27 June 2007

26 June 2007

Download of the Day

Mischa, "Summersend," mp3

Perfect for walking in the rain on a Saturday afternoon.


Some call him Loki, or Coyote, or Raven

The first plausible explanation for Dick Cheney that I've heard...he's the Highlander.

From the Daily Show.



Where Has the Time Gone?


Recognize that guy? Maybe this will ring a bell:



It's time for all of us to begin feeling old. The baby on the cover of Nirvana's 1991 release Nevermind is now 17. How old were you when the album came out? It was difficult to ignore that album once it broke. I have memories of listening to the radio as a 12 year old, the Top 40 station (because what else was there to listen to?), as my mom drove a friend and I to the mall. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" came on the air. I can't remember what songs it followed or which came after, but here's a look a the Billboard Hot 100 for 1991 for possibilities.

-"Justify My Love" Madonna
-"Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" C+C Music Factory
-"Coming Out of the Dark" Gloria Estefan
-"Baby Baby" Amy Grant
-"Rush Rush" Paula Abdul
-"Unbelievable" EMF
-"(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" Bryan Adams
-"I Adore Mi Amor" Color Me Badd
-"Good Vibrations" Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
-"When a Man Loves a Woman" Michael Bolton
-"Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" P.M. Dawn
-"Black or White" Michael Jackson

So, it was perhaps Color Me Badd or Marky Mark, and then some song where the guy yells incomprehensible lyrics about albinos and turning the lights out. It was years before I could understand any of the lyrics at all (now ,of course, I know them by heart, like most of us). It signaled a radical shift, not only in our musical tastes, but also in our cultural outlook.

Things were happening in 1991.

February 5 - A Michigan court bars Dr. Jack Kevorkian from assisting in suicides.
April 4- William Kennedy Smith, a nephew of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, is identified as a suspect in an alleged Palm Beach, Florida sexual assault.
June 12 - Boris Yeltsin is elected President of Russia, the largest and most populous of the fifteen Soviet republics.
July 22- Mike Tyson is arrested and charged with raping Miss Black America contestant Desiree Washington, 3 days earlier, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
July 22- Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested after the remains of 11 men and boys are found in his Milwaukee, Wisconsin apartment. They soon found out that he is involved in 6 more murders
July 26 - Paul Reubens (aka Peewee Herman) is arrested in a Sarasota, Florida theater for fondling himself.
August 13 - The Super Nintendo Entertainment System is released in the United States.
September 2 - The United States recognizes the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
September 6-The Soviet Union recognizes the independence of the Baltic States.
September 6- The name Saint Petersburg is restored to Russia's second-largest city, which had been renamed Leningrad in 1924.
September 8 - The Republic of Macedonia becomes independent.
September 21 - Armenia declares independence from the Soviet Union.
October 15 - After a bitter confirmation hearing, including sexual misconduct allegations by former aide Anita Hill, the United States Senate votes 52-48 to confirm Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court of the United States.
November 6 - The KGB officially stops operations.
December 8- Leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine meet and sign an agreement ending the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Nature Reserve in Belarus.
December 25 - Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union, from which most republics have already disbanded; the 73-year-old state is now expected to dissolve completely.
December 26 - The Supreme Soviet meets and formally dissolves the Soviet Union.
December 31 - The Soviet Union officially ceases to exist.

How time flies.



25 June 2007

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass


Please, please, please don't let them fuck this up. If you've somehow had the misfortune of never reading Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, perhaps this can serve as your wake up call. Come to think of it, I'm envious of you. I only wish that I could read them again for the first time.

Sometimes wrongly dismissed as KidLit or young adult fare, His Dark Materials is as dense and philosophical as anything I've read in the last few years. I'm not going to tell you what it's about, other than it could be considered a fantasy novel, but that would be wildly underestimating its density and breadth of scope.

I'll put it to you this way. I like the Harry Potter books (to which they are often compared). They're well written and entertaining. But they are to His Dark Materials as Danielle Steel is to Milan Kundera.

New Line took a big plunge and invested a lot of money to make this first movie, The Golden Compass. The trailer looks great, but I have my concerns about statements the director, Chris White, has made. Apparently all references to God and religion have been removed, when the book is very acutely focused on those themes (those and free will and self-determination). However, in the trailer, the word 'heresy' is spoken, which is in keeping with the book so who knows?

Check it out. And if you don't believe me about the intellectual heft of these books, read this interview with Pullman from the New Yorker.


What Is This World Coming To?

I...uh...I don't even know what to say about this.

Karl Rove dancing and participating in a 'rap' sketch.

24 June 2007

Tres Cool!

Ha!

23 June 2007

Somebody Buy Him a Cigar


As you may or may no have been aware, Dick Cheney this week declared that the Vice-President's office is not a part of the Executive Branch. You know, the branch of government comprised of the President and his staff...and one would assume his assistant, the...er...Vice-President.

I'd like to buy Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) a beer. He's introducing an amendment to the the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to deny funding for Cheney's office.

Emanuel pointed out that if Cheney is not a part of the Executive Branch, he shouldn't be funded as such. He even made a graphic that he shared with the press:



In my former career as a waiter, I've waited on Emanuel twice without knowing who he was (nice guy who tipped 20%, if it matters to you). If I ever meet him again, I'm going to buy him a beer.

More movie news...Watchmen!



Yes, that is really an image of Rorschach from the nearly in production Watchmen, based on the limited comic book series from Alan Moore. It doesn't start shooting until September (according to IMDB), so this isn't an actor but a stand-in wearing the costume of Rorshach in a test shot that was apparently hidden in the R-rated 300 trailer (the director of both is Zach Snyder).

Let's hope they don't fuck it up, or there will be some very angry fans out there. Sin City ended up being good, so I don't see why this can't be, too.

I Don't Know About You...

...but I am really psyched for the new Indiana Jones movie.

Recently published first look at Harrison Ford back in uniform.


Ask an Ninja...On Mythbusters



I found this to be unreasonably entertaining.

Download of the Day

The Streets, "Two Nations," mp3.

Brit-hop!

Bush Loves Baldies

Strange post of W. and his apparent fascination with bald heads. Think he's sublimating things? Some examples:



5 Songs

Just saw something similar on Grant Miller Media. It's been a long time since I've done 5 Songs, and I've been posting too much depressing political news lately, so how about something fun?

Here's the deal. A la Random Rules, I push 'Shuffle Songs,' on my iPod and see what comes up. No cheating.

A caveat this time: Since I've switched to a new computer, my iPod settings have changed, and it is filled with random songs. Since I never throw a song away, anything could come up, like the Broadway cast singing 'Wicked,' or Shakira or something.

Here goes.

1. Josh Joplin, "Phil Ochs," Useful Music, 2000


I bet if you listened to this song, you'd swear up and down that it was R.E.M, or at least Michael Stipe singing. I got this album from an ex-girlfriend...it's not that it's bad (it's not), and it's not that this guy's voice sounds EXACTLY like Stipe's, but it's that he chose to sing songs in the manner of R.E.M. Kind of like my problem with Madeline Peyroux. She has a great voice...too bad it's Billie Holliday's. If you've got a voice that sounds just like someone more famous than you, sing in another genre. You don't get to mine the same territory. Anyway, this song, like the rest of Joplin's, isn't bad. It's about Phil Ochs, the protest singer, and has the great line, "50 fans can't be wrong."

2. Uncle Tupelo, "We've Been Had (Live)", 89/93: An Anthology


Remember the days back when Jeff Tweedy was little more country than rock n' roll? I remember back when Uncle Tupelo split, and everyone thought that Son Volt would be the one to make it big. Seems like we all got that a little backwards. Son Volt seemed to continue along the path that UT was treading, while Wilco started from the same place, moved into poppier territory, and then off into the wilds of self-indulgence. We'll always have Uncle Tupelo, though.

3. The Cure, "Numb," Wild Mood Swings, 1996


I was never really a big cure fan. I've sort of grown to appreciate some of their music, but I think it's just their fans that turn me off. That, or the fact that every friend I've got seemed to listen to them when they got depressed in high school. Wild Mood Swings was supposed to be their comeback album in the mid nineties, and generated one minor hit, but had none of the staying power of their 80's releases. This was also the time of Fat Bob, as everyone was calling frontman Robert Smith. Supposedly his record company wouldn't let them tour until he lost weight. Friends of mine saw him on the tour, and were upset he wasn't dressed like a goth anymore (he was wearing a baseball or hockey jersey, if memory serves). I say, give the guy a break. Do you still dress like you did when you were a teenager? As far as this song goes, I don't think I've ever listened to it before. It's okay, tho.

4. Morphine, "You Look Like Rain," Good, 1993


Could there be a better band to listen to for a fourteen year old that's just read On the Road? Morphine was fronted by Mark Sandman, who OD'd on heroin (not morphine, but it's an opiate, at least). They produced a few albums of darkly sexual jazz infused...I was going to call it rock, but I don't think there's a word for what Morphine did. Sandman had one of the great voices of the 90's, and it was really sad when he collapsed onstage in Rome. Morphine was also what was on the car stereo during high school with the girl that was the great love of my life at the time (and who always will be), and so I'll forever think of them in that regard.


5. In The Nursery, "The Hidden Fortress," An Ambush of Ghosts, 1993


All of these songs that have come up seem to have been acquired when I was in high school. This is a group that could best be described as martial orchestral. Twin brothers from England, Clive and Nigel Humberstone, made what sounded like soundtracks for imaginary movies, grand, wistful, melancholy music, fueled by synthesizers and snare drums. Not as Tangerine Dream as you might think. I was really into them in high school and college, but haven't heard them much since. Maybe I need to dig all of these up. This song came from an actual soundtrack they did for some indie movie with Anne Heche and Stephen Dorff that never saw the light of day. I just remembered, too...I posted a note on their web page back in...maybe 1996, and they mailed me a signed postcard from England thanking me. I always thought that was nice.

I've posted links to all songs. Remember, kids, it's just for listening purposes. Don't steal music.

Will that suffice, RIAA?

I was getting ready to go to bed...

...but then I saw this, and was too horrified to let it wait until tomorrow.

Here's the deal.

We all know the story of the high school teacher that gets caught with a student. It happens more than we'd care to admit. Here's a new twist. 38 year old Brenton Wuchae (no I have that age wrong, he's now 40) married his 16 year old student, Windy Hager. I got Wuchae's age wrong, because he was 38 when he met her. Windy was 14.



How can they get married, you ask? She's not legal! Her parents...yes, that's right, her parents signed a consent form. According to the article, is was an anguishing decision prompted by a desire to have their daughter back in their lives.

"The Hagers contacted police; they even tried to get a restraining order.

"We've tried everybody. We've been to the law. We've been to the school board," Betty said. "Our family has come and tried to talk to her. We've had people on the phone with her for hours — family, friends. We've been to our pastor asking for guidance. We've been to his pastor.""


Let me first yell at the parents.

Ahem.

Many people have had teenage daughters that rebel against their parents. Some run around and wear too much makeup and have sex with boys. Some become withdrawn, hide in their bedrooms and listen to the Cure. Some find Jesus. These are all normal things for a teenage girl to do. As painful as it may be to a parent to have a child behave in such a way, there's not much you can do about it, other than wait until they go away to college and realize they miss you. Your sixteen year old daughter wants to get married? I knew more than one couple when I was her age that were supposedly going to get married because they were in looove. Uh-huh. What do you do when your sixteen year old daughter says that she is going to get married, and wants you to sign the consent form? You say, "NO."

What do you do when your sixteen year old daughter says she wants to marry, not only a 40 year old man, but her coach at school? You lock her in her room. You call the cops. Dad calls up some of his buddies, and they go and find this teacher that's been banging his child and beat the crap out of him. All worthwhile reactions.

You don't sign the damn form.

Second.

What was the reaction of the school she attended?

"The principal of the high school wrote to the Hagers, "I have seen nothing but a cooperative attitude from the teacher, and to the best of my knowledge, he has not had any contact with Windy since then."

"School officials can't be responsible for what happens the other hours of the day, and I would think the relationship developed much more outside of school," said Brian Shaw, an attorney for the school district.


Uh...huh? I'd like to go out on a limb here and say that the school is in fact responsible for the conduct between its employees and its students. I would go as far as to say that there's probably some legislation lying about that would confirm this. Otherwise, it would be legal and kosher for high school teachers to screw their 18 year old students.

I see a well deserved lawsuit in here somewhere.

Third.

Hey, North Carolina police! This guy is a pedophile! He's married her at 16? That means he's been fucking her for two years! 14! 14!!! I mean, that's got to be illegal even in North Carolina! It's not Manilla, for Christ's sake!

Everybody should be ashamed of themselves. The only victim here is this girl, who at 16 doesn't have a fucking clue, and will probably be pregnant in a month, if she's not already.

22 June 2007

Patti Smith, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Download of the Day

The Thieves of Kailua, "The Thieves of Kailua," mp3

Sort of like a Hawaiian Beach Boys kinda thing.

What Makes Sense

The Birth of a Political Mind

We grow up with the politics of our parents. As children, we have no other exposure to political opinions, and so like many things, the voice of our parents amounts to the voice of truth. Our parents may have had well thought out ideas on the nation and the economy, or perhaps they were just repeating what they themselves were taught.

At some point we began to watch the news and read the newspaper, and began forming opinions of our own. These may have mirrored the ideals our parents had, or perhaps not, but regardless they became not our parents' politics but our own.

My father votes Republican (except in 2000, where he voted for Gore). I don't necessarily believe that this is because of any deep held beliefs in the free market or ideas on the role of government vs the individual, but because that's probably what his dad voted. So I grew up in a mildly right-leaning household, and although my mother is pro-choice she also votes to the right.

I believe it was as a teenager when I first began thinking about politics. Rush Limbaugh had a TV show then (he still may, for all I know), and I had just gotten a TV in my bedroom. I felt like such a sophisticated teen, watching TV not for pure entertainment, but for ideas as well. I found myself reading the paper more, and I can't say that I was particularly agreeing with Limbaugh or disagreeing. I just knew that his show was occasionally funny (something I probably wouldn't find it today, with his jokes about feminazis and all), and it talked about politics. It was for me what the Daily Show would become later, politics with jokes. I even read a couple of Limbaugh's books.

Don't worry, the story has a happy ending.

This was the time of Clinton's first term. Remember those good old days? Back then we had a president who was getting things done, our budget deficit was shrinking down into nothing and turning into a surplus, and America was liked and admired around the world (when I visited Europe in 1998, I experienced this first hand. It's great being thought well of just because of where you're born).

was the watershed moment when this all changed? I can't pinpoint it exactly, but I'd have to guess it was reading Al Franken's book, Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot. Reading that was a sort of epiphany. Here was a guy that was much, much funnier than Rush (always important for a young mind to be entertained while educated), and whose opinons just seemed to make more sense. I mean, I would hear what Limbaugh had to say, but it never really sank in because it just didn't seem like common sense, but Franken's ideas just seemed logical.

That, and he pointed out repeatedly in his book that Limbaugh was not only a compulsive liar and showboat (much like Bill O'Reilly has become), but a big fat idiot as well, an opinion I have not deviated from since.


Common Sense

Why all of the nostalgia? I was just thinking about common sense when it comes to politics. There's always bills being passed that escape the public eye, or that we just ignore as Politics As Usual. But last night (Thursday) the Senate passed what I see as being the first really logical bill I've seen in a while.

Some of the points in the bill:

"--It requires automakers to make a 40 percent increase in the fuel efficiency of their vehicles by 2020 and for the first time puts SUVs, vans and small trucks under the same regulation as passenger cars.

Under the bill each vehicle group must achieve a 10 mpg increase in fuel economy by 2020 with an overall average requirement for a manufacturer's fleet increasing to 35 mpg. Currently cars must meet a fleet average of 27.5 mpg; light trucks — including SUVs and vans — must achieve an average of 22.2 mpg.

Congress last passed a federal auto fuel economy standard in 1975 and the current requirement for cars of 27.5 mpg has not changed since 1989.

--Price gouging provisions that make it unlawful to charge an "unconscionably excessive" price for oil products, including gasoline. It also gives the federal government new authority to investigate oil industry market manipulation.

--New appliance and lighting efficiency standards and a requirement that the federal government accelerate use of more efficient lighting in public buildings.

--Grants, loan guarantees and other assistance to promote research into fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrids, advanced diesel and battery technologies
" (from the AP).

The bill wasn't perfect.

"--Republicans also blocked another central goal, known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard, that would have required electric utilities to produce at least 15 percent of their power from renewable fuels by the year 2020."

There are a lot of things the the Republicans voted down. Most importantly, while the bill calls for more renewable resources to be developed and used, it provides no tax breaks to do so. No tax breaks means limited corporate involvement, and no corporations means that it's still on the backs of the entrepreneurs. With an undertaking as massive as that of the nation's energy needs, at some point Big Business is going to have to get involved. Personally, i don't see why they don't.

The Con:

--A crapload of money needs to be spent in R&D on renewable energy sources. I'm aware of this. But...

The Pro:

--Energy that is FREE. They won't have to drill for oil or mine for coal once they get the technology. At some point it merely becomes about maintenance, and they can still charge people for a power bill and make lots and lots of money without having to spend it.

It all comes down to common sense. The fuel efficiency laws haven't been changed for three decades. With all of our technological advances, what does this make you think of?

Who benefits from low fuel economy standards? Just think about it for a moment. There are a few people who this helps. The oil industry. Gas station owners. Bribe taking politicians (both parties). For everyone else it means more environmental destruction, a further drain on the earth's oil reserves, and more money out of our pockets. So this isn't just something that affects the treehuggers and their endangered wildlife, but the pocketbooks of the right, too, which is something that they understand.

Why wouldn't we want this?

Why haven't things been changed? Because in the philosophy of the right, the market will adjust to the desires of the consumers, right? Well, if the market compensates for itself, it only does so after it has destroyed its supply. No supply, no demand, and eventually the oil tycoons (including the Bush family, surprise surprise) will be gagging on the toxic air that pollution has caused, and huddling in caves with the rest of us, because they've made such a good effort at blocking attempts at developing and promoting cleaner alternative sources of energy. They're screwing their children and grandchildren, too.

It all comes back to what makes sense. It makes sense for cars to be as fuel efficient as technology will allow. It makes sense to develop alternative energy sources, clean ones. Doesn't it?

Doesn't it?

One More Thing

Bush's approval rating has slipped to 26%. I just want to quote from Newsweek, because this is too good.

June 21, 2007 - In 19 months, George W. Bush will leave the White House for the last time. The latest NEWSWEEK Poll suggests that he faces a steep climb if he hopes to coax the country back to his side before he goes. In the new poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday nights, President Bush’s approval rating has reached a record low. Only 26 percent of Americans, just over one in four, approve of the job the 43rd president is doing; while, a record 65 percent disapprove, including nearly a third of Republicans.

The new numbers—a 2 point drop from the last NEWSWEEK Poll at the beginning of May—are statistically unchanged, given the poll’s 4 point margin of error. But the 26 percent rating puts Bush lower than Jimmy Carter, who sunk to his nadir of 28 percent in a Gallup poll in June 1979. In fact, the only president in the last 35 years to score lower than Bush is Richard Nixon. Nixon’s approval rating tumbled to 23 percent in January 1974, seven months before his resignation over the botched Watergate break-in.


When I mean good, I don't mean that I like the fact that we are all suffering from under a President we seem to generally dislike. I'm just glad that even the Republicans are looking around and wondering what the hell is going on.


Okay, One MORE Thing
How many branches of government do we have? I always thought it was three, but Keith Olbermann pointed out that there are in fact four, Legislative, Judicial, Executive, and The Dick.

Cheney has declared himself as not a part of the executive branch. Really. I'm not making this up (a statement I've become accustomed to making over and over again during the Bush reign of terror).

From Countdown, 6/21/07

21 June 2007

Download of the Day

The Prairie Cartel, "God Did Her Nails," (Kid Sister vs. Louis XIV), mp3

Shake dat ass.

Too Much Time On Their Hands



That creative energy surely could be better applied.

Tres Cool!



Map of the US, with each state represented as a country with the same GDP.

Download of the Day

Hushdrops, "Elemental Stew." mp3

Free legal music, yay!

20 June 2007

Bonnaroo 2007! Story and Pictures!


I'm back. I survived the Great Bonnaroo of '07. I've survived the heat, the dust, the hippies, the Police. I've got a cold now, but what do you expect when you spend four or five days with virtually no sleep, blazing sun with no shade, and an excess of partying?

Follow me, because I'm going to lead you on a little guided tour of Bonnaroo 2007.

After some confusion with driving down in a caravan or not, we decided just to drive down and meet our friends on Thursday morning outside of Nashville. We were supposed to be a caravan of four cars, and the plan was to all drive into Bonnaroo together to ensure a big campsite (they allow groups to park together, and as your campsite size is determined by the number of cars you have, well, the more the merrier).

We left Chicago at about 8:30 or so, and arrived 533 miles later in Nashville at 5:30 in the AM, after a few pit stops. We crashed at Melissa's hotel room for a couple of hours, and then headed on to Bonnaroo.

Last year Eric and I made it to the Bonnaroo entrance at 11 am, waited about an hour in line, and then got one of the best camping spots available, so we figured that it would be a good idea to arrive at the same time this year. It...uh...didn't work out as well.

What looks like traffic was actually cars lined up for miles and miles. It took us at least three hours to get in, waiting in line. We left Nashville with over a third of a tank of gas to drive 45 miles, and when we finally rolled into the campsite, the needle was almost on the peg, and the gas light was reminding me that I was probably in trouble for getting out of the area.

Along the path, some locals had ways to make money, from selling cigarettes to showers to trips to Walmart.

It was hot. I knew it was hot, and I had just read the night before that Manchester was experiencing a drought, and so I knew it would be dry, but the dust was truly something else. It felt like I was in a hippie version of Dune or something.

Our campsite? How far away was it from the activity area (Centeroo)?







Remember, the whole area is something like 700 acres. That's big. It was a hike, to say the least.

We set up our campsite (which ended up with seven cars), and got to it.

There was a lot of music there. I personally saw The Flaming Lips, The White Stripes, Regina Spektor, Lily Allen, DJ Shadow, El-P, The Police, Widespread Panic, Ben Harper, Franz Ferdinand, Ornette Coleman, The Decemberists, the Roots, Galactic, Gillian Welch, Sasha and Digweed, Feist, Gogol Bordello, Brazilian Girls, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Tortoise, and more.

Some highlights and lowlights.

Fuck Tha Police

I hate the Police. More to the point, I hate Sting. I have no opinion about Andy Summers (other than he's an adequate guitar player), and Stewart Copeland is okay (I now understand why people keep telling me that he's a great drummer...'cause he is). But I hate Sting's smug sanctimonious attitude. He's a lot like Bono, giving off the impression that he's doing you a favor by allowing mere mortals into his presence. Ugh. I hate him. The only thing I've ever enjoyed watching him do was being beheaded in Dune.

So apparently either no one told Sting, or he ignored them, or he never bothered to find out who these 80,000 people that were attending the show (surely the largest crowd he'll have in North America, right?) actually were. He kept referring to everyone as native Tennessee residents, when very few were. Some people came from great distances to see him perform, and the least he could have known was that not everyone lived there.

The band jammed out on every song, and their fans (about 79,999 people, plus me) danced and sang along, but apparently not to Sting's satisfaction. His idea of jamming was to keep repeating "EEE-OOO! EEE-OOO!" and make the audience repeat it along with him over and over again.

And then they ended their show 45 minutes early. I don't understand what kind of arrogance would allow you to headline one of the largest music festivals in the world, not know or care where you were, and end your set almost an hour short. Someone who worked for the festival remarked that the Police were aloft in their helicopter before the lights had even gone down.

I went into that show with an open attitude. People whose opinion I know and respect have told me repeatedly what a great group the Police are, and I was willing to give them a chance.

I was unimpressed (except for Stewart Copeland's drumming, which really was very good).


God Bless the Flaming Lips

And now we have Exhibit B, the Flaming Lips.

Contrary to the Police, the fLips tried to start their set an hour early, so excited were they to perform. After the Police had finished up super early, and I was waiting for an unnamed friend to mellow out from his acid trip enough to head over when I heard what I thought was a PA playing 'War Pigs' by Black Sabbath. Apparently the fLips just were really amped up to go on and just started playing, but were forced by Bonnaroo to tell the fans it was only a sound check. And then they had to wait to officially start their show. And when they did...Jeeezus!




There was a giant UFO that landed on stage, and Wayne Coyne came out in his giant hamster ball. Giant balloons bounced around the audience, there were dancing girls in costume on stage, crazy images on the video screen behind the band, a confetti cannon that Coyne repeatedly shot out over the audience, laser pointers that were handed out by the band (Coyne referred to them as 'cat toys,' asked audience members not to shine them at each other ["people might freak out"] or at them band, but shining them at him was okay). The laser pointers were especially funny for a few reasons. One, they are banned at Bonnaroo, and the fLips gave out what must have been a thousand of them. Second, they were given out for a particular planned moment in the show, when Coyne held up a mirror and had everyone shine the pointers at it. It created a thousand rays of light through the dust and smoke, and was beautiful. Third, they figured in an unplanned moment in the show, when Coyne inflated yet another giant balloon to send out over the audience and everyone shined their pointers at it. It looked like it was filled with a thousand red fireflies. Even Coyne remarked, "That's really cool!"

He talked to the audience. He thanked everyone for being there, for participating, for being alive. You could tell that he really was happy to be there, and wanted everyone to have a great time. He started sing-a-longs that for once didn't seem obligatory. They played two encores.

And then they got back in their UFO and flew away.

That's a fucking show.

Other Stuff

-Ornette Coleman performed. If you don't know who he is, well, follow the link. In short, he is one of the towering legends of jazz, the creator of free jazz, and at 77 still an energetic performer. I stayed for the first 45 minutes of his show, then left to check out the White Stripes. Apparently just moments after I left, he collapsed from heat stroke. It's understandable. He's 77, and performed in a suit on a 90 degree day. He was rushed to the hospital, and is said to be doing fine.

-Perhaps as a rebuttal to the Police, or maybe just because they don't want to stop playing, Widespread Panic performed an over three and a half hour set to close the festival. My brother in law is a huge fan of them, and was excited for me to finally see them in concert. I was struck by a few things about them. First is that I always imagined the lead singer to be a big bearded mountain man looking type, just by the sound of his voice, and amusingly enough, I was right.

The band is a lot older than I thought they'd be, some of them having grey hair and all. I always pictured them as being in their 30's, but nope. They're also the homeliest band since Blues Traveler (the bassist looks like he should have been in Tad). But they put on a great show, proving that not all jam bands need to sound like Phish or Grateful Dead clones.

But at about two hours into the set, I was falling asleep. It wasn't the band's fault, because their show was vibrant and inventive. It was just four days of no sleep catching up with me. So, I excused myself at what I thought was one of their last songs and began to make the long, long trek back to the campsite. Well, it wasn't their last song by a longshot. They played for almost another two hours. In fact, I made it all the way back to camp, stopping for snacks on the way, sat around with my friends for a little while, and went to bed, and Panic was still playing. Kudos to them.

-I only caught a little of the Brazilian Girls show, but I was there just in time to hear a song called, "Pussy, Pussy, Pussy, Marijuana," which went over well with that crowd.

-Oh, and the most exciting part. I met Jim Jarmusch! He was giving a talk about his work on Sunday afternoon. I overheard someone mention that he was going to be at the cinema tent, and I thought, 'Yeah, right. He's the quintessential New Yorker. Like he's really going to come to the biggest gathering of hippies in the country.' Besides the fact that you'd think they would have advertised his being there.

Well, uh...he was there. Bill Plympton and D.A. Pennebaker were there too, on different days. I expected Jarmusch to be cynical and aloof, judging by the interviews I've seen with him, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Although he didn't have a problem mocking the Police for their crappy set or Michael Bay for his crass movies, he couldn't have been more friendly and open. He answered questions from the audience with good humor and patience (especially from the audience members who were high on a variety of drugs, which was most of them). He gave away prizes to audience members, told stories and jokes (a good story he told: One morning on the set of Broken Flowers Bill Murray just walked out of the house they were filming in, located in a suburb of NYC, and into a neighbor's house, entering without even knocking or anything. Jarmusch and the crew watched him in shock, asking, 'Did Bill just walk into a stranger's house?' He returned in about half an hour bearing a plate of cookies. Apparently he just walked into their house while they were eating breakfast. The family looked up, and Bill Murray was in their kitchen. They asked him, 'Aren't you Bill Murray?' and he said he was. They made him breakfast, and then gave him cookies to take back to the set.)

Jarmusch even went over his time limit, messing up the cinema tent's scheduled showings of his films. He was having a great time, it seemed. I had gotten there 90 minutes early to see him, as he is one of the major, major influences on my work. I wouldn't had even bothered him had he not just stood there answering questions and signing autographs. So I went up there, intending on just shaking his hand and thanking him for his contribution to my life, when I realized he would probably take a picture with me (he was with other people). I got my camera out, and it died. I started panicking, and realized that I had brought more batteries with me. I managed to get the package out of my bag, but it was one of the kinds that you need scissors to open. I didn't have any. I didn't even have keys. Freaking out, I started asking around, and no one had anything sharp on them either. But I managed eventually to get the damn package open, get the batteries out, get the camera ready, and then Jarmusch was told that he had to leave the stage. But he stayed for a moment longer, was friendly to me, and posed for a picture.

I was so awestruck and nervous that my hands were shaking. I don't get like this around celebrities at all (I've waited on a bunch, seen a bunch more, and I usually leave them alone), but this was like meeting Orson Welles for me. Here's the picture.




I had a great time at the festival, but it would have been worth it just for that moment.


Leaving

Remember the empty gas tank? It was on my mind the entire time we were there. There was no way we were going to be able to wait to leave like we waited to get in with that much gas. But it turns out that there was a silver lining to camping a thousand miles away. Turns out out campsite was all the way by the entrance, and we could sneak out through a field in the back and skip almost all of the traffic. Well, not all of it. It still took us maybe 45 minutes to get to a main road. We had the computer in the van telling us how much further we could go on what little gas we had left, and I watched it go from 21 miles down to 7. We sat there idling in line, and I was waiting for the moment when the engine would just sputter and stop, and I would be forced to walk the five miles to a gas station.



But we just made it. When we finally made it to a gas station, we only had half a gallon left in the tank, which is essentially fumes. You can't imagine my sense of relief.

We gave a lift to a guy that hitched a ride down to Bonnaroo with Melissa back to the Nashville airport, and then headed home. We saw a few odd things on the way.

A tank being towed, oddly not by the military. Who owns a tank?



Three giant concrete tubes being transported. From this angle, they resembled the Bonnaroo logo (or so we thought).



And finally, what I look for every time I go on a road trip, a Chizek truck. It's not my family (the spelling is a little different), but it's always funny to see these on the road, and imagine that I'm the heir to a shipping fortune.



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For more pictures of the festival, go to my Flickr page.

17 June 2007

Killing Time at Bonnaroo

This seems wrong. I should be out in the sun, drinking a cold beer and watching Charlie Louvin, and I'm here BLOGGING? At least I have an excuse: I'm waiting for my cell phone to charge. Microsoft will charge your phone for free here, trying to show the hippies that they're not ALL evil. That's to be determined, though.

It's hot here. It's very, very hot. Heat index into the mid ninties. The kind of heat you don't want to even drink beer in, just sip on the warm water in your Camelbak (if you're lucky) and hide in the shade made by one of the three trees in the concert area.

I saw the Police last night. My brother in law turned to me mid concert, noticing that, while I was watching, I was doing so with my arms folded.

"Isn't Sting like the number two most hated person on your list?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied. I mean, he's not Bono, but on the pompous-ass-o-meter, Sting scores a near perfect 9.8. And the Police? Well, they sounded fine to me, I guess, but I wasn't converted at all. And they ended their set 45 minutes early, the babies.

But then I went and saw the Flaming Lips, and they were everything they were supposed to be. While the Police jammed their songs out to annoying lengths, the fLips brought a spaceship and giant balloons.

I'm going to see Jim Jarmusch speak in a little bit. It wasn't advertised, so it was a nice treat to find out that he's here.

It's hot. I can't wait to take a shower and relax.

But, on to the show!

12 June 2007

The Latest Thing to Fear


When attending a food service sanitation course, I was told that there is shit on everything. EVERYTHING. All of the produce you buy in the store (which is why you should wash it before eating it), there's shit in the sink in your kitchen, and even more disgustingly, on drinking fountains.

There is a bottled water ban at North Bend Middle School in Eugene, Oregon. The school says that kids are smuggling alcohol in those bottles, and while I'm sure that a kid or two has done that, most probably have not. I remember a girl bringing booze in a water bottle when I was in junior high, and the moment she opened it up in the classroom (which was a big, lecture type one) you could smell it across the room. But that's the exception, hardly the rule.

Kyleray Katherman (EDIT: I forgot to mention...Kyleray is an 8th grader) had a hunch that the drinking fountains weren't clean. He tested four drinking fountains around the school and a toilet, using cotton swabs and growing cultures in the science lab, presenting his findings to the school board with a Powerpoint presentation. Guess which one was the cleanest.

The toilet.

The school replaced parts of the fountains to clean them up, but still won't let kids bring bottled water to class. But I bet that kid gets a good job out of this. Jut as soon as he's old enough to work.

How America Sees the World



That looks about right.