Posts Tagged cars

I’ll get the car, you get the night off.

20 February 2012

Every once in a while, I find myself wondering about my next car.  Do I need a new car?  No.  I love my car, and there is every indication that it will last me another 150,000 miles.  But if not now, then someday… I will need a new car.  And it’s not a small decision.  I can’t tell you how much thought went into the one I have now.  Like any red-blooded American male, I’ve had desires for various “dream cars” over the years.  These include:

  1. 1987 Buick Grand National “GNX”
    This was probably my longest-running dream car.  The Grand National was a special edition of the Buick Regal for a few years in the mid 80’s (the exact same years The Smiths were together, as it happens).  A luxury car’s body, but with high performance.  Only came in black.  Darth Vader in car form.  The final year, 1987, saw a further upgrade to the already menacing Grand National package.  There were just 547 of these “GNX” models, upgraded by McLaren.  It was the fastest production car in the U.S. that year.  Faster than the Corvette!  0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds.  And all while looking scary as hell.  When it finally came time for me to buy my first “real” car after getting my first “real” job, the GNX — rare as it was — was still in my price range.  But by that time, I’d grown up a bit.  And the not-so-modern interior wasn’t wowing me anymore.  I ultimately passed on the chance to own one.  I’m not really sure I regret it either, but damn they’re fun to look at!


  2. 1971 Plymouth Barracuda
    As I got more into the subject, I eventually discovered the golden era of American muscle cars.  There are many in this category to admire, and in the Mopar family specifically.  They had the performance but also the style.  The Roadrunner, the Super Bee, the Charger and Challenger.  Plus who else was releasing cars in stock colors like hot pink?  I eventually got my heart set on a lime green ‘Cuda, but for the same reasons I mentioned with the GNX, it just never happened.


  3. 1957 Ford Ranchero
    As much as I love old cars, I am also very lazy.  The idea of owning a beautiful and iconic vehicle is trumped by the impracticality of maintaining it in modern urban life.  As a second car, maybe.  And then I also don’t know much about doing it myself, so then what — hire someone to maintain it?  That wouldn’t be very greaser of me.  In the realm of what you might call “classic” cars, the Ranchero has always seemed like the most “me.”  Don’t get me wrong, there are countless cars of all makes and models in that era that I would die to own.  But the Ranchero is the one that speaks to me most.  It’s got unusual lines and trim.  It fits the time, but it’s definitely unique even among those classics.  So I’ll go ahead and take one in two-tone turquoise and white.  Please and thank you!


  4. Monster Truck (unspecified)
    When I was in high school, I badly wanted a monster truck, and almost got one a couple of times.  I would have been happy with an older Chevy Stepside pickup, or a Scout.  Or even a lift kit on my Chrysler New Yorker would have done me just fine.  As long as it had big, ridiculous swamper tires.  It’s probably a good thing I never followed through with that.  Hell, those tires alone are like $200+ a piece.  And imagine if you had a blowout on the freeway while up on those things.  Not to mention whatever it might say about me psychologically to drive something like that.

  5. Big Rig (unspecified)
    Then for a while in college, I thought about how funny it would be to drive a big old diesel big rig to school every day, but with nothing in tow.  It would be hilarious to me to be known as the guy who drove that totally impractical vehicle everywhere.  But not so hilarious that I’d ever actually do it.

  6. 1959 Cadillac Hearse
    As an adult, the totally impractical car I’ve often considered has been a classic Hearse.  I just like the idea of pulling up to gigs in one, and pulling all my gear from the back of it.  It’s not like I’m the first person to think this is cool or anything… there are whole car clubs dedicated to the Hearse.  And in fact it is from those clubs that I’ve learned just how impractical it really is.  My current care is huge and hard to park at about 18′.  Hearses tend to be more like 23′, and require a commercial drivers license to operate.  And because of their increased size, a lot of the parts like brakes, etc. are commercial grade… and are rare and expensive.  And then there’s the obvious issue of how many corpses have been through that car.  I understand a premium is charged for Hearses that have had very little… uh, professional usage.  I don’t know if I’d want to drive one that had ever been used that way!  And that tells me I’m probably not the kind of person who should be driving one.

  7. 1998 – 2002 Lincoln Town Car
    My final dream car was a black Town Car within a very specific range of years.  In my mind I’d pictured a plush, blood red interior (which they do not come with).  Something that evoked some kind of Victorian carriage… and maybe Dracula.  It was this car, minus that red interior, that I eventually came to own.  So hey, I’ve had at least one of my dream cars.  And the most practical one at that.

I truly cannot say enough nice things about my Town Car.  There are lots of cool rides out there, but my personality is so wrapped up in the big black Town Car.  It says so much about me.  I don’t know if I’m ready to let that go.  Being both ominous as well as totally anonymous in a city filled with identical black limos.  A certain authority and mystery that comes with this particular model and color.  I’m ignored by cops.  Practically invisible.  Thieves must assume its an off-duty livery vehicle and unlikely to contain anything of value, so it has never been broken into.  Of course, it also means I’m constantly being flagged down by drunks wanting a ride 2am, a problem unique to my car.  But because of that livery tie-in, I am fortunate to have found a repair shop that specializes in Town Cars only, catering to the areas many, many limo drivers.  A whole (huge) shop dedicated to my model.  What other car can say that?

Come to think of it though, all of that is stuff I hadn’t anticipated.  It was all bonus.  So why did I actually choose this car?  When I finally had a “real” job and could afford a real car, I looked very seriously at what was on the market, but it was clear this was the only choice for me in terms of new cars offered in those days.  It was the first car that was really nice when I got it, so I was motivated to keep it nice.  Nearly 10 years now.  Top quality window tinting.  Upgraded stereo.  Kept it clean and well-maintained.  I will miss it someday when it’s gone.  I guess if I’m being honest, I was a bit enamored with the black Town Car as the quintessential hitman / mafia / g-man vehicle.  The kind of car you don’t want to see coming.  The kind of car where you might be asked to get in the back… the way back (i.e. the trunk).  And the Town Car has what you might call a “three-body trunk.”  You know how trunks these days have a little pull tag to release the latch in case you get stuck inside?  I used to joke that the first modification I made to the car was to snip that right off.  Because if you find yourself in my trunk, you’re there for a reason.  (Have you ever looked at the icon on those pull tags?  It pretty much says it all.)  But most of all, I can’t describe the feeling of getting behind the wheel of my car, especially after a plane trip where I’ve spent a week in a rental… like floating on a soft couch rather than riding in a simple car.  It’s unlike anything else I’ve been in.  Those of you who’ve ridden with me can attest.  The buttery smooth power steering that requires almost no effort, you could just blow on it to move it.  Turning it feels like you’re navigating a ocean liner.  I grew up on hand-me-down beat up luxury cars, and when it came time to pick one of my own, what was I gonna do?  I chose luxury over performance and have never regretted it.  A vision of terror and salvation all at once… a shining and steaming machine, a slick black carriage emerging from the silent gray abyss of a cold and foggy San Francisco night.  How could I ever give that up?

On August 29th of last year, the final Town Car rolled off the assembly line, discontinued after all these years.  This despite it winning the hilarious and bizarre Rental Car Olympics (where we learned that it may be the fastest car made… when it comes to driving in reverse).  I just can’t see myself ever getting rid of mine.  Maybe I’ll keep it forever as a hobby, to restore someday even after I have another car to replace it as my main vehicle?

OK, so how about a more realistic list of cars I’d consider when Town Car is some day laid to rest?  Modern cars have some really cool stuff, you know.  Luxury cars often get cutting edge features first, but these days my Town Car’s bells and whistles are standard on nearly everything on the market.  I want some new stuff.  I was in a friend’s car recently and it had a camera on the rear so you could see if you were about to run into anything while backing up… plus it overlaid dotted lines to show where your reverse path will take you based on the current orientation of the steering wheel.  So you could see the exact angle you needed to back out of a tight spot.  How cool is that?  So let us consider:

  1. Chevy HHR Panel
    Now I fully realize that virtually no one gets what I see in these things, but I am really drawn to these little guys.  The panel version only, though.  It’s little and practical, plus it looks like a cross between a delivery truck and a PT Cruiser.  And they’re cheap too!  Only problem is they were discontinued after 2011.  Well hell, I guess they’ll be even cheaper used!

  2. Dodge Challenger
    The modern Challengers are amazing looking beasts.  With Mopar’s history of innovative and retro cars like the PT Cruiser and the Prowler, leave it to them to reintroduce a 70’s muscle car that actually still looks like a 70’s muscle car.  I applaud what they’ve done with this, and the only reason I could see not to snatch one up right away is the fact that I’d never be able to transport my guitar equipment in it for shows!  Otherwise, I’d be all over this thing.

  3. Electric Car (unspecified)
    The idea is that these are the cars of the future, and my next auto purchase ought to be ready for what’s next.  I like what Tesla is doing, but all other electrics and hybrids are kinda boring.  If they made an electric Town Car, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, because I’d already own one.  Or even more ideally, I’d love to convert a classic (how about that ’57 Ranchero?) to an electric, with modern suspension, brakes, etc.?  I know that can be done (doesn’t Neil Young do it?), but it’s probably prohibitively expensive at the moment.  But someday…

  4. Smart Car / Mini Cooper
    On the same wavelength as an electric car would be something tiny and infinitely parkable in San Francisco.  Enter the Smart Car and/or Mini Cooper.  Ultra practical and — at least in the Cooper’s case — potentially even cool lookin’.  But again, where would put my guitar gear?  If I’m gonna go this small, I might as well get that motorcycle I was talking about.

  5. Ford Mustang
    Now hold on just a moment.  Let me preface by saying that in general I find Mustangs very uncomfortable to drive.  The complete opposite of a smooth Town Car.  However, given their current 70’s styling, all the cool internal lighting features and color changing stuff they can do, and most importantly the fact that they are the perfect convertible Maui car for when I move there eventually, I can see myself in one.  On the island though.

And remember too that I can always make any of these cars my own by adding some of those special touches.  Now when I was much younger, I dreamt about “cool” stuff like adding neon lights under my car, an obnoxiously loud subwoofer, or those kits to make flames shoot out of your exhaust pipe(s).  I’d like to say I’ve grown out of that stuff, but really my tastes have just changed some.  I still like obnoxious things.  I’d like to install black lights in the car’s cabin just ‘cos I think they’re sexy.  I’d love to set up a CB radio to talk to truckers while on road trips but that is also connected to a hidden PA so I can scream at jaywalkers.  I used to want to install a big rig truck horn just because I thought it would be funny and unexpected.  Nowadays, people install train horns, and even cruise ship horns.  Go look on YouTube and see.  I know there are a lot of reasons why that is a very bad idea.  But I still want to do it.  I mean imagine unleashing that on one of those urban brazen jaywalkers that look you in the eye challengingly even as they fuck you out of your right of way.  Makes me giddy to think of it.  I wouldn’t mind a crosshair hood ornament for pedestrians.  I remember when I was more into funk, I wanted to cover my car with mirrors like a giant disco ball, where all you’d see is blinding light as I rolled down the street, but I don’t guess that would be legal.  I heard the Loco Gringos had a Cadillac Hearse with — among many other decorations — a tequila bottle mohawk.  If I were a bigger drinker, I could go for that.  I also used to think it would be cool to have a replica of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel airbrushed on my car’s own ceiling, maybe so that the hands of Michelangelo’s God and Adam touched at the dome light.  Yeah, I was a weird kid.

A small digression… Prior to the Town Car, I used to drive a burgundy 1990 Chrysler Le Baron convertible.  The Mopar family isn’t exactly known for reliability.  My previous cars (an inherited Fifth Avenue, then a turbo-charged New Yorker) were both Chryslers and did not last long.  But good old Le Baron managed exactly 155,432 miles before I parked him for good.  I chose to donate him to PETA through a third party car donation program.  That was when the troubles began.  The donation company came with a tow truck, but decided first to try to start Le Baron.  He would not start.  Then they took a full jump box to charge him to get him to start… but the moment they touched it to Le Baron, it was immediately drained and rendered useless, something the tow truck driver had never seen.  They eventually got it onto the truck.  I later heard that they managed to lose the pink slip, which I had 100% for sure given them.  Could be coincidence, but I prefer to think that these events were examples of Le Baron’s curse.  The final proof?  Well, I took my plates off Le Baron, for use on my next car.  They were then registered to that new car.  Years later, I found out from the city of San Francisco that there was a recent parking ticket attributed to my licence plate number, in a neighborhood I never go to.  In researching the ticket, it was attributed to a burgundy two-door sedan.  So to recap… I donate a burgundy two-door sedan in the East Bay, physically removing and re-registering the plates to a black four-door.  Years later in SF, I am informed I received a ticket on a date and place I was not at, attributed to my same (and still current) license plate number, matching my old car’s description.  Could the DMV mistakenly have re-issued my plate number to my old (and I guess refurbished?) Le Baron such that there are two cars on the road with the same plates?  And that they’d get (and not pay) a parking ticket in the city I just so happen to have moved to?  It all seems impossible.  I maintain it was… the ghost of Le Baron!!!

Incidentally, I feel like I could and should write some memories of my first three cars, which are flooding back to me even as I type this.  Perhaps that’ll come in the future.  At that time, you’ll read about how we used to pick up roadside junk or even race the unsuspecting using passing gear.  The massive disco mirror ball I had hanging from the rear view.  Or how the New Yorker could talk (his voice was immortalized in the song “Malfunction“).  Or how Le Baron’s passenger door fell off, while its ragged rag top admitted more spiders than you would believe… which I had strategies to address (e.g. a tee-ball bat, a spray bottle of “Spider-B-Gone,” etc.), and only once nearly crashed the car when startled by an eight-legged hellion.  Ah, but another time.

The completely unrelated quote of the week comes from the archives… sometime last year, I think.

Friend: “Ryan Reynolds was just named People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ this year. What do you think my chances are of being next year’s sexiest man alive?”
Me: “I dunno dude. You’d have to kill, like, a lot of people.”

Aloha, Motherfuckers!

5 January 2012

I just wanted to put down some notes about my exciting New Year’s trip to Maui.  Getting up at 5am sucks, but arriving in Maui around 3pm local time does not.  After some initial stress of finding our way around town to the essentials like water shoes (yes I shopped at the Maui Walmart, but I didn’t feel good about it), we made our way around the island toward the hotel.  Memories of my previous trip there (must have been around 2000?) started to come back to me.  Slowly letting it sink in, the magnitude of the difference in scenery and climate there.  Like being on another planet.

We stayed at the amazing Sheraton Maui resort, noted for having one of the nicest beaches on the island.  Travelocity hooked us up, because a room there can run upwards of $800/night, and we didn’t pay near that much.  The grounds there are breathtaking.  Check out their site for pictures, but if I ever win the lottery, I would want to move in there permanently.  (Turns out it’s actually very close to the Hyatt I’d stayed at when I was in Maui before.)  The air smells sweet, I’m not kidding.  It smells perfumed everywhere you go.  Then big, open, manicured grassy areas all over.  A pool that snaked through the landscape along with a hot tub.  We checked in, put on shorts, and headed out to one of the outdoor bars to eat.  Not 30 seconds after sitting down to dinner that first night, the older Australian couple next to us noticed my Smiths shirt and started talking to me about them — surely a good omen for the new year.  There was live music and hula all the time.  Took a walk on the beach at night, where even in December it barely dipped below 70°.

I can’t get over the freedom of a vacation like this.  I probably haven’t had it since that last Maui trip.  The freedom to just roll out of bed, put on nothing but board shorts — I mean no shirt, no shoes — and walk through the resort on your way to pick up a piña colada (which you carelessly charge to the room) and head to the beach.  No need for heating or AC.  Indoors and out, day and night, you are comfortable in shorts and nothing else.  I felt like I spent the whole week in my underwear, but that’s what everyone does there.  There’s no shame.  And that feeling is the highlight of the whole trip.  I can’t overstate that.  The freedom of no schedule and no climate restrictions.  (Side note: I wore sunblock religiously and as a result got almost no color at all!)  Some of the noteworthy activities include:  We went ziplining from tree to tree in a forest canopy.  I swam so much in the ocean… which is warm and so clear.  Totally unlike the ocean in the Bay Area where it’s murky and prohibitively cold.  The ocean in Maui is like being in a bathtub.  It’s that comfortable.  You can be in it all day, just swimming and rolling in the waves.  It makes you feel human again… and animal, all at the same time.  I climbed up Black Rock there off the coast and cliff dove.  We saw whales jumping and spouting just off shore.  We rented snorkeling equipment for a couple hours.  I didn’t know it then, but all the time I was swimming and cliff diving near Black Rock… I was surrounded by colorful tropical fish.  Armed with the snorkel gear, we got to see what was going on beneath the surface.  Thousands of beautiful butterfly fish, trumpet fish, etc. swimming around people’s feet while they don’t even know it.  Darting around the coral at the base of Black Rock.  It was stunning.  We didn’t see any turtles, but we did later see crabs along the rocks in another part of town.

The food was so-so, mostly in that it wasn’t very vegetarian-friendly.  I ended up eating a lot of junk food and fried food, but I survived.  Front Street was great for shopping and some food.  It’s more or less their Pier 39 equivalent.  I had some handmade chocolate with kava… which numbed my tongue.  We had a fancier dinner at Roy’s, where I had grilled tofu steaks.  We had more “local” food at Aloha Mixed Plate.  We rang in 2012 at the Sheraton’s New Year’s Eve party, which included a nice buffet, dancing with awkward white people toward the countdown, and an opportunity to wear a Hawaiian shirt.  At first I felt a little strange as many others were dressed kinda ritzy for NYE.  But soon I realized that I was just the rock and roll one at the party, and I got into that mindset.  It’s an expensive resort, and these people don’t know who I am.  For all they know, I’m a real rock star.  At least that’s the irreverent mindset I adopted, and I think I pulled it off.  Our last night there, we did the obligatory luau which included an open bar, a whole roast pig (which was kinda depressing), and a full on music and dance performance.  Again, the Sheraton is reputed to have one of the best luaus on the island.  Other than NYE and the luau, the resort’s food was overpriced and not great.  I was happy when we got to venture out.  One last note… at almost every restaurant we ate at, the seating was open air or at least facing wide open windows.  There weren’t many bugs, but there were plenty of birds flying into these places and hopping around the floor.  I rediscovered my love of feeding birds and exercised it at nearly every meal.  As with the geckos that came out at night around the resort, and the flowers everywhere you go, I just loved how much nature and open air is a part of everything you do there.  It makes my life back home feel sterile and isolated and artificial by comparison.

The only real downside was the sense that in general, the locals hated us.  I mean, I kinda get it.  In S.F., we’re annoyed by tourists.  And though I don’t know the history, I can only assume there’s some less-than-pleasant past crimes of the white man against the native people.  I noticed were some very aggressive and almost combative driving by locals against us both as other drivers and as pedestrians.  (Though when I let one particular car in front of me, he very casually flashed a “hang loose” gesture at us, which was so charming!)  At one point, we got a very chilly reception by a couple of locals carving tikis.  Was it just because I was a tourist?  Or white?  Or with a girl who looks like she could be Hawaiian?  Maybe I read into it too much, but there was a definite sense of “we’ll take your money because we need to, but in all other respects, go to hell.”  I’d heard that Maui was the most fiercely independent of the islands, historically speaking.  I wonder if there is an active anti-statehood movement there?  In any event, if you know me, you know that I was overly polite and careful not to be in anyone’s way or make a mess.  So unless I’m oblivious to something horrible I was doing, I’m pretty sure I was looked down upon for no good reason.  Mahalo, bitch.

It turns out this is peak season for Hawaii, and so the limited rental cars on Maui are hard to come by.  All the agencies jack up their rates significantly, and a six day rental from one of the last places with cars left cost me over $1100!  The good news is that it for a small upcharge I was able to snag a convertible Mustang.  The salesguy pressed hard for it, but he wasn’t wrong.  Driving around the island with the top down was well worth the extra ~$100.  For the view and the weather.  And these new Mustangs let you change the color of all the dashboard backlighting and trim lights.  A silly feature that is so up my alley.  But tonight, when I got behind the wheel of my own Town Car — it’s been in the shop since getting hit by a drunk driver after the last TCB show — I was again reminded, as I have been so many times before, just how much I love my car.  It’s so smooth.  It was made for me.

On the way back, we were in desperate need of food before the flight.  The only “real” food around was a bar and grill… it turned out to be called “Sammy’s.”  And can you guess why?  It’s apparently Sammy Hagar’s own restaurant, and it is every bit as full of self-aggrandizing bullshit as you might imagine.  We’re talking walls covered with his platinum records.  An autographed guitar.  Chickenfoot merch left and right.  Picture upon cringe-worthy picture of him posing with various celebrities.  Even the bamboo decorations in his signature red.  A menu full of recipes he allegedly picked up from his travels and his celebrity friends.  A plaque at the front door explaining what a model citizen and philanthropist he is.  All of the marketing, none of the artistic integrity, and all done with the delicate touch of a sledgehammer.  But what should I expect from a man who has a band named after his own brand of tequila?  Good Lord.

But back to the real story here.  I’m seriously looking into moving to Maui.  The practical side of me is weighing how much of a lifestyle change that would represent, as well as how wise it is to make a decision like that based on a week at a resort, when “real” life there would not be like vacationing at a resort.  And what would I do for work?  The tech market doesn’t seem to be booming there.  And I don’t know if I’m cut out for the tourism/service industry.  Maybe a government job?  Am I too old to be a cop?  I think it fits my personality, and I’ve considered looking into that as a way to do something impactful for a living irrespective of my new Maui plans.  Or maybe Maui needs therapists and I could pursue that as a career?  Though, who needs a shrink when you live in paradise?  Everyone we talked to — and there were dozens — said that moving to Maui was the best thing they’d even done and they love it there.  Be they bartender or concierge.  From Fresno or Portland.  The love it there.  Rents are cheaper than San Francisco.  But then… there’s no scene there at all.  Nowhere to go dance to new wave.  Nowhere to go to listen to (or play) rockabilly or Smiths music live.  I’d have to join a reggae band if I wanted to gig anywhere out there.  Or maybe I could start a weekly new wave club night?  OK, maybe unrealistic… but the wheels are definitely turning, folks.  You’d all come visit me, right?

“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.”
— James Thurber

Meleagrine Woes

12 January 2011

New Year’s was quiet, but nice.  I hadn’t been to Monterey in a long time, and I forgot all the great little shops and touristy things to do there.  We found a great Italian place, ducked into a few storefronts, and bought some candy.  Then I got to see my folks New Year’s Day.  In fact the only downside at all was the wild turkey prints I found on my car.  Sometime during the night, a wild turkey(s) managed to climb or fly up onto my trunk and leave a few prints and talon scratches in the paint (where it apparently slid off the edge).  Thanks a bunch, Mother Nature. 

If you’ll indulge me getting a little philosophical on you for a paragraph, I had a strange period of wonderment when I was driving out for that short New Year’s vacation the other night.  (If you want to know why I never got into drugs, read on.  Evidently I am stoney enough while sober.)  Maybe I was subconsciously in a reflective year-end mood, but as soon as I hit the freeway, I was struck by the crispness of my vision.  The sparkling clear details of the other cars and lights all around me.  I mean I really noticed a difference, almost as if I truly were under the influence of something.  (This part could all just be due to that brand new windshield.)  But then an opera singer was discussing on the radio about how all human voice comes from these most fragile of tiny membranes in our throats.  And she sang and I thought of how the sound of opera evokes — at least to my tiny, uncultured brain — images of great white halls and gold and sunlight.  All the decadent splendor you see in Greek and Roman period pieces.  (Corny, I know, but it is what it is.)  And then I arrived at my rural destination and saw how bright the stars shone out there.  How much more I could see in the sky when I got away from the city for a bit.  You’ve all been camping, you know what I mean.  All this was swimming around in my head.  The gifts of sight, sound, and speech.  The blessing that is being a sensitive creature capable of experiencing all of these wonderful things.  And I thought of how easily we could lose any or all of it through accident or illness or age.  All of our senses and abilities, and our life itself, we are so fortunate to have them.  More fleeting than any of us fully realize until it’s too late.

And we are indeed fragile.  I am officially getting wrinkles.  Well, the beginning of some creases on my face.  Another casualty in my life-long war on lotion.  Sure, I wash my hands more than Lady Macbeth, and with the brutally cold weather we’ve been having lately, I would expect (and mourn) my hands to age more rapidly.  But my precious face?  I guess my good looks are fixin’ to get even more rugged, if you can believe it.  For better or worse.

And speaking of aging, I ran across this video the other day.  Rosie Hamlin of Rosie & The Originals in 2002.  “Angel Baby” was a beautiful enough song as it is, but something about seeing an aged and matronly Rosie singing it as sweetly as ever… it lends a whole new dimension and gravity that make it so much better, but somehow somber too.  It moves me in a way that I can’t quite articulate.

Looking forward to a new Smiths night in the Haight, TCB shows at the Blank and Popscene, and Wanda Jackson / Jack White… all within the next couple weeks!  And further out are Social Distortion in February and OMD in March.  Good times ahead…  And the crushing quote of the week was yelled out by a friend between songs at a Swamp Angel show we went to.  (Swamp Angel is a new suspiciously Deadbolt-like band from an ex-Deadbolt member.)

Second-scariest band in the world!”

Merry Christmas, asshole.

20 December 2010

It’s been a rough few weeks for my beloved car.  More on that in a moment.

I wanted to mention briefly that I’ve started a project I’ve been dreading for a while now.  I have begun converting all of my 250+ MySpace blogs to this site.  I’m doing everything I can to preserve the historical accuracy of each, including the comments and timestamps.  The only thing I’ll consciously be changing is updating the links that pointed to other blog postings so that it’s all on here.  Each conversion takes about 10 minutes.  Even at one or two a day — which is a big assumption I will be motivated to keep up that pace — it’ll take me the better part of a year to get them all done.  I’ve added a new category called “MySpace Archive” if you want to see what I’ve gotten to so far.  I’m going chronologically starting from the beginning.  And for those of you who subscribe to my blog here (which I encourage you to do!), I won’t be hitting you with any email notifications for the converted blogs, so don’t worry about an additional 250+ emails.

I’m trying to get in the holiday spirit.  You all know my feeling on exchanging gifts, but I did put together another Xmas CD.  You know, making mix CDs has been a hobby of mine for ages.  But with the move to digital media (iPods, etc.) there’s been an unanticipated casualty.  CD jewel cases are becoming harder and harder to find.  You can still get plain black of course, and white and clear ones at a few places.  But there was a time when you could order tons of colors, and even this slick glossy black of which I only have a few left.  Nowadays it’s all slimline (which don’t allow me to design sleeves) and digipak (which I don’t have the tools to create at home and isn’t realistic for the one-off projects I do).  I am better than average at sourcing hard-to-find things on the net, and I’m telling you this stuff just isn’t out there anymore, anywhere.  I’ve asked the internet specialists, and they’ve told me that the market for the classic jewel case is dying.  They’re dinosaurs.  I can get by with plain black and white, but I don’t like it.  I need a new strategy for future CDs.  Is it time to give up the hard copy for good and just start giving out digital copies with a .jpg attached?  Lame!  Ideas anyone?

Otherwise, the holiday season so far has had its high points.  Some good times with family and friends.  The Yard Dogs Road Show was amazing as usual.  We’ve got tickets to see Wanda Jackson and Jack White together in L.A. next month, which is going to be memorable I’m sure.  And some good TCB shows are in the works.  But yeah it’s also been fraught with all kinds of trouble, not least from my car.  Allow me to explain…

Part I: The Tale Of The Golden Fuel Pump
About a month ago, after leaving my car unattended for a couple of stormy nights on a hilltop, I found it wouldn’t start.  It cranked but wouldn’t turn over.  For some reason, I thought of the electrical storm we’d been having, and I wondered if that didn’t have something to do with it.  Friends and the tow truck driver agreed it sounded like a fuel pump problem, but what could we do?  I had it towed ~100 miles back to the S.F. area to the only place I knew I could drop it at 1am: the dealership.  Now I know what you’re thinking… of course they’re gonna rip me off.  They’re famous for it.  But in the years I’d been dealing with these guys, I feel that by and large they’ve been pretty good to me.  Well, this time they weren’t.  They charged me $1100 to replace the fuel pump, a job that most other places later quoted me $600-$700 for.  And it doesn’t end there.  A few weeks later, I was reading through my car’s manual investigating another warning light (which I’ll get into next), and what did I see?  A section that explains something to the effect of “if there has been an electrical disturbance, the vehicle’s fuel pump breaker switch — located just under the hood — may activate as a safety precaution.  Check to ensure there are no fuel leaks, and then flip the breaker switch back and the vehicle should start.”  Which is all to say that it’s possible, maybe even probable, that all I needed to do was flip a fucking switch under my hood and I would have been on my way.  It’s also possible that my car really did need that $1100 golden fuel pump (which are known to crap out at around my current mileage).  But for the rest of my life, I will always wonder if that dealership totally fucked me and overcharged me to install something they knew I didn’t need in the first place.  And the worst part is I will never, ever know for certain.

Part II: I Can Make The Ass Drop
Cut to a couple weeks later, where I’m investigating the aforementioned warning light.  I’d seen one come on a couple times for the ABS brakes.  Then later a couple times for the air suspension.  Eventually, my rear suspension went out on me on the freeway, and I was barely able to get it home with my tail almost dragging on the ground.  I wasn’t about to take it back to that dealer, but it seems there aren’t many other shops that do air suspensions on Town Cars.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this years ago, but what’s special about Town Cars?  How about the fact that they’re widely used by fleet services!  Where do those guys go?  Well, I lucked out and found a place that specializes in Town Cars.  And this place, you cannot imagine, it was a parking lot full of smashed up limos and cabs.  A giant warehouse with 20+ Town Cars being worked on by as many mechanics.  A whole body shop in the corner.  Tires, electric, and they even custom convert/build stretches.  I mean full service exclusively for Town Cars.  The waiting room was full of what were clearly limo drivers which tells me this place must be fair, honest, and reasonable… because these drivers wouldn’t keep bringing their business vehicles back here if it didn’t make financial sense.  And unlike the dealership that fucked me, these guys see dozens of Town Cars all day, every day.  Their expertise is beyond dispute.  If there is a problem a Town Car is capable of having, these guys have seen it before.  I will be going there exclusively from now on.  How many other car models have whole warehouses dedicated to just them?  One of the unexpected benefits of driving a limo for your personal car (along with being flagged down and offered money for rides at 2am every night — honestly).  They were super quick (45 minutes!) and super cheap.

Now the here’s the rub: in what was surely a freak occurrence, someone forgot to latch my hood.  I got less than a mile down the freeway before the hood flew up, cracking the windshield and bending over the roof.  The hood itself was totalled and bent upwards so it wouldn’t close.  The roof was dented and the sunroof broken.  Luckily, I was in the slow lane for once and was able to quickly get off the road before anyone was hurt.  I meant to take a picture to post here, but I was in shock at first.  To their credit, the shop immediately sent out a tow, gave me a loaner car for the week, and fixed everything up, good as new (as far as I can tell), free of charge.  They even detailed it.  Every little dent and nick in the paint from years of use.  They even replaced a tire that was somehow damaged and ready to blow out.  When I picked it up, it looked nicer than when I bought it!  Scary story yes, but relatively happy ending, all things considered.  I have no doubt it was a freak accident (how could they stay in business otherwise?), and I will continue to bring my car to these guys… they seem to be honest and fair.

So with any luck, my car trouble is done for now.  These Lincoln problems are Cadillac worries, you know.  I know these stories make it sound like a hoopty, but those of you who’ve seen it know that it’s anything but.  It’s been a great car to me, and I don’t want this spate of malfunctions to sully that otherwise sterling reputation.  That last tow truck driver told me — without knowing my car’s recent history — that the fuel pump and suspension are the most common problems for aging Town Cars of similar mileage, but that with some TLC they will last a very long time.  Just look at how long limos and cabs are on the road.  We’re talking upwards of 400,000 miles and more.  I would love that, because I’m in love with this car.  I may have to cover that affair in a future post.

The quote of the week comes from last weekend’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell me!” on NPR.  They were discussing that the long-abandoned Chernobyl disaster site is being opened as a tourist attraction.

Kyrie O’Connor:  Well, actually, it’s supposed to be… I mean, it’s like totally overrun with wildlife because there’s, like, been nobody there.
Peter Sagal:  Right. I mean, if anything bites you, chances are you’ll gain the strength and powers of that animal though.

Bobby Vinton killed my stereo.

19 March 2010

As I drove home from the hospital today (yes, my froat still hurts), I was listening to a Bobby Vinton CD.  Stuck on the unusually congested Great Highway, I was chillaxin’ to hits like “Blue Velvet” and “Mr. Lonely,” just trying to get my weekend started right.  It was the last CD my car stereo would ever play.

You see, when I went to switch out CDs to put in The Pixies (yes, I finally bought a Pixies disc), it wouldn’t read.  And in fact I found that no CD would read.  I don’t know what Bobby did to my stereo, but apparently he rocked it so hard that now it’s ruined for all other discs.  Now, I listen to CDs almost exclusively in my car.  That’s the time when I am able to really pay attention to it.  I don’t have to tell you what an inconvenience it is to suddenly have no working CD player in my car, or how frustrating it is that my Saturday afternoon is now spoken for because I now have to go pick out and install a new stereo.  But it’s deeper than that.  This wasn’t just any car stereo.  This was the JVC KD-LH3100.

When I first got my car back in 2003, I was excited for the first time to have a nice enough car for it to be worth investing in.  I kept it clean.  I bought it nice things.  I upgraded it.  And I picked out the perfect stereo.  I first saw this model at some hole-in-the-wall audio place while on a project in Boulder, CO.  I did the research.  I put real thought into this.  And I knew this was my guy.  “The KD-LH3100 features a full-motion 3D graphics display with variable color backlight for easy operation and visual confirmation of status and completed operations.  PICT lets you create customized displays on your PC, and then transfer them to the head unit’s LCD display.  PICT allows you to upload 90 still images and 15 seconds of full-motion video.  It can all be captured, created, and personalized by you.”  This thing can display and even cycle through a whole range of colors.  You can upload your own pictures, album covers, videos, etc. to be displayed, even when certain songs or albums are playing.  It lets you play a disc of mp3s; a common feature now, but virtually unheard of at the time.  To top it all off, check out the Tron-like blue trim plate lighting.  Ladies and gentlemen, seven years later this stereo still turns heads.  It is truly unique among its peers.

But now it won’t play CDs.  And as much as it pains me to replace it with an inferior model, I don’t see what choice I have.  And believe me, any replacement will be inferior.  I’ve looked, and even the heinously expensive models out there today don’t have the swagger of the KD-LH3100’s 1728-color 3D dot-matrix.  It seems my choices are ugly digital clock type displays or full DVD type LCD displays that have no place in an automobile.  So whatever I end up with tomorrow, my days of impressing with my JVC are over.  To those of you fortunate enough to see it in its heyday, hold tight to those memories.

Makin’ Lights

30 November 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: busy busy

A very merry unbirthday to you all.  Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend.  I did!  Got to relax and visit lots of friends in what was probably the least traditional Thanksgiving of my life so far.

Before I forget, Morrissey on Wednesday, bitches!  I’ll see you all there, I’m sure.  He comes by so rarely these days, you know.  Who knows when we’ll get another chance!  In other news, due to an unfortunate ticket mishap, I will most likely miss the Cranberries on Saturday… unless I come across some reasonable prices and soon.  Fiddlesticks!

The Popscene show was fun as usual.  We stuck to the Smiths and we stuck to the hits, mainly to keep it accessible and efficient.  Rest assured though that we’ve been extra busy learning new songs, and we should have plenty of surprises for the next show (Red Devil Lounge on January 8th).  At this moment, we’re just six songs away from knowing all 72 Smiths songs.  Holy shitake, that’s amazing, is it not?  Anyway, yes the show was fun.  Lots of friends showed up.  Not my luckiest night though.  Ten seconds into “How Soon Is Now?” I broke a string… normally I’d stop the song, but that’s not one that you stop once it starts, you know?  Luckily we got through it relatively unscathed.  Then while cleaning up, my main gitter (that black 335) fell over or was knocked over.  After assessing the damage at home, it’s got a new ding on the side, and a tuner was yanked halfway off the headstock.  Tuner’s shot and its screw holes are stripped.  So that’ll be $65 in parts and ??? in labor to get it fixed, damn it.  At least it’s got more character now, right?  That’s what I’m trying to tell myself.  And for the hat trick, I went to load in my car as I left the club only to find my car with a flat tire!  Thank God for AAA and real men.  Could I have changed that flat?  Of course, but why am I paying for AAA?  Let them come out and do in five minutes what it would have taken me a half hour to do… at 3am… in the cold Thanksgiving night… alone in a back alley… after wearing myself out at a show.

The good news there was that Big-O replaced it free, aside from the cost of my time the next afternoon.  While I was out driving that next day, I caught my self weaving in and out of traffic a lot around the city.  I had to wonder, do I really drive that fast?  I don’t generally care if I’m zooming along at top speed, I’m just concerned about makin’ lights.  (I gotta make those lights, son!)  It drives me nuts to miss a light because someone else is not paying attention.  For some reason, the city was full of the clueless this weekend.  And while I’m rambling about city driving, I saw a guy on a Van Ness island asking for spare change/food… and talking on a cell phone!  I mean, was someone making a political statement here?  Was this like performance art?  Or was it real?  Because I think it was real.  I thought it was pretty shameful, but am I just out of touch?  I guess maybe a cell phone really is considered a bare necessity these days?

And now, a dedication to a friend who just moved to Oakland this weekend…

So I finally finished Goddard’s Mozipedia — all 500+ pages of it — and I am happy to report that it was well worth the effort.  It took me August through most of November, but I learned a ton.  I really enjoyed the tidbits on songs that never were.  Some of my other favorite entries were the ones covering Mozzer’s more controversial viewpoints, and in fact my favorites were the entries on vegetarianism and Margaret Thatcher.  If you read only a few entries, I recommend those.  I wish I could reproduce them here for you.  Powerful stuff, I thought.  My only criticism of this massive textbook is that it’s a little heavy on the actors/movies/television influences, all good stuff to know, but not always so interesting to read about (speaking personally).

And finally, a question I’m afraid to ask: is MySpace dying?  I continue to prefer it to all those other sites.  I like the flexibility, and I like the robust music infrastructure.  But I can’t deny that in recent months I’ve noticed a rapid and growing lack of activity among my friends here, while Facebook seems to become more popular.  I don’t see the appeal of having to rebuild everything for yourself over there when it’s already in place here.  What happens when the next big site comes along and FB dies (remember Friendster anyone)?  Then off to a new site?  Rebuild your whole network again?  All these competing social networking sites just seem to dilute the value.  If a site came along that could “talk” to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. so you’d have a one-stop-shop, now that would be valuable.  Then you wouldn’t have to maintain statuses on several sites, etc.  I know, I know, one world currency, communism, etc.  Whatever.  I’m just saying… too many cooks spoil the broth.

“Lord, I confess I am not what I ought to be, but I thank you, Lord, that I’m not what I used to be.”
— Maxie Dunnan

I’m Tim. I drive an Aries.

11 September 2006

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  full

I hadn’t seen this video in so long, and sure enough, our friend YouTube had it for us.  Oh, how it reminds me of my old Le Baron.

Just so you know, This Charming Band’s second show at San Jose’s Blank Club is coming up this Saturday, September 16th.  DJ Kenny will be spinning again, just like last time, and I’m sure you’ll agree that he has some of the best taste of any DJ operating in the Bay Area.  Check out the flyer, this time by our man Peter:

And finally, it seems Mike Judge (the man behind Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, and Office Space) has created a movie called “Idiocracy” starring Luke Wilson.  What I hear is that the movie slams a lot of celebrities and McDonald’s / Starbucks type corporations.  Allegedly due to related legal trouble, the film is only seeing a limited release and is receiving almost no promotion.  What, like you had heard of it?

Well, we’ll float on… good news is on the way.

8 August 2006

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  uncomfortable

I hate cameras.  More on that later.

We had a couple of great shows the last two weeks.  The first was at the Blackthorn Tavern.  This place was full of drunken, rowdy types which had us all on edge at first, but after a few minutes of playing, we relaxed I think.  The stage was so small that three of us had to play on the floor.  This would not have been an issue were it not for the drunkards coming up and taking things off stage, stepping on pedals, and strumming our guitars during songs.  Highlights include getting to play “Girl Afraid” for the first time (my hands were shaking for the first time since our early shows!), Orlando going solo acoustic on “Boxers,” and meeting 2/3 of local surf band The Lava Rats.  Nice gents.  Looking forward to seeing them play soon!

Then of course was our biggest show ever at Slim’s!  This is a venue I’ve seen several big acts at, and it was truly an honor to get to play there.  Another surreal experience that I could not have imagined a year ago.  Of course the stage was huge.  We had plenty of time to set up and soundcheck.  Each band on the bill (others were Zoo Station and Tin Man) had their own green room.  Free (vegetarian!) food and drink.  To keep tuning time down, and because we had the room, I brought along four guitars.  While it was a hassle, it was worth it and I was glad to get some stage time with “Denial.”  Several friends (old, new, and some very unexpected) came to see us, and one band friend filmed the whole show for us!  We have some new mp3s from the show up on our site and MySpace.  The show itself went great, and the feedback was all tremendously positive.  The Smiths/Moz fanatics all already know about us, but now we’re finally reaching the masses, and we seem to be going over pretty well.  Zoo Station was super nice and complimentary towards us, and they put on a hell of a show themselves.  We’re looking forward to working with them again.  There’s lots I’m leaving out, but I will bore you no more.  The short version: a night to remember.

OK, SoCal friends: as previously promised, This Charming Band is returning this weekend for a second mini-tour which will include Club Addiction, The Derby, and Club London.  Look back at my blogs in April to see how much fun our last trip was.  This time around, we’re more well known, we’re a better band, and hell, we’ve got some shirts to sell.  I expect to see each and every one of you there.  Old friends of course, but there are several MySpace friends that I have yet to meet in person.  So come on down and introduce yourself!  (Just to warn you… I’m bad at recognizing people from pictures sometimes, so if you see me and I don’t acknowlege you, it’s not that I’m an asshole.  I just may not be sure if it’s you.  So be forward and say “hi!”  I want to meet you!)

ThisCharmingBand.net
myspace.com/thischarmingband

So I have this friend… we’ll call him “This Charming… Glenn.”  And he’s been travelling to Phoenix/Scottsdale a lot.  This is the story (in his words) of what happened to him last night:

So I think I got my first speeding ticket last night.  I have never even been pulled over for speeding in my life, and I like to think that it’s because I have a good sense of when it’s safe to speed and when it isn’t.  And by “safe” I mean both safe and safe from attracting the attention/ire of the police.  Well it turns out they cheat around Scottsdale.

I’ve always been aware that Arizona drivers all fly down the highway whenever possible.  Last night, I noticed everyone seemed to be driving very slow, and I couldn’t understand why.  The thought even crossed my mind that they must know something I don’t know, and yet, I broke my own rule and allowed myself to be far and away the fastest driver on the road.  After a 20 minute highway drive, just a few hundred feet before exiting, I was blinded by a flash that seemed to come from all directions.  Instantly, I began to remember having heard something on Phoenix news a while back about new traffic cameras.  A sinking feeling filled my gut as I pulled into the hotel, cracked open the laptop, and begin to research this.  All signs point to this: I was nabbed going 15mph or so over the limit by an automatic and very accurate traffic camera that has most likely gotten my license plate and a mugshot.  So I guess I may be getting a little unwelcome something in the mail in a few weeks.  Hopefully not.

I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t think this is a great way to help stop speeders, but what the fuck?  This takes the whole art of avoiding cops out of the process.  I mean, if they can just put up cameras anywhere, what am I supposed to do?  Never speed?

Now I’ve done a bunch of online research that has given me advice ranging from just pay the ticket and go to traffic school in CA to avoid points on my record all the way to ignore any letters I get, play dumb, and since they can’t prove I was served, I’m off the hook.  What to do?  My current questions:

1) Will the fact that I was in a rental change anything?
2) Will the fact I live out of state change anything?
3) Will the fact that this was “business travel” change anything?
4) Will nature make a man of me yet?
5) A fine is fine… I just don’t want DMV points.  Do I get any for this?  If so, are they transferred to my home state’s DMV or is it left in AZ?  And if so, can I take local or online traffic school and have it apply in AZ?

Anyone have any experience here?

You may have heard that the great Johnny Marr has pretty much joined Modest Mouse full time.  Now one friend of mine tells me how she liked them before they were big and they used to be great and now they suck.  Another friend of mine generally has great taste in music, but I hear she hates Modest Mouse.  I gotta say, I think this is a good thing.  Johnny working with a quirky band like that… maybe we’ll get something out of it along the lines of his collaboration with Talking Heads.  High hopes, I know.  But listening to “Good News for People Who Love Bad News,” I can definitely hear a place for Johnny.  I’m excited to hear what they come up with.  I hope someday I can just call up Johnny like that and get him to play on my album.  Holy moly!

I have to come clean about something.  Everyone has one instance (and usually several) of a song that affects them in some really trite and melodramatic way.  Well, here’s mine.  I’ve found that “Float On” has near-magical powers to relax me in times of extreme stress and uncertainty.  When I’ve been worried about some kind of life stress or unexpected crisis, the first few tracks of this album and specifically “Float On” really help to put me at ease.  Yeah, that’s right.  I said it.

“And we’ll all float on
Alright, already we’ll all float on
Alright, don’t worry even if things end up a bit too heavy
We’ll all float on…”

I’m In Love With My Car

11 November 2005

 CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  content

I got my car back from the shop.  I am happier than a pig in shit.

The whole front end was replaced, and Town Car is back in perfect working order.  He’s cleaner than he’s ever been.  Long and shiny.  After riding around in a compact rental car for two weeks, I am appreciating having Town Car more than I ever thought possible.  The ride is so fucking smooth.  Just big, plush, and buttery-smooth around every turn and at every acceleration.  Coming home tonight was like flying home on a shiny black cloud.  If this all sounds sexual to you, that’s because it is.  I was all hot and bothered when I got home.  Fucking love my car.  Welcome home, Baby.

In other news, the band finally has a MySpace profile, but our singer created it, so it’s out of my hands.  I can’t add you, but you can go add us.  So, go do it.  Do it.  Do it.  That was my Ben Stiller impression.  I guess it doesn’t really come through in print.

http://www.myspace.com/thischarmingband

Popscene is gonna rock.  I can’t even wait.  We’ve also added a preliminary show at El Rio on Mission and Valencia.  That’ll be Wednesday, November 16th.  So in case you won’t be in town for Popscene, you can see our technical “debut” at El Rio.  Check out the afore-mentioned MySpace profile for details.

Town Car is parked down stairs.  My neighbors are fucking upstairs.  It’s Friday night, and I’m home alone playing guitar.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.  All is right with the world.

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

27 October 2005

 CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  distressed

As I think Aki would say, fuckity fucking fuck sticks!!!  I crashed my Town Car on the drive home tonight.  No injuries.  The bumper of the guy I rear ended was pretty scratched up, and I fucked up the front of my car pretty good.  I’m not so worried about the money, but being without my car for a week or more will be a pain.  And then paying for a rental car out of pocket.  God damn it!  Fuckity fuck fuck!  If you know me, you know how much I love when this kind of stuff happens.  Fuck.  Seriously, fuck.

There was an older guy standing by my car when I went to get in it before I left.  He asked if I had any spare change, and I gave him the only four cents I had in change… warning him ahead of time that it wasn’t much.  But he took it happily, and then stood by the next parked car.  I just remembered all this.  You don’t suppose he stood there putting a curse on my car because I only gave him four cents, do you?  I felt guilty later.  I should have given him a few bucks.

I need to get my mind off it.  What’s done is done.

Yesterday was the lovely Taylor’s birthday!  If you didn’t wish her a happy one, then, well, you’re a bad person.  And you need to know that.

On the band front, some interesting developments.  The Thanksgiving gig at Popscene is a go, so see you all there!  I’ll be the guy throwing up and shitting myself backstage.  I’ve been practicing up a storm,  and I’m getting these songs down better than I ever thought possible.  Also, the majority has ruled, and the band has changed its name to “This Charming Band.”  But Benjamin, isn’t that a little campy and lame?  And isn’t it awfully similar to that famous other Smiths cover band that’s been around for 10 years called “These Charming Men?”  And isn’t that kind of unoriginal… kind of making you a cover band of a cover band?  Well… yes.  What do you want me to say?  I was out-voted.  Bush is also the president, but I didn’t move to Canada did I?  Ah hell.

On a lighter note, lots of new music out.  I’m listening to the new Cardigans album as I type this, which is awesome as expected.  Got the new single from She Wants Revenge sitting here, maybe for later.  I got that new John Lennon 2-disc collection.  Actually, I should rant on that for a minute.

I wasn’t too familiar with John Lennon’s solo work, but he gets such notariety, that I assumed it must be really good.  I mean, he was a Beatle, right?  So I got this new 2-disc greatest hits that is supposedly pretty complete.  I listened to it all, and let me say that aside from his handful of major hits (which are all very good), I’d be as likely to remember what I ate for breakfast on May 22nd, 1989 as I’d be to remember any of those songs.  At the risk of blasphemy, that was two discs of some boring-assed, mediocre shit.  I understand it all now.  Paul was the talent.

Now I know the Beatles’ catalog pretty well.  It had some balls behind it.  And then they broke up (because of Yoko?) and what happened?  John, you were a Beatle, dude.  You went from rocking the house to all this sensitive “woman” and “I’m not worthy” and “I’m just a jealous guy” self-hating bullshit.  This James Taylor, mild-mannered, guidance counselor bullshit.  This I’m-just-a-big-dumb-man-and-I’m-so-lucky-that-the-magical-unicorn-that-is-womankind-will-even-talk-to-me bullshit.  I can’t even listen to it, and probably never will again.  I think of Yoko, and it makes me want to kick a nun.  She became part of every song, and every project.  She was in every picture.  There was no John.  Just John and Yoko.  She stripped you, man.  Lock, stock, and barrel, she took those balls and put them down the disposal.  Fucking Yoko.  For my money, John/Yoko goes down as the most famous pussy-whipping of all time.

And Lala never spoke to me again.