Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Reasons

I love living in Dallas. There are plenty of big reasons why, but there are plenty of small reasons as well. Case in point: certain kinds of eateries and drinks that are common around here, but are hard to find elsewhere. This didn't occur to me until the recent holiday season.

Kyle and Sally are both from Texas, but live in Chicago. They love Chicago, but whenever they come down to visit friends and family, they want to hit up certain places that aren't in Chicago. Totally reasonable as that's what I've done whenever I've visited Chicago. In deciding on where we could meet up for lunch one day, Kyle was craving Whataburger, so we went there. As someone who hears commercials for Whataburger and sees some of their umpteen restaurants every time I drive around, I rarely eat there. But I'm pretty sure that if I lived in Chicago, I'd miss Whataburger too.

What was even more interesting was when we were getting our soft drinks. Kyle said he once asked for Dr. Pepper in Chicago and the response he got was, "No, but we have root beer." If you've never had Dr. Pepper, this is like asking for orange juice and being offered chocolate milk instead.

Then there's a guy named Frank who recently moved from Denton to New York City. He's digging the town, but craving Shiner beer. He's heard of a bar in Brooklyn that serves Shiner and he hopes to find the place very soon. It's as if he's heard of a record store that still carries 78s.

After spending years living in towns where the general mindset was, "We don't need to good into the city. We have everything here in our small town," I find Dallas to be a relief. There's still plenty I'd like to explore around here (including finding out if Flower Mound is a real place). But if some major opportunity came to where I would have to move out of here, I'd do it. I'd probably still come back and visit friends and family and also have some Whataburger and Shiner.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Pardon my French, but you're an . . ."

Py Korry posted a link to a very important self-examination: Are You an Asshole? I took the test and scored a 2, meaning, "You don’t sound like a certified asshole, unless you are fooling yourself." I'm not fooling myself, but I definitely have met the type that do.

I've met my fair share of jerks in and outside of the workplace, but more often than not, these people are in the minority. Seems like for every bad apple, there are ten good apples. But just a few bad apples can spoil an orchard. Be it a boss who screams at people for making mistakes or a friend's parent who has a bad case of bipolar disorder, it's no fun to be around these people. But for various reasons, we are often around them. Be it everyday in a workplace or the occasional trip to a friend's house or a visit to the in-laws. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages. And they're not going away.

Even with the most optimistic and upbeat, we all have mental junk swimming around in our heads. Being upfront about the junk is a different story. We don't wear T-shirts or badges that list the various factors plaguing us, so it's not so apparent. I've met plenty of people that don't want to face up to the junk and they often have communication problems with others. I should know: I used to be really bad about shutting down, shutting up and flying off the handle. I'm still working on this.

But there are those that don't want to work on this. Whatever reasons they have, they just don't want to face themselves. In my case, I thought working this stuff out was self-centered. When I reached a point where I couldn't feel anything or make any decisions, I decided to seek help. I'm glad I did, but I argue I simply had run out of options.

Since I have a wild imagination, I decided to imagine other's hang-ups when there's a flare-up or negative response. Be it this person didn't get adequate attention from a parent growing up, received numerous taunts from a school bully or didn't get laid the night before, these are all factors that I had nothing to do with. I wasn't in the person's home growing up, I wasn't in the schoolyard and I definitely wasn't in the person's bedroom last night. But these people have a way of making matters seem like the blow-ups are all your fault. Since they can't yell at all the people who have done them wrong at once, you get the brunt. Yup, it's unfair, it's uncomfortable and it sucks, but such is life.

Even with a dry sense of humor, I try to not cut people down or give them a lot of grief. I may think a person "gets" my dry sense of humor, but sometimes people misconstrue it as pure asshole-like. I gently tease people close to me from time to time, but I choose to not do this all the time. Constant teasing can be rewired as a sense of love and attention.

So, take the test and feel free to post your score in the comments.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Callum Robbins benefits update

Former Jawbox drummer Zach Barocas posted the following note on his blog:

I've finished gathering the 32 tracks for a 2-CD compilation we're putting together to benefit Callum Z. Robbins' care fund. It's called For Callum & is kind of a joint effort between The Cultural Society, Catlick Records, & Letterbox, though it's really a joint effort between the contributors, engineers, producers, & manufacturers who have made their talents & services available to us. I thank them all for their help & support. Truly.

In any case, there's not yet an official place to go for information about the CDs but I thought I should make preliminary mention of it here. Street date is 3/17/07 & it'll cost $17.00 ppd. All proceeds will go to Cal's fund. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line.

We're also putting on a Cal-benefit show here in Mpls on 3/17/07. I'll have more on that as the date nears.

Southern Accents

Here's a P.S. to my question about actors pulling off American accents. What's the hang-up on Southern accents? If you lived your life only through the movies and TV shows you watched, you'd be convinced that everyone in the South has a Southern accent. And when I mean a Southern accent, I mean a Suuthhhen accent.

Over the weekend, I took in a viewing of The Prestige. Aussie Hugh Jackman perfectly pulled off an American accent in his role, but Andy Serkis came across as a stereotypical Hollywood Suthhhen dude. Yes, I'm talking about the guy who acely portrayed Gollum and Martin Hannett. Serkis's accent as Mr. Alley in The Prestige frequently caught me off guard and I remembered a conversation I had with Jason the day before.

Jason saw Ghost Rider and I asked about the Southern accents in the characters. According to him, the kind of drawl you hear in so many movies is on wide display in Ghost Rider. As fellow Texans, we're still at a loss for why this accent seems to be mocked by actors and Hollywood in general.

I've met a few people over the years that have the proto-hick voice. A roommate I had in college had it down pat. My sister's voice had a noticeable change after she spent some time living in Lubbock. But in my time as a Texan, the hick drawl is not as common as you'd think. I've been a Southerner all my life and nobody has been led to believe I was one. Even though my parents were both born in Texas, I've been asked if I'm from the Northeast region of the United States.

There was an SNL sketch a few years ago spoofing the filming of Cold Mountain. With guest host (and native Texan) Renee Zellweger reprising her role as Ruby, the joke was how overblown Southern accents can be portrayed by non-Southerners. Fellow co-stars Jude Law and Nicole Kidman seemed to take a page out of the Gone With the Wind-like melodramatic tone. The more melodramatic, the funnier it was.

So what gives? Are non-natives always thinking people who live in the old Confederate states talk with that noticeable drawl? Is the stereotype too obvious to pass up?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ask the AV Club -- Part II

Another week, another question answered in the one and only Ask the AV Club section. I asked fellow gamer and former Houstonian Kyle about this show, but it didn't ring any bells. So, I pitched the question to his fellow co-workers.

Back in the early '90s, there was a game show centered on video games. I remember a lot about it except its name. The bulk of the show had three rounds of trivia questions and answers. The final round had the two finalists square off playing the same video game. The host looked very similar to Billie Joe Armstrong, and knew a lot about video games. As a matter of fact, there was a segment where members of the audience tried to stump him. He rarely was stumped. Does this ring any bells?


The A.V. Club's Donna Bowman isn't stumped, either:

Ah, television. Is there any cultural movement that you can't attempt to co-opt and turn into a painfully square half-hour? (Current example: Shows on 24-hour news networks about blogs.)

You've flashed back to Video Power, a syndicated game show that premiered in 1990 and ran for almost two years. According to The Encyclopedia Of TV Game Shows, the show pitted four pre-adolescents against each other in rounds of arcade competition and questions about video games. The bonus round for the winner was a kind of Supermarket Sweep affair, where the contestant had 30 seconds to pile as many games in his cart as possible; if he grabbed the secret game, he got a special prize.

And yes, there was a "stump the host" segment at the show's opening, where host Stivi Paskoski (using the nom-de-game "Johnny Arcade") demonstrated his mastery of video-game trivia. And yes, Eric, a bigger Stivi Paskoski fan than yourself has already snapped up and used it to list the actor's many small roles on Law & Order.

Coming to a corner near you

Sometime last year, in a post about urban renewal, a reader mentioned how CVS Pharmacy stores were popping up in these areas. Since that post, a few more have opened in my neighborhood, but there aren't as many stores as there are Starbucks stores. That number could change as my neighborhood keeps seeing renewal, including the historic Deep Ellum area. But I'm curious: why is CVS so synonymous with urban renewal? Are grocery stores and Walgreen's just not "with it"?

Talking with a realtor last year, she said a number of people moving into these new high-rise rectangles are not just people my age, but empty-nesting Baby Boomers. I understand the need to have a pharmacy nearby any place, but why so many CVS stores in general? There are at least four CVS stores within ten minutes of where I live. Considering the fact there are three Borders and two Barnes & Noble stores within twenty minutes of where I live, this seems normal. But still, why CVS? Are they planning a Starbucks-like takeover of the market?

In my two and a half years living here, I've been to a CVS store only once. Picking up Jason after he had finger surgery, he needed some prescription drugs to be filled. I found the store to be accomodating, but nothing out of the ordinary of drug stores I went to growing up. I know CVS bought out Eckerd's, but it seems all that was changed was the store's color from blue to red.

Am I missing something crucial in the difference between CVS and their competitors? Is the company expanding more each day with each old aparment complex/strip mall being torn down? Should I be thankful that there are pharmacies around here? Has convenience become too convenient in this case?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

In a line

I've stood in lines my whole life
I'm still young and they're nothing new
Lines are a part of life

So it's strange
and a little funny
when people older than me
think life is fair
and lines are always short
and waits aren't very long

I don't like waiting
But people complaining about waiting
is worse than waiting

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

TV on the Radio

Jim DeRogatis's recent column hits on a subject I've written about before: artists licensing songs to commercials. I still feel the same about this subject. Rewiring a song's meaning into an advertising jingle is not something I can get behind. I prefer to have the memory of hearing Bob Seger's "Main Street" in a bar surrounded by my friends instead of thinking of Chevy truck commercials whenever I hear Seger's "Like a Rock." But I have a new question: are TV/radio commercials the last bastion of hope for a song to reach a mass audience?

The amount of money tossed around for commercials is insane. Plus, the exposure is incredibly strong. But at what cost? I can't rag on a band like Explosions in the Sky for licensing a couple of their songs for Cadillac commercials. Their motivations behind their music are sincere and remain sincere (as evidenced by their incredible new album, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone). But these Cadillac commercials do rewire my memories of the songs. Thinking about driving around Las Colinas with The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place on and being immensely moved by certain scenes in Friday Night Lights are now coupled with images of a Cadillac being put together and a man driving a Cadillac to his new job. Are our memories worth becoming overrun by advertisers?

DeRogatis and fellow rock critic Greg Kot recently unloaded on John Mellencamp's latest record, Freedom's Road, on their Sound Opinions radio show. I totally agree with their arguments, but apparently Mellencamp was ironically pandering to knee-jerk, emotional post-9/11 patriotism. Well, the irony is lost on me as the album's lead track, "Our Country," is in all current commercials for Chevy trucks. Mellencamp, a former staunch opponent of songs being in commercials, raised some eyebrows when the song started popping in these commercials. As DeRo put it best: ". . . the Hoosier auteur sacrificed any claim to irony when he compromised his longstanding pledge and allowed 'Our Country' to power a simplistic, flag-waving, decidedly un-ironic car commercial. You can't have it both ways, John."

I can understand the lucrative possibilities with licensing a song to a commercial. If you watched a football game this past season, chances are you heard "Our Country" a handful of times. That's even more than radio playing a song in "power" rotation. But has this become a deal with the devil kind of situation? Doesn't this come across as a compromise of integrity? Nobody starts writing music to become a jingle writer, so what gives?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We've Got Everything

Josh's recent post about Modest Mouse's new record leaking got me thinking: do release dates really matter anymore? If you still wait to hear a record the day it comes out in stores, sure. But what about people like me, Josh and several other people we know who actively read MP3 blogs, message boards, etc. for hearing new albums? I'm only speaking for myself, but release dates don't matter that much to me anymore.

I really noticed this trend with Belle & Sebastian's The Life Pursuit last year. A few months before its release date, a few tracks trickled onto MP3 blogs like Gorilla vs. Bear. A few weeks later, the whole album was making rounds and Jason got a copy. Burning a copy for myself, I had listened to the whole album plenty of times before it arrived in stores on February 7th. Since I really loved the record, I bought it the day it came out. However, I didn't listen to my store-bought copy that much in the ensuing months. If anything, the "new-ness" of the record was gone.

It's not like I exclusively listen to brand spankin' new stuff, but I do like that as well as the stuff I repeatedly listen to. Right now, the latest records by Dinosaur Jr, Modest Mouse, Bloc Party and Fall Out Boy are getting some attention in my CD player. All of these records came from downloading, an activity I view more as a trial run/borrowing than physically owning. Whether or not physical copies are available in stores or not, this is no big whoop.

A timely case in point is the new Explosions in the Sky record, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone. Receiving an advance copy to review for Punk Planet, I spent a solid three weeks reviewing it for my February 12th deadline. With the album coming out in stores today, its songs are already well planted in my head and are kinda old news. I don't mean to pass this off or anything, but there is no new-ness in it right now.

So I wonder, do release dates still matter for you? Is the date of a record leaking more important?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Parallel lines on a slow decline

My fandom of Guided By Voices began slowly over twelve years ago. A short write-up in People praised Alien Lanes stating something along the lines of "Guided By Voices songs are starting to get longer, which is great because you don't want them to end." Coupled with a black and white picture of Bob Pollard singing into a mike, I was interested. But I didn't hear one of their songs until 120 Minutes aired the video for "Bulldog Skin." College radio, Tom from the Good Show and Goose introduced me to Do the Collapse, Isolation Drills and Bee Thousand a few years after that.

I'm still a fan, so I was anticipating reading James Greer's '05 bio, Guided By Voices: A Brief History, Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll. Finally getting around to reading it recently, I would liken my experience to listening to a dodgy, inconsistent GBV album.

Greer sheds a lot of revealing information about the band, but I was constantly frustrated by its lack of direction. Sure, it's important to discuss Bob Pollard's upbringing and motivations, but how important is it to spend multiple pages on his time playing sports and the members of his drinking club? While it's abundantly clear early on that Greer knows these guys very well, sometimes knowing too much can hinder storytelling.

Often interjecting sidenotes and self-conscious rock bio anecdotes, I found these to be really distracting. Plus, a number of pages are spent purely to quotes from his sources, namely Bob and Jimmy Pollard. As someone who spent the last few months editing down long quotes for my own book, I was frustrated to see such long-winded and never-ending quotes make the final cut.

Probably the biggest gripe I have is how the band's final few years are merely skimped on. Greer praises Universal Truths and Cycles, Earthquake Glue and Half Smiles of the Decomposed, but doesn't go much in depth behind them or the band. As someone who wrote about Fugazi's Red Medicine, End Hits and The Argument in just a couple of pages, I can understand why certain records get more page space than others. But I found ditching GBV's final years and having a pointless chapter about the band's hardcore fans a misuse of space.

All this said, Greer does provide me, a GBV fan that doesn't own everything or know everything about the band, a decent glimpse at one of rock's strangest late-blooming bands. As a matter of fact, any decent rock bio makes me want to hear a band's stuff again or for the first time. After completing Hunting Accidents, I pulled out my copy of the Hardcore UFOs box set and burned a full 80-minute compilation of my favorite tracks. So that's why a song like "Tractor Rape Chain" is stuck in my head as I type this.

Friday, February 16, 2007

28 Valentines

In school
it was about small cards
and small bites of candy

There wasn't a lot of mush
Just a lot of friendly teasing

A few years ago
it was about scorn and failure
Amazing how things can be mentally rewired

I still can't buy into mush
but I don't buy into its opposite

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

28 Years Later

I celebrate 28 years today along with such luminaries as . . .

Peter Tork (65)
Peter Gabriel (57)
Peter Hook (51)
Jerry Springer (63)
Henry Rollins (46)
David Naughton (56)
Eric Johnson (34)
Robbie Williams (33)
Feist (31)
Prince Michael Jackson (10)
Mena Suvari (also 28)
Damon Atkinson (formerly of Braid and Hey Mercedes, 31)
and Sebastian Gutierrez from the Blacheart Society

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Know There's An Answer

I've often wondered how someone like Naomi Watts or Christian Bale can pull off a bonafide American accent while someone like Robert Duvall can't pull off a Scottish accent to save his life. Well, Noel Murray from the AV Club gave me an answer in this week's Ask the AV Club section.

Friday, February 09, 2007

First Book Update of 2007

After nearly three years of writing, researching and editing, I finally have a full manuscript for Post. This by no means implies this is the draft you'll see in printed form, but it's a start. Just getting to this point feels like a major accomplishment and I feel great.

As far as who will release this book, that is still up in the air. Though the original intention was to release this independently on Mission Label, that is not the case anymore. Nick and I are still very close friends, but for the benefit of everyone involved, this is a story worth shopping around. I know I have expressed feelings of trepidation about going with professional middlemen before, but I feel this has been a very good decision not just for me, but for the whole book. I do not feel like I've bent over backwards; rather, I feel like I've bent forward in a comfortable way, making something I'm really proud of. This is something I doubt I would be as happy with had I not sought all my options.

A source of constant worry was the topic of selling out. Giving up core values in the hopes of extreme financial gain is still not appealing to me. But a source of greater worry is the topic of selling myself short. I wanted to keep the release rather low-key because of my tendency to not want to show a wider world what I'm all about. It's as if showing any kind of ambition is a sin. I've always had ambitions for this book, but I never wanted to admit to them for fear of having lofty pipe dreams. I don't think it's a pipe dream to have this in stores and make it easy to obtain online.

Thankfully, the way people respond to the book publishing world is a lot different than the music world. At no point has someone given me flak or expressed extreme concern about going with a "name" publisher. If anything, these people want to read it as is, regardless of the publisher. (Wouldn't it be nice if people treated the music industry that way as well?)

So there you have it as of 11:30am Friday, February 9th, 2007. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tommy Can You Hear Me? Part II

Remember when I asked about T-shirts advertising Tommy Hilfiger jeans? The pros at Useless Advice from Useless Men have some answers.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cut Your Ribbon

Sometimes when you're given something, just take it even if you're not so sure you're going to love it.

Back in 2002, KTCU received a copy of Sparta's Austere EP. Seeing as how this was the first project post-At the Drive-In and I'm a big fan of that band, I wanted to hear this as soon as possible. Upon listening to its four tracks a few times, I didn't feel a lot of love for them. As a matter of fact, I felt these songs sounded like they were written (and rejected) for At the Drive-In's final album, Relationship of Command. Turns out that wasn't the case, but the opinion stood.

A few weeks later, I was offered a signed 7" copy of Austere along with a Sparta T-shirt. Though I wasn't taken with the EP itself, I wasn't going to argue with a signed 7" and a T-shirt, so I graciously received them. When the band's debut album, Wiretap Scars, appeared later in the year, I still wasn't taken with the band. I kept listening to the album and really got into the band. I was now a fan and was proud to wear their T-shirt.

Fast forward two years to July 2004. Jason throws his first party at his new place (and in a few months, my place too). It's a great party with a lot of cool people, but at some point in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I'm a little sleepy and sitting by myself. Right before I totally zone out, a lanky figure walks into my field of view. "Hey man, you like Sparta?" I believe he asked. We get to talking and turns out he's into all the bands my book is about. Almost a year later, he helped me get an interview with Jimmy Eat World. He was a life-saver and is still an awesome guy, so I'm forever in debt to him.

The other moral to the story is this: despite how we tend to think that nobody else "gets" what we're into, fate intervenes and we find people who do. Other than Matt, I had never met someone who was into Neil Finn's solo material. Then I met nerver at one of our parties. So, the next time someone offers you a CD or T-shirt of some band that you're undecided on, take it!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know

This past Saturday night was spent with the incomparable Dallas band, the Paper Chase. Playing a full-on live set with new drummer Jason Garner, it's very safe to say the last time I saw a show of this caliber was At the Drive-In back in 1999. It just so happens both shows happened at the same venue: Rubber Gloves in Denton.

Back when At the Drive-In played (with Jimmy Eat World and a local band called Post From Vermont), Rubber Gloves was half the size it is now. There was no bar area; it was just the main room with the stage, but the stage itself was half the size it is now. At the Drive-In blew my head off (as did Jimmy Eat World), but it was At the Drive-In that was so incredibly visceral. I've seen plenty of shows since then, but I had not seen that kind of mixture of sincere performance with violent sounds, great tunes (and a lot of fun) in a long time.

I had seen the Paper Chase twice before and both were acoustic shows. Though they sounded much more toned down in an acoustic setting, they passed the litmus test. A big part of what attracted me to their material was how tuneful and melodic the songs are without the samples, big drums and dissonant guitar notes. With the samples, big drums and dissonant guitar notes, they take on a whole other level. And it's a good level.

I've seen pianist Sean Kirkpatrick play a number of solo shows, but I had never seen him be so percussive on the piano. I had never heard a bass tone so meaty and ugly (in a nice way) until I heard Bobby Weaver play. With Jason behind the drums, he played more like Dale Crover plays; as in, he uses every part of every limb to beat the snot out of his drums and cymbals. His timing was incredible and forceful. And I thought I hit the drums hard . . .

John Congleton was a master showman, wiggling his body all around while jabbing his guitar with traditional and non-traditional notes and chords. He even drew blood on his right hand because of playing so hard. Not that drawing blood is a requirement, but it was proof he was unafraid to play as intensely as possible.

Playing a number of songs from Now You Are One of Us, the packed audience warmly received them with applause and singing along. That in itself was thrilling to see in a day and age where people might find the Paper Chase as an old hat. For me, I'm glad the band is still around. As evidenced by their last few records, their material has become even stronger with a nice mix of beautiful and ominous sounds. Definitely not something I could convince my parents as good music, but this music affects me very deeply and not just as fan of music. Being able to face fear and confronting fear have been a major factors in the last few years.

To be honest, I don't think I would have understood a band like the Paper Chase back in '99. At the Drive-In was probably as far as I could go with music this intense. I had heard a couple of Paper Chase tracks (including a torn-up version of the Police's "Wrapped Around Your Finger") and found them distracting instead of welcoming. Now, maybe I could credit Tom Waits or maybe I could credit seeing the band play acoustic sets, but noisy dissonance mixed with pretty music and powerful playing makes total sense to me now.

Friday, February 02, 2007

High: 38 Low: 27

Some words about today in a bare-bones way:

I don't fear the cold
I fear getting a cold
Actually I fear a cold
More than I fear a hangover

I've felt the extremes in January and July
Both make panic seem legitimate
But I've lived through both extremes
and so have you

Thursday, February 01, 2007

See You On Rooftops

Rumors about the Gypsy Tea Room closing swirled last year. Well, word came down yesterday via a Robert Wilonsky post that the venue will be closing in a few months. Shows are booked through April, including Animal Collective and Ted Leo. If this is indeed the end of the venue, I will not have mixed feelings like when Trees closed. I will be pretty bummed.

With the exception of a bouncer acting like a football coach while I waited for a backstage pass to arrive, I had no problems with their staff. I don't recall any problems with the bouncers, doormen, sound guys or bartenders. Their shows were always well-run, on-time and sounded great.

I saw plenty of shows in the tea room side and the ballroom side. In the last three years, it was a spot where I did a lot of book interviews. In case this is the real end of the Gypsy, here are some of the most memorable shows for me:

Mark Kozelek, February 12th, 2004
On the day before I turned 25, I saw Krazy Koz deliver a solo set in the tea room. Playing a number of songs from the recent Sun Kil Moon record, Ghosts of the Great Highway, he played a number of covers by AC/DC and the Cars, along with Red House Painters songs. He even encored with an a cappella version of "Things Mean A lot."

Before he started the second song, he called out a guy near the stage for yapping on a cell phone. The guy apologized saying that a friend had recently died and he had to take the call. Kozelek responded he had plenty of friends die, but that didn't mean he would talk during a set. Nice.

After the show, he came out and talked to fans. I briefly spoke to him and dropped the line about how my birthday was the next day. He sincerely told me happy birthday and was pretty floored.

Neil Halstead, early 2002
Promoting his solo album Sleeping on Roads, the Mojave 3/Slowdive frontman gave a relaxed but dreamy performance. Nick, Brad and I interviewed him for a radio interview before the show. It was there that I realized how to be mellow around mellow people. Plus, it was surreal to find out the opening solo act was from my hometown, Kingwood. He said he moved away in 1987, the year I moved there. I filled him in on what all had changed about the town. Small world.

Before the show, I asked Neil if he ever does Mojave 3's "My Life in Art." He said no since he couldn't remember all the words. So it was to my surprise when he did the song in the set and remembered all the words.

Hey Mercedes/Sense Field, August 28th, 2003
From time to time, I have a tendency to lose my marbles while I watch a band. The Promise Ring in '98 at Fitzgerald's made me dance and sing passionately along. The one-two of Hey Mercedes and Sense Field did the same years later.

Hey Mercedes' Loses Control wasn't even out yet and Sense Field's Living Outside had just come out. Thanks to SoulSeek, I knew both albums by heart a couple of months in advance. The melodies and lyrics really hit close to frustrations I had at the time, so I just let loose.

Troubled Hubble, July 2005
Never before or since have I seen a band jump so high onstage. Troubled Hubble was great on record, but even more exciting live. I'm so glad I saw this show because they would break up later that fall.

. . . And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead/SOUND team, late 2004
Not as insane as the previous time I saw TOD, but still great. Touring a few months before Worlds Apart came out, when "Will You Smile Again" started off the show, the double drums felt like they were trying to knock me over. By the end of the set, food was flying, as well as instruments, into the crowd. There's nothing like trying to walk out of a venue and slipping on crushed grapes.

Jimmy Eat World, February 2005
Thanks to my friend Eddie, I got a backstage pass for the show. I met all of the members of the band and even interviewed Zach for the book. Even after selling 1.3 million records, those guys were as cordial as I remembered them back at Rubber Gloves in '99.

For the show itself, Eddie and I watched from the side of the stage right behind the sound board. Looking over at the crowd all on their tippy-toes, I could appreciate my vantage point. I saw a number of shows before where I could have benefited from being a little taller.

Cursive/Jeremy Enigk, November 26th, 2006
I wrote about this show elsewhere on the blog, but I will add this. The next night, I came back to the venue in hopes of seeing/interviewing Chuck Ragan from Hot Water Music. Chuck never showed up and I never paid to get in, so it wasn't a big loss. However, if this ended up being my final trip to the Gypsy, it will definitely go down as an odd final note.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will not be coming out on seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year. It's coming out a couple weeks later.