Monday, June 29, 2009

Sky-scraping afro in the bloom of youth.
Everything that could be said about Michael Jackson's death has to have been said already. Of the very few eulogies I read, my favorites were Rob Havrilla's and Maria T's (be sure to check out that Detention song, as well), because they spoke the truth while saying two completely different things. People loved MJ's music and people thought he was a fucking weirdo, and most people thought both at the same time. I don't know if that's complicated or very uncomplicated. His music was so good and he made people so happy, and his personal life was so unorthodox and made people so uneasy, and the feelings at both end were so extreme and couldn't cancel each other out, and I think it gradually just wore everyone down, maybe MJ included. That's speculation, though, and there's nothing grosser than speculating about someone immediately after their death.

My MJ shit is this: The first album I ever bought with my own money was Bad, on cassette. I was in 2nd grade and I watched TV all the time and taped songs of the radio. I would lay down on my bed and listen to "Dirty Diana" on my walkman, really not understanding what it was about. There was a girl named Diana who wasn't nice? I had no idea what any songs were about at that age. I just liked stuff. The year before it was Los Lobos' cover of "La Bamba". A year later I would ask for a copy of Appetite For Destruction for my birthday. As time went on, I was neither a Jackson loyalist nor did I have any serious problem with him. I didn't end up like Corey Feldman, as this awkward guy who likes MJ way too much and makes Rock and Roll High School Forever. And I didn't end up like this dipshit, who made a 7-part documentary that hinges on something a 12-year-old would make up as a joke and questions that start with "I axe you". I watched the making of the "Thriller" video and thought it was kind of interesting, but also kind of long, and honestly I liked the "Billie Jean" video better. I laughed when, in 4th grade, some kid said "I pledge allegiance to the flag that Michael Jackson is a fag".

Years later, my uncle gave me all his old records, squeezed into two old Ernest and Julio Gallo boxes, and I was psyched to find copies of Off The Wall and Thriller. I put "Rock With You" on a mixtape for my friend Melinda because she liked it so much, and I realized I liked it, too. I saw part of some terrible biopic about him, and this scene where he's in a hospital bed and Lisa Marie Presley is there and she tells him something like, "This isn't going to work..." and then she walks out of the room. From that point on I just felt bad for him. Things were never going to work out the way they should. He was doomed and I knew it.

When I found out he died, I thought of two songs. One was a demo version of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" from the special edition version of Off The Wall. It's Michael, Randy, and Janet, sounding like they're goofing around in a furnished, wood-paneled basement. Someone's clanging on bottles and there's a false start and they all crack up. It's fun and ideal, even as a kind of rough draft with a crazy collapse at the end, and without those great string parts. The other song was Beauty Pill's "You, Yes You", from their You Are Right To Be Afraid EP. If you listen to it, it's pretty obvious why. It was written several years before his death, but didn't seem incorrect. As part of a full-on, irony-free love song, it made sense. Who wouldn't understand this? Beauty Pill's strengths were (are?) in their warmth, their dry sense of humor, their willingness to tell it like it is, and their modesty. They were a talented band who were either misunderstood or never got their due (I don't remember reading a single review of You Are Right...), and they wrote a song that will always feel strange now that MJ is gone for real.

The night after MJ's death I saw Jonathan Richman at the Bug Jar. He strode up to the stage and immediately started playing a song called "When We Refuse To Suffer". It was funny and he was doing these dances and spinning his guitar, but it was also kind of heavy. I had watched E! the night before and Arsenio Hall called in and said things about working with MJ that weren't suprising and then signed off by saying something that didn't make sense. On CNN, I watched Gideon Yago talk about MJ being seemingly "on something" when he interviewed him a few years back. MJ's kids don't have a dad anymore and people are just saying whatever, and I guess Neverland will be open to the public at some point, with a Michael Jackson corpse dipped in some kind of preservative plastic and placed in a glass case for people to look at. What if he had just made some cool songs, and when he was feeling weirded out by everything, he just stopped, took some time off, didn't take pills, took care of himself, and relaxed mostly? What if he just kept making demos with his brother and sister? I wouldn't have listened to Beauty Pill over the weekend, I wouldn't have had to listen to guys at work struggle to make a joke out of a mega-star death. It could've been different.

Beauty Pill - "You, Yes You"
Beauty Pill - "You Are Right To Be Afraid"
Beauty Pill - "Copyists"

Whoa, videos to make you feel better: The Choir Quit and Hausu. Can't stop thinking about Grass Widow either! Seriously can't! New geneva13 is out NOW, too, but isn't yet available in the store. I'll keep you posted. What else? I gotta eat dinner now, I'm starving. Sorry if this was long and unnecessary!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I love to hear your sweet voice, but not all the time.
Whoa, some belated things from like a month ago. I should've just blabbed about these right after I killed time driving around Canandaigua lake, while kids straight out of '96 style-wise were looking at the apartment I'm in the middle of leaving. But then I got home and they were gone and I was like, "I'm gonna have a beer." Anyway, first off: Middle America. What's up with them? Is it just me and Tyler listening to them? Or is it me, Tyler, the guy from Home Invasion, Fashionable Idiots, and Pennsylvania dudes? Or is it like a lot more people than that? I have no idea what people listen to. I'm fucking old. I also don't know that many people. If I was at a house show and people started talking about Middle America, I'd be like "Middle America! NICE!" and then I'd probably just stand there. There's not much more to say about Husker rage and spooky cover art that doesn't tell you anything. Doesn't it look like it's from a weird PBS art special? Or a museum you went to as a kid that shows up in your dreams every once in a while? Listen to the singer's voice and the guitars overheating and picture the one band in town that's slaying all the others.

Middle America - "Anxiety"
Middle America - "Scraped/Paranoia"

And then Los Mockers! I heard this at my friends Kelley and Kyle's house sometime last year, right before we went to Tap & Mallet and drank what we called "black metal beer" but was actually a beer called Wizard's Winter (I think?). Actually, Kyle wrote about this record on his blog and hit a lot of nails on a lot of heads. He somehow works in Daniel Desario. Actually, if you look at the comment section under his post, you'll see the same story I just told you. Whoops. This record is so good, though. Look at them on that cover, they look like Menudo! But they sound like the Stones! And they were from Uruguay from just the right era and the singer's accent is great. Wait, watch them here. Jesus Christ! I listen to Little Steven's Underground Garage all the time and I've never once heard Los Mockers (or Milk n' Cookies, or the Make Up, or Pussy Galore, or...). What the fuck? Enough with The Oholics already. Original Recordings is like 17 straight hits and it's widely available, so they have no excuse. Here are three songs that are as good as anything anywhere:

Los Mockers - "Every Night"
Los Mockers - "All The Time"
Los Mockers - "Sad"

I looked at the Wooooo page today and started reading all that Franklin group/Bohemian Grove shit. Yikes. I didn't know anything about either of those things but I had this idea for a movie a while ago that would've basically been that whole story, only it would've been set in England and it wouldn't have made any sense. Wwwweeeeiiirrdd. Aren't politicians gross? Isn't Joe Scarborough gross? I don't know if I mentioned The Hairy Posse's take on "New Song" before, but here it is. Oh and Esther Phillips doing "Home Is Where The Hatred Is". The mix I got with my first ever Teenage Teardrops order is in heavy rotation. So is that Vaselines thing that just came out. I'll talk more about that later maybe. No new posts for at least the next week (I'm moving and having cable/internet stopped and restarted again). My only means of communication will be my phone and old fashioned letters. It's a good feeling.