Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Stuff

I probably practiced guitar/wrote music for about 5 hours this weekend (for me, this is a lot). I'm trying to write stuff that I would want to see.

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Soulive is worth seeing again.

Given the band's performance at the Roxy last night, I have to question whether they were ever not worth seeing. Maybe that New Year's show at BB King's in 200X was just a fluke. Back then, the the guys seemed exhausted and unispired.

But they've found new energy. Soulive has followed the same career trajectory (thus far) of Kool and the Gang. Jazz band goes ghetto, then gets singer(s) and starts cranking out heavy-ass soul-funk. New singer Toussaint seemed right at home on the stage. Drummer Alan Evans has evolved into a monster, powering the band through every subgenre worked into the show. He's become a great soloist to boot. Neal Evans is still a madman, and Krasno is now shredding on a Telecaster in addition to his Ibanez semi-hollow.

There was a liberal dose of their best jazz material, like "One in Seven," and many, many new songs featuring Toussaint on vocals, like "Don't Tell Me" and "One of Those Days." The ethereal "Bubble," a jammy, yet soulful instrumental, stuck in my head strongest. Too bad the studio version doesn't do it justice--the band's rediscovered energy was palpable last night. That they closed their set with "The Ocean" (yes, Zeppelin) proved that they were there to rock the fuck out.

So what if 50% of the crowd was college dudes with bad afros? It was worth being around them to be part of the communal, eardrum-destroying experience.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Oral Fixation

On and near my desk: Coca-Cola Cherry Zero bottle (20%) full, several Diet Pepsi cans (empty), ravaged tin of peppermint candy, pack of American Spirit Ultra Lights (half gone).

Remind me what all this stress is for again?

Follow up to "Return to Aeroworld:" What is White Sauce BBQ?

Smoked meat with mayonnaise-based sauce. Creamy, sometimes fluffy, white sauce containing loads of black pepper. In other words, disgusting.

I won't name the place we went to, since the pork and chicken both had a strong, acrid taste that caused suspicion of liquid smoke.

Even my Italian sub the next day contained a boatload of mayo, on top of which vinaigrette was poured. "Dude, it's the South," my colleague said.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

PITTSBURGH

"Pittsburgh (PGH) a strange city--a downtown surrounded by nothing, laden with gothic & art deco, bearing the bite of salt and snow, a fabulously bleak place on a ninety degree day, as cinematic today as Smith proved it photogenic then.

"Worthy of further exploration; a great setting."

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Green Tree, PA: As the midweek late night internet porn crunch commences,

it becomes impossible to check email or surf the web. Nothing is so certain as plummeting weeknight bandwidth except, perhaps, the "chorus of overpowered showers" and lack of hot water between 7 and 8 am.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

NASHVILLE

So Altman did a better job of this. So the $2.50 Paulaner Oktoberfests, Paulaner Dopplebock, two-for-one Yazoo Pales, and Jager bombs were all bad ideas, each in their own right.

Some of post removed for quality control purposes.

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Return to Aeroworld

I'd forgotten how much preparation is necessary to make these trips a success. Should be out the door and on the T, boarding pass in hand, within an hour. I'll have two more hotel pens by Wednesday night, and I've been instructed to consume white sauce BBQ in Nashville tonight. Then we'll see if Pittsburgh people really are as mean as they say.

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The Landlord's Wife

Every Monday, as the sun rises over D------ Street, it illuminates large gray mounds of rubbish in front of every house save one--mine. A passerby might fear that the owners of that one house had forgotten to put the trash out this week, but the owners actually prefer that their trash spend as little time as possible in public view.

To that end, the landlord's wife, who is short and about 70, commits herself to a meticulous, if briefly executed, routine. At around eight a.m., she moves carefully packaged and easily liftable parcels of trash from the back of the house to the curb. She then moves the recycling bin from the front porch to the curb. And then, she waits.

Despite the house abutting a very busy road, the landlord's wife can sense very well when the recycling truck's engine begins to hum from an oblique angle up the side street. She appears within two minutes of the truck's passing and retrieves the empty blue bin from the curb.

Later, when the garbage truck comes, the same process is repeated for the trash barrel. She never sees or makes contact with the drivers or collectors, but she never fails to move all empty bins within minutes of the trucks' passing.

It is in this way that our house, which is quite a nice house, never has trash in front of it as long as any other house on D------ Street.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

The White Owls

I haven't seen blues like this in a while, or perhaps ever. Five old white dudes rocking the Hatch Shell. Driving rhythm, ferocious telecaster, and amazing lap steel guitar (!), fronted by a middle-aged dude in a straw hat and old dept store sport coat. I'll gladly add them to my list of middle-aged Boston performers of American music whom I aspire to emulate. They have no website, but they play at Sally O'Brien's in Union Square (Somerville, folks) every Sunday night.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fascination List, 9.20.07

Since I live alone now, and work and think a lot, I thought I'd try to figure out some of the things that interest me that aren't work or food. For your entertainment and mine, here's what I've come up with thus far:

The concept of gentrification and my suspicion that it is a term for the gradual creation of a high-margin consumer class, living in small, nonconformity-free clusters.

Transportation systems/ industrial infrastructure and how they allow us to live the lives the way we do.

Role of transport infrastructure in historical development of civilizations and cities.

The remarkable ability television and the internet have to classify viewers into target audiences for advertisers.

Urban planning, the partial obsolescence of the automobile, and convincing people to live more efficiently.

Cities and their representation in all forms of art.

American vernacular music (blues, jazz, swing, country, gospel, r&b, rock, soul, funk, rap) in all combinations and forms. Studying, listening, playing, writing. Preserving venues for original music.

Learning drums and eventually steel guitar in addition to improving at guitar and bass.

Class immobility in the U.S. Exploring the reason why since high school I can count on one hand (give or take a few fingers) the number of people I've met who have similar backgrounds to me and live the lifestyle I do.

Racism. Since I was trained by my childhood surroundings to be a severe racist and spent much of my life unlearning how to be racist, I am curious to explore how others can be taught to do the same.

Debt on micro and macro levels, the acceptance of debt, and the role debt will play in the gradual unraveling of U.S. supremacy.

The American Fear of Sex; anti-sexual attitudes.

Photographic studies of reality, particularly the alleged realties described in this list. Creation of photographs.

Keeping myself alive long enough to explore and write about all of this.

Horror (art forms) as allegory.

Rabid and strangely rewarding obsession for calling out hypocrisy and profiteering.

Cycles of abuse (especially verbal), psychological effect on victims, inescapability of abuse.

Corporatization/privatization of public space, e.g. malls, coffeeshops.

Photographer's rights; artists' rights challenged by fanatical citizens and law enforcement employees (see photopermit.org).

Corporate photo/video surveillance of customers at most retail locations, how it's used, and why they ban photography on their premises but don't inform us we're being constantly watched.

Widespread American NIMBYism, fanatacism, racism, ignorance, and how to fix them.

Thank you.

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Also: I think I may have identified potential guitar #10.

From Boston-based First Act: the CE540.


I think John Powhida has one, and it sounds the way I want it to. I'll have to try one out at their Back Bay studio soon. I also noticed they built an "artist's studio" in part of the Ames envelope factory in Somerville, but I have no idea what that is.

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New Fountains of Wayne (Traffic and Weather)

Musically sound and lyrically hilarious. Great songcraft. That's what I need to learn.

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See also: Nirvana's "On a Plain"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's actually the last five lines, but I only care about the last two sentences.

THE LAST TWO LINES OF THE SUN ALSO RISES

THE LAST TWO LINES OF THE SUN ALSO RISES!
THE LAST TWO LINES OF THE SUN ALSO RISES!


RAGE!! RAGE!!

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Dear CMike,

We must begin photo-documenting all future band rehearsals/writing sessions.

Sincerely,
rb

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sense of Shock

I think I've just figured out why I can't grow up. It's the unabating sense of shock that I can do that which I do. I suspect from reading many copies of the USA Today on the road that this very sense is instilled in dozens millions of American children from childbirth. But the sense I mostly got from my birthplace was that you work, reproduce, attempt to "build equity," die. Not necessarily in that order.

My sense of shock is one that I had to learn to feel, and it will give way to some form of greater confidence that I don't have yet. Many significant things I've done thus far have had question marks attached to them--usually before, but sometimes after the fact. It often felt that I was getting a great bargain or setting myself up for a challenge I was not worthy to face. I could go to Regis? I could go to college? Tufts? I can sell things? Market things? Write songs? Write stories? Learn photography?

I've been doing all these things and many others. They keep me up at night. I barely sleep. I need to keep pushing the envelope, artistically and professionally. I will not consider myself fully developed.

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Homesickness comes in strange and unpredictable ways.

Today's breezes smell like late summer Flushing Bay. Strange mix of salt, sea, verdure, diesel exhaust. All that's missing is the jet fuel.

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and just like that

it became autumn.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"dude, that's so meta"

quoth Meade as I read what I heard the Worcester cabbie speak, which I typed and up and published on my blog, before the words were cut and pasted into a magazine and attributed to my name in quotation marks, then several weeks later physically handed back to me on newsprint to read to the crowd.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

putting a fork in it

I think I may have to retire this blog and start anew.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Why

are you blogging about fucking pc hatred?" asks DM. "This is the shit you should be blogging about."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Landlord and apparent contractor are having screaming match outside my door.

Most of the people I went to college with would be terrified.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Further PC Hatred: Peripherals

I've had the same HP inkjet printer for four years, which means that every time my job assigns me another PC laptop, I have to download and install these things called "drivers" that Macs don't need. HP likes to bundle spyware with its drivers.

The HP program repeatedly crashed the last two laptops I had. It doesn't crash my new Dell. However, half the time, the printer will not work with the new laptop.

The Dell likes to say, "USB Device Not Recognized. One of the USB Devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it."

Clicking the Help tab in Windows yields: "Try reconnecting the device. If Windows still does not recognize it, replace the device."

I've needed about half a dozen new printers in the last month. At least Windows isn't telling me to "contact the person who manages your network" today.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Large Northeastern City Takes Valuable Harborfront Property and Uses it to Expand Port

And it's Boston. This is awesome!

In the Northeast, we never get new industrial stuff to photograph. But as usual, the private development on public land is being run by at least one ex-state official, just like the MBTA commuter rail. And the Globe illogically uses the words "cement" and "concrete" interchangeably in its article.

I know that's why you come to my blog. To read about the difference between cement and concrete.

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PC HATRED!!!

I'm not sure why, but the last two PC laptops I've been assigned have each had two wireless internet utilities: a Windows program and a manufacturer-provided one (in the first case, some "ThinkVantage" shit from Lenovo; in this most recent case, the "Dell Wireless WLAN Card Utility").

The paired programs always fight with each other. On the Lenovo, one would crash the other. On this new Dell, the Dell program does not allow the user the ability to view which wireless networks are available. It just connects to whatever it wants, and its capriciousness cannot be predicted or understood. So when I'm in my favorite coffeeshop, which has a free and unsecured network, the Dell program continually tries to connect to someone's apartment next door or across the street.

The Windows program, which actually allows you to choose what network you use, doesn't work if the Dell program is working.

Remind me why I refuse to use my Mac for work.

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Delta's SkyMiles login system sucks.

Why do I have to remember a random 10-digit number to get to my account? Most airlines now use email addresses as unique identifiers.

WHAT IS WITH THE POP-UP ADS ON BOSTON.COM?

Not just the regular pop-up ads, but the "adult content DriveCleaner" ones that minimize and hide your browser windows until you click them. How could a respectable newspaper subject its readers to this garbage?

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

PORTLAND, MAINE


The fall travel season begins. It rained all day today in Maine's largest city. The bus home smelled of processed meats and potato chip flavorings.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Now I got worry.

It's been pretty much dark out all day. The cars have their headlights on. I have all the lights in my living room on so I can see my work. Six more months of this will be bad. I can either hope for good weather (HA), or try not to work by myself in my house every day.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Why are Yahoo! Maps better than Google Maps?

For one thing, they integrate web search and directions, automatically using the best search result to provide coordinates. In Yahoo! Maps, I can enter "lax to csu long beach" and the server will give me directions from the airport to campus. The same search string in Google Maps yields "We could not understand the location csu long beach."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Important new phrase presented in the context of no context.

comfort-inducing

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Old Orchard Beach


It was at one of these motels that I planned to stay alone this past weekend and embark on a Large Writing Project.

I went to the beach with Rob Lott for three hours, finished Winesburg, shot some photos, ate a ton of steamers, and took the Downeaster back to Boston.

It was still a blast.

I am

really starting to like it here.

You need a lot of $ to live here.

Incongruity of life goals becoming problematic.

Waste

Great Moving Weekend has come and gone in Boston and the surrounding suburbs. Over 300,000 college students are now back in the area. And in front of almost every house lie heaps of unwanted furniture that should have gone to Goodwill. The garbage truck and its crew of three un-uniformed immigrant workers just took from my house a twin mattress (a couch had also been put out by the new neighbors but vanished in less than an hour). From the next house came a white couch, thrown into the truck with all its cushions in place. From the house after that, a blue box spring and mattress. From the house after that, an ottoman. From the house after that, another couch and what sounded like a steel bedframe. The truck's exhaust-spewing diesel engine struggled as the compactor blade gnarled through suffocating mounds of fabric, wood, filling, and spring--not to mention the rest of the week's pungent trash. The late summer air lay thick with the smell of waste as the three brown-skinned men hopped into and on the truck and piloted it uphill toward the next mound of crap.

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I have a feeling

that this blog was much better when it was much more personal. Right or wrong?

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Monday, September 03, 2007

PC Hatred

Last month, I received a snazzy new Dell laptop from my employer (everything I do at home happens on my iBook). For the most part, the new machine has been impressive, though Windows has already "automatically updated" and erased all my unsaved work once.

Last week, however, I was sorely disappointed when a laughable hardware-software incompatibility issue arose. On an overnight flight from the west coast, I decided to watch David Lynch's Inland Empire. In went the DVD. Out came the Windows Chime of Failure. Accompanying it was a popup window that said: "no dvd decompressor installed."

Only a PC would have a DVD drive but no DVD player. I searched through all the nested Program listings in the Start Menu, but there was nothing other than Windows Media Player, which didn't work. Since there's no internet at 30,000 feet, I couldn't bother googling for a free player.

Can anyone recommend one?

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mission Pigeons


San Francisco.

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Hanjin Malta


Shot from the Golden Gate Bridge, August 28.

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