I'll tell you what's good about being in a band. It allows you to appear to be a lot cooler and smarter than you are. Now, I know this has been sort of a running theme this week, what with all the talk of me being a hack and all, but today I'd like to cover the area of songwriting.
Last night the band finished polishing up a turd of a song I brought in earlier in the week. I wrote this song in my sophomore year of college and it's basically a stinky poop. But take this poop and let Gordon, Pete and Jordan add their particular brands of stink to it and you get a 15/4 weird ass masterpiece. Well, maybe not masterpiece, but at least a serviceable song.
Tomorrow we're going to take my old underwear and make a mural for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. dag.
I like to pretend for the bands's (and the fans') sake that I'm a competent musician. This is simply untrue. As noted yesterday, I learned most of what I know by playing along to records and ignoring well meaning and more knowledgeable musicians. So, essentially, I can spout off a few rock riffs and hold my own in a noise making contest, but other than that I'm pretty much a hack who does a convincing job of not looking like too big of a hack.
So what a shock it was for all involved (besides myself) when Fooled By April tried to subvert the dominant paradigm by playing in a different time signature last night. I was like a monkey on a typewriter given the task of writing all, not just one, of Shakespeare's plays. When I finally kinda got the hang of it I was so proud of myself I almost pooped.
Anyway, if this goes well I may just have to leave the group (i.e. be fired) and join Helmet.
So, last night was the singular moment of television I have been waiting years for - Bands Reunited: Extreme. Oh, but wait, it ended up sucking ridiculously, almost unexplainably large chunks of ass.
A little back story. Every guitar player goes through this period when they first start learning the instrument where they decide that anyone who isn't a virtuoso sucks, like "how can they be good if they play songs with only three chords in them?" It takes a while before you realize that a good three chord song is infinitely harder to play convincingly, and during that while you spend your time idolizing various guitar gods. And my personal guitar god was Nuno Bettencourt. I used to literally sit in front of my stereo for hours, guitar in hand, trying to copy his licks. I can honestly say that 50% of my early guitar education came from the Pornografitti album. Sad, but true.
Anyway, fast forward ten years and Extreme is being reunited!?!?!?! I literally fell out of my chair. And so last night I dimmed all the lights, got myself a snack, took a pre-emptive piss and sat down to revel in my youth. And it sucked.
You see, I guess being a guitar virtuoso also predisposes you to being an asshole. Although no one else has been beating down Nuno's door to be on national TV for ten years now, and despite the fact that the rest of the band was enthusiastically up for it, he still said no. Not only did he say no, but he refused to even be on camera. I was so pissed.
I mean, I just wanted to shake him and go "do you realize how stupid it is for me to still care about you?!?!? We're not talking about Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith or the Beatles here, you're Extreme! I bought all your albums even though there's maybe, maybe, one album's worth of good material spread over them all. I defended you to people I met in college and even to people I meet now. And dude, I don't know what you think, but there just aren't that many of else left. So, do you think you could maybe get off your ass, stop being such a primadonna and throw us a fucking bone here?"
I was seriously pissed. And I didn't get one flake of the 6-12 inches of get out your job free snow that I was promised for this morning.
-Last night the band did everything we possibly could to avoid going to the basement to rehearse. We pretended to be interested in each other's lives, we pretended to like Brendo Frendo, we pretended to be interested in Fantelope's nutty vegetarianism, etc. But you can only put off the inevitable for so long, and we finally headed downstairs, where it was literally about 45 degrees. We ended up getting very little done, except a cool jam where I played slide guitar because my fingers hurt too much when I put them on the strings.
-This morning on my walk to the T I was, of course, freezing. To combat this I pulled my scarf way up over my face, so that just my eyes were exposed. This was really nice and warm, the only drawback being that the steam from my breath condensed on my glasses and froze solid. However, this was not enough to make me take the scarf away and so I navigated the rest of the journey walking basicall sideways and using only my peripheral vision.
So, Fall River is trying to pass a law that will make gay marriage in Fall River illegal no matter what happens with the rest of Massachusetts. C'mon dudes. I mean...dudes?
After I read this on the T this morning (in the Metro of course) I had two thoughts.
Thought the first: Why would any gay person want to be associated with the straight tradition of marriage after all that we've done to make it meaningless, especially as domestic partnership laws are becoming the norm? It's like if the Crips came to me and said "Hey Joe, we take white people now." "Yeah, but you still kill people over drugs and turf, right?" "Well, yeah." "Hmmm, I'll pass." Anyway, despite it not being the most glamorous club in my opinion, I agree that in the name of equality any two people who want to get married should be able to get married.
Thought the second: What are these straight people afraid of? Last time I checked, letting gay people get married didn't affect straight married people at all. People act like somewhere in a law allowing gay marriage is a provision that allows any gay married man the right to punch any straight married man in the face with no provocation.
I say grow up, people. Let everyone play with the toys or get out of the sandbox.
It's Friday and thank god, or whoever decided that it was high time to reunite Klymaxx on VH1. That was some seriously funny shit.
Anywho, there isn't much new in the world of rock. It's still cold as ass in the basement, the rock songs keep pouring out of us and we can't wait for the spring, when we can bring the rock out to you, the true rock fans.
Yesterday I may have made a new friend. My old ass boss came into my office and said "Have you ever talked to [some random dude who works with us in some small capacity in Washington D.C.]?" I said no and he followed up with "He has long hair and I think he plays guitar."
Hmmmm. I wonder if I should tell him that he should talk to the crotchety old guy who lives on my street who is a tool. They probably have a lot in common too and maybe we could all double date.
So last night we played in Allston and it was fun and thanks to everyone who made it out and yada yada yada. You've heard this all before and it's boring.
The true discovery of the night was the arcade game "Big Buck Hunter", in which you shoot at bucks and bulls with a prop shotgun in simulated hunting environments. Now, I hate hunting but I loved this game. It is so redneck that you should win a confederate flag for doing well. My personal favorite part of the game is that you lose points for hitting a doe. In this game, as in life, you need to be selective in your wanton killing.
Pete, Jordan and I are already planning a return trip to Harper's Ferry just to play the game. You should come with and we'll have a buck hunting tourney. Dag.
I'm at my family's summer cottage in the middle of summer. We're all swimming in the lake and basking in the sun, just enjoying the day.
Suddenly on the horizon there is a plane, but not an ordinary plane. Stapped underneath the plane is some sort of Zeppelin. As I try to get a better look at this weird plane/balloon combo it begins to come closer and I can hear the pilot on some sort of P.A. system. He is announcing that the plane is having trouble and will crash.
Oddly, this doesn't scare myself or anyone I'm with, we just watch as the craft crashes into the lake. I run into the water to try and save whoever is on the plane, but other people are already on the scene. This bothers me because I want to be the hero and now I can't be.
Anyway, the plane itself has sunk, but the zeppelin is afloat and is dragged back to shore. There is one survivor who emerges, a small towheaded boy who I'm pretty sure might be me 20 years ago. As I look over the boy I have the sudden realization that his name is Pi, but it's spelled 3.1415927. I'm suddenly very nervous and tell everyone that it clearly states in the Book of Revelation that when a blond boy named Pi is born unto the earth it means that soon armageddon is coming. Everyone seems to accept this but isn't too fazed. It's the end of the world as we know it and, well, they feel fine.
Instantly I'm back in my childhood home desperately searching for a Bible to prove my case. All I can find is Bible literary criticism by Eagleton and a copy of "The Book" (which is sort of like "The Bible for Dummies"). My father enters the room and tells me I'm crazy, everyone loves Pi (we've apparently adopted him) and everything will be fine. I got a strong sense that I will soon die and wake up.
Dag. I mean, dag. Right? Take a look at that one, science. I'm not a religious person and I've never read the Bible, but apparently a past version of myself will come to earth to destroy the human race in a prophecy fulfilling final blast of God's rage. Dag.
Now, that was a weekend of rock! And it was just what this tired ass winter weary band needed to get its collective be-hind in motion.
Friday we got an almost unhealthy amount of love from the hometown faithful at TT's. It was honestly pretty frigging great to have so many people come out on the coldest night in Boston's history, and believe you me we appreciate it. Special thanks to our south shore superfans, DJ Rock (Check her out Thursday afternoons on WRPS 88.3) and Melissa, who made the trip all the way from Rockland (where we hope to retire). Also big ups to Anne, Sarah and Manashi, all of whom assure me that they not only like the band but also enjoy this vapid tripe I call a journal. Plus, Manashi lives in England and her name can be anagrammed to "I Shaman"
Saturday it was off to New Rock City for a show at the Luna. Now, to be honest I was dreading this show. I wanted to use my three day weekend essentially as the time after you hit the snooze bar, when you're warm and sleepy and think to yourself "screw work, I'll deal with that in ten minutes." So, a long car trip in the freezing cold was less than super appealing. Add to that that the Luna was mobbed, I felt slightly ill and I had five hours to kill before the show after we got to NYC and it was shaping up to be a disaster. And so I did what I do best - sulked. Luckily Ladyfriend Sarah was there so I had someone to vent to and attempt to make as miserable as myself.
Anyway, when it was finally time to play I realized I was a jackass. The place was mobbed with all our New York friends, a good number of our Boston friends and some dancing fools who I didn't even recognize. Everyone was drunker than a barrel full of monkeys and it turned out to be a blast.
The point? I now stand before with my faith fully restored in the rock.
I know I'm like a broken record over here, but holy god damn is it cold out. I had shooting pains in my face and legs after the 15 minute walk to the T this morning. I literally don't remember it being this cold ever. Dag.
Anyway, we played last night in Rhode Island which was, um, ok? There wasn't anyone there and it was cold everywhere; inside, outside, you name it. The ride home was uneventful, featuring Pete, Jordan and I all crammed together in Pete's car trying in vain to stay warm.
Finally, after an eternity, we arrived home. Now here is where the story veers into full on support for the hypothesis that guys in bands are dumb. When we got home, after an entire night of bitching about the cold, 12-Guage turns to me and says "You wanna get naked and run to the laundromat [one block away] to see how cold it is?" I say "sure" like a complete jackass.
So we stripped to our underwear and shoes and ran two blocks in -5 degree weather with a -30 wind chill. When we got back to the house we both felt like we were going to puke and that we'd never be able to reproduce.
Possibly the worst feeling in the world is thinking you have a snow day when, in fact, there is no snowday to be had at all. Such was the case this morning.
I woke up to the sound of a plow and ran to the window of my living room to see what was happening. Unfortunately, I forgot to put my glasses on first. So there I stood in my drawers, looking out on what in my myopic world appeared to be six inches or so of beautiful, make the elderly boss stay at home snow.
I hustled back to the bedroom to find out for sure and when I picked up my phone I saw that there was a message from Ladyfriend Sarah. Surely she had called to tell me about the snowday! Nope, she just wanted me to know she still had my T-Pass, which she had borrowed. Oh well, maybe she had to work but I knew I still had a snowday.
Anywho, I started planning out everything I would do with my free day. There are books to read, movies to see, naps to take - the choices are endless. Finally, after ten minutes or so of planning I decided to put my glasses on and go survey the damage. Surely with my vision intact the disastrous spectacle would be much more impressive.....or I would see that we barely got a dusting, however it's still 2 below and work is very much going to happen.
So, FXA has a big weekend of rock coming up. Three shows in three states. For those of you doing the math, that's .75 states per band member, although we'll be playing like we each get a full state.
Anywho, the weatherman says that the next couple days might be the coldest days in New England.....ever. And nothing says "smart thing to do on cold days" than pack up the van just to load and unload the van in the coldest parking lots in New England.....ever.
So, folks, come out and show us your smiling faces. It won't keep us from dying of frostbite, but it will give us a warm glow inside that we can use for heat when the delicate van system gives out. Either that, or we'll all cuddle with Jordan (he's a furnace!).
- Doesn't anyone ever really retire anymore? I ask because Roger Clemens just signed with the Astros for at least one more year. Now, he had to have known, somewhere in his mind, that he possibly would play one more year. That makes me think he is one giant a-hole for letting the people of New York make a big deal of his retirement all last season. But beyond that, no one ever retires anymore. Sports stars come back (sometimes more than once), bands come back, actors come back etc. Don't get me wrong, I think you should stay in the game as long as you want, but don't grab a bunch of attention by "retiring" if you're going to come back, jerk. Dag.
- I read an article in a magazine that asked the question "How will we diet now that ephedra is illegal?" These are the times I wish I was a doctor:
Patient: How will I diet now that ephedra is illegal?
Me: Hmmm. How about eating less and exercising?
Patient: Nah, that's not it. Maybe I can do the Zonekins macrobiotic and drink 72 glasses of water a day.
Me: Hmmm. How about eating less and exercising?
Patient: Nah. Maybe I can get fen-fen from Thailand.
Me: Hmmm. How about eating less and exercising?
Patient: Good point! All crystal meth diet it is then.
Me: Ok. See you in six months.
The winter has decided, like many of my junior high school bullies, to keep kicking my ass despite my cries of uncle.
Oh well, screw the winter is what I say. This week marks the return to form of the FXA rock machine after a good old fashioned new year's layoff. We have three shows in three states this weekend and they promise to rock your socks off.
On a serious note, if you indeed come to these shows you should pack extra socks.
Surreal Life II? Yes, indeed. I love me that crazy Trishelle.
So many annoying things going on in the world, so little time....
Oh well. This morning I was trying to choose which annoying thing to write about and just couldn't make up my mind, so today you get three small journal entries about really stupid people for the price of one. Hoo-ray.
- A man is suing a cable television company claiming that he is fat, an alcoholic and a chronic smoker because he is addicted to cable and can't pull himself away from it...well, except to buy lots of junk food, cigarettes and alcohol. He also claims that cable is the cause of the breakdown in his and his wife's relationship and has made his kids fat and lazy. This guy is so stupid I can't even make a joke about him. It would cheapen it.
- The woman who claimed to lose a $162 million dollar lottery ticket only to have another woman come forward with it has dropped her claim, although not before filing a lawsuit to get her share. Now people, I have to admit I kinda admire the balls it takes to pretend you've won the lottery and then to try to con your way to a jackpot but, in poker terms, when you know you're beat you gotta fold the cards. Maybe next time, crazy lady.
- Two of my gym enemies were talking in the locker room yesterday with no irony about the cold weather.
Gym Enemy 1: I can't go running with you tomorrow. Too cold.
Gym Enemy 2: C'mon. I'm going. If people can sleep under bridges in this weather then I can go outside for a half hour.
Gym Enemy 1: I guess, but the homeless get used to it. They don't really feel the cold.
Gym Enemy 2: Yeah they become immune to it.
Homeless people don't feel the cold?!?!? I have never heard more ridiculous middle class rationalization in my life. You can't tell me, while I'm sitting here at work still waiting for my testicles to descend from somewhere up near my heart after a 15 minute walk outside that anyone gets used to this cold. Man, I hate those guys.
How god damn cold is it out there? It's times like these where I feel like maybe the old people have it right - hit a managed care facility in Florida with all the prescription bottles you can hold, play shuffleboard and call it a day. Mmmmmm, Florida.
Anyway, last night the rock collective you've come to know as Fooled By April got some sweet work done. However, we practice in an uninsulated basement and it was cooooooooold. It was so cold we not only could see our breath, but had to practice with all out clothes on. Usually at least myself and Jordan go naked to get the creativity rolling. Oh well, we still got a song out of it - probably not as good a song as it could have been with the aforementioned nakedness, but what can you do?
I know that I usually devote this space to my cynical, poorly thought out rants about how I would change the world if only I weren't so lazy. Well, not today....
Today I want to make the nerdy confession that I am psyched about the Mars Rover. I am literally waiting anxiously for the 360 degree panoramic shots NASA is going to release in a couple days.
The weird thing is that I don't know why I'm excited. I mean, I've never cared about space exploration in the slightest. I think the answer may lie in TV. I watched a NOVA special about the whole thing the other day and it was actually pretty touching to see these groups of grown men working themselves to the point of tears to do something unbelievably difficult and cool yet inherently silly. The psychiatrist in my head says I'm touched by this because it's sort of like trying to be a musician, but she never finished her degree so screw her.
I also had a dream last night that I was on Mars but I had my guitar amp instead of the Rover and I was paranoid it was going to get red dust all over it. That sucked.
There is possibly no more "I am such a stupid assbag" moment than when you arrive at the T, already late for work, and find yourself without your wallet. And, as in many "I am such a stupid assbag" moments, you immediately realize what the correct course of action is (in this case, turning my ass around and going home), but still insist on a protracted period of antagonizing bargaining with yourself.
Self 1: Shit, so....arg. We must have money on us somewhere.
Self 2: What, are you retarded? Where would we have money? That's why we have a wallet.
Self 1: OK, jagoff. Well....I guess we should jump the turnstyle then.
Self 2: We're not jumping the turnstyle. Are you four or something? We're going to walk home.
Self 1: Home is soooooo far away. Let's sweet talk the Spare Change guy into giving us a dollar.
Self 2: Oh, brilliant. You really are a jerk, you know that? We're going home and I blame you.
Self 1: Well, I blame you.
Self 2: Fine.
Self 1: Fine.
The end of the story is I finally made it to work and I am CRANKY.
I'm back at work after a week of enforced (and much appreciated) "we're MIT and we have no money anymore so we have to shut down for two weeks" vacation.
What did I do with my time?
- FXA played our best New Year's show ever, coupled with our best dance party ever, at the Lizard. Thanks to everyone who came out. I think it was our most fun show of the year or, as a four year old might say, our funnest.
- I slept. A lot.
- Ladyfriend Sarah and I went to Foxwoods with my mom and dad. We both lost a lot of money and got a touch of food poisoning from a salad we shared. Despite all this, it was still pretty fun.
- Pete and I played a LOT of online poker.
- I learned I suck at online poker.
- I think I've moved from a drinking to a gambling problem.
- I thought seriously about someday owning a dog.
Other than that I can't say I did much because, as you all know, I'm ridiculously boring. But I'm rested and ready to bring the funny in the 2004. Happy new year.