Saturday, June 22, 2002

Through careful research and applied mathematics, I've figured out that the waistline of a man's trousers crawls upward at the rate of roughly one inch every five years, so if you live long enough your pants will eventually begin up above your head, thus necessitating the cutting of armholes and the inevitability of breathing through your fly. Perhaps this what those crazy kids today are doing with those baggy, saggy pants of theirs. Maybe what we see as a silly teenage fashion is actually a noble attempt to stave off the inevitable Ascent of the Pants.

Quite moving, really.

Saw one of these in the rack at the candy store this morning. It's basically a regular Clark bar, but with white chocolate. How...wintry. I was hoping for a candy bar with a little chocolate hat and mittens, then maybe they would create a Summer Clark, where all the chocolate coating would be removed except for little chocolate shorts around the midsection, but it's not to be apparently.

Also on my drive home last night, I noticed that someone had a 5 foot high phosphorescent inflatable American flag on their lawn.

Yet another utterly freaky search hit here at View From The Counter.

Grab the Giant Uvula.


Friday, June 21, 2002



Web Site! You Go!

*beats chest*

*pisses around weblog like a wolf*
To make room for new sales files, we have to get rid of the ones from two years ago, and rather than just throw them out of course we're shredding them. It's truly amazing how much shredded paper can fit in a regular desk-sized wastepaper basket if you keep stomping it down. After a while you have a solid, blocky hunk of multicolored paper shreds, sealed in a clear plastic bag. The whole enterprise is kind of a post-industrial equivalent to hay-baling. Except you can't feed it to a horse and it would make for lousy loft-filler.

Also, the thought of hay baling has "Ode to Billie Joe" running through my head, which is cool since I really like that song. Some bloggers list what music they're listening to, but since we can't really listen to music at work I should just list whatever's running though my head(homicidal messages excepted), I've got a killer radio station up there in my head, great selection, although there's a lotta static sometimes...
We've all seen those joystick operated claw cabinets at the local pizzeria. You know, the ones where if you manipulate the stick just right, the claw reaches down and rewards you with a knock-off Pikachu plush toy? Well, they have a name, in the amusementt business they're known as Digger machines and according to this history have been around since the late 1800's, the Erie Digger apparently being the best known model.

Now, gambling is probably the only vice that I've indulged in with any moderation: penny-ante poker, the occasional sports bet, an even more occasional lottery ticket, so I'm not an expert, but have you ever watched the little kids pump quarters into these things? Watch for a couple minutes and I guarantee you'll have a vision of those same kids as glaze-eyed, chip hustling, dixie-cup fulla quarters Caesar's Palace slot jockeys. My co-worker Dave grew up in Vegas and tells me that all the kiddie midways of the major casinos are loaded with these damn things, along with those Skee-Ball machines that dispense prize tickets, where once you collect like 5,000 you get a Pez Dispenser and piece of chewed Bazooka or something. Coincidence? I think not. I'm not sure whether to mount a campaign against these devices or buy stock in the manufacturer.

I spent the evening downloading a bunch of old '60's garage rock tunes off of WinMX tonight and some of what I've found has lead me to has led me to do a little amateur culural anthropology. Much has been made of the connections between Punk Rock and West Coast skateboarding culture, but it's far from the first time skateboards and Rock and Roll have crossed paths. Tonight I stumbled across "Skateboard Song" by Norma Tracy and the Cinderella Kids(audio buried somewhere in this archived WFMU stream.) Judging by the instrumentation and production I'd place it's vintage around 1963-64, putting it in a dead heat with Jan and Dean's "Sidewalk Surfin' "(1964) in the First Skate Rock Song Ever sweepstakes.

Also some of these tunes are great demonstrations of how street language can change over time. Witness the '60s vintage "I'm A Leather Boy" by Leather Boy, the kickoff track of Vol 10 of the Pebbles series of compilations (audio here). Now I'm sure the people behind this record were going for a badass biker tough guy image, but as we know the meaning of the term "leatherboy" has changed over time, so now instead of raised fists this song produces gales of laughter. But who knew, right?

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Yet another blog entry for today, but this one's a happy one with a link to a cool song. An online conversation, reminded me of the excellent band Southern Culture on the Skids a band it is almost impossible not to like. They have a goofy hillbilly kitsch persona, (reflected in some hilarious cover art.) but behind the humor lurks some great hooky tunes, and terrific playing. I saw these guys at Maxwell's in Hoboken a few years back and they were excellent. The site includes numerous .mp3s, including one of the irresistible "Banana Puddin' ". If that song dosen't put a grin on you're face and make your toes tap then you are either a corpse or a communist. When I saw them perform live, during the song "Eight Piece Box" they threw chicken wings to the crowd. I can only imagine what happened during this tune.

roe, I gotcher pudding, right here...
Another really scary search engine refferral in my logs this morning. Sims Hygeine Objects. Apparently it's that time of the vritual month. They need some Simpax, I guess. Or maybe some Simmer's Eve? Or even VagiSim?

In any case, we're fresh out here, man...
My local radio station has been playing Aerosmith's version of "Come Together" constantly lately. I'll hear those drumbeats and get all psyched to hear John Lennon's voice and then I'll be treated to Steven Tyler. Urgh!

Look, I like Aerosmith. Toys in The Attic was a staple of my teenage years, "Sweet Emotion" still makes me smile, and I listened to "Angel" on a nearly endless loop after a breakup once. I just think they should've packed it in after Pump, and not become a mediocre power ballad band. Besides this is a BEATLES song we're talking about here! I'm not saying that the Fab Four are sacred cows or anything, but there's no way anyone can tell me Aerosmith's version is better. This all reminds of this moron I knew in college who was convinced that Winger's version of "Purple Haze" was better than Hendrix's. Needless to say I avoided contact with this individual thereafter.

I blame bad radio of the Clear Channel variety for this and I'm not alone. Not only has modern commercial radio made the airwaves an incredibly bland place but they seem to be warping younger fans vision of music history as well. I remember when I lived in Miami, the local station had one of those best of all time weekends and a Pink Floyd song was at number 5, which is certainly understandable. Problem is it was "On The Turning Away" from the post-Roger Waters ersatz Floyd. So apparently a whole generation views that stuff as classic rock, I'm wondering if they've ever heard Dark Side of the Moon, let alone any of the Syd Barrett stuff.

'Why bitch so much, Jon?' I can hear you saying, 'commercial radio always sucked.' Problem is it didn't. As a kid and a teenager, I grew up listening to the late, lamented WNEW-FM(whose history is detailed in this book) and WCBS-FM the last great oldies station in the country, both of which helped turn me into a hopeless music geek. We need this kind of programming back, somehow. I've started a more general Mefi thread on the same topic, more or less. I just wanted to bitch in more detail here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

The answer to the mystery song lyric in the thread this morning is my new personal anthem, and a heartfelt hymn to that most underrated of the seven deadly sins-sloth:

Remote control is in my hand again

I can change the channel but

I can't change what I am

I'm wasting time, I know that I don't cry

Got a pocketful of tommorows to try

Another one on the couch

I hear the phone, but I just let it ring

My leg's not broke, my arm's not in a sling

I oughta get outside, get up and move

Why should I bother, I've got nothing to prove

Sit back, relax and slouch...

I vote for nothing, I've got nothing to do

My freinds are all at home doing nothing, too

I'm fine and dandy, yes I'm at home

My time's the only thing that I can call my own

That's what it's all about...

There's nothing I don't doubt, nothing I can't live without....

On the couch.....

-'On the Couch' by the Supersuckers.

*thumps fist over heart*

Right on, brothers.

A few peices of advice for technology shoppers:

Don't wait until one hour into a presentation to tell the salesperson that you're just looking and won't be buying for two months. First of all, two months from now the system you've spec-ed out will probabaly have changed completely. Second of all, by taking up that much of his time under false pretenses, you're taking him away making actual sales, in effect taking food of of his table. I'm not saying tire-kickers don't deserve coureous service, just that telling them up front that you are just looking for information let's him know to give you the Cliff's Notes version.

Second, for all you FNN watching wanna be Warren Buffetts out there, don't ask us how the merger or stock spinoff you heard about is going. They don't invite us clock-punchers into the board meetings, and when we get home the last thing we wanna hear about is the company we work for, so you probably know more than we do. Not to mention, even if we did know, do you think we'd be allowed to tell you?

*deep breath*

OK, that's better. On a lighter note, I was reading this Metafilter thread and just was amazed at the level of discourse and knowledge in the room. Looking at my screen made me think of that Beavis and Butthead where they watch a Violent Femmes video and Beavis says "These guys look like they went to school and like paid attention, huh-huh." That they did, that they did. I apparently was roaming the halls that period. Not saying I'm dumb mind you, but Jeebas, I seem to have missed a lot. I'll fill in the blanks somehow, I hate not knowing stuff that turns out to be important.
As if business wasn't slow enough here, the property owners decided to repave the whole front parking lot of the strip mall, so now the people who do come in have no place to park. Plus in the grand tradition of Nasal Assault Week, the hot tar smell is seeping in and making us all nauseous.

It sad in a way, this nonstop parade of shambolic cluelessness, but at least it's funny.
I'm up so I might as well blog. My house is apparently the lovers lane for the local cat population, I've discovered. They're a horny bunch too. Although, it dosen't sound like they're haveg a good time, the feline orgy seems to go on all night. The noise kept me awake, but hey, at least someone's getting laid around here.

Don't fret too much about me, by the way, I't's another day and I'm back on the horse. What was it Paul Westerberg said, "One more chance to get it all wrong, One more night to get it half right..." but then again he also said "the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting drunk,"** so I may have to look elsewhere for guidance.

**those who can name which songs will be CMF's(Certified 'Mats Fanatics)with all rights and priviliges pertaining thereto.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Hello, everybody.

Thre's no easy way to say what I'm about to say so I'll just tell you all what happened. My car died on me in a Starbuck's parking lot on the way home from work. I called my roommate(the famous Lisa) and she wasn't home. I suppose I could've called my parents, but I just couldn't face telling them all the bad news I'd have to give them about my situation of late. So, I was stuck with some time to kill. Long story short, I walked over to a convienince store and bought a 40 of beer and a pack of cigarretes and consumed them both sitting in the woods nearby. Believe me, I feel miserable about it. Without my car, I'm gonna have to get up at 5:00 am to drive Lisa to the train station tomorrow morning. I'll consider that my penance.

I don't know how I'm gonna pay to fix this car, but I'll figure something out. I've made a grand mess of things, I suppose. I've squandered a lot of oppurtunities, and I have no excuses for my various fuck-ups in this life. I'm especially ashamed for caving so soon and for using this blog as a cry for attention. I'm also a bit wigged that the people in my life I feel closest to right now are a bunch of pixels on a screen, but there ya go, I guess.

I just wanted to do something right for a change and I seem to have botched it. I suppose I'll get back on the horse somehow. People have come back from worse, I guess, but I guess I need help from whoever I can gather. I know you all got your own problems, but I just feel horrible for fucking up again.
There was an SUV outside the store a few minutes ago blasting it's bass so loud that the entire store was shaking. It was like being inside a giant heart.

Also, when you see anyone over the age of 18 wearing stylish headgear titled off to the side at a jaunty angle a la Scotty from The Little Rascals, do you have the irresistable urge to grab his brim, slam it down on his head and straighten it, while yanking up his baggy pants for good measure, or is that just me?

Actually, I should say some nice stuff about hip-hop seeing as I've been a fan since I was like 13, and I promise I will in my next musicblog, but some of the by-products drive me nuts.
I just feilded a call from someone who asked if we serviced PC's. I said, not at this location but named two nearby ones that do. "Which ones closer?" he asked. Oh lovely I thought to myself I'm supposed to know where you are? What am I a fucking spy sattelite? I've also had to explain what a graphics card is for the fifteenth time this month, and answered the question "Does this come with Windows?" for the umpteenth time. I'm so sick of the same stupid questions. I want new and exciting stupid questions, dammit. Plus I'm amazed the number of different ways there are to mispronounce the word "Celeron*"

But you don't let this shit get to you. I'll just say this; making stuff is cool and can keep you sane. I'm amazed it took me this long to figure that out.

*Kelleron, Seler-i-on, Seal-ron, Selerium, KalRon, and of there's always the Final Jeopardy contender who came in and asked if he could get a Pentium Celeron in his machine. These people will eventually find their way online. Be very afraid.

Last time I went to the laundromat, like always, I took a platic cup fulla quarters with me. Spaceshot that I am it's remained in one of my '93 Escort's cupholders for about a week now. The cupholder next to it has, of course, been holding cups of coffee, which on my bumpy commute, splashes around. Plus it's been getting hot lately. So sitting in my car is a plastic cup full of of hot coffee-scented change, which I'll naturally use to buy more coffee.This seems symbolic to me somehow, although of what I'm not sure.

Monday, June 17, 2002

Ok, having made it home from work and sparked and resolved a minor controversy over at shannon's joint, I'm feeling much better now. I've been chipping away at my jars of pickled sausage and macadamia nuts and working my way through a 12-pack of Mug root beer. I fired my playlist up in the E's for some reason and I'm just digging on the juxtapositions, the Electric Prunes bleeding into Elf, into Elf Power, into "My Confusion" by the Elite then Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack's "House of Blue Light", then Elliot Smith's live cover of "Thirteen." It's all so terrifically jarring if I may toot my own horn. Elmore James "Blues Before Sunrise" is on deck.

But anyways, I picked up a copy of the latest dead tree version of Outre on my recent trip into the Big Apple. I got it mainly for the Hendrix cover story, but it included a few pages of ads for collections of "hygeine films" from the '50s and '60's. My childhood, the mid to late 70's, was kind of the twilight of this noble genre. This collection includes a flick with the inspiring title Joan Avoids a Cold. I was lost in contemplation of just how much cinematic excitement could possibly be wrenched from a premise of avoiding something, when I read the synopsis:

Joan catches a cold and ends up infecting everyone. The rest of the film is spent scaremongering about the cold virus and how easy it is to infect others. In fact, this film makes colds look worse than ebola. Scary says: "If people followed this film no one would ever leave their home!"

Well, good greif, that's a misleading title, huh? Still sounds like a must-see, though.

Side developement: 5 minutes ago, I ate my first ever slice of salami. I have been avoiding this food since childhood for reasons that now escape me. It was delicious. First sauerkraut, then nuts(peanuts especially) now salami.I'm really starting to feel gypped here. If there's any other great pleasures of life I'm missing out on, please feel free to tell me.
Apparently, the other day I forgot to file some sheet of paper of absolutely vital importance to the company, so me and a coworker had to scour the store for it, up to and including the office garbage pail, which hadn't been emptied in 3 days.The smell was lovely, of course. Apparently it's Nasal Assault Week here.

A co-worker saw us digging.

"What're you looking for?"He asked.

I looked back at him, "My last shred of self-respect."

I know, I know, if you don't like it quit your bitching and leave. Believe me, I'm working on it. I know that before going on a job hunt, one should assess one's skills and aptitudes. I'm just absolutely terrified that I'll take some test and it'll say,

"You are ideally suited for an exciting career in Retail Sales and Customer Service, " in which case the next entry on my resume would read "spree killer." I know that all jobs suck and that the grass is always greener and all that shit. But right at this moment, anything-basket weaving, mortuary beautician, zookeeper, you name it- would be preferable to asking yet another irked human how I can help them today.*

Just to keep this from becoming a complete kvetch klatsch, I'm gonna toss in a periodical recommendation. Go check out the print edition of Wax Poetics, an amazing new magazine about hip-hop and R&B music and a broad swath of related culture. This is obviously a labor of love. The production values are very high for an independent project and the writing is uniformily good. The interview the legendary drummer Bernard 'Pretty' Purdie is alone worth the price. The web site has some content, but trust me, shell out for the dead trees.

*I'm not kidding about making some changes, if anybody's got advice or ideas, I'm listening.

Breaking News: VFTC is the Netscape Search's #61 hit for Flintstone Porn.

Y'know, I shaved less than an hour ago and my face already feels stubbly. Somebody musta slipped some hormones into my Lucky Charms. If your in a nightclub facial fuzz can make you look all devil-may-care and shit, but in retail sales it makes you look shifty and disreputable. Perhaps I should buy some of that Epil-Stop shit and slap it all over my face, although I have a feeling it'd make me look sandblasted. I do so miss my hirsuite days sometimes. Of course, it is possible to go to the other extreme in terms of grooming, the guy I just waited on apparently bathed in Binaca and rubbed Aqua-Fresh on his chest before leaving the house this morning. I should introduce him to shit sandwich guy from the other day. They could have a Texas Death Match of Odor or something.

More bloggin' at lunch.
You ever have one of those peer-to-peer nights when things just seem to click? Some dude(or dudette for all I know) was downloading all of my garage and R&B stuff so I browsed him and lo and behold our tastes were very similar yet complementary, so I nabbed about 50 tracks offa him, lots of '60s garage and Hammond B-3 organ jazz mainly. Since we both were queued around 10 deep there was no worry about the other going offline. Spiffy. My list grows. Lisa used to ask me why I was so meticulous about my .mp3 list and so careless about everything else, I said because that list was the closest, I'd ever come to an actual accomplishment, dammit, so I was gonna be protective as hell of it.

While were on the subject, lately over the net, I'm meeting truckloads of female music geeks. Now, just where the hell are y'all coming from? Because back in my heavy duty record raccoon days, the only girls we saw in my old vinyl haunts were girlfreinds hanging on the arms of some of the better looking guys, and little punkette chicks who we figured wre just into it for the style and to meet band guys. Not to mention the atmosphere was kinda boys club in the extreme. For a while I had this theory that all the record geeks were subconciously choosing their pastime to avoid dealing with women. With all the damn songs about love and heartbreak we had absorbed, it wasn't actually necessary to interface with real girls was it? Of course the presence of all the geekettes throws a rather significant monkey wrench into my theory. Hell, if the 16 year old Jon had met a girl with a remotely compatible record collection to his own, he'd probably be living on a desert island with her to this day. I was wrong I suppose, but of course that's nothing new. Yet another boat that sailed while I was in the lounge sipping coffee I guess.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

I'm going to posit a fairly weird idea here. Country music has, as far as women are concerned, a reputation for being behind the times, if not downright reactionary. I propose to you that, not only is this reputation undeserved, but that within the country and western genre lurks some of the most pro-female music ever made. Not only that but because of it's popularity and accesiblilty, this pro-female music has far more potentional to actually affect change than a battalion of Holly Near "womyn's music" types. I'm not saying that genre is without merit, mind you, merely that C&W is a far more powerful force and, if you'll allow me a little personal preference here, much easier on the ears. I am also aware that some of the songs I will cite in this essay are written by men, but they are performed by, and most importantly listened to by women, which makes all the difference.

First of all, the roots of feminist country go pretty deep. It began one could say back in 1952. Balladeer Hank Thompson had a massive country hit with the song "The Wild Side of Life", a barrom weeper in which a lonely drunk blames his downfall on tempting women, singing "I didn't know God made Honky Tonk angels..." Later that year, Kitty Wells came out with her equally popular answer record "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" in which she throws the blame right back at ol' Hank's feet. Given the tenor of the times, this was a pretty ballsy move.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the pro-woman stance in this music is that rather than offer self-indulgent navel gazing or inchoate rage against an abstract "patriarchy" , it's stories unfold within the boundaries of everyday life recognizable to your average prosaic American. Rather than try to deconstruct semantics, this music attempts to guide you through the maze of relations under your own roof. One earthshaking example of this is Loretta Lynn's 1975 hymn to contraception "The Pill" in which she tells her husband, in so many words, that she's "tearin' down your brooder house" and refuses to remain barefoot and pregnant as the stereotype would have it. As a former teenage bride who's had over 10 children, Loretta knows of which she speaks as well.

Continuing in Loretta's tradition is Deana Carter's "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" a spookily accurate portrayal of a wife trapped in a loveless working-class marriage, that has it's protagonist walk out the door with a clear conscience, something altogether rare to hear from a woman's point of view in popular music. The most powerful manifestation of this cowgirl womanism probably came from the platinum-selling Dixie Chicks. Their song "Goodbye Earl"(lyrics) that has two high school freinds kill an abusive husband. I remember watching a televised Dixie Chicks concert where the audience was something like 80% girls between 13 and 20, and it was a pretty inspiring sight to see an arena full of them pump their fists in the air and shout "Earl had to Die!"

This is mot to mention that all the songs I've mentioned have terrifc vocal and instrumental hooks, excellent lyrics and productions as well-all the ingredients of great popular(and populist) music, thus guaranteeing that they'll seep into the popular consciousness. So, now all of us pro-female types can enjoy our twang guilt free.

I have audio of all these songs, if anyone needs further convincing...
Okay, I'm embarking on a couple of missions here.

First off, I finally dragged that old PII 450 out of the basement and set it up in the front room. I'm minus one power cord sadly, so I'll have to kite one from work. but that's no big deal. I'm gonna hoover a few files off it, then wipe the C: drive and install an old copy of Red Hat Linux that I have lying around and just put myself through bootcamp.

Second I spent the morning looking at the ads in the Village Voice for computer training. The goal here is to get enough skills to get a job that I can actually feel human doing, make more than a subsistence wage at, and that will leave me enough time and comfort to pursue something besides boozing and porn-surfing at the end of the workday.

I'm thinking of getting some Cisco certification since I remember helping the installer from corporate set up the server and workstations when I opened this place, and I remember it was actually kind of fun. I also figure to take some Web programming stuff, too, beacuse I'm actually starting to enjoy seeing what I've created online and I wanna be better at it. I've seen ads for Certified Internet Webmaster training that seem to cover the core technologies, but for all I know this could be some kind of bullshit certification, so I gotta investigate more. If any of you guys have advice or info on how to proceed with this stuff, let me know.

I also know that it's gonna have to be some kinda classroom training, because if you leave me alone, I'll be too easily distracted by shiny objects to get anything done. This will be tremendously weird because I haven't set foot in a classroom in 12 years and back then i was usually either napping, sipping coffee to cut through a hangover, or mentally undressing the girl sitting in front of me, to actually learn anything. Going to school voluntarily to actually gain knowledge is an entirely new thing for me. But, hey, I've met some absolute morons who are doing okay in the IT and Web world and I remember I was a pretty damn good BASIC programmer at 12 before I bailed on it, so there's no reason I couldn't be again.

I think the reason I'm saying all this shit publicly is because if I don't follow through on it, you jokers will call bullshit on me and I need that extra motivation. So we'll see how this turns out. Now I'm gonna take a shower and go run down to the bookstore for a while to do some investigating. Then I'm gonna come home and do a little music blogging. All that Hemingway/Bukowski mythology about self-destruction and creativty is just that, mythology. Those guys were great artists in spite of their bad habits, not because of them. It's a lot easier to make cool stuff when your head is clear, so I think things can only get better.

*begins humming theme from Rocky*