Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turns Out I Miss Vinyl LPs Afterall

My New Purchase: All Things Must Pass
 I am not much for nostalgia since most of the things I liked when I was younger are better now. I never sit around and daydream “God, I wish this TV only had three stations and I had to get up to adjust the volume.” Or, “Man, ten year old Penthouse magazines I found in the garbage were so much better than internet porn.”

So, I wouldn’t say I was feeling nostalgic in Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights on Saturday – just a bit of longing for the forgotten beauty of vinyl albums which Record Revolution had in bins all around the store. But what did I miss? Was it the sound? Purists will say that vinyl recording most clearly reflected the original intent of the musicians and producers who mixed tracks to precisely translate to LPs – and that their future digital incarnations were merely copies – copies that were cleaned and scrubbed, erasing the imperfections that gave each track and each recording session its own signature. But albums could get scratched and needles could jump, and not being a purist, I never really did miss the recordings.

No, I think what I miss is my record collection. Like a college bound fool, I sold mine before I left for school - an entire box for the price of a keg or two of beer. Mine was not populated with rare bootlegs – I had Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, The Beatles and that Boston album with the flying guitars that looked like spaceships. But it was representative of my high school years – in some way it was part of what defined me. Sure, I can power up my iPod and listen to all these songs in their digital clarity; but I can’t read the liner notes and find out that Pete Willis played guitar on Def Leppard’s High and Dry album. (Rock trivia: Did you know that Tesla’s song, “Song and Emotion” was dedicated to Def Leppard guitarist, the late Steve Clark?)

And I miss the cover art; Bruce Springsteen on Born To Run, his Telecaster slung around his leather jacket; the Beatles looking over the balcony on the 1967-1970 greatest hits album.

Record Revolution (which is still so indie they don’t have a website or a Facebook page) brings all this back. It is like looking through photos from your childhood and wondering what happened to your friend in the picture of the two of you on your bikes in front of your old house. You forgot how much you really liked that kid.

I guess in some way I do miss the scratched records and the jumpy needles. I guess the entire experience has, after all, left me feeling nostalgic.

Record Revolution

1828 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118-1611
(216) 321-7661

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Please Kids, Just Do It

Our recycling container is right next to our regular trash container. I mean right next to it – they are practically conjoined. They are both against the back wall of our garage, equidistant from the kitchen. The recycling container is not located in Anbar Provence. You wouldn’t think this was the case when you hear the banshee-like protestations from my kids when you ask them to take the recycling out.

What I say: Can someone take the recyclables out?

What they hear: Can someone haul three tons of recyclables to Anbar Provence?

What they say: I did it last time.

And this last statement, “I did it last time,” really cuts to the heart of it. No one really knows who did it last time; they just know it was them. Therefore, those recyclables would sit unmolested for months before, God forbid, someone went out of turn. There may be blood sacrifice if for some reason the recycling program was cancelled and someone took them out just one extra time.

“I know you took them out 1,324 times, but I took them out 1,325 times. The only thing that would make this fair would be for me to chop off one of your hands.”

There is no metric that a teenager is more acutely aware of than who did what last. Daily, there is an argument over doing the dinner dishes. We have re-traced dinners for the prior week to arrive back at the current day to decide whose turn it is.

“Monday was pasta, I did those. Tuesday was tacos, you did those. Wednesday – oh crap – we went out for dinner. Well, I would have done them Wednesday. That means tonight is your turn since I would have done them last night and cannot and will not be penalized for going out to dinner. Now, if you let me cut off your hand, I will do them.”

What I said: Can you get the milk for dinner?

What he said: I did it last night. Why do I have to do it again?

What I said: Because you are literally standing at the refrigerator with the door open. IT’S RIGHT THERE – JUST DO IT!”

What I said to myself: Damn, it’s gonna suck when they are gone.

What they said to themselves: Dad is a real jerk-off.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

PSU and College Athletics - Can We Come Back Alive?

All of a sudden, strippers and coke provided by a booster to a college recruit looks like a Pixar film.

Time and a jury will decide if Sandusky, Curley and Schultz are guilty; as well as what shape and form the PSU athletic program will take. There are a lot of questions and calls to not jump to conclusions. Well, there is one question that has already been answered – Division 1 college athletics are not to be trifled with.

PSU was covering their ass at the expense of a child. That is why no one talked to the authorities.

One would like to believe that this is an anomaly; some hideous conflagration of tragic events. It was not. It is systemic of a culture in collegiate sports that puts the program in front of honor and integrity, let alone common decency and humanity. The question that should keep us up at night is not “what happened at PSU?” but, “what else is being hidden in college rec centers and behind weight room doors?”

Is this the trade off we are going to make? What are we willing to sacrifice to see our team hoist the NCAA Tournament trophy or win the BCS?

At a time when kids go to school about twenty-five weeks a year but can play any individual sport fifty-two weeks a year it is appropriate to ask ourselves where we place our priorities. Sports used to be “in addition to…” now they are, “instead of.” You hear a lot of talk these days that there are too many trophies handed out in youth sports, a point I often agreed with. Days like this make me wonder. We turn our back continually on the seedy underworld of college sports. We laugh about cars from agents, cash from boosters and jerseys for free tattoos. That shit is no longer funny.

I read a story once about a mountain climber. He said that there are three things he lives by on every expedition; “Come back alive, come back as friends and complete our objective. In that order.” Right now, I just hope we come back alive.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

10,000 Views - A Brief Q & A

How it all started
As I reach 10,000 views of this blog, I think it is time for a little Q & A.

What do 10,000 views really mean?

Well, if the Blogger analytics tool is correct, it means that I had 51 page views that originated in Iran – which ties them with Brazil but puts them behind Russia. (Really) Not sure it means anything. I guess it means that I am only 50,000,000 views behind some bored housewife who blogs about pureeing carrots for her baby.

What makes you think you can write?

Excellent question. Nothing makes me think that. At the top of my blog I have written, “With Apologies To Actual Writers.” That may be the most sincere statement on the site. I can, however, type a bunch of stuff into Word and paste it into a Blogger template. (This formula is the bane of real writers everywhere.)

Why did you start this blog and doesn’t it embarrass you?

Cool, a two-parter. First, the story of why I started this blog will be detailed in my forthcoming book – which at the pace I am on may be published posthumously. And by “published” I mean photocopied at Kinkos. Either way, the answer may surprise everyone. As to the second part – not as much as when I fell into a reflective pool in front of twenty business associates because I was drunk.

Where did the name “Deluxemixednuts” come from?

A jar of Deluxe Mixed Nuts that was sitting on the desk when I had to title this beast - a poor decision and my biggest regret. Let’s be honest, the name sucks. I was listening to Alice In Chains that day and really wanted to go with “Sludge Factory”, one of their excellent songs, but I rightfully feared a copyright lawsuit. I guess it could have been worse; I could have called it, “MyWallet.”

What can we expect from that ridiculously named blog in the future?

I am currently working on the story of how my wife rescued me from a potentially catastrophic porn career.

Any last thoughts?

Yes. To anyone who has ever read this blog - thanks. I mean that. To anyone who has shared this blog – special thanks for torturing your friends –no one should suffer alone.  Thanks also to Kris Denholm, Joe Dungan, Rick Albright and Chris Whitney - real life writers, authors, photographers and artists.

Whenever I am complaining and thinking none of this is any good, my wife always says, “I think your writing is excellent!” Thanks, Bonnie. She does, however, think I swear too much. Fuck that, time to puree the carrots.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

U2 and Relevance - An Ongoing Email Argument. Part 1

(Walking out of a Van Halen show several years ago, celebrating the return of David Lee Roth, my friend Mark said, "U2 has been the most relevant band in the last 30 years."  I disagreed, wholeheartedly, and argument has gone on ever since.  It has recently re-fired.  Below is the most recent incantation.)

From: David Meyer

Sent: 10/31/2011 05:30 PM
To: Mark
Subject: You Too

Two things happened today that made me think of you. First, I have been listening to a lot of Yes, recently, and it hit me that this is yet another supremely talented band that largely has flown under the radar in terms of popular support. Secondly, I heard an interview with Tom Waits. Waits is one of those guys who I think I should like, if not really like. But somehow, either I am not smart enough to recognize his genius or he is complete BS. He seems very intelligent but his music, well, I just cannot get my head around. Alos, I can barely understand him when he sings.

But all this got me thinking about U2. I am willing to concede that they are one of the most popular pop-rock bands of the last twenty years, but their music lends itself to great songwriting, some interesting musical nuances and catchy melodies. So, in terms of them being very successful at what they represent, they have succeeded. I just cannot see past a level of music that was always better than average, but never great. I don’t think they represent anything and I don’t think they influenced anyone. And by “influence anyone” I am talking about other musicians, because if we are talking about influencing us listeners, we would have to lop them in with Justin Beiber and NSYNC.

I have also been listening to Pet Sounds – which is a studio masterpiece and must be listened to in its entirety from start to finish.

From: Mark_
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2011 8:56 AM
To: David Meyer
Subject: Re: You Too

First of all, I feel 100% the same way about Tom Waits. Never got him myself, but feel like I'm supposed to, with similar critical acclaim to John Hiatt or Lyle Lovett, whom I think are brilliant...

As far as U2, first of all it's 30 years, not 20 - going back to my tenure of relevance comment... I get what you are saying, but I think the 'above average' comment is purely subjective, based on your not being as into them as someone like me. I would argue that the size of their library or 'body of work' is amazing and diverse. If they sound 'poppy' on one album, they don't on the next one. They have changed their sound multiple times on their journey...

• Post punk on Boy and October
• Driving drum beats and pissed off lyrics and energy on their political War album
• More ethereal on Unforgettable Fire
• Went more mainstream and on Joshua Tree
• Underrated tribute to American Blues landscape on Rattle and Hum
• Complete change to dance/electronic nuances with Achtung Baby - when everyone else was going grunge
• Continued into more obscure electronica on Zooropa
• Complete bust on their Pop album where they tried to go dance music
• Back to rock/pop roots on their last 3 albums...

They have had significant influence in a lot of alt rock bands, but other than Bono's voice, they are difficult to emulate because they have changed it up so much. Do they have the best guitarist, drummer, and bassist ever to emulate? No. But they may have the best rock and roll front man, and their whole sound is greater than the sum of their parts.

Plus, people still buy and listen to their entire albums. What brought it home for me is that they could have picked any of their hundreds of songs during their concert, and many in the crowd would have been excited. I think that deserves some props and respect that there are very few sucky U2 songs, or ones that were mailed in. And even if they are not the best musicians in the world, their consistency of good material while changing styles and staying uber popular deserved its own category of greatness!

(Not shown here was a recent, hour ling argument - tailgating at the U2 concert of all places -over the term "relevance" and how it can be defined as it relates to music.)