Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Born Alone

Many years after I came to Wilco with Being There, I finally saw them live. Here's my review.

Also, this week's edition of My First Show is with Dave Wilson from [DARYL]. Read all about it here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Get off the pot

No matter what I'll be doing in terms of full-time work next year, I will have another book out. After five years of work, When We Were the Kids finally arrives, even if it's via self-publishing.

The hard thing is letting this story be unleashed to the world. I'm not embarrassed by what I've written; I'm more like a protective parent who doesn't want his child to get beat up on the playground within an hour of going to school.

What's very hard about writing a fictional story is that I have a hard time knowing when something is truly "done." Storytelling and editing collide and you become addicted to tweaking. I'm convinced that if it weren't for deadlines, most books would never be published.

I have intentionally only showed snippets of the book to a couple of people. I don't want too many proverbial cooks in the kitchen, but I appreciate honest feedback. And I want the kind of feedback that doesn't tear me limb from limb under the thin veil of "honesty." I want honest feedback, but not something that gets personal and offensive. So far, the feedback has been very helpful.

Maybe I'm in the wrong business, but I can't suppress this book inside my head and my hard drive forever. This is something I want out there. Yet I tend to find myself coming up with more anecdotes every few days, wanting to tweak some more.

One last thing: I'm happy to say I have taken the book's cover image, using items that are literally behind my computer desk. I just so happen to have a drum set, guitar and bass, and amps around whenever I feel the urge to play. Since this is a story about how people came to play music (and most of them still play it), I figured this was a perfect sort of set-up for a book cover.

So, there's the update. Once this sucker comes out, you'll hear about it, at least from this spot.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You do less with less

The night before Victory and I went down to Houston for Thanksgiving, I finally finished watching The Wire. Yes, the show that's required viewing if you want to be a white person in the know. I can now join the many folks who find it to be one of the best TV shows of all time . . . because I agree with them. Solid show from top to bottom and all that good stuff.

What I found most compelling was the final season, where a portion is shown at The Baltimore Sun. With buyouts coming and a pressure to deliver a different kind of content in print, there is plenty of drama. And even though I've never worked for a daily paper, I found so much of what was depicted to be spot-on, especially given my layoff last month.

In particular, there's plenty of inspiration in what series creator David Simon did when he himself took a buyout at The Sun. By then, his first book had been turned into a TV series (Homicide) and he made the transition into making The Corner miniseries and The Wire for HBO. Definitely a rare sort of story, but I think it's worth remembering.

With my post-layoff life, I'm not focusing on what went afoul or how I should have done things different or prepared more. I try to think more about what I could do next. Given that half of my office was let go, I feel bad for the people who kept their jobs. Trying to do "more with less," I echo what Simon says about that work mindset: "You do less with less."

As for what I could do next, I'm not tied into a knot of "This is the only thing I know." I'm not cut out to be a salesman, a retail drone, or a janitor, but I'm open to a lot of other things. Just because I worked in radio for 11 years doesn't mean that's the only thing I know how to do. I've kept up with writing/blogging side because I love to do it, want to do it, and find time to do it. Coupled with my multi-tasking ethic and a desire to work with a team (and independently), I can do more than turn on a microphone and speak with authority.

What's difficult in casting a wider net is when you're around people who don't want to cast a wider net. Being in radio, you tend to run into (but not all the time) those who remember when radio was a big fun party. Making near-six figures and only working four or five hours a day can be a blast. But what kind of work ethic comes of that? Not a good one, in my opinion.

I once heard co-worker say, "I remember when I was paid more for working less hours." And this was coming from a guy who worked seven hours a day. Well, that hasn't been my experience -- I worked hard and was paid, but never got much in the way of time off and rarely received a raise.

So, it's been over a month now since the RIF. And I see no reason to give up, pull up stakes and retreat into a hole of self-loathing and depression. I'm glad I had the time to finish Simon's excellent show because it gave me more than simple entertainment. And it let me think about how I can move onto something else, even if it's different than what I've done before.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My first show

This week's edition is with Robbie D Love from the Red 100s. And I saw My Jerusalem on Friday night.

Show reviews and blogging resumes next week. This is the first time in 11 years that I get to enjoy Thanksgiving without the pressure of zooming back into the swing of things.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Silver Side Up

Knowing my habits, because of the Twenty book, CD, and documentary, it doesn't come as a shock that I've decided to circle back to Pearl Jam albums I've neglected. Namely, their albums after Matt Cameron joined the band. Plus, I hadn't listened to Ten since, oh, 1993.

It's not that I think the band lost the plot. Rather, I blame Creed and Nickelback.

Up until now, my thoughts on Pearl Jam post-Dave Abbruzzese were, "Pearl Jam got weird." Meaning, less of rip-roaring drums and guitars and more atonal experiments. This is a rather unfair sentiment, especially because of some powerful songs on Yield. I get this all now, and I'm enjoying albums like Yield and Pearl Jam.

I can safely say I won't be praising Creed's My Own Prison or Nickelback's Silver Side Up any time in the near future. For me, and many other people who got into grunge as adolescence kicked in, those bands typified what major labels wanted Pearl Jam to be when Pearl Jam learned to say, "No."

When it comes to saying no to making videos and playing Ticketmaster venues, this still sounds like a bold move. Especially with where Pearl Jam was in their career, it could be considered career suicide. Alas, more people had respect for the band. And I think this kind of level-headed attitude has kept the band going all this time.

But when you grab some eager bands that sound like a primped and buffed version of early Pearl Jam and they sell more records than Pearl Jam's latest records, the cynicism of the industry really kicks in. "What Pearl Jam won't do, we'll find some other bands who will." Thus, a distinct sound becomes bland. And that sucks. Especially for those who have fond memories of hearing Ten for the first time.

This industry tactic has been done plenty of times before and since. It seems like the same thing happened after At the Drive-In broke up. The industry liked their sound, but they went for bands that wanted to be rock stars instead of full-time musicians. Thus explains so many terrible bands that have come and gone and never made anything as strong as Relationship of Command.

I could wonder why I spend so much time around an industry ripe with cynicism. I counter with all the great feelings that come from seeing and listening to a band, whether I'm in seventh grade or as a 32-year-old. When music is good enough to cut through the crap, then it's worth it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gone for Good

Seems like all the really great pre-Thanksgiving shows are tonight, So I'm having to make a Sophie's Choice. Instead of seeing [DARYL] re-unify (my Q&A on this can be found here), I'm seeing My Jerusalem play (I interviewed their frontman here).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Closer to Your Side

My review of the Jayhawks' performance last night can be found here here. Basically, this show was as peaceful as the Trashcan Sinatras show I saw back in March.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

American Capitalist

Yet another round of show reviews and articles. Saturday night, it was Five Finger Death Punch (review here). Last night, it was the Misfits (review here). Plus, as yet another preview of the Jayhawks' show tomorrow night (which I'll be covering), My First Show is with Mark Olson (read it all here).

No rest for the wicked here. Just having fun and staying active.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I don't have a bucket list. But when a situation arises where I'd be foolish to not follow through on, I usually go for it. Well, a friend of mine got a pass for me to see Stephen King speak at the Majestic last night. And I went and it was everything I thought it would be.

Promoting his latest book, 11/22/63 -- a fantasy novel about a man traveling back in time with a hope to prevent JFK's assassination -- it was pretty amazing to see King speak on the same street that JFK was shot.

In only 45 minutes, he talked about plenty of stuff. Here are some of the highlights:

-Based on all his research (especially following this thought, "Follow the gun") he's convinced Oswald acted alone.

-The idea for the book came to him in 1971.

-Seeing video of fervent extremists from the sixties reminds him of Tea Party members of today.

-An interesting what-if: had Oswald's wife agreed to reconcile with him the night before, would he have not assassinated JFK?

-He admits to making a couple of errors in the book: the misspelling of Killeen (even though he looked it up, he and his copy editor missed it) and pronunciation of radio station KLIF (he thought it was called "kay-life").

-He didn't think the country was ready for Barry Goldwater and he doesn't think the country is ready for Rick Perry. Lots of cheers and applause on that one.

-In terms of the idea with traveling back in time, he ponders this about the 1999 accident that nearly took his life: if he left for his walk five minutes earlier or later, he could have been killed or he could have not been hurt at all.

-He still doesn't own a cell phone, but he owns an iPad and a Kindle.

-As for the topic of e-book versus p-books (p for paper), he sees the market going more and more towards e-book with every year. While I agree with him, I will continue to buy his books in hardcover for as long as they come out in that form.

-He briefly mentioned his son Joe (who goes by the pen name of Joe Hill) and people cheered.

-On acting, he mentioned his various roles, especially on Sons of Anarchy and Creepshow, and people cheered loudly.

-On collaborating with Michael Jackson's 40-minute video in the mid-'90s: he received a call from Michael while he was on the set of The Stand miniseries. They never met in person and King can't even remember the name of the song. (It's "Ghosts.")

Two years ago, I discovered a large bookcase of King hardcovers for sale at Half Price Books. One year ago, I started the Dark Tower series. Now I can say I was in the same room as King. I quip that I can strike that off an imaginary bucket list. But I have thought about seeing him in person if he ever came to town. Well, wish granted.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

What lay-off? (cont.)

Still churning out a lot of stuff for the Observer. In this week's print edition, I did a story on the Jayhawks. And in the past few days, I covered the Touché Amoré show and the Youth Lagoon show.

And this week's edition of My First Show involves a lot of laughing. I had the pleasure to interview Mike from All That Remains and we didn't talk a lot about metal. We talked more about John Mayer.

Monday, November 07, 2011

What lay-off?

I've been a very busy beaver as of late with DC9 stuff. First I covered the Youth Brigade show last Thursday, then it was We Were Promised Jetpacks' show on Saturday, and then it was Joe Lally's show last night.

And I'm covering at least two shows this week. I'm definitely not taking my full-time job's layoff lying down.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

In the Pit of the Stomach

When I heard We Were Promised Jetpacks were coming back to the DFW area, I was very excited. I wanted to cover their show by interviewing one of the members beforehand. Turns out, I talked with guitarist Michael Palmer, a lymphoma survivor and my story became a very, very personal matter, beyond what I thought of their new album. This is a story that I hope gives other survivors inspiration. And of course, another story of someone saying, "Fuck Cancer."

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My first show

My First Show is with Michael Palmer from We Were Promised Jetpacks this week. You can read it here and stay tuned for my feature on the band later in the week.

I also covered the Explosions in the Sky show over the weekend. It was great -- with what I could see of it. Here's my review.