Wednesday, July 27, 2005

From the Ashes

There is a house that I drive by every day on my way to work that is being restored after a fire spread through it last winter. The owners obviously had great insurance because the newly restored house looks way better than the original. This got me thinking, if all my stuff were to go up in smoke, what would I miss the most? As long as my family were okay, the answer would be not much. Other than some family pictures, I don't really own anything that couldn't be replaced by insurance. In fact, I wouldn't mind getting rid of some shit. Of all my material things, most can be put into one of four categories:
  1. Sporting Goods- bike, kayak, camping stuff, fishing pole, cross country skis, snowboard, surfboard, etc.
  2. Technology- CD's, computer, stereo, TV, camera, etc.
  3. Tools- Misc. power and hand tools
  4. Clothing and Furniture- pretty self explanatory I think
The hardest to replace would be my CD collection. Where would I start? Well, here are the first 10 CD's I would buy with that insurance check.
  1. Wilco- "Being There"
  2. John Scofield- "A Go Go"
  3. Built to Spill- "Ancient Melodies of the Future"
  4. Bob Dylan- "Desire"
  5. Los Lobos- "Colossal Head"
  6. Son Volt- "Trace"
  7. Brad Mehldau- "Art of the Trio 4 Back at the Vanguard"
  8. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros- "Streetcore"
  9. Miles Davis- "Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet"
  10. Talking Heads- "Fear of Music"
Not an easy list to compile, given the constraints, and the fact that I would probably have to buy some clothes, since they were probably destroyed in the fire also. I would definitely have to add some Neil Young and Charlie Hunter ASAP, but they would have to wait. I have not listened to some of these albums in awhile, but these are the 10 that I don't think I could live without. They will get me through about anything.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

10 Things to Do Before I Die

Below is a list of ten things I want to do before I die, in no particular order.

  1. Travel to Cuba.
  2. Build a house.
  3. Kayak the entire length of the Columbia River.
  4. Really learn to play the guitar, not just the 3 chords I know now.
  5. Surf in Hawaii.
  6. Attend Jazz Fest in New Orleans.
  7. Work at a winery.
  8. Spend a month without seeing or speaking to another person.
  9. See my kids graduate from college.
  10. Retire in Hood River, Oregon.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Rollins' Rants

I am a big fan of Henry Rollins, especially his spoken word and writing. I respect the guy for playing hard all these years, touring almost nonstop for over 20 years, and always giving 100% at whatever he is doing at the moment. In the last year he has done two spoken word tours, hosted a radio show on L.A.'s Indie 103.1 FM, and has managed to visit the troops in Afganistan, South Korea, and Japan. His most recent gig has been film critic. Have you seen his weekly movie review show on the Independent Film Channel? It kills. Most of all, I like the fact that he is a real fan of music, both old and new. I don't think he sees himself as a rock star, but as a fan, like most of us. The following is from his most recent online newsletter, in which he weighs in on some of the events of the past couple of weeks. Hank has always been up on what is going down politically. I think he sums up what a lot of us have been feeling.

"I don’t know if any of you have been following the news, but knowing this crowd, I think the answer is a yes. The aggressive moves China is making for Unocal is interesting. The for and against arguments are really something. Hearing that we would basically be giving a Communist country some really intense technology that could potentially be used against us, (which is a real concern to me and CNN’s Lou Dobbs at least) and the other side, the CATO Institute, that seems to think the sale of Unocal to China would be just dandy and no problem at all. I hope this thing doesn’t turn into a partisan issue."
"Also of interest to me is the Rove leak probe. A lot of people are weighing in on this one and it’s great to watch Scott McClellan fend off the press core and Ann Coulter and the Fox News thugs relegate all this to Liberal whining. I wish the press wasn’t so cowed by the Bush Administration. I wish more people were angry at what’s happening in Iraq."

"Interesting how the press is all over the London bombings story, as they should be, but over 200 people get blown to pieces in Iraq and it’s just some news slotted in a small space under Tiger Woods’ golf shoe."

"Also interesting and disturbing to read James Wolcott’s article, To Live and Die in Iraq, in the August Vanity Fair. In the article he pulls info from USA Today that claims an alarming statistic of vehicular deaths of vets back from Iraq and Afghanistan. “From October 2003 to September 2004, when troops first returned from Iraq, 132 soldiers died in vehicle accidents—a 28% jump from the previous 12 months. Two thirds of them were veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan.” The rate has increased 23% since then. I guess these guys and gals are coming home pretty wound up."

Henry has plans to do a U.S. spoken word tour this fall, hopefully I will be able to catch him when he hits Boston. The last time I saw him in Boston he talked for nearly 3 hours, stopping only once to drink some water. He spent a good hour on his recent USO visit to Afghanistan, and his anti-war/Bush/Cheney/Haliburton, pro-soldier views of Iraq. The funniest part of the show was his six-year "relationship" with Sheryl Crow, unbeknownst to her, and his newest "crush", Ann Coulter. He also told stories of the West Memphis 3 Tour, what it was like to play Black Flag songs again, past Rollins Band tours in England and Japan, as well as spending time with Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer before their deaths. He seemed more upbeat and optimistic than previous spoken word concerts I've heard from the past, and I forgot how funny he could be, I was in stitches the whole time.

Listening to: Peter Tosh- Live & Dangerous: Boston 1976

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Movies that Suck from People Who Don't

I recently saw the movie "Elephant" on DVD. For those of you who didn't see this film, it is the story of a day in the life of an American high school that turns tragic, but the most tragic thing about this movie for me was having to sit through it. I am usually a fan of Gus Van Sant's work (Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting, etc.), but I really didn't get into this one. Van Sant's imagery and cinematography are usually dead on in my opinion, but this flick had too many drawn out scenes of people walking or doing nothing. There was one scene of a character slowly walking across a football field and into the school, then walking down the halls of the school. The entire scene was shot from behind and lasted for over 5 minutes. We get it, high school is a lonely place.

This movie got me thinking though, what other films were bombs, but either starred actors I admired or were directed by people I respected? Below are two other films that I had high expectations for, but left disappointed.
  • Eyes Wide Shut- This movie was built up to be Stanley Kubrik's Last Testament, his greatest cinematic slap in the face, going "where the rainbow ends". I liked the subtle references to his other films (Clockwork Orange and The Shining), but his casting of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman ruined the film for me. Don't even get me started about Tom Cruise, I have never liked his cheesy films (please tell me, what did people see in Jerry Maguire?), and now the world knows what a dip shit he really is.
  • Lost in Translation- What did I miss from this film? I thought the soundtrack (Air, My Bloody Valentine, and Jesus & Mary Chain) was way better than the actual movie. I usually love Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson is easy on the eyes, but I left this movie wanting more. Directed by Sophia Coppola, I think the only reason this movie was so popular was it was directed by a Coppola, the Hollywood elite will always stroke their own.
Please feel free to add to this list.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Newest Member of the Tribe

On July 16 our son, Evan James, joined us at 4:15 in the afternoon. He weighs an impressive 8 pounds, 14 ounces, and is 21.5 inches long. Everyone is healthy, happy, and feeling very grateful. I have a new found respect for my wife. Once again, she labored for over 15 hours and delivered without any interventions or drugs. So much for the second child being easier to deliver. She was in total control of her body the entire time, it was an amazing thing to witness. Music was an important part of the labor, as it was with our first child. Thanks to chw for the head's up on Daniel Lanois' new one, "Belladonna". Lanois' pedal steel guitar and Brad Mehldau's piano were perfect, especially while my wife worked through contractions in the soaking tub. Other music that made the day included Japancakes, David Gray, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Ahmad Jamal, and Morcheeba.

Listening to: Built to Spill- Ancient Melodies of the Future

Friday, July 15, 2005

Okemah and the Melody of Riot

I picked up Son Volt's new album today. I have read some pretty stellar reviews of this disc, but I wasn't expecting to be blown away. Jay Farrar's last two solo albums were good, but nothing like his earlier Son Volt albums. To be honest, when I heard that this new disc was done without the Boquist brothers I was expecting another Farrar solo album. Thankfully "Okemah" sounds like something new while still holding onto that Son Volt sound circa 1995, best thing Farrar has done since "Trace" if you ask me.

Potter Heads Unite!

Let me start out this post by saying that I am not a fan of Harry Potter, fantasy is not really my bag anymore. I understand why the Harry Potter books appeal to their readers and there is no arguing J.K. Rowling is a great writer and marketer of her craft. With that said, the newest Harry Potter book is coming out tomorrow, and the entire literature world seems to be in a dither because it is going to break all kinds of records. Supposedly some of the books got loose in Canada earlier in the week and they had to put a gag order on the individuals who had them so they would not tell the ending.

Anyways, tonight my town is throwing a Potter celebration on Main Street. All the stores downtown are taking part in a Hogwart's themed scavenger hunt, with the finale being the two bookstores downtown opening their doors at midnight to all the fans who want to buy the book before anyone else. I must say that it is cool to see kids getting excited about reading what is no doubt some pretty good literature. At least this book may pry them away from the PlayStation for a few days.

Three Harry Potter observations:

  • While buying milk tonight at the store around the corner from my house I ran into a teenage gang of "Potter Heads", all decked out in their wizard costumes. They were buying up all the Red Bull and Mountain Dew in the place. I guess if you are going to stay up all weekend reading the new book you gotta stay awake.
  • A few summers back I happened to be flying cross-country on the day the 5th Potter book was released. Halfway through the flight I look over at the young kids (probably eight and eleven) sitting across the aisle from me, and instead of reading the book they were reading chapter summaries that their mom had printed for them from the net (bad mom). I asked them why they were not reading the actual book, and their response was that it was too long to read it, but all of their friends who did read the book would be talking about it on Monday, so they wanted to know the plot so they could pretend they read it. Frauds, and mom is to blame.
  • I recently read a review about an indie band called "The Harry Potters", made up of two brothers who dress up like Harry for all their shows.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Quote of the Week

While in Scotland for the G8 Summit last week, Bush took a digger on his mountain bike. Here is what he had to say about himself:

"When you ride hard on a mountain bike, sometimes you fall. Otherwise, you're not riding hard."

Wow, brilliant. I'm glad his time in Scotland was well spent.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Wait

My wife and I are expecting our second child any day now (the due date was on the 6th). She has been having contractions for two weeks now, but no signs of real labor yet. The wait is killing us both, we are sitting around all day thinking that the baby is going to decide to arrive any moment. I am done with work for the summer, so I should be happy, but I feel like I can't do anything until the baby arrives. We can't even decide what to eat for dinner. After a week of this I finally started building a shed in my backyard, but I don't know from day to day if I am going to be able to work on it. The only thing I can compare it to is a plane ride that seems to go on forever. You know those flights that never seem to end, you're tired and restless, but you can't get comfortable... This is torture.

Listening to: Coldplay- X & Y

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Live 8 Live

I plan on checking out some of the Live 8 Live music later today, though I don't think these concerts will do a damn bit of good at the G8 Summit next week. Do you really think those involved in the summit are paying attention to what Bono is saying about African debt? I'm sure U2's record sales will skyrocket next week though. I wish there were some more African musicians on the bill, especially since the shows are supposed to be highlighting what is going on in Africa. I would have liked to have seen Ali Farka Toure or Burning Spear added to the lineup. With that said, I am excited to check out Neil Young and Coldplay's sets.

Listening to: Ernest Ranglin- Below the Bassline

Friday, July 01, 2005

Early Musical Influences

I came across the Dischord Records website last night and it got me thinking about some of the bands that I first started listening to when I was in middle and high school. Having an older brother I had already been exposed to The Police, Devo, and The Talking Heads, but it was also around this time that I started listening to Dag Nasty, Minor Threat, Black Flag, and Fugazi. Most of my friends listened to whatever was on MTV (heavy metal hairbands mostly), but our high school did have a small student radio station that played bands that MTV wouldn't touch in the mid to late 1980's. Much of the music played on this station came from the Dischord label, which was started in 1980 to document all the great punk/hardcore music coming out of the Washington D.C area. Most of these bands are not ones that I listen to on a daily basis today, but I still pull out Fugazi's "Repeater" album when I am in the mood (like tonight). During college I started listening to The Rollin's Band, though I enjoy Henry Rollins' books and his spoken word stuff more than his music, but it is the music that keeps him going I am sure. Talk about a guy who gives it his all at whatever he does. I love listening to Henry talk about hanging out with Ian MacKaye in Washington D.C. during the early eighties, that must have been something to be witness to all the great music coming out of D.C. at that time. I can only compare it to the Seattle scene of the early nineties, living in Eastern Washington I was lucky enough to see bands like The Screaming Trees, Mudhoney, and even Nirvana in smaller venues before they broke through. Bands like Fugazi and Black Flag, they had that raw, underground sound and DIY ethos that seems to be missing from much of today's music, or maybe I am not looking in the right places. I have to think that somewhere that fire is still burning.

Top Five Beer Joints

It's 4th of July weekend and I'm waiting for the rain to stop so I can get outside. I like beer, especially handcrafted beers, but I am not against drinking PBR or Molson on occasion. Here are my top 5 places to enjoy a cold one after a long day. You will notice that 4 out of the 5 are in Oregon, which is home to hundreds of great micro (and some not so micro) brews.

1. The Lucky Lab (PDX)- Hands down my favorite place to grab a beer after a long bike ride. Their brews have a high alcohol content so two pints are perfect for catching a late afternoon buzz. Sit at one of the picnic tables out back and enjoy the same bento they have been serving since they opened twelve years ago.
2. The Tugboat Brewery (PDX)- Many Portlanders don't even know this little brewery exists. It feels more like a coffeeshop than a bar. It is located in an alley downtown, just around the corner from the Church of Elvis. Fresh brews and the best nachos in town.
3. The McMenamins Edgefield (east of PDX)- This brewery is located on a former farm. The main building, with guestrooms, is a national historic landmark. There is a restaurant, pub, numerous small bars and an outside grill. Handcrafted ales and wine are made on site. Great place to see local bands as well. This was one of my favorite stops on the way back from hiking in the Gorge or skiing on Mt Hood.
4. Full Sail Brewery (Hood River)- Classic Hood River brewery since 1987, great beer and food. Sit on the deck overlooking the Columbia River.
5. Offshore Ale (Martha's Vineyard, MA)- Peanut shells on the floor, overlooking Vineyard Sound. Some of the best East Coast beer I've tasted. They even have their own band, The Offshore Cycle Band, good time rockin' blues.

Listening to: Neil Young- Live Rust