Because I so love these totally insane all-terrain robots developed by Boston Dynamics and DARPA, and felt they really needed to be set to music. The song is by Milwaukee, Wisconsin's own Nobelmen, the winners of the WOKY-AM (my "home station," the Mighty 92 back inna day) "First Rock Band In Milwaukee" contest in the late-'50s. They made this one awesome gritty instrumental 45 on USA Records and were never heard from again. The robots seem to dig it. Please to enjoy!

The Nobelmen, "Dragon Walk"


This is no novel statement, I know, but I believe that Fred Astaire was just the best dancer ever. Oh, he was, because even when compared with other highly-gifted, highly-skilled dancers, Astaire's skills were so off-the-charts as to be peerless. Why? All you have to do is spend a little time in observation. Astaire, with each and every routine he ever performed, wasn't just a brilliant and innovative choreographer or a tuned-in partner or a top technician. Watch, and you will see how all of him was at all times completely connected with the music. Not just his feet or legs or arms -- everything, down to the tiniest flip of a hand or dip of a shoulder, even his facial expressions. It is what made him appear so elegant and effortless. Everything in him was integrated, flowing, and near-flawless when he danced; when he moved at all, really. Even dancers with the strongest motivation, deep emotions, hardiest bodies, and most superior skills -- incredible, amazing performers -- can't quite get to Fred-level.

Fred Astaire was one-of-a-kind, and one of those extremely rare people who took their incredible natural gifts as far as it was possible to take them. For you today, I bring you the 1958 Emmy Award-winning NBC-TV special, "An Evening With Fred Astaire," in "living color." Spend an hour watching a artistic genius, nearly 60 years old at that time, and be very glad we had this guy around.

"An Evening With Fred Astaire," NBC-TV, October 17, 1958


There were only two exciting annual events that occurred in the tiny Wisconsin town (pop. 300) I spent my later-childhood years in: the lighting of a large Christmas tree and the carnival, the latter of which traveled from small town to small town each weekend in the summer. The tree was very nice and all, but the fair was the real fun. I'd beg something like two bucks off my dad or mom each day of the long weekend, and with that bought the most delicious burgers with grilled onions you've ever tasted, cotton candy, root beer floats, and as many rides as I could afford (or stomach) on the Zipper or the Tilt-A-Whirl. If I had any coins left over, I'd sometimes allow myself to be enticed by the shady sour-faced game barkers, who were often kids not that much older than me.

It didn't take very many rounds of carnival game-playing to realize that the odds were totally stacked against the fair-goers. This riled my juvenile sense of fair play and justice -- how could they make the basketball hoops smaller than normal?? -- but still thought maybe, just maybe, I could beat them anyway. Everyone thinks this. Billions and billions of dollars are spent at casinos every year, because the kid who once won a giant stuffed panda at the balloon dart game still loves the idea and the rush of beating the odds just once...or twice.

The best game, my 5th-grader self thought, was the Ping-Pong Ball/Win A Goldfish Toss. How beautiful it was in comparison with the grimy, faded, peeling-paint booths around it and the grimy, faded, drunken grown-ups trying to win giant stuffed pandas! There, sparkling from the string of old Christmas lights hung overhead, was a little sea of tiny clear glass fishbowls in a tidy square. Each bowl was filled with Tiffany-blue colored water and a single shimmering goldfish, swimming placidly in its minuscule water world. I was thrilled by the idea that you could actually win an animal at the fair that you could take home and keep! Kids flocked to the game, parents coughing up coins until they ended up with a $20 goldfish, or dragging a crying child away, muttering, "You're not getting no goddamn fish! Let's go!"

But at 11 years old, I was at the fair with my friends, had a couple of quarters left in my jean shorts pocket, and I wanted to win a goldfish. I stood there for a time and analyzed as people came and went, winners and losers. Again, the openings at the top of the fish bowls -- like the damn basketball game! -- were barely bigger than the diameter of the ping-pong ball that you were supposed to toss in a bowl to win a fish. Most of the time, a shot would bounce off the rim and keep bouncing to the ground. Sometimes the ball would nearly make it, and then bounce out again. Sometimes the ball got stuck in-between the bowls. The key to winning, I figured, was to select one particular bowl and try to toss the ball just high enough in the air so it would gently come straight down into the bowl, without touching the rim at all, and with not so much force that it would bobble out.

I paid the carny. I felt the ping-pong ball with my fingertips. I shut out everything else -- all the noise, the smells, my friends giggling and talking at me and pushing each other, the carny's world-weary fake smile. It was just me, the ball, and that fish. I took my time, relaxed, leaned forward, and let the ball lift out of my hand into the air. I knew, in the fraction of a second after the ball left my hand, that it would go into the fish bowl, and remain.

My fish startled at the very unexpected intrusion, and kept his distance from the floating white invader globe. My friends cheered as if I had won the Fishbowl Game Olympics, as I grinned in excitement. The carny paused to pick up the bowl from the table, removed the ball, and rather unceremoniously dumped the blue water and my fish into a clear plastic baggie, secured the top with a twist-tie, and handed my prize to me with a small cylindrical shaker of fish food flakes.

"Don't feed him too much. Give it clean water not too hot or cold. Congratulations, little lady."

I had a fish now. It was mine, and I had to take care of it. I peered at it in the baggie as it peered back at me, looking wary and skittish. Saying goodbye to my pals, I started the walk back home past the bumper cars and the beer tent, the red-brick Lutheran church and the '40s yellow-brick ranches, to try to figure out how I was going to tell my folks we got a fish.

"Hey! We got a fish!!" I exclaimed as the baggie and I opened the door to the kitchen. I figured if I looked super-happy and excited, my folks couldn't possibly tell me I couldn't have it. That would be too, too cruel, to be a Winning-Fish-Game Denier, right? Somewhat to my surprise, they were OK with it, and my mom found high up in a cabinet a bigger old fishbowl that once belonged to my grandma. She carefully tested the water from the kitchen faucet to make sure it was not too hot or cold, as I kept telling her how important the guy said that was. I asked her if we could use some food coloring to make the water blue, and she said she thought that maybe it wasn't the best idea for the fish's health.

I so so carefully carried the big fishbowl into my room, planning a trip into town to go to the pet store and buy some plants and a fish house and fish toys for my little guy. He needed a name first, though. I had been very into reading this big black book on Greek mythology, so I started paging through that for ideas. Watching my fish swim up to the top of the water, then down again, then up again, then down again for like ten minutes, I decided I would call him Sisyphus, after the deceitful boulder-roller of the same name.

He had a name; now, I thought, he must be hungry after all that excitement. Without reading the label, I shook a few flakes out onto the top of the water and watched enthralled at Sisyphus darted to the surface and instantly sucked up the little nugs with his teeny little O-mouth. Wow, he is famished, I said to myself, and shook a few more flakes in. ZOOP! He ate them right up again. I was feeling very proud and maternal. As he skirted around the top looking for more, the carny's voice drifted back to me, albeit very, very faintly...

"Don't feed him too much..."

Hey, Sisyphus was a smart fish, I decided. Animals don't eat unless they are hungry, right? If the little guy is hungry, it would be WRONG if I withheld food, right? He might die from hunger! Who knew when that fair reprobate fed him last, right? For the third time, I shook the fish food into the fishbowl, but this time a whole big pile of food plopped out and just about covered the entire surface of the water. I gasped. Sisyphus went mental, sucking up the flakes like a tiny orange vacuum cleaner. He...he was real darn hungry, apparently. I set my mild worries and the carny's warning aside, feeling very sure that when the fish was full, he'd stop eating and could eat the remaining food whenever he felt like a nosh.

When I woke up the next morning, I saw my dear doomed Sisyphus floating at the top of the bowl, surrounded by fish food, dead as dead could be. Guilt, sadness, and then panic set in. I couldn't bear losing my fish baby AND suffer hearing from my family how it was all my fault. I quietly picked up the sloshy bowl, took it to the bathroom, and poured poor Sisyphus from the fishbowl into the toilet bowl, crying fat silent tears. I refilled the bowl with clean water from the bathroom sink, then tip-toed back with it into my room. I sat on the edge of my bed for a moment and looked at the fish-less fishbowl, feeling very bad indeed. But it was time for the show.

"MOM! MOM!" I wailed, as I ran down the hallway from my bedroom into the kitchen, where my mother was cooking a breakfast of bacon, toast, scrambled eggs, and coffee. My father peered over the front page of the Sunday Milwaukee Journal, heavy brows furrowed. "MOM!!! DAD!!! THE CAT ATE THE FISH! KOOBY ATE MY SISYPHUS!!" I burst into wracking sobs as my confused parents made sympathetic noises, and probably rolled their eyes at each other.

The moral of this story is that you can definitely kill someone with kindness, but it might make for a pretty good story 40 years later.


It often takes me quite awhile to get around to seeing films, and I miss most of even those that I know I certainly want to see and would enjoy. I don't know exactly why this is, but probably is something of a form of self-discipline, I suppose -- I can't make something every day of my own if I spend too many hours sitting and watching something someone else made. There are pros and cons to this, I know, for as much as the little things I make and do are very important to me, the work of others can add to my life in such a deep and positive way. They are treasures that I keep with me and that no circumstance may ever take from me, outside of my own eventual sparkle and fade into the cosmos and/or dirt.

I initially was quite thrilled to hear back in 2008 that British musician Robyn Hitchcock would be releasing a concert film featuring his 1984 album "I Often Dream Of Trains." But the mundane and the profound distractions of everyday existence removed it from my "to-do" queue, and perhaps I avoided it a little bit as well. Let me explain why.

"I Often Dream Of Trains" is a album masterpiece. A grey, somber, silly, strange, heartbreaking masterpiece that, like its thematic cousin, the Kinks' "Village Green Preservation Society," builds within its songs an entire world that never really existed, save for the songwriter's emotional landscape of longing, loss, isolation, and painfully-clear reflection and observation. It was a cathartic record for me at age 22, facing what I felt were at the time insurmountable personal failures and a future that would never be as kind and stable as the one I needed. Hitchcock had made a record that was able to give me a place to be, to cry and laugh and think and process the emotions that I needed to, when I was feeling so hopeless that I could barely stand to listen to any music at all. So perhaps I did dodge this concert film, at least subconsciously, for as much as I truly love "I Often Dream Of Trains," it still evokes some strong emotions that can take awhile to recede again.

Yet tonight, the film simply appeared on my living room TV set on the Sundance Channel, and so I decided to sit down and watch it. What a funny creature Hitchcock is! I imagine he was born that way: jittery, gawky, brilliant, hilarious, gifted or cursed with effortless elegant verbal surrealist ramblings, as if Salvadore Dali had turned to poetics rather than paintings and ingested the world's entire coffee supply in one comically-oversized mug. Yet he is not just an Oddster; there is, beneath the comic splatter of wordswordswords and nervous tics and strangeness, what seems to be a Good Man, with kindness and humor and fiery compassion, and substantial intelligence put to proper use.

The film is a simple concept -- a performance at Manhattan's Symphony Space of most of the album's songs along with a a handful of others from Hitchcock's large catalogue -- interspersed with interview snippets recorded, of course, on a train headed towards the city. He was ably assisted onstage by musicians Terry Edwards and Tim Keegan, the song arrangements kept sparse in keeping with the album's original sound and theme. The Robyn of 1984, with his dark-brown funny '80s hair, is replaced by the Robyn of 2008, with silver-grey funny '00s hair, his beaming smile and quirky mannerisms and thoughtfulness all still quite intact.

If it turns out somehow that you have never heard Hitchcock's hilarious acapella "Uncorrected Personality Traits," and even if you have, you can enjoy it right now from the film. It is very fun to sing along with.

Robyn Hitchcock, "Uncorrected Personality Traits"

Hitchcock's songs seem to feature trains, birds, and sea creatures far more than, say, Barry Manilow's.

Robyn Hitchcock, "Trams Of Old London"

All the pieces on "I Often Dream Of Trains" are small gems, ranging in style from modern classical to country to folk to rock, flowing effortlessly one into another. They make the most sense as a whole, even though Hitchcock did not have a concept or set styles in mind as he wrote and recorded the songs nor had sat down deliberately to write them at all. They simply came, he says in one of the interview segments, and he let them develop with little interference. He then continues to say that he feels that the material was best interpreted and understood by others, and not himself. The songs were the psychological outpourings driven by what needed to be vented out, and we the listeners are there to have the distanced perspective to be able to hear and shape meanings that were perhaps consciously unavailable to the composer himself. Is this true in all artists' work, or all of Hitchcock's own work? No. But with "I Often Dream Of Trains," there is enough nuance and space left for wondering.

The first time I heard the title song, I was utterly struck by what was, to me, so clearly a song about life and death: leaving one world for the unknown of another, or leaving and never arriving anywhere ever again. Our traveler boards the train in a mindscape of little towns and stations and trees and fields and cities, passing too quickly from summer to autumn to winter, hopeful his destiny is "paradise," but always waiting for eternity, paradise never revealed in "Basingstoke...or Reading."

The final verse rarely fails to bring tears to my eyes, in that universal, core longing: the need to believe that we in some way will live after death, and be reunited with those we love, even when we know it cannot be. To reconnect, to hold close, to reverse a loss that seems unbearable...we cannot stop trying to change what is impossible to change, so we reach out, and dream.

I often dream of trains when I'm with you
I wonder if you dream about them too
Maybe we'll meet one night
Out in the corridor
I'm waiting for

Robyn Hitchcock, "I Often Dream Of Trains"

It doesn't matter if I "correctly" interpreted Hitchcock's lyrical intent, not to him or me or you. The point is that he was able to make something that ended up being important and transcendent, for me and so many other people. This is why "I Often Dream Of Trains" was filmed, and I hope you don't wait four years to see it like I did.

Thank you, Robyn.


It is my total pleasure to bring you these photographic images I snared from yesterday night's punk fun at Seattle's Black Lodge while SIMULTANEOUSLY introducing you to the band wimps, if you are not already familiar with their awesomeness. This week the band released their first album, Repeat, which is also the first release for End Of Time Records, run by Sarah Moody, GM at Hardly Art. The mordant, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and crisp garage band crunch of "Repeat" whiz by in less time that in takes you to watch a rerun of "Three's Company," and is infinitely more satisfying. Everyday frustrations just seem a lot less troublesome when set to fun music.

The Black Lodge is something like a cross between a haunted house and Andy Warhol's Factory, a strange basement rec room, and a punk cattle corral. The entryway where the merch table was is ALL LIGHTS and then the performance space is NO LIGHTS AT ALL, save for a single, merciless bulb in a silver industrial lamp. The turnout was excellent, and the floor packed. The band (made up of Rachel Ratner on guitar and vocals, Matt Nyce on bass and vocals, and Dave Ramm on drums) headlined the night, which also included Trashies, Stickers, Loud Eyes, and Big Eyes (I missed everyone else because I was next door at the Lo-Fi Performance Space yabbering away with friends and drinking tall PBR's, lo siento). Anyway, everyone had a blast, everyone left happy into the chilly, dry night, and I only had like, half of my pants covered in beer this time! WIN! Anyway, enjoy the photos, click to enlarge, see more HERE on Flickr, and go buy "Repeat" because it's fun and you like fun and I like fun, so there!


Since both Ann Landers AND Dear Abby are now deceased (RIP, cool gals), I feel like I can step in and offer the interhappenings a few slices of hard-won or completely-made-up wisdom. I know, I know...I can hear you all whooshing this huge sigh of relief while exclaiming, "Oh, THANK THE LORD! There just aren't enough people on the internet giving advice to me! What a blessing to find someone so generous of spirit and arrogant of character as to offer their utterly-unwanted musings on life! Hallelujah!"

Because of and despite this, I'm going to go ahead and lay this funky trip on you. This knowledge is something you can use every day, and is handy as eff. If you remember it and adjust your expectations accordingly, you will save yourself possibly YEARS of confusion and frustration. Seriously. OK, here it comes.


If a MAN tells you something NEGATIVE about himself, BELIEVE IT.

If a WOMAN tells you something NEGATIVE about herself, DO NOT BELIEVE IT.

Why is this so? I shall explain.

Men are socially conditioned from birth to be winners. Winners know that in order to win, they must never show weakness to anyone, lest competitors use that knowledge to take advantage and beat them out of a job, a mate, or a week's worth of buffalo meat. Winners also know that sometimes they must "fake it to make it," therefore men also have a tendency to over-inflate their skills and accomplishments in order to impress others. They do this so often that sometimes they are not even fully aware that they are either bragging or lying, or at the very least, omitting truthful crucial information.

Women are socially conditioned to be nice. There are heavy and very real penalties for women who don't present a sweet and accommodating temperament to the world. If they try to do the whole "winners" thing, they are labeled "hard," "cold," "unfeminine," or the classic, "a bitch." If they tout their accomplishments or skills, they are "uppity," "too forward," "pushy," or "a bitch." Women get socially rewarded by both men and other women by being self-effacing and modest. They will most often underplay any positive quality about themselves, or even attribute negative qualities to themselves that are simply untrue. It's the human equivalent to a dog with lower pack status rolling over on his back and/or peeing in front of an alpha dog.


Take all those wimpy denials of competence from women with a forklift of salt. They are often just shields to avoid the harsh backlash of social disapproval, and is a weakness of a particularly insidious, self-fulfilling, and sad kind.


If a guy makes a point of telling you something unflattering about himself, LISTEN UP, because he is actually handing you a RED FLAG that you need to pay attention to. It's kind of a heads-up so much later on when you are freaked out by something awful he did, he can say, "'s not like I didn't tell you..." and then can avoid the uncomfortable emotions of responsibility and/or dreaded loserdom.


There. It seems like we all should have moved past this Neanderthal stuff years ago, and in some ways we have, but at the core of things, this is still in force. Do be aware of it, and be aware of it in yourselves. Do be do be do.

With love, your Internet Friend,

Dear Mariannelanders



Yes, I understand. People Like Lists. People Love Lists, actually, and also love Ranking Things In Order Of Importance To Make A List. I know this well. I also know that journalism has been slashed and burned to accomodate the fractured attention spans of the public, and this is why we see so many Brief Lists Of Ranked Things With Photos On A Slideshow So It Increases Page Views And Site Visit Length In An Underhanded Way To  Increase Publication Ad Revenue. Rolling Stone, the venerable music/entertainment/political publication, has been particularly guilty of this (Huff Post is the worst, though, I think). While the magazine still employs some very fine writers who contribute important in-depth work, apparently that's paid for by putting up a never-ending List Parade of useless "Best" lists; a particularly silly concept when it comes to something so utterly subjective as music.

Yet, because I am so annoyed by this particular list, the Rolling Stone readers who voted in this Top Ten, and that I have been trolled bad enough to have to give an OPINION against a LIST, which is embarrassing, I'm just briefly going to make some comments, like if I worked at Rolling Stone and someone handed me these reader poll results, and I could say whatever I wanted about it...LIKE HOW IT USED TO BE. Hmph.


In ascending order...

10. Bad Brains: I dunno. Seemed to jump on (and off) the punk bandwagon more than build it from scratch.

9. Social Distortion: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Radio friendly.

8. The Misfits: Any band featuring Glenn Danzig is pure comedy to me. Poseur.

7. Black Flag: I like Black Flag, but Henry Rollins will be the first to tell you the Stooges were the REAL real deal.

6. Iggy and the Stooges: 100% correct, although I think most of Rolling Stone's readers just thought about the "Lust For Life" iPod commercial. These guys MADE punk because that's who they were and that's all they COULD do. I hope Iggy dies a natural death at age 120 onstage...shirtless, of course.

5. The Dead Kennedys: Too troll-y to be as nicely organically weird as the Stooges. Really more a political organization with built-to-shock lyrics. Pretty funny, though.

4. The Sex Pistols: Guess what? NO. I don't care that they swore on TV or cut themselves or didn't make nice with the queen or one of them killed his girlfriend and then OD'd. The Sex Pistols were as manufactured a band as the Monkees, only with far worse teeth. "Never Mind the Bollocks" is a very enjoyable album, but when I listen to it now, it sounds rather...slick.

3. The Ramones: Well, it's 2013 now and everyone loves the Ramones. I am positive they make far more money now as mostly-dead guys than they ever did when alive. They just didn't align with the public's goodwill until it was too late. Punk? Yesss...but they also had a sweetness to them that took a little of the badass/weirdo edge off.

2. The Clash: Again, I don't really think of the Clash as punk as much as a political pop band. It always bugged me that Joe Strummer didn't cop to his less-than-punky upbringing. Proudly owning whatever your circumstances were or are is punk; worrying about your legitimacy as a generational voice because you may have had a few bucks once is not.

1. Green Day: Jesus F. Christ. NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NEVER EVER NO. If you EVER voted Green Day as BEST PUNK BAND, just go buy your Ramones shirt at Wal-Mart and get drunk and get a real "edgy" tat on your 21st birthday, WHY DON'T YOU. Green Day has nothing at ALL to do with punk music. Billie Joe Armstrong is one of the most blatant song-stealers EVER, ripping off the work of the Kinks, the Clash, the Beatles, the Who, and countless others in the most uncool, obvious way, and his fake Brit accent on top of that makes me want to punch his granny. Readers, you SUCK to do this.

And if you don't like my comments on the list? Here's another list for you to enjoy:

10. F*ck

9. This

8. F*ck

7. Lists

6. F*ck

5. Opinions

4. But

3. Mostly

2. F*ck



Like many fresh-off-the-birthing-bed Type A American women, 21 years ago or so I threw myself into doing everything I could to be A Great Parent. By god, I was not going to mess this up, no way! I was going to correct everything I thought my parents did wrong, then raise that bar so high that there would be no chance of me making any mistakes, and I would produce in the end, completely well-adjusted, sparkling, and productive American spawnage.


What a maroon. What a putz. What a ding-dong! In imagining that I had all the control over how my kids would end up, I made a common and ultimately self-defeating mistake. I failed right off the bat by thinking that I could enrich, protect, nurture, discipline, and love them so much that they themselves would not make any mistakes, which is the most ridiculous expectation ever. It just took me a really long time to put a name on all of this -- the nasty perfectionism beast rearing up again -- and then make the changes I needed to in my mind to set things on a more realistic and compassionate course. I had to cut myself a break or order to cut them a break. 

I've not gotten rid of the bar, but I far, far more appreciate that each person from the start has to sometimes walk through a little fire -- or a lot -- to learn and grow. My children are completely separate, different people, with different developmental timeframes, different talents and weaknesses, sometimes very different from my own. I try to spend more time celebrating what is wonderful about them now than worrying so much over what they are not, or are not yet. All of them are robustly healthy and empathetic people. I feel sad that I ever thought that wasn't enough.


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is one of my very favorite bands, if you didn't already know dat. I've seen them play in several different states (soon to add Texas and Austin Psych Fest to that list, woo hoo!), and just love everything they do -- whether you call it "bluesgaze," "altshoe," "garagepsych," or just hawt. Their next album, "Specter At The Feast" will be released in mid-March worldwide, and will begin a slew of U.S. gigs in support beginning in April through June 1st, and you should GO.

Today, BRMC released their first single from the album, and I was so excited to hear it that I didn't even look at the title when I played it. It only took a few seconds in when I realized what it was: a cover of The Call's 1989 hit, "Let The Day Begin," and then a few more seconds for a bittersweet smile to appear on my face. Michael Been, vocalist, songwriter, and leader of The Call, was the father of Robert Been of BRMC. He spent several years working closely with his son's band, and was acting as BRMC's soundman when he died backstage of a massive heart attack at one of their European shows in 2010; a devastating loss of a father, mentor, and musical friend to the whole band. It was so hard to watch videos from some of the shows the band did right after Michael Been's death; the intense sadness was so plainly visible. At one of the gigs -- at a grimly rainy outdoor festival, as I recall -- during one of the songs, Robert Been left the stage to walk closer to the crowd, and fell to his knees in the mud, thrashing at his guitar, grief and frustration raw. It was heartbreaking.

So, with some time to heal, BRMC have done a lovely thing to remake "Let The Day Begin" in honor and love of Michael Been. You may download it for free here at the band's site after entering your email address. (They are good guys, and won't spam you, by the way.) Enjoy.


I'd like to decisively reclaim something that actor Clint Eastwood took from us all. As you might wincingly recall, during the 2012 Republican Convention Eastwood spent his precious time in the national political spotlight having an imaginary conversation with President Obama, addressing an empty chair to his left. The only good thing about this bizarre spectacle is that it may have actually sent votes to Obama and away from Mitt Romney, a good thing to appreciate on this Inauguration Day 2013. But let me get back to my point, although I did really enjoy making that one. The imaginary conversation is something that can have great benefits to us all, and I would like to state my case for babbling aloud to yourself.

I like to check in with myself on a regular basis -- you know, just seeing that all systems are running well and heading toward blissful stasis, and that there's nothing rattling around in there that's bugging me. This includes any unresolved or conflicted emotional issues. I'm a big, big fan of effective venting of concerns or needs -- tamping down, repressing, withdrawing, or ignoring is not for me. Far too Catholic, and causes disease; noooo, thank you. But venting has its problems as well. Yelling and screaming, passive-aggressive neglect or poking, blow-out blind drunkenness, over-confession -- all of these generally just add to your problems, not relieve them. Being able to discuss your feelings directly with whomever is involved is ideal, certainly, but it's sometimes just not possible. There can be too much distance to cross, whether physical or emotional, at least at that moment. There can be too much distance to cross, period, if you need to talk with someone who has died or your god or gods.

So every so often, I actually do speak a conversation I wish I could have but cannot, with no one else except maybe the dog to hear it. One-sided, though; I don't speak or even think any possible responses. Doing this venting exercise within my head is not as satisfying, nor is writing it down. Speaking aloud organizes the thoughts in a totally different way: silent speech can tend to veer or disappear and dissolve the value, while writing tends to be more careful, constructed, and erasable. When you speak your thoughts aloud, they tend to come more from the heart and are less censored; they provide a better vent, if at times a bit more inelegant or choppy.

Sometimes I am angry; I lift my head to the sky and rail against whatever injustice is pressing on my brain. Sometimes -- most times -- I speak barely above a whisper, just loud enough to hear myself, trying not to wake anyone late at night. Sometimes I am overwhelmed and cry while I keep trying to keep the words flowing out; sometimes I smile to myself, having completed my little task, knowing it must look very strange (to the dog, anyway), but feeling better than I did before.

I don't think this is an uncommon thing to do, but I also think that there are many of you that have not once held an imaginary conversation, too self-conscious to speak when there is no one there to hear you. Again, it's not a substitute for a genuine one-on-one with the person you should talk to, but life is complex and we aren't always able to do things as they should be done. In the meantime, self-speech can relieve some of the conflict and pressure you may feel, help you to put words to amorphous feelings, and perhaps settle in a better emotional place. Just saying how you feel is so powerful...even with only the dog to hear, in whispers.


Are you SO SO SO STOKED about the new CHASE BANK that's coming to the Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle??? OMG, I can't wait for the smooth clean new ATM interface, and the loan mood lighting, and deposit slips made from 100% recycled unbleached bamboo paper, and...

Nah. I'm not stoked at all about a new Chase Bank no matter what, and am especially sad that this Chase is taking over the wonderful Easy Street Records building, a beloved hub for musicians and music fans for twelve years. Easy Street will still continue on in their West Seattle location, but I will really miss the Queen Anne store. It was awesome.

This weekend, Easy Street is closing up shop, concluding with an auction today of some of their coolest items acquired over the years, including a giant light pole covered with concert posters, 100+ billboard banners, and their own revolving light-up sign. On Friday night, the Queen Anne location hosted an in-store performance by Yo La Tengo, a marriage proposal, and a marching band. My friend and photographer Colby Perry kindly stopped by and shot a few photos for Popthomology that night. Please to enjoy them, and please to always support your local record store! Thanks!


Oh boy! I'm super happy to bring you yet another previously-unreleased gem from Midwestern underground punk legends the Performa-Chords! The Performa-Chords were so badass that they relied on two rules for their entire recorded output: 1. No rehearsal - everything is 1-2-3-GO and made up on the spot, and; 2. NO DO-OVERS, EVER. "Columbia Record Club" is from 1982 (pretty sure, anyway) and features Dena on lead vocals and drumsticks and Marianne on guitar and extraneous vocals. It has two bad words in it, and just to clarify, we love Joe "King Carrasco! Please to enjoy, and you can download it for THE FREES at Soundcloud HERE, if you enjoy very very very very very obscure lo-fi bands! Thanks!


See the club now
Join the Columbia Record Club
Kenny Rogers!
Michael McDonald and Fleetwood Mac

Pick one!
Pick two!
Pick three!
Pick four!
Pick 'em as many as you want!
'Cause they're all good

It's the Columbia Club
I've just joined it
Boy, am I happy!
It's the Columbia Club
They've got every record you could possibly want

There's no X there
There's Survivor
And that's enough for me!

It's all too cool
'Cause it's Columbia!
And that's a country where
Joe "King" Carrasco would probably like to go
And eat mushrooms
Stupid f*ckhead

Ohhhhhh, Columbia
(Fill in the box and win an extra record!! AAAHH!)
Hey! Is this the one that Dick Clark sponsors?

They've got tapes here
They've got cassettes
They've got 8-tracks
They've got reel-to-reels
But who's got a reel-to-reel thing anymore?
Not my dad for sure
First he had that
Then he had 8-tracks
Then he got cassettes
And he's such an asshole!

The Performa-Chords, "Columbia Record Club"


I don't know about you, but me, I truly enjoy a good, creative insult. Sure, everyday profanity works well and is vigorous and spewy and easily accessed. But I love it most when someone delivers a cutting remark that is so bizarre or so clever that it lights my brain up like...well, like HAL 9000 or something, because I am pretty vintage.

Today, I decided to challenge myself by seeing if I could, with absolutely no thinking about it or crafting or mulling, come up with ten delightful, complex, and unique insults, using no profanity. I wrote down the numbers 1-10, then just typed out the first ten insults that popped into my head. Please to enjoy!

1. "Mouse-hipped Legionnaire licker"

2. "Crusty odiferous tree partier"

3. "Calcified enema-enjoyer"

4. "Red-faced diaper-wearing grandma pusher"

5. "Toilet dater"

6. "Maniacal pine-cone-pooping hippie"

7. "Giraffe-toting child-hater"

8. "Unintelligible truck-fornicating loser-pants"

9. "Underwear-eyed sewer sloth"

10. "Alligator-assed turd wrangler"

Try it yourself!


I will state right away here that I am NO fan of gristly pop shrew Madonna; never have been, never will be. However, I can really delight in her image as produced by a few enthusiastic-yet-marginally-talented fan artists. I thought I would share a few artistic renderings of ol' Madge for you to similarly be entertained by, via the depths of the interhaps. Please to enjoy!

Madonna...or Symbionese-Liberation-Army-era Patty Hearst?


I'm very glad that President Obama stepped up and did what he said he would do in the wake of the Newtown, CT. school massacre. Should everything he proposes get put in place, the measures will indeed make some difference in making it a little harder to kill large numbers of innocent Americans in public places, and will add a few more nets to try to prevent the mentally-ill from obtaining firearms while trying to get them some effective help. It's the right thing to do, always was the right thing to do.

But it's a band-aid on a fatal wound. Because of who we are, our cultural identity, and the way the world has changed in the last 30 years, we will remain a violent nation, ironically and pathetically kept in fear and paranoia by the very Constitution that was designed to be a guarantor of freedom and safety.

I am so very weary, bone-tired, beyond frustrated to hear the disgusting brays of outrage over Obama's gun-control plan from the NRA and their shoot-'em-up pals. I could literally throw up reading how gun sales soared all over the nation after a bunch of six-year-olds were murdered. There's nothing in me at all that can relate to this sickness. But I can step back and understand why we are the way we are, beginning with the beginning. "A well-regulated militia" and "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" -- there's your Second Amendment. I would like to remind everyone that this was ratified on

DECEMBER 15, 1791.

Think about that for a moment. Think about everything in our daily lives as Americans that is different than how things were as this country's laws were being formed. Answer: EVERYTHING. Absolutely EVERYTHING is different now. Everything about war and how it would be waged on our land, how we protect our families and property, how we eat, everything. The mindset of the colonials in setting up a new land free from tyranny was to keep the individual free and strong, and to allow no government, even our own, to even think of steamrolling us. The right to own handheld killing machines would stop the bad guys from just taking over, right?

But look what actually happened. The guns we originally armed ourselves with against some 18th-Century king? We use them to kill ourselves, by the thousands each and every year, by accident or intent. That's the truth. So why is this acceptable to millions and millions of citizens?

Think more about what guns are. Yes, they are made of metal and wood and shoot out fast-moving projectiles. But what they represent is power. The ultimate in power, God-like, even: the ability to take away another's life with the simple squeeze of a trigger. What is bigger than that? Nothing. Now think about the cultural guiding principals we hold so dearly in America, that anyone can make it to the top with enough hard work, that the brass ring is yours to grab, that you can have it all here, that you can raise your station in a generation. We are taught this from birth, and guess what? There are plenty of American success stories, dreams fulfilled that probably could not have happened anywhere else.

But in this same culture, when all emphasis is placed on winning, we by default create a mighty nation of losers. We all are tantalized from birth by images of the wealthy and successful and told over and over and over, if only you are clever and persistent and nose-to-the-grindstone, you can have this, too, and should want to have it. But of course this is untrue. Most people will lead pretty average lives -- as they really are supposed to, and which is not shameful -- and some will never get over the feeling that they were somehow denied or cheated from having the big American Dream. They will overburden themselves with debt buying the goodies they believe they should have but can't pay for, fill themselves with junk food because it's cheap and tastes good despite making them ill. They will numb themselves regularly with alcohol or pain pills and call it "partying." They will drown their unsatisfying realities in garbage reality TV or movies that show brains being splattered in 3D, or multi-player videogame worlds where "winning" equals slaughtering your realistic-looking digital foes.

If you feel denied, if you feel like someone is out to take away the little that you have already, that the world is a cruel and random place where no one should be trusted, that you tried and tried your best but never kept up with the Joneses, if everything you were told you suspect might be a lie...

Maybe you buy a gun. You buy a gun, and in that instant, you are the most-powerful person on Earth. No matter what you don't have and never will have, by god, you've got the option to kill someone if you want to. You win.

When you build a society where the good intent of giving people freedom and choice results in a divided, cold-hearted nation of a few haves and a whole lot of have-nots, and then provide them with the opportunity to buy and use weapons that give them the illusion of power and control, by god, people are gonna love those guns. They are going to need and love them even more than they love their own families, the collective cultural hole inside is that big and empty to fill.

It doesn't matter that it's not 1791 anymore, and no one at all actually needs to own a gun. It doesn't matter that all the statistics and police and hospital records tell you in plain numbers that American gun owners in 2013 aren't saving themselves from terrorists or invaders or gangs -- they are shooting their wives, children, co-workers, strangers, and themselves in horrifying numbers every single day. It doesn't matter that going to school or the movies or the mall is now something that you have to wonder if you will survive. It doesn't matter at all.

We are American drunkards, drowning in perceived failure and high on the false, futile idea of being able to believe that a gun is the answer to everything that is wrong, shaking our heads at the TV showing the photos of the dead, crying a tear while saying, "Shit happens."

Nothing will change.


I have been a parent for 21+ years and have three spawn. Something that I complain about even more than giving birth to them is making school lunches for them. OH, HOW I HATE IT. I will pay any amount of money -- ANY -- to have someone else deliver a school meal to my children, rather than me getting up early, trying to smash together a balanced, portable, midday meal, and then experiencing rage-y frustration when the meal is brought home with only the chips eaten. Or, the lunchbox never returns at all, and is found months later rotting on the playground and filled with a family of shrews. Hopeless.

Today I have found out that Miss Ten's lunch service at school has been suddenly and completely cancelled, forcing me very unwillingly back to lunch-making duty for at least the rest of this school year. My soul cries out in despair at this, for if I leave this task to her, she will pack nothing but chips, a handful of Nestle Toll-House Chocolate Morsels, my Sharpies, a small Japanese toy, and a beer. I am in Infinity Facepalm mode right now.

Yet, I shall once again make an attempt to Do The Right Thing. With stunning accuracy, I predict this is how my efforts will unfold over the next week:

Monday: Brand-new lunchbox with cute bento box insert purchased. Sections filled with adorable mini-portions of California rolls, fresh fruit salad sprinkled with a little lemon juice, herb salad with garlic croutons, an oatmeal raisin cookie baked by Grandma, and a Vitamin Water.

Tuesday: Brand-new lunchbox never came home. Fill old Disney Princess lunchbox with leftover tortellini pasta, another salad, a tiny container of parmesan cheese, and a single-serving container of peaches, with a Vitamin Water.

Wednesday: Find yesterday's entire lunch in the way back of my car, because it isn't cool to bring a Disney Princess lunchbox to school anymore. Resist temptation to send it along again. Find brown paper bag and fill it with a cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread with mayo and greens, a bag of Sun Chips, a box of raisins, and a granola bar, with a plain bottled water.

Thursday: At Wednesday pick up, find Wednesday lunch compacted into a smooshy soccer ball being used on the playground, sans water bottle. Fill large ziplock bag with loose slices of cheese, a quarter-filled jar of Skippy Crunchy peanut butter, mushy grapes from the bottom of the fridge fruit door, a clove of garlic, and a Slim Fast shake from 1998.

Friday: Receive 6AM phone call from school principal chastising me for sending peanut products into school. Hand child the phone and go back to sleep.


I can tell you from personal experience that singing in a foreign language is hard. It's especially hard when you really have very little clue how to properly read or pronounce the words, and you have to resort to phonetic approximations, scrawled on a sheet of paper by yourself or a frustrated record producer. I count myself as one of the world's lame single-language English-speakers -- my current second-language fluidity from my college Spanish I would liken to trying to run on a newly-tarred road covered in honey, Krazy Glue, and rotten bear pelts. After attempting to sing in phonetic French with my decidedly-very-not-French Wisconsin accent, I certainly garnered a deepened appreciation for all those musicians from Not America and Not Great Britain and Not Canada and Not Australia who routinely sing in English both live and on record, sometimes exclusively so.

I thought today I would take a quick revisit to the '60s, when the record industry was peaking on the creative output from a slew of British bands, some of whom became rather popular. Some of these rad combos were encouraged to record a 45 or two in different languages for exclusive release in other European countries, assuring more radio play and record sales there. Although every British citizen has far more exposure to multiple foreign languages on a regular basis than does the average American, I do not believe that any of the members of these bands at the time had more than a slight conversational facility in German or Italian...outside of maybe Mick Jagger, who I can totally see swanning around speaking French or Italian with some annoying confidence.

The Beatles got their first major career boost from playing in dank German clubs in their earliest years, so the songs they re-recorded in German -- "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" -- were a bit of a "thank you" to those beer-swilling, night-dwelling Hamburg hooligans that helped them to the toppermost of the poppermost. Just reading along with the German makes me feel my struggle with French is, like, nothing compared to this glottal achievement.

I once knew these both by heart. Phonetic heart.


Self-explanatory. Brought to you in yellow-tinted Sick-O-Vision.



You Will Never Attend Your Own Funeral 

You will never attend your own funeral

No matter how hard you try

No matter how much you want to see

All your friends tell you goodbye.

No matter how much you long to see it

No matter how good it would make you feel

To see how much pain your passing

Would cause them all as you congeal.

You will never hear the pastor’s gentle words

From the church that you never attended

Never hear the driver’s music in your hearse:

“The Greatest Hits Of Sergio Mendez.”

You will never see your siblings

Bicker over who deals with your shit

You will never see them throw it away

Good riddance and goodbye to most of it.

You will never see your father's loving comfort

To your mother as she cries

While he’s really thinking about the football game

He’s missing because of your demise.

You will never attend your own funeral

Or get the validation of your worth

As the lid closes on your ten-thousand-dollar casket

And you live within the dirt.


As I sit here at my ridiculously cluttered desk, I am fortunate to be surrounded by lots of cool stuff. To my left is a sweet tube stereo amp, a player piano, and my beloved JBL 4311B Control Monitors from 1980. To my right is all my camera gear, a scanner, a red vintage clock, and my iPhone. But call me a romantic sentimentalist: I'd give all of those things up before I could bear to part with my very first record, even though it has long been completely unplayable and is not terribly rare. That's crazy talk!, you might say, and you might be right. But I do not care. This record was IT...the ticket to how the entire rest of my life would go and just about every good thing that ever happened to me. It represents so much more than a record to me.

It's a British Parlophone 45 of the Beatles' "She Loves You" b/w "I'll Get You," which I received from my parents in April, 1964. I had just turned two years old.


It is January, 2013.

This is my 2,075th post here.


January is a good time to do a little future-looking, I guess, being that it is the turnover of my culture's annual calendar and I occasionally will buddy up to a tradition or two. I really loathe New Year's resolutions, though; no one keeps them because they end up feeling artificial and judge-y. I hardly need some friggin' resolution poking me in the head with a stick, even if that's exactly what I need. Yet I do feel like a little planning and a few goals are probably a good thing to strive toward. It's far too easy to not think at all and autopilot yourself straight to the grave. But rather than set the bar with high hopes and rusty hardware only to feel the familiar sting of totally avoidable failure (the worst kind), I think I shall focus on things I don't want to do in 2013. And it's more fun.

1. I will immediately stop watching any kind of television that makes me feel pissed off because it's so incredibly lame or stupid. I will leave the room, even if sunk down into a comfy chair.

2. I will engage in exactly NO conversations about Hollywood celebrities or sports figures, other than Betty White. No, not even Betty White. Done.

3. I will not dance in public, because it just looks so bad on anyone my age unless it's the waltz or the polka. I'm down with the polka.

4. I will not photograph nor attend shows I don't really want to be at.

5. I will not attend beekeeper school, any Scientology meetings, or the birth of Kanye West's kid, either.

6. I will not wear lederhosen.

7. I will not go to the post office at the last minute at Christmastime again. Please send me a reminder about this, Internet.

8. I will not wait as much for something. I will make more somethings myself, even if I have to go all Little Red Hen-ish.

9. I will not worry quite as much. It's a process.

10. I will not dump Popthomology for something that pays way more (which would be anything) but I don't love anywhere near as much.

So tomorrow is set. No crap TV, no pinheaded conversations about people I don't know or even like at all, no middle-age jiggling (in public) (unless it's the polka), no photographing Kid Rock, no change of career that involves insects, mind-control cults, or effin' Kanye West, no German cultural clothing, no slogging heavy packages, no slacking, no wringing my hands about things that aren't under my control, and no not writing post # 2076.


Whew! OK, here's the conclusion of our great and groovy Florida show duo starring a suparrr select slice of SoFla's coolest local garage/psych/experimental bands and our pal Lars Finberg of L.A./Seattle-based band the Intelligence! Part One gives you a little of HOW ON EARTH this ever managed to come about in the first place and the review/photos for the mighty and magical first performance for Velvet Underground Night, located at Dada in Delray Beach. (You also might enjoy reading this show preview and interview with Meestar Feenberg by myself, Miss Ten, and our friend Stacy B. It's improbable-yet-amusing-and-informative things like this that keep you coming here, I bet. Or hope.)

After a some sleep/recovery time on Saturday, we headed south into Miami's Wynwood Art District (which I covered a bit here earlier in the year, if you'd like to browse some of the amazing building art and the best-ever photo of Miss Ten) to get everyone set up at Gramps, a brand-new bar/club that's still in it's soft open phase and has already became a hotspot for Miami's nightlife hepcats and kitties. I really love what owner Adam Gersten is setting up here -- Gramps has an awesome, stark retro vibe that fits in perfectly with the grit and funk of the surrounding 'hood, but at the same time it feels welcoming and fun, like you were heading over to a friend's tricked-out rec room from decades past. Our modest lil' event would be Gramps' first rock show ever, and we were all so excited for the bands to be playing on the outdoor stage underneath the stars and big jets making their big ways to Miami International. Strutter Productions' Rob and Stacy Budowsky helped man the door, and -- oh yes! -- there was a grilled cheese food truck outside! Lars and the irrepressible and delightful Gabriel Alcala of Miami's Jacuzzi Boys started up their dual DJ 'puters (Gabe inside, Lars outside) and I admit I was hovering off the ground a little when Lars played all of the Kinks' "Arthur" album. Just a little.


You better move it, sweet babe
Hey, on down to your shoes

Things, they're right, mama
You know it'll work out fine...

"Guess I'm Falling In Love," The Velvet Underground, 1967

I think I'm still taking it all in, and might be taking it all in for awhile.

You know how when things that shouldn't work out for every conceivable, sensible, predictable reason, sometime actually work out? And, even more spectacularly rarely, when that thing that should have been maybe a hot ol' mess turns out to be really, REALLY great? That's what happened this past weekend in Florida, as we brought Lars Finberg (The Intelligence) together with West Palm Beach band Cop City Chill Pillars and other musicians to play shows at Dada in Delray Beach and Gramps in Miami. What what what, you ask? Here's a bit of the backstory timeline:

-- I plan to surprise my daughter with a trip to Florida on Christmas to visit our friends the Budowskys. I ask Rob and Stacy B. if there are any good concerts happening during our stay, and we start mulling around the idea of putting one together ourselves. Hmm...I think, although I have never arranged a show in my life. We ponder.
-- After weeks of airfare-watching, I break down and buy our pricey plane tickets. Almost immediately afterward, I see that the Intelligence, the band that made my FAVORITE ALBUM this year, has booked a show for New Year's Eve in SEATTLE when I am in Florida. I extend extremely loud and despairing lamentations skyward, punctuated by obscene hand gestures.
-- Hmm, I hmm, HMM.
-- I pathetically whine to Lars about missing the Intelligence because I am going to Florida, and with some hesitation mention that I was thinking of maaaaaybe asking if he'd would ever maaaaaaybe be interested in flying down then and play or DJ for our show that we want to do, although I have zero idea of exactly how that would ever work out. Pro, huh?
-- Lars replies something like, damn or oh no or gosh golly, that would have been really cool. No, wait...he said, "crud."
-- TING!, my brain ting-ed. This is the sound my head makes when it steels itself in clarified determination. Why wait for something good to happen? GO MAKE IT HAPPEN! Hey!, my spinal cord chimed in because it's a JERK, hey, you lady, what do you know about all this, nada is what! SHURRUP, I told the cord, let my brain run with this. There are tons of nice people in SoFla that love cool music and we will figure it out!

To make an impossibly complex and long story short(er), we did! This very-strange-yet-amazing convergence of people, places, and things came together (with MAJOR MAJOR work from Kismet Vintage's Aly Gore and the folks at Dada, the Buds, Gramps' Adam Gersten, Steev Rullman at Pure Honey, Cop City Chill Pillars, and The Lars Himself) to get Lars from Seattle to SoFla to play a night of Velvet Underground covers in a beautiful old home converted into a restaurant and performance space and then to perform CCCP songs + the VU songs + DJ at the newest, hippest bar in Miami's Wynwood Art District. Lars is either very trusting or slightly crazy (or both; the best combo, I feel), to go cross-country on a redeye flight to learn all-new-to-him songs with Cop City at their rehearsal space in just a couple of days, and the Cop City dudes were incredibly cool to agree, too -- not every band would be willing and eager to also take a chance on doing something different.

When I first walked into Dada from the front porch into the two tiny front rooms that make up the space, I wondered where the bands would be playing. Right in front of the lovely old fireplace right on the floor, as soon as the dining tables were cleared out, I found out. People milled about chatting and drinking, girls and guys eyed up velvet-y groovy clothes from the Kismet Vintage sale rack, and the air was warm and sweet...some kind of spark was beginning to happen.

(Click on the photos to enlarge, or go to Flickr and see them all!)


It's our last full day of our grand Florida vacation and the first time we made it to the beach on this go-'round! I took a few shots of my daughter and just loved the blues of her shirt and the sky and the water together.

Tomorrow it's back to the Miami airport and the long flight to Seattle, but we will have these images to warm us on a rainy winter day, right? So many thank yous to our amazingly generous hosts, the Budowsky family, their wonderful extended families and friends that we now hold so dear, all the great music folks that helped make this weekend so memorable (more about THAT in the next few days!), and a special leetel fren, too.


The last few days of our Florida vacay are jam-packed with action and fun, lemme tell ya. Yesterday afternoon we piled in the car and drove north to lovely Delray Beach and spent a few hours pouring over the deliciousness that is Kismet Vintage! It's truly one of the nicest vintage clothing stores I've been in -- owners Aly and Liam have fantastic eyes for picking out great pieces, and we ooh'd and ahh'd and tried on lots of things and had a great time. I ended up getting two superb pop-art designer dresses that would make you jealous. If you are in the area, make sure to stop in and check it out, or visit their site and see what they have available on the Ebays!