11.18.2010

Girl Unit's "Wut" Questions the Expansion of Dubstep


Don't pretend to be something I'm not. Don't go to clubs and know all that much about the electronic "scene." Beyond the rare Diplo show -- and those who surround him, I'm clueless. Looking over the content on Resident Advisor, I'm usually baffled, but blow away by their critical knowledge and comprehensiveness of the electronic music worldview. Pitchfork for higher level thinking perhaps? I do however, hole myself up and enjoy a lot of what I'm hearing in this sphere. Particularly dubstep, I'll even act like I do know something about that. Though I don't. It's splintered in so many directions and strains now, it seems impossible to stay afloat. Night Slugs is a label I adore. Everything that's come from that imprint has been in a steady rotation all year long. But is it dubstep? I hear it called UK Funky, but have no idea what that might be? I'll play completely stupid with Girl Unit, who's what is as incredibly dub, purple, and maximalist as I've heard this sound. Back in the half-decade, there was this thing called Space Disco -- this alienates the disco, goes deep space, and hovers over the dancefloor with chipmunk pop melodies.



Then again, it is one step away from Utah Saints.

Blog About Blog -- Pizza Slayer and the Pop Jew


I was very excited the other day when I discovered that the most reliable source for news and reviews on Columbus, Ohio pizza culture, had been renewed for a new season of hijinks. Those of you living here -- who have not explored the trials and tribs of the Pizza Slayer crew -- are missing out on this important sociological experiment. Believe me, our city may not be known for our pizza, but we have consistent quality all over town and there is a fierce debate on what's the best. This argument is constantly challenged in the pages of Pizza Slayer. Kind of wishing they branch off their expertise to bars and bistros, a hot dog flame war, or an investigative report on local food carts -- but there's surprisingly enough pizza to go around. Because of them I'm now a fan of the unassuming Northland gem, Terita's. Glad they called out the gladhanding of the Yellow Brick. Ugh.


Another bloggeratti I've been reading for some time, is now on a sociological experiment of a completely different ilk. Rachel Coleman, the author of the delightful Pop Jew in Brooklyn, is currently on the Pop Jew Bus Tour. Huffing it Greyhound style to cities on the mythical dive-bar trail - Detroit, Madison, Chicago, Minneapolis and beyond cross-country -- and reporting her findings of good record stores and better after-hours. She made her first stop in Columbus to witness the Skylab Lock-In (where the bands didn't start till 12 and ended at sunrise I suppose) with Unholy 2, Puffy Areolas (abbreviated), the Cheater Slicks (epic set), Funerals (out of place, but intriguingly dance-able and strange), Fey Gods (underrated electric-scum-rock kings), and Jewell/Burleson (whom I missed). She seems very mobile and complete in her brief visits -- something everyone at one-time or another dreams of doing, but doesn't. Cross-country wanderlust, coupled with PBR tallboys and gnarly music. A good read.

"Open Your Heart" Just Because

I always wanted to be the kid in this video. A Top Ten '80s pulse. Peter Rafelson, who wrote this, also wrote the previously mentioned Jane Wiedlin hit, "Rush Hour." So it all makes sense.

This is just because....the time is right.....entering the holiday corridor.

11.10.2010

Is Willow Smith the Pre-Tween Rihanna?


Hard to believe I'm just about to vouch for the progeny of William Smith. For a moment, let's survey the career of William Smith. Of course, if I consider myself "old school," which I do (test me), at 12, He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper was a watershed. Though I knew it was comical rap, commercial rap, not nearly as lethal as LL or Kool Moe Dee, it was enjoyable to see "Parents Just Don't Understand" in the ubiquitous spotlight it took hold of. But really, that honeymoon was short-lived. "Summertime" may have been the twilight of the Fresh Prince's career. I'll admit to watching the sitcom -- it was mindless and starred the "rapper." But I think it was Six Degrees of Seperation (I'll give him some acting chops) where his ego may have taken control //// and see Ice Cube //// and his musical endeavors laid bare for all to see. A joke.

Big Willy beget Jayden. Now the Karate Kid and destined for some stroke of stardom. I guess his wife then beget Willow. Yes. Too young for the stage. For the Miley Cyrus cycle. Still "Whip My Hair" is respectable teen pop, and packed with enough beat and pizazz to consider, that if her handlers stay this cutting-edge (yes, a Willow Smith song is cutting-edge) she could become the next Rihanna -- in 10 years. Which, to me, is saying something. "Whip My Hair" is mindless, like her father, sort of confusing, sort of head banging for urban radio, sort of bigger than "Umbrella" at the moment. Just sweet enough though that it's veering closer to Disney Radio than the Top 40 (though as of press time, it's #11 on the charts). Who knows? It's a bit too catchy to actually admit to loving.


Autumnal Beer Review


Working behind a bar for years, and in an actual brewery, I get the jib from a lot of beer "geeks." More than beer "geeks," I get "hop-heads" these days. So much so I suppose I could call myself one, developing a taste of well-hopped beers -- IPAs and the like. But I'm not a beer "geek." Even though I'm supposed to talk like one. Those guys are like the overzealous weed rah-rahs, who partake in the "culture" of weed and all the tacky accoutrement that comes with it, but maybe even worse -- I'll take a coaster, visit a favorite brewery, but never worry about ABVs or whatevah the fuck. I'm fairly partial to the beer made about 50 feet behind me. Believe in Columbus Brewing Company's IPA -- a stiff competitor against DogfishHead 60 Minute. Of course I'm talking like one. So this won't be a lesson, or a take on notes or aromas, just a list -- since Autumn is the time of year the best beers seem to arrive.

Above is DogfishHead Bitch's Brew -- is this supposed to taste like Miles Davis? I'm not usually into stouts, but here you have a Porter brewed with honey and gesho root. Very intriguing.

Something I've never known about before are Fresh Hopped IPAs. The hometown brewery, Columbus Brewing Company used week old hops to develop Super Fresh H-O-P (now completely unavailable). Much like their IPA, yet mellower. I could probably drink this forever if I had too. I need something not as potent as the originator.

Another bottled brewery favorite has been Lakewood, New York's Southern Tier. They too have made a Harvest Ale, using fresh hops. This is a close second to the CBC, yet hard to find now. Alas.

Any of the Southern Tier catalog is well worth your monies. I'm not partial to Pumpkin Ales, but their Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale is a worthy beer. Not a cookie. Then along comes their 2XIPA. I think they want to rob me from Dogfish.

What I can recommend is below. Left Hand Twin Sister IPA tried a bit too hard. Never judge a beer by it's (name and) cover. Told 'ya I'm not a beer "geek."

11.09.2010

I Saw Guided By Voices


I've seen Guided By Voices countless times, in countless settings, composed of countless members filling roles. But this was classic. The "band" that made the magic. That I'd seen in supper clubs, arenas, public parks, places as intimate as Canal St. Tavern and a post-office in Tipp City, OH, USA. This night, in 2010, in October, in Columbus, was not an ideal location -- but that is another sub-story, for another time. It couldn't dampen the atmosphere or the songs or the sense of community in the room (people I haven't seen in a decade). Of Bob Pollard's million-strong songbook, he's a master at whittling down a Top 30, a spotless laundry list from that classic era. This would be a setlist most bands from the "era" would kill for on the reunion circuit. Superchunk/Sonic Youth/not even Pavement could match what was heard on this Saturday night. This was a time capsule -- one that I'm content to unearth as frequently as they'd like...and Pollard can keep writing. I've been saying he's in another renaissance and hopefully in his '50s, a renaissance proportional to this classic line-up. I could go into Mitch and Toby (amazing medley there) and Demos and Fennell, but that would only repeat a sentiment I've extolled for years. This was the band.

Thanks again to Mike Sperry - the pro who caught this on tape for all to have. Download the whole show here.

Infinite Rewards of Dungen


It began to feel like Gustav Ejstes was just going through the motions. The same way those Caravan and Family (and eventually the Groundhogs) albums get progressively more predictable (i.e. worse) as they '70s went dimmer. It's probably because I just wasn't listening soft enough, I wanted skree and fuzz, endless solos and Polaroid resin. Skit I Allt has everything, including the progression, on one platter, and I'm disappointed in myself to cast it off at first listen, as just another Dungen album. With Reine Fiske weaving a heavy load of masterful guitar work, the more Ejstes furthers his compositions towards jazz fusion, the more implicitly psych his songs become.

"Ballor" is a particularly potent nugget. Fresh as morning dew from a fjord, the addition of Anna Jarvinen gives it a Curved Air mystique, a driving piece worthy of "Back Street Luv." There are elements of Soft Machine and Bitche's Brew all over the place. And it's "Soda" that proves they don't have to be "heavy" to be "heavy," as the vibes are sonic "heavy," vintage smoke and wine "heavy." As piano has gained a prominence, the virtuoso riffing comes on all fronts. Ejstes is still repping hip-hop and Aphex Twin, but I hear none of that. This is reel to reel free jam. That's especially true of "Hogdallstoppen," a rightly organic epic face-melter -- which edits in and out of mushroom clouds, flying laughs, and seismic choogle. This is the fantasy marriage of George Martin and Randy Holden.

Droop-E is a Piece of My Heart (Diamond Love)


Beyond the nostalgia/kitsch acquired in a mixtape full of '80s plastic-pop, there's no better way to connect with that nostalgia than through the blatant sampling of hip-hop. Think about the nostalgic burst in Bone Thugz using Phil Collins "Take Me Home" -- Phil's not exactly welcome at any moment, but in the context of a thuggish ruggish introspection, it's perfect, goosebump inducing. Perhaps why I enjoy Droop-E's Black Diamond Life so much, it that there's nothing as obvious as what Droop-E has crafted in this slender eight song mini-album -- made of exclusively Sade samples. When sampling a resource as liberally as Droop-E, it's close to a concept. Songs like "Cherish the Bay" and "Hungry" imagine a Bay Area street-life, taking a night off on the yacht, cruising champagne and blunts, sultry sax and relaxed bongos -- "Smooth Operator" wafting in the background.

While I can't say I've heard much of Droop-E besides Black Diamond Life (which you can download for free here), he's been around the block. As the son of E-40, hence the guest spot, he's appeared on various mixtapes and many of his father's cuts. It's very calculated and very wordquick, extremely similar to Curre$y (talked about previously) -- laconic and mellow. A welcomed foil to samples so blatant and so obvious. Hip-hop producers should do this more often, but for now, Sade is off the table. May I suggest -- The System?

10.21.2010

2010 Season of Wither Mix


Yes. An Aerosmith song (perhaps the only thing besides It's a Shame About Ray and Ed O.G. and the Bulldogs I like from the city). Could not believe I hadn't heard "Season of Wither" before this seasonal shift, but it fits here. A epic '70s slow-burn, classic in every inch, moody and searing all the same (kinda like Autumn in Ohio). The rest of this culls from that mood - empty John Hughes hallways, roller-rinks in October (they always factor in), another Twin Sister song (cause they exemplify the Fleetwood Mac/Bjork hybrid of my dreams), pure lush and earth-tone warmth. There are a few on here that deserve explanation. International Feel is the closest I've heard of Agitation Free -- and they are native to Punta Del Este, Uruguay (a place to fall in love). There's Winwood and Collins cause my walkmen would've liked this on a paper route -- during the season. And Games? "Strawberry Skies" could be a contender for song of the year.

Please Enjoy. Make sure to download, lay to compact disc, and jam the fall foliage with this one. The Double River Rainbow Mix is no longer on the cloud. Left-click the link for that one. I promise I'll make a page where all of these can reside.

2010 Season of Wither Mix

(Download by right-clicking title and "saving file as.")

Balam Acab – “See Birds (Moon)”
Shannon – “Give Me Tonight”
Roxy Music – “Take a Chance With Me”
Twin Sister – “Meet the Frownies”
Steve Winwood – “Talking Back to the Night (Wumme Edit)”
International Feel – “The Coptic Sun”
Deerhunter – “Helicopter (Diplo and Luncie Mix)”
Games – “Strawberry Skies”
Philip Bailey and Phil Collins – “Easy Lover”
Ariel Pink – “Round and Round (Hood Internet Mix)”
Summer Camp – “Round the Moon”
Aerosmith – “Season of Wither”

(55:30)

(A World of Wumme Production, 2010)

"No Room to Live"


Not sure why, in the back of my mind, I imagine "No Room to Live" as a comeback. There are circumstances that could suggest such, but that can only be attributed to bad handling of their best album (on all fronts). And, on the blip-a-minute indie-ticker, a song as achieved as "No Room to Live" flies on by in a blink. Right now it just took its maiden voyage playing to fans awaiting Guided By Voices. How appropriate. While one classic takes a final bow, another awakens and arises. Though the kids have never really encountered a slump yet -- all work, all the time, even in smoking cigarettes. Work. This seven-inch, taken on that tour, was unsuspecting, a surprise to any GBV die-hards that may have bought it, and a boon to the kids who came just to see the kids (never lived through the "classic" line-up).

The single is wildly indifferent, but the melody is the most hopeful they've ever written. A white flag with a flower bomb in the back pocket. "No Room to Live" is the closest they've come to the Velvets-Pavement-Clean axis that is usually the unusual way they're usually defined -- that romantic nihilism defined really. You can hear feedback and fuzz sitting back on the bench, arms crossed. The once obfuscated crest of the trio is instead magnified and mellowed here.

"No Interest In Oil Spilling..." is a refrain in this defeated couple's clash, in between yawns of euphoria. If anything the single is a call to attention for those without the retroactive sense to return to Born Again Revisited before moving forward. It will all make sense. Here' to the sweet side.

The b-side, "Nite and Day" comes cut from the quilt of that studio expanse that will inform the upcoming album. The song's a quick punch of typewriter teeter-punk that fizzled enough in the end to be left off, but serves as the perfect foil to "No Room to Live." Evolved art, bristling in nervous energy when they choose to rattle off some thrash. Prepare for this album kids.

10.09.2010

I Saw Best Coast (and Strapping Fieldhands)


Re-examining Crazy For You (perfect title, btw), my foot went directly in mouth. After seeing Bethany Cosentino and Best Coast live, a band crush developed -- foot has been yanked through skull and out the back of my head. It was likely a journalistic grudge that kept me from being smitten. There were weeks spent tracking down America's latest sweetheart too busy for an interview. Her songs are instant hummers, almost too simplistic to commend. Her story -- from mediocre noise troupe to Spector-spit Girl-Group pop, too easy to shoot holes through. So, an interview with America's latest Cali stoner tart would be comprised of questions about week and the Ronettes (or even baser, the Viv' Girls). Mind numbing gnawing you wouldn't want to read for the nth time.

An impromptu "interview" with Cosentino backstage at her recent Columbus show revealed an evolution I didn't expect. She's well aware of the simplicity of it all, how a set is composed in five minutes shuffling around the same 13 songs in a more pleasing manner than the last. I suggested "Bratty B" to lead things off. It's easily Cosentino's most simple ditty, the catchiest thing you don't want to catch yourself singing. It might result in an endless string of rhymes, over and over in your head the day long -- the sign of a wonderful piece of songwriting. Done before? A million times. But having kids in dorm rooms cop your stuff as bohemian acoustic fodder is another level these days.




Who wants to gamble, this song will end up on American Idol this year?



Best Coast's focus, or blurred vision of the classics, is a flawless design. She shimmies and smiles in time with the songs -- her co-writer, Bobb Bruno giving mammoth riff behind her light strumming -- and Ali K. (formerly of the Viv' Girls) plays the role of minimal, shamble-pop drummer to perfection (an indie mercenary/franchise kicker). It's evolution from two years ago -- and you either prefer both (the raucous and wild/the sparkle and sway) or sit cross-armed on one side of the fence. The amount of stranger sweat I was doused in gave me pause to think most kids prefer the sparkle and sway. I enjoy either if it's done right. She's right by me.



Unfortunately the hoopla got in the way of enjoying the revived Strapping Fieldhands. I'm thinking these guys should'a played an early set as well, but the lack of consumption might have dulled them? Stumbling in at their beginning was my end on a school night. I got to see about 10 songs, all pulled from the past, still as obtuse and toppling over with wonderfully antiquated pop. Thanks to the diligent efforts by one Speery, you can relive that entire set RIGHT HERE. They haven't seem to lost a beat, though a vacuum of years have gone by. Witness them doing a personal favorite, "Ben Franklin Airbath" in the year 2010.

10.08.2010

Wearing Miguel Cairo


another sad day in Reds country.

Deep Into the Emerald Universe



Really. Noise has always been noise. A place where you pledge your allegiance to guys/girls/units you've seen in extremely intimate circumstances/in extremely transformative/transcendent conditions, wearing that badge. Here it's a band like Sword Heaven, or a guy like Ryan Jewell. It's evolved. I've forever heard ABOUT Emeralds, but never HEARD ENOUGH of them to truly make even a brief observation. Just noise from a lesser micro-metropolis (in reverse). I suppose that's how Emeralds have evolved, moving from the amorphous "noise" of old into intricate Kraut-excursion, scientifically/technologically modeling their heroes, but going beyond. INC. that "noise" through big sweeps. Well, even the solo stuff has INC. those sweeps. Mark McGuire (not the Card/A 'roider) just made a solo record that eclipses the brilliant neu Emeralds record. Not totally. Just a little thunderstorm under the weight of that mammoth piece of wax. Editions Mego is worth your money. Go Research.

Poolside with Roxy Music (and all of Avalon)


Ended the summer with this. Now it's Indian Summer, and instead of my usual descent into death metal obsessions, I've moved more towards autumnal sophito-pop. Elegant '80s excess (carved in svelte pop songs). Here's to ending the Poolside season with an end of the summer record, an album that plays when it can, poolside at the Country Club pool (thinkin' bout Ivy League, maybe Oxford/Oxfam) and the overhang has about 40% change, causing huge Oak leaves to litter the water. I'm sure if you want this feeling, a John Hughes film (seasonally 16 Candles or Breakfast Club works best) or maybe seeing any prep-school pulp (Never Let Me Go?) will satiate. Bryan Ferry, little did I ever noticed, perpetually this nostalgic aura post-Roxy-weird.

How did I not know about Avalon? I know "More Than This," but always thought it an '80s fluke, a la Godley and Creme's (of 10cc) "Why" -- somewhere among the Roxy Music biography I stopped reading. Perhaps, following ENO (even if I know better/worse). It's never occurred to me that Bryan Ferry was the direct inspiration of the "new romantic" and Avalon was his sincere mock of the whole lot. Avalon may even surpass ABC's Look of Love, except it's glaringly less pompous, not a speck of glitter in sight. Ferry commands it all with a superhuman cool, aware those that still followed him, Andy McKay/Phil Manzanera, survived thanks to telekinesis. There is a strand of this romanticism, sophisto-pop that may or may not be defined by Avalon. A colleague of mine tends to be the foremost scholar on the subject. Read it. Learn. "Oblivious." Jeez.

But on Avalon the horns aren't fake, Mckay implants a smoky/sultry sax in only the necessary folds. Ferry's synths are supreme, second only to his confident-yet-resigned, dramatic-yet-indifferent, croon. His voice invented Martin Fry, invented Spandau Ballet. "Gold" ? Love it. But it's Bryan Ferry turned up to 11. Correct?

Avalon's secret weapon is Manzanera's exquisite guitar playing. His co-writing credit on "Take a Chance With Me" is comparable to the candy-radio-pop of the era and big bright anthems of the decade before from ELO and Fleetwood Mac. When he's called on for airy, watered-in, or flimsy floss work, he performs in the same light as Ferry, like pro, like he invented the guitars that skitter "Perfect Way" and Go West.

I'm now on a search. Thank god Alfred Soto can school you on Roxy. This is some required listening. If you like saxaphones?

Poolside is closed until Spring. Look for Friday Jams.

I Saw Wooden Shjips


Dear Diary,

I know it's late on a Monday night, but I had to go see Wooden Shjips. I saw Wooden Shjips. I love Wooden Shjips. I often say things when I'm "out of mind" like "The Wooden Shjips are America's best psychedelic band" -- cuz they are, and there aren't many truly psychedelic bands anymore in America. Even fewer purely psychedelic bands in Columbus.

They played in CDR's basement. This was the perfect setting. It sounded amazing. But it should. They record a lot of amazing sounding records down there. I hope they burn me a copy of the show. They were recording it. I hope they make a vinyls of the show. They were recording it.

They also recorded the set by Times New Viking. Beer was a $1 and shots were only $2. Not a lot of "columbus" people were there. I've seen the TNV many o' time and I can't honestly say they've ever sounded better than that night. It's nothing "talking," it's not kool aid.

Pretty sure Matt Horseshit played too. Broken-hand blues, by himself, and it was equally as magical. Though the up-lights were on, and those few people were shufflin' in, so you couldn't really concentrate on what he wuz trying to do by him lonesome. I really loved it. It felt like an amazing night then.

I had to leave early Wooden Shjips. Your light show was boss. I wish they'd hung up blacklight posters (no I'm serious). But no one knew, and Columbus did you lousy (don't worry, they don't understand). Come back, and we'll put it in the same place, with the same people, and they'll probably record it again (but I'd love two live Wooden Shjips albums recorded in Columbus), and if it's the same intimate crowd it will persevere, but if we convince 100 more people to come (cause your the best psychedelic band in America) then it will transcend a happening. That's what this felt like. Achieved the mission. A happening. Just wish a lot more people came under the same spell.

Good night.

Herzog in a CAVE in 3-D


For myself, it's a reflex to call Werner Herzog the greatest living artistic mind. I would even base that solely on his work as a documentarian. Be it the language of auctioneers or a frozen pond in remote Siberia -- if the images are there, Herzog can make the story just as illuminating. It's always a portrait of a world you never knew existed. It was always there, but Herzog who brought it from the background. I can highly recommend every one of these you can obtain.

Who knew that the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc become the subject of Werner Herzog's first 3-D feature? I was practically giddy that Cave of Forgotten Dreams would be his first foray into the medium. For Herzog this seems to make perfect sense. His films are always very abstract pictures, wanting to draw you in to the myth/reality of what you're seeing, rather than spending time validating what you're seeing -- the mark of superior art? Herzog is always a mixed bag when brought up in conversation. You are converted or you aren't. Or you appreciate a handful of things -- Grizzly Man being the most noted. My goodness, Rescue Dawn is a film my parents still confer should have won Oscars when it was released, but I couldn't in good conscience ever tell them to rent My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done -- Herzog's latest flick. While it has the budget, (most of the) cast, and distribution of my favorite of last year, Bad Lieutenant, it moves like an episode of Law and Order hypnotized, much like the actors in Heart of Glass. Like it was made in a weekend. Like I like Herzog, but I'd still not brag about My Son as one of the greats. Still essential if you know the man.

Here's hoping Cave of Forgotten Dreams revolutionizes cinema. School kids will have to see this at Science Centers worldwide -- in 3-D. Teens will get high and watch this at former LazerDomes as Midnight Movies -- when 3-D makes it to those wastelands (do they exist?). You can sit yourself in a once inhabited cave-dwelling, tattooed in ancient diaries of line drawings while on your couch -- once I spring for a 3-D living room experience. In order for 3-D to survive (and I'm a wholehearted rah-rah for 3-D) there will have to be something beyond the gimmick. Movies you'll HAVE to see in 3-D. This should be one of them. All of that said, I fully believe Jackass 3-D will be nothing short of brilliant.


9.26.2010

Chili Quest Vol. 7 - Price Hill Chili


This is perhaps the Quest that took the most courage. Delving through the peaks and valleys of East Price Hill and beyond the Queen Blvd. Parkway. It was actually an amazing cruise through a half-thriving neighborhood and half-American ruins -- magnificent homes, pre-1900s, gone to spoil. I'm imagining places like Cleveland and Cincinnati are only second to Detroit in this display of abandonment?

Once up the actual hill, it was working class, stuck in 1978. There, Price Hill Chili and the adjacent Golden Fleece Lounge (both founded in 1962) looked an neighborhood institution. Both spaces likely overflowing on Friday nights.


We chose to dine in the smaller, "original," parlour. It was your typical counter, some worn booths, a blow-up pic of the Ol' Price Hill incline -- and above all else, it was clean, quick, and friendly (how we like our parlours here). Nothing, besides perhaps Pleasant Ridge, could top the authenticity of this Cincinnati experience. The charm and comfort gives it points on my scorecard. But the chili (where the proof resides) was completely lacking. J. Duane ordered a cup of chili, on the side. This was a strategy I've never exercised and here it fortified my instinct that Price Hill is average. There was really no distinct flavor and the consistency was Skyline style, almost too thin. Still, it wasn't fruitless, as the atmosphere added a bumper of resonance while I'm here thinking back. That stuff counts.


So -- we've got two more quests to go. And since it looks like I'll see at least one playoff game. I'm bound to reach Blue Ash and Empress (where? I don't know? need help here) before we get too deep in autumn.

A Day With Peter Edward Rose Revisited


Regardless of your view of Peter Edward Rose, this hit, 4192, was immortal. Something we will never see again in our lifetime. Something I witnessed at nine years old, when my father had an extra ticket and decided to take his son. I sat with my Uncle Hero, up in the Green Seats in deep centerfield. They always talk about how long the standing ovation lasted (over ten minutes) and I remember it feeling like forever. Even though Riverfront Stadium is long gone, and Pete Rose is shunned from Major League Baseball (gambling had nothing to do with his hits) -- I still regard this as one of the defining moments in my life. It made me love baseball more than most other things. Made it a religion. Devout.


Coincidence and Conspiracy riddle the date. September 11th, 1985. Another shadow that looms over Rose. When I heard MLB was allowing Rose back on a baseball field, to celebrate 25 years later, it was a given that I'd take my father. J. Duane Elliott, for his birthday (September 10th, 2010). He brought me to the games for the last 33 years, so I owed him. I like him much more than Pete. Dad's the real hero.




The anniversary festivities were a bit underwhelming. Pete can walk around an MLB field, but can't speak on one. His taped comments were probably the best part. To hear him advise young players to come clean before the hammer comes down -- it actually humbling. Pete should'a talked way back when. When they would'a just suspended him a season or two, then embrace him back and let him become a legendary manager, with a gamblin' hiccup in his career. Too little, too late, but at least he's telling the Roger Clemens of the game to fess up quick.

Pete circled the Great American Ball Park in a golf cart, stomped on first base, met some old legends (Eric Davis, a childhood favorite), accepted a crystal trophy, and got a few "hall of fame" chants from the surprisingly small crowd (for this event anyways). He'll make it. In his lifetime I hope. In my lifetime I hope. A trip to Cooperstown is necessary. Something I hope my father and I can share -- like this game, like the first game.


Our game? Well, the Reds have been hit or miss as of late, but this night was all about the comeback heroics we've seen all year. Saw the Chapman give up the lead, but pitch a 103 MPH fastball and a 90 MPH slider (thee nasty boy/el muchacho repugnante) and then saw Joey Votto-matic launch an opposite field home run to win the game, break the tie in the bottom of the 10th. On that night, things seemed perfect.

Foodie Cart -- Street Food of the Gods


Go watch Anthony Bourdain's episode titled "Heartland." He came to Columbus -- and made some solid observations. Namely Kihachi (the gourmet Japanese chef's meal/small plate smörgåsbord)and now, Clever Crow Pizza are relatively unknown but essential components in Columbus foodie culture. The mackeral liver at Kihachi is proof enough we have some gems here. Another segment in that episode claims Austin, Texas as the food cart capital of the U.S. Seasonally it is an ideal location for the food cart culture -- and furthering that truth I've sampled many of the carts there in my years. Ground zero for Taco Trucks, Korean Tex-Mex, one dedicated entirely to duck, Kebabalicious, the cupcake place, anything BBQ, and worthwhile NY style slices everywhere. Yeah, we should be jealous of Austin.

But should we? When we now have the Foodie Cart to brag about? The Foodie Cart trumps all in Columbus. Every other cart in this city is relatively worthless in comparison. They shill Japanese Crepes -- though many a Korean recipe slips in regularly. My first visit was heaven. Swordfish with Black Mussel Marinara and Oyako Chicken (which means mother and child, egg and chicken I learned). In future quests the menu revealed many gourmet surprises -- here's just a sampling:

Ancho Chipotle Chili Dog
Dry Curry Ground Beef
The now Legendary Bulgogi Cheesesteak
Miso Pork Belly

Yes. Pork Belly in a sweet, delicate crepe. It works. Bourdain would be proud/dumbfounded that this existed on a High Street sidewalk. I've yet to try the dessert crepes but they boast a pretty mean Banana Cream Crepe and the infamous Azuki Stick (?). Any suggestions are welcome. Plus they scoot around all over town, which adds to the reward of obtaining these goodies. Following them on Facebook to find menus and locations is now a rite of passage.

Update: just had a craving and seeked them out. Had the very popular Bacon Okonomi Yuki (a recipe with fried soba noodles and a egg) and the Azuki Stick -- which is a sweet red bean paste, similar on my tongue to guava, topped with strawberries and fresh mozzarella cheese. Believe.

9.02.2010

I Saw Blue Oyster Cult


Seems like I've had myraid opporunities to see Blue Oyster Cult live over my lifetime. Who knows if I didn't see them in some field circa 1978 and the parents don't remember. It's possible. They've been playing in fields and arenas and stadiums and gymnasiums (and likely a ton of biker bars) since 1968. It's a wonder that in 2010, Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma -- the guitar wizards (twin leads second to only Thin Lizzy) who invented the Cult, still play the lead. And play it with a everlasting fervor. I'm sure it was face-melting during the Tyranny and Mutation tour -- it wasn't here. I'm sure it was fist-pumping "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" in the Summer of 1981, with "Burning for You" on the radio -- waiting outside Hara Arena -- it wasn't here. But they played everything and more, with utmost precision and clarity (a few steps slower maybe, not during "Buck's Boogie"). "Hot Rails to Hell," "The Red and the Black," the hits. Funny it felt like at this, the Obetz Zuchinni Festival, next to a dirt-weed race-track, grease carts and life-threatening midway rides, out on the ball diamond, these legends could get a response with instrumental songs with eight minute solos. In Obetz, and I suppose most of middle America -- "Godzilla" appears to be the biggest hit (though "Burnin" reached 4 on the charts), lots of Godzilla cut-outs for $2 at Wal-Mart in the new millenium and no "time to play b-sides." I truly appreciate their penchant to channel the old version of this band, but honestly, now, even with families around, airbourne cold sores, meth heads in sweat pants, and heavy cops, the band doesn't look or sound that far removed from that past. Burn out the day, burn out the night.

Chili Quest Vol. 6 - Cincinnati Recipe Chili (At Home)


I spied this number in my favorite local Italian Butcher Shop (Carfagna's cross the street). I've seen this generic "Cincinnati Recipe" Chili in cans, but never a pre-mix you can make yourself. The recipe called for average ground beef, I decided on 98% Lean ground beef. It made all the difference. Using more beef than the usual parlor, the consistency was that of Gold Star (not soupy) but the taste was actually the most flavorful I've had yet (close to the scale of Pleasant Ridge). The second re-heat I added Sriracha to the mixture and the balance was set perfectly. At the grocery I usually grab Ball Park Franks/Nickle's Buns/Store Grated Cheese. Oyster Crackers. This time I made a 3-Way over spaghetti. Something I haven't tried yet. Excellent. We were in Cincy Chili heaven for three days.

So unless you can recommend anything else and/or Empress apologizes for my dismay -- I'm capping the competition once I hit Price Hill and Blue Ash. Is there an Empress downtown (or some storied parlor that isn't exactly considered a parlor -- i.e. a saloon that serves chili)? I need your info. The quest is everlasting.

Will Ice Cube Ever Get His Groove Back?



There was a time when Oshay Jacskson aka Ice Cube, could do no wrong. Nothing. He was untouchable, almost a surrogate role model to white surburban kids who felt as if they were hearing a new language. His flow was never really a flow, it was more an attack of pre-meditated couplets/punches. It was the cadence of a news report. Riots before the riots. Is there a slipping point? I don't remember enjoying Predator that much -- buying War and Peace I and II and realizing Cube has become more stunted in his style. It was no imagination, just imagined hardcore. His connection to the West Coast was hardwired to Hollywood eventually. Before we know it -- Are We There Yet? : The Musical. Still, as much as Ice Cube and Ice-T produce questionable musical fodder in their later years, it's hard no to root for them to one day reign again. Not sure if it's their legacy or their entirely genuine personalities?

Soon you'll be seeing Mr. Jackson's comeback in motion. Surely all the usual suspects are there -- perhaps a Snoop track, WC (most underrated of the gangster era), a fairytale, a song about "jacking" I hope -- but can we believe? Can we call Ice Cube hard after he's headlined a Gathering of the Juggalos and appeared clowning for the camera in a sitcom byline during an NBA game? His documentary on the Raiders started great, but eventually jawned about how linked the team was to N.W.A. ("cause Al Davis/never paid us"). Surely the day N.W.A. is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they'll smile in unison, say a prayer for Eazy and watch a lesser group (Bone Thugz) assassinate their greatest hits. This day is coming soon.

For now. Cube sounds angry enough in "Drink the Kool-Aid" and "I Rep That West," so much "the West is going to tell (him) it's too West." But it's like the man has had a stroke that debilitated his ability to retain his witty/cutthroat beginning. That said, it's effective. "Rep" sparkles in bubbling synths and fake strings, while "Kool Aid" is a mesh of Public Enemy's furious alarm with old-school beat and rudimentary rhyme (still stunted). Both singles do hint at better things, a rise in rap stock, a revival. Let's hope he let loose a bit more on the deep cuts.

Stalking Miguel Cairo


Thanks to our correspondent in Los Angeles -- with access to Dodger's Stadium -- Jordan Lee secured a meeting with our favorite Red, Miguel Cairo. In this picture he is wholeheartedly endorsing the tubmlr Miguel Cairo is Greater Than..., by giving us a real life "greater than." Now the site has been keeping up with Miguel's crusade to help the Reds secure an 8 game lead in the Central Division. Tonight Miguel > Todd Coffey, a very ugly human being who used to foul up the Red's bullpen, by hitting a double that scored the tying run against the Brew Crew last night. Random thought (Adam says the Brewer's players look like Brewer's players -- the Brewers are actually alright by me).

Random video of Miguel giving an interview in Spanish.

Jimmy VanBeeber Come Back to the Five and Dime


It was likely a basement party in Dayton (nitrous and blacklight, towels used as room dividers)-- one day way back in the early '90s -- that I first learned about James VanBebber. He was to film making in Dayton, what GBV was to timeless home-recorded indie pop anthems, 'cept not many knew about him even then. Every frame of VanBebber's work oozes with the gritty blue-collar/parking lot hesher romanticism seen in the city's seedier neighborhoods, or maybe even right downtown. And let's not forget the graveyards. Especially in his first feature, Deadbeat at Dawn, the ominous Woodland Cemetery (a hilly getaway for rowdy teens) serves as many a location. In the streets it's easy to spot the half-boarded porn marts and empty warehouse that still litter the hub of the Miami Valley (and seem to get worse). Driving past the Moraine Plant now is as eerie as it gets. But maybe there really is no romanticism in it? VanBebber's initial gang war is filled with abstract moments of nunchuck handiwork and very choreographed martial art brawls. Even when you laugh though, it's followed by displays that are all to real (and in the case of the short film Roadkill: The Last Days of John Martin, too much to stomach). I'm amazed that you can view his '90s love letter My Sweet Satan (a real life story of Satanist teenagers in upstate New York) in complete on YouTube (warning, the end is more frightening than you might be able to handle).

This is only to serve as an introduction to VanBebber. I've yet to investigate the decade-in-the-making Mason Family movie, and can't find any of his other short films. He won't give (me) an interview, and appears to be in hiding while he whittles away at a low-budget, decade-in-the-making biopic on Al Capone. I will proceed despite my stomach. This is a purity that's tough to handle, even to the point where I can side with VanBebber when he claims the Grindhouse revival is shit, nowhere near the rough cuts of Deadbeat. His stuff is a 42nd Street orgy of gratuitous violence and damned behavior. In Portuguese he'd be called the Maldita.

Come back VanBebber, Dayton needs another ode on celluloid. Further discussions later.


They're Right -- Curren$y is Worth Your Time


I imagine the keystroke for a dollar bill is as regular in the e-mails of guys like Curren$y as they currently are for nightbus bands using triangles, hearts, and clovers in their unspeakable names or sleazy pop stars confusing kids in lingua sexting. Blind to the fact that Curren$y even exists, or for that matter, put in time as Master P and Lil' Wayne's swamp boy -- it was there trees became a way of life. I'd be dumb to try and explain any other recent histories of the rapper, or fabled mixtapes, or collaborations/catalog appearances, but it does seem the man was too looped to be a real Def Jammer. He's on the subsidiary, where the strange ones go now. That may bode well. Absent from most hip-hop these days, above or below ground, Curren$sy rhymes with a new, albeit perpetually blunted (make that "jointed" as he doesn't do White Owls), flow. Pilot Talk is an accomplished hip-hop album due to it's crispness. Stoned immaculate and mumbled flows stay buyout among creamy samples. Somewhere on the axis of Steely Dan -- New Kingdom -- Native Tongues his template is impressive, nostalgic, but kinda' like the first time you heard Sensational. Remember?

In a year when I'm increasingly listening to actual "albums" and "eps" by hip-hop artists, and not just singles (Big Boi, Drake, Freddie Gibbs, Pill) it's a feat to be the favorite. Pilot Talk will settle nicely into fall and likely right onto a year end list.


8.12.2010

Chili Quest Vol. 5 - Pleasant Ridge


...even the champ has been here. what was once a simple Cincy community, now gentrified and immaculate by most Cincy standards. I wasn't the least "worried" driving the length of Montgomery. I was actually enlightened.



...this is a diner -- first and foremost -- it could sit on a calm lake, four blocks into walnut -- what would that be? crawford or canal -- a river, perhaps, there's a river not that far from here. admire the booths, the awnings on those booths, the pictures of Cincy you wished you had in Dayton or Columbus or Cleveland for fuckssakes...



...goodness these were good. two, as always. presented as such, as always. except the chili, a recipe the waitress couldn't reveal/"fuck with," was on another level. it could've been synthetic, i got the taco bell burps in the 7th inning. but there was an unnamed spice among the usual Cincy chili vapors. upon initial contact it was magical. trumping camp. wash. by millions in a blink.



this was all-world Cincy chili. made for the taste. the lasting. emblematic of the city. Since 1964 Pleasant Ridge has sustained a neighborhood with a staple. my city needs more staples. i'll be back. Price Hill awaits a challenge.



Guess I shoul'da had the cheese fries too.

Churrasco!


This was my "weekend" on Facebook. Showing the world of "friends" what they were missing. Namely, a "real" Brasilian Churrasco. The way I remember it on the tiny street in Rio, at the guy's driveway, with the stone grill, feeding us beer and "soap operas." Believe me, I've tried this many times -- ever since my first churrasco in Uruguay -- and it has never ended in such a feast. Though the fancy steakhouse version of churrasco in Brasil is often a pale specter of that glutton in America.

I owe most of my successful night to my Pittsburgh friend, Thiago (a true man of Brasil). He handled the knife, I worked on my "tony bourdain"-ish, wanderlust, marinades.

I'm going to try to re-create here for your use -- can easily be acheived on a small 12" gas grill, in a-la-carte, more than you can eat, firing sessions. Keep in mind we did not have/could not find blood sausage, chicken hearts, or farofa/farina. But those nights in Rio, we didn't have any of the above. (If you can recommend a butcher that still sells hearts, please let me know).

Wood Skewers (they come in packs that contain more than enough, these are kabobs essentially so you'll need to soak the skewers in water most of the day to prevent burning)

We used:

6 Lbs. of Top Sirloion (cut into one inch cubes)
2 Lbs. of Large Rock Shrimp (veined and skewered)
Old Bay Seasoning (all the shrimp needs)
3 Lbs. of Chicken Breast (cut into one inch cubes)
Vinegar Brasil (soaked with rose, rosemary, chamomile -- for the steak)
Orange Juice (the 50% less sugar kind, for the chicken)
Sweet Tangy BBQ Marinade (housemade by Weiland's, for the chicken)
Fresh Lime (a pre-spritz for the shrimp and steak)

(Kabob Additions)
Two White Onions
Two Green Bell Peppers
Four Hothouse Tomatoes
Two Zucchini

The caveat of a true churrasco is the salt. What you coat it with right before the fire. I'm fortunate enough to have a half-cup of the finest churrasco salt containing -- rock sea salt, calbrese (sausage seasoning), dried garlic, white pepper, and other secret spices -- to rain on the mountain of meat we'd created.

In Rio it's all about sticks. How many you've had? Which were the best? By the end of the parade of meat is comparable to finishing the best filet you've ever consumed. The best seafood meal in your life. It's actually kind of more than that. A communal happening. The social aspect makes all taste extravagant. Or there's nothing like minimal meat?

I've always made a variation -- Spicy Meat -- which marinates steak stick in Green Tabasco, cayenne pepper, Sriracha, and fresh jalapenos. It always works.

The Ohio Express at the Ohio State Fair


While waiting for DEVO at the Ohio State Fair -- thereby breaking a long-standing family tradition of experiencing the OSF in all it's endless glory, the schedule just wasn't all that this year, you didn't miss any mind-blowing foodstuffs this year Jeff -- we meandered on over to the "side-stage" usually reserved for lion tamer shows and half-hours with comedian hypnotists (no, for reals). This year, the Ohio Express claimed the 6:30 slot. Much more intriguing than Ra Ra Riot. Who knows how many of the 8 days of the Fair the Ohio Express played this stage, but when we rolled up, we were shocked by the comfortable nostalgia of a Steely Dan number. No connections were made intitially.

The crowed was a total of 23 or so -- all scattered about in 1945 fold-up chairs, ratty and scratched. You can smoke at the Fair still (I Was) -- but this was depressing, Grapes of Wrath, non-ironic trucker hat, smoking. Scattered about. Once the Ohio Express started explaining themselves -- as the 2003 - Present touring version of the mythic pre-fab "real" Ohio Express -- and played a "neu" song, the crowd dispersed like a Keno (Bingo) bust.

See, this guy, in the front, was the drummer of the original "fakes" that toured the country as the Ohio Express. They never actually "wrote" Ohio Express nuggets, like "Yummy Yummy Yummy" or "Chewy Chewy" (below), but they acted like it. And in 2003 when they "re-united" the original "fakes," it stood. They can play "bubblegum" with the best of them. And apparently, in Germany, they are huge, writing new material, and lip-synching songs made 50 years ago. It was intriguing when everything came together and you can imagine the legend of the Ohio Express and all of the resonance it has actually had -- Simpson Reference Trumps All.



(P.S. The Ohio Express had one more hit in 1970 -- played by what would become 10cc. Buy all 10cc records you can find.)

8.04.2010

Miguel Cairo is Greater Than...


I was going to sit around all day and contemplate five things the Reds need to do to assure a playoff spot this year. Dad's convinced Joey Votto needs to move of LF, I'm convinced anyone you bring up from Louisville is going to fill their role (i.e. Zack Cozart please?), Adam convinced Dickerson deserves to be an everyday center fielder. Everyone has an opinion -- so it's not my way to sit here and tell Dusty and King Walt what they get paid to do. Since Reds Fest in December, Jocketty has been brilliant in putting an entertaining winner on the field. I haven't had this much fun during a Red's season in a long, long, time. All I think needs to happen is for the fans to make it more entertaining. These players need nicknames, we need homemade t-shirts at games, a theme song, spontaneous promotions at the ballgame, big caravans that take you down to Cincy and back, beer cans with Red's logos, etc. etc. etc. All the ephemera I remember attached to that amazing '90s team.

Doug probably feels the same. Maybe that's why he's back in the blogging world. He's convinced Miguel Cairo > LeBron James. I can't disagree with that. Miguel Cairo is a Prince. Let's hope Miguel Cairo is Greater Than continues unabated till October. My brother knows more about baseball than you.

8.03.2010

I Saw Yo La Tengo


Assuredly it's the enormity (coupled with the flora and fauna that surrounds)of the Ohio River that constantly provides awe and a certain type of magic when attending a show at Newport's famed/historic Southgate House. Don't get me wrong, I love Columbus, even Cincinnati, but there's something about being on the other side, hugging the border, mixing with the locals in these hallowed halls, on the wide, hilltop, front porch, that provides the perfect environment for a rock show. All that aside, Yo La Tengo provide their own sort of magic, something that transcends nostalgia, and most definitely trumps the flood of '90s indie acts looking for the payoff that comes from reuniting years after calling it quits. Think about it. Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew, have never called it quits. And after almost 25 years of continuous records and touring, they don't seem to show signs of age. On this Saturday night, the trio weaved and bobbed and flowed through a tidy set of hits and current favorites, that was never short on soulful energy and genuine love for the songs they write and play. If there's a more earnest and grateful band in rock today, I'd love to meet them.

In seeing this particular set (of Yo La Tengo I believe I've seen five or six over the years, never disappointed), the band leaned heavy-ish on their latest album, Popular Songs. It's one of those that I think will hold sway long after we have forgotten about it, seems a lot of press already did. That's likely because they tacked on an additional record of three longish fever dreams to an already spotless album. This is Kaplan's Motown/Mac record, and behind the keys on this Saturday night, he proved his experience in soul -- this is entertainment, not a Spoon concert. This is "in the round" showmanship, switching back and forth between Velvets strum and blistering guitar solos, to organ folly and crisp summer pop. Ira Kaplan > Thurston Moore and Georgia Hubley > Kim Gordon. Them's the facts kids. Couples were dancing, heads were bopping, faces often melted (especially on the rousing one-two of "Big Day Coming" and "Nothing to Hide."

I always had my love/hate relationship with Sonic Youth, but after seeing this life-affirming performance from Kaplan, surgical destroying his guitar then lulling it back in baby's arms, I'm convinced he's the pre-eminent axemen of multiple generations. Who else ends their shows with songs from Neil Young, Gary Lewis (which they learned on the stage), and Sandy Denny? Even your parents would appreciate the craftsmanship and sincere professionalism that goes into every single YLT performance. At least for today, they are my favorite band -- still going.

Chili Quest Vol. 4 - Empress Chili (FAIL)



The Chili Quest was supposed to be easy. The Googles informed me that there was an Empress Chili directly off of I-75 on Vine Street. I've found nothing on the 'nets to discourage this claim. There are two other locations (are they open?), but this was the closest, easiest to access, and in a neighborhood that had some history. So, to our dismay, this Empress Chili looked as if it had been closed for a decade or more. Thanks Empress Chili, you were the first -- so you should make the effort to stake that brand and thrive in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, on our journey around this area of town, this part of Cincinnati is on the decline, rapidly, sharing traits with Detroit when it comes to endless blocks of emptiness and urban blight. Remind me never to exit off Vine Street again.

We didn't have time to try and find the "other" Empress locations, so I'm looking at you Empress. If you want to be included in the Quest, you'll now need to go out of your way to get my attention, to get me to frequent one of your parlors. You know where to find me. Luckily, on our way home, at 1 AM, there was a beacon in the night in the form of Camp Washington -- the only parlor open 24 hours. Though it was the first stop in my Quest, I honestly didn't mind repeating. So far, they are the true champions -- though there are many squares left to be checked.



8.02.2010

Poison Clan Tell 'Em


Hopefully you had the chance to see the excellent 30 for 30 documentary The U when it premiered a few months back. It chronicles the rise and fall of perhaps the most dominating/entertaining/lawless collegiate sports team in history, the University of Miami Hurricanes football teams of the late '80s/early '90s. For me it was a flood of nostalgia. I remember vividly my family's frequent trips to FLA to visit the relatives and our eventual allegiance to one of the big three teams in the state. Doug was a Gator, Adam was a Seminole, and I often fantasized of one day being a Hurricane on the campus of UM. It was really hard not to like a team that carried themselves as a flashier, quicker, more culturally tuned-in NFL franchise. They were bigger than the native Dolphins at the time.

I do believe a lot of my Hurricane love went in tandem with my increasing fascination with Luke Skyywalker, 2 Live Crew, and the emergence of the Miami Bass sound. In retrospect, 2 Live Crew were an awful group nearly on par with ICP -- kind of like hip-hop's version of Larry Flynt. I would never endorse Hustler, but would be right up front to trumpet their triumph's with the First Amendment. The Banned in the USA album is pure trash, but did teach me a lot about the saga that unfolded that year in Broward County. Their beats were revolutionary and sustaining (see the evolution of Baile Funk), though who created that beat is still in question. So by all accounts, Luke's reign was over a false empire. I suppose besides his fight for his right to be nasty as he wanted to be, his only other achievement is discovering Poison Clan.

Dubbed the "baby 2 Live Crew," it's likely, should a memoir be written about the scene, that JT Money and Debonaire were the over-achievers of this Miami circle, kindly pushed to the side to make room for the 2 Live spotlight, even though they were the only speck of talent on the roster. Giving them this title was already a slight they would never be able to squeeze out of despite the success of "Shake Whatcha' Mama Gave Ya" and the influence their primitive samples and beats had in shaping the eventual rise of the Dirty South. That hit (as seen below in it's full uncensored glory) does co-opt the Miami Bass to full effect, spiraling the Bambaataa arpeggios into a club banger all about the booty, and it's probably the most recognizable, but in no way should it be emblematic of Poison Clan's M.O. On the album 2 Low Life Muthas, the lyrics are blunt and dumb, but full of an attitude and relaxed cadence that it sounds like sweet tea in the strip club -- not trying all that hard to impress, boast, or steal turf. Here it's the samples, from pliable funk to skunky blues to stuttering soul horns. Highly recommended is the epic "Juveniles," very similar to Too Short's "Cuss Words" only slow and easy, likable and humorous. A Floridian's narration of life as a Sunshine State hoodlum. Too bad Luke didn't see all that talent and instead saw competition. Just like the mentality that ruined the U. I don't think this duo had a mean bone in their body.

Poolside with Jane Wiedlin's "Rush Hour"


The verdict's still out on whether or not Jane Wiedlin abandoned the Go-Gos to fuel her own raging ego, or if she was simply maligned by the rest of the band for writing all of their good songs. Needless to say, she got the raw end of the deal in the end -- breaking out in 1985 with her first failed solo record, and then not arriving to the Top Forty until 1988's Fur, only to be eclipsed by rival Belinda Carlisle's chart dominance throughout the '80s. It's hard to fault Carlisle though, as she was the complete package -- the looks, the sultry voice, the elegant mystique-pop of "Circle in the Sand." Still, looking back, it's hard not to root for Wiedlin as the underdog. Especially considering she might have the best song of the two. After her first single, the much underrated "Inside a Dream" tanked, she co-wrote "Rush Hour" with Peter Rafelson, he of Madonna's brilliant "Open Your Heart" (a Poolside HOF moment). In the vid you'll see the petit and pixie-ish Wiedlin cavorting with dolphins, swimming poolside, swaying a guitar twice her size with a grin that's either cunningly evil (suffering in faux-happiness as a second fiddle) or perfectly innocent (oblivious to her career's downward spiral). By 1988 this strain of bubbly, chiming, sunshine pop was beginning to wane on the charts. So to call "Rush Hour" a Top Ten fluke is apt, as it likely only appeared there for a week or two before bowing out to her nemesis. Back to back with "I Get Weak," in the summer of '88, I likely preferred Carlisle's pomp and balladry to Wiedlin's chirpy mall-beat. But back then, I doubt I even made the connection between the two and just enjoyed their interchangeable ephemeral gloss with equal aplomb. That said. I'd kill for a copy of this 45.

7.27.2010

Whatever Happened to GOGOGO Airheart?


On the page, San Diego's Gogogo Airheart, in the eyes of revisionist history, are one to leave in the dustbin, a band that has grown more pretentious and forgettable with time. It's a shame though. Methinks they were just stuck in the middle, misunderstood, ahead of their days. The Airheart were wedged between the More Than Music post-rock legion and the dawn of the disco-punk flashpot. And while both of those poles haven't aged all that well (show me your Radio 4 records kids), Gogogo Airheart's ExitheUXA has become a swirling mess of rickety psychedelia and wiry punk trips played up like a teenage Amon Duul, occasionally dubbed-out and blown-out, scattered and shuffled, wonderfully dotted with hash marks where the quartet were truly pushing the envelope.

I imagine at the time they were slighted as being a West Coast copy of Make-Up, as singer Micheal Vermillion's screeching, warbled pants and chants closely resembled Ian Svenonious' wails. And by trying their best at modernizing the Public Image Limited, it was inherent that some of their rhythms would resemble the same beat being employed by lesser bands of the time like the Rapture and Moving Units -- it was something everyone was doing, a reason Gang of Four records were in vogue more than ever, and a simple trend that evaporated quicker than a Southern California rainstorm. ExitheUXA didn't dwell on those punctuations (except for maybe the record's most populous offering, "When the Flesh Hits")or pronounce themselves as a dance band, even if you could seizure your way through the crowd to what they did on the stage. The album was more obtuse, idiosyncratic, veering through some very heavy guitar jams ("Last Goodbye") before coming up for air with atonal no waving.

Let's face it, not much of the GSL/Troubleman/Hydrahead graduating class made a record worth keeping in this new decade. Being removed that long, it's easy to look back and laugh at the awful music we paid money to hear. Gogogo Airheart were different. They were attacking from different corners and listening to a much wider swath of older, obscuro records (and reggae!, check out "Witch Hunt"). I can even see their influence slightly in one of my favorite Columbus bands -- El Jesus De Magico -- a group that could harsh on a groove endlessly, appear to improv into the ether, but bring it all back as if it was in the stones all along. Seek this record out, by any means.

Bo Jackson -- The Man -- Revealed


If I had to name my all-time favorite athlete, it would have to be Mr. Bo Jackson -- he of the NFL Oakland Raiders and the MLB Kansas City Royals. It was a tragedy befitting Shakespeare when the Cincinnati Bengals injured Jackson's hip beyond repair and retirement was inevitable, ending his career far short of what it was destined to become. Perhaps the first man inducted into both Hall of Fames. Just look at how the man ran a football., the only other RB I can mention in the same sentence is Barry Sanders. There were other two-sport athletes, but none as prolific as Bo. Hell, I even have some long-standing resentment towards the Bengals for this blunder. He really was everything to everybody, never seemed to juice, never seemed to ego, just went about his business as a professional. In Tecmo Bowl he was legend. In merchandising he was king. So much was his influence I was forced to buy these atrocities at one point, not living another day happy until they were upon my feet.

Why this post? And why now? Well, he did pitch the first pitch at the Home Run Derby -- a small step towards regaining the frenzy once bestowed upon him in the late '80s. And he's speaking out about that past, especially so in this interview with USA Today. Before now he's successfully stayed out of the spotlight, but I encourage him to jump back in. Think of it. There's no allegiance to any team whatsoever. No LeBron controversies (Heat vs. Cavs). No Favre flip-flopping. No hating on the Red Sox and Yankees (and Braves, and Cards, and Astros). Just Bo -- a franchise unto himself.

Plus I thought it apt to include this here since he is the namesake of the most widely read column on this site. Let's just bask in his glory for a minute. Maybe buy up a jersey, break out the NES, and over saturate yourself in the infinite number of youtubes focused on his career. He is truly missed in the world of sports.

Jeni's Sweet Corn and Black Raspberries


In writing this, I promised myself not to turn this blog into a foodie column as I already have enough...ahem...on my plate beyond W.O.W. Plus, the ongoing Chili Quest is enough eating to last a thousand summers. But, I wanted to expound the virtue of a food staple that has become a Columbus institution -- Jeni's Ice Creams. See, I grew up in an Ice Cream Family, with freezer always filled with Friendly's half-gallons and sundae cups spilling out of the basement unit. We were ever loyal to my father's brand, but ever since his departure from the company many years back we've been allowed to experiment past the Friendly's counter.

Jeni's signature flavor has always been Salty Caramel. It's a flavor that I actually crave. I'll drive miles to hit up a Jeni's just for a scoop, even in the middle of winter. I thought it was a flavor that couldn't possibly be topped -- that is until this summer. I must admit, the seasonal harvest blend of Ohio Sweet Corn and Fresh Black Raspberries (with a breath of honey and sea salt) might be the most incredible ice cream flavor ever concocted. It's honestly hard for me to explain here in words. The description claims it's trying to achieve "the essence of summer in Ohio" and I'd have to say that's fairly apt. Corn as an ice cream flavor might sound somewhat oft-putting to most, but my palette can assure you, don't be frightened -- it works. A pint of this will certainly be on my list of "things that made the summer of 2010 endless."

Danzig Returns...


...Well sort of. My Agit-Review of Deth Red Saboath is fairly glowing, mentioning that this might be the best pure Danzig record since the "classic" line-up did Danzig IV (featuring Eerie Von, John Christ, Chuck Biscuits, and Rick Rubin on production) and I'm sticking by that assertion. Since that time it's been rough for Glenn -- though he hasn't let old age or "creamy dressings" attack his chiseled physique. First, there was the loss of the aforementioned band. Then there was the series of releases with the "new" band, on a lesser label. Danzig was my first interview on KBUX my freshman year at the Ohio State University (if anyone has this tape? please?). He was touring for V: BlackAcidDevil and I distinctly remember his handlers telling me any Misfits questions were a "no go." Being that Danzig was as wide as I was tall (though I was taller than him) I refrained. I remember him being very cordial though and answering my questions with an invigorated sense of artistry that he attributed to this, his fifth solo album. Looking back, Danzig was trying desperately at that moment to remain vital -- adding hyper-distortion and mechanized beats to the overzealous playing of his latest guitarist Tommy Victor (of Prong fame)-- in an age when Marilyn Manson ruled metal (remember then?). The fact was, Danzig had fallen off, especially without Rubin to accent his crooner macabre. Why he didn't ever resurrect the "real" Misfits is a long-fabled soap-opera that may never be resolved. Now we have the cartoon Misfits wrecking it all for future generations.

Poor Danzig. Subsequent albums failed even worse fates, painting Danzig as a mockery of the foundation he sowed in that '90s heyday. Unfortunately, in most circles he has become a punchline. Maybe it was the infamous "punch-out" that knocked him from an immortal throne. There was once a time when I found his theatrics, his voice, his songs, evil as they come -- even though I knew it was an elaborate put-on. Damn if you didn't think the tape insert for II: Lucifuge, unfolding into an inverted cross wasn't masterful packaging. Opposed to the truly evil exploits of bands like Deicide, Morbid Angel, Carcass, and Death, Danzig's PR was all smoke and mirrors, a few well-placed skulls, a killer logo, and ample use of film noir (abuse of shadow). I suppose, if in fact this was all his doing, Glenn Danzig was the Orson Welles of '90s horror-metal.

But who shall remember that now? It's been six years since his seventh album, Circle of Snakes, and all we really know him for is his "grocery list."

That said. I've been listening to Deth Red Saboath for several weeks now and have not retreated to those first four albums yet. That is certainly saying something. There's enough here to warrant a comeback -- a yearning to see the man live, even if it's not the "best" band to back him. Reunion anyone? Here's a preview of the record, with snippets of each and every song. And below...the sole reason I'm still paying attention to Danzig in 2010.