU so … I’ll allow myself a bit of personal disappointment that my all-time favorite Stuck Mojo song — “Southern Born Killers” — didn’t make the set list.  With so much to choose from, I understand how that can happen so I can’t really be put out about it.   I do think that the setlist could have benefitted from the inclusion of at least one more track from the latest album — either “The Business Of Hate” or “Worst Person On Earth” — both of which seem to be among the higher profile songs from the album thus far & were surprisingly (to me) absent.

The Ugly — Ah, such a pleasure to honestly have nothing that just has to go here.   But since I don’t like to just leave a segment unfilled, I’ll take the liberty of making a substitution

The Really Personal — this show marked if not the end of an era for me then at least a likely interruption in one.  For about 2/3rds of his life, my son has been my constant concert companion.  From arena shows to festivals to smaller venues, I’ve enjoyed making some of the favorite memories of my lifetime with him at my side.   This time next week, we’ll be moving him several hundreds miles to begin college so those opportunities are going to become a lot more limited.  To mark that change with such a strong performance, while also spending time with some old friends that I hadn’t seen in person for literally decades, on such a unique occasion … well, I don’t know that I could have come up with a more fitting way to end a chapter or begin a new one.

A memorable night indeed.

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