Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones
andee's world: May 2007

andee's world

Hello and welcome to my blog. This space will be devoted to opinions, observations, lists, articles and whatever else I feel like posting. Subjects will include music, human nature, politics, life in NYC, etc. If I paste someone else's writing up here, it is because the author said something way better than I ever could. By the way, I don't claim to be a particularly smart guy; I'm just a musician with some opinions. If you disagree with me, that's cool -- but then, you're probably wrong.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wish Fulfillment

Just back from a week in Costa Rica...

a musical travelogue of sorts...

"Pull up to the bumper baby..." Grace Jones in my earphones as the cab swept me through the prodigious exhaust fumes of San Jose to the Musoc bus station. Bus ride over the mountains was so full of radical altitude changes that my ears popped worse than on the plane. Road full of switchback twists and turns overlooking sheer drops into the rainforest. "Jungle love, o-bee, o-bee, oh." Morris Day and the Time.

"Gimme 'nuther hit of vitamin C..."Big Audio Dynamite. I narrowly avoided getting a cold that wanted to get its teeth in me at the beginning of the trip. Was dropping vitamins with great urgency. "Positivity; have you had your plus sign today?"

Prince, from the Lovesexy album.

Finally at my sister Jenny's place outside Dominical, finally get to meet my beautiful 2-yr-old niece, Alana. She's perfect. Why do people have to grow up?

"Rain....feel it on my fingertips, hear it on the windowpane..." sitting with my sister in her candy red VW bug on the patio cranking Madonna while a tropical rain beat down on the roof, overlooking the miles of severe green hills that surround the one-story she shares with her boyfriend Raymond and daughter Alana. Horses, dogs, a cat. The rain banged down relentlessly, non stop for those first two days. Music to sleep by.

The humidity is intense down there but it's a healthy, tropical humidity that makes moisturizer almost beside the point. "Hang me up to dry..." Cold War Kids.

I check into the Tortilla Flats in Dominical after spending two nights at Jenny and Raymond's place. I'm listening to Annie's "Me Plus One" on the discman. Jared shows up that night.

The rest of the trip is a blur of bloody marys and Imperials.

"In the shadow of the sun..." Love Like Blood. Reading on the beach, watchin the surfers. Finished Ian McCuen's Atonement....what a book.

"Walking in the rain..."

(Grace Jones again...)

Rain again, tropical rain, heavy showers passing through every day. The beach clears out but Jared and I decide to go run down the beach in it. Swam in the warm roiling surf, rain pounding down, for like an hour. It was awesome and surreal. Not another soul in sight just the violently green mountains, the riotous ocean and the sky. Jared: "that was one of the highlights of my adult life." It was definitely up there. Wish I could've taken a picture. My sunglasses swept out to sea...

"when I see you high as a kite..." The Cure. Extended remix.

Same three mix CDs, over and over....X...Lily Allen...Ramones...Descendents...Swervedriver...Mew...Chainsaw Kittens

We sample all the bars, all the restaurants. Any bartender who could make a bloody mary made us one. Everyone we met knew my sister, local surfing legend. Everyone. All the tourists we met were taking surfing lessons from her.

"I like small rooms..." Papas Fritas. Bunk beds and cool showers. Sand on the floor.

Steamy sunshine followed by more rain. "Put out the fire on us; bring the buckets by the dozens..." ColdWar Kids again.

"I know I'm don't have to tell me..." My sister's overactive, misbehaving dalmations, forever banished to an outdoor existence. Bodi and Magoo. Boisterous animals they were! But certainly not unloveable. The Smiths on the discman.

Geckos everywhere. On the walls and ceilings, in restaurants. Good little critters, they eat mosquitoes and spiders...Alana, points, delighted; "gecko!"

"Zombie Eaters," Faith No More.

Too muggy for a hairstyle. My close-cropped mohawk doesn't care. "I'm so tired of my guns and my vanity, I'd like to trade 'em in for some sanity..."

Luscious Jackson,"Ladyfingers."

"Wish Fulfillment," Sonic Youth

Back over the mountain...Prince in the headphones...RHCP...Shudder to to the aeropuerta (9,500 colones). Cloying emissions...exit tax...ascent into the clouds.

"Take a Bow," Madonna



MySpace Outage Leaves Millions Friendless

MySpace Outage Leaves Millions Friendless

May 30, 2007 | Issue 43•22

BEVERLY HILLS, CA—An estimated 150 million people continued to be without social lives Tuesday as a massive system failure at entered its third day.
Enlarge Image MySpace Outage

MySpace users now find themselves completely alone in the world.

"The problem is taking longer than we anticipated, but rest assured we're working around the clock to get MySpace back online," said David Gundy, a spokesman for the social networking site. "We're hoping to have friendship restored to our users as soon as possible."

The outage, which occurred late Saturday night, is believed to be the result of a complicated wallpaper upload for the page of a former VH1 I Love New York contestant, which triggered a chain reaction of web browser crashes and server shutdowns. Although MySpace's emergency-response team has so far been unable to reconnect any of the millions currently stranded without access to online companionship, Gundy said he remains hopeful that no profiles have been lost.

However, because the sudden lack of friends has deprived MySpace users of comments, bulletin posts, and searches for elementary school crushes, it is feared that the ordeal could inflict long-term psychological damage. In Chicago alone, an estimated 50,000 people remain trapped in their apartments, with no way of contacting the outside world about new bands, Adult Swim cartoons, or the latest video games.

Enlarge Image MySpace Outage Jump

Desperate citizens gather in communal hotspots to check repeatedly if MySpace is back online yet.

"I lost 6,456 of my best friends in an instant," said Minneapolis resident Peter Steinberg, 20, who has loyally befriended as many profiles as possible over the past two years. "Nothing can describe how devastated I feel. Some of these people I've exchanged two, even three comments with, and I can't tell you how many ROTFLMAOs we've shared, too."

Steinberg was among the first to suspect something was wrong with Friday when he was unable to send an animated image of TV's ALF chasing a cat to his MySpace group, "Welcome to Bartertown, Bitch."

Other stranded, friendless citizens are doing their best to cope, but are finding it harder and harder to go on.

"I've just been wandering in and out of my cubicle in a daze, not knowing what to say and who to talk to," said Upper Darby, PA data-entry technician Patrick "Smiley457" Mancuso, 31. "I thought about asking someone at work or in my apartment building if they'd join my friend group. But how am I supposed to tell which ones I will like and which ones I won't? It's too overwhelming."

Corey "Aqualad" Friesen, 18, of Danville, IL appeared to share Mancuso's fears about manual and analog socializing. "I vaguely remember trying to make friends pre-MySpace, but in 16 years, I only made three real friends," Friesen said. "If I have to revert back to face-to-face friend gathering, I would be middle-aged before I built that number into the double digits. I'd definitely never get back into the hundreds again."

Denver's Marco Imbrescia, known to his MySpace friends as I Smell Tuna, contemplated the existential ramifications of the outage.

MySpace Outage Tom

'Sorry for the lameness on our end.'


"Without an 'About Me' section, I've lost all sense of self," said Imbrescia, 17, who depends on the site to convey his innermost thoughts to millions of extended-network friends. "Do I want kids? How tall am I? What's my body type? These are questions I can't answer anymore. I'd pray to a god for help, but I've lost my religion field."

A handful of relief organizations have begun to offer some assistance to MySpace refugees. The American Red Cross is currently setting up a network of approximately 60 smaller-sized "fill-in" sites, where lonely MySpace users can post abbreviated profiles and receive instant messages from aid workers in half-hour increments. But because it's only intended as a temporary stopgap, user options are austere: MySpace members cannot list hobbies and interests, upload MP3s, or link to favorite YouTube clips, making friendship compatibility and popularity nearly impossible to predetermine.

On Monday, MySpace co-creator Tom Anderson issued an apologetic press release on the website of MySpace's parent company, News Corporation.

"So I know alot [sic] of you couldn't check out your profiles and I just want to say sorry for all the lameness on our end," Anderson wrote. "Rock on. :)"


(thanks to Tommy King for the forward!)

The Week In Rock, the Week in Assholes

Monday, May 14th

I finally saw a band I've been wanting to check out for awhile, LCD Soundsystem, at Webster Hall (thank you Claudia! wish you'd been there with me) on Monday night. Like most people, I went to have a good time, maybe dance around a bit. But the crowd was so fucking lame, it killed my vibe completely. A little pond scum posse behind me was yelling things like "dance, hipsters! dance you little scenester wannabes!" in between songs, to no one in particular.

I don't know what's worse, the "hipsters" or the hipster haters. As far as I'm concerned, you all suck it, and suck it hard. Provincial douchebags.

I watched the rest of the show from the back of the room, feeling too misanthropic to have fun. The band was ok. They played their best song, "Someone Great," as the first song of the encore and I left after that.

Tuesday, May 15th

I did my monthly dj stint at Lit for the Rebel Rebel party. For some reason, they make everyone -- djs, dancers, promoters, bar staff-- wait around til f*cking 5:00 am to get paid. I'm sure no one wants to be there that late but what other choice is there? We've all got bills to pay. When the money is finally presented -- and before the bills can even touch my palm -- the owner of Lit starts yelling, from behind the bar, "alright, get the fuck out of my bar you people! Get the FUCK out!" He's not kidding. He's addressing the people who work for him, who've been made to wait an hour for the night's pay. Amazingly, he does this pretty much every week.

It was my last night at Lit.

Wednesday, May 16th

I caught Dale Watson at the Rodeo Bar with my good friend Matt Farley. Like most country artists, Watkins and his band were deadly players. They didn't use a set list and mostly played requests (covers and originals) shouted out by the audience -- the band were spot-on yet loose and fun. The crowd was really eclectic, particularly for a country show. This adorable lesbian couple were dancing around in front of us. One was little and cute, the other tall and androgynous, wearing a black suit. They were so fun to watch -- and they were the only ones dancing.

Then I noticed that someone at one of the tables was throwing ice chips at them, over and over. Eventually the two girls bummed out and stopped dancing. It must be hard to stay in a good mood when you know someone else in the room actively hates you because of what you are. What a drag.

Saturday, May 19th

Matt and I journeyed out to New Jersey in the rain to check out the mighty Black Sabbath, with Ronnie James Dio on the mic, at the PNC Arts Center. I braced myself for some more potential idiocy and lowest-common denominator behavior at this show, being a suburban metal crowd and all.

But surprisingly, everyone was cool there. It was a great show. Thanks to a traffic backup in the city, we arrived late and only caught the last two songs of opening band Megadeth, but what we heard was absolutely ferocious. Black Sabbath sounded colossal. Dio, now 64 fucking years old, sang with a level of power that is basically unheard of in a performer of his age. He doesn't have all the high notes in his back pocket like he used to, but fuck -- what do you want? He sounds titanic.

Sunday, May 20th

Another asshole-free show! Big Lazy were at Luna Lounge, right here on my block, and my friend Jessica invited me along. They're an all-instrumental trio who play moody, cinematic, surf-inflected tunes with titles like "Boneless, Skinless" and "Going to Hell in a Handbasket." They're a unique band with a really fresh approach. Totally kick-ass players, too. I'd seen them once before -- across the street at Black Betty, in fact -- back in 2000. That seems like an age ago. It was really cool to see them again. There were alot of people at this gig and the band were really on. The Jack-and-Cokes were strong, the crowd were laid back and Jessica and I had a good time.

I capped off my night in the Lower East Side with Toni at 151 Bar and then the Byte party on Delancy Street.

Monday, May 21st

When I got off the J train at Marcy avenue later, in the wee early hours of Monday morning, I was in pretty good mood. It had been a relatively asshole-free weekend! As I walked down a deserted Havemeyer Street en route to my apartment, a thuggish dude was coming toward me on the sidewalk. When he got level with me, he jumped at me and pulled his fist back-- I thought he was gonna smash me in the face. But then he stopped abruptly and said "fucking cocksucker" and kept walking.

I yelled "fuck you!" at him as he moved on, but what can I do? -- it's their world, not mine.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Van Halen RRHoF Induction Debacle

Recently I succumbed to my morbid curiosity about the much balleyhooed induction ceremony of Van Halen to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I heard it was dreadful but, despite all better judgement, I decided to look it up on Youtube anyway. And before I could stop it, the whole sordid affair was playing out before me in lurid, living color.

I'm sorry I bothered. I'd been told plenty of times that the whole event was an embarrassment -- yet I was still amazed at how depressing the whole thing was when I finally saw it with my own eyes.

First of all, couldn't someone have found better presenters than the execrable Velvet Revolver? This band comes across as little more than a crass marketing concept cooked up by cynical record industry suits who miss the fat paychecks that once-huge acts like Guns 'n' Roses and Stone Temple Pilots used to rake in for them. What this tepid, tired lot have to do with a revolutionary, one-of-a-kind, all-time classic rock band like Van Halen is beyond me.

But worse than the uninspired choice of Van Halen's inductors is, of course, the fact that the members of Van Halen themselves, full-grown men well into middle age, couldn't stop bickering amongst themselves, get their shit together and show up to this damn thing. It breaks my heart that a genius like Eddie Van Halen, once a restlessly innovative talent who shone brighter than the sun, is now a reclusive, booze-soaked madman, just a quirk away from Michael Jackson status. Ditto for his brother Alex. And where was David Lee Roth? This painfully dull ceremony desperately needed his color and razor sharp wit.

For what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is worth, Van Halen are certainly deserving of being inducted into it. And you'd think that for an occasion like this, Eddie, Alex, Michael and Diamond Dave could have buried their proverbial hatchet for a night.

But no. Instead, an embarrassed looking Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar turn up to accept on behalf of their dysfunctional brethren. It must be said, these two did the best they could under the circumstances. Anthony was clearly as excited by the honor as he could have been without his mates beside him. Second stringer Hagar, no doubt fully aware of his status as "everyone's second-favorite Van Halen frontman," accepted with dignity and humility, and thanked the RRHOF for including him at all. I'm not a Hagar fan but at least the guy has his feet on the ground.

Then there were the performances. In lieu of Van Halen themselves were Velvet Revolver, who paid "tribute" to the band with a performance of "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love." Scott Weiland & co. took the stage and my stomach sank as Slash botched the song's indelible opening figure, an unforgivable mistake. Walk into any music store in America and you can hear that riff played correctly. I'm not bagging on Slash; he's a great guitarist in his own right but he clearly isn't the man to be invoking a virtuoso like Van Halen. He was out of his depth.

After the tense first eight bars or so, however, Slash recovered and the band were basically in the clear, as the rest of the song is more or less just two chords.

But then Weiland opened his mouth.

Now, I'm not here to say Weiland is totally talentless; he is (or was, at least) a competent singer who did a nice enough job on all those STP singles. However, authentic he is not. He sailed in on the back of the grunge movement in the early 90s by affecting a pastiche of all the Seattle-based vocal stylings that were au courant at the time, and threw a pretentious pose of bogus eccentricity into the mix as well (remember his rocking chair schtick in the STP Unplugged show?). And nowadays Weiland is doing an absurd Iggy/Mick Jagger pantomime, which he put on full display at the RRHOF show. Gross.

Ok, fine, Scott Weiland is a poser. But at the very least, one would think, having been asked to commemorate one of the greatest rock bands of all time, he would give his dead-level best to do Diamond Dave and company some justice and respect.

No such luck! Weiland's performance was abysmal. He was hopelessly out of tune, not that it sounded like he was even trying. He appeared to be doing some sort of goofy lounge singer parody. I mean, what was he on? What was he thinking?

Worse than the awful singing was the fact that this man, this clown, this pretender, this fraud, was chosen to pay tribute to one of the most original and influential personalities in rock. What an atrocity. It was bad karaoke. It was unlistenable, unwatchable. I couldn't even make it to the end of the clip.

Of course I should have bailed then and there, but nooo.

A hopeless glutton for punishment, I decided to subject myself to the other performance in the Van Halen tribute, the one where Hagar and Anthony took the stage backed up by -- it hurts me to say this -- Paul Schaffer and the Late Show with David Letterman Orchestra, for a bland, session hack rendition of "Why Can't This Be Love," a hit from the Van Hagar era.

Ouch. It was like watching a wedding band. A not very good one. Sid McGuinness mangled the guitar solo in a singularly depressing moment. Couldn't someone have at least phoned Steve Vai? Again, this was unbearable.

What stings most about all of this wasn't how bad the performers were, it was the absence of Van Halen themselves, a once-great band who, in their heyday, rightfully ruled the earth and could play circles around anyone you'd care to mention, a band who made up their own rules and virtually reinvented the game of rock.

And this ceremony, which was an open opportunity for Van Halen to untarnish their now sullied name, to show everyone how it's done, to patch up their differences with one another and accept an honor that they deserve, was instead a reminder that this band's best days are far behind them, irretrievably gone, a speck in the rear-view mirror.

When the Roth era of Van Halen closed up shop in 1985, they left behind an enormous piece of real estate, to which, so far, no other band can afford the lease.

Labels: ,