Friday, July 31, 2009

Review of Everything: Rules for Rock and Roll Tshirts

I'm heading out of town for a few days, but here's The Review of Everything, an occasional Friday feature. This article first appeared in the June 2009 issue of Bootleg Magazine. Here's a previous Review of Everything on skimboarding.

Was at this show recently, and this dude comes in with a neatly pressed jean jacket. Sewn to the back are what looks like a brand new Rancid patch. Then there was the nice faux hawk, like it was 2005 all over again. Not that it was acceptable then or now. Though this guy is somewhat of a divergence from my main point, he is also the case in point. Know how to properly wear band attire. I understand that everyone has to jump into “the scene” at some time…and then usually most of us have to leave it. But here are some rules to keep in mind:

Don’t wear a shirt for a band that you’re going to see:
Unfortunately this one is the most obvious and very often the most broken. Actually, I take that back. Most of the indie rock and roll kids know how to follow this rule…and if you don’t, then you’re not an indie rock and roll kid. But here’s why this rule stands: everyone knows you’re a fan of the band or you wouldn’t be there.

Therefore, if you wear the shirt to the concert you are more of one of those weird stalker types especially when the band walks right past you at load-in. Next thing you know, you’ll ask for their autograph and the band will never engage you seriously. The point is at the indie rock show—everyone is pretty much equals. Yeah, there are the few arrogant, but that’s the exception. Instead, everyone is instead normal and the band just wants to share their art without being embarrassed by seeing the band logo stare back at them. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t buy a shirt from the band after the show. Which brings me to my second rule:

Only buy band shirts at shows:
Buying a shirt from Hot Topic does not support the band, it supports Hot Topic (Listen to that MC Lars song). And if you buy it from one Hot Topic in the mall, then you can be sure that every Hot Topic has it. Buying a shirt from Hot Topic detracts from the most important part of bands—discovery. Wearing a band shirt is a declaration about what you as an individual music listener has found or identified with. Wearing a band shirt means that you identify with not only the music of the band, but the ethos, the spirit, the energy. All of that is zapped from a purchase from Hot Topic or Interpunk.

Don’t wear shirts for bands that are not of your generation:
If you decide to violate one and two, keep this one in mind. Lay off The Beatles shirts. Don’t wear The Ramones if you’re twelve. You’re not cool or hip or punk rock, you are the lemming falling off the mountain who thinks he is climbing up it. That is the farthest thing from being “rock and roll,” it’s benefiting marketers who bank on perceived ignorance. Here’s a caveat, I guess. Shirts of bands outside your generation are allowed if the band hasn’t been actively playing for at least 50 or 60 years. That still means no Beatles shirts, no Pink Floyd, no Lynyrd Skynyrd. Their so vintage-they’re-cool stage has not been reached yet. That means the original Glen Miller Orchestra band shirts are just coming in style.

Only wear obscure bands:
Sounds like a simple suggestion--there's the rub: what's an "obscure" band? I was living in Tennessee at the time that the Kings of Leon were making noise locally...but now, wear a shirt of a Grammy award winner? The point of the band shirt is not only to identify, but to make known. The search for the obscure is a continual process, as bands cycle in and out up and down. At some point, you will have to trust in your own judgment to know if the band is too obscure or not.

But safe bets are the random punk band in your hometown--support the scene and then wear it to say "Remember when we saw Such and Such every, that was awesome." Other safe bets are Canadian bands and New Jersey bands. There are tons of punk and screamo bands coming out of those two places, each with a small chance to kind of make it, but not really make it. If they do blow up (either internally or up the charts), seize the opportunity to say, "I knew them before they went on Warped Tour."

The next step after that--sell the shirt on consignment to Hot Topic or something. They dont' take consignment? Be punk and make them. Bonus band shirt point: If your once obscure band does somehow end up on the Grammys, here's your saving grace, the early edition tshirt. More than likely, the band will manufacture more than one design shirt. If you buy an early version, you can still strut it around proudly as that one kid says "Dude...that shirt's going for $300 on Ebay!" Just nod and wink.

Don't wear band shirts:
The truth hurts. Band shirts are not cool. They are not hip, they are not rock 'n roll. They are only for the ones overly obsessed, making unhip idols out of their music. People that buy band shirts don't really understand music or bands, they only have a surface understanding. The true fan wears their band internally and in their mind as the sound pings around their ears then into their inner cortexes, creating a personal lounge of sound. Band shirts are for those too insecure in their own music needs, and want outside affirmation for their choices. There is no security there, only a desire to be noticed and complimented by others. So when at a show, just stick to the music and picking up the vinyl. Better yet, don't let anyone see you buy anything. Because that's way cool.
More after the jump...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

interview: John Wray, author of Lowboy

John Wray's newest is Lowboy, which came out a few months ago. It's a good fanciful jaunt through NYC's transit system, viewed through the eyes of the handsome and schizophrenic Will Heller, who believes that the world needs him to end its global warming crisis. To do that, he really just needs to find Emily Wallace again. Hot on his trail are Detective Lateef and Will's mom, Violet who aren't sure if he'll commit another violent act. Lateef soon realizes that his problem may not just be Will, but Violet too.

Lowboy is Wray's third book, following The Right Hand of Sleep and Canaan's Tongue. He lives in NYC. Wray discusses good book promotion, character inspiration and the fate of his indie rock band.

Heard about your subway readings to promote the book--what were those like?

John Wray: Just about everything I’ve done to promote Lowboy has been a blast, especially all the subway-related stuff. Most readings tend to be so intensely boring that people are deeply grateful for anything out of the ordinary, which I turn makes the whole book-promotional circus a whole lot more worthwhile. My rule of thumb this time around has been “if it feels like a chore, don’t do it”. Though, now that I come to think of it, I’ve done just about everything anyway. It’s been a good time.

Were their some unassuming passengers who didn't know what was going on?

Not at the 8th Ave. station, where the line starts, but with each subsequent stop more ordinary, luckless commuters got on, and I had to stop myself from apologizing to every one of them. But they were actually very polite, and some of them ended up getting off with the rest of us at the Bedford stop and coming to the party at Spike Hill.

How did that compare to the Mississippi River trip? (In 2005, to promote Canaan's Tongue. Here's a good article about the trip).

The rafting trip was more of an escape, so much so that I sometimes half-forgot that I was trying to get people to read my book; we spent most of our time fishing. We didn’t catch all that much, but it didn’t matter. It was all in the interest of Literature, after all. That’s Literature with a capital ‘L’.

Did you come up with these ideas yourself or did the book PR people chime in?

Those were my own ideas, actually. I’ve found, through grim experience, that it’s a hell of a lot easier to promote your book if you’re having fun doing it, and it’s a lot easier to have fun if you’re not standing in the cookbook section of a Barnes & Noble, trying to be heard over the noise of the toddlers in the children’s section three aisles down.

Which idea came first--Heller or the train system? Both seem so integrated, that it seems like Heller would be completely different without the train.

For me, Will Heller’s fascination with the subway is as essential to his character as his sense of humor, or his good looks—or his schizophrenia, for that matter. It developed organically with the rest of him, as I was first planning the book. So Will came first, I suppose, but not by very much.

The setting and time for Lowboy doesn't seem to be as "weighty" as in your previous works--was that a deliberate decision to write about a situation and characters with a little bit more immediacy?

I don’t really factor weight into my writing decisions, as such; something begins to interest me, and if, over time, it comes to interest me enough, then I try to write about it. My first two novels are set in the past, but I never thought of them as ‘historical’, or ‘thrillers’, or even ‘literary’, as far as that goes. Those sort of labels may be necessary to the book trade, but I don’t think they’re of very much use to authors. John Grisham et al excluded.

I've been reading a lot of detective/crime noir stuff from the 20s/30s (check our just concluded series on hard-boiled/crime noir stories) and there's seems to be some of the same tension in the relationship of Violet/Det. Lateef---femme fatales vs. detectives. What was that an influence or inspiration at all?

It was a key influence, especially the writing of Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Ross MacDonald and—of course—Dashiell Hammett. A big part of the pleasure of writing
Lowboy came from paying homage, however indirectly, to that most pleasure-giving of genres.

What made that relationship tick for you in writing it?

The sexual tension, of course, and the melancholy common to both characters. It also didn’t hurt that I pictured Violet as looking exactly like Bibi Anderson, the Swedish star of
Persona and a bunch of other Bergman movies. I’ve always had a thing for Bibi Anderson.

What attracted you to writing about schizophrenia?

It’s hard to say what inspires a given book, because I’ve learned over the years not to second-guess a project too much, at least at the beginning. Something gets into your skull and at some later point it kind of bleeds out onto the page, and if it’s halfway decent you run with it and don’t ask questions. I had a friend, growing up, who developed symptoms similar to Lowboy’s, but I don’t think that’s why I wrote the novel. I just saw some kind of possibility there.

Anything that interested you about the disease and condition that you didn't know about before conducting your research?

God, all sorts of things. The fact that schizophrenia fills more hospital beds in this country than all other mental illnesses combined. The fact that the frequency of a certain delusion mirrors the larger social anxieties of the age—in the 19th century, many sufferers believed themselves to be Napoleon; fifty years later, it was Stalin. Nowadays, Al Qaeda features prominently on the list of paranoias.

Read some of Citizen's adventures on your Twitter account. Why didn't he make the cut?

Citizen was a character I enjoyed very much while I was writing him, but he turned out to be inessential to
Lowboy, as proven by the fact that I cut him out completely and the book seems to work regardless. But I still have a soft for him, and was happy to find a home for him after all. He cracks me up.

What's harder about writing a novel now than it was when you first started?

With each new project, it gets harder to convince yourself that you have nothing to lose, which is crucial, I think. You’ll never take the big risks otherwise.

The Internet didn't have too much info about your band Marmalade. Are you still writing or performing material in that? Any good recent band finds?

Marmalade, rest in peace, is ancient history. So are all the other underbaked musical projects I’ve dabbled in over the years. These days, I only play in friend’s wedding bands, which I love. And I play guitar in my pal Matt Dojny’s sporadic no-fi brainchild, Body & Monkey. Which is, objectively speaking, the greatest band in the history of western civilization.

More after the jump...

missed it the first time, hard-boiled edition: Pick-Up by Charles Willeford

For a nice a summer reading experiment, every Thursday in July, we've looked at a hard-boiled or crime noir story. This is the last one in the series--crime noir in the widest sense, as the only crimes are the ones the characters perpetuate against themselves.

And later this afternoon, an interview with an author of a modern, kind-of crime noir story.

Previous entries:
Double Indemnity by James Cain
Dashiell Hammett/Raymond Chandler Double
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Down There by David Goodis

Pick-Up by Charles Willeford
Beacon Books, 1955
Charles Willeford on Wikipedia

This is that slippery slope. When there's a place, you're in it and there's no way to know how you got there and when you got there and everything looks the same. Charles Willeford creates that effect wonderfully, where every action is rationalized, makes sense, maybe not the perfect sense.

And that's the place that Harry finds himself. A few innocent drinks leads to a nice one night one stand with Helen. Harry is quickly smitten and when she re-appears the next night, he quickly throws his apron aside from his back counter restaurant job and goes drinking with Helen. And so it goes. Willeford never gives more background than necessary, so Helen and Harry wander through a few week binge of long nights, long dinners and longer drinks. A few touching moments occur in their crazy binge--Helen encourages Harry to take on painting again, his portrait of her comes out fine and flattering, his perspective of her colored through the rosiest glasses imaginable. When they hit a bottom of sorts, Harry suggests going to a hospital for free care. The questions by the doctor almost causes a double take by the reader, they are unnerving, uncommon, unimaginable in their current narrative form. It is not that Harry is the classic 'unreliable narrator,' he is more like an uninformed narrator, or a withheld narrator--details important to the story aren't important from Harry's perspective.

Pick-Up is an early look at co-dependency, a portrayal of the symbiosis needed to continue to binge, to continue to overindulge...Harry and Helen are not both alcoholics, but they need each other to convince the other one that everything will be alright.

This is also the darker side of the perceived boho lifestyle, money runs out quick, Harry does not discover an audience for his art until he becomes sensationalized through his actions, everyone wants his story, his craziness. Except we never get the impression that he's crazy, maybe a little misguided, a little uncaring, a little loose with his cash.

But the wallop that Willeford hits with in the last sentence, a whopper for 1955 shows how skilled Willeford is and everything is thrown into play again. It is in the best tradition of the classic stinger, the one punch that no one saw coming but makes all the sense in the end. How to pull it off today in a similar story is too hard, too difficult, our taboos almost fully disperse to no meaning.

This is definitely not "hard-boiled" per se and comes into the "crime noir" side of things--a stab into the deep stumble through the dark. Continually Harry fails at failing,can't even be the right kind of criminal. There's no sadness for Harry in his sorry descent, we're sad that he can't descend further, because that's all he really wants.
More after the jump...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

mp3's: The Good Graces, Reptilian, Nurses, The Pinx

The Good Graces: "Working Title"

I did an interview with Kim once at Eskimo Kiss and she has impeccable tastes on the folk-rock/alt-country front. The Good Graces is her band and Bring on The Tambourines is the new EP.

The Pinx: "Impatience"
The Pinx: "Change Me"

More Atlanta Rock: The Pinx.

Nurses: "Technicolor"
New album from Nurses out soon on Dead Oceans.

The Reptilian: "I'll Ram My Ovipositor Down Your Throat And Lay My Eggs In Your Chest But, I'm Not An Alien!"
The Reptilian=Fine math rock out of Kalamazoo.

More after the jump...

Lit Randomness: Fall novel preview, Pynchon's guide to LA, a big Vollman article & more

The Fall novel preview (it's grand and glorious and all our lives depend on it!): At NY Observer.

The Thomas Pynchon Guide to Los Angeles...don't get lost:
At Wired (h/t Largehearted).

Kerouac's estate still not settled: At The St. Petersburg Times

A big Vollman article about Vollman's big book:
At NY Times.

Philip Smith, author of
Walking Through Walls: At Smith Mag.

Calvino's Cosmicomics: At The Village Voice.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

review: Castevet Summer Fences

Summer Fences
Count Your Lucky Stars Records, 2009

You know you are in for some wicked stuff when a band takes their name from a freak show movie like Rosemary's Baby. Summer Fences is an album that belongs in the post-punk canon of a decade ago, weaving post-rock instrumental ballads and hardcore vocals into an excellent math-rock album. This may be the ballsiest band in punk rock today, because for some reason they've convinced themselves they can take on post-rock instrumentalists like American Football, Appleseed Cast and dare to blend it with Small Brown Bike or The Casket Lottery. There's a fine line between courage and stupidity and Chicago's Castevet manages, somehow beyond all probability, to stay between those tight confines all the way through.

To start out, Castevet begins with two amazing tracks that may be the best ten minutes of music I've heard all year. "Between Berwyn and Bryn Mawr" lays the atmospherics on thick before the slight ripple of its signature guitar line ekes its way into the scene and slowly finds the melody. Then their vocalist Ron Petzke (I think it's him...sorry if it's not) peels out a carwreck of a voice, akin to gravel in a blender. That godawful vocal noise is so disconcerting to such beautiful music, why the hell would they do it? But it works, they make it work. The rawness makes it real, makes it be, makes them different I guess. And just when you think "Between Berwyn and Bryn Mawr" has seen its fair share of creative input, that pesky melody line works its way back in at the 3:30 mark to carry it the rest of the way through, and even brings it up another notch. I'd love to see this band live...I'm sure the thrashing of these hard-spun elevated guitar chords must make everyone lean and bend and dive and faint out of appreciation to Castevet--for restoring real emotion, real energy back to emo...yes, I said it. Castevet makes that word mean something again.

All of this madness bleeds into the more melodic but equally as satisfying, "Beating Highschoolers At Arcade Games." Like I said, the best ten minutes in music. Even with its most melodic song "Plays One On TV," Castevet shoves out a memorable bit of post-rock punk with the best rising guitars this side of 2001. But just when you think it's Get-Up Kids pop, there's a sneaky melodic breakdown that silences the song and the madness for a brief moment of build-up. By the time I get to "Stranger, You Know," (the fourth song on a seven song album), I'm fatigued.

With Summer Fences, Castevet is Don Caballero taking a ride on a Small Brown Bike and then slamming on the brakes to admire a Roadside Monument. Intensity and beauty has finally found its way back and it's a glorious sight. If both the punk rock and indie rock kids cannot like this album, then they forever have nothing left in common. Because Castevet has the ultimate answer--full-on dangerous physical intensity and full-on dangerous creative concentration. To learn how emo and math-rock is supposed to work, go no further than Castevet.

Live vid of "Between Berwyn and Bryn Mawr" after the jump...

Here's a live vid of "Berwyn to Bryn Mawr":

More after the jump...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lit Randomness: Great Chicago novel, Gonzo wisdom, Love & Rockets, Shane Jones & more

The Wire is literary right? Illustrations from Blake Hicks, (h/t Splice Today)

Writing the Great Chicago Novel: At Chicago Tribune (h/t Gaper's Block).

Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: At Papercuts.

A beginner's intro to
Love and Rockets: At AV Club. I need to read this.

Zombies in books, the zombie-fication of books. A fight revisited: At The Millions.

Interv. w/ author Shane Jones, who just sold rights from a book to Spike Jonze (according to his blog): At Orange Alert.
More after the jump...

Friday, July 24, 2009

King Me: Once and Future Kings Mon, 7/27 @ Nightlight, Chapel Hill

Yeah, I know that says Monday and today is only Friday, but take a few days to think about it. Once and Future Kings is dependent upon the insight and musicianship of Jess Edison, who moved to Raleigh, NC from Nashville, TN a year ago. Wanting to move on to a different phase in his life, he left Nashville, but as he told me in an email, his songwriting did not. Edison is continuing his education and has brought the Once and Future Kings moniker with him.

He hasn't played tons of shows out, but apparently has Summer 2010 already booked up. Emergent Sea is a great EP, something like Say Hi, Damien Jurado and Bishop Allen. Standouts include "Here's to Choking" and "Sirens." There surely should be enough room in the Triangle's vast musical company for Edison and the Kings.

Their Monday show at Chapel Hill's Nightlight also includes Doomstar and Pistil.

Stream the songs and watch a vid after the jump.


More after the jump...

Interview with Atlanta's Winston Audio

Atlanta-based Winston Audio has had quite a year so far. The Red Rhythm released on Favorite Gentlemen Recordings was met with positive reviews and the band wrapped up a national spring tour with Manchester Orchestra, Fun and The Audrye Sessions, spurring more interest in their release. Their sound combines alt-rock grunge with some disarming southern rock. The band currently consists of Daniel Dewitt (vocals/bass), Dan Gleason (guitar/keys/vocals), Zach Brown (guitar), Michael Adkins (guitar) and Shane Lenzen O'Conell (drums).

They're heading back out on a southeast/east tour, starting with The Drunken Unicorn tonight in Atlanta. Vocalist/bassist Daniel DeWitt was kind enough to answer a few questions.

When I was living in Atlanta (3 years ago), there seemed to be this divide between, for lack of a better word, "Alt-Press" bands (Cartel, The Chariot) and Pitchfork bands (The Black Lips, Deerhunter). I'm not sure if that divide still exists, but I think you guys and the other Favorite Gentlemen artists fit in between there (and that's a good thing). Any thoughts about the Atlanta scene or that divide?

Daniel DeWitt: As someone growing up in a band, desperately trying to break into ANY scene that would have us, we definitely felt those walls. I think there was an "us or them" mentality to some extent. You were either a hipster band or an emo band. Those lines are more blurred now than they were, maybe in part because those genres are a lot less easily defined now, but I think there's also more of a community vibe in Atlanta these days too. You can credit Manchester Orchestra for that. In a business that's largely every man for himself, they've done their best to pull others up with them. We've certainly benefited from their success. I don't know if there are bands out there in Atlanta right now who feel like outcasts. I hope not. It's not a fun place to be. You can email me and I'll be your friend guys.

Similarly, in going to the University of Georgia (in Athens, GA), what were the relationships like between the bands/musicians actually attending the college versus the people who just came for the music scene? Was it hard to play out when attending there?

Yes. Very difficult. My experience was that the town was saturated with bands, and even when you could get a gig, it was playing for people who were only interested in partying. Forget about them caring about your original songs that they can't sing along to. Consequently, we didn't play much in Athens until after I graduated. It's much better now for us since we've been able to develop relationships with people in the bigger rooms, where people actually come to hear music, but it took a lot of Tuesday night bar shows at 1:00 am for us to get there.

I don't want to trash Athens though. I love it there and it consistently churns out good music. I just never stumbled across it firsthand.

I remember you guys posting two reviews up from the Athens Flagpole. The first one was about the EP and they totally hated it. The second one was very complimentary. What were some of the major artistic/personal/music changes between the EP and the release of The Red Rhythm?

We just kept moving forward. We recorded the EP after the current lineup of the band had been together four months. It was a completely different direction than we had been going before. But after that it's been consistent progress down a mostly-straight road. I think we've matured a lot since the EP but the groundwork for
Red Rhythm is all there. It's loud, aggressive, grungy, bluesy. For a record we made in two weeks in our friend's bedroom I love that EP.

It's funny you bring that up actually because after that terrible review of our EP came out I did some research on the reviewer and discovered he's a big Pitchfork fan. Go figure (nothing against Pitchfork fans. Promise).

You guys toured this spring and early summer with The Manchester Orchestra, Fun and Audrye Sessions. Was this your first national tour? What was that experience like? What's the main difference/hardest transition between going on a long tour and just hitting up a few regional shows?

It was our first national tour, yes. We had a great time. All the bands were solid, very laid-back, friendly. The biggest thing I was concerned about was how my voice was going to hold up. Somewhere along the way I was basically told that even if you've never lost your voice and you were in great shape, a tour that long was inevitably going to cause vocal problems. I got some bad intel. It was fine. I drank enough water every night to sink a ship in, but I was fine.

I much prefer the long tour to the short. It's easier to get into a routine and just do your job every night. I don't love being away from my family for that long, but it works better for the band. It obviously didn't hurt that, on this tour anyway, we were playing to mostly sold-out crowds.

It seems like there is a nice little niche being formed around the Favorite Gentlemen artists. Talk about that experience and that relationship with the label.

We got to be friends with Manchester Orchestra right before they released the Virgin record, so we watched all that stuff happen with them from pretty close up. Favorite Gentlemen was around before there was actual funding for the label, and they had asked us to be a part of, as they explained, this collective of bands that would help each other out, promoting each other, booking shows together, etc. Like I said earlier, we didn't really belong to any kind of scene at that point, and we loved all those bands, so we jumped at the chance. The label's great. It really is like a family. I think it's the single best thing that's happened to the Atlanta music scene this millennium.

Tour dates & live vid of "Hey Ann" after the jump...

Tour Dates:
Jul 24 2009
The Drunken Unicorn w/ Death on Two Wheels & The Glass Ocean Atlanta, Georgia

Jul 26 2009
Sluggo’s Pensacola, Florida

Jul 27 2009
Spanish Moon Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Jul 28 2009
Mango’s Houston, Texas

Jul 29 2009
The Parish Austin, Texas

Jul 30 2009
The Door w/ The Rocketboys and Dear Future Dallas, Texas

Jul 31 2009
Princess Theatre Columbus, Mississippi

Aug 1 2009
121 Studio’s w/ The Weeks and Signals Jackson, Mississippi

Aug 8 2009
Powerhouse - SRQ Festival Sarasota, Florida

Aug 14 2009
The Channel w/ All Get Out Greenville, South Carolina

Aug 15 2009
Homemade Genius w/ All Get Out Greenwood, South Carolina

Aug 16 2009
New Brookland Tavern w/ All Get Out West Columbia, South Carolina

Aug 17 2009
Jack Sprat w/ All Get Out Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Aug 18 2009
The Blue Nile w/ All Get Out Harrisonburg, Virginia

Aug 19 2009
Northstar Bar w/ All Get Out Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aug 20 2009
Lit Lounge w/ All Get Out New York, New York

Aug 23 2009
Boulder Coffee Co w/ All Get Out Rochester, New York

More after the jump...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

missed it the first time, hard-boiled edition: Down There by David Goodis

Every Thursday in July we crank out a remembrance of hard-boiled crime noir story or detective story. This week it's Down There, a crime noir story by David Goodis about a down on his luck piano player named Eddie Lynn. It was renamed as Shoot The Piano Player, and was made into a movie with that name.

Previous entries:
Double Indemnity by James Cain
Dashiell Hammett/Raymond Chandler Double
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Down There
by David Goodis
Gold Medal Books, 1956

What are you doing here? Of course you play the piano well, but here of all places? The girl, yes, the girl! Smart, street-smart even, the best stories out of her. You didn't mean to kill him right? The bread knife...was a mistake? Sure, he rolled towards you, and his arm fault of yours, only his. No one knew you had that in you until now. Until they realized that you did, and that you might have a chance, that might be able to beat him, overwhelm him, resist him, kill him even. And you did. You did kill him. The gamblers. The gamblers will corroborate the murder story. How did you end up back here, back like this Eddie Lynn? You rejected the life of your brothers, life in the criminal corporation of extortion. They know you should have it better. It's in Turley's eyes. Maybe Clifton knows it somewhere. But really, you're torn, Eddie, you're torn. Such immense physical and artistic gifts. Punching old boxers with hardened power, or stroking ivory keys with the best of Carnegie Hall. The in-between. Like mishandled dough, you don't know if you want to be a flat cake or a seven layer. There are the whispers. The potential, the lost potential. How you flew off the handle after your first wife's death. The cheating, the lying.

But Eddie where are you now in this fix? Why didn't you kiss the waitress girl, the smart savvy one who obviously loves you. Forget South Jersey. Embrace Philadelphia. Forget your brothers and kiss her, Eddie, kiss her. Why didn't you fire earlier, when you had the chance? Feather and Morris staring down the cabin, and there was the pistol, in your hands. Fire, dang it, fire away. Don't dawdle, don' your warning shots, or you'll end up getting...hurt. They deserved it, she didn't. And you didn't, Eddie, you didn't either.

More after the jump...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lit Randomness: Rick Moody, Target, Stephen Elliott, Comics & the web

Rick Moody, author of a bunch of stuff, talks about being a father and his new book: At Identity Theory.
The best:
But I will admit that this new book, mostly written a couple of years ago, feels very emotionally antique to me right now. Sometimes that just means that you are done, you know, which I am, very nearly. But in this case it could also mean that I have changed a little bit. I don't think I'm going to be all sentimental now, just because there's a little baby around, but maybe I am going to be more direct, less inclined to waste time. Since I have less time to waste.

It doesn't matter if the book sucks, Target will make it a bestseller. Wait, that's cynical: At NY Times.

Making sense of the Internet through comics: At PopMatters.
The best:
Rather than destroying human connections and face-to-face meetings, Craigslist missed connections demonstrate the internet’s ability to connect the otherwise unconnectable. This seems to fly in the face of many technophobes’ concern that internet will become a great alienating force that makes traditional human contact obsolete.

Stephen Elliott's Lending Library: At The Nervous Breakdown. Here's my take on The Adderall Diaries.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shoe shine: Brown Shoe on tour & vid

Prayer among solitary mountain overlooks. Comforting wind in high grasses. The soundtrack to small simple comforts and unusual kismet. That's Folsom, CA's Brown Shoe. If My Morning Jacket lost all of their blue-sy/classic rock tendencies, then you might not have My Morning Jacket. Or from that shell of guitar glimmers and high-hat cymbal crashes and long arcing guitar parts, you might have Brown Shoe. Their songs contain a hopeful nature glazed through a mixture of elegant distorted aural washes. Like a vocalized and tight Sigur Ros. Somebody popped me their first two albums,
The Wheat Patch and Vanity last year and I still listen to them. Yeah, that's saying something. Their most recent is Jackalope which I haven't heard yet, but seems to be more of the same greatness. All their stuff is on their website.

Vid and remaining July tour dates after the jump.

The War from Brown Shoe on Vimeo.

July 22 2009 Bobo Gallery - Ashville, NC

July 23 2009 The Soapbox - Wilmington, NC

July 24 2009 The Camel - Richmond, VA

July 25 2009 Sonar - Baltimore, MD

July 26 2009 Doc Watson's Pub - Philadelphia, PA

July 27 2009 Public Assembly - Brooklyn, NY

July 28 2009 Fontana's - New York, NY

July 29 2009 All Asia Bar - Cambridge, MA

July 31 2009 Wilberts - Clevland, OH

August 1 2009 Cal's Bar - Chicago, IL

More after the jump...

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Diary of The Adderall Diaries

Stephen Elliott is allowing people to read his new book, The Adderall Diaries for free through his lending library idea. I was chosen to participate (because I emailed him my name) and am in the process of mailing the book to the next person on the list.

Monday, July 13:
The Adderall Diaries arrived at a bad time. I'm in the middle of taking a few summer classes and the book came the same day as Dave Eggers' new one and the cheap copy of
Arkansas from the McSweeney's attic sale. But in the words of the great Optimus Prime, "fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing." So I got a week.

-I sign my name on the title page, but there's only Stephen Elliott's signature, though I received it from a woman in Florida. I leave a space below Stephen's name in her honor.

-He mentions the Golden State Warriors' crazy 2007 playoff run. I'm compelled, but that compulsion only lasts to page 14. I decide to use the book poster that was included in the package as a bookmark. Seems fitting.

Tuesday, July 14. Approx. 11:45 pm
-Kind of depressed. My printer just ran out of ink and paper. Decide to sit down with the ol'
Adderall Diaries for a...uh, pick me up. I only read about 20 pages before I start to doze off (it's me, not the book).

Wednesday, July 15
-Discussed book about schizophrenia and killing (Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me)
-Read book about schizophrenia and meds (
Lowboy by John Wray)
-Thought about book about drugs, killing but no schizophrenia so far. (
The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott)

Thursday, July 16
-Received email from Stephen saying I could keep the book an extra day if needed. Read from about 25 to 96, around Chapter 6.
-Enjoyed the part about Catalogs2Go the most. Can't believe crap like that actually happened.

Friday, July 17
-Read about self-medication, hospitals, suicide, San Francisco and a childhood in Chicago. Then I read
The Adderall Diaries.
-The latter was
Pick-Up by Charles Willeford. Similarities=eerie. Though Pick-Up mirrors the places of Adderall, Lou Ford in The Killer Inside Me composes both Elliott and Hans Reiser, the subject of the true-crime portion in Adderall.

Saturday, July 18
-Don't remember anything. But I did go to Baskin-Robbins at some point.

Sunday, July 19
-Battle back and forth in my mind, but eventually decide to take the book to the beach. I'm scared I'm in violation of these rules. It's late afternoon, almost 5. Guys are there killing it on their skimboards on a good wave day. I do okay, but crash and burn a few times. With a small cut and sand in my pants, I now feel ready for
Adderall. Finished the book on the beach. Excellent job on the three (four?) different stories: Elliott and his dad, Sean and his lies, Reiser and his true lies. Decide that this interview Elliott did with James Frey sums up the book nicely.

More after the jump...

LIt Randomness: O'Rourke, Junot Diaz, Books Napsterized & more

Heavy on the insight today.

This P.J. O'Rourke thing was entertaining. No matter your politics, he's a clever writer: At AV Club.

Seems like this Oscar Wao thing has legs. Not so sure about that Kitteridge mess. Interv. w/ Junot Diaz: At Guernica (h/t The Rumpus).

Jack Shafer is probably my favorite critic today. Hopefully book publishers won't screw up like music execs, but they probably will: At Slate.

The Revenge of Print: At The Brooklyn Rail (h/t HTML Giant)
The best:
There is also the obvious conclusion that the book business was never intended to function on the present bloated scale and that editors have been merely masquerading like their left coast entertainment industry counterparts.
The symbols are stupid, but I was kind of waiting for a list like this, I'll be honest. The top PoMo (stupid about post-mod?) fiction books. Interesting adds--Percival Everett's new one, The Scarlett Letter, Hamlet and Absalom! Absalom!: At JacketCopy (h/t The Millions).

More after the jump...

Friday, July 17, 2009

review: RX Bandits Mandala & southern tour dates

mp3: RX Bandits "My Lonesome Only Friend"

RX Bandits,
Sargent House, 2009
July 14, 2009
RX Bandits interview at Decider:Austin.
(RX Bandits southern tour dates at end)

It's more than appropriate that the new RX Bandits' album is out with Sargent House, the label from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of Mars Volta fame. Because let's be honest here, in a lot of ways the RX Bandits have created a more laid-back Mars Volta, complete with some prog rock stylings and complicated guitar work. Having basically dropped all the horns and ska-fluence (um, there are a couple of lounge-like horn parts), The RX Bandits have emerged as an electronic noodling/prog/post-punk amalgamate that only the Volta kids or Coheed and Cambria possibly could top.

Old fans might miss the pop-punk, but that's late 20th century Cali, not early 21st century Cali. Hints of this might be on past songs like "One Hundred Miles Per Hour, Fast Asleep" with its math-rock break down, but this is a change, plain and simple. Really, even the reggae/dub influence has morphed more into salsa grooves then into a steaming hot riffs, like electrified bottle rockets erupting from a flamenco dancer, such as on "Mientras La Veo Sonar" The most frenetic is "Hope is A Butterfly, No Net Its Captor" slams down piercing salsa grooves in the intro and verses then bursts into a chorus of garage-rock hyper excitement.

It works like an excellent, but unexpected Christmas present--some uncertainty at first, but then it grows. The song construction is leaps ahead of any projects. With Mandala, the band seems to have let everything go, including comprehensible song structure and identity. There are recognizable lines and choruses, but really only thrown in as identifying marks. Just like a host of teenage bands that try and survive into their 20s and late 20s, RX Bandits have made some calculated moves. But Mandala isn't a misstep, it's right where the RX Bandits need to be.

[Southern tour dates & vid after the jump...]

RX Bandits w/ Zechs Marquise
July 18 New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues

July 20 Orlando, FL @ Club Firestone

July 22 Ft Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room

July 23 Jacksonville, FL @ Freebird Live

July 24 St Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Landing

July 25 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade

July 26 Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle

More after the jump...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

mp3's: The Firs, Lanterns, Pomegranates, The Hush Now & more

Firs: "Welcome Home"

Firs: "Destroyer of Worlds"

The Firs are by Joey Cook of Pomegranates and friend Sophia Cunningham. The Firs are an Air-esque, lo-fi electro project compared to the more straight ahead rock of Pomegranates. The Firs' album
Man In Space drops on August 4 from Lujo Records.

Just for kicks, The Pomegranates:
Pomegranates: "Corriander"

Guy Fantastico: "Graciella" (Helado Negro Remix)

Lanterns: "Creation Myth"

The Hush Now: "Hoping and Waiting"

The Slow Club: "It Doesn't Have to Be Beautiful"

More after the jump...

missed it the first time, hard-boiled edition: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

For Thursdays in July, we've been profiling some classic detective/hard-boiled crime noir stories. Previous missed it the first time, hard-boiled editions:
Double Indemnity by James Cain
Chandler/Hammett stories

The Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson
Original publication: Lion Books, 1952

"A weed is a plant out of place."--Billy Boy Walker
This book will get a lot more pub in the coming months as it's about to spring (again) as a movie starring Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba. It was a film in 1976, but I think Thompson was disappointed. I think Affleck will be able to pull of the role of Lou Ford, his work in Jesse James and Gone Baby Gone holds promise. But it will be a memorable role to play, because of the intellect and "rational" nature of Ford. The Central City, TX deputy sheriff turned killer never has a rampage per se, but instead closely justifies each and every murder, even developing "reasonable" alibis.

The first scene is a restaurant diner where Lou bores to the owner to death with a series of silly cliches about the weather and hard work. This is the personality that Ford has in the town, that of an unassuming likable oaf. But that he has a secret desire or ability for that matter is not a far stretch--those attracted to defending the law becoming breakers of it is pretty common. Thompson could very well have settled for an easy storyline, but instead he gives Lou a complex mind that no one in the small West Texas town possesses. Ford does calculus problems for fun. He reads medical books in four languages. He questions a visitor posing as a doctor about gerontology theories.

In Lou's constant monologue to the reader, we are put in doubt about whether Lou is insane or in full capacity of his thoughts. He may know he has "the sickness," but self-diagnoses himself to the point where believing he is insane is laughable. Lou is fully in control of his actions , can come up with full alibis and allows nothing to break him.

But the (other) local authorities think there has to be the breaking point for Lou, the reason for his actions. But as Ford says no one knows if there is a reason:
"We might have the disease, the condition; or we might just be cold-blooded and smart as hell; or we might be innocent of what we're suppoed to have done. We might be any one of those three things, becasue the symptoms we show would fit any one of the three."
Thompson works around this by creating a complex confluence of events (like every good novelist should) around a certain point in time to create a circumstantial reason. Ford is trying to avenge his brother's death, and finds an opening with a prostitute, Joyce. What falls in the wake of Ford's killings is not just those who may have offended him in some way--he also begins to kill those he love. So he frames and then kills the only friend that admires him, then kills his girlfriend Amy as well. Ford is not scared of killing, he is afraid of not wanting to kill any longer. Afraid of satisfaction, of actual love. And he can't stop it, even in the final scene after he supposedly learns from Billy Boy Walker. Like many noir characters, he thrives on perceived entrapment and paranoia. Every person is to blame for his victimhood.

What's compelling and maddening at the same time is Lou's quick decision-making process--it is abundantly clear that he has no problem killing and wants to kill those that do not possess such a quick trigger finger (see the bum). Lou has a reason to kill everyone then--he kills those that offend him, then those that don't have the guts to offend him. He has "the sickness," knows he has it. It's comforting to say Lou is insane, it's frightening to think that he's not--that he's of his right mind.

More after the jump...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lit Randomness: Eggers/Vida, changing music criticism, Independence Day & Robert Freeman Wexler

More Eggers/Vida. Talk about busy bees: At Interview.

Music criticism is dead. Sure it is: At Drowned in Sound (h/t Largehearted)

[More after the jump...]

Independence Day as a recession read: At The Millions.

The impact of Cormac's 10 books: At Quarterly Conversation.

And I really enjoyed this review on Robert Freeman Wexler's
The Painting & The City: At CCLAP.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

review: O'Brother--Death of Day w/ tour dates & vid

The Death of Day
Favorite Gentlemen, 2009

Part of the Favorite Gentlemen Recordings circle of friends in Atlanta led by Manchester Orchestra, O'Brother is a solid find in that in-between niche of indie rock versus punk. Drifting between an aura of transcendent scary escapism ("The Great Release") and rock rowdiness ("Division of Man"), O'Brother has post-rock emo feel similar to what Jason Gleason-era Further Seems Forever laid out six or seven years ago. With the lead "Providence," the song displays what O'Brother does quite well--endearing punk meditations that follow the blueprints that Brand New designed.
[Tour dates/vid after the jump...]

There's the straight ahead punk rock (two words, not the same sound) enhanced by carefully crafted intriguing, haunting intros as in "The Great Release." Tanner Merritt knows the difference between when to let out his screaming self and when to rein it in a bit, depending on the mood and structure. Mostly what he settles for are hoarse whispers that give it all a dash of mystery. Excellent decision making on several fronts, really.

Thankfully O'Brother leaves out all the whininess of where similar and possibly lesser talents may often stray, instead they keep a serious focus, rather than just trying to nab a quick pop-punk hit. O'Brother obviously likes the punk, the harder stuff, but it seems like they've forced themselves to go beyond their natural inclinations to craft a work, maybe above themselves, maybe right where they need to be. Whatever they did, they knocked it out of the park.

Tour dates:
Jul 15 The Drunken Unicorn (w/ Dignan and Timbre) Atlanta, Georgia
Jul 31 The Alamo (w/ Besides Daniel) Newnan, Georgia
Aug 2 1982 Bar (w/ John Nolan of Straylight Run) Gainseville, Florida
Aug 3 Big Daddy’s (w/ John Nolan of Straylight Run) Tallahassee, Florida
Aug 4 Jack Rabbits (w/ John Nolan of Straylight Run) Jacksonville, Florida
Aug 5 The Talent Farm (w/ John Nolan of Straylight Run) w/ John Nolan Pembroke Pines, Florida
Aug 6 Transitions Art Gallery (w/ John Nolan of Straylight Run) Tampa, Florida
Aug 7 Alabama Music Box (w/ John Nolan of Straylight Run) Mobile, Alabama
Aug 8 Mellow Mushroom (w/ John Nolan of Straylight Run) Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Aug 9 HiTone Cafe (w/ John Nolan of Straylight Run) Memphis, TN

More after the jump...

Monday, July 13, 2009

review: Bowerbirds' Upper Air w/ mp3 & vid

Bowerbirds, Upper Air
Dead Oceans, 2009

Bowerbirds-"Beneath Your Tree"

I’m not sure what constitutes “Americana” per se these days, but I’d like to nominate the Bowerbirds’ new release Upper Air for consideration. The Bowerbirds, made up of Phil Moore and Beth Tacular, have set up a reputation for being “organic,” so to speak for living in an Airstream and building their own cabin in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think it’s them, I think it’s just central North Carolina, as I’ve heard similar statements from other Carolina bands. There’s this fascination with the WOODS, the FOREST, with plaid shirts and workpants that you wear because you need them. Maybe there is something Walden-esque to all this or maybe it’s part of the larger artistic and cultural shift of our culture---why the heck do we need all this stuff? I’m always surprised at the relative surprise of a group like the Bowerbirds and their lifestyle choices—don’t we want our artists to be outsiders of some sort? If not, what message do they have to bring to us neophytes and hyper-connected blog sort? Not that the Bowerbirds represent that perfectly—apparently they do have a web design business, guess they have wireless out in the Airstream. Maybe that’s the Upper Air reference. That cloud of wireless Internet floating above the Airstream, above the earth. Or maybe songs like “Teeth” and “Silver Clouds” contain lyrics about the slippery nature of air, of life, of existence. Maybe that’s it.

So this should be the new Americana sound, it is the new bluegrass.
[More after the jump...]

It is full of broodiness that build up to hopeful choruses. The lead “House of Diamonds” represents this well, yes I was already free and The Bowerbirds convince me of it. The same structure reoccurs in “Ghost Life.” Meandering folk verses with Phil’s assured and great vocal range engage in these subtle starts and stops with a sparkling piano before belting out a powerful harmonized chorus of moans. It is despair and hope, despair and hope in the sound at least, like they are afraid to leave us on the edge of anything. Reel us in, continue to reel us back in.

I’m a little surprised that “Northern Lights” was the first single release of sorts, though it really hits up the folkish nature of a typical pop song and contains the great line—“I can’t expect a southern girl to know the northern lights”---but in many ways it’s a twist in the Bowerbirds style, more band-like, more together, more unified than some of the other tracks. I would prefer another track like “Teeth” which lays on the accordion (I think) real thick and it’s melancholic like a clown that roamed too far from the circus. The accordion melody line is great and makes the song—this is the accordion song of my dreams. So is the accordion of “Beneath My Tree.” I’m loving that sound.

Upper Air is very consistent with other Dead Ocean releases like Phosphorescent and John Vanderslice, though I feel like the Bowerbirds are holding back in some way—like they really have a Band of Horses-type jam in them somewhere, they’re just not sure where to put it…just make sure the accordion is present. An excellent pick-up, and should be a new addition to the Americana canon, whatever that is.

More after the jump...

Lit Randomness: Kerouac out of the canon, IKEA, crosswords and Heart of Darkness

Should Kerouac be in the canon?
At The Second Pass and Jacket Copy.
He wrote it on a scroll, right? Right? Really, several of these listed are some of my favorite books, though I didn't know The Corrections and The Road were in the 'canon.'

If you hate Wal-Mart, you should hate IKEA too: At Salon.

[More after the jump...]

Thoughts on the Dean Olsher's new crossword book: At Kenyon Review Blog.

And this appeared last week, but I just found it...
Why is Heart of Darkness so interesting: At The Telegraph
(h/t Maud Newton).

More after the jump...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quiet Conquest: Dylan Gilbert hits the South again

"No Mystery" by Dylan Gilbert
"Darlin Don't Forget My Name" by Dylan Gilbert

It's hard to convince anyone about new music these days. There's so much of it. I'm always especially wary of singer-songwriters, to me they're a dime a dozen at the coffee shop, and I can't remember one person's name from the next. Here's the part, of course, where I tell you that that's not always true. So that's not always true. To classify Dylan Gilbert as a singer-songwriter would be like classifying aluminum foil as a metal. The disparity between the two is too great. So instead think of "Dylan Gilbert" not as a person's name, but as a cool hip name, and think of "Radiohead" as a person's name. Yeah, do that.

What Dylan brings to the table with his recent release The Quiet Life is much more than his guitar, what he does is loop so much noise and other instrument sounds into his pedals that what comes out is some type of folk-electro-experimental noise hybrid, like a motorized bike. Is it a bike? Is it a moped? No one knows, and no one should care.

And before we get too far along, I'm going to scream "Bright Eyes" at you and you'll know what I mean. He hates that comparison by the way, but it's still accurate. Think if
I"m Wide Awake, It's Morning and Digital Ash were not separate albums, though Dylan's experimental digital tendencies come out more in the live show. Tour dates and vid after the jump.

Dylan Gilbert: The Trip to Zoo Summer Tour 2009

July 10th--Fredericksburg, VA @ Borders Books
July 11th --Fredericksburg, VA @ Bella Cafe
July 17th --Charlottesville, VA @ The Bridge w/ Invisible Hand, Hermit Thrushes & In Heaven and You
July 18th --North Wilkesboro, NC @ Talia's
July 19th --Johnson City, TN @ The Acoustic Coffee House w/ Plainclothes Tracy & Dana and The Robots
July 20th --Knoxville, TN @ The Pilot Light *tentative w/Plainclothes Tracy
July 22nd --Greenwood, SC @ Homemade Genius
July 23rd --Atlanta @ Wonder Root w/ Pedals on Pirate Ships, Stoked: The Band
July 24th --Greenville, SC @ The Channel w/ Sequoyah Prep School & Abbie Geddings.
July 25th --Florence, SC @ The Musical Depot w/ Justin Osborne (of Sequoyah Prep School).
July 26th --Myrtle Beach @ Fresh Brewed Coffee House w/ Justin Osborne (of Sequoyah)
July 27th --Charleston @ House Show 27A Coming St. (bottom floor) w/ Run Dan Run
July 30th --Winston-Salem @ Elliott's Revue
July 31st --Salisbury, NC @ The Looking Glass w/ Linus Van Pelt & Jacqueline Lee
Aug 1st --Boone, NC @ Music Fest on the Grandfather Mtn.Campground (Boone, NC)w/ A Furry Greene Fox, Grey Milk, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Linus Van Pelt, The Old One-Two & The Never
Aug 6th --Hickory, NC @ Drips w/ The Boots Mood & Nick Storm.

More after the jump...

Review of Everything: Skimboarding

This might be an occasional Friday feature. "Review of Everything" kind of speaks for itself. Here's a special summer sport edition on skimboarding. This first ran last October in Bootleg Magazine.

(Somebody I don't know.)

You’re a runner, not really a swimmer. So you’ll run, throw down the board, hop on and ride the swell into a crashing wave, and try to make the turn back out again. An ocean kayaker once complained to you, because some other guys with skimboards kicked their board out and hit the man in the head. You start talking; he could see what you were doing: staying on the board, full control. Passing the time.

You got a skimboarding video a couple of years ago. The only one you have, the only one you’ve cared to see. It’s still in VHS. This guy Bill Bryan, something like a 7-time world skimboarding champion, rides in on non-existent slivers of water, flips and spins over the California coast. The transition from land to sea—the skimboarder is amphibious. The skimboarder melds to the what the conditions give—the rider does silly spins when no waves exist, and attempts crazy flying backflips and dives in three feet of water when they do. The video skimboarders are amazing.
[More after the jump...]

Awesome Bill Bryan (not me)

Skimboarding demands more of the body. Landing on the coccyx is not punishment, it’s just reward for such stupidity/courage. The ride demands timing in multiple parts. The far-sighted eye gauges the quality of potential incoming waves. The mind calculates the wave speed versus foot speed versus the absent-minded tourist looking for the same type of sea shells they just found last year. The near-sighted eye keeps a close eye on the ground for the suitable place to put down. The hands drop, the feet drop on. The board traverses from dry to damp to wet. The goal, as you tell your wife, your parents, to anyone who asks to try, is to make it back again. To hit a wave, and turn back on it, ride it back in and pop up the board into your hand, walking off like nothing happened.

But everything has happened. At one time, you were just sitting, minding your beach blanket bingo, when a wave catches the eye. And then running like someone is drowning, you drop and ride in, hitting the wave at its highest crest, traveling higher than ever before, landing with a slight tilt, then smoothing out a rocky return.

“Hey honey, watch this.” It’s the family guy next to you, the guy from western Virginia, DC, New York City, watching his son toddle back around with play toys. He watches your speed. Your quickness. It’s a running sprint that surfing can only match with its long paddle excursions muted by too many minutes waiting. Skimboarding is for the quick at heart, not the faint. There are no soft landings on the coccyx. There are no easy remedies for the scraped up knee when the timing is bad.

But those are rare and few when you know what you are doing. So skimboarding takes the faint, takes the poser, takes the Blue Crush beach bum and casts them off. Bruises the first time out are inevitable. A bloody knee with shell pieces clinging to the flesh must come the second time. A damaged pride comes the third time.
Yes, there is the eight year old with flames painted on his wooden board. Yes, he decides to leave it by the trash can on his way out.

It is tantalizing. It looks so simple, like a Jackson Pollock, like a Mark Rothko. This machismo is the prey of skimboarding. The sport bends the knee of those with false confidence into the ground, churning their kneecaps into a slightly knicked up mess, reducing bravado to childlike humility—like after trying to ride a bike for the first time. Then those get up, and make the decision right there. And more likely than not, they decide to go rent a surfboard. There are not as many falls so close to those they hope to impress. There are not as many bumps and bruises. There are not as many embarrassments. You are not them.

More after the jump...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Club is Open Festival in Chapel Hill, NC: Aminal, Red Collar, American Aquarium & more

Red Collar

For the uninitiated, go ahead and take this time to get acquainted w/ some of the best in North Carolina rock and roll at The Club is Open Festival this weekend at various locales in Chapel Hill. After you're done, you'll name off like 15 bands who aren't playing. That's a knock on anybody, it's just proof of how good everybody is. [More after the jump...]

Thursday, July 9 at The Cave in Chapel Hill: Aminal, The Dry Heathens, and on the beach. Just found out about Aminal, good slightly spaced out rock, think Apostle of Hustle w/ a minor twinge of a foot stomp.

Friday, July 10 at the Local 506: Red Collar, The Loners, The Rat Jackson, A Rooster for the Masses. Red Collar is freakin' awesome, and they should be enough for anyone to come out. The new album, Pilgrim, is one I keep returning back to--it's a punk Springsteen and not for those who are wary of involvement. Because Red Collar always involves the crowd. Here's what I've said of Red Collar before, but don't just take my word for it.

American Aquarium

Saturday, July 11 at Cat's Cradle: American Aquarium, The Future Kings of Nowhere, Filthybird, Nathan Oliver: American Aquarium are turning heads everywhere they go, they have a great mix of alt-country, Dixie and Tom Waits. Plus, I've heard tons of good stuff about Nathan Oliver, and I think I have that cd somewhere...

More after the jump...
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