Posts Tagged ‘Accused of Lurking’

The solar eclipse invaded the mainland United States through Oregon, where cracks and fissures appeared in the earth and the simple folks panicked, setting fire to civilization….Excuse me, this is approximately what happened in Isaac Asimov’s short story “Nightfall,” in which a planet with six suns experiences darkness for the first time in a thousand years.

Ralph Waldo Emerson gets an assist for dreaming up this idea. The 21-year-old Asimov lacked the skills to write it but his editor, John W. Campbell, made him write it anyway. I’m sure this was a worthwhile learning experience for Asimov, but his story sucks. How did this 1941 doorstop get voted the greatest science fiction story of all time in 1964? Civilization is a puzzling thing. No wonder the Klan and the Nazis are always trying to burn it.

The solar eclipse was a welcome break from our current national pastimes of refighting the Civil War and World War II. I can’t even discuss this with my 90-year-old father. Dad and his two brothers (and my late father-in-law) spent the best years of their lives pulverizing Hitler. Now Hitler’s fan club is back and we’ve got them. I wish we could return to an earlier time when all of our arguments were about chess.

Dateline Normandy, 6 June 1944: Anti-fascists storm ashore to confront white supremacists! Both sides to blame for violence on Omaha Beach? Alt-left U.S. Army “very, very violent”!

But we’re not here today to talk about Nazis or the Confederates who didn’t surrender at Appomattox but didn’t tell anybody. We’re here to answer a letter from Accused of Lurking, my brother…my captain…my king.

Dear Run-DMSteve,

We all have artists we return to, over and over, in our listening lives. For me, these would include Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, The Who, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Melissa Etheridge. (Obviously, I am a man of a certain age.)

But there are also albums we return to, usually by lesser artists, that somehow have a particular resonance. These albums can intensify, alleviate, or complement our mood of the moment. It’s like that trash movie you watch again and again over the years because it hits your sweet spot.

For some reason, for me, these five albums return to my playlist on a pretty regular basis:

Patti Scialfa, Rumble Doll
Gin Blossoms, New Miserable Experience
Indigo Girls, Rites of Passage
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Come On Come On
Del Amitri, Change Everything

Given your extensive listening experience, my question to you is simply this: Have you ever listened to any of these albums? (My expectation of your answer is “No.”)

With warmest personal regards,

–Accused of Lurking

Dear Accused of Lurking,

You are indeed a man of a certain age, who enjoyed an intense teenage rebellion in the 1970s. However, judging by the five albums on your list, you had a rebirth in 1992. I believe this was about the time you met your trophy wife, [redacted].

To answer the question you asked: Yes. I’ve listened to four of the five, though I listened to them so long ago that my imperfect memory can’t reproduce much. I shall immediately catch up.

To answer the question you didn’t ask: What are the albums I go to when I want to intensify, alleviate, or complement my mood of the moment? Or when I want to create one? You’ve made me realize that in those cases, I don’t usually turn to albums, I turn to songs. And I do this most at work.

For example, I’m a guy who likes to feel sorry for myself. There’s no better way to do that than to start another day at the office with a dark, endless, ponderous meditation on existence worthy of German opera wunderkind Honus Wagner. What better song for that task than The Doors’ “The End”? It’s 11 minutes and 43 seconds of 1960s nihilism.

Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski: Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

“The End” is perfect in every way. If I’m tired of “The End,” one of my fallbacks is Mother Love Bone’s “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns.” The lyrics don’t make the grade as coherent English:

Like a crown of thorns
It’s all who you know, yeah
So don’t burn your bridges, woman
’cause someday – yeah.

Heroin will do that to you. But the lyrics are not what I’m here for.

What if I want to start the day with a short, sharp shock? For something that resembles these slabs of gloom but moves like somebody means it, there’s Stevie Ray Vaughan’s cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”

Run-DMSteve Fun Fact: I once held a stressful job whose chief characteristics were creativity and interruptions. I used the 6 minute 47 second “Little Wing” as a test. Could I get through the entire thing without an interruption? The answer was usually no. I learned to write fast.

If I need a quick punch because I have a meeting in 10 minutes, the William Tell Overture makes me stand on my back legs and roar. If it’s the middle of the afternoon and I have a deadline looming in three hours, the words I’m typing don’t make sense, and all I want to do is enter REM sleep without having to listen to R.E.M., I have many choices. Here are three:

  • 1000 Homo DJs, “Supernaut.” This Black Sabbath cover makes Black Sabbath sound like English country dancing in a Jane Austen movie.
  • Rob Zombie, “More Human Than Human.” Not only will this song electrocute the sleepiest copy writer, the video is one of the funniest ever made.
  • Screaming Trees, Sweet Oblivion (the entire album).

I could continue – I could way continue – but after all, you didn’t even ask. You always inspire me, Lurk. Rock on!

–Run-DMSteve

Today I give thanks for one of the many blessings in my life: My loyal readers!

40Rawk is an expert in the music of the 1980s (“I love Psychedelic Furs – as long as no animals are hurt in the process”). 40Rawk and I once had an email conversation in ’80s song titles. When I said I should put at least some of this in my blog, she replied, “The West End Girls would love it. They would have a Black Celebration for sure. But no trashy Girls on Film better show up. Everybody Wants to Rule the World these days.”

After reading my inaugural post, on Lady Gaga, 40Rawk commented:

“And, yes, the best part of the show was when she was fired from beneath the stage like a rocket and landed on her feet like it was nothin’ – oh, yeah, I jump out of bed every morning like that to come to work….I run on the treadmill to Telephone. I’m cool.”

I worked with 50% of the duo who masquerade as CowboyandVampire. Clark, my former co-worker, is an original thinker. He can’t remember if it’s nihilism or sex that sells. His wife reports: “Clark might actually have a clinical diagnosis of Pink Floyd Syndrome. One thing’s for sure: he’s got a little black book to keep his poems in.”

Another former Run-DMSteve co-worker, Orin, is not shy about his love for the ’70s: “I say if you love ABBA, Carpenters, Boney M, Barry Manilow, Nancy Sinatra, embrace it!!!” He is sick of hearing the same song by Yes (“Roundabout”) on local radio and suggests we switch to community radio or listen via satellite.

Mister Seaside had some simple advice for me after I tried to define hippie music: “Take some acid and try it again.” He also wrote, “So you ‘don’t like Knopfler’s voice.’ Next you’ll be writing that Bobby Dylan can’t sing and never could!!!” And I did!

La Société des Monstres has used my blog to overcome some childhood issues, as when she told off her brother: “Yeah, whatever Falco lover!” She found ’70s Week here at Run-DMSteve to be particularly cathartic: “I’m definitely one of the moons willing to orbit the ABBA epicenter.The following mini-memoir deserves all the space I’m giving it:

“Side note #1: My mom took me to see SNF in the theater! I was seven. When calling the theater beforehand to see why it was rated R she was told it was just some bad language. Thinking that I’d already heard all I was ever going to hear in that department through the paternal lips, she took me. I was taking ballet and I loved to dance and that’s why she took me. Little did she know that SNF is actually one of the most depressing movies in the universe and that through it I would have my very first exposure to suicide and birth control pills (she told me they were cough drops.)”

“Side note #2: I loved the movie however and I had a tape of it that I listened to in our Jeep Wagoneer’s tape deck—I remember it so clearly, even down to the blurry printing on the cassette— that it finally wore out. My parents had NO intention of replacing it, I can tell you. I don’t know how my dad—who is blind and therefore had no visual escape and was a devoté of Beethoven—stood the disco version of Beethoven’s fifth on side 2. I told you I am the musical outcast in my family, but considering how fastidious they were musically, my folks were awfully tolerant of that tape….Barry Gibb in the Stayin’ Alive video looks like Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes.”

Barb and I crossed paths at several Seattle clubs in the early ’80s without actually meeting. Like me, Barb went to a Talking Heads concert on the Stop Making Sense tour:

“I was there at the Seattle show, over on the left about a third of the way back. Can you see me? I’m one of the endless supply of smart, inexperienced white girls with a bachelor’s degree, wearing ripped jeans and tee and way too much eyeliner. You’re right, Talking Heads was like high class porn. The band turned on my mind but did not give me the booty groovin soul experience that James Brown did that same year. Now *that* show was an education!”

Barb would get along famously with MisterSeaside:

“I have many formative memories of separating stems and seeds on my beat-up Dark Side of the Moon album cover. Of cupping my ears into my dad’s ear muffler sized headphones and zoning in the barcalounger while the helicopter of sound zips from one side of my skull to the other. Of going down to the dorm’s basement laundromat and discovering someone stole my Wish You Were Here t-shirt right out of the machine. Of wistfully deciding not to buy the CDs after all — my Pink Floyd experience needs the warm scratchiness of vinyl, the pause before flipping the B side.”

Laurel (who is also Number 9) is not shy about her opinions (“Donovan forever!”). She took exception to what I wrote about Queen: “Hipper than the Grateful Dead? Dude!”

“I have a lot to learn from Run-DMSteve in ’80s Week since my ’80s music appears to have happened on another planet,” she wrote, but accused me of inventing A Flock of Seagulls. If only.

Laurel provided a needed correction to my post on the Messiah: “Bach died in 1750, but who’s counting? I think he would’ve liked The Slits, but not Screaming Trees. He was kind of a romantic.”

Accused of Lurking occupies a special place in the Run-DMSteve chronicles, because he is our most prolific commenter. About America and their ballads he wrote that in his youth, “The lyrics seemed deep and wise and they spoke of longing and experience. Today, reading the lyrics from those songs, I am completely appalled.” And speaking of being appalled: “ ‘Friday’ [by Rebecca Black] is indeed the worst song ever recorded, which is saying a lot for a universe that also includes the song ‘Billy Don’t Be A Hero.’ ”

Accused has offered many trenchant analyses of what goes on in this blog. Here’s one, from my post about local band Red Fang and their video for “Prehistoric Dog”:

“For my money, a music video can never have too many beer cans, be they full, empty, crushed, or tin-snipped apart then spot-welded together to form armor. Of course, this video does come excruciatingly close to having too many beer cans. On second thought, this video crosses the line, re-crosses the line, and then turns the line into a Mobius strip. I would prefer to see the earlier, unreleased version of the video in which the band drank beer from long-neck glass bottles instead of cans.

“For those who are not beer can fans, I would recommend listening to the video while watching the Caps Lock on your keyboard. The song is pretty good once you rise above the distraction of the visuals.

“This music video contains the best spoken dialogue line ever: ‘Totally OOC, Dude.’ ”

Last but never least is Special D, who has inspired me numerous times. The girl has a gift for defining a band or an artist in one sentence:

About AC/DC: “They’re really annoying if you’re not drunk.” Should be a warning on their album covers.

About Coldplay: “I wouldn’t know them from a hole in the garden.” Coldplay probably belongs in a hole in the garden, but they’re so nice that if you needed help, they’d come over and dig all the holes you wanted.

About Frank Sinatra: “He sings like an adult who has had sex.” I’ve been looking for a way to write about Sinatra. This is it.

I’ve had many more comments from many more people, and I’m grateful. “Life’s been so good to me,” is the first line of Oingo Boingo’s “Gratitude.” That song is actually about the singer’s former girlfriend, who was a total bitch, so I’ll stop with the first line. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and I hope to keep you entertained as Run-DMSteve plunges into Year 2!

When I started this blog, my goals were to learn a new technology, make tons of money, and meet lots of chicks. (Two of these goals were somewhat theoretical.)

Six months later, I have conquered search engine optimization. I have mastered categories, widgets, themes, and menus. I have memorized my password. And this week I finally figured out a) that there’s such a thing as a tag cloud, and b) how to create one. But as soon as my tag cloud took flight and I saw all of the bands within it, I realized that I listen to fewer than half of them.

I created Run-DMSteve to make fun of people. Have I taken this philosophy too far?

Then the phone rang. It was Accused of Lurking, who said yes you have. Why don’t you write about music you enjoy? That will confuse my fans, I said. Your fans will all fit in my car, Accused of Lurking replied. If someone has a question they can raise their hand. And then he sneered.

Actually, he didn’t say that or sneer, he’s far too well-mannered, but he made his point. I can’t go on trampling dreams and ruining lives. Society calls out for some positive reinforcement and today I am answering that call.

Rejoice, and throw up your rawkfist
Here in Portland, Oregon, we have bands that bring a restless intelligence to their music. The Dandy Warhols. Pink Martini. The Decemberists. Now I’d like to introduce a band that won’t let intelligence anywhere near their music. Lock up your beer coolers, because here comes Red Fang!

Where did they get that name, you ask? I don’t believe it’s a reference to Jack London’s novel White Fang, as I don’t believe the members of Red Fang know how to read. Phyllis Diller’s husband’s name was Fang but I doubt that’s it, either.

All that matters is the music, dude, and right now I adore Red Fang’s “Prehistoric Dog,” which rocks like a piledriver at your dance recital. It reminds me of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. In fact, “Prehistoric Dog” is a close genetic match to Deep Purple’s “Pictures of Home,” except that Deep Purple had an organ and better hair. And in both songs, the singers strive to warn us about animals:

“Pictures of Home”:
My body is shaking
Anticipating
The call of the black-footed crow

“Prehistoric Dog”:
Dogs that howl from outer space
Come to Earth to lay to waste
With fang and claw to shred your face
They will erase the human race
Time to kiss your ass goodbye

“Prehistoric Dog” also bears a strong sonic resemblance to Blondie’s “Call Me,” but there’s no thematic connection between the two. The Red Fang boys aren’t going to roll around in designer sheets unless those sheets are made of bacon.

It’s all seamlessly done and hopelessly addictive, and the video is the funniest thing since the Lord of the Rings blooper reel. I love the magic beer cans and so will you! I’d install some here at the Bureau if they didn’t clash with Special D’s ideas on design.

Before I give you the link, here’s a guide to the video for my more squeamish readers:

0:54     Guy buried in empty beer cans.
2:04     He’s buried again.
2:33     Moderate gross-out.
3:30     Guitar solo.
4:02     Cartoon violence starts here.
5:10     Cute little doggy!

Overall, there’s far less belching than you’d expect and a whole lot of coercive measures applied to the derrière. Female music fans who prefer the Three Tenors to the Three Stooges might want to sit this one out, but IMHO the director deserves a street named after him and the band deserves a beer. Turn it up!

Addendum to my Simple Minds musings
My post on ’80s icon “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is incomplete! I just discovered the lounge jazz version, by The Stella Starlight Trio. I haven’t a clue who these people are, but their relentless, Perry Como-style attack must be heard to be believed. And here’s some good news for those of you who never liked “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” in the first place: Stella has lopped a whole minute off Simple Minds’ best time.

And now it’s off to the garage, where I have a stack of flattened beer cans to weld together. Red Fang might need some positive reinforcement for their next adventure.