Saturday, May 30, 2009

"You're Not My Imaginary Friend Anymore!" - Dealing with Being Unfriended, Unfollowed or Blocked

no admittanceImage by beeeezer via Flickr

"Who is Bryan Rutt?" read the status of one of my Facebook friends not too long ago. In my typical goofy fashion, I responded "I am!" I quickly learned that this question was not being asked rhetorically or in a larger spiritual sense. "Do I even know you?" came the reply. I thought it odd, since this person and I had been on each other's friends list for several months at this point.

I believe in the "social" part of social networking - I'm not on Facebook and Twitter just to talk with the same people I could walk down the street and talk to face to face, and I'm not there to limit myself to only people who I already know. I enjoy reaching out and meeting new folks, whether they are across the globe or across the street, and I have made some very good friends online in recent months in addition to reconnecting with old friends and maintaining an alternate line of communication with current friends.

In this case, I had reached out to just about everyone in my college graduating class on Facebook, whether we hung out in college or not, and offered friend invites to them all. Many never replied, but many did. This person was one of those: we did not run in similar circles back then, but our status as classmates was the common ground I used to extend an invitation to network. Within a few days after the above exchange, this person disappeared from my friend list. I had been summarily "unfriended."

On Twitter today, I was updating my "following" list to insure that I was following all current members in the Lancaster Twitterati group that I have mentioned on this blog before. I found one that I thought I had been following, but was not. I attempted to follow and received the stern announcement, "You have been blocked from following this account at the request of the user." Now, I have been unfollowed on Twitter many times - it's a standard occurrence on Twitter - but this was new. Someone blocked me! Me, lovable old goofy me! Can you imagine?

Being unfriended on Facebook, or unfollowed on Twitter, or blocked on either site, seems to be a traumatic experience for some. People I know have responded with great shock, disbelief, and embarrassment at being dropped by someone on these sites. It's as if they have been personally insulted by the person dropping them. They go through an actual grieving period, mourning the loss and damning their own inadequacies. I don't understand that reaction.

Although the term "friend" is commonly used among these and other social networking sites, it carries a different definition in this context than in the real world. Yes, many (if not most) of my online friends are also people who I call Friend in real life. But I also have many online friends who I would probably not be able to pick out of lineup if my life depended on it. "Friend" in the social network universe is just a warm-n-cuddly euphemism for "anonymous person you have encountered online and found common ground with." In both cases above, I barely even knew the person outside of the online world. I wasn't being shunned by someone I counted on to be there for me through thick and thin, fer crissakes. They chose not to interact with me online. OK. Next?

The only response I have ever given to being unfriended - and I haven't done this in every case, but only in those where I was really at a loss to figure out why I was chopped - is to send a polite message to the person asking if I had done or said something to offend them. After all, I know I can be blunt and opinionated at times, and I am just capable as the next person of unintentionally ticking someone off. Know what I've learned? It's not me.

People will unfriend, unfollow, or block for any of a million different reasons, often having nothing to do specifically with the person being cut. They may have decided to use the network as a place where only close friends and family may reach them, as one old high-school friend of mine did. That person gave me a very polite explanation of why I was being "cut," and I respect that. We hadn't been in touch for nearly twenty years before finding each other on Facebook, and we have each other's email addresses now; we can reach each other if we need to. I had another person unfriend me by accident - they meant to cut someone else, and hit the button by my name instead. Situation corrected, connection restored, no harm, no foul.

Heck, back in January Burger King offered a promotion where you got a free Whopper if you were willing to randomly unfriend 10 of your Facebook friends. You might have been cut just because someone was hungry!

The bottom line is, if you're using any social networking site, especially if you really are using it to reach and network with new people, you're going to eventually be unfriended, unfollowed, or blocked. In fact, it's going to happen more than once. Get over it. If you feel the need, politely ask why; for the most part, though, just move on. After all, it's their choice - and, their loss!

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

To all US Military Actives, Reserves, and Veterans: Thank you for your service to our country.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day, everyone!

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New Wave for the New Week #11

Split EnzSplit Enz

New Zealand's Split Enz were among the most popular of the MTV-era New Wave acts, scoring video hits with songs like "I Got You", "History Never Repeats" and "One Step Ahead." Their two early 80's LPs, Waiata and True Colors, are must-haves for any fan of the New Wave.

But few of those early '80s fans realized that Split Enz were no newcomers to the scene. In fact, by the time those two classic albums hit the shelves, Split Enz had already logged ten years of recording and a slight rethinking of their approach.

The band was formed in New Zealand in 1971, and first appeared on vinyl with a 1973 single, "For You." In those early days, they were Split Ends, and were a band greatly influenced by British prog rock. Comparisons to bands like Traffic and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis were not uncommon, but the band toiled away in obscurity. A change to the more familiar phonetic spelling of the band name did little to bring them much attention.

Founding member Phil Judd left the band in 1977, and would go on to form The Swingers (who will be featured next week). He was replaced by Neil Finn, brother of original member Tim Finn. This new lineup embraced the emerging Punk and New Wave sound, and combined it with the overblown theatrics of the Prog Rock scene to create their own niche. A move to England helped them reach a wider audience, and soon they were embraced by an initial cult following that quickly grew into more widespread acceptance.

Among the earliest of the New Wave-era Split Enz singles is the slightly odd but goofily enjoyable "Bold As Brass", a 1977 single that is this week's New Wave for the New Week. Enjoy!

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

That'll Do, Keyboard Cat. That'll Do.

OK, I admit it. I'm a sucker for the surreal, and most internet memes are surreal if nothing else. How something as goofy as Yo Dawg Yo or Dramatic Hamster takes off can never fully be explained. They seem to strike some universal humor chord in everyone, whether we understand why we're laughing or not.

I'll also admit that I, like many, tend to find humor in the misfortunes of others. Hell, America's Funniest Home Videos has made a fortune on the fact that we love to laugh at others falling down and screwing up. The FAIL! meme is a prime example of this, as is my current favorite thing on the internet, Keyboard Cat.

Like most memes, the idea is simple. Two years ago, Charlie Schmidt uploaded a video of his cat, Fatso, playing keyboards to YouTube. A couple of months ago, someone found it, and attached it to the end of a video clip of a kid in a wheelchair taking a tumble down an escalator, gave it the title "Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat," and an internet sensation was born.

The combination of someone's bad luck, the cheesy Casio-keyboard melody, and the cat's typical aloof expression as he is obviously being manipulated to appear to be playing make the whole thing, for some reason, hysterical. I literally laughed so hard tears were running down my face the first time I saw it.

Keyboard Cat has now played off hundreds if not thousands of videos, from fat guys falling off of treadmills to Glen Beck's guest passing out to the Hindenburg. Each variation involves the phrase "Play him off, Keyboard Cat" in some form, and often includes a second phrase, "That'll do, Keyboard Cat. That'll do," (a paraphrase of a quote from the movie Babe).

That's it. That's all there is to it. And yet, it floors me.

Here are a few examples:

And finally, the original clip. Play us off, Keyboard Cat...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Punk Rock Weekend, Part Two

And now, on with the tales from the road:

After the Damned show was over, we partook in one of the longstanding traditions of punk show evenings: 2:00 AM breakfast at whatever 24-hour place happens to be accessible. In Friday's case, it was the I-HOP. By about 5:00 AM as I lay in my hotel room bed, I realized that, perhaps, at age 42, an evening of beer drinking followed by steak and eggs, pancakes and black coffee is no longer as nifty a combination as it may have been twenty years ago. As they say, live and learn.

We hit the road by 11:00 AM the next morning, heading out to PS's house just west of Harrisburg, PA - about a three-hour trip. Our plan was to stop there, make some sandwiches or something for dinner, and leave from there to Baltimore, about an hour and forty-five minutes south. We'd drive back the same night and save a second hotel fare. First, though, another punk show travel tradition: a record store run. The Record Collector in Bordentown, NJ, is a funky little shop nestled within a residential area. In business for 20 years, they still stock more vinyl than CDs. With shelves of used LPs, record covers adorning the walls, and the couple who has owned the shop these past two decades running the register and scurrying about helping customers find things, this is no "music and electronics boutique" like you might find in the mall. This is a real honest-to-goodness record store, the way they were meant to be. Browsing is a little difficult, because the albums are not in bins that you flip through but rather on shelves, library style, with spines facing you, and the CDs are scattered about the store on racks and in piles with no easily discernible system of organization. By chance, we happened to show up on a day when Bordentown was having a local street fair that reminded me of Virgil, TX's Celebration of Specialness from the movie True Stories, so there were people milling about, streets blocked off, and all sorts of activities adding to the confusion. I was able to find Tubeway Army's 1978 EP, which I've been looking for for some time, so the record run was not in vain.

On the road again, I found myself nodding off in the back seat for much of the trip back to PA. I was told that I somehow managed to sleep essentially sitting up, with head bent over like a marionette with a broken string. If nothing else, it meant I didn't snore, which was a blessing to others in the car. Believe me, after a lifetime of sinus issues, I can saw some logs!

The overall laziness continued throughout the afternoon. PS took a power nap upon arrival at his house, as he was our driver for the entire trip; his wife had been snoozing in the passenger seat during the ride as well. We refueled with some sandwiches, and by 6:45 we were back on the road to Baltimore.

The Saturday night show was going to be a very different musical experience. Whereas The Damned have evolved over 30+ years from slash-n-bang punk rock to gothic psychedelia, The Business have never strayed from their straight-ahead Oi! sound. The Damned brought out punks, new wavers, and goths; The Business would bring out the skinheads. With four opening bands, this show was almost a mini Oi!-fest, and experience shows that, at times, the skinhead crowd brings along with it the unfortunate extremists, both racist and violent. This would not be the case in Baltimore, however - this was a crowd who was there to have a good time and nothing more. I thankfully saw no indication of a racist element in attendance, and not a single fight broke out the entire evening. It made for an enjoyable show indeed.

The Ottobar is a fairly cramped little hole-in-the-wall on a corner of North Howard Street. As one friend described it, it looks as though it came straight from the cover of The Exploited's Troops of Tomorrow album. In a rundown neighborhood, with a crumbling-macadam parking lot and surrounded by cyclone fence grown over with weeds, situated among probably vacant buildings colored with graffiti, it's not the most inviting venue. It suits the purpose, though, and I have seen a couple of bands there.

We missed the first band, but arrived in time to see The Dead End Boys deliver a high-energy set that had the crowd shouting along as one, and saw the mosh pit going almost constantly. They were followed by Iron Cross, a very tight band who picked up right where The Dead End Boys left off and kept the surge of energy going in the crowd.

The Dead End Boys

Iron Cross

As Iron Cross finished up, I headed to the bar for a beer. As I pushed through the crowd to the bar, I saw a figure that stood out in stark contrast to the skinheads and punks milling about. This was an older gentleman, dressed very well, and drinking from what looked like a cognac glass. He looked very familiar, and I did that quick scan of my memory banks we all do when we think we know someone. Then it struck me. I went back to my friends and told them, "I think John Waters is here." At first I doubted my own identification of Waters, but then I thought, well, we are in Baltimore. We headed back to the bar to verify, and sure enough, there sat John Waters. Of course, there were people beginning to flock to him and shake his hand and tell him how much of a fan they were. While he was not impolite to anyone, his demeanor made it clear he wasn't thrilled. He was there with someone and trying to carry on a conversation, and the interruptions were obviously intrusive. For that reason, we decided not to be one more interruption, and didn't go over to him. Before the next band hit the stage, he was gone.

The next band was Flatfoot 56, a Chicago-based band who I enjoyed so much I bought both of their CDs at the concession table. Their hyper-speed street punk was given a unique twist thanks to one member of the band who alternately played either bagpipes or mandolin. Never saw anyone play a set of bagpipes so fast in all my life! These were fun-loving punks, a little goofy but boy could they play. They closed with a faster-than-you-can-imagine cover of "Amazing Grace" that had the whole place singing (chanting?) along.

Flatfoot 56 - punk rock with bagpipes!

By the time the headliners came on, it was a wonder anyone had any energy left - but they did, and more, and The Business delivered. Mickey Fitz is looking his years, but he lead his band through a set that was made up mostly of classics like "Smash the Discos", "Loud, Proud and Punk" and "Harry May", but they also did the title track to their current Mean Girl EP. They played about a 45 minute set, and then brought the members of the other bands onstage for a huge sing-along on the final two songs of the night, ending with "Drinking and Driving" with the whole club singing along. All in all a fun show.

The Business

Everyone onstage for the finale.

We were back on the road and back in PA by about 2:30 that morning, and took Sunday as a lazy day to meander back to Lancaster. It made for one of the better weekends of the year so far, and put me in a great frame of mind.

It's interesting to me to see the differences between today's punk kids and the way we were twenty years ago. For one thing, it amazed me to see a number of girls getting into the mosh pit Saturday night and holding their own with the burliest skinheads. Seldom if ever did the girls get into the pit back in the day. Nowadays, the kids have to contend with us old heads at the shows. Twenty years ago, we eyed anyone at the show who looked to be over 25 with great suspicion; the kids today are - dare I say - downright polite and respectful to the 40+ crowd. Perhaps we were not as progressive back then as the kids are today. Oh, some things never change: every show has "That Guy" - the person who has had more than a little too much to drink and has begun to act like a royal ass, either getting into fights or just acting stupidly. The kids still fall into their cliques, with punks hanging with punks, goths with goths, skinheads with skinheads, and to say that there is never any trouble between groups would be hideously naive. Still, it makes me smile to see that two decades later, a punk show is still pretty much the same thing as a punk show was when I was that age.

Next up on the concert horizon for me? X is coming to Baltimore in a few weeks; in August Blondie and The Donnas are touring with, of all people, Pat Benatar. So, there will be more stories from the road. I'd love to hear some of your road stories as well - share some of your favorite recent concert road trips in the comments, won't you?

The kids in the pit.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Punk Rock Weekend, Part One

We may be a week away from the Memorial Day weekend celebrations, but I just had my own holiday weekend a bit early - a three day excursion to see a couple of good old British punk bands, The Damned and The Business. One of the nice things about living in south-central Pennsylvania is that it is easy to get to a number of regular stops on most bands' itineraries: Washington DC is about a two and a half hour drive; Baltimore is an hour closer than that. You can get from here to Philly in an hour and a half as well, or keep going another hour east to the Jersey shore. An hour west puts you in Harrisburg, PA; three hours north and you're in the heart of Manhattan. This weekend saw a trip to New Jersey, back across to Harrisburg, down to Baltimore and back to Harrisburg before heading back home. Here is my report from the road:

The Damned show on Friday night in Asbury Park, NJ was one of the make-up dates from shows missed back in January when singer Dave Vanian came down with the flu; it was also their final US show before heading back to England. Our plans were to stay overnight in New Jersey. We learned the hard way last time that New Jersey is not a state in which to just "try to find a hotel that night." In fact, last time we wound up driving all the way back into PA before finding a place with vacancies! This time we planned ahead, and made reservations at the Red Roof Inn in Tinton, about five miles outside of Asbury Park. Red Roof is famous among my group for having signs with letters out, so we refer to it alternately as either the Ed Oof or D Oof Inn, but for about $85 a night it's hard to beat.

The Stone Pony in Asbury Park sits right on Ocean Avenue. As I mentioned before, it normally takes about two and a half hours to get there from here. Normally. Don't know what was going on Friday, but it sure wasn't "normal". From Lancaster, PA through the PA/NJ border traffic was insane - bumper to bumper stop-start traffic that added an extra 45 minutes to our trip. But we got there, and promptly found ourselves a spot at the bar. At a bar table right beside us sat Andrew Pinching, better known as "Pinch". Formerly the drummer for The English Dogs, Pinch has been drumming with The Damned since 1999. We had thought ahead and brought some records along hoping to get them signed; we asked Pinch if he wouldn't mind signing some English Dogs records. He chuckled when I produced my copy of Mad Punx and English Dogs for his autograph. "Ah, the classic!" he laughed. Pinch turned out to be very friendly and very funny. He sat and talked with us for quite awhile before excusing himself to head backstage and prep for the set.

Pinch signing an English Dogs record.

No sooner had he disappeared than walking through the club came Captain Sensible himself. As luck would have it, we had chosen to sit at the end of the bar by the door to the bands' rooms, and were therefore in a perfect spot to meet and talk to everyone as they came through. The Captain, of course, always seems to enjoy talking with his fans; I had met him before about four years ago at a show and gotten into a conversation about the music of The Cowsills with him. This time around, he thanked us for braving the three-plus hours of traffic to come see them play, adding, "It's always a good idea to try to see us play before we're all dead." My friend PS asked if The Captain would send Monty out to meet us, because PS's wife just loves Monty and would be overjoyed to meet him. Monty, of course, is Monty Oxymoron, who has played keyboards with The Damned since 1996. The Captain promised to send him out, but warned, "He's a little eccentric..."

The Captain and me.

Now, understand, when Captain Sensible calls you eccentric, you're well beyond just quirky! Monty appeared in short order, looking a bit disheveled with his wild hair and constant nodding of his head. He never said a word (prompting the comment that if he had, his voice would probably sound like Mr. Bean's), but happily posed for pictures and signed Mrs. PS's ticket stub.

Monty is a little eccentric.

Finally, as the first opening band was getting ready to take the stage, Dave Vanian himself comes walking by. Like the other band members, Dave was happy to say hello and chat for a bit. How incredibly awesome to get meet and talk to virtually the whole band (only bassist Stu West was missing from the pre-show festivities)!

Talking with Dave Vanian.

The opening bands were, honestly, underwhelming. The first band, Electric Frankenstein, was musically strong, but I really didn't care for the singer; the second band, The BellRays, I could have done without altogether. But we were there for one reason: to see The Damned, and they did not disappoint! A solid 90-minute set included classics ("Love Song", "Neat Neat Neat", "New Rose") as well as new material ("Dark Asteroid", "Little Miss Disaster"), and even a song PS requested, "Perfect Sunday", which Vanian indicated was "a request for someone I met at the bar earlier."

I managed to take about two dozen photos and about fifteen minutes worth of video. I pieced together the following clip from the video I took. Unfortunately, the sound in the club was so loud as to be overpowering for my cheapo camcorder's mic, so apologies in advance for the distorted sound:

All in all, a great night, and one that I would easily put in my Top Five shows of all time. And this was only the first night of the Punk Rock Weekend -- the following night we would be in Baltimore to see The Business. Would it compare? You'll have to wait for part two to find out...

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our Regular Programming Will Be Not Be Seen at its Usual Time...

Just got back home from a great weekend of punk rock - saw The Damned at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, on Friday night; saw The Business at the Ottobar in Baltimore, MD last night. Pics, video and stories to come in a post tomorrow, so there will not be a New Wave for the New Week entry this week.

For now, it's bedtime.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Sites You Must Bookmark, Volume 1

Stop everything you are doing and bookmark Awkward Family! Dear Lord, I have not stopped laughing since I discovered this treasure trove of family portraits that, well, are...what's the word....unfortunate? misguided? No, the only word for them is "awkward"!

The captions created for these pictures seal the deal (the most recent post, "Your Body is a Wonderland," depicts an inexplicably shirtless man posing with his pajama-clad wife and daughters by a Christmas tree!) - this is hands down the funniest site I've seen in some time. Kudos!

New Wave for the New Week #10

Strawberry Switchblade

It has always been a standard strategy in the Punk and New Wave scene to cover songs that were originally done in a style so removed from Punk or New Wave as to make one have to hear it to believe it. The Dickies built a career on hyper-speeding loping melodies like "Sounds of Silence" or "Nights in White Satin"; the Flying Lizards reduced classics like "Summertime Blues" and "Money" to minimalist clatter; Wendy O. Williams led the Plasmatics through thorough thrashings of "Stand By Your Man" and "Dream Lover".

This week's entry in the New Wave for the New Week series is another cross-genre cover, but in this case far less ironic than those I have listed. Strawberry Switchblade was a synthopop duo from Scotland. Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson got together in 1983, and within a year had scored a #5 UK hit with the single "Since Yesterday", a classic example of later-era New Wave. For our purposes here, however, we focus on their second-biggest single, which only reached #53 in the UK in 1985 (none of their singles charted in the USA), a cover of Dolly Parton's country tearjerker "Jolene".

Giving the song an electronic makeover, the Switchblade created a track that sounds almost happy on the surface, but McDowall's plaintive vocals quickly counteract the bubbly keyboards. Couple that with the manipulations of colorful and colorless visuals in the video clip, and it's a rather powerful take on the song.

Strawberry Switchblade didn't last long. They released one album and a handful of singles, and split up in 1986. Rose McDowall was the obvious star of the two, cultivating a mysterious, compelling and attractive persona that rode the line between cute New Wave chick and intimidating Goth girl. She would go on to work with bands like Coil, Nurse with Wound, and Psychic TV (playing up the Gothic side of her personality), then reversed course in 1988 by releasing a Switchblade-esque cover of "Don't Fear the Reaper" as a solo single. Then, in the late '90s, she formed a folk-rock group called Sorrow, who released a few records before disappearing. She continues to sporadically release material and keep everyone guessing.

No guessing about this week's New Wave for the New Week, though. Here it is, Strawberry Switchblade's "Jolene":

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

To my own Mom, and to all the Moms who are reading this blog, I wish you all a very Happy Mother's Day!

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Cookout Time!

The first cookout of the year is my way of welcoming in the upcoming summer. It's a sign that the cold is now completely behind us (and hopefully much of the wet - we haven't seen the sun around these parts in almost two weeks!), and the time has come to be spending more time in the yard than in the house.

Today was that day.

I didn't realize today was the first cookout when I woke up this morning. In fact, I had considered cooking out yesterday, but it just never came to be. But this is how it must happen - the first cookout must never be planned in advance. It's sort of like how bears know when to come out of hibernation, how birds know it's time to fly back north; suddenly, I knew it was time to cookout.

The day was perfect for it, too. Bright sunshine and a cool breeze kept the temperature at a comfortable 68 degrees in my yard. The neighborhood was alive with activity. Kids speeding by on their bikes, skateboards, or other modes of transit; neighbors working on their yards or lazing on their porches; Mother's Day being celebrated along with the celebrations of the gorgeous weather.

As it happened, I had a couple of thick Delmonico steaks in the fridge, a fresh bunch of asparagus, and a mix of button, oyster, and shitake mushrooms ready to go. (Again, not planned, but by natural instinct I must have been preparing...)

Those who cookout often have their preferences when it comes to grills; for me, nothing beats a Weber kettle grill and a charcoal fire. Peace, my gas-grill friends: I know there are many of you out there, and a gas grill can indeed serve the purpose well, but to my palette a gas grill simply cannot mimic the scrumptiousness of steak grilled over charcoal. The Weber kettle has been around since 1951, and has stood the test of time. It is the perfect grilling aparatus, bar none.

The steaks were seasoned with a little garlic-infused olive oil and a sprinkling of Montreal seasoning. A little of the oil on the asparagus along with salt and pepper prepped them for the grill (and if you've never grilled asparagus, you must! Delicious!). A small metal grill pan would house the mushrooms which would cook down in butter to compliment the steaks - a meal fit for a king!

Wasn't long before the aroma of grilled steak filled the air, and noticed at least one neighbor poke his head out, spy the sizzling feast, and a moment later head across his yard to fire up his own grill. As I said, it was time.

As the summer goes along, there will be many a cookout in my backyard. The Weber gets a good workout each year. Some cookouts will see a yard full of friends, some will see cozy dinners for two or three, some will just be me and my Weber. Rest assured all will be enjoyed - but none as much as the first cookout of the year!

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

How Can You Beat The Ramones Singing About Beer?


Wanted to bring to your attention today's post over on The Sailor Jerry Blog. Posted there for your listening enjoyment are three nifty radio jingles the Ramones recorded back in the last decade for Steel Reserve High Gravity Lager.

Never heard these before, but then again I never tasted Steel Reserve before (and, apparently, I should be glad of that based on the warning Sailor Jerry's post contains.) No new ground being broken here - it's the Ramones, after all - but a nifty find for Ramones fans like me.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

New Wave for the New Week #9

Slow Children album coverImage via Wikipedia

Andrew Chinich and Pal Shazar formed Slow Children in the early '80s LA New Wave scene. Together they released two albums, a self-titled debut in 1981 and a follow-up, Mad About Town, a year later. Songs were apparently written and recorded for a third LP that never happened.

Their one great claim to fame was the wonderful single "President Am I", from the debut album, and its accompanying video. Those of you who, like me, religiously watched the early days of MTV will recognize the scene of Pal Shazar submerged in a giant glass of vodka - it was used in several of MTV's station promos during the first year or two the channel was on the air, and the clip itself saw light-to-medium rotation early on as well.

Pal's pouty delivery of highly literate lyrics and her ecclectic phrasing which focused more on the rhythm and sound of the words than on correct grammar or inflection bounced over bubbly keyboard and guitar that had not yet devolved into what would come to be known as synthopop or technopop, creating Slow Children's highly identifiable and enjoyable sound. It's a sound that may seem a bit dated today, but still never fails to put a smile on my face when their songs turn up on my iPod shuffle.

Pal Shazar has gone on to release five solo albums, in addition to being a painter, t-shirt designer, novelist, and blogger, and shows no signs of stopping - thankfully!

I give you this week's New Wave for the New Week, Slow Children's "President Am I":

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