Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Arms, Distance: Now On Wordpress

Sorry Blogger. You no give me stats, and no love. I got shizzle blowin' up on Wordpress already, so this is just to consolidate stuff:

Oh. I'm also still contributing to the Chicago arts & culture scene over at UR Chicago too.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Coldplay: Follow-up Thoughts

Really good comments from my pals Chuck and Tim, and also in a few drunken bar conversations this week. A few more points, and clarifications on my Colplay rant below:

Bombastic, challenging albums will always exist, thank God. I have nothing against broad experimentalism (even when it is unsuccessful), and quite frankly would hope every artist continually pushes themselves to create, and challenge their own fans in the process.

Songs like Deathcab For Cutie's new “I Will Possess Your Heart,” the soaring Sam’s Town, even Green Day’s concept-y American Idiot are all good examples of this ... and all good albums. I’d also throw out there Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Half the Radiohead catalog, and as you guys mentioned: Pet Sounds and Sgt Pepper, irrefutably yes; incredible albums that redefined pop music. Also, the failures … Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, Bob Dylan’s Street Legal, these are bold movements, sometimes embraced, sometimes disregarded.

A lot of those albums and songs we’ve listed above challenge the rules of rock music, be it in content or sonically, and prove you can create (and succeed?) outside “the formula”, and ultimately push what people consider popular music.

I think Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head is an incredible album, a completely unexpected jump, and rightly heralded as one of the best albums of 2000. Rush... could be added to those albums listed above -- an LP that changed the way you think about a band and their capability to expess. For Coldplay, that album was sonically daring, revolutionary, even confrontational, but this success exists completely outside the realm of injecting yourself in socio-political conflicts.

I’m now referring directly to the “Violet Hill” video (released virally-only). It opens up with Department of Defense test colorbars, a rocket missle launch with Bush overdubbed with monkey sound effects. The rest of the video focuses on various political figures dancing, bomb/firework footage, and George Dubbs conducting a "war orchestra” while Tony Blair plays backup guitar.

Here’s the thing: This is very “safe” criticism. They’re taking potshots at Blair, who stepped down from being the British PM more than a year ago, and a lame-duck President who is already the most universally-loathed man to ever hold the position. This is easy, safe, empty criticism.

Mind you, criticizing these two was not always okay to do, and had this focused outrage came out 2+ years ago, I would be a lot more impressed and receptive to the message. For instance the Dixie Chicks (of all bands) who saw massive radio station boycotts, their records burned, and received death threats after expressing their displeasure with the Texas-born Prez.

Or, when Conor Oberst sang “When The President Talks to God,” live on The Tonight Show, asking the middle American crowd if they think George Bush “ever smells his own bullshit,” live on national television; three years ago. At that point, as I mentioned before, Chris Martin was more concerned about making trade fair.

Coldplay alt video for "Violet Hill" 5/20/08:

Bright Eyes, Live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno ~5/04/05:

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Never-Ending Polaroid

People take pictures of each other / Just to prove that they really
Bob Nanna (Braid, Hey Mercedes, City on Film) has allowed the world to see his on-going “Never-Ending Polaroid” project, now on display until July 8th at the Threadless retail store on Broadway. Nanna, along with tourmate Brian Shorttall came up with the idea nearly a decade ago, and have kept the visual string going much longer than anyone ever anticipated.

It should be stressed that these are Polaroid images, which is significant in a few ways. Firstly, I like the juxtaposition of the medium; the immediate gratification a Polaroid image provides, combined with the longevity and diligence this project demanded. Also, because these are Polaroids, each one of these photos in one-of-a-kind, unedited, and unphotoshopable, pulled from the camera by Bob (or in some cases Brian), and most likely shared with the subject before it was dutifully filed away.

On one level, the project can be appreciated by scope alone. I can’t imagine years of lugging a camera around, and keeping track of EVERY picture its ever taken (as well as the name and relationship to the subject). But a further significance is embodied in the photos because Nanna, a journeyman of the emo/indie scene, is behind the lens. The names and faces of recent rock history pop up in-between Bob’s family, friends, co-workers and roommates. Keep your eyes peeled for members of Fugazi, Death Cab for Cutie, Jets to Brazil, Weezer, Get Up Kids and a bazillion other indie bands and kids captured in a never-ending string of picture-in-picture.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Coldplay: Gonna Say Somethin'

First things first, I must admit I really like Coldplay. Dammit. It’s true. Perhaps this is why I’m about to be hard on them.

Remember when Coldplay was the sleepy London band that gladly accepted the “music for bedwetters” tag, and wrote obtuse guitar-led ballads and strolled on the beach in slow-motion at dawn? I miss that band. From what I’ve heard of the new leaked album, that band is completely and totally gone.

Chris Martin and crew have, in four albums within a decade, attempted to cultivate the sort of grand sound and message that U2 worked nearly three times longer to cultivate, and even now U2’s preaching still seems like a fight for relevancy. I’m not saying setting your sights on being the next U2 is a bad idea--I can’t think of another band that’s stayed more-or-less “important” for as long as they have.

To me, Coldplay’s current trajectory seems baffling. With an upcoming double-named LP like Viva La Vida or Death and all His Friends, you know they’re aiming for a “statement” album, and god bless ‘em for giving it a go.

If the opening single, "Violet Hill”, is anything to judge by, the upcoming album is a soaring political and spiritual (and self-deifying) CD that forgoes anything you might have liked about 2000 A.D. Coldplay. For a band whose debut album, Parachutes, featured 10 tracks of which only three tracks had more than one-word titles and none of which veered away from troubled love-drunk troubadour territory, this is an suspect undertaking.

The thing that irks me the most is that I don’t know why Coldplay feels it’s their place to produce some sort of politically, socially, and spiritually conscious album. Have they discovered something since the disappointing X&Y that caused a revelation about modern times?

2000’s Parachutes rolled in with sweet guitar strum and nondescript lovelorness, and the impressive Rush of Blood to the Head followed in 2002. Hmm, maybe at that point, 2002, with 9/11 and London Subway Bombing memories still raw, it would’ve been a good time to say something about something. No dice. Coldplay upped the bombast, but the lyrics still wallowed in romantic vagaries and abstract forlornness. Though, now that I think about it, Martin seemed very concerned with Free Trade at that point. Hey, what happened to that?

So. Can stadium-filling bands make serious statements? Yes. They Can. Do stadium-filling bands really make a difference? I don't think so. They can succeed in looking serious, but then your encore is “Yellow” and then it all goes to shit.

Now that I’ve lambasted a band whose music I may or may not have used for College-era seduction purposes, we’ll have to sit back and see. Maybe they’ll pull it off. Maybe Coldplay will have a seat at the G8 convention. Maybe people buying 80$ arena seats will absorb whatever message of universality and global consciousness Martin is communicating. That would be an incredible and wonderful thing, and I will gratefully write an adoring and redeeming retraction.

P.S. “Life in Technicolor” sounds fucking great.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jeremy Bentham

I suddenly have an interest in Jeremy Bentham. I have no idea. It came to me in a dream. Oh, also, shirt sales at the green-friendly TeeCycle.Org are going really well. Good times all around.

Thanks Wikipedia:

Jeremy Bentham
Birth 15 February 1748 London, England
Death 6 June 1832 London, England

Influenced by John Locke, David Hume, Baron de Montesquieu, Claude Adrien Helvétius, Thomas Hobbes

Influenced John Stuart Mill, Michel Foucault, Peter Singer, Iain King, John Austin

Jeremy Bentham (15 February 1748–6 June 1832) was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He was a political radical, and a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law. He is best known for his advocacy of utilitarianism, for the concept of animal rights,[1][2] and his opposition to the idea of natural rights, with his oft-quoted statement that the idea of such rights is "nonsense upon stilts."[3] He also influenced the development of welfarism.[4]

He became known as one of the most influential of the utilitarians, through his own work and that of his students. These included his secretary and collaborator on the utilitarian school of philosophy, James Mill; James Mill's son John Stuart Mill; and several political leaders including Robert Owen, who later became a founder of socialism. He is also considered the godfather of University College London.

Bentham's position included arguments in favour of individual and economic freedom, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the end of slavery, the abolition of physical punishment (including that of children), the right to divorce, free trade, usury,[5] and the decriminalization of homosexuality.[6][7]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Whew. Phew. That Was Fast

Hi Chicago!

The Promoter Ordinance that I just mentioned earlier today has been pulled from the table. Thanks to lots of concerned citizens andTONS of letters going to local aldermen. As of right now, the main site, SaveChicagoCulture had this to say:

I’ll get the details and post them ASAP.

As of now there's 5,700 comments on the S.C.C. blog. So, yeah. Are they excited or what? Thank's all for now, but remember the ordinance is going back to committee, and may get adressed in another month or so, so keep your eyes peeled. Jim DeRo's got more thoughts about it, check out is just-updated blog post here.

Made aware of concerns in many corners of Chicago's arts communities, Schulter asked DBA for more facts and figures about the alleged "problem venues" and "underground promoters" that the ordinance was designed to curtail. Some of those who attended the meeting said DBA had to admit that it had no hard information and that it has not formally studied the extent of the alleged problem that the law was crafted to address; they had only the anecdotal evidence of the single tragic incident at the E2 Nightclub five years ago.

Ouch. Well, let's hope this can facilitate an open-forum type discussion among the committe and the city's reputable venue owner/operators. Check out Chicago Tonight tonight (WTTW) at 7pm to see a roundtable about this. Huzzah, etc.


Chicago Music Venues in Trubbs?

Dear Anyone Who Cares about Culture in Chicago,

On Wednesday 5/14, Chicago City Council is planning on (quickly and quietly) voting on an ordinance that would "severely impede small music venues from hosting and promoting live music."

The ordinance would require all venues with a capacity of over 100 people to:

  • Purchase an event promoter license that could cost as much as $2000 every two years
  • Possess liability insurance of $300,000.
  • Subject the possesor of the license/insurance to finger-printing and background checks.

The idea is to crack down on illegal promoters and make venues safer for the public, but the steps involved seem poorly thought-out, and hastily assmebled.

The new ordinance will make it even more difficult for DIY promoters,and smaller/non-established venues to put on a performance (be it music, theatre or art) without some very expensive regulations.

As written elsewhere, "It could effectively nullify Chicago's music scene, fracture our creative communities and send young artists to other cities that are more supportive of local [...] events."

From Sun Time music critic Jim DeRogatis' blog:

“'The language of the ordinance as drafted unnecessarily and perhaps prohibitively increases the cost of doing business for any promoter seeking to work with PPA- [public place of amusement] licensed music venues, including, among many others, Schuba’s, Buddy Guy’s Legends, the Vic Theater, the Riviera Theater, the Metro, the Hideout, Uncommon Ground and Martyr’s,' said Alligator Records founder and CMC board member Bruce Iglauer."

Spread the word, call your Alderman, do whatever but DO IT FAST please.



Find your Alderman here: http://www.chicityclerk.com/citycouncil/alderman/find.html

Offical Website: http://savechicagoculture. org/

Jim DeRo's Blog: http://blogs.suntimes.com/derogatis/2008/05/update_musical_advocates_gear.html

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's been three...

...days since I last shamelessly plugged a fun 'lil side project TeeCycle.Org

check this shizzle we just put up this week:

And there's new ones every flippin' day. Yeah. It's like dat.

Friday, May 02, 2008

TeeCycle... in the news and in your drawers

Can I say how jazzed I am about this.... though I have very little to do with most of it so far?

T-Shits are selling like hotcakes! If hotcakes were nearly as cool as vintage cotton awesomness. These two are available no-more *sad face*:

Check out Tim, talkin' tees in the (Marquette) Tribune here:

Cigelske, his wife Jess and friend Brian Battle (both Marquette alumni), post new pictures of T-shirts daily on the blog (with them as models). The idea for the business came to him last fall, he said."I was picking through an issue of Rolling Stone and found a glut of ads in the back for T-shirt companies," Cigelske said. "They all seemed to be kind of the same companies selling these $20 shirts with semi-clever slogans that people would get sick of in two weeks if they bought it."
Also Gabbing about TeeCycle.Org, the end of the pop-collar era, and why The Super Mario Bros. trump The Blues Brothers on Kramp & Adler's morning show on 102.1: (mp3 podcast here)

Plus a nice shout-out from T-Critic today who's blogging 'bout "T-Shirts, T-Shirt Companies, and Things That Should Be T-Shirts".

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Reduse, "Ruse", and Recycle... I'll stand by it.

Who said my liberal arts college education doesn't come in handy?! We just got a shout out in the Marquette Tribune. Everything's coming up Battle!

Check out this awesomeness that Tim just put up on TeeCycle:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thaw Out

Though it's a blustery 50-degrees in Chicago today, it is still technically Spring! Huzzah. And with Spring comes a mix that, hopefully, will warm y'all up a bit.

"Thaw Out" Mix:

download here: http://download.yousendit.com/7DF299D5679529DD

  1. Thaw Out (Intro)
  2. Sound and Vision The Sea And Cake
  3. Cool Kids Keep [Styrofoam Remix] American Analog Set
  4. Looks Just Like the Sun Broken Social Scene
  5. Shadows White Williams
  6. Temptation New Order
  7. You're Kidding Aren't You? The Field Mice
  8. Into Eternity Jens Lekman
  9. Heart It Races Architecture In Helsinki
  10. Steal My Sunshine Len
  11. You!Me!Dancing! Los Campesinos!
  12. All My Friends Franz Ferdinand

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Speed Reviews

m83: Saturdays = Youth

Best album Anthony Gonzalez has put out BY FAR. The rolling sonic washout of "shoegaze" is still in the mix here, but the vocals, dreamy as they are, are put to the forefront. The thick electro dissipates a bit to make these gorgeous songs shimmer without overwhelming you. m83 was never “inaccessible”, but this one hits the pop palate a lot more than his previous work. A few reviews point out this could be the background synth soundtrack to a never-made Brat Pack movie... sounds crazy, but totally true, and it totally works.

RIYL: French electro, stereo bliss, John Hughes

MP3: "Graveyard Girl"

Biirde: Catherine Avenue

A well-paced strummy summer winner. Definite Rilo Kiley L.A. sound going on here with deliberate midwesterness with some top-of-the-line west coast production values. It’s an exercise that’s pop one minute but often wanders into Ballad Country. Wistful guys and girls swap songs and versus, while songs build and fade tastefully. “Catherine Avenue” is the single they’re pushing (on the website), but the real winner is the cover of “Who Were You Thinkin’ Of” where charmingly hilarious lyrics are underlayed by a jaunty organ wheeled into the studio straight from Haight and Ashbury.

RIYL: The 1900’s, Saddle Creek Records, California mythos

MP3: "Who Were You Thinkin' Of"

Cut Copy: In Ghost ColorsI’m trying to limit the number of Madchester-esque dance/pop bands I claim to love, but I can’t deny that this is a flippin’ great album. A record meant for oscillating wildly to on beer-soaked bar floors and shiny disco ones (and maybe Pitchfork Festival maybe?! Plllllease?!). These guys would tear up the outfield grass in no time. In Ghost Colours will surely usurp Justice’s Cross as THE default records to spin this season -- it's what the Junior Boys would sounds like if they stopped being ethereal and just shook their asses. Standouts include "Out There On the Ice", "Lights and Music" and the can't-miss club banger "Hearts on Fire".

MP3: Hearts on Fire 

RIYL: half-dancing, half-bouncing, New Order

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

With our powers combined...

Well, my overly ambitious plan to sell off lots of my old (but nonetheless awesome) tee's was just that -- a bit too ambitious. I lack the get-up-and-go to get up and blog about all my shirts.

Timbo to the rescue!

Thankfully Milwaukee's second-best export (just behind OldStyle), MKE Magazine's Tim Cigelske is letting me join up with his brilliant (and eco-concious) take on thrift-store shirt sales: TeeCycle.org. Tim was doing something very close to what I was thinking, except, you know, more selflessly and environmentally-friendly.

Tim makes some excellent points that I never even considered -- why buy mass-produced new shirts that go through extra processes to appear vintage, when you can buy a cheaper, rarer, actual vintage shirts? Especially with part of the cost going directly back into preserving urban green space. There's all sorts of good karma going on here.

The shirts are sorted by tags, and will be on sale for a flat rate (including shipping), with one dollar of every purchase going towards local charity. I'll be posting tee's up on that site, so get the RSS from http://www.teecycle.org/ and start shrit-shoppin':

Teecycle believes that your T-shirt says a lot about you, whether you know it or not.

When you buy off a rack in a department store, it says you have limited imagination, support giant corporate profits and have thousands of replicas. Who wants that?

When you own a Teecycle shirt, it says you have a unique one-of-a-kind item of clothing. It also says you care about the environment by keeping a perfectly usable item out of the landfill.

Each Teecycle shirt is hand-selected from rummage sales, thrift stores and, in a few cases, friend's closets. Just not a rack in a nondescript department store.

Your purchase also supports the River Revitalization Foundation. $1 of each sale is donated to restore urban river trails and waterways in the Milwaukee area.

First things first: Tim, Jess and I all agreed I'm going to need to find a model with a formidable rack to match pace with our Milwaukee neighbor.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The cab showed up. Always a small triumph, even though that’s what they’re paid to do.

“Where to?”

“Ummm, Belmont and Sheffield,” I say.

From the back, I’m immediately impressed by the cabbie. The seat is tidy, no holes in the cushions, and the seat belts aren’t stuck in the crease of the seat where change, and crumbs, and God knows what else gathers. Plus, the guy looks like he was born to drive a taxi -- rugged but not really dingy at all, maybe mid 40's, black-to-grey hair, accelerating out of stop signs too fast, but very smoothly as cabbies are prone to do.

I wonder what that does for his gas mileage.

Anyways, he’s a solid pedigree of cab driver... as if generations of drivers have developed this man -- his dad must’ve been the Archie Manning of the Livery World. He’s even wearing a newsy cap slightly off-kilter -- a half century out of place but still fitting; an accessory that seems like clichĂ© but something I had to mention anyway.

“Lemmie ask you something”, he says, turning a swift left west onto Logan Boulevard and simultaneously taking the lead in the taxi conversations I usually dread. “How long do you wait for a taxi out here?”

“It usually takes a while. I understand though, it’s pretty far west, there’s probably not any incentive for you guys to get this far out because fares are probably sparse.”

Thoughtful Silence.

The run-on sentence was an attempt to empathize with my “tough life as a cab driver” stereotype. But after blurting it out, I wonder if I’m that transparent yuppie-pioneer, considering 3000 West to be “far west”, asking to be dropped off in Wrigleyville.

“We’ve got this new computer system,” he says, unamused or just disregarding my assertion. “It tracks where we get our calls from, and how often ... ‘supposed to make it more efficient.”

After this information he's quiet again. He zips into another turn, headed North-bound now, as the California Ave Starbucks pans out of my periphery. No one's drinking lattes al-fresco today, it's a sharp November morning.

“Turns out, the majority of the calls for us are in your neighborhood. Hispanics mainly.” He’s speaking demographically here, with no obvious nods towards the pending gentrification of the area.

“Huh,” I say.

I know for every rental space that bookends the blocks of my neighborhood, there are still thousands of brick stand-alone houses, some with porches, some without, some have kids in them, some have the curtains on their picture-windows drawn in the afternoon.

We’re stopped at Cali and Diversey. Olympic Carpets has hastily changed their name to Olympia -- a small city-imposed copyright ordinance in the bid for the 2012 games. You wouldn’t notice it, except for at night, when the “C” in Olympic still shines through the “A” on their light-up sign, making the last letter look slightly exotic, Greek even. The sign on the building reads “Olympi”. I wonder if they’ve fixed their business cards.

With the last left the taxi took he’s already disregarded one of two shortcuts I know through the neighborhood. Avoiding the Western/Elston/Diversey intersection is paramount.

He zooms off the green light, cutting off a driver as we pass under 90/94, and it’s the feeling of an amusement park ride -- loose and freewheeling but secure in the knowledge this is a common experience. No one died yesterday on the ride and no ones going to today or tomorrow. ‘Course, the Tilt-a-Whirl never had to dodge bikes.

My taxi driver takes a right at condo development just past the Orbit Room. 670’s barely audible on the radio as he navigates a tricky diagonal across Elston.

“Howabout them Bears?” he says.

Howabout them indeed. The season’s a joke and I could ramble off about it for the rest of the trip. I relish Bears Talk. It’s a source of pride for me, really. As inept as I am about sports talk, usually riffing on whatever I read last in the Red Eye, The Bears is something I can actually go off on. I don’t know if he knows this, but cabbing it into Lakeview 20 minutes before kickoff, it’s a good conversation to take up. And, anyway, when they’re terrible, it makes for better conversation.

“Oh man,” I say, “it’s rough right now, right? I don’t know about Grossman versus Orton, but Rex is our best shot.” He’s nodding and I know he’s got something to say but I’ve got to keep going. “Grossman’s a great fit for this city.” He makes no sign of finding this an interesting thing to say, but lets me continue. “Chicago runs hot and cold, and if we didn’t have something to complain about, we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves,” I wax philosophically.

“I like Orton,” is the assured reply.

Visions of neckbeards flash though my head as we stop-and-go in a part of Avondale I’ve never seen before. We’re making good time. It’s my turn to wait for the continuation of his preposterous comment.

He doesn’t look over his shoulder when he talks, like other cab drivers. He’s ten-and-two as we whiz by lowrise industrial-looking buildings shutdown for the weekend. They line the North Branch of the river -- set up well-before waterfront apartments made a similar location choice. A spot just off the river wasn’t an aesthetic choice when these places were made, it was probably a rustbelt necessity before the city's collar color shifted.

“He’s not the solution either, but it’s the little things,” he follows up on his Orton retort. The right-turn signal is clicking, but he doesn’t lean towards the wheel to get a better view of traffic. We’re taking a right onto Belmont and there’s scaffolding for a new highrise blocking any chance to make a well-informed turn.

The scaffolding that blocks his view is for a building that, when the i-beam skeleton goes up, will be an imposing structure.

Built on an precipice, those that buy on the east side of the building will have quite a view. From left-to-right there’s the DeVry campus and the mid-century smokestack of Lane Tech High School in the distance. From high above the street, looking east, are the strollers and labradors of Roscoe Village. Scanning further right, a stretch of the industrial river winds south. The river, flanked by a new bike path, disappears under the Diversey bridge that divides the two parts of the Lanthrop Homes Project.

“When I watch Orton play,” says the driver, “he does the fundamentals right. When he fakes a handoff, he does it right. The defense is watching him, hell, WE'RE all watching him, and it’s that second of doubt he creates that makes him a pro.”

I think about Grossman; the first-round, Miami-developled, happy-footed gunslinger versus Orton, the unproven, taller, lankier, slightly disheveled 106th pick from West Lafeyette, Indiana.

My driver swings a right onto Belmont, up over the river then swiftly under the Western Ave viaduct: The street that everyone dreads having to cross. I’m taking mental notes.

View Larger Map

Monday, April 07, 2008

Mobile Art

More photos to erase from my phone but now forever enshrined on the InterBlag:

Outside Zionsville, IN

Form over function: Tall, thin space-efficient San Fransisco townhomes in the wide plains of Indiana.

Writing on the Wall

Most graffiti is a sign of low property value. Not this sucker. If you see Cloudy McSilverRain here tagged near you, it means you'll soon be priced out of your neighborhood.


Poor Steezo -- always parked in the wrong place (but technically the right place) at the wrong time.

McDonalds in Lake Station, IN

Monday, March 24, 2008

Brian's T-Shirts: Classic Embarrassing Emo Tee

In retrospect, there’s something very discomforting about walking in downtown Milwaukee, past vagrants, while wearing a “Vagrant” t-shirt.

At the time of purchase the Vagrant roster was flippin’ sweet – The Get Up Kids, Saves the Day, The Anniversary. And, honestly, I still throw on “D in Detroit” and bounce around a bit, but I’ve more-or-less shook free of the pop-emo genre. Just in time, too. I didn’t take to New Found Glory, I was straight-up confused by At The Drive-In and nearly dodged the Dashboard bullet completely.

But there was a time, about ohhhhh, 8 years ago, when I thought the Vagrant label was da bomb. This was the point I would sit in a dorm, play Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and listen to either Kid A or Very Emergency! after (or instead of) class everyday. I was also working at a coffeehouse so, necessarily, a t-shirt that declared my aptness to read Salinger and make sub-par espresso drinks was crucial.

About the actual shirt: Cherry red, medium-sized, with heavier cotton fabric, in really good shape… (it got taken out of rotation pretty fast, and red’s not really my color).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Let the great experiment begin!

Yeah, so.  Taking photos of all your t-shirts has become a somewhat daunting task.  Well, washing, sorting, shooting, extracting, uploading and BLOGGING about your t-shirts has become slightly tedious.

Especially when I look at a hole-y unevenly bleached t-shirt and think it's going to sell for anything beyond it's cost to mail.  But, it's authentically worn, that's what the kids want these days, right?  Bah.

I'm about a third of the way through.   I've got some good stories about some of them.  I also think the final project poster will eventually take the shape of something very similar to this:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Brian's T-Shirt Project

Perhaps it's a "growing up" thing, maybe it's the fact that Winter is driving me crazy, or maybe it's just the fact I have WAY too many t-shirts. Either way. I need to get rid of most of my T's.

This will be an emotional 'lil farewell -- some of these I've had for 10+ Years. I can't just thrown them out. So, what I've decided to do is EBAY them all off. And then, hopefully, track where each one is, like little cotton orphans.

This is the first google image for the search "cotton orphans":

I digress. So, as the washer/dryer in my apartment basement is working over time this week, I'm ready to get moving on my little project.

Ideally, I'll like to commemorate my losses by making a huge, tiled poster of all my former colorful, sometimes ironic, sometimes stupid t-shirts. Like a T-Shirt Quilt but less stupid. Auction winners (and anyone else that wants one) will also have the option of getting the final poster that will feature all my t-shirts in their new homes.

I'll keep y'all posted but check ArmsDistance.blogspot.com for ongoing heart-felt t-shirt anecdotes, and check my ebay profile for the actual sale of the t-shirts.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Absence, Fonder Hearts, etc.

Hey kids...

I'm here, here and here now... and here still.

'Doesn't mean I don't love you still.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Top 10 Albums of 2007

Well. It's been nearly a year since blizz-ogged on this page. But, I'm inspired by the STiTP/Kerchief Valhalla list, to post my own top 10 of the year. Like I do sometimes, I have to mention albums that are supposedly AWESOME but haven't got my lazy-ass around to listening to.

Top 10 Albums of 2007

10. Y.A.C.H.T., I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real*
This one needs an asterisk. It took till '07 for me to find, and fall head-over-heals with the bleeps, bloops and diary entries of The Blow. Early into 2007 Blow's beatmaker, Jona Bechtolt, marooned singer/songwriter Khaela Maricich to pursue solo work under the name of YACHT. Since then, I've been left alone in a corner with no new Blow to enjoy. Bechtolt's "solo" I Believe in You… consoled me – just like the friend whose consoling words don't help but you appreciate them anyway.

MP3: "See A Penny (Pick It Up)"

9. Wilco, Sky Blue Sky
One guy calls it "dad rock" and gives it a deece review and suddenly everyone's off the Wilco wagon. Poppycock! This album is the real deal. In the last decade we've seen Tweedy grow from the guy that wrote the couplet "We should take a walk / But you're such a fast walker, whoa-oh", to becoming a abstract Dixie Cup Aquarium Drinker, to a Wheel/Bug/Hummingbird, to Jeff Tweedy. After all the band shifts, style shifts (fan base shifts?) Wilco emerged this year, confident in their LP's, walking softly and carrying a big catalog. Tweedy sings sweetly, simply and directly after a few years of his free-associative and abstract lyrics. The band's kraut-rock exercises have been distilled into a few efficient jam-outs. There's just something impressive about Nels Cline, an avant-jazz squall guitarist, reigning in his tendencies enough to play a simple, clean Allman-brothersesque guitar duet. As Lisa Simpson once said – "It's the notes they're not playing."

MP3: "Impossible Germany"

8. Flosstradamus / Kid Sister
Does not releasing a "proper album" mean you can't get any love on year-end lists anymore? Not in this crazy inter-blag world. Although, technically, there's no proper album out, DJ/Mash-up kids Flosstradamus and one of the duo's kid sisters – Kid Sister, are churning out the jams. The bumpin' beats, hip-hop mashups, old-school rhymes, and indie-happy samples have been Chicago dance/bar favorites for a while now, but it's time for the big time. SxSW lost their brains for Floss' remix of Matt & Kim's Yea Yeah, meanwhile Kid Sister's "Pro Nails" found it's way onto Kanye's Can't Tell Me Nothing mixtape and the rest will be history… by the end of next year. Watch your back though Flossy, The Hood Internet's quick on your tail. (Photo Credit: Everyoneisfamous.com)

MP3: Kid Sister "Southside"

MP3: Flosstradamus "Overnight Star"

7. Bishop Allen, The Broken String
It's been nearly half a decade since Bishop Allen dropped the self-released Charm School LP – an album whose hooks and lines you'd catch yourself singing constantly. The groups ring-leaders, Christian Rudder and Justin Rice, recorded the album with a microphone, a pre-amp, and ProTools while trying hard not to annoy their Bishop Allen Drive neighbors in Cambridge, MA. They're a dynamic and fairly prolific pair… aside from the band both have cultivated what seems like their own brand -- Rudder writing the hilarious entertainment section of the now-defunct SparkNotes.com, and co-creating the equally hilarious dating site (OkCupid) while both Rice & Rudder are pseudo-stars of the burgeoning "Mumblecore" film scene (Rice starring in Mutual Appreciation and Rudder as the love interest in Funny Ha-Ha). The Broken String is a triumph of sorts, a culmination of a plan that started more than a year before its release – to support the band by self-releasing an EP each month for an entire year. Each month was a new surprise – a new track that was a sure-fire hit, and the LP, while lacking some of the DIY charisma of the individual EPs, is an album full of pure pop gold. Bishop Allen are as fun as every, but stretch their creative boundries with a latin-tinged "Like Castanets" and the dramatic flair of "The Monitor".

MP3: "Rain"

6. Radiohead, In Rainbows
Perfect timing. Every few years people start forgetting about these Oxfordshire lads they come along and blow the lid off of everything. This time it was more context than content, but the album is solid, and exciting. Most exciting, at least to me, is Thom Yorke using the word "I" again. An interesting question to be posed – Is it a coincidence that the most direct, "pop" album Radiohead has put out in a decade is the one that they're giving away to listeners for whatever they want to pay? I.E., would a challenging album along the lines of Kid A compromise the ultimate commercial success of the album? If so, does operating "free" from the Music Industry effect an artists creative process just as much (or more so) than operating within the system? It's a temple-tapper.

MP3: "Weird Fishes/Apregi"

5. Kanye West, Graduation
What a hilarious twist. Kanye, throwing fits at MTV Europe Awards about Justice v. Simian winning Video of the Year, learned a few lessons about Euro Dance Pop. 1) Synths can be cool 2) Pasty White People can be cool 3) Daft Punk is fucking cool.

MP3: "Flashing Lights"

4. Architecture in Helsinki, Places Like This
There were hankerings. After the last few loops around the U.S., AiH had subtly shifted from a twee band you could dance to, to a dance band you could drink chamomile tea to. Half the band disappeared and all of the sudden these Aussie's were doing fun chant-along world beat tunes. Cameron Bird, who's vocal stylings on their debut LP Fingers Crossed rarely raised above a childish whisper, now growls and yalps and screams – the fun juvenile spirit is still present in the band but now it's like their at recess.

MP3: "Heart It Races"

3. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
Regardless of the criticism that Sound of Silver is nearly a song-for-song repeat of their debut LP, it still sounds better than nearly everything else out there. James Murphy, and his DFA clan can churn out the beats, that much is known. But if S.O.S. is a duplication of LCD Soundsystem it's its doppelganger – imbedding criticism and actual emotion into dance tracks. Sarcasm and cynicism is a refuge (and a cash crop in Williamsburg) and Murphy trumped expectations by turning the scene's discoball mirrors back onto themselves.

MP3: "All My Friends"

2. M.I.A., Kala
Dude. This some crazy shit. "Paper Planes" is easily my favorite song of the year -- with or without gunshots. I LOVED Arular when it dropped and I'm so pleased that her follow-up is just as bombastic, vaguely political, vaguely danceable, but wholly original. I guess I'm happy we live in a cultural climate that an album as globally scatter-brained as this can find such a wide, receptive audience.

MP3: "Paper Planes"

1. The National, Boxer
I'm not a lyrics man. In fact, I'll really only pay attention to the lyrics if the song sufficiently interests me. Lucky for The National, the urgent, heavy but not inaccessible sound begs you to read into their lyrics. Boxer's content, just like its sound, is dark and brooding, but offers glimpses of romance, desperation, charm, and touchstone imagery. Beyond the discussion of the album's cryptic Willy Loman storyline, what can't be stressed enough is that the album is a true pleasure to listen to. A great album all the way through, and an LP that begs you replay it as soon as the last measure ends.

MP3: "Green Gloves"