Side A : Chris’ Picks
Side B : Todd’s‘ Picks
My job sometimes requires me to spend a lot of my day in the car. I don’t mind too much. It gives me time to think, reflect on my life and most importantly listen to great music. On these trips I sit back, relax and turn up the tunes. After many hours alone in the car though, I tend to have quite a few random and moronic thoughts. These are just a few of the revelations I came away with on the road.
This is your brain on Sirius Radio.
I’ve written many times on this blog about my love of satellite radio. As mentioned above, I drive a lot so many days the only thing holding me back from full on road rage is the wide range of content available to me on my Sirius Stiletto. I’ve always considered it a wonderful perk to have in my work car and it wasn’t until recently that I realized my total dependence on it.
Over the years my satellite system has been very durable and I’ve had very few problems with it. All was good until a few days ago when I got into my car for a rousing 4 hour drive through the cheese fields of Wisconsin. That’s a little known fact right there. In Wisconsin, cheese is grown in fields. As you drive through certain parts of the state you’ll see vast landscapes of sharp cheddar, pepper jack and smoked gouda all growing in curd, block, and wheel form. Children try to catch summer sausage and bratwurst in rivers of nacho cheese warmed to a perfect fondue serving temperature by natural hot springs. It’s all very impressive. So is the smell. Wow! The whole state smells like a foot.
Anyway, when I turned on my radio the other day, the display read “No Antenna Detected.” I immediately got out of the car to check on the magnetic antenna stuck to the roof. When I pried the magnet free, the wire that ran into the car broke right off. Panic swept through my body. I was faced with the daunting task of a long drive with no satellite radio. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Oldies, not so oldies, sports, news, sports news, Howard Stern, Playboy radio! All that beautiful content was gone. What was I supposed to do? Listen to (shudder) regular radio? 4 hours of switching from one awful station to the next? Suffering through 10 minutes of commercials for every 5 minutes of content? Not this guy.
It didn’t take long for me to choose the obvious way out of this mess.
As I was pulling into the truck stop, the panic started to wear off. I thought to myself, “Hey you don’t have to do this. You have a job that pays you money. Money can be exchanged for goods and services. You can buy a new antenna. Or better yet, check your garage. You’ve had several satellite radios over the years. Maybe you have a spare stashed away in there.”
As luck would have it, I did have an old antenna hidden away in the back of my garage. Crisis averted. Did I learn anything from this experience? Yes I did.
Walt Disney will break your kneecaps.
A week or so ago, I was on one of my road trips and my wife called me. Apparently, we received 3 letters from our internet provider threatening evil things like jail time and monetary fines because we “allegedly” downloaded some copyrighted material. She read me the file names and I had no clue what they were talking about. Based on the titles they almost sounded like some Z grade porno titles. Then I started thinking about it…I asked her to check those file names with some song titles of a rather famous Radio Disney star. Bingo. They matched up. How did they get on my computer?…
My daughter has recently become more and more interested in music. Not a surprise growing up in our house. While she is still forced to listen to my music a lot, she has developed her own musical tastes. Right now, as with most pre-tweens in this country, she is into any singer that has a hit on Radio Disney. A station that mostly plays artists that appear on Disney Channel shows or are connected to Disney in some way. A few weeks ago she heard a song by one of the artists in the Disney stable and asked me to download the album. Of course I wanted to make my daughter happy so I looked the album up on iTunes. They wanted $12.99 for it! Now that’s a lot to pay for something she’ll like for 2 months and forget about. So I “allegedly” did what all desperate music lovers do at times like these and found a delightfully free torrent for said album. My daughter was ecstatic and “allegedly” I was too having saved some scratch.
Now, if I did commit this heinous act of terrorism, it would have definitely been the one and only time ever. I’ve never scoured the internet for free torrents of tracks, albums or full artist discographies before. Every song in my library was paid for with hard earned money. Money earned with sweat, grit and good old fashioned American work ethic. So I will ask the jury to go easy on this “alleged” 1st time offender. Isn’t a child’s musical happiness more important than lining the pockets of a bloated billion dollar corporation that pimps out the pre-pubescent bodies and voices of 15 year old singers? I rest my case.
It takes every kinda people
As always on my road trips there comes to a point were I require a jolt of energy that only some loud thunderous rock music can deliver. Today was no different. I switched the station from Howard Stern to what I thought was Hair Nation. I must have mixed up my presets because the ‘70s channel came up instead. I was about to change the station when quite possibly the most pleasant song ever recorded hit my ears. It was Robert Palmer’s “Every Kinda People.” The funky bass line, steel drums and silky vocals of Mr. Palmer took over my body. Suddenly, I was grooving along to the music and weaving from lane to lane while going 85 down the interstate.
A wave of absolute Palmer induced peace washed over me as I rocketed across the countryside. That’s a totally different feeling than the ones I had as a boy watching videos for other more well known Robert Palmer hits like “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love.”
Well today I road those pleasant Palmer vibes all the way home.
All in all it was a pretty good trip. Plenty of tunes. Plenty of lawsuits. If you see me cruising down the interstate sometime, go ahead and wave. If I’m not busy stealing music, I might wave back .
If you enjoyed these moronic thoughts, there’s plenty more where those came from. Check out some of my previous “Road Trip” posts.
So my son is in second grade. In many ways, he’s ahead of the curve: he’s a great reader, he makes friends easily, he has a scary good memory for detail, and he’s handsome like his dad.
To prove he’s human, he waited until just the other day to figure out how to ride a bicycle on his own. It was a lot like his learning to walk a few years ago: didn’t seem interested or able, and then suddenly there he goes.
Had he waited just a little bit longer to get the hang of the non-motorized, two-wheeled mode of transportation, he could have achieved immortal hipsterdom by going to his first concert before learning to ride a bike.
As odd as it seems, he’s been waiting nearly half his life to see these guys. Back in 2010, I was going to a conference in Toronto. I brought one of the work iPads home to take with me for the trip. I decided to get the hang of it by watching YouTube videos. My son, ever fascinated with electronics (like his devastating good looks, he gets that from his dad), wanted to see what I was doing. So I showed him some dumb viral videos. “Epic Sax Guy.” “Russian Newt Gingrich sings ‘Let It Be.'” “Kung Fu Hillbilly (Judy Chop!)” And, of course, “TROLOLOLOLO.”
Realizing the harm I was doing, I decided to show him some music videos. Vampire Weekend’s “A-Punk” came to mind.
“Whoa…cool! What else do they sing?”
So I ran through much of the videography: “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” (they become werewolves or somethin’!), “Cousins” (they’re all going crazy!), “Giving Up the Gun” (which might have sparked his interest in tennis), and “Holiday” (they wanted a piece of those surfers!).
A fan was created. We watched the videos time and again over the ensuing months. Last year when the band played Pitchfork, the boy and I watched the live stream on the web. When they released the lyric video for “Step” earlier this year, we watched it over and over and over again (that might explain how he can recite much of the first verse, despite challenging lyrics such as “Angkor Wat” and “Dar Es Salaam” and “Communist reader”).
So when I saw VW was coming to Kansas City, I made the executive decision: the boy is ready for his first show.
We had to wait a few months for the show, primarily because it got delayed from May to October (possibly a Saturday Night Live conflict or something). But spending an autumn day in the BBQ capital was a nice reward for the delay.
We ate Jack Stack brisket and ribs and chicken. We hit up the toy store Zoom on the Plaza. We chilled out by a large fountain that was spraying pink water in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We ate the most decadent slice of Cheesecake Factory yumminess, the “Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake.”
I started to worry the concert was going to play second fiddle to Kansas City.
Anyway, we headed north to Midland, found our seats, listened to some hipster douchebag (my son’s words, not mine…kidding) say utterly insipid things while also commenting on my son’s attendance at the concert (“What is this, fuckin’ Kidz Bop?”), listened to opening band the Olms (who provided the boy with his introduction to live music volume), and then settled in for the headliner.
The band recreates their sound well. They came out of the gate with “Cousins,” “White Sky,” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” before running out the big songs from the latest album. People were having fun. The boy sang along to a good number of the songs, bouncing around on his seat and my lap, depending on the song (even with theater seating, he sometimes needed the booster seat of Dad’s lap to see it all). Atop this post was a video of “Unbelievers”; below you’ll see/hear a good portion of “Diane Young”:
So before I started typing this, I had a short bedtime conversation with The Next Generation to get his take on it all. (This is verbatim.)
First things first: did you enjoy your first concert?
Yes! I really liked “Giving Up the Gun.”
What others did you like the best?
I liked “Step,” “Unbelievers,” and “Diane Young” for new ones. Oh yeah! “Kwassa Kwassa.”
Do you know any words to that song?
Is your bed made? Is you sweater on? Do you want to? Like you know I do?
Did you like singing along with the songs?
Yes! It was awesome.
What surprised you most about the concert?
On “Giving Up the Gun,” all the red, flashing lights and stuff.
What about the volume?
It was really loud.
Mmmm, no. (Atta boy.)
What did you think of the opening act, the Olms?
They were OK.
What did you think of the nerds sitting behind us?
Blaaaaaaaaaaah. They just kept talking.
Do you want to go to another concert soon? Who do you want to see?
Yes! The Cure or Crystal Castles or Sleigh Bells.
Why “blech” for Sleigh Bells?
Because the new album is @#^@%^@%##
What does that mean?
Never mind. What bands would you like to see that you can’t see these days?
You said you liked the Midland Theatre. What did you like about it?
The chandelier. And there were pictures on the ceiling.
Do you have a favorite member of Vampire Weekend?
The singer (Ezra Koenig).
I think this interview is over.
Waaah. (rolls around on the bed) “Is your bed made…”
So yeah, this was a lot of fun for both of us. Hopefully it will be some time before the boy thinks Music or Space Shuttle? and the guys who maintain it are totally lame.