"...it helps the circulation."
this is really disturbing, yet really funny.
let me preface this by saying that i am not an avid listener of Elliott Smith's music. i will, however, be talking a bit about his suicide. if you'd like to read about how his suicide affects the life of an avid listener - who happens to be his biggest fan - my friend Melissa does a nice job. i reccomend you read her take on the whole thing.
in just a mere 45 days america has lost three of it's finest songwriters: Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash and just yesterday Elliott Smith.
it's strange to me that when i really sit and think about it, i was never an avid listener of any of their music. however i still feel that i was indeed a fan of all of their music in the sense that i understood and appreciated their individual greatness.
for me, what makes these songwriters special is the way they could all write about every emotion. so often today there are artists who can express one or two emotions well. whether it's sadness or anger or even the rare songwriter who is always happy, these folks - over time - become boring.
but these three - Zevon, Cash and Smith - they could write about being happy and they could write about being sad. they could be lost in ecstasy or wrapped up in pain. they could all have senses of humor or be the most serious person in the world. they wrote about what they knew: tehmselves. and who they were had been in all these places and it made their music that much more potent.
and they all - in the end - knew when itheir time was up. Zevon knew when his lung cancer had run iti's course, Cash new the same of his diabetes and Smith knew better than the both of them the minute he pierced himself with the blade.
the last songwriter i can remember comitting suicide (and i mean really comitting suicide here - not a drug overdose, accidental or unexplained death), was Kurt Cobain. i remember at the time i was really pissed off at all the people crying about Cobain's death. i never found him particularly talented and really, i felt - and still do feel to some extent - that Cobain took the easy way out.
it's easier to kill yourself than it is to stick around and try to work thorugh your emotional problems.
but today, when i saw in Melissa's profile that Elliott Smith had died (and later found that the cause was apparently a self-inflicted stab wound) i wasn't pissed off thinking about all the people who i knew would be sad about it. instead, i surprisingly empathized. i felt my heart go out to the community of fans he did have that i was not a part of, and i heard the words, "wow...elliott smith died..." come softly and sadly out of my mouth. i instinctively sent a message to Melissa - who i call my friend even though i haven't seen her in close to a year while lving less than 5 miles apart - and sent her my condolences. i can only imagine what her and any other true fans of Smith's work are going through right now.
what it really comes down to for me is that a death like this - one that you realize affects a large community of people, whether you're a part of that community or not - brings us closer together as people. through the sadness and pain we're brought together to remember the great things while they were around: the words they wrote, the tunes they put the words to and maybe even the friendships they don't even know they helped us spawn because of their great work.
so that being said, i'm saddened by the latest loss to the music community. however, while these deaths are sad, i'm finding that they are all bringing back the good memories i associate with their music.
i think that's the way they would want it.
i had never been a big Seal fan. however, i started hearing good things about his new album - Seal IV - a few months back, and what with the first single "waiting for you" being used for Law and Order commercials on TNT, i thought i would check it out.
now when i say i had never been a big Seal fan, that is to say that i always thought Seal was talented, and thought that pretty much everything i had ever heard from him was good, but had never really went out of my way to purchase a CD of his.
i know what you're all thinking.
"wait a minute Greg...Seal? aren't you the guy who listens to uber-sad alt. country? aren't you the guy who hates top 40 pop music? aren't you the guy who cringes everytime a "dance" track comes on the radio? you fucking sell-out/poseur Greg! i can't believe you actually bought a copy of Seal IV."
but alas, i did indeed buy a copy of Seal IV, and 'm glad that i did. because aside from being a fan of "uber-sad alt. country", i'm an even bigger fan of artists who can cover a wide variety of musical styles and still stay true to themselves. Seal flawlessly does so on this disc.
the album kicks off with the soul/funk romp "Get it Together," and continues on through bouts with soul, pop, gospel and reggae. Seal's voice morphs through praise, love, and dissappointment with ease; when he rocks ("waiting for you," "let me roll") it's rough, when he's seeking for or reciprocating love ("love's divine,"don't make me wait") he's soulful and when he's challenging and political ("where there's gold") he's a rasta.
lyrically there's been a progression in Seal's work as well. a lot of the stuff we've heard from him in the past has been written in second or third person (we, you, etc...). many of the songs on Seal IV, however, are written in first person giving the listener the impression that this is where Seal is or has been in his life and he's writing about what he knows best: himself.
this album satisfied my curiousity. i'm glad i picked it up, however i'm bummed that if history does indeed repeat, it will be at least another 4 years before i hear anything new from Seal. he is going on a short tour however. so if you're anywhere in the area, i reccomend you go and check him out. if you can't get to one of his shows, at least pick up a copy of Seal IV.
i like funny words, amen.
a buddy of mine sent me this. it's so fucking insane that it's hilairous.
i heard a rumor that this is the same kid who did the "the super bowl is gay" song and that this kid appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live. anyone know if either of these rumors are true?
most of all
never have i seen a performer who is more down to earth than Bill Mallonee. as i walked into The Quiet storm on tuesday night - after an ordeal spanning five sections of town, one bus ride, one cab ride and $20 to get there - i saw Mallonee sitting at the front door greeting eveyrone walking in with a handshake and a smile.
"hey man, look at you!" his southern accent said to me, "they'll let anyone in here, won't they?"
it was only after a few minutes of talking to Bill that i noticed the people entering behind me were handing him money upon theri arrival. i asked him, "are you working the door?" to which he replied, "yeah man, i'm the one you give your money to. it's the lay of the land. the show will cost ya ten clams."
i handed Bill my money and went to the counter to share a smoke with Jake - the guitarist/bassist BIll has been bringing on tour with him for the past 4 years or so. i reached into my pocket and realized i had finsihed my pack of Camel Lights while traveling to the show. i asked Jake, "hey man, you got a cigarette i can bum?" he nodded and handed me a quarter empty pack of Camel Lights of his own.
after the cigarette i walked over to the convenience store across the street to pick up a six-pack of beer and a fresh pack of smokes. Bill wans't scheduled to go on stage until about 9:45, so i had some time to kill. i headed back to the Quiet Storm and had two beers and three cigarettes while waiting for the openers to finish up their set. don't get me wrong, they werne't bad or anything, but they weren't who i was here to see.
i should preface this review by saying that i've been listening to BIll Mallonee - formerly known as "Vigilantes of Love" - for 8 years now. i was 14 when my dad first told me about this band he had heard on public radio in Philadelphia. six months later, my mom brought home this CD for me saying, "i don't know who this is, but it looked like something you'd like."
it's strange that my parents - who had been divorced for 3 years at that point - had both, almost simultaneously, mentioned the same band to me thinking i would like their music. especially since, at the time, i was experiencing what i would later discover to be the beginnings of depression and subsequently was on the outs with both of them.
so at 14 years old, i - like many other 14 year olds - am going through my awkward stage. i'm pimply, growing my hair long, thinking about pierecings, listening to Smashing Pumpkins, have no girlfriend and my parents are divorced. then, along comes this music that changes everything. it wakes me up, it clears my head and at times it saves my life. if it weren't for Bill's open-tuned guitars and lyrics that are a mix of Dylan and church hymns, i don't think i would've made it to see 20 years old.
fast forward a couple years. i'm 18 and i start going to see Bill live. at each show i've gotten the chance to talk to him or interact with him on some level. i've spoken with him, helped him load and unload his van, shared a beer with him and talked music with him. hell, he's even given me free cd's and autographed them after a show just becasue he knew i couldn't afford them at the time.
even though he's someone i only get to see once a year - maybe more if i'm lucky - he's still an encouragement to me as a person and as a songwriter. he's what i want to be when i grow up. smart, funny,spiritual, and most of all humble.
last night was no different. i came in and saw him working the door at his own show. he thanked the local musicians for opening for him. he motioned me towards the stage seconds before going on and asked me, "hey man, i hate to ask you this, but would you mind going to the bar and asking them for a galss of water for me and Jake?" - a request i gladly granted. after the show i talked music with him while packing up his van. he told me to let him know if i got anything recorded and to keep in touch.
the show was amazing. it was only he and Jake, and the PA had been shorted out by some lightning earlier in the evening, so they were only playing through their monitors and a pair of what appeared to be JVC boom-box speakers on either side of the ceiling.
i had spoken with Jake earlier and he had told me that they had decided for just the two of them to tour becasue, "we could either take the whole band and just break even, or go just ourselves and make money. it's a no brianer."
as such, the show drew heavily on more acousitc-based material from the Audible Sigh album, as well as some unreleased songs and some old favorites. the set list was:
1) bearing the load
2) nothing like a train
3) you've still got the devil left to pay
4) hat in hand
5) goes without saying
6) solar system
7) your part of the story
8) she's so liquid
9) life on other planets
10) two become one
11) crescent moon
12) good luck charm
13) blister soul
14) the opposite's true
15) the kid's on drugs (new song, never played before.)
many times during the show Bill would stop to joke with the crowd. he talked about bible verses, politics, war, the Athens, GA music scene (including R.E.M.), Courtney Love, and his wife.
in the end, Bill Mallonee put on one of the best of the half-dozen shows i've ever seen him put on. he was smart, funny, spiritual and most of all, humble. if you get a chance to see him on his three week tour, i highly reccomend you go see him.
if you'd like to see the most vague political plan ever, click here.
you'll need Adobe.
you have beautiful calf muscles
i love when Smoove B. posts new articles.
"alright...'fess up. which one of you sold your soul to the devil?"
5 weirdest sports happenings from this past weekend...
1) The Vikings beat the Falcons on Sunday. The Vikings are now 5-0, have the third best overall record, and Moe Williams is looking like one of the best running backs in the league.
2) the Indianapolis Colts came back with about 4 minutes left in Monday night's game to score 28 points and defeat the defending champion Bucs. They - along with the aforementioned Vikings (and the Kansas City Cheifs) - are now 5-0.
3) the Cubs knocked off the Braves in the first round of MLB playoffs. They move on to the NLCS against Florida.
4) the Red Sox (yes you heard right...the RED SOX) beat the A's in game 5 to move on the the ALCS against the Yankees.
5) the Cleveland Browns destroyed the Steelers on sunday night with a score of 33-13. Cleveland is actually in second place in the AFC North.
5 most normal sports happenings this past weekend
i knew very little of Lost in Translation before i went to see it last night. the only things i had seen or heard about it were the following:
a) i had seen the same clip everyone has seen. the one where Bill Murray talks to Scarlett Johansson for the first time and talks about making a "jailbreak."
b) i saw an interview with Scarlett Johansson on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, which featured that same clip mentioned above.
and c) i heard that Bill Murray gives the performance of his career and that said performance is Oscar worthy.
i tried not to get myself too excited for this movie, because i had fears that it wouldn't be nearly as good as what i was expecting. sort of like when you smell this incredible meal coming from your mother's kitchen as you walk in your house after school and you expect it to taste as good as it smells, but it ends up just being dry, overcooked chicken and rice that makes you gag upon an attempt to swallow it, so were my fears of Lost in Translation.
my fears were proven wrong.
this movie is, by far, the best film i've seen all year. it's hard to describe what i think about this movie, because in some ways i really don't know what i think.
i think the script is wonderful. i think the casting is perfection. i think the filming - the dulled hues of Tokyo - is astonishing. i think Scarlett Johansson has a way of being beautiful without being a beauty, and i think for once we see that Bill Murray is a beautiful man.
i think it's a triumph that there is no profanity and - save a quick scene in which the characters accidentally end up in a japanese strip club - no nudity in this film.
what this film does have, however, is stories. each scene is a story. watching this film, i was reminded both of J.D. Salinger's short story A Great Day for Bananafish,and Frank Capra's film It's a Wonderful Life. Each scene is an individual film in and of itself so powerful that many of them leave you wanting to cry if only you could. it's acting at it's best. it's directing at ti's best. it's storytelling at it's best. it's film noir at it's best.
best of all, it does all of this whiel being incredibly quiet. Sophia Coppola doesn't bombard you with sounds and sights. instead, she builds an atmosphere - a landscape - where the volume gets turned up or down by the characters themselves. for the most part they keep it quiet and simple, but there are times where loudness is a virtue, and Murray and Johansson seem to know that.
in the end my fears were proven wrong. i left this movie completely satisfied, yet emotionally drained. all i wanted was a cigarette, a cup of coffee and to spend the rest of the night thinking about all the other nights i realized i was in love with someone.
Lost in Translation brought me joy by breaking my heart. still, it's the single most beautiful piece of art i've ever seen.
somehow i think the post-gazette has bit off more than they can chew on this one...
what is the world coming to when this is something a supposedly legitimate newspaper writes about?
speaking of sports...
in other weird sports news, the Minnesota Vikings - the team Maxim magazine's May 2003 issue called, "those jokers who went 6-10 last year" - are 4-0 so far this season (averaging 28 points a game) and are looking to go 5-0 when they play the 1-3 Atlanta Falcons this week.
also, if they keep playing Moe Williams the way they have, Williams could be on his way to a 1,000+ rushing yard season.
Cincinnati, however, is still having a losing season. all is not lost...
say it ain't so...
Arianna Huffington pulled out of the California gubernatorial race last night citing low campaign support as a primary reason and saying, "I'm pulling out and I'm going to concentrate every ounce of time and energy for the next week fighting to defeat the recall because I realize that that's the only way now to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger."
not to rain on your parade Arianna, but Arnold has been shot, melted, blown up, and ripped to shreds and it hasn't gotten rid of him yet. i doubt you can do better than that.
some folks noticed that my comments were down yesterday. there was a virus at blogspeak (who powers my comments section) so subsequently, blogspeak was taken down for the day.
the comments are back up and running now, and everything seems to be working fine.
so far both of my picks are up in their respective playoff series. go twins and go cubbies!