Entry 0064: A New Year is Coming

everythinggonegreen

EP: Everything Gone Green by New Order

1981 Factory Benelux FBNL 8, 12″ single

Favorite Track: Everything Gone Green

 

Unfortunately, I am ending the year with a sore throat. 2015 was a strange year. The first half disappeared like that third beer you have with friends and you don’t realize the bar is about to close. There was a lot of promise that my life would change: a full-time job, settling into more permanent housing, even a hint or two about a potential girlfriend. My writing was improving. I had story ideas. I got sucked into the Three Musketeers saga. An amazing amount of excellent concerts filled my nights and exceeded my expectations. The summer was hot enough, but not unbearable. I grew excited with each day.

Then everything seemed to go wrong.

I didn’t get not one, but five full time jobs. The girl stopped talking to me. Autumn flew by so fast I didn’t really have time to enjoy it and prepare for Halloween. More job opportunities happened but all with very weird catches. Sadness and sorrow filled the lives of many people nearby me. At moments, I thought I woke up in a nightmare world of my own creation–I certainly write enough bizarre stuff on this blog. And then I came down with a sore throat.

But, in less than 24 hours, 2015 will be a memory. I don’t know what 2016 will bring. Right now, I only feel like talking about the good times of 2015. The highlights include:

  1. Maybe best year of my life collecting records. Unfortunately, I spent too much of them and must do better next year not to spend like I did.
  2. Some of my best friends got married, had babies, and got engaged.
  3. Excellent concerts.
  4. A most special trip to the Pacific Northwest.
  5. Got to see my family a lot this year.

Tonight, I am going to roll away the blues by playing board games. Thank you everyone who reads this blog. As soon as I am done being sick, I am going to start a more serious writing project on this blog.

My resolution will be to update three times a week.

Let’s see if I do that.

 

Entry 0063: Sleater-Kinney Live and In Charge

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LP: Sleater- Kinney by Sleater-Kinney

1995 Villa Villakula, 10″

Favorite Track: The Day I Went Away

 

This year was a year of concerts for me. When I found out that Sleater-Kinney was coming to Cincinnati, I freaked out. I was extremely jealous that they reunited and played shows in cities none of which I could attend. And then they added a second leg to the tour and sure enough Cincy (and Columbus and Indianapolis–curse having to work!) was on the list. I bought my tickets immediately.

For months, the ticket stub sat on my refrigerator taunting me. When December came with its El Nino heatwave, I started listening to all the albums I own. At work, I listened to the new album three times. By the third listen, I liked that album as much as their others. My mind was expanding the possibilities of how awesome this show was going to be.

It was packed. Waiting in line is not something I have had to do in a long time. I observed pointless graffiti written in Sharpie on the wall leading up to Bogart’s. Friends were texting me where I was. I promptly ordered a beer and regretted it immediately. It was tall and served in a squishy plastic cup. I am going to spill this all over myself as I dance I thought. Waxahatchee was already playing. They sounded ethereal, a dream floating throughout the concert hall searching for everyone to accept it as their own personal visionquest.

I bought a T-shirt on impulse. Sadly, the Bob Dylan concert I bought in 2007 is ripping. I bought a pretty shirt covered in foxes as a replacement.

Then I pushed my way through the front of the crowd where some of my friends were hanging out ready to scream their throats raw. The wait seemed almost unbearable. Plenty of girls screamed when a roadie got on stage, thinking the show was about to start. I asked BEETS what she thought the first song would be and she said, “Price Tag.” There was no hesitation in her voice. I suspect she used witch’s powers to understand things I never will be able to comprehend.

Then I saw Carrie, Corin and Janet on the stage. “Price Tag” indeed started the show followed by “Fangless”, my second to favorite song off the new album. I started jumping up and down, pumping my fist, but trying to not to block this 4’10 girl standing to my left. Sleater-Kinney sounded amazing. I really wanted to mosh but the crowd, although very into it, were almost in a reverential state of grace.

“Turn It On” was next and the place was filled with screams. I knew enough of the chorus to sing along. It was around this time that I was noticing just how damn good musicians they are. Janet’s drumming is incredible in technical precision but almost primal, a heartbeat. Corin’s voice was dynamic, intense, but soft when needed. Some of my favorite moments was when she cracked a smile and managed to sneak a hop or two before she was back at the microphone. Carrie Brownstein stole the show in my opinion. Maybe I have a weakness for David Lee Roth-like guitar antics. Carrie was high-kicking, doing this adorable foot shuffle, and holding up her guitar like it was a religious icon or a weapon. And she was smiling and digging the crowd the whole time.

“Light Rail Coyotes” and “No Cities to Love” were next. I thought “No Cities” would have elicited more singing and dancing. “Start Together” and “What’s Mine is Yours” had my legs already tired. I thought I could take a quick break but “A New Wave” sent the audience into ecstasy.  The two girls next to me went berserk with singing and recording the song on their phones, a concert trend I do not like, but, honestly, I did not see it happening too much at this concert and, frankly, didn’t blame anyone wanting to capture the energy going on stage. After this concert, “A New Wave” became my favorite song off the new album. It sounds great live.

Then Corin announced the next song was for fans of All Hands on the Bad One. That album was the first full length of theirs I heard. “Was It a Lie?” started and, I will admit sadly, I did not immediately recognized it. But it has some of my personal favorite lyrics: “Was she coming straight for you / and do you have a camera for a face? / Was she your TV show / Was she your video / A woman’s pain never private, always seen.”

“Oh!” and “Surface Envy” were sonic joy. My feet were hurting a little bit by this point. BEETS was all over the place. People were enthralled. Sleater-Kinney was holding nothing back. “Wilderness”, “One Beat”, and “Bury Your Friends” thundered down upon us like the three women on stage had invoked the splitting of the heavens. Their magic was song, their songs magic.

“#1 Must Have” was another deep cut from their catalogue. And then they dropped the very first Sleater-Kinney song, a personal favorite of mine, “Words and Guitar”. I thrashed. I sang. Definitely a highlight song. It should be played on the radio more. “Entertain” and “Jumpers” ended the main act in fabulous but heavy fashion.

Of course, they were going to do an encore. But to do “The Fox”, “Call the Doctor” (from my favorite album of which I wish they did more songs but I was thrilled beyond my wildest dreams that they played this even though it sounded a little under rehearsed) “Dig Me Out” (now one of my favorites even more than it already was) and “Modern Girl” was cemented this concert as one of my all-time favorites.

Thanks!

Entry 0062: The Symbol of Evil

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EP: Bankrobber by the Clash

1980 CBS Records CBS 8323

Favorite Track: Bankrobber

 

Coming soon: a review of the Sleater-Kinney concert.

 

Three years of planning destroyed in five minutes. Cornelius knew he shouldn’t have trusted Warlock. He looked like a fairly normal man–not that appearances were to be trusted, especially in his life of business–just your average height, stringy-haired man wearing a business jacket one size too big for him. His affable smile and agreeable manner won Cornelius over.

Now he had a dead bank guard, two wounded customers, and a staff member huddled in the corner crying snot all over his immaculate jeweled fingers. Warlock was with Speedy in the vault. They had about five minutes to flee the scene and now to flee the country. Cornelius rubbed his mustache for a moment, then moved into action. He was once known as the Invisible Bankrobber–acquired because he worked quick enough and left no clues behind. His favorite band had made a song about him. The police had raided local record shops and seized the 7-inch records to burn at a tailgating party.

Cornelius leaped over the turnstile door and entered the hallway leading to the vault. Another guard was bloody on the floor, but breathing. A strange five-sided symbol was tattooed on his forehead. Just looking at it gave Cornelius a certain sense of dread. Did the other one have it too? Warlock shot him right in the head.

“Come on Warlock. What the fuck are you doing that for?” Speedy’s voice was his typical whine. Cornelius gave him the nickname because he often told Speedy not to talk and to just concentrate on the job.

“You think this money is real? You think we are leaving with some fancy load of tangible riches? This shit is a symbol…a magical charm…wave the wand and it is money!”

This Warlock guy was nuts. Cornelius checked his revolver. Gangsters laughed at his choice of the .38, but Cornelius was an avid Clue fan and you have to use what you like. Six bullets. He breathed slowly, pointed the barrel down at the ground, and walked into the room. As he did so, the chemical odor of gasoline flooded his nostrils.

Speedy bumped into him. “Warlock’s psycho, man. Run!”

Speedy rushed his squat lumpy body toward the exit. Something thin and silver fell from his pocket. Evidence. This wasn’t Cornelius’s day, but he had to stop Warlock first.

“Now what has gotten into your imagination that we came here to burn money and not steal it? Which part of the word bankrobber means arson?”

Warlock had the strike-anywhere match in his hand, his eyes curiously still but wide-eyed as if he had seen something intangible move from between the bars. A quiet laughter stuttered through his closed throat.

“You don’t see what I see, Cornelius? You don’t see what this power represents? It represents it…from under the seas…”

Cornelius glanced at his watch. “We don’t have time for this. We have to go now. Stuff some green in your bag and let’s split before we end up in federal prison.”

He reached for some money when Warlock screamed at him.

“Don’t touch it! Everyone who touches and uses it feeds it power…imitative magic…by forcing everyone to focus on its image, the transference of power is completed…we must destroy it from under the seas…”

Cornelius’s brow wrinkled. He thought he heard a grotesque groan from out in the corridor. Something inhuman. And a familiar sound, one from his boyhood at the farm. Like a cleaver slipping through flesh. Even Warlock had frozen, his jaw twitching.

It will rise again…the same way it did in October of ’29…I have read all about it in Cryptonicionary…the entry in Latin mistranslated by by Joseph Bolden…but I had access to a more forbidden tome…MY GAWD!”

The security guard from the corridor had entered the vault. What was left of the security guard. The torso had split into three-pieces, ropey violet appendages with spikey talons on them whipped about underneath the guard’s head which hovered in the air upon an extended spine that dripped putrefactive acid on to the marble floor. Warlock dropped the lighter, the match still held between his eyes.

Another groan and splitting-sound echoed from the lobby. The other guard must have had that same tattoo, Cornelius thought. Sirens were approaching. Should he let the cops deal with this? Did he have time to think? Was Warlock insane or not?

Either way, Cornelius felt a little insane himself. At least his reputation would relatively maintain itself as the Invisible Bankrobber. Maybe another song would be written about him.

Standing close to Warlock and avoiding the appendages reaching for him. Cornelius aimed his revolver at Warlock.

“Please tell me you didn’t empty all that gasoline from that pouch of yours.”

Then he pulled the trigger.

Entry 0061: Nigerian Nights Part Four

nigeria4

LP: Nigeria Rock Special

2008 Soundway SNDWYLP011

Favorite Track: More Bread to the People by Action 13

 

Vargas watched the policemen question her, the girl who got him in this mess. They were rough, rude with questions that sounded like accusations. Greasy hair hung over their beady eyes which shifted left to right like a slow roving mine cart. The girl, he couldn’t remember her name at the moment but it had struck her as poignant at the time, was visibly upset, pointing to the corpse. Vargas ducked back behind the partition as the policemen walked off shoving note pads into the slim pockets of their CleanAir uniforms. The girl followed behind them morosely.

Vargas had a knack for timing. He moved at a speed that allowed everyone to see him and identify him as just a passerby, yet walked fast enough to blur his facial features. The policemen were not looking back; they joked with each other in that insensitive manner of a nervous man hiding his disgust with yet another tragic death. The girl sobbed into her hands. Vargas waited until the policemen turned the corner, they he had her.

She bit his hand, teeth ripping skin off the knuckle, but he had felt worse over years working his way up the Mafia’s top assassin list. The last assassin he had to kill had managed to be the first person to ever catch Vargas off-guard: by stabbing a sword through the ceiling and straight up his left heel. Vargas had performed an unique revenge on the assassin that he still sometimes dreams about.

Her mouth got free from his palm, “Let me go!”

He pulled her neck back by her hair, his hot breath washing over her face.

“Any more attempts at words will end in a gurgle.” The knife blade glinted reflected light. Vargas pulled her forcefully into an alleyway mewing with the feeble asphyxiation of felines. Vargas’s boots crunched as he hurried toward an open door.

“Where is my money?”

She looked at him as if he were invisible. Vargas grunted to himself. Another naïve child borrowing money from a crime organization and never realizing that the Mafia was real, powerful, organized, and deadly. He remembered almost every single thing she said when she came to him the first time: about her boyfriend, his sick father, the expensive cost to live in the city. It was obvious nothing about him even registered in her thoughts.

The girl lowered her eyes for a bit. She was pensive, perhaps reflecting on the halcyon days of her youth. But then, just when Vargas was getting ready to shake her, she looked very determined.

“Did you kill Sorrel?” The girl didn’t care at the threshold of the door. Perhaps she thought he had other intentions and preferred death. But Vargas had only one goal in mind: to retrieve his money.

“I thought she was you.”

She punched him straight between the eyes. He should have seen it coming–it being a rather obvious reaction, but, once again, this girl had made him make a mistake. He underestimated her.

She was halfway down the alley before he recovered from being stunned. He considered throwing the knife. He could bury it between her shoulder blades and then he could causally stroll over and slowly, agonizingly depress the blade deeper with the heel of his boot. But he now had something besides money on his mind.

He took a step down from the door frame when his boot slipped on a mat of dead fur. He pitched forward flailing, his head knocking against the cold brick and his arm being pinned to his side. He felt the blade slip into his thigh, hot pain flaring up and down his side. Vargas landed on his back, his head to the side. A dead cat with ruptured eyes stared at him.

“Thizzie!” he screamed, her name suddenly returning to his lips. When he was a young man, before the Mafia, he had dated a girl by the name Thizzie.

She was bad luck.