The Taste of Music

My dad used to sing me Neil Young and Uncle Remus.

Then he showed me David Bromberg, The Rolling Stones and Tchaikovsky.

I was at my neighbor’s house when Black Dog gave my little boy body wide-eyed convulsions.

There was a Tuesday afternoon elective at my school called “Beatles and Drawing.” It was a half hour of listening to the Beatles and drawing whatever you wanted. I was 9 years old. MLC…sigh.

I was a 10 year old when my friend mentioned that his big brother bought Kill ‘Em All and it took me 2 more years of Madonna and New Wave until I finally understood what he said that day.

My first concert was George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers at Portland’s Civic Auditorium in 1986. The following year my dad took me to my first indie show, Screaming Trees with The Dwarves at Pine Street Theater. That’s how cool my dad was.

When my family broke up I moved schools and went from being raised among the culture of the city to now having to explore adolescence deep in the Eastside suburbs, my life took a serious turn. My lifelines were License To Ill, Legacy of Brutality, N.W.A. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, It Takes A Nation and in the 8th grade my friend brought over G.B.H., Jimi Hendrix, L7 and Slayer records and we played them all until the needle broke and my brain melted like soft ice cream.

I was neck-deep in a suburban white neighborhood and it was then that I realized I could either be a product of my bland environment or make a conscious decision to live and think for myself.

Anything that flaunted the system and mocked the establishment, the music that protested corruption, oppression and used passion and adrenaline to express their discontent was music I subsisted on, endlessly blaring into my Walkman. I was an only child who just lost his mother and was now living an hour-long bus ride away from the comfort of downtown. Music was the only thing I listened to because I certainly wasn’t hearing any of my teachers or relatives.

On those bus rides I understood why some people listen to bubblegum pop and others just…don’t.

I found this and this at the record store while dropping out of college. Twice.

My friend at Tower Records told me to buy Pretty Hate Machine. I bought it on title alone.

I showed my best friend the Marshall Mathers LP when it first came out and we played it continuously in his 88 Mustang GT.

A friend came to my house and she showed me Glass Animals.

I went to my friend’s house and she showed me 21 Pilots.

Though words and pictures are like my harem, it is music that leads my beautiful life from darkness into today.

China Diary: Hutong of Beijing

The hutong in Beijing is an amazing array of old buildings built side by side down narrow streets that used to be residential neighborhoods but now largely house retail shops and a stunning selection of unique eateries.

An ancient maze now met with youth and cutting edge design, buildings hundreds of years old are now gleaming with electronics and pop music blares from the intricate wood structures. The crowds of people are shoulder to shoulder, mixed with foreigners and Chinese, from morning to dark all strolling and gawking, it was truly an endless parade of shoppers, schleppers and tourists who never stop.

The rarity of these neighborhoods is apparent as the destruction of them gives way to the construction of larger roads and buildings though they are being preserved best as possible as one can see. But in a city as ancient as Beijing, it’s impossible not to see something old being razed for something new every day in every neighborhood.

Such is a legacy. Such is progress.

What The Heck Is A Destructo-Hole?

Man, it feels good to fill the nooks but leave the crannies alone with things that are bad, I wonder when the spell of adrenaline and impending destruction will finally wear off. But do the cuts and blood and whiskey bruises make up for the game I’m eventually losing? Age seems to hone proficiency when it comes to the art of boozing but despite the efficiency the ends rarely justify the using.

Meet me with a drill to bore into this frontal lobe that’s filled with coffee and catastrophe, hurry before everyone eventually laughs at me and no one will help pick up what’s left of me.

Midnight Manhattans ain’t quite midnight in Manhattan but the taste of my little city’s a little purer than the pretty awesome gritty Gotham New Amsterdam metropole.

Advance the destructo-hole
drop the pants of what you know,
there’s no one else around
that understands where we go.

Unbelievable

I believe I have a right to defend my yard. Dandelions and all. I believe in preserving my life and those of whom I love. I believe in turkey dinners, good whiskey, hammocks and bonfires. I believe in a great salad, recycling and a well written book. I believe in the internal combustion engine and guitar solos. I believe in my friends, family and loves. I also believe in strangers being good people before being boobs.

I don’t believe in men in suits who have kids in private schools sending men and women whose kids are in public schools thousands of miles away to kill and die.

I don’t believe in companies making obscene fortunes from military and construction contracts that destroy and then rebuild cities in foreign countries.

I don’t believe in the way veterans aren’t venerated with wealth and care.

I don’t believe in the way teachers aren’t venerated with wealth and care.

I don’t believe terrorists care if we have ice-skating rinks and picnics.

I don’t believe in a foreign policy that emulates the 19th century British Empire.

I do believe that people will continue to kill each other every day.

and I do believe the United States government is either for it or against it.

I do believe many countries all over the world have freedom of speech.

I do believe deep down, we all want the best for everyone else.

I do believe in my country and my world.

And I can’t believe that I’m alone, because much of this has been said a million times before.

Why Do People Shoot Each Other?

I would never just punch someone in the face. Mainly because I don’t like my face being punched and that is what would eventually happen in this scenario.

It is also why I don’t shoot people. I don’t what someone coming back and putting a bullet in my rear. I believe the arithmetic here is quite simple (but we all know the world would rather be a quadratic equation). All over the planet people are using guns instead of dialogue and shells instead of compromise.

So I pose the question: Why do people shoot each other?

Because we’re idiots. Well, that was too easy. Let’s play again.

Nobody uses swords anymore.

We don’t have time to talk.

Their god tells them to.

The voices in our heads tells us to.

We watch too many movies, play too many video games, and listen to too much heavy metal. And rap.

We are only protecting ourselves.

I cannot think of any more justifications for such violence, but I’ll keep trying. I don’t agree with any of the reasons above except for the first one.

Gimmie A Circle Slide Any Day

It’s taken a few days to fully process, but after seeing the video for Smooth Criminal in its entirety, I am truly convinced that Michael Jackson is one of the greatest influences on American culture of all time. I, along with the rest of he world, saw that video 20 years ago and it is just as bad ass then as it is now because no one today comes close. Nobody nowadays dances in those insanely elaborate and funky productions. They just don’t care about their work like they used to, no one puts as much time and thought into routines and concepts like Michael did. Even present day Michael is no match. The Michael of the ’80’s was a machine, a funky, beautiful, dancing machine, unlike anyone else before and since.

Aside from all the peripheral weirdness associated with him, Michael Jackson is a Grade-A Bad Ass and we should remember him for his moves and music and I don’t care what anybody says. Though I may, however, entertain a Purple Rain theory, it will probably come down to who has the sweetest moonwalk.

I feel old, suddenly.