Saturday, May 11, 2002

I have now truly seen it all. Meet the world's only Japanese Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, Leotard Skynyrno(the site's in japanese, so I can't tell you much more about them). Apparently the Stars 'n' Bars and the Rising Sun can now flap side by side.

Now sing with me:
Sweet Home Yokohama,
Where the skies are so blue...

via yipyop.

On the way home from work today, I was about to stop at the grocery store when The Move's version of "Do Ya" which you almost never hear,came on the radio. I felt compelled to do couple of laps around the parking lot just so I could hear the song all the way through. I'm sure all the soccer mommies were concerned about the wild-eyed gentleman in the beat-up car singing "Do Ya, Do Ya want my love..." at the top of his lungs, but the kids dug it I'm sure. Small kids naturally have rock and roll in them. My ex-girlfreind brought along her Shonen Knife tapes whe she babaysat for a few bucks. The next time she was the sitter, the kids were begging, "Can we play the crazy Japanese Ladies? can we?" In my own babysitting days, I had my charges singing along to "Beat on The Brat" which was cool, although it sort of unnerved their Mom when they sung it at the dinner table.

The theory kind of falls apart when I remember that my baby-sitters used to play stuff like Adam Ant and Duran Duran[shudder], but perhaps my entire life has been a reaction against that early trauma.
When I was young the toy car community was split into two camps Matchbox on one side and Hot Wheels on the other. Oh, Hot Wheels people could own Matchbox cars and vice versa, but somewhere along the line you picked your loyalties, and wore them proudly on your little plastic collectors breifcase when you went off to trade with your pals. I was a dyed-in the-wool Matchbox man as a kid. They were older, the detailing was better and they had cooler classic cars. Hot Wheels always seemed somewhat gauche and garish to my jaded 8-year-old eye, somehow. This entire rivalry is a tad bizarre once you realize that both Hot Wheels and Matchbox are owned by Mattel, but what did we know. Besides that seems vaguely unseemly to me, like some kind of monopoly on my childhood.

Both companies have web sites now, of course. Both of them begin with garish splash pages and pop-ups, of course, but so does every corporate site in the world so I'll let that slide. Oddly, very little of each site is devoted to the idea of the cars as toys. Maybe it's not so odd though, kids raised on Nintendo and Furby can only be so impressed by little toy cars. Instead, the emphasis is on the cars as "collectibles". The Hot Wheels collector's area(username:jonmc/pw:vftc) is an almost blogesque hub of activity, and although it tantalizes you with some neat products, they all seem to get snapped up pretty quicky by the more voracious collectors. The main site has images of some great classics like this and this and they have a full collection of some great miniature Harleys which every good American knows is of the utmost importance. But, Hot Wheels gets docked points for confusing navigation and that cheesy Hot Wheels PC that came out a few years back.

The Matchbox collector's area is an altogether different beast. No registration, the navigation is clear and the pag is fun and exciting without being over the top. The Platinum Showcase section has some of their best ones, especially the Muscle Collection. A cool Historical Timeline is available, too. So once again, even in the Information age, Matchbox comes out on top. Vindication is cool.

SILICON VALLEY, CA- Here at GloboMegaCorp, it has come to our attention that there are people living on the streets who have not yet availed themselves of the technological wonder that is the Web. We deplore this situation. That's why we're launching our HOMEPAGES FOR THE HOMELESS campaign. Just because you reside in an abandoned refrigerator crate is no reason you can't have a strong web presence. With the use of free tools like GeoCities and Hotmail it's easier than ever for a destitute tramp to become a bona fide web celebrity. And just think of the expanded oppurtunities for panhandling and alumminum can scrounging. This worthwhile cause will save the world, we are sure. Thank you for your support.
I need a damn haircut. For the past two years or so, I've told the barber, "just trim it." Back in my bookstore days, I just didn't cut it for two years, which made me look like Charles Manson.Then I did the neo-rockabilly thing for a few years, putting Royal Crown pomade in my hair, which, on a hot day made me smell like frying olives. And we all know about my famous mullet. I think I'm in the mood to experiment. Lemme know if you've got any ideas. Sorry for the boring topic, but unlike civilized people, I'm working today. I'll blog something cooler later.

Friday, May 10, 2002

I was just watching an interview with Loretta Lynn. There is a true living legend. People crack jokes about Nashville kitsch and sequins and hair, but this ol' broad could sing your typical indie chanteuse to shreds, even on an off night. Anyone can make po-mo conceits and in-jokes and representations and what not. Touching you right in the gut is a lot harder.
I'm listening to her duet with Conway Twitty on "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly" and I just dig the way she sings "wires" as "Wahrrs." We'll probably never see another like her, buit maybe that's cos the world that produced her no longer exists.

Like everyone else within eyeshot of iconomy's blog, I've been diggin' the spinnin' stacks o' wax at Power Pop Radio. This station is devoted to the neglected art of hook-laden, catchy but intricate, no-apologies, pretension free rock and roll.

I'm thrilled to no end that one of the bands the station plays and links to is the amazing Vandalias. I first heard of these guys about 6 years ago when I read a review in the excellent Minneapolis music 'zine Cake (now defunct, sadly). They are never shown in magazine photographs, preferring instead to take the Kiss-esque route of being represented by their cartoon selves. They even published a band comic book (this panel is a thing of beauty).

I immediately bought a copy of their album Mach V(audio samples on Amazon page). Beneath the goofiness lurk some amazing tunes. No pseudo-angst, no political screeds or instrumental wank-a-thons, just pure tuneful, car-radio summertime music bliss. "Hey Now(Motor City)" is a particular favorite. It's one of those perfect end of a summer night out/hangin' with a few buds as the sun rises tunes. Their other albums are excellent as well. It's great to be reminded that they're still around.
I heard this on the radio a few years back and finally found it on the internet. If the image of sailors fornicating in Jamaica dosent bother you, it's pretty funny.
Those of you who have been dead broke but literary-minded have probably used what I call the "poor man's reading plan." Basically this amounts to going to a bookstore buying a cup of coffee, reading a chapter of a book, reshelving it, then coming back a few days later to read some more. You could actually become fairly well read for a penniless person this way. A true zen master of this will know of several bookstores carrying the same book and will reshelve thin a secret location to guarantee the book will still be there when he returns.
Due to a slowdown in the tech industry and a lotta bills, I've been forced to re-adopt this plan. The book I've been surreptitiously checking out lately is Happiness by Will Ferguson. The plot revolves around the idea that if someone ever wrote a self-help book that actually worked the world would end. So far it's pretty damn good.
Self-help books are the tumor on the ass of the book industry. Back when I was a bookseller, we had a cartoon on the door of the breakroom refrigerator. It showed a guy standing at a bookstore register and this is what he said:

"Can you take me to the self-help section, pick out a book for me, take it to the counter, buy it for me then drive me home and read it to me?'

Scary thing is that's not too far from reality.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Some of you may remember the old song "RC Cola and a Moonpie." Well, tonight I was checking out the Official Moonpie Site, an excellent guide to this delectable confection(I'm partial to the Vanilla one's my self), which is endorsed by Bullwinkle, to give you an added incentive. I found out that there is an annual RC Cola & Moonpie Festival held in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Apparently, Brenda Lee will be attending and there will be a Moon Pie Toss!! I'm tempted to hitchhike down and join the fun. No word on whether NRBQ will be there, though.

Also, out of sheer boredom/masochism, I posted my picture on today. So far I'm a 5.9, so I'm doing better than I thought.
More good news on the homefront. Lisa just got her seventh set of poems accepted. This time it was from Northwest Review, from the University of Oregon. It'll be in the fall issue she says.

Man, we're pretty hot shit, when you think about it.

That's what they told me. But you all knew this already, right?

Every blogger needs to post a "What X Are You?" once in a while, and since I haven't left the house, today's the day. And as these things go, this one's amusing.
One thing nobody told me about blogging is that reading your tracker and referral logs is almost as addictive as blogging itself(I need to get out more, I realize).

Most of my readers are pals from the 'filter, so I've gotten to the point where I can tell who's who just from the IP address.(BTW, , I'm flattered but I'm spoken for). Most of the links to me are people I've linked, although there are a few that mystify. I've gotten a couple of hit's from password protected webtrends pages, although I can't figure out who it is.

Then there's this(scroll to the 9:36 pm entry). Ummm....thanks but right on what exactly? and how'd you find me? I won't even go into the bizarre searchengine queries. I also get a surprising number of hits from the Netherlands, which is interesting since I don't know a soul there. Only one hit from Portugal, though. *sniff*. I'm also getting a lot of hits between 11 and midnight, which means either I appeal to a hip, night-owl audience or I'm a great insomnia cure.

Oh well, so much for ametuer demographics. I'm gonna go finish my coffee now.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Just got back from my weekly pilgrimage to the local Borders. After browsing for a while, I went outside to have a smoke. As I was taking my first couple puffs, these three teenagers with a camcorder come strolling down the sidewalk.

"Say Hello" they said.
One of them, a chubby boy of around 15 came up to me and said,"What kinda cigarette is that, a Newport?"
"No, It's a Marlboro." Feeling rather um, parental, I added, "And smoking'll stunt your growth, young man."

They're probably at home right now, editing that into a documentary on their desktop PC. So, if 6 months from now, you see my mug in some Quicktime file you downloaded, you'll know where it came from.

About an hour later, I went outside for another smoke. 30 seconds after I hit the street, this girl comes out talking on her cell phone. So help me, this is what she was saying into it:

"You're not broken up with me five minutes and you've hooked up with some chick named after a food?!"

First of all, I'd really love to know what that chick's name was. Secondly, the whole afternoon granted me a realization; there is no Information Superhighway that we drive down, merely an Information River that we all wade through wherever we are. Possibly an obvious observation, but I've never seen it so explicitly illustrated before.

I went inside and told my freind Mike the Magazine Guy my river maetaphor. "Too bad it's the East River," he said.

Perhaps. And here I sit in my apartment, typing this into my weblog which, if there is any innate poetry in the universe will be read on someones Powerbook as they sit sipping coffee at a sidewalk cafe.
While Googling for Partridge Family audio for a Metafilter post, I found this.Yes, Partridge Family Sims. This makes me unspeakably happy. No if only someone would create some Brady Bunch Sims to live next door and perhaps some Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Sims living across the tracks, the world would be a beautiful place. Yes, I admit it, I'm a Patridge fan. I even own this and my beloved "c'mon get happy!" t-shirt. What could be cooler?

except this perhaps.
Lisa's gotten really into court shows lately. Her favorite(and admittedly mine too) is Judge Mathis. I love the way he can go from imperious magistrate to ghetto badass in the space of one sentence. I think the boom in court shows is a natural outgrowth of the talk show phenomenon. I know that when I watch some bunch of idiots on Jerry Springer or Montel Williams, I'm just dying for someone to slap the crap out of these people and show them what's what. With this latest band of fun-loving gavel-swingers, we get to do just that, vicariously at least.This is a beautiful thing.
Listening to some Raspberries tonight. What a great band. No matter how out of sorts or lost I might be feeling, listening to their stuff is like going back to some town that's always glad to see you. I'll even venture that "Go All The Way" may be the perfect pop-rock song. It has it all, a killer riff, great harmonies, compact construction and smart, sexy lyrics. "I Wanna Be With You" and "Overnight Sensation" are just as good. They were written of as lightweight pop fare in their mid-70's heyday, but, if you ask me these guys(along with Big Star and Cheap Trick) are one of the missing links between the 60's sound of the Beatles and Hollies and alt-pop wunderkinds like Matthew Sweet.

Now sing with me children...

"Baby, please go all the way..."

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

I just told one of my co-worker's that the new Tom Waits CD's are out. He said, "Tom who?"
And they wonder why I spend so much time online.
Back in 1991, I was living in Brooklyn and one night I was walking from the subway station back to my apartment and the payphone on the corner started ringing. Crazy fool that I am, I picked it up. A gruff, Noo Yawk accented voice came on the line.

"Yo, man, what pay phone is this?"
"Um, the one on North 7th and Havemeyer."
"Good, good it's still working. Say man, are there any kids out playin' in the street there?"
I looked down Havemeyer and sure enough, there were some kids playing stickball about a block and a half down.
"Is there a kid named Rayette there?"
"I dunno, lemme see...." I turned to the street, "RAYETTE!! RAYETTE!!"
No answer.
"Dosen't look that way, man"
"Shit. Listen, my man, you see that apartment building on the corner? Can you go ring the buzzer for #220?"
"Umm..Why don't you just call the number there?"
"I would but my calls are being traced and I don't wanna cause no trouble. I'm incarcerated on Riker's Island, y'unnerstand..."
When will you ever learn? I thought to myself.I rested the reciever on top of the phone console, walked over to the building, and began buzzing #220.After about 5 minutes, nobody had answered but the stickball kids had gathered around the stoop.

"Hey mister, why you ringin' that bell?" a little girl of about six asked me.
"I'm looking for the people in #220."
"I live in #220"
"You Rayette?"
"You should run over to that payphone, there's a man in jail who wants to talk to you."
She squealed with delight, "Uncle Bobby!" and ran over to the phone.

Oh well, the ties that bind as they say...

Monday, May 06, 2002

I just added my site to the ageless project site, a very nifty blog directory organized by birth date. I'm exactly 2 years younger than Jen at Whim & Vinegar and share the exact date of birth with a guy named Justin who has a spiffy blog called Numb and apparently is a big Wallflowers fan. It's a nifty idea, this site and anyone can apply to add their blog.
I installed a new PC at this retired doctor's house out in the coochi-poochi-boomalini suburb of Ridgefield today. The couple was in their early 60's but it was their first ever computer. They were kinda lost, but it's neat introducing people to a brand new world. The guy told me he wanted to buy a computer to get on the 'net after his patients started bringing in diagnoses from medical sites that contained info he hadn't heard before. I hooked his gear up and tested everything, then gave him some links to medical and scientific sites to get him started. He's in for some fun

I love playing tour guide, actually, about anything-the web, books, music, you name it. If I'm in a record store and I see someone checking out an album I like, I'll start recommending others. Sometimes this makes me a pest, I realize, but people have actually come back and thanked me later on occasion.

I almost consider it my duty to do stuff like this because when I started out in various subcultures(rock and roll, computers, books) some people were very welcoming and showed me the ropes. Others were condescending and deliberately obfuscatory if you hadn't been around as long as they had. I hate that shit.

I get to do a little of this at work, when net-newbies buy a machine. I'll tell 'em some important downloads and important links to save them the frustration of finding them on their own. I just kinda wish I could make my living being a full-time pointer-outer of cool stuff.
I was just talking with my co-worker Rich about the fact that COMDEX(the big computer trade show) is held at the same time and location as a major adult video award show and convention. I thought it would be cool to start fixing up attendees from both camps on dates, so that they could breed an army of incredibly busty/well hung coding geniuses. "That could backfire," Rich said. Picturing a battalion of people with Bill Gates' looks and the average pornstar's brains I had to concede he was right. There go my plans for world domination.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

Great link via raysmj ,the Stax Museum site is a must visit for anyone who cares about good soul music(and what good citizen dosen't?)
Home from work now, I just fired up my vinyl copy of Love's So Tough by the Iron City Houserockers, for my money one of the most underrated bands of all time. Formed in the mid-1970's, the Housrocker's were Pittsburgh's answer to the heartland rock of Springsteen and Seger. Perhaps no other band has captured the atmosphere of white urban street life so effectively. They had the same garage-rock and R&B roots as Seger and the Boss, but their sound was much rawer and the atmosphere generated by the lyrics far more desperate. "Have a Good Time(but Get Out Alive)" from the album of the same name, and "I Can't Take It" from Love... are standouts but my favorite is "Dance with Me" (sample on Amazon page). There is no better musical evocation of a tough man feeling tender and vulnerable. Seek this bad boy out.

After that's done I'm gonna crack a beer and play "In Spite of Ourselves" by John Prine & Iris Dement, which me & Lisa have decided is 'our song', it's a letter perfect description of us at any rate, and every couple needs a song...
On Route 25(the main leg of my commute) here in CT, there's an indoor gun range and a roller-rink in the same damn building! Although I know it can't be true, I can't help imagining the local gun club calmly sniping the roller skaters like ducks on a pond as they swirl in lazy circles. Hell, it's a better combo than some I've seen. In Fairfield, they used to have a gun shop right next to a liquor store. Just picture that scene:"Jussht gimme a 12-pack of Bud, a fifth of Jack, that .44 magnum and some hollowpoints." Whee...Actually, throw in a casino and an adult video rental shop and you may have something worth franchising.
I've had an alarming number of teenage girls ask me about webcams lately. Their parents don't seem to mind but me I know better, those cams just seem to bring out the exhibitionist in people. Actually the whole boom in amateur pornography is weird. You look at the sheer quantity of stuff out there and after a while you start to believe that every woman in America has posed naked online. I haven't come across any one I know yet, but it'll happen. A buddy of mine said he found pics of his next door neighbor, which must have been disturbing.

I'm also really glad I'm not a woman, just because of the sheer amount of grooming women do. Make-up, hair produts, nails, jewelry-just seems like a lotta damn work to me.Some girls are almost wonders of engineering and chemistry to be honest. If I was a girl, I'd be so lazy that I'd say "screw it" and I'd look like a hag. Of course, there are some guys who go through just as much trouble ith their looks, but we regular men don't trust them.
Me, its just shower, shave, brush teeth, deodorant, run a brush thru my hair a few times and I'm out the door. This is a beautiful thing.
Actually I'm not too big on the makeup and hairproducts look, but I'm impressed by all the expertise gals apply toward it. If we could redirect the effort we could probably cure cancer or something.