Posts Tagged The Smiths

Just Keeping The Population Down

17 September 2010

Have I mentioned how much I love love love the fog?  San Francisco’s Indian summer fog has arrived, and not a moment too soon.  It’s half the reason I live where I live.

Damn, Gina… I haven’t posted anything on here in over a month!  What can I say?  I go through spells of not having anything interesting to share (assuming I ever do).  It’s not that I haven’t been busy.  If anything, maybe too busy.  I figured I ought to at least check in with you, though.

Been to a bunch of great shows and events the last month or two.  Crowded House at the Warfield, The Blasters, Reverend Horton Heat’s 25th anniversary show at The Fillmore (filmed for a DVD), Wicked with Shel, Conan O’Brien live, disco dancing in stretchy gold bell-bottoms and white platforms, and Phantom Of The Paradise (spawning a minor obsession).  Had a couple of fun TCB shows in San Jose and Sacramento, where we got to debut “The Draize Train” and I got to go all guitar hero.  Got on a go-kart for the first time in over a decade, which was way more fun than I expected.  Got hit with a nasty computer virus (which I’m normally ultra-vigilant about).  There may have been more exciting events of note.  What am I forgetting?

Oh, and I finally finished watching the full Brisco County, Jr. series I remember from my youth.  Such a good show!  Such a tragedy it was only around one season (1993/94).  A quirky, sci-fi western with the incomparable Bruce Campbell, the late Julius Carry (a.k.a. Sho’nuff), and the delicious Kelly Rutherford… all written by the guy who went on to produce “Lost.”  I’m not a big DVD watcher, so this was an accomplishment for me.  Let me know if you want to borrow it.  😉

Coming up, I’ve got a few weddings to go to, including one this weekend.  Friends which also happen to be exes.  By this time next month, the clear majority of my exes will be married, if the hitched don’t already make up the majority.  It’s too depressing to do the math, but I’m pretty sure.  They’re all breeding too, or will be soon.  Good for them.  I won’t lie… it does make me feel behind the curve a bit.  I am now older than my dad was when I myself, the youngest, was born.  I’m used to feeling, frankly, more mature than most people my age (which could be horsefeathers, but hey, it’s how I feel).  Settling down is the one area where I sometimes wonder if I’m missing out on something essential.  I know there’s no “right” answer or path I have to take in life, but did I somehow fall behind my peers here?  Do they all know something I don’t know?  Or is it vice versa?  Much to ponder.

In lighter news, I’m also going to clean out my storage unit once and for all this weekend.  That means a pile of dusty crap on my living room floor for a few weeks while I sort it all out, but I think I’ve at least got a plan now.  If you have little ones who might be in the market for free toys from the 80’s and early 90’s, be sure to let me know.  It’s almost all gonna be up for giveaway.

Lots of stuff on the horizon.  TCB has a few shows in central CA in October, starting out on the tropical shores of Bakersfield (10/15) and ending in giddy Fresno (10/16).  By then, I should have my new signature guitar picks in use, woo hoo!  Then November will mark TCB’s 5th anniversary!  There’s a good chance we’ll be doing something in SF to celebrate that, so stay tuned.  I think I’ll need to write something about that, you know, looking back on the last five years and all.  And if all that weren’t enough, I’ve started playing with a few different original bands — one on the Smiths side of things, the other a rockabilly band — so we’ll see where those go.

OK, I think we’re sufficiently caught up.  Onward and upward…

Idea: Smiths/Morrissey Rock Opera

30 March 2010

My ever-growing “to do” list is my neurotic burden to bear.  As I work through ways of letting it go and learning to live more in the moment, I am struck by some patterns I see.  Someday I may really cut the cord and delete my list altogether, but unless and until that happens, I’m looking for new ways to shorten the list… or at least combat it somehow… as it grows by like 10 lines a day.  So anyway, one of these patterns is that several items on this 3,500-line list are snippets of ideas that I know now I will never, ever get around to doing.  My options are to do something with them (which as I just said, I will probably never find time to), delete them and forget them (not a tragedy in most cases, but there would be the occasional lost bit of genius), or share them with the world (and thus let me delete them off my list).  So I’m starting a new category here of “Ideas I’ll Never Get Around To.”  Not because you will always find them interesting to read about, but because I think it will allow me to let them go and move on with my life.  Some will be big ideas, some tiny.  Some genius, some not so much.  So without further ado…

Who among us isn’t familiar with The Who’s “Tommy?”  And I know you’ve all seen “Moulin Rouge.”  A couple years ago, I myself watched “Across The Universe,” and though at the time I hadn’t yet immersed myself in The Beatles, I was moved by the overall presentation and the way those songs were woven together into a relatively coherent plot.

What I’m getting at is that I think the Smiths/Morrissey catalog is ripe for a similar musical film or rock opera.  I realize that compared to The Beatles, our beloved Smiths have a tiny — if devoted — following.  But I’m confident the mainstream could learn to love the music too if they were exposed to it in the right way.  The Smiths had what, 72 songs in their short five-year career?  And Morrissey’s been solo for over 20 years now, amassing another must be around 200 songs, right?  Now, I imagine most of you reading this are devout Smiths fans like I am.  And I’m sure if you’re on my wavelength right now, you can imagine vigintillions of possibilities.  So many songs about longing.  So many British and Italian landmarks referenced.  Every song is a story in itself, but also broad enough to be applied to nearly anyone.  I think this music lends itself extremely well to be meshed into a film.  Of plot, I’ve given almost no consideration.  And I lost my personal interest in screenwriting long ago.  I’ve envisioned much more the production and the presentation than the substance.  But someday, I hope someone with the interest and the talent will do a project like this.  At the very least, there would be a small army of Smiths cultists rallying for it.  And if it were ever performed live, I can think of a few musicians who might volunteer their services.

“Well they’re all playing lead aren’t they, all of them.  John Entwistle’s playing lead bass, Keith’s playing lead drums, Townshend’s playing lead guitar, and Roger’s fuckin’ the lead vocalist.  It’s insane.”

— Noel Gallagher on The Who

We’re like crystal — we break easy.

15 February 2010

I tell ya, aches and pains just come too easily these days.  My friends tell me “welcome to your 30’s.”  It’s really astounding how little physical exertion can cause me to be sore all over for a day or two.  It’s pretty much a given the day after playing a show, for instance.   Even walking around in a hilly neighborhood.  It used to be that I thought well if I’m sore then at least I’m building some muscle.  But something tells me that’s not what’s going on here.  At least not anymore.

It was a fun weekend!  We spent an afternoon at a John Hughes movie marathon at the Castro Theater.  It was actually really interesting to watch Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club in a theater and listen to the collective cheers and sighs.  Clearly, there was a lot of love in that room.  I think it was also settled once and for all that I’m so much more Jake Ryan than Farmer Ted.  At some point, we found our way into a sex shop where I finally picked up the bear flag sticker I’ve been looking for for years.  Then later in the evening we caught Balls’ Dead Souls show in Menlo Park.  Yes, Menlo Park.  Also made it out to the Tonga Room for the first time ever, and it was incredible!  Reminded me of Don The Beachcomber’s in San Jose, which my dad took me to once when I was little.  (That particular location eventually became a gay bar, then burned down, then was paved over for a freeway on-ramp.)  Anyhoo, the Tonga Room and the Fairmont in general were pretty spectacular.  And of all people, we saw Joe Montana dining and dancing.  Go figure!

If you’re around this week, Seattle’s Love Vigilantes will be at Popscene on Thursday night (2/18).  Aside from the fact that they currently include TCB‘s Nick and Paul in their ranks, there’s a good chance I’ll be making a brief guest appearance as fake Johnny Marr for a song or two!

One of the first shows I ever went to as an adult was when I went and saw The Knack at Slim’s.  They had the number one hit of the year I was born, you know… not to mention one of the biggest hooks of all time.  I remember laughing my ass off when someone tried to hand the lead singer (Doug Fieger) a joint, and he flipped out, threw it back, and went into a tirade about how drugs were for losers.  Not exactly your typical rock star behavior, but I loved it.  R.I.P. Doug!

Speaking of hooks, I’ve had this guitar riff in my head for days.  I wish I wrote it, but I’m almost positive it’s from a song… and for the life of me, I can’t remember which song.  It’s killing me!  For this sort of thing, it’ll usually come to me in a day or two (along with a huge sense of relief), but no luck so far.  I’ve been listening to The Black Angels, Rage Against The Machine, The White Stripes, Led Zeppelin, anyone who might be responsible for this crushing riff in my head.  In trying to figure out where it came from, as I said, I’ve found myself listening to The Black Angels again.  They sound like The Doors and Joy Division got together to cover Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks.”  And that’s a recipe for success.

… in which Johnny Marr finally gets to meet me.

29 January 2010

Wednesday night, I went to the Cribs show at Bimbo’s 365.  I’d be lying if I said I was there for any reason other than to see Johnny Marr up close.  Of course he was making it look so easy up there.  I was studying the technique, the posture, the banter.  Taking notes, you know.  After their set, we waited first in the main room, until the staff swept us out.  Then in the foyer, until the staff swept us out.  So we found ourselves waiting out front in the cold, where the tour bus still sat.  I ran into Tom, who was waiting for Johnny too.  I wasn’t too nervous, but in a kind of dream state, finding it hard to believe that after years of poring over Johnny Marr’s every word and note, there was an excellent chance I was about to see him face-to-face.  As the minutes dragged, we got anxious and started making our way towards the alley where I knew the backstage door to be.  After about 45 minutes, the band finally came out.  The rest of the Cribs filtered past us (and into the clutches of the girls), while we intercepted Johnny in the alleyway.  I could hardly believe it was happening.

I freely admit to being totally starstruck and blurting out stupid things.  I’m really not the type, but come on, we’re talking about my #1 guitar hero.  You’ll have to grant me a little teenage girl fantasy here.  Tom got in there first, and I was in line right behind him.  There were several more people who eventually came around after us, and to my horror, they started just butting in and taking Johnny to themselves.  Now, I can understand people getting excited and all, but they were being shameless.  I was seeing self-preservation and every-person-for-themselves vividly and hideously played out in front of me.  I couldn’t believe what disregard people had for each other (and for me!).  I was trying to be cool and not make a scene, especially because Johnny was being so patient with everyone.  I didn’t want to start making nasty “me first” comments to the people around, or throwing richly-deserved elbows.  But at the same time, this was Johnny fuckin’ Marr standing in front of me, and I had no idea how long he was going to stick around before hopping on his bus and disappearing.  As I neared my limit and started to get a bit aggressive, I finally got my turn, and I held on until I felt I’d had my fair share of his time.  We Smiths fans are a selfish bunch I guess.  It reminded me of the disappointment I sometimes feel in the cut-throat fans that fill the pit at Moz shows.  How they can sour what should be such a positive experience.  But no more dwelling on the negative here.  The point is: I did get my turn, and I met Johnny Marr!

When I finally got in there, the conversation — severely paraphrased for continuity’s sake and also remembered incompletely and probably incorrectly — I think went something like this (with Johnny in blue)…

I like your shirt.
Thanks!  [unzipping my jacket to reveal the rest of the T. Rex “Electric Warrior” album cover shirt]
I know what it is.
It’s such an honor to meet you.  I just have to tell you that your music was the inspiration for me taking up the guitar seriously, and it’s become a huge focus in my life.  So thank you!
Well, that’s the best thing to hear really.  I’m glad.
Working out and playing your songs has brought me years of pleasure and headaches.  Trying to figure out all those parts.
As long as you’re having fun with it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finally worked out some difficult part and said “that sneaky fucker, look what he’s doing there!”
[laughs] Well, I tried not to make it too tricky.
[laughs] Well, you failed!  Hey, do you mind if we snap a photo?
No, not at all.  [picture is taken, hands shake]
Also, I hate to trouble you, but could I get pick?  A lucky charm?  If it’s a hassle…
Oh sure, let me see.  [digs around and gets a pick out of his pocket]
Thanks so much!  And again, it’s really a pleasure to meet you!

It may not come across in my faux transcription there, but he was so gracious and approachable.  He made time to talk to everyone who was waiting for him, and happily signed autographs, posed for pictures, and spoke freely even asking people about themselves.  He seemed genuinely interested in all of us.  So laid back, and just could not have been nicer.  It was an absolute honor and pleasure to meet him and chat with him.

I listened in to the conversations he had with others.  Someone asked him about the tab books that are out there, and he said he isn’t too familiar with them, but one of the things he’d like to do when he revamps his website is to take some time to show people how he plays certain things… tabs or videos or something.  “But I don’t want to give away all my secrets.”  I screamed “YES PLEASE!”  😀

Of course, now that it’s over, I’m second-guessing myself a bit.  First off, you may notice I didn’t mention This Charming Band.  When I first walked up, I was with Tom.  Tom went first, and Johnny asked him if we were in a band.  Tom said no of course, and I didn’t want to be like “well actually I’m in a tribute band.”  So I just let it drop.  If he’d asked me point blank, I would have fessed up.  But I wasn’t sure if he’d be flattered or repelled.  I’ve read something to the effect that he doesn’t like tribute bands.  Don’t live in the past and all that.  I gather the other three Smiths are more on the flattered end of the spectrum.  Who really knows how he would have reacted?  I didn’t want to risk tainting the experience.  As it was, we talked for a moment about love of the guitar, and that was enough for me.  I might have liked to ask him about a riff or two.  Or twelve.  But it wasn’t really the venue for that kind of discussion.  Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to really pick his brain.

The other thing I kicked myself for is an autograph!  I’m really not an autograph kinda guy usually, and having an autographed album or picture from him wouldn’t do that much for me.  But damn… I should have brought a guitar for him to autograph!!!  And strum!  And bless!  There isn’t a guitar in my collection that I wouldn’t happily have allowed him to sign, and there aren’t many on the planet I can say that about.  Can you imagine having Johnny himself strum your guitar, and mark it?  Damn.  I really should have done that.  But these small regrets aside, it was an amazing night.  Special thanks to Jamie and Lourdes for waiting with me in the cold and taking pics!

Surreal.  Only real.  There isn’t a person alive that I’d want to meet more than him, and here it’s happened.  If touching the hand of Moz was like touching the pope’s vestments, then meeting Johnny was like sitting down with Yoda.

Playing the guitar means everything.  Know what I mean?

— Johnny Marr


14 September 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: crazy restless

Nothing profound to report at the moment, kiddies. I just wanted to point out something that recently occurred to me: Morrissey has written a lot of songs with a certain song title theme. Do you see it?

  1. I Am Hated For Loving
  2. I Am Two People
  3. I Can Have Both
  4. I Don’t Mind If You Forget Me
  5. I Don’t Owe You Anything
  6. I Don’t Want Us To Finish (unreleased)
  7. I Have Forgiven Jesus
  8. I Just Want To See The Boy Happy
  9. I Keep Mine Hidden
  10. I Knew I Was Next
  11. I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday
  12. I Know It’s Over
  13. I Know Very Well How I Got My Name
  14. I Know Who I Love (unreleased)
  15. I Like You
  16. I Misses You (unreleased)
  17. I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish
  18. I Want The One I Can’t Have
  19. I Will See You In Far-Off Places
  20. I Won’t Share You
  21. I’d Love To
  22. I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero Now
  23. I’m Not Sorry
  24. I’m OK By Myself
  25. I’m Playing Easy To Get (unreleased)
  26. I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
  27. I’ve Changed My Plea To Guilty

So that’s all I had to say, really. The quote of the week, appropriately enough, is an ingenious epitaph Mozzer once proposed for himself:

“Well, at least he tried.”

It’s great to be alive in Colma.

12 January 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

Is this global warming again or what?  We had record cold temperatures over the last few weeks, and then today we had record highs, shattering many of the previous records by noon.  Looks like we’re in for a January heat wave, and a dry month in general.  I guess I shouldn’t complain though.  On my way home tonight, there was an almost warm breeze in the air, a taste of our long-forgotten summer.  Memories of many past summers came rushing back to me as soon as I felt it.  Warm air at night always makes me think of life’s possibilities.  It reminds me of summers with no school, playing under streetlights, staying out late with friends, freedom.

This weekend saw the biggest full moon of the year.  I didn’t make as much use out of it as I should have, but I did see a bit of it.  Pretty amazing.  Celestial events like that, the threat of global warming, and my own recent thoughts about mortality have given me a lot to think about.  The transiency and impermanence of everything.  Literally, everything.  The sun is dying.  The moon is moving further away from us every day.  The earth itself is slowing down a little every second.  No one gets out alive.  It doesn’t matter if you are the most important and famous person to ever walk the earth.  Eventually, you’ll be gone.  Everyone who ever knew you will be gone.  Our civilization will be gone.  Mankind will be gone.  And all life will someday be gone.  Plain and simple, it’s gonna happen.  It’s a tough pill to swallow to think that nothing you do, no monument you erect will be there forever.  It’s impossible.  But it’s forcing me to realize that beauty in the world can’t be dependent on its permanence.  All things will eventually be dust.  All things will change.  So it’s important to enjoy things/people/beauty while they are available to you, despite… or even because they are only here for a moment.  (Whoa, please excuse that tirade — it just came out.)

On to less philosophical topics, I was getting my car worked on last week in Colma.  I don’t spend any time there, generally, but I always got the vibe that there were a lot of cemeteries there.  Like way more than you’d expect.  In fact, it seemed like the town’s whole main drag is graveyards and tombstone dealers.  Seriously.  Somebody at the car lot was filling me in on some of the local legends.  Things like Wyatt Earp is buried there, and some woman was buried in her piano.  I decided I needed to read up on this place, and holy shit, it’s no joke.  This culture of death is no accident, because it turns out Colma’s buried population out numbers the living by thousands to one.  It is quite literally a necropolis, and we live right next to it.  This terrifies me.

Friday night was the return of Louder Than Bombs, this time at the House Of Shields… once affectionately known to Nick as the House Of Pancakes.  It’s a nice pub, and there’s a bit more room there than there was in the Beauty Bar days.  It was good to see all the familiar faces, many of whom I hadn’t seen since the last LTB lo those many months ago.  I got a little dancing in, saw my doppelganger, people-watched, and ended up at Sparky’s with Shel, where we also ran into Beauty And The Beat again!  It was a way late night, and it threw my whole weekend sleep pattern out of whack.  In fact, I was so beat after Friday that I stayed indoors all weekend save a short stint in the Haight, and seeing The Wrestler with Jamie (which was great, by the way).

If I wasn’t already getting enough Smiths this last weekend, I’m also boning up on that first Smiths album in preparation for the anniversary shows we’re playing next month.  It’s always fun to unravel a new Smiths tune.  And it doesn’t hurt to get to play them for people who love this stuff as much as we do.  I was thinking about my favorite TCB moments, and there have been many.  But to me, this video says everything about what TCB’s about.  St. (Steven) Patrick’s Day at The Blank.  Our bassist at the time hadn’t learned this song yet.  Eh, we played it anyway.

Which reminds me… The Smiths (or rather the record company that owns the rights) are finally synching up with MySpace, so some of their fine tunes, and eventually many more I assume, are available here.  Good news if you’re looking to gussy up your profile with some new music.  I’m just sayin’…

Well kids, Obama’s set to be inaugurated in just about a week now.  Here’s hoping this is the new beginning we’ve been waiting for!

“I either want less corruption or more chance to participate in it.”
Ashleigh Brilliant

Making The Scene

29 November 2008

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:  sore

It’s been a busy few weeks.  And I’ve neglected you.  I am sorry.

A couple weeks ago, I was at the Knockout and I met the man behind the Couch Guitar Straps that I love so much.  His band, The New Fidelity, was playing.  Kind of a Kinks/60’s/Brit thing.  A lot of fun, and they were all swell guys.  Later was a Smiths night at The Catalyst with Deanna and her crew, considerably more crowded this time, with lots of beautiful folks.  It ended up being a sunny weekend, and I hit the Haight with Shel, got to lay out in the sun at some point (maybe my last opportunity this year?), and got an Olive Garden fix with Jamie.  Then last weekend was a bit more tame.  I saw the Music Lovers with Sus (and I think I liked them better this time).  Starla gave me a tour of the lake’s boat house area which I’d never seen in all my years here.  I think that was about it maybe?

Now this time, I fashioned myself a five-day weekend which is now just a day away from over.  But I think I’ve made good use of it.  On a rare weekday off, I got a haircut and made it out to Savor for a rainy day lunch.  On Thanksgiving, I had a nice brunch with Majik and Booty.  The Popscene show went well.  To be honest, I was dreading it somewhat based mostly on the venue, but in the last year they’ve done some big remodelling.  There’s now a green room with a private bathroom.  Me gusta.

I’m always left feeling strange after a Popscene show.  It’s an 18+ place, and they play all this cutting edge indie stuff.  I feel a bit out of place on that dance floor.  The way they all dress.  The songs that excite them.  I feel way out of touch.  Like maybe I’m about five years past my “use by” date.  So sorry hordes upon hordes of young Popscene girls clawing at me, as usual.  I’m afraid we don’t speak the same language.  Hey nineteen!

Speaking of being out of touch, am I the last person on earth to hear about the “massive” popularity of the ambigram tattoo?  Apparently, this is all the rage.  The real question is, does anyone I know have one?  Come on… fess up!  Check out this one from NastyBasty:

I forgot how heavy all my gear is.  When do we start getting roadies?  I woke up pretty sore yesterday after the show.  Fortunately, I went to SC for some R&R with my mar and par… and some other family members.  Had a day-late Thanksgiving complete with Tofurky, which got generally good reviews from all involved.  My two-year-old niece wore me out completely.  It’s like they put new batteries in her right before I come over.

So anyway yeah, it’s been a busy few weeks, mostly positive.  As for the bad news, there’s been plenty of that too.  Mitch Mitchell, one of my favorite drummers of all time, died recently as well.  The economy’s taking a shit of course, and it’s already been affecting those around me.  I’ve had friends and family losing jobs, and even the husband of a former manager was killed by a deranged employee, very tragically.

If there’s any good news on the economic front, it’s that gas prices are literally half of what they were a few months ago.  Seriously, it was under $2 a gallon over here this weekend.  So for reasons unknown, OPEC has spent the last year sitting pretty while oil prices went through the roof to record highs, and how does America respond?  We basically tell them to shove it, and demand falls off drastically.  Now, the OPEC cartel is scrambling trying figure out how to keep oil prices from falling and with little hope of succeeding.  This pleases me.

In other economic news, I didn’t have much success doing my duty as an American and buying myself a bunch of shit on Black Friday.  But I did do a little shopping, and when I was looking at t-shirts, I came across some fantastic band names that are worth mentioning.  Now, I don’t know any of their music, and in all likelihood, I’d hate it.  But I have to give credit where credit is due…

  • F Minus
  • Circle Takes The Square (as in Hollywood Squares?)
  • Acoustic Ladyland (an acoustic Jimi Hendrix tribute?)
  • The Ducky Boys (tell me this is a Wanderers reference)
  • The Red Chord
  • Guitarshop Asshole (as a guitarshop patron, this is by far the best one)

Well shit.  I was all amped to go out tonight and make use of my Saturday night, but I’ve been feeling crappy since I got home today.  I hope things turn around, but it’s getting later, and I don’t feel any better.  Blech!

The quote of the week comes from a bumper sticker I saw the other day, and it reminds me very much of a certain drummer’s girlfriend…

“It was on fire when I got here.”

Seriously… you don’t hear that?

31 July 2008

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:  pensive

You rang?
Since I last wrote, I have been severely stressing out about the ringing in my ears.  I won’t go into details, but going into last weekend, I was on the verge of cracking up.  I’ve been joking the past few months about how I’m getting older and my body’s falling apart.  But this is the first real chronic health issue I’ve ever faced in my life.  The idea that this might never go away… well I think it’s so distressing to me because it’s the first time I’ve had to accept something wrong with me that I have zero power to change.  And having to redefine my self image to incorporate this new reality.  It’s the proverbial first ding on what was, up until recently, a shiny new car.  And this is surely just the first of many such “dings” that I’ll be enduring as I get older.  But the first one always hurts the most, you know?

As I feared, the doctors told me that they can’t do much for me.  It may still go away over the next week or two, but beyond that, it sounds like it’s going to be more permanent.  But no hearing loss, according to a hearing test, so that’s good.  I got fitted for some custom musician’s earplugs that I’ll be wearing at every practice and show from now on.  If nothing else, it’ll keep things from getting worse.  I understand that stress can make the ringing worse too, and since I’ve been focusing a lot of attention on it lately, it’s been really affecting me.  As I said, I was about to snap last week.  But this week, I’ve found that I can live with it a little better.  And I’ve been able to go for hours at a time without even thinking about it or noticing it.  Which gives me more confidence in my ability to ignore it, and so on.  Eventually, maybe I’ll be able to go days and weeks without it even crossing my mind.  And on that note, let’s stop talking about it for now.

Teddy Bear Picnic
Over the weekend, we had somewhat of a family reunion type picnic at my folks’ place in the mountains.  I wasn’t feeling very social, but if you can’t let your guard down with your own family, then who can you?  I had the cursory catch-up conversations with aunts and uncles and family friends.  We played some music including my sister singing “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and mom singing “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” and both of them doing “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.”  It’s nice they knew the words… but the rest of the family wasn’t really getting it.  Oh well.  Grama had a few drinks and sang some dirty country songs from her youth.  A good time was had by all.

The experience was sort of bizarre for me though.  Everyone in my extended family, even those younger than I am, they all are having kids now.  They all live in the suburbs or the country.  This San Francisco city life.  This gigging and working in the FiDi and general night life.  I am the only one of my kind in my family tree.  It’s the life I’ve (happily) chosen, but it makes it increasingly difficult to relate to my kin.  I mean, my… social skill set… that is to say, the mode I have to be in for 99% of my daily life… from dealing with the relatively-fast-paced corporate world to walking city streets and dealing with every kind of character (and cuisine) imaginable… from dance club etiquette to keeping up on the music scene… from the parking problem to the homeless problem.  All these things that are a part of every day life here, they are so out of place at my family reunion.  These things that are critical to my urban survival are almost silly in the context of talking to my family.  I felt like a soldier coming back from war, where I have just spent all this time in a kill-or-be-killed world with a completely different set of rules, suddenly to find myself back in the alternate reality of the peaceful ‘burbs, dealing with laundry and the kids’ soccer practice.  You know what I mean?  I’m used to being pretty close with the fam, but for the first time, I felt a bit like the odd man out.  Like my interests and issues exist in a world completely outside of their reality, and vice versa.  I don’t mean to imply that  one is any better or more important than the other, but somehow just… incompatible.

Well, at least you’ve still got us…
Paul (of The Ghost Of Curtis) has joined TCB full time as our permanent Andy Rourke, and we’re thrilled to have him!  He’s a lot of fun to have around, and the Moz Krew seemed to like him OK, so you know.  Unfortunately… er… fortunately(?)… he’s getting hitched soon.  This means that we’ll need a substitute for our massive Slim’s show coming up on August 29th, and who better than our old friend Wally!  We’ll miss Paul for sure, but at least it’ll be nice to share a stage with Wall-E once more.  We’ll be pulling out all the stops for this show, and the special flyer is currently in the works.  More to come on that!

Strange, we finally get this big Slim’s show, and so many of the tribute bands have, ironically, disbanded!  Some confirmed and some rumored.  Over the last month or two, Northern California’s tribute scene has inexplicably been blighted by the apparent sudden loss (or indefinite shelving) of Spellbound, Sing Blue Silver, For The Masses, The Ghost Of Curtis, Spinout, and Modus.  Hopefully some of these guys will reform in some way… that’s a lot of great live bands I will miss!

And that’s all for now, kiddies.  The quote of the week comes from a bumper sticker I saw today:

Gwar is not the answer.”

Why Playing The Guitar Means Everything

17 June 2008

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:  determined

by Johnny Marr (The Guardian, 05/10/08)

Playing the guitar means always having something cool to do. It means having ambitions to be a rock star, escaping your life, or just learning to play your favourite songs. It means having fun — because you really don’t need to be able to read music or have lessons to do it pretty well — and it means buying a strap and making sure it’s the correct length so it looks right and feels comfortable. But mainly so it looks right.

Playing the guitar means forming a band with your mates and having your own thing, and it means struggle, on your own with sore fingers for two weeks, or with your band in little pubs, clubs and vans around the country until something happens or you give up. Playing the guitar means meeting new people and making new friends, it means staying up late, and showing off, and it means being able to express yourself, often at very high volume. Playing the guitar means fixating on a particular model or make you dream about getting but can’t afford. It means dressing up, and impressing some girls and impressing some boys. It means having a laugh, or disagreements over bits of songs or the direction of the group or the cover of the record, and it means feeling so happy about a riff or a song that you want the world to hear it that minute.

Playing the guitar means never being alone with nothing to do. It means strumming for fun, or going further and further into amazing territory and a lifetime of discovery and discipline, or just taking up a hobby that gives you a bit pleasure and a sense of achievement. Playing the guitar means everything. Know what I mean?

Well that pretty much sums it all up, doesn’t it?  This would have been great coming from anyone, but all the more poignant coming from Johnny himself.  By the way, it turns out that starting a few shows after the one I saw with Orlando a few weeks back, Johnny’s been playing on “Fall On Me” with R.E.M.  You can see it on his site.  Very sorry to have missed that.

K.I.T. Have a cool summer!

16 June 2008

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:  sore

Fuckin’ balls.  Well it looks like the summer solstice is coming up this week.  It seems like the days were just getting longer, and already they’re going to start getting shorter again.  Oh well, the summer’s not nearly over.  There’s still plenty of time for Ocean Beach bonfires and Great America.  Assuming we can get our asses in gear and actually follow through on plans.

The last week’s been pretty uneventful (and yet I’m going to bore you with it anyway!).  I had a nice dinner with Jen in North Beach, and made it over to Cafe Divine to catch Craig Ventresco again.  I’m telling you, that guy is amazing, and the food and wine at this place is great too.  I highly recommend stopping in there sometime.  I caught the very creepy new release “The Happening” with Jamie the other night. Not quite what I expected, and left me with some disturbing images to carry around with me for a while.  I did manage to get up in time for a 9am breakfast on the beach with one of my favorite old co-workers on Saturday morning.  In the consulting world, I dealt with an ever-changing cast, so it’s always nice to see a familiar face from the past, particularly since I keep in touch with so few of them.  And he’s such a hoot… you may remember him as my partner in crime when I was stuck in Denver a couple years back.  Good times.

This is a guy does not own a car, but just bought a full 9-foot Steinway D Concert Grand piano.  That’s roughly a $140,000 instrument.  How can you not admire the balls that takes?  And to my (limited) knowledge, this is not a frivolous purchase he could make without flinching.  I hope that if and when I am ever in a position to make an investment of that magnitude, I can summon that kind of creativity and chutzpah.

Last night, I randomly came across this cat site, which in itself is not all that funny, but it led me both to the phenomenon called “LOLCats” as well as to this image.  Which will mean nothing to some of you, but will strike a chord with males roughly my age.  Magnificent!

Speaking of random sites, you know I still get email to my old site.  With a very few exceptions, I haven’t updated it for years.  But once in a while, I’ll go through it just for old time’s sake and God damn, I forgot how clever I used to be.  There’s some funny stuff out there, and apparently I used to be halfway decent at Flash and Photoshop.  I’m afraid those days are gone.  But it’s nice to look back on what I was capable of once upon a time.  Before I got old.

And speaking of old, we are less than two weeks away from my first annual 29th birthday.  Egads!

Last week, another Smiths tribute called “Los Esmiths” was in town from Calexico.  They opened up for Japanese Baby here in SF, and I went to check them out, along with Sus, Shel, and Deanna.  Ran into a few other locals including Bunnyman and Cary.  Los Esmiths did a good job, and it was interesting to see their take on some of that stuff.  Nice guys, too.  Singer probably has the best Moz hair of any tribute operating today.

The quote of the week comes from Dylan Bunnyman that very night, with this unsolicited and to-the-point comment on the between-bands DJ.  One of my favorite criticisms, maybe ever:

“Whoever’s picking these songs must really hate music.”

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