Thursday, October 20, 2005

NU pride

I just got wind of the Weekly Dig's DigThisAwards 2005 and I just had to share a few of their "Best of Everything Else" awards:

college rowdies
If anyone had thought to give out an award for barbarism before, there’s no doubt that the Northeastern kids would be working on a dynasty by now. Their behavior is legendary, as evidenced by their dominating performance in this year’s poll. The Huntington Huns roll kegs, flip cars, set fires, crowd porches and basements, manhandle pedestrians, and urinate publicly with the reckless abandon of a population unencumbered by trivial notions of decorum. They’ve vexed elected officials, been denounced as “knuckleheads” by the mayor, been the target of draconian legislation and utterly destroyed their Mission Hill neighbors’ will to live. Here’s to whatever they have planned for next year.
--Paul McMorrow
Runners-up: BU; BC
Ah, Northeastern. I honestly don't know where I would have been without you. It was a spectacle of what's wrong with American higher education. Apparently being a date rapist dude guy with money to blow counts for more than actual intelligence and creativity. On one of my last days attending there, I overheard an RA telling a story about how she went down on some guy the previous evening in the middle of a fraternity social gathering while heavily intoxicated. Apparently so hard that she threw up. And its these same people who blab away during your sociology class with sorority girls who qualify their statements with "I'm not a feminist, but..." (because their definition of a feminist is a bull dyke who hates men) because they're trying to get an easy A in their core classes.

I actually did like Northeastern in some respects, I met some top-notch professors and instructors and people. I met Carolyn because of it. Plus, I would be in some dire straits had I not been a part of the Progressive Student Alliance. Considering where I am now, those would've been some dire-ass straits. Plus I may be going to grad skool there. so who knows.

BU won a prize for "best place to ogle talent". Because apparently: "Northeastern girls are as likely to set you on fire as they are to look at you"

This was equally disgusting, but in a different way:

loathsome new developer name for a boston ‘hood
It’s official: “EaBo” is the worst thing to happen to a Boston neighborhood since the Great Molasses Flood. “SoWa” and “SoCo” are unbelievably irritating, sure, but their respective domains aren’t so much neighborhoods as figments of real estate agents’ febrile imaginations. “SoBo” is evil incarnate, but it lacks staying power; it sticks to clannish South Boston about as well as a dead squid Scotchtaped to the side of the L Street Bathhouse. As obnoxious SoHo-inspired nicknames go, nothing beats “EaBo” for ghastly yuppie schlockiness combined with tenacity. Bust it out on a third-generation Eastie native, and watch how quickly the homicidal-fury reaction occurs.
--Lissa Harris
Runners-up: SoWa; NoBo; SoBo
I could not contain the bile in my throat when I first heard about this, and I have no connection to East Boston whatsoever. Boston is transforming in a weird way. I just don't know what will happen when the yuppies move away and Downtown Crossing is a large Wal Mart. Oh wait, the city will crumble. And Mumbles Menino will still be mayor.

and in other neighborhood news:
’hood for comparatively cheap rent
Since neither the Red nor Green Lines bother to cut through Jamaica Plain, it’s considered pretty much out-of-bounds to most of Boston’s thousands of college brats co-signing leases with their parents—which is a good thing. JP residents enjoy quiet tree-lined streets, the enormous Arnold Arboretum (which makes the Common look like a landfill) and several top-notch restaurants. Bars host plenty of quirky homegrown entertainment, equally informed by MassArt students living above Latino coffee shops and the town’s longstanding gay/lesbian-friendly vibe. Frat-house-style keggers observed in the last three years =
--Matt Parish
Runners-up: Dorchester; Allston; East Cambridge
-sniff- oh JP. You were so inconvenient and slightly (Washington Street Corridor represent!) dangerous to live in. Someone was mugged behind me while I walked Murray the Dog. But so beautiful. I miss your trees, parks, views and greens. I don't miss the hills, beautiful as they are. That was frikkin awful. I have a comparable distance between the T stop and my current place in Central Square, but over here, I'm not dying by the time I get home. About 10 minutes faster. But still, it was the place to take it easy and take it all in.

My current area, Central Square, won an award:

place to get doored on a bike CENTRAL SQUARE
Anyone who’s ever ridden a bike through Cambridge knows fully how perilous the Central Square stretch of Mass. Ave. is. Heavy traffic, narrow lanes, frequent live parkers, buses galore and the most bastardly cab drivers in the state combine to make that quarter-mile stretch of street roughly as hospitable to American cyclists as the road to Baghdad Airport. Go too far left, and a bus driver will start playing fun little chicken games with you; go too far right, and you run the risk of a pedestrian jaywalking out in front of you looking the other way, or, of course, a cabbie throwing his door wide open just because, shit, why not? That’s what doors are for.
--Joe Keohane
Runners-up: Mass. Ave., in the Back Bay; Chinatown; Centre Street in Jamaica Plain

and i'm spent.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rock and Roll Weekend

The weekend was pretty eventless aside from excellent quality time with Ms. Carolyn.

However, there was rock to be had.


the weekend kicked off with seeing my old colleague and future family man, Joshh, play bass for The Daily Pravda at the Pill night at Great Scott's in Allston. Joshh doesn't write the songs, he found the band needing a bassist through craigslist, but i really want to see how this determined bassist performs after hanging out and working with him for almost a year at the Joslin Diabetes Center. When it comes to the office, he's always good for a chat (thus helping me stay sane in the office environment), but dogged when it comes to doing his job. a hard worker. no matter what it is. We got along instantly once we discovered we each love music and british music in particular. i made him a Morrissey card for his birthday.

back to the band: While the name and imagery seem to have been chosen without much thought (Dave, the lead man, has a Russian girlfriend, which i think was good enough for them). There was a USSR flag in the background, which wasn't in too bad taste, considering no one seemed to know more than your standard kid-from-the-80s knowledge of the USSR. No Stalin gulags in their heads. "Let's hear it for Russia" was thrown out there by Dave. head scratches for response. and some Russian words sprinkled through the set like the Russian candies at their merch table. The between song "banter" was awful. the guitarist whined about being the "guitar bitch" like 14 times and traded them with Dave. But not Joshh (and the drummer). Solid as an effing rock! groovin. they gave the rhythm section what they needed and nifty bass work.

musically, they provided some preeety good moments. Lots of Suede references. the vocals keened in the right spot enough to make you think of Suede's first album. Then off my brain went for the rest of the set getting some more brit-references, climaxing in a song that i heard Bowie, Lennon, early Blur and Oasis (yah i know) all at a time. what i'm saying is glammy britpop. which is not bad. i couldn't do it. but it was entertaining. for most of the set, the band seems to be working over some of Dave's old songs, which sound slightly more basic and lacking that brit-touch.

The Bowie came back for the last song, a cover of "Ziggy Stardust". its a great song, but at this stage in western civilization, unnecessary. Bauhaus wasn't cool enough to pull it off, and well, for the Pravda: "you just haven't earned it yet, baby".

but it was one of their first proper gigs, i think the first with a full band. so lets see.


The weekend ended with the BellRays at TT's Sunday night.

I was very interested because i (and many others) was a huge fan of singer Lisa Kekaula's job tackling Basement Jaxx's classic "Good Luck". Then i began to hear of her band, the Los Angeles BellRays. and i began to get excited. According to the BBC, here are the "facts": "The BellRays include MC5, Parliament, James Brown, Miles Davis, the Stooges, 60's R&B, and the Who among their influences". This is true.

They've been around for a while, built up a good name and have had the unfortunate record label problems which tend to stall great bands.

The important thing is Lisa Kekaula. She is soulful and fierce and works her butt off to fill the room with her voice, which as full and vital as the band behind her, who used any moment they could to jump up in the air and bring down some fast loud rock. Kekaula also used any way she could to get the sleepy Sunday night crowd going. She sang her heart out, got down in the crowd, looked people in the eye, and basically made the case in various asides and song lead-ins that if you can't dance at a rock show, then you have problems. live for today. which is true. but i'm still a shy, tired, neurotic Norteasterner.

My only complaint is that the band seems a little TOO practiced and slick while being intense and fast. It dulled the edge a bit, but perhaps i'm biased by younger musicians these days dirtying up the blues like the originators. i like the dirty. but still, you can't fight the power.


listened to:
The Fall - Fall Heads Roll

Friday, October 14, 2005

to hell with poverty '05

hey you 3 people.

so its been a while. i didn't want this blog to be one of those long forgotten projects.

i was in India for August, moved to Cambridge (a bonafide Cantabrigian now) near Central Square. a center of activity.

there've been many pictures taken (link to the right).


I still think its a crime that Gorillaz' "DARE" has not become the instant #1 critical and commercial smash it became in the UK. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong country.


As documented in the recent Across the Narrows fest. In Brooklyn and Staten Island there was a melange of UK bands along with American critical darlings performing for 2 days. When I first heard the lineup, including Belle and Sebastian, Beck, Gang of Four, Pixies, DFA 1979, Oasis, and other crazies. If I was in the UK, I'm sure that I would be travelling in caravan to this show. Here, its just too expensive, too far away. Story of my Boston life. I mean, yes, you can see great bands every week at places like the Middle East and TT's, and catch larger bands in Boston. But the big fest, a love-in that says that all these great not-so-mainstream acts can be appreciated en massive. but no. that only happens in California at the yearly Coachella fest which is ridiculously far from New England. New York is the only close alternative, but as was documented from review of the Across the Narrows fest, not exactly bring huge draws. I know the people who love these bands are here. Who knows.

I'm not advocating huge stadium shows, but sometimes its great to see big shows like Coachella, here or Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds fest in the UK and the multiple fests in Europe. The lineups may contain some pretty mainstream artists, but the acts are just of general high quality.

I don't know what can change this. Lower ticket prices? More effective advertising? But in general, i guess people who actually care are too spread thin. which figures in the musical tastes, political opinions and general awareness in this country. digressing....


I dunno. Its ridiculous to me. Even people who are supposedly in the know about what shapes pop culture and its inane Top 40 in this country are still consuming the same substandard crap. Pop can be lame, but it doesn't need to be boring. "Baby One More Time" may be lame, but its always memorable. When Travis did a cover of this, it showed this pretty well. "Since U Been Gone" is the current winner of this year. The lyrics can make you flinch and turn your stomach, but it still is energetic and anthemic, leading to much unfortunately tuneless but enthusiastic caterwauling among college girls when the chorus comes up on radio, tv, etc. But yah. Those two songs are written by the same Swedish guy.

In the UK, while there is still inane pop in the charts, there is also some actually playful pop. Not to mention actual good bands/artists and good songs. People seem to genuinely care about music. There are problems there as well, such as an atmosphere of giving bands an expiration date that seems about as efficient at eschewing good bands there as to hip-hop and pop acts in this country. When yr done, yr done. But, in the meantime, if you take a look at their charts, there are plenty of great tracks and albums there.

But I guess you have to count your blessings. like Kanye's "Gold Digger". When I was in Chicago right after I got back from India. My cousin showed me the MTV VMA's with Kanye performing. it was the first i'd heard the single. the whole weekend, with an honest expression, he kept looking at me and saying "eighteen years, eighteen years". and i couldnt stop laughing.

Listening to these albums, que bueno!:
Ladytron - The Witching Hour
Broken Social Scene - s/t
Deerhoof - The Runners Four
DangerDoom - s/t
Portishead - s/t
The Kitchen - Foreign Objects