Saturday, July 21, 2012

David Sandstrom Overdrive

Holy crap, how did I sleep on this? Looking on facebook for the drummer for the Refused, because I was thoroughly impressed with his drumming, I stumbled across the man's band. If you're expecting the Refused, it won't happen. But, if you want absolutely wonderful pop rock in the vein of Elvis Costello, mixed with Elliott Smith, a dash of Wilco, with the Jam somehow involved, you have to track down his releases. Amazing stuff, really. Nothing like the Refused, but in a world where the Refused never existed, I'd still want this. Such beautiful music, and I had no idea.


An experiment....
We all like different things, and even the things we like, we like in different ways. So, I was thinking about how I like some movies, and bands, and TV shows, but for seemingly different reasons than those around me. An experiment came to mind. What about just listing what songs, episodes, scenes, chapters I like from a given artefact and see if anybody agrees, but more importantly, where they disagree. To serve as an example, and first try, I've been talking a lot about the Refused, but hey, it was 15 years waiting to see one of my all time favorite bands. So, here's my playlist of Refused songs. Feel free to tell me what you think:


Rather Be Dead
Coup d'etat
Hook, Line and Sinker
Life Support Addiction
It's Not OK
Worthless is the Freedom Bought
Last Minute Pointer

Liberation Frequency
Summerholidays Vs Punkroutine
New Noise
Refused are Dead
The Shape of Punk to Come

I've got them grouped by Album. The First group from "This Just might be the Truth", the next group from "Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent" and finally from "The Shape of Punk To Come". In case it isn't obvious, my favorite of the three honestly is "Song to Fan", but "Shape" is a close second, even though I like most of their songs, from first to last. So much for what I think. What do you think?

What's wrong with Us?

I concentrate on, for lack of a better word for it, the "positive" on this blog for some very good reasons. This past week has shown me, yet again, how right that is, for me.
Before I can even talk about that, I suppose I should say what I mean: I'm not trying to be an amateur music critic, here. I'm not trying to evaluate and review and slice and dice culture, here. I'm here to talk about what I like. By that I mean what I like. I don't mean "what I think you'd like" or "What I think I should like", or "why you should like me". I'm simply talking about what I like. That's what I mean about being "positive"- and you'll note that I'm not stopping you from writing, thinking or saying anything you'd like to- just not on my blog.
So, what about this past week proves that to me? I saw the Refused, I saw Off!, I had some great conversations with a few people, and it made me happy. I saw the Refused on TV a night or so later, and that made me happy, too. Why it made me happy is because it felt a little more like seeing a friend do well than it did  catching a glimpse of an unknown phenomena. Do you know what I mean? By following my own singular joy, I make connections with the art and artists that facilitate that joy. That makes the world a friendlier place.
Meanwhile, up in New York, a whole bunch of people made a trek to see the Refused at a show that got stormed out- I won't say rained out, because high winds, and lightning play a large part in it, as well. The Refused, and Off!, decent humans that they are, created a small free show, on the fly at a different venue. This prompted a fair amount of bitterness in a lot of people. That's right I said bitterness- not gratitude. Because it meant that they couldn't be the unassailable Rock spectacle that these supposed fans wanted to see. So, they took to Facebook, twitter, and the comments sections of various blogs to voice their discontent, which created arguments, which created more bitterness. What if they took my approach? There have been bands that I like a lot that I've never got the chance to see live- Pitchshifter, Silence Is Sexy, The Clash, Dillinger Four and dozens of others. You'll note I still think they're great bands. But moreover, I recognize that they are human beings, first. They're not Rock star Robots, programmed to entertain me. So, if they have to break up, cancel a show, or otherwise disappoint in their capacity as performers, that's the same as me quitting this job or that, or me calling in sick, or whatever. It doesn't make them hypocrites or lousy human beings. It would make me a lousy human being, though, if I were to project my needs and wants over theirs. So, I'll enjoy what I enjoy, and they can be fulfilled in whatever way fulfills them.
Like wise, and this is deeper territory, that poor twisted story out of Aurora this week. What it sounds like was some guy had serious mental issues, and way too easy an access to firepower, and then used Pop culture as a vehicle to express himself, and killed a whole lot of people. Now, that doesn't make it The Batman franchise's fault.  It's a piece of Art. It did nothing but try to communicate and entertain. Whatever message this twisted killer was trying to validate was his own. It's an extreme example, but here's a lesser example- I saw GG Allin. I didn't really care for his music, and his stage antics didn't seem all that different from the emotionally disturbed kids I volunteered to work with. But I never heard him say "You should go kill people" or "Here's how you can kidnap someone and torture them to death" or "You had better rub feces all over yourself" - what he said was that he was prone to all of the above, and that made him better than the rest of us. Would I agree with him? Nope. Do I think he ever really did even a third of what he said? Nope. Do I think he was a messed up individual with a serious drug problem. You betcha. Well, I think the exact same thing about Heath Ledger's "Joker". So, if some science geek kid took that character to be some kind of template for to express all the insanity inside himself, that's on him. I can still take a totally different message. The Art still is just there, not directing my thoughts or his. The people behind that Art are still just people, not Charlie Manson with cameras and big budgets. If people took my approach of simply trying to enjoy what they enjoy, and not turning it into some kind of religion, maybe psychos like this kid in Aurora would recognize a little bit more quickly "Hey, nobody else is deciding to become a Batman villain, maybe it's just me"
But, hey, I don't have all the answers. I just know what works for me. I think staying positive, and staying relatively humble works better than all the snarky comments designed to make me look smart, and better than some kind of deconstruction of everything everyone else is trying to build, and certainly better than using  works of Art as some kind of bible. But, hey, all this could very well be some kind of straw man argument, and really all the trolls have it right. Stuff like this past week make me doubt that narrative, though. So, I still say screw mass culture, just find what you, as an individual, like, and enjoy it, as you lead your singular life.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What was it like?

I cannot explain the show to you. However the Off!/Refused show was awesome. Yes, they're taking stick for not being able to reschedule shows, and that must suck. They don't deserve it, I know they're doing everything they can to bring the experience to everyone who wants it. In that spirit, here's a bunch of Youtube clips. My favorite is the first, because it captures just how wild it was:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day off thoughts

I don't have any kind of work today, and that's a rarity, so even though I don't have much new to write about, I reckoned I'd throw out a bunch of half-formed thoughts. Hey, it's my blog, and I'll dump on my stats if I wanna.
First, I really do have a fair number of "friends" in the entertainment industry. Everything from guys who wouldn't know me on the street, but know my name, and think somewhat fondly of me, to a few girls who know me intimately, and I know them well enough, as well, I suppose. So, I could talk about what all my friends are doing, and that would take up about 3 or 4 hundred posts. Here's the quandary in that: not everything all of my friends do turns me on. So, what do I do with my friend who changed direction from being a really good player in one style, but now plays really bad country folk? What do I do about my friend who was actually a talented actor, but now sings, terribly? What do I do with the friend who was a better writer than I'll ever be, but her passion is photography, and while she gets some accolades, I think everybody prefers the little blurbs under her photos to the photos themselves? In a slightly different tack, what about the friends that everybody but me likes what they're doing now, but I like what they used to do, better? I have one friend, who i know isn't reading this, who is an actor on Television, who used to do small roles in Indie films. His work on TV is responsible for 99.9% of his fanbase, and most folks don't even know about his past work, but I really wish, in my heart of hearts, that he's ditch all the money and fame to go back and do a great indie role for dirt wages. That's completely unfair of me, I know. So, I keep my big mouth shut. I do that about most of my friends' work. Whether I like it, or not. The exceptions are few, but I identify them fairly often. It's only when I think I'm on the same page as my friend. As a relatively damage-free counter-example: I've got a friend who puts out lots of stuff, and I enjoy most of it. Some i have talked about here. Some I have not, even though I sort of enjoyed it. Why? Because I enjoyed it almost solely because it was good to hear my friend have fun, because I know his life has had some hardships, but I didn't think that stuff had larger merit. Also, I haven't talked about some of the projects he's been involved in because he's doing a lot of paycheck work. Oh, I know he justifies it to himself that he enjoys it all, but I think I know where his heart truly lies. So, why bust him? What purpose could it possibly serve, especially because there's an off chance I could be wrong. Also, if I say who the guy is, which would be necessary to do, in explaining why I don't like the work, I'd be opening up a bunch of problems for both he and I- so I just don't talk about a lot of what he does, and I'm very careful about the stuff I do mention.
Sooo, next topic:
I'm going to see Off! and The Refused tonight. I'm really looking forward to it. I saw the Circle Jerks a few times, and  I saw a few of The Refused's other projects, but this will be somewhat special in that how many more chances will I get? Keith is getting pretty haggard, and The Refused have other lives to lead, so really how many more times? But, that's true of virtually any live performance, isn't it? Bands break up, people die, productions end, things aren't as financially rewarding as they need to be, in order to keep going. That's part of what makes live performance so very special to me. A CD, Mp3, video, Blu Ray, you name it- recorded media is captured and preserved, but live and in person is just that moment, then gone, possibly forever. That's why I savor every little moment I can, and why it's such a betrayal when a performance is "canned"- to explain- part of why my wife is my wife is that she finds some of my bad behaviour endearing. She loves this story. Back when Green Day were young up-and-comers they did a first major label tour- not quite arenas, but 3-4000 seat venues. I think they were trying to find their footing, but they mis-stepped badly the night I saw them. They just couldn't get it together. The crowd started to turn against them. Then, it became more and more noticeable that the music they were playing did not match the music we were hearing. Now, the crowd REALLY turned on them, and it looked like a riot was coming. Being the kind of guy I am, I dashed to the front, just in time to see Mike Dirnt off mic (as his harmony vocals sailed through the arena!) taunting the crowd near the stage about how he was going to come down and kick ass. I'm a loud guy, and not the smallest of guys ( at the time I was pretty healthy, like just below UFC type healthy) , so I was there shouting loud enough to be heard through the monitors- COME ON DOWN, THEN! COME ON, I'M RIGHT HERE! COME KICK MY ASS, PAL, COME ON! - and the band very quickly thereafter left the stage and retreated. No encore.  I don't think I ended the show, but I know that Mike heard me, and I know he saw me, and I know he wasn't in the mood to taunt the crowd any more after that. I reckoned that I made it into a moment, when Green Day had screwed it up badly. So, I even made a page in my Zine ( yeah, I am a bit of a stereotype of my time and age) where I gave detailed instructions as how mr Dirnt could find me, in case he ever wanted to make good his promise. That's what my wife loved- that, rather than have a moment ruined by some dick rock star who couldn't be bothered to be there in that moment, anyway, I made something out of it. (as in "You wanna make something out of it, pal?") I might be a little bit of a knucklehead, but I live my life. You see? While I don't think I'm up for that boxing match, these days- I still want to get as much out of each moment, no matter how ugly, as I can.