Friday, July 30, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (7/28/10)

I never had a chance to post this earlier, because my wife and I celebrated our 3-year anniversary these past few days by camping in Michigan. Love was in the air and streaming before that though, with special new music during the last half hour of my show. Plus, I played a beautiful old Sleeping at Last song for Jaclyn. And during the show, I learned that light roast coffee actually has more caffeine than dark roast (I didn't fall asleep until 6 a.m.). Here's the music you missed. Tune in next Tuesday night/Wednesday morning (midnight to 2:59 a.m.) if you haven't heard my show on CHIRP yet.

12:03AM School of Seven Bells Windstorm from Disconnect from Desire (Ghostly International)

12:06AM Anathallo John J. Audobon from Canopy Glow (Anticon)

12:09AM Panda Riot Streetlights and You and Me from Far And Near (self-released)

12:15AM Pains of Being Pure at Heart 103 from Higher than the Stars (Slumberland)

12:17AM Paper Tiger 2nd Day Back from Made Like Us (Doomtree)

12:20AM Thelonious Monk Bemsha Swing from Brilliant Corners (Original Jazz Classics)

12:29AM Can Oh Yeah from Tago Mago (Mute)

12:37AM Sleeping at Last The Thief from Capture (self-released)

12:42AM Menomena Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such a Big Boy from Mines (Barsuk)

12:50AM Holy Fuck Russell X from Latin (XL)

12:53AM Braid Do You Love Coffee? from Movie Music, Vol. 2 (Polyvinyl)

12:55AM Konono Nº1 Guiyome from Assume Crash Position (Crammed)

12:58AM John Fahey Hard Time Empty Bottle Blues III from Sea Changes & Coelacanths (Table of the Elements)

1:03AM Emeralds Up in the Air from What Happened (No Fun Productions)

1:05AM Dan Deacon Woof Woof from Bromst (Carpark)

1:10AM Jaill Demon from That's How We Burn (Sub Pop)

1:14AM Smoking Popes Pretty Pathetic (live) from At Metro (Victory)

1:18AM Japandroids Rockers East Vancouver from Post-Nothing (Unfamiliar)

1:24AM Joan of Arc Fogbow from Flowers (Polyvinyl)

1:29AM Eluvium Ostinato from Copia (Temporary Residence)

1:34AM The Books The Story of Hip Hop from The Way Out (Temporary Residence)

1:40AM Jon Brion Strings That Tie to You from Eternal Sunshine OST (Hollywood)

1:42AM Fol Chen The New December from Part II: The New December (Asthmatic Kitty)

1:46AM Black Dice Toka Toka from Load Blown (Paw Tracks)

1:51AM Budos Band Rite of the Ancients from The Budos Band III (Daptone)

1:55AM Madvillain All Caps from Madvillainy (Stones Throw)

1:57AM The Chemical Brothers Wonders of the Deep from Further (Astralwerks)

2:03AM Liars Clear Island from Liars (Mute)

2:05AM The Maybenauts Blue Line from Big Bang EP (Horsedrawn)

2:09AM Fiery Furnaces, The Birdie Brain from Blueberry Boat (Rough Trade)

2:13AM Jens Lekman Jag tyckte hon sa lonnlov from USA October 2005 Tour EP (self-released)

2:16AM Shapes and Sizes Too Late For Dancing from Candle to Your Eyes (Asthmatic Kitty)

2:22AM Ra Ra Riot Boy from The Orchard (Barsuk)

2:26AM Against Me! I Was A Teenage Anarchist from White Crosses (Sire)

2:29AM The 1900's When I Say Go from Cold & Kind (Parasol)

2:33AM El Guincho Marimba from Piratas de Sudamerica (XL)

2:38AM Pterodactyl One with Everyone from Worldwild (Jagjaguwar)

2:42AM Arcade Fire Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) from The Suburbs (Merge)

2:47AM Voxtrot Whiskey and Water from PEACE (Amnesty International)

2:52AM Shannon Stephens Catch the Morning Line from Shannon Stephens (Asthmatic Kitty)

2:56AM Koes Bersaudara Poor Clown from Koes Bersaudara 1967 (Sublime Frequencies)

2:58AM Album Leaf, The Streamside from In a Safe Place (Sub Pop)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

As For Film: Beavis and Butthead Do America

I was a junior higher in the mid-90s', at the height of Beavis and Butthead's popularity. At the time, I didn't get the show at all. We didn't have MTV in our house, and most of the lines from the show I was familiar with were the ones mimicked by my classmates. Trailer park neighbors would "huh huh" and "I. Am. Cornholio!" to no end. 12 year olds actually started wearing Metallica shirts. It was one of the cool shows at the time, because Beavis and Butthead were as idiotically blunt about what they believed to be "cool" and what "sucked," and the discernment of a junior higher can't do much better than that. Violent accidents were "cool." Anything that could have possibly been associated with homosexuality "sucked." Welcome to the Beavis and Butthead junior high 90s'.

But none of these junior highers (I'll bet) enjoyed Beavis and Butthead as satire. These kids actually thought that shouting "FIRE! FIRE!" and turning any simple phrase into a masturbation joke was what they should aspire for. Herein was the danger of Mike Judge's earliest satire. The stupid youth he ridiculed for being products of an oversexed television culture without parental supervision had turned to gods among the ignorant. And just try explaining satire to a child. They'll chuckle and say, "huh huh. Sat on yer butt!"

As adults, we can now appropriately laugh at Beavis and Butthead. But not because of the weiner jokes they make. We laugh with a reserved sorrow for the state of education in America. We laugh at the absurdity of growing up with no responsible adult role model, but only a TV for guidance. It's not the bathroom humor that makes Beavis and Butthead funny, it's the terrifying truthfulness we can see in modern America via their sheer idiocy. Judge's satire shows us what it looks like to be a product of entertainment culture. Illiteracy, social retardation, unhealthy living (nachos...) and perverted violence are the result of a Beavis and Butthead lifestyle. (I wonder how those junior highers at my old school turned out...)

By the time Beavis and Butthead Do America was released, Mike Judge had pretty much exhausted his best ideas for the duo. The film isn't nearly as funny as the show was, but it's still a valuable relic of the Mike Judge canon. His first film was adult animation, the likes of which hasn't been seen ever since. The 70s' were big on animated films for adults, but it all halted sometime during the Reagan 80s'. And even Beavis and Butthead couldn't resurrect the genre during the Clinton years.

But the film's mere existence leads me to two important questions. First, why are more Beavis and Butthead episodes being made in 2010? This product of the 90s' was a satire of its time. Do kids even act that way anymore? I think if Mike Judge wanted to mock teenage outcasts today, he should turn Beavis and Butthead into juggalos. Nobody cares about Metallica anymore. But clown metal, now there's a Mike Judge ready-made lampoon-fest. That's the only way I'm watching these new episodes. Otherwise, it feels like a miscalculated move to remake this 90s' time capsule.

My second question is if animation will ever be made for adults again. And I don't mean PG-13 Simpsons movies. I mean R-rated, made for adults, feature-length works of animation. That's all CGI is, after all. Adults might not always realize it, but we love animation. I don't see why I must be subjected only to Pixar films for the rest of my life. Where's the Fritz the Cat of the new millennium? The Fantastic Planet of the 00s'?

Let's hope that Mike Judge's next film is another animated one. A satire, as well written and executed as Office Space, only drawn with artists' hands. And Mike, please, not another Beavis and Butthead film. Give us something original. Something we all know you're capable of. Something that will outrage naive parents and be misunderstood by children. Until we're older, when we can look back at the irony and see the folly for what it is.

Remember how awful it was when Step by Step tried to turn Beavis and Butthead into live action characters? It didn't work. There's something about animation that can engage the soul's imagination more directly, and I think it's time for Mr. Judge to prove it. Hell, I'm sure he could do 90 minutes of brutal juggalo comedy.

(I guess ICP has been self-satire for a while now, but I'd still like to see Mike Judge's take on that horrible, despicable subculture)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (7/21/10)

I might've gone a little indie-heavy this week, but we were told to continue pushing the Pitchfork artists since there were more listeners than usual (due to CHIRP Record Fair exposure). But I still made sure to get in some Lee Moses, Black Bear Combo and People of the North for anyone craving something your ears aren't typically fed. Thanks to all who listened. I had more friends tuned in than ever this time, and I'll get to the requests I missed next week for sure!

12:01AM Wovenhand The Threshingfloor from The Threshingfloor (Sounds Familyre)

12:04AM Booker T. & the M.G.'s LA Jazz Song from Melting Pot (Stax)

12:08AM Parts & Labor Fractured Skies from Mapmaker (Jagjaguwar)

12:13AM Prefuse 73 Pagina Cinco from Reads the Books EP (Warp)

12:19AM Andrew Bird Niyatiti from Useless Creatures (Fat Possum)

12:22AM Dirty Projectors + Bjork Beautiful Mother from Mount Wittenburg Orca (self-released)

12:26AM Larry Norman Ha Ha World from Upon this Rock (Religious)

12:30AM Wavves Baby Say Goodbye from King of the Beach (Fat Possum)

12:35AM Map Breakfast at Ikea from San Fransisco in the 90's (Velvet Blue)

12:40AM Big Boi Tangerine from The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

12:44AM El Ten Eleven Adam and Nathan Totally Kick Ass from These Promises Are Being Videotaped (Fake)

12:48AM Black Bear Combo Watchyerstep from Game of Death (self-released)

12:55AM Broken Social Scene Forced to Love from Forgiveness Rock Record (Merge)

12:57AM High Places Head Spins from High Places EP (Thrill Jockey)

12:58AM Gayngs Cry from Relayted (Jagjaguwar)

1:06AM Brian Eno The Big Ship from Another Green World (EMI)

1:09AM The Sea and Cake To the Author from Glass (Thrill Jockey)

1:15AM Mount Eerie What? from Lost Wisdom (Southern Music)

1:17AM Here We Go Magic Land of Feeling from Pigeons (Secretly Canadian)

1:22AM Arcade Fire Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles) from Funeral (Merge)

1:29AM Robyn Dancing on My Own from Body Talk Pt. 1 (Konichiwa)

1:33AM Mass Shivers Outsider Erotica from Contoured Heat (Licking Heat)

1:38AM Lightning Bolt Saint Jacques from Ride the Skies (Load)

1:42AM M.I.A. Xxxo from /\/\ /\ Y /\ (Interscope)

1:45AM Lee Moses Time and Place from Time and Place (Castle)

1:49AM Wilco I'm a Wheel from A Ghost is Born (Nonesuch)

1:51AM The Kinks The Village Green Preservation Society from The Village Green Preservation Society (Sanctuary)

1:54AM Sleepy Sun Open Eyes from Fever (ATP)

1:58AM Horse Feathers Curs of Weeds from House With No Home (Kill Rock Stars)

2:04AM Coliseum Punk / Money from House With A Curse (Temporary Residence)

2:08AM People of the North Summer Leaves from Deep Tissue (Brah)

2:14AM Baths Rain Smell from Cerulean (Anticon)

2:18AM Fuck Buttons Rough Steez from Tarot Sport (ATP)

2:23AM Mike Coykendall Flatlands from PDX Pop Now! 2010 (PDX Pop Now!)

2:29AM Joanna Newsom Good Intentions Paving Company from Have One On Me (Drag City)

2:34AM The Streets on Fire Hey Lou from This Is Fancy (The Currency Exchange)

2:39AM Lindstrom Grand Ideas from Where You Go I Go Too (Smalltown Supersound)

2:50AM Liz Phair May Queen from Whip-Smart (Matador)

2:52AM Pantha Du Prince The Splendour from Black Noise (Rough Trade)

2:58AM Tender Forever Like the Snare That's Gone from No Snare (K)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Missed Out: High Places and Konono N°1

Konono N°1
Originally uploaded by drew*in*chicago

You Missed Out: High Places and Konono No. 1

My wind down from Pitchfork Fest came by way of two bike trips to Millennium Park in one day. High Places hit the stage at noon, and Konono No. 1 closed out my Downtown Sound summer experience in the evening. I guess Kid Sister performed after Konono No. 1, but I wasn't interested in that.

After three hot days of outdoor music, I needed one more day to chill out the euphoria. Otherwise, I could have gone into shock jumping directly from the jungles of the equator to the icy waters of Antarctica. Instead, I went from the jungle to a warm beach. A much safer transition.

High Places had a small crowd, but enough to get a tiny cluster of hippie kids dancing in front of the stage. The duo played that new style of hippie music which finds its beats not in djembes or bongos, but synthetic loops. But combining electronic drum machines with seed and nut percussion jangles and wooden flutes made for a earthily robotic show. And for the first time I noticed that a lot of her lyrics are about trees. But I love paradoxical music like that.

Konono No. 1 was anything but synthetic. Their homemade thumb pianos, three count, harmonized for 45 minutes straight. The Congo landed in the Pritzker Pavilion last night, and it was very refreshing despite the humidity. Actually, it might have been the humidity that made it feel so right.

The female member of the band was shaking her goods in a manner unseen in the western world. The movement was hypnotically horizontal, none of that bouncing we like to partake in over here.

From what I could tell, they only played three songs, each one longer than 10 minutes. If I had to compare it to any other music I generally write about, the closest is Fuck Buttons. Not at all in how it sounds, but the way the repetitions go on and on. The subtleties can be heard in the trance. Getting lost in the music is what it's all about. Of course security guards discouraged it at Millennium Park, but the whole point of a Konono No. 1 show is dancing. And there were plenty of people fulfilling that need in the back and on the lawn.

It was a wonderful way to wrap up my summer concert series at the park. I'm actually tired now, but totally satisfied until 2011. Millennium Park's concerts were fantastic this year. There are still plenty of street fests left though, and I will be reviewing them. Especially the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Fest, which you really shouldn't miss out on this weekend. Come on Saturday afternoon to hear me play a DJ set at 5pm.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pitchfork Fest 2010 Day Three

1. Finally, that good vibe that comes with Pitchfork every year finally hit towards the end of the afternoon. I can still feel the warmth of its glow.

2. After so much wussy indie music, thank the heavenly stars for Lightning Bolt.

3. It should've been called Chillwave Fest this year. My hair smells like pot smoke. (Washed Out did sound pretty good though)

4. It felt so good to hear people say how they listen to CHIRP during their workdays. And hearing the record labels and stores thank us at the end of the night too. Oh I'm very glad to be a part of this organization right now. All good things.

5. I'm not exactly sure if I have any specific reasons really, but Sunday was the best day of the festival.

6. I don't know why I wasn't expecting Outkast songs, but I'm glad Big Boi did them. And the break-dancing children are the highlight of this weekend in hip hop.

7. I've gotten a good amount of biking in this weekend. Not much eating either. I wonder if I lost any weight...

8. Julie from CHIRP scavenged me a PBR tonight. She didn't have to, but she did. I am thankful to her for getting a non-hieneken beer to her indie-radio brother. It's just how we treat each other around these parts.

9. I missed Pavement. I do not care.

10. Hopefully the drugs don't wear off until after High Places tomorrow (noon. Millennium Park. Official post-Pitchfork hangover show. see ya there.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pitchfork Fest 2010 Day Two

1. Delorean could be an amazing band someday if the singer gets over his lackadaisical delivery.

2. If you don't have any weed on you at Pitchfork fest, look to the person on your right side. If he or she doesn't have any weed, look to your left. This person will have weed.

3. Wolf Parade is just pure rock and roll.

4. There are more douchebags at Pitchfork Fest this year. And they drink Heineken.

5. Young girls are wearing less bras nowadays apparently. Side-boobs are in.

6. My favorite show of the day was the aftershow at Schubas. Here We Go Magic were louder than anything I've ever heard in that venue. Should translate well tomorrow in the outdoor setting.

7. I missed LCD Soundsystem to help out at the CHIRP table. That's how much I believe in CHIRP. I have to keep telling myself this or I'll get sad that I missed LCD Soundsystem...

8. Do people SERIOUSLY like Panda Bear??

9. I wish dogs were allowed at the fest.

10. I'm getting tired. And the weekend is halfway over.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pitchfork Fest 2010 Day One

I'll be at Pitchfork Fest for all three days this weekend. And since I'm there with CHIRP, not as press, I can avoid writing an arc or full paragraphs. Here are the basic things I have to say about day one of the fest:

1. Robyn put on the best show of the day, no contest.

2. I was fairly unfamiliar with Robyn before today, but now I will look into her discography a little more.

3. It was so humid and there were so many people in the crowd for Modest Mouse, it literally felt like a swamp made out of humans. Have you ever seen how dragonflies coast just inches above a lake? That's what they were doing tonight only inches above our heads.

4. Hundreds of glow sticks were being thrown around the swamp crowd for Modest Mouse. It was hard to tell where they all came from. I don't know if it was something promotional, something the band planted, or if a bunch of kids just had the idea to throw around glow sticks during the Modest Mouse show.

5. I'm getting older.

6. Tallest Man on Earth seemed out of sorts today. His show at Lincoln Hall earlier this year was much better.

7. Wyatt Cenac is pretty funny. I like the Comedy Stage idea. Too bad they won't have it tomorrow or Sunday.

8. It looks like Hieneken bought out Goose Island. If it weren't for CHIRP, I don't think it would be fair to call Pitchfork an "indie fest" anymore.

9. Remembering that there is no advertisement for Pitchfork Fest outside of the Pitchfork website, it's safe to assume that the thousands of people attending the fest every day get their music information from the internet.

10. I'm thinking about sneaking my own alcohol in tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (7/14/10)

It was easier to stay up until 3 this time. Still a few hiccups here and there, but I'm coming back around to the whole live radio thing. Extra thanks to Misuzu for listening to the majority of my show while also chatting with me on AIM. Above and beyond, Misuzu. And to anyone who missed me, I played a lot of Pitchfork stuff in celebration of the upcoming weekend (CHIRP hosts the record fair every year, you know), as well local artists, international jams, and even an Animal Collective song. (durrrr)

12:01AM Maps & Atlases Perch Patchwork from Perch Patchwork (Barsuk)

12:06AM Best Coast Space Baby from Where the Boys Are EP (Blackest Rainbow)

12:09AM Ratatat Loud Pipes from Classics (XL)

12:15AM Curtis Mayfield Ain't Got Time from Sweet Exorcist (Charly Records)

12:19AM Wolf Parade Palm Road from Expo 86 (Sub Pop)

12:24AM Janelle Monae Cold War from The Archandroid (Bad Boy)

12:28AM Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, The Stop from And the Horse You Rode In On (Bloodshot)

12:31AM Alain Gorageur Les Fusees from La Planete Sauvage (DC Recordings)

12:33AM Iron and Wine Kingdom of the Animals from Boy With a Coin (Sub Pop)

12:41AM Autechre Rew(1) from Move of Ten (Warp)

12:47AM No Kids Bluster in the Air from Come Into My House (Tomlab)

12:52AM Modest Mouse 3rd Planet (BBC radio edit) from The Moon & Antarctica (Epic)

12:56AM Colour Revolt Our Names from The Cradle (Dualtone Music Group)

1:02AM Sufjan Stevens Ring Them Bells from I'm Not There Soundtrack (Columbia)

1:08AM Alejandro Escovedo I'll Follow You Down from Metro: The Official Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 (Metro)

1:14AM Chin Up Chin Up Collide the Tide from Chin Up Chin Up (Flameshovel)

1:18AM Why? Gemini (Birthday Song) from Elephant Eyelash (Anticon)

1:23AM Tom Schraeder Should've Stuck With Cotton from Once Lace, Now Cotton (Township)

1:28AM HEALTH Nice Girls (Little Loud Rmx) from DISCO2 (City Slang)

1:32AM Suckers Martha from Wild Smile (Frenchkiss)

1:37AM Foals Total Life Forever from Total Life Forever (Sub Pop)

1:40AM Miles Davis Boplicity from Birth of the Cool (Blue Note)

1:44AM Toro Y Moi Low Shoulder from Causers Of This (Carpark)

1:48AM Townes Van Zandt Tecumseh Valley from Rear View Mirror (Sundown Records)

1:52AM Blitzen Trapper Dragon's Song from Destroyer of the Void (Sub Pop)

1:55AM Gillian Welch Paper Wings from Revival (Almo Sounds)

2:00AM Clogs Beating Stick from Stick Music (Brassland)

2:06AM Zé, Tom Menina, Amanha de Manha from Se o Caso e Chorar (WEA)

2:09AM Icy Demons Miami Ice from Miami Ice (Obey Your Brain)

2:15AM Deuter Der Turm from Cloud Cuckooland (B-Music)

2:21AM Caribou After Hours from Andorra (Domino)

2:28AM Nina Nastasia You Can Take Your Time from Outlaster (Fat Cat)

2:32AM Califone Two Sisters Drunk on Each Other from Heron King Blues (Thrill Jockey)

2:39AM Wganda Kenya Pim Pom from Palenque Palenque (Soundway)

2:43AM Animal Collective Daily Routine from Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)

2:50AM Pernice Brothers The End of Faith from Goodbye Killer (Ashmont)

2:53AM Bob Dylan Boots of Spanish Leather from The Times They Are A-Changin' (Columbia)

2:57AM Born Ruffians Blood, The Sun & Water from Say It (Warp)

Monday, July 12, 2010

You Missed Out: Caribou

A conversation amongst three friends on the Millennium Park lawn, two of whom are attempting to explain Caribou to a person who's about to hear them for the first time at the Pritzker Pavilion:

"What's Caribou sound like anyway?"

"Well, I guess they're pretty dancy."

"Oh I wouldn't call them dancy. They're... different."

If you were at the show tonight, you probably witnessed the most dancing in public since... actually, I'm not sure if I've ever seen more dancing come to think of it. Everybody was up on their feet for this one.

But, that doesn't necessarily mean that Caribou is dancy. Their music isn't even close to Daft Punk or four on the floor nightclub bumping. I can rarely tell what instruments are even being played. It's "indie" music through and through. But the sort of indie that encourages listeners to drop their guards and just shake their asses around. While getting high. Of course, weed is prevalent.

Psychedelic beats echo and reverberate off the Chicago skyline, landing on youthful ears. Somehow, it causes bodies to move around.

I know comparisons to the Beach Boys are beyond tired in regards to modern indie rock (Panda Bear, Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, etc.), but if I had to pick an artist who is closest to the Beach Boys of 2010, I'm voting Caribou. Remember when surf rock first hit the beach party stereos? Of course we don't, we weren't alive. But, it was a weird and wavy sound that made kids want to dance. They hadn't heard anything quite like it before, but that's exactly what affected them about the style.

This is sort of what Caribou is doing today. The music doesn't sound quite like anything we'd expect to hear at a dance party. It's not straightforward. It's not even close to hip hop. Caribou just taps into a new feeling of instrumental elation. Music lovers get into this sound not because it's dancy or different, but because it's such a perplexing combination of both.

Generally, dance floors get crowded when the familiar song comes on. If the DJ plays something unfamiliar, the masses become less interested and head to the bar for a refill. But if this show tonight was any indication, this next generation of music fans wants to hear something unpredictable. Even better, they want to dance to something they've never heard before.

So no, Caribou is not "dancy" in the traditional sense. However, it's gonna get kids on their feet in spite of a cacophony of unorthodox sounds and beats.

You missed out if you weren't there tonight. More than any other band I've seen live, Caribou's show is remarkably better than the recorded material. I suppose a part of that may be due to the fact that when I listen to Caribou by myself at my desk, hundreds of people around me aren't going to start moving to the music. Though I may get up when Bowls comes on, even if I am by myself...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Upon Inspection of Speculation

Lebron James will announce his new team later tonight. Maybe I should avoid writing and just wait a few hours to hear his announcement, but the process leading up to this moment has been too ridiculous to not comment on. But this blog post isn't about my prediction as to where he'll go, I'm more intrigued by the drama of this whole mess. It really feels like somebody wrote this story, but if that is the case, then all of the speculation is a big waste of mental energy. What's so special about this story? Track with me if possible.

So the biggest class of free agents ever hits the NBA market a couple weeks ago. They're all meeting with various teams, and a few key players (Lebron, Wade, and Bosh) jump out ahead of the pack and into a spotlight. Even though Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer and other players are available, we don't hear much about them in this story until they've actually signed a deal. There's no drama with those latter players, they're actually quite quiet about their business meetings.

But the big three are vocal (OR amazingly silent when they want to be) about who they're meeting with, when, and where. The where is particularly interesting to me. With the exception of Cleveland, the big three are looking for teams in Chicago, the New York area, Los Angeles, and Miami. These are the biggest, most culturally and economically vibrant cities in the country. The top markets. It almost seems pre-planned, doesn't it? The free agents in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Atlanta resigned relatively quickly and without hoopla, so the fans in those places can just wait for their season to start. But millions of people in the biggest cities in America are still waiting for a decision from Lebron James. They've been wondering for weeks, and even though plenty of moves have been made, there's still no idea. Even on the day of the announcement, no idea.

How can a secret like this be kept? I mean, who wrote this script? Is the NBA the new professional wrestling? Russian billionaires, Jay-Z, Spike Lee, and Lebron James. What a cast. How can this be real? How can all of the sports experts across the country have nothing to hang their hats on? How has all remained mere speculation?

And there's the key word: speculation. We in the big cities have been trying to create reasons as to why Lebron will come to our particular team. We all hope that it's because either he wants to win (Chicago), wants to make money (Cleveland), and various other answers that also involve making money (Nets, New York, Miami). But, seriously, this has been playing out a little too perfectly.

The day before Lebron's announcement, Wade and Bosh announce they'll both be playing in Miami (sounding like a pretty big temptation for anyone who wants to compete for championships). But also, the Bulls sign Carlos Boozer, while leaving enough salary space to still pay for Lebron today. He's hosting his announcement show near a New York Knicks facility, but also in Jay-Z's neighborhood. But, again, this is all speculative information. Everything mentioned in this paragraph could mean nothing. Maybe one of those sentences will be relevant after Lebron makes his decision, but all of the others will disappear.

And that's why all of this speculation is a waste of mental energy. If it's really true that NOBODY knows what Lebron will decide tonight, the past week of guessing games has been useless. Has it been entertaining? No, it's been a waste.

Watching Lebron James play basketball is entertaining. He's the most athletic player in the league, maybe the greatest athlete in the entire world. But that means he shouldn't have to turn basketball into pro wrestling in order to make the game fun.

Wrestling doesn't really require any speculation, you just have to sit back and enjoy the show. Sometimes throw a middle finger in the air for some reason, and boom, you're a fan. There's no telling what will happen in wrestling, unless you're one of the writers. The writer has to do the thinking, the fan can just turn his brain off and yell.

If it wasn't Lebron, somebody wrote this free agency story. Somebody planned this long ago, and it has been playing out according to a perfect timetable. And like all good stories, the ending will have a twist. Whatever Lebron does tonight will not be what we expected. That's what good writers do. Through the storytelling process they hide what was there all along. And once we see it at the end we smack our foreheads like we should've seen it all along.

The only other possibility is that this nonsense actually has been legitimate. All of the business meetings have been sincere attempts on each individual's part to find the best deal available. And every single deal has preceded Lebron's decision simply because the King hasn't made up his mind yet. If THAT'S the case, then the speculation is warranted.

And this is what's so interesting to me. I honestly can't tell if this has been written, or if it's legitimate. How can this be? In the age of Twitter, how can we really not know yet? It's like I'm watching Ali G for the first time all over again. "What is this? Who is this guy? Why is this on TV?"

Should I be speculating? Or should I just assume it's a part of a big entertainment machine built for drama? It makes me hate and love Lebron all in one weird emotion. If he can orchestrate buzz like this, whether it's real or not, (and without leaking a hair of information!) he's a man of the times unlike any other sports figure in the world. He's a great basketball player, but he might also be a brilliant dramatist. Maybe he'll end up in Los Angeles after all...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

CHIRP Playlist 7/7/10

My first show on CHIRP was a lot of fun, and I didn't even start to doze off until about 2:30 AM. Check my DJ skills out next week, and every Wednesday (midnight to 3 AM) from here on out. Thanks for listening, and if you didn't catch me last night here's what you missed:

12:03AM Tame Impala Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind from Innerspeaker (Modular)

12:07AM Fugazi Arpeggiator from End Hits (Dischord Records)

12:08AM Gayngs The Last Prom on Earth from Relayted (Jagjaguwar)

12:15AM Hank Williams Why Should We Try Anymore from Sing Me A Blue Song (MGM)

12:17AM Damien Jurado Kansas City from Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian)

12:22AM New Pornographers, The Ballad of a Comeback Kid from Electric Version (Matador)

12:26AM Saxon Shore The Revolution Will Be Streaming from The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore (Burnt Toast Vinyl)

12:30AM Kele Everything You Wanted from The Boxer (Glassnote)

12:34AM Gal Costa Aquarela Do Brasil from Aquarela Do Brasil (Verve)

12:38AM Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti L'estat (acc to the widow's maid) from Before Today (4AD)

12:43AM The Ramones Sheena is a Punk Rocker from Rockets to Russia (Warner Bros.)

12:45AM Pinback 3x0 from Summer in Abaddon (Touch & Go)

12:51AM Al Green Love and Happiness from I'm Still in Love with You (The Right Stuff)

12:55AM Cave Hot Bricks from Pure Moods EP (Drag City)

1:02AM The Besnard Lakes Devastation from The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse (Jagjaguwar)

1:07AM Baths Hall from Cerulean (Anticon)

1:10AM The Books Free Translator from The Way Out (Temporary Residence)

1:16AM Sleigh Bells Rill Rill from Treats (Mom+Pop)

1:19AM Charles Mingus Tensions from Blues & Roots (Atlantic)

1:28AM The Shins Young Pilgrims from Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop)

1:30AM Shout Out Louds Impossible from Our Ill Wills (Merge)

1:37AM Paul Simon You Can Call Me Al from Graceland (Warner Bros.)

1:42AM Stars Wasted Daylight from The Five Ghosts (Some Revolution)

1:46AM Robyn Cry When You Get Older from Body Talk Pt. 1 (Konichiwa)

1:51AM Dosh Country Road X from Tommy (Anticon)

1:57AM Light Pollution Oh, Ivory! from Apparitions (Carpark)

1:58AM They Might Be Giants Exquisite Dead Guy from Factory Showroom (Elektra)

2:02AM Daft Punk Da Funk from Homework (Caroline Distribution)

2:08AM Kraftwerk Computer Liebe from Computerwelt (EMI)

2:16AM Menomena E Is Stable from I Am the Fun Blame Monster! (FILMguerrero)

2:21AM Fol Chen The Holograms from Part II: The New December (Asthmatic Kitty)

2:26AM Konono Nº1 Fula Fula from Assume Crash Position (Crammed)

2:31AM Junk Culture West Coast from West Coast (Illegal Art)

2:35AM Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Jaykub from Dark Night of the Soul (EMI)

2:41AM Kings of Convenience Failure from Quiet is the New Loud (Astralwerks)

2:46AM Osso & Sufjan Stevens Year of the Ox from Run Rabbit Run (Asthmatic Kitty)

2:48AM National, The Ada from Boxer (Beggars Banquet)

2:54AM Mass Shivers Anonynominous from Contoured Heat (Licking River)

2:59AM Here We Go Magic Only Pieces from Here We Go Magic (Western Vinyl)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


For about one month now, my wife and I have been raising up a puppy. He's a black border collie mix with white paws and a laid back temperament. His name is Arlen--an anagram for "learn," but inspired by the fictional Texas town in Mike Judge's King of the Hill. Border collies are the most intelligent dog breed, so, non-satirically, Arlen is a learner.

I've become a stay-at-home dad for this puppy. He demands it. While Jaclyn works during the day, I play with Arlen, walk him, feed him, and sometimes just stare at him in amazement. He's a profound little creature. He has grown and learned so much already, and I'm so impressed by his ability to live happily. If he wants to play with a toy, he does. If he wants to plop his butt down on the AC vent, he's there. And sometimes, he lies down behind my desk chair while I'm writing, because he wants to keep me company. He's a little animal, but I'm starting to feel a pretty strong connection between us.

In the past month, I think we've only made it to church once. And it wasn't our usual church. Not even a block away from New Community Covenant is an Episcopal church. Walking past its entrance a few months ago, we noticed a sign encouraging dog walkers to bring their pets in for an early morning worship service. I do want to raise Arlen up in the ways of the Lord, so I got up early one Sunday morning this past month for the sake of his spiritual well-being. Get 'em while they're young, as they say.

There weren't more than 10 people at the service, mostly older women wearing pink and purple sweaters with birds and palm trees printed on them. One woman stood up to read the call and response creeds, until it came time for the scripture reading. The woman reading from the Bible had a miniature poodle strapped to the front of her body, like one of those infant slings. The poofy white dog had a Bible right in front of its nose, but its eyes darted around the sanctuary while her owner read aloud. My wife and I couldn't help but smirk at each other, but the reader was as serious about the scripture as the pope would be at the Vatican. All the while, Arlen was roaming around under the pews while I held onto his leash. He wasn't paying attention to the message.

The message was actually about embarrassment. Not being upset at someone who inadvertently embarrassed you, and apologizing to a friend or family member if you thought you embarrassed them. There was a wonderful irony to all of it. As I sat amidst the sweet old ladies in my faded black jeans, I wondered why it wasn't a more eclectic group who looked more like Jaclyn and me. But I got over myself quickly, and whispered at Arlen to "sit."

When the service ended, we all had donuts. And the dogs had doggie treats. The head pastor then came in to greet me and my wife. He seemed pretty gay. But it was the Episcopal church after all, so he probably was. But I appreciate that about the Episcopals. They accept the gays and the dogs. It's rare to find either in any other Christian denomination.

The Bible doesn't have many kind things to say about dogs or homosexuals. Dogs are usually portrayed as mangy scavengers, metaphors for lower life forms who live according to their own primitive instincts. And homosexuals, well, they're an abomination. So there's that...

Now I don't mean to equate dogs and homosexuals. I just find it funny how both of these groups are accepted in the church by only one denominational branch of Christianity. I'm not an Episcopal. In fact, I don't know what I am anymore. Maybe non-denominational. Maybe Universalist. I don't know. But since I've had Arlen, I've wanted to be able to relate to him in every way possible. I want to believe whatever he believes in.

This is the silly thing about humans. Beliefs can be obtuse and unwarranted, but still we'll cling to them unto death. When I look at Arlen, I see a creature that should be cared for and loved, and yet the animal expresses no irrational response to a Sunday church service. As the Bible is read, dogs remain dogs. As prayers are uttered, still the animals act according to their instincts. They don't get reverent and bow their doggy heads. There is no faith to be had for them, still they are shown God's grace... and given treats.

My wife and I are inclined to learn from a Sunday morning message. What can we take away from the sermon? How can we be better Christians from this point onward? But Arlen asks no such question. He desires shelter, sustenance and love. He makes no qualms about his soul's condition. He simply goes on about his day, making the best of it.

I don't mean to lower my ethical standards to that of a dog, but sometimes I wonder about human evolution. Have we come so far intellectually that we are really learning things on a spiritual level? A level no other species on the planet has yet experienced? Or are we just playing with ourselves? As a puppy plays with a stuffed animal in a living room like it were a dead squirrel outside, do we engage in religious practices as a means of satisfying some invisible biological urges? Are prayers and worship services simply relics of leftover instincts? Sure, Arlen can pretend that he's killing a squirrel when he whips around his fluffy squeaky toy, but he isn't really. What exactly are humans doing when they go to church on Sunday mornings?

One thing is true of dogs and humans: we both have the ability to learn. Of course, humans are much more advanced than dogs. We can communicate and interact with each other at frighteningly high levels, even to the point of accomplishing moon walks. Dogs are a few million years away from figuring out rocket science. But is it possible that all of that which we must put faith in, can it be possible that this is nothing more than a chemical reaction to our natural desire to progress humanity? Do we actually believe in God, or are we just ever-reaching for better things? Is love something we are first given by our Lord, or just another evolutionary aspect of our being?

What I want to learn now is not a tactic that will help me read my Bible or pray more often. I want to learn about the creatures around me. I want them to be safe, and happy in their environments. Humans and dogs, the wealthy and the scavengers, all of these living things have needs that must be met. Some intangible, some tangible. But it starts with learning. It starts with whispering "sit," and communicating for the sake of a relationship.

I don't believe in spirituality anymore. I believe in Morse code. And the potential for human disbelief. Just because I'm an advanced life form doesn't mean I have to neglect my primal nature.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

How To Find Yourself a Good Christian Wife

Christian singles live in every part of the country, so you don't have to travel far to look for a woman who could potentially become your wife. Make sure that you become a Christian before you go courting a Christian woman, because the religion discourages interfaith marriages. The marriage of two Christians is a beautiful celebration of sexual purity and dedication to a couple's faith in Christ. The easiest way to find a Christian wife is by participating in church community events.

Step 1

Look around for a church in your neighborhood. Attend a Sunday service to see if you find any of the congregation's women attractive. If no, look at another church. Once you find a church that has some single Christian women you'd like to get to know, look into group Bible studies. Find out which particular study group the woman is in, and see if you can join in next week. Studying the Bible and praying together in a smaller setting lets you get to know each other on a more personal level.

Step 2

Go out to church group events if they are offered. Whether it's a neighborhood outreach activity or just an outing to a restaurant, doing ministry together is a great way to get more acquainted with people from your church. Do not immediately ask a woman from your church out on a date though, because Christian women prefer to move into romantic relationships slowly and cautiously. First show her how mature of a Christian you are by hanging out with other groups of Christian friends.

Step 3

Ask her out on dates once you've become friends with her. You should never be alone though, because Christians wait until marriage before they have sex. But dates allow you to get to know a woman on a more romantic level. If you both have strong spiritual and physical attractions to each other on your dates, talk about marriage openly. Set boundaries and make sure you know how far you both agree to go on a physical level. If you don't want to kiss until the joyous wedding day, simply communicate that.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Hasn't Come Out Yet: The Books - The Way Out

Release Date: July 20, 2010

The leak of the week happens to be the latest full-length of my favorite band. Did I just use the F-word? Sorry if I offended anyone there. I don't mean to be so exclusive. But after listening to The Way Out a few times, I think it has solidified The Books as my current favorite group of people making music today. Their only real competition is Menomena. Actually, these two will probably trade places in my ranks a few times before the end of the year. But right now, it is The Books.

In the 21st century, music shouldn't sound like anything other than what The Books are doing. With buried treasures of recordings from the past 100 years hidden in thrift stores, libraries, garage sales and youtube, we have so much material for creative puzzle making that hand-played instruments should be getting dusty in corners. Instruments are still fun, but found sounds are so much more interesting now that we live in an age of digital editing.

After five years of waiting, The Books have released something incredible. I was beginning to wonder after a few years if they'd do anything like Lemon of Pink again. Then they covered Cello Song with Jose Gonzalez, and I was assured that more excellence was on the way.

One thing that particular song proved was that Nick's voice could harmonize with Jose's, and sound gorgeous. I had been put off a little bit on 2005's Lost and Safe by the unexpectedly more prominent vocal element. I'm not sure if there's less singing on The Way Out, but it just seems more appropriate now. Free Translator is one of those poetically charged quiet Books songs that lulls its listener into a trance. And it's all because of Nick's soft voice and improved songwriting. The images are surreal and dreamy, and altogether heartwarming.

The album is full of laughs too (another key element that seemed missing on Lost and Safe). The Books are very funny. These latest songs about metaphysically challenged new-agers, hip hop misplaced in children's stories, and the usual Christian preacher wackjobbery, this is laugh-out-loud stuff.

I want to simultaneously contemplate the universe, black out into a coma, or paint a landscape as I listen to this music. Whatever happens, I feel so grateful when I hear the sonic creations of The Books. I can't explain how, but hearing these sounds assure me that life is still worth living. And living happily. God, I love The Books.