When I was in 8th grade, I used to listen to hip-hop music and imagine that I was in a successful rap group called "Tender & Juicy" with this other guy from school, who was one of two black kids that were in my grade. I was "Tender," and he was "Juicy."
I would listen to whoever was rapping (usually LL Cool J), pretend it was the guy from school and I rapping instead, and divide up the rapping duties evenly in my mind. Got it?
These fantasies especially came in handy during long car rides, often times on family trips. The LL Cool J album I most often used during these times was Walking With a Panther. I'd sit quietly in the back seat of the car with my headphones and cheap-o cassette player, and drift off into Tender & Juicy-land. I, Tender, was the undisputed leader of the group. Juicy didn't do bad either.
There was a duet on the WWAP album called "Two Different Worlds." I used to image me singing/rapping the LL Cool J part, while the girl singing on the song was a girl from my church who I had a crush on. I used to think how we too, were from two different worlds. I even had a music video pictured, complete with a split-screen where our pictures would fade in and out while we sang.
It wasn't just limited to LL Cool J, though. I also used Kris Kross's Totally Krossed Out. There were no duets with girls though, just sometimes Jermaine Dupri.
So remember (see below) that I told you my turn to provide a music playlist at work was coming up? Well, here's how it went: I'm just going to copy and paste my retelling of the story from my post on the notorious Pop Punk Message Bored.
So at my place of work, every employee was recently asked to bring in a playlist of "their" music to listen to while we all worked as a group. My turn came today, and it was mostly punk, sprinkled with some hip-hop and other assorted goodness. I started off with some hardcore stuff (Suicidal Tendencies, Adolescents, Bad Brains, DRI, Dead Kennedys) just to playfully irritate them, but it made them turn against me. They hated everything I played, even the more mainstream stuff they already admitted they liked on previous days. It was an amazingly horrific 7 hours.
When I told this 26-year old that I thought Wesley Willis was more honest and genuine than someone like Bruno Mars, he asked me "Oh yeah, well how many Grammys has Wesley Willis won?"
You forget sometimes, ya know? Think twice before you offer your music to the squares.
This week at work, every employee (with the exception of me, I'm next week) brought in a musical playlist for everyone to listen to while we were working. Monday was mainstream alternative/emo; Tuesday was slow sexy jams; Wednesday was Top 40; Thursday was old school hip-hop/R & B. With the exception of Thursday, I wanted to shoot myself in the fucking head during the entire goddamn fucking week.
That's when it dawned on me - bad music greatly raises my level of anxiety. Some people may consider me a snob for thinking this way, but it's the truth. Maybe some casual music listeners can have an "It's all good" attitude about this type of thing, but I can't. Some people know fashion. Others know food. Maybe some fancy themselves a movie expert. But I know music, and I'm right, and the sucky people suck at it.
Much like that of a serious foodie, my ears have a sensitive palette, and when they hear crummy, soulless, shitty music, it's like they are being crammed with liver and onions. I feel that I have the best taste in music, because it's mine. If you think you have poor taste in music, then you're not doing it right.
So maybe some of us music connoisseurs aren't snobby, we're merely sensitive. But there are others that are actually snobby for the sake of being snobby, and those people suck. Like music reviewers; they should go get a real job.
If you had been attention, you'd know that we've been sitting on an exciting announcement to make. But since you weren't, we have an exciting announcement to make! And here it is, in this next paragraph.
Starting in 2012, The Electric Grandmother will have a monthly residency at the Dynasty, right here in our new home of Washington DC. That's right, on the first Saturday of every month, we will be performing/hosting bands at the Dynasty. As you know, we had a blast last Friday (12/2) performing at the Dynasty, and are excited to commit to a long term relationship. The contracts are signed, the t's crossed, the i's dotted, and the u's created.
We already have commitments from some out of towners and locals to play some of the dates. If you or your musical combo are interested in joining us, hit me up at pete (at) electricgrandmother (dot) com. Sugar in return is encouraged, if ya know what I mean. Ya know, "sugar." Get it?
Since you don't get it: If your band from Wilmington, Delaware wants to play with us here in DC, consider offering us a gig in Wilmington. That'd be nice!
The dates are as follows:
January 7th (no January show), February 4th, March 3rd, April 7th, May 5th, June 2nd, July 7th, August 4th, September 1st, October 6th, November
3rd, December 1st.
Oh boy! Many thanks to Dave Mann/STPP for helping us put this shindig together! Neat, huh?
Also, it's been a whopping 24 days since my last blog post. That sucks! Hopefully I'll have more time soon to regale you with more traumatic stories from my childhood.
Hey fine dudes and sexy babies, the Infinite Number of Sounds Recording Company is celebrating their 10-year anniversary and their 25th official release! (Not sure why a label that has been around for 11 years would be celebrating their 10-year anniversary, but OK!) You can download for free and (PLEASE) share the Anniversary Compilation RIGHT HERE.
And guess what, stupid? There's a brand new Electric Grandmother track on the compilation, get it while it's hot! You know how in the 80's, people would get mad at something they saw on TV and threaten to write/call the station? Yeah.
So Mary Alice and I are extremely proud and honored to be part of the INS family, and there's really no way we could ever adequately thank Dave and Brent for all they have done for us. Congratulations boys, and let's get naked!
Those who know me well know that I've been a huge Cleveland Browns fan my whole life, always been there for the few ups and many downs since the 1986 season when I first started paying attention to football. By 1987, to say I was obsessed with the game would be an understatement. Now, I've always been known for my photographic childhood memory, but my memories of the minute details of my experiences during this particular Cleveland Browns football season goes beyond weird. So here they are, in five parts (with no cheating or embellishing):
Week 1 - September 13, 1987 @ New Orleans Saints
I was very excited for the new season to begin, and I dutifully sat down to watch the first game of the Browns' season. Sometime during the first or second quarter, I got a little bored and decided instead* to play a game called "Summer Games" on our Apple IIgs computer. Later on that afternoon, I turned the game back on just in time to see Bernie Kosar throw two Hail Mary passes into the end zone in the final seconds of the game. After the first pass fell incomplete with a few seconds left, I asked my dad** if an incomplete pass counted as a down, to which he replied, "No. Wait, yes, YES." As Bernie went back to launch a second pass, the clock hit :00, which prompted an "Oh no!" from me, but my dad reassured me, "As long as the ball's in motion, they can't stop the game." The pass fell incomplete, and the Browns lost 28-21. Later on that day I went to my friend's house, and his weird motorcycle uncle commented to me how "We came close, but we'll get 'em next time (or something)."
*Only time I've ever turned off/away from a game in that manner. I was just 9 years old at the time, of course.
**My dad has a rudimentary knowledge of football.
Week 2 - September 20, 1987 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 2 of the 1987 NFL season came with a scheduling conflict for our household TV that would last until mid-season; My mom and my sister had been planning to watch and record on VHS a series of Gilbert & Sullivan movies on PBS that were being show on Sunday afternoons from 2-4 PM. Since we had only gotten our first VCR a mere few months before, we were unaware as a family that it was possible to record on one channel while watching another. As a result, I was subjected to watch the first of several '87 Browns games on a small black & white television while they lavished in the luxury of our color TV set. (And ya know, it's ok in retrospect. I managed all right with the B & W, and whenever I hear Gilbert & Sullivan songs to this day, it gives me happy Cleveland Browns memories).
I watched the Browns pummel the Steelers, 34-10. In stark contrast to my Week 1 restlessness, I was beside myself with energy and excitement throughout. I kept wishing that my one close friend was there watching with me, because we'd of had a blast together. I got to see the final touchdown, a Clay Matthews interception return, on the color TV after 4 PM. I remember the football field looking so damn green on the screen.
Week 3 - September 28, 1987 vs. Denver Broncos (CANCELED DUE TO 1987 NFL STRIKE)
I was remarking to my dad at the dinner table during the week about how I was excited for the Browns to enact revenge on the Broncos for their heartbreaking playoff loss to them the previous winter. My dad chuckled, then suddenly stopped himself. "Oh, wait, the NFL is on strike!" he said. I didn't know the specifics of a workers' strike at that time, I just knew that I was sad that there would be no football for the foreseeable future. The game was going to be on Monday night, so I wouldn't have been able to watch too much of it anyway. But still, the Broncos. I always wondered what would have happened in that game.
Week 4 - October 4, 1987 @ New England Patriots
Football was back! Of course, they were using replacement players, which only struck me as a little strange at the time. Instead of Bernie Kosar, our quarterback was some guy with a mustache, and that's all I remember about the Browns "scabs." (I do remember that the older brother of a girl in my 4th grade class was a replacement player for the Cincinnati Bengals). Looking back, the whole idea of supporting the owners by watching those games is disgusting, but I was 9 years old, so I was willing to settle for the mustache man.
I was presented with the option that afternoon to go roller skating with my sister and cousin, but I opted to watch the game instead. The Patriots scored the first touchdown of the game, and I felt guilty because I got a little excited. I guess I was just itching for action after the time away? The Browns came from behind and won 20-10. During the game, the announcers made jokes about how the stadium crowd was dissipating throughout the afternoon. At one point with the Browns up 13-10, they showed a before and after shot of the seats, one from the start of the game and then one from the point they were at. The difference was alarming, and I couldn't figure out why the home crowd was leaving with their team only behind by three points. I suppose they were just disgusted by the performance of all the replacement players in general. That afternoon, I had a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, and it was really good.
Coming up in Part 2: When will the regular players come back? And I would I be allowed to stay up to watch the Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Rams? Stay tuned.
Our friend and tyrannical label-head Dave Mansbach emailed us some interview questions, which we promptly answered! Check out the full interview here at the newly revamped Infinite Number of Sounds Recording Company website.
This past Saturday, we went on a Haunted Farm-Pumpkin Pick Adventure sponsored by Living Social. This was our first "adventure" of this kind, and we both went into it thinking it would be a fun, romantic time. We were already a bit wary of the Living Social culture, as I had already applied for a job with them since moving to Washington DC, and was met with strange results. I was given a phone interview, and the first bubbly question from the female recruiter (who couldn't have been more than 20 years old) was, "So, why are you stoked on working for Living Social?!" It caught me completely off guard, and I gave a stiff, paused-filled interview that probably made her think I was a total ungroovy lameoid unfit for their totally awesome job.
But anyway, back to the misadventure to be had...
After getting off of a subway in Virginia, we were greeted by a bouncy girl wearing a kitty ear headband who advised us we could get wine for the trip, because there was going to be a lot of "down time" at the farm. We bought a $5 bottle of Pinot Grigio at a Rite-Aid, along with some snacks for the road. We were greeted by several more happy youths who directed us to Bus #2, and we were off. Shortly into the bus ride, it became apparent to both of us that the young and exuberant Living Social staff was not just there as guides, but rather tour guides of in-your-face fun. They yelled event rules and suggestions over a loudspeaker, passed out candy, and asked us to participate in a Scariest Halloween Name contest. This woman seated next to us, who seemed to be enjoying herself a bit too much, offered loudly, "Damien! Chucky!," to which the staff cheerfully reminded us that we should feel free come up with our own scary names as well. Somebody shouted "Sarah Palin!" from the back (hardy har har), and they won the contest by a vote of applause.
The hour and fifteen minute bus ride to West Virginia felt like an hour and forty-five minutes, but we eventually got to the farm. More yelling came over the loudspeaker from the staff, advising us about our assigned numbered group. We then proceeded to the pumpkin pick area, where the pumpkins had already been pre-picked for our convenience, and scattered haphazardly across a grassy field.
After we picked out our pumpkins, we headed over to some picnic tables to decorate them. Here's how they ended up looking, you can easily guess which one is whose.
Also, we stole that piece of corn.
We met a friendly couple while sitting at our picnic table who also had similar expectations to ours. They also thought it would be a fun date-type outing, and not so much a day camp where you could easily beat the crap out of the obnoxious, younger counselors. Some time during the midst of our conversation with them, I looked around and saw that we were the only table not eating food. We walked over to where they were dishing out dinner, and proceeded to get our plates of baked bread, weird salad, cold pumpkin soup, and peanut butter cookie. After downing the food in less than five minutes, we busted open our bottle of Pinot. We initially told the couple that they could share with us, but then conveniently forgot to offer any before we downed it ourselves.
After "dinner," we sauntered over to a camp fire where people were making s'mores. Most people seemed to be way too into it, and we figured that a lot of them probably had never been to the woods before. We were to be called to go on our haunted house/hayride/corn maze adventure by group, so Mary Alice and decided to head over to the pirate ship (yes, pirate ship) over back by the picnic tables. (See the "King of the World" below):
We must have stayed at the ship a bit too long, because by the time we went back to the camp fire, our group had already been called. We rushed over to our first stop, the Haunted House. We were greeted by the head of the farm, a man in all orange who had obviously been drinking.
We entered the haunted house which shrouded in complete darkness. I had my hand on Mary Alice's hood, but then lost it. It seemed like a maze of walls, and it was just pissing me off as opposed to scaring me. We then had to squeeze through these fabric-covered tunnels, while someone was banging on a wall. I kept on until I saw light, and Mary Alice holding open a curtain for me to exit. I was ready for the next part of the house, but then realized there wasn't any, and we were now outside. The whole thing maybe took 90 seconds.
We waited a while for the Haunted Hayride, because they seemed to be running behind schedule. When a tractor pulling a wagon finally drove up to retrieve us, there was a Living Social employee wearing a cowboy hat who kept hootin' and hollerin', and there was another wearing one of those Rastafarian dreadlock hats. There was also an employee of the farm (who we saw being scolded earlier by the orange guy) who was just standing around holding a Star Wars Lightsaber.
Shortly into the ride, some guys in masks started jumping on the side of the wagon, screaming at us and what not. Then after a couple minutes in, the tractor stalled, or "stalled" as we originally thought. But it wasn't part of the presentation. We got out and walked while the driver struggled to get the engine going again. He eventually did, and almost ran us over passing us on the ride trail. We were told to get back on the wagon, and while I was climbing up the wagon steps, some guy in a mask came out and scared the shit out of the girls behind me. They began shoving me and rammed my knee into the stairs. I stumbled in pain over to where Mary Alice was sitting, and made a snide remark about the waivers we were made to sign ahead of time.
After the hayride, we entered the Corn Maze, which was easily the best part of the whole adventure. It was legitimately scary, complete with dudes in zebra masks (?) and devil masks jumping out at you. Plus it was a dark and difficult trek, and we went in circles trying to find our way around.
Eventually we gave up trying to find the exit, so we just left the way we came in. While trying to exit, some dude in a devil mask scared the shit out of Mary Alice, and she yelled in his face, "Screw you, dude! We're just trying to get out of here!" When we got back to the beginning of the maze, the guy in the cowboy hat was there, and he said, "They're leaving the wrong way, Yee-haw!," or something to that effect.
Mercifully, we got on our bus to leave, but were delayed 15 minutes because they couldn't get this one idiot out of the maze. We listened to Halloween music, combined with hipster rock and contemporary pop all the way back to Virginia. When getting off the bus, I refused eye contact with the Living Social employees (which no doubt certainly showed them). We went home, and got drunk while watching an episode of Mystery Science Theater, which Mary Alice suggested to cheer me up.
A couple of days ago I filled out a questionnaire about my Living Social experience, and I gave mostly poor marks - go figure. So yeah, don't do it. If you're gonna go somewhere, do it without Living Social. They're lameoids.
Like most little 1980's boys, I collected Garbage Pail Kids trading cards. My collecting experience was perhaps not so different than that of other little boys who had parents that would overreact to any widespread Moral Panic. But my (3rd grade) memories about my experience with the phenomenon have stuck with me, so here goes -
The first I heard of GPK was from my cool older neighbor friend, who just knew what the deal was with everything. He had the famous 1st series cards, featuring the iconic Adam Bomb ($999 for a mint condition on ebay, you gotta be fucking kidding me), among others. I was instantly sold, but also realized that there was already an outraged parents movement against the cards, and that my parents would no doubt be among the faction. Over time my friend's collection grew and grew, until he was the undisputed GPK king of our school. "How many do you have?!" I asked him. "I dunno, something like 400," he replied casually. Something like 400 - the monumental number rang around my head with an envious and crazed excitement. Shortly after, I remember showing someone my stupid baseball card collection and offering "I have something like, 400," not caring that they didn't ask. I also remember appearing at my friend's house one afternoon holding a stack of trivia cards sideways so he couldn't see them. "Those aren't Garbage Pail Kids," he declared from approximately 10 feet away.
Lo and behold, I ended up eventually getting my hands on some GPK (3rd Series) from my friend, as I think he was beginning to drown in the excess duplicates he had. I initially only had about 25-30 cards, and I would hide the cards at the bottom of my sneakers before putting them on so that my parents wouldn't see. My plan if I got caught was simple: I would play on their sympathies, and dramatically cry "I only did it so I could be taller!" One morning before school, I came down from my bedroom into our kitchen with muddied sneakers. My mom told me to change shoes, and told my dad to take the sneakers off for me, so I wouldn't track mud on the way back up to my bedroom. I shrieked "NO! NO! I'LL DO IT MYSELF!," which caused my mom and dad to start yelling at me simultaneously. There was noisy chaos from all sides as my dad wrenched the shoes from my feet, followed by complete silence. The cards had slid from the back of my sneakers to the front, and my dad hadn't seen them. I put the cards back in a clean pair of sneakers, and went off merrily to the school.
Garbage Pail Kids, Garbage Pail Kids, Garbage Pail Kids. They were EVERYwhere. If you weren't around and/or paying attention in the mid-80s, you missed what I think is probably the craziest fad I've seen in my lifetime. I remember our local drug store hung an angry sign in their window which stated, "NO, we do not have Garbage Pail Kids." There was a short, and I mean SHORT-lived GPK animated series that was utterly bludgeoned to death by parents associations and concerned citizens. There was a live action GPK movie that was barely promoted on TV due to outcry from the aforementioned groups, and it shitcanned at the box office. (This movie is now a cult favorite, we own it, and it's likely the worst movie I've ever seen. It's not "good-bad," it's "BAD-bad.") Nevertheless, my collection went on unabated by parents due to my sneakyness, and it was going just fine until "The Bag Incident."
I must have got cocky with my illegal GPK-trafficking, because it all came to a head one morning as I was getting ready for school. I had my cards in a sandwich baggy in my pocket, and it apparently was a bit too visible. "Whatcha got?," my mom cheerfully (and typically nosily) asked. "Nothing," I nervously replied. I can't remember what was said next, but we all know that kind of crap doesn't fly with parents. I pulled the cards from my pocket and gave them up. My mom sorted through the cards, making the appropriate mortified mutters. She then told me that she was more upset that I had lied to her, as opposed to my having the cards in the first place. (I don't why saying "Nothing" is lying, per se. Aren't we being a little too literal?) She then said, "Well, I suppose you want to show them to your friends," and gave me a rubber band to hold the cards with. Later that night after my dad came home from work, my mom said to me "Do you want to tell him about 'The Bag?'" So I told my dad I had lied to my mom; I can't remember his reaction, he was probably mostly wondering what Garbage Pail Kids were.
A few months into the craze, my friend was sitting on his front porch one afternoon with me and few others going on about how valuable his 1st Series GPK cards were, when his older brother and friends overheard. He angrily confronted my friend, calling him stupid for believing that the cards were valuable. "See this?!," he said, picking up the New Wave Dave (Graffiti Petey's twin) card, "This is PEANUTS!" He went on to imitate him, saying snarkily "Oh, it's SO valuable!," among other belittling insults. My friend looked like somebody had just shot his dog. I guess that's when the cards Jumped the Shark for me. If my cool friend's cooler older brother said the cards suck, then they must.
For a short time after this incident, I gave away my GPK cards during random moments. I would sanction races in our school's gymnasium between boys, and the winners would get a card. I remember told a boy I would give him a card if he jumped six times in five seconds, but he angrily said "I can't do that!" That's pretty much my last memory of the whole thing. I think I gave/threw away the rest. It's too bad, because that 1st Series is apparently pretty valuable, and not so much "peanuts."
Here's a cover of a song by the band NOFX, called Always Hate Hippies. It's dedicated to my pals Brian McConville, Dan "King of Punk Covers" Pantzig, and to Mary Alice, because she says I don't write/we don't perform enough cover songs. Go figure.
Mary Alice and I like NOFX because they play great drunk music, they're hated by hipsters (and hippies), and they annoy people. Sure, their frontman and label owner Fat Mike has more money than Oprah, but what can ya do? They've always stuck to their scruples, so good on 'em. In true NOFX fashion, this took me less than an hour to record and mix. Here's Always Hate Hippies.
For about the past three days, Mary Alice and I haven't been able to stop talking about Martin. This is the beginning of a blog entry that goes nowhere. Let's talk about Debbie Gibson. Here is an excerpt from an unfinished entry from late July.
Moments ago I was in one of our local DC grocery stores, and "Only in My Dreams" by Debbie Gibson was playing over the loudspeaker. This song always brings up a happy memory tinged with sadness for me. The happiness comes from thinking back to Summer of 1987, when my sister and my cousin Katie did a choreographed dance routine to the song in my cousin's backyard in Maryland (Ya know Tom from "Tom's Girl," his sister). It was a presentation for our families before a backyard cookout, and at the end of the dance routine we all applauded. The ladies subsequently Tom and I if we wanted to do a dance routine, so later that night we wrote them a note on a typewriter saying "We're not doing any stupid dance routine," or something to that effect. (If memory serves, I think there was a part of me that actually did want to do the dance routine, but that's not something you admit to your cooler and older cousin).
What makes me sad about hearing that song, is that the dance routine now stands as merely an old and forgotten memory. I say "forgotten," because there's no way either of my cousins would remember that. (I'll put my sister down for "maybe.") They don't particularly care about nostalgia, or being sentimental, or even remembering the past much at all. One summer (that same trip maybe?) when my family and I were visiting, Katie was on a tire swing connected to a tree in their backward, when the attached rope broke, sending her tumbling down a hill and causing her to get whiplash.
And that's the end of the entry. I think I got tired, or ran out of inspiration. You'd think sitting around the house all day would give me all the time in the world to be creative, it only gives me a little extra time. I spend a lot of time feeling agitated and stressed about not having a job. Not that I think that jobs rule, but I need money to do things, like put out records and pay for our out-of-town gigs. We're definitely making it here, and there are advantages to my house-husbandry, but I tend to be a busy-body when it comes to life, music, and the what-have-you. Like-using-hyphens. I actually am most creative and productive when I'm cheerful and busy. That's how it goes.
Mary Alice is watching a show right now called The Secret Circle. It's about a circle, but it's a secret.
From North CARE-olina, Michaelllllllllllllllll JORdan!!!!!
This latest demo is called Baby Geniuses, it's about the movie "Baby Geniuses," and it's dedicated to our good friends Gretchen and Lonn, who are about to have a baby genius of their own. Way to go, guys! Get down and party, Marty! We love you!
Wednesday, September 28th
The Velvet Lounge
The Garage Hoppers
Starting in 3rd grade, I really wanted to play Little League, but I wasn't able to due to my mom's involvement in our community theater's production of The Music Man. In other words, her Summer was occupied, whereby she couldn't take me to the games. It was actually kind of cool, as I learned every song in the production by attending all the rehearsals. That Harold Hill was certainly quite the con-artist.
Come the Summer 4th grade, she promised me that I would be able to play baseball. I signed up, and was chosen to play for the mighty Classic Homes team of Aurora, Ohio. I still remember the excitement and relative normalcy of our first practice. I had some friends on the team. It was a bit cold and rainy. My backyard baseball skills were put on display, at one point slamming a double to center field off the coach's pitch. Things seemed promising, and it was normal. Then came our second practice...
It was quite a bit warmer for our second practice, the Sun was beating down on us hard. I got in the batter's box, and this particularly strong kid drilled me in the left arm with a pitch. And that was it.
I looked down at arm, swollen and bright red, and an assistant coach took me to the coach's truck to get me some ice. I was obviously shaken as I iced my arm; the assistant looked down at me and encouraged me "not to cry," which of course caused me to burst into tears.
As I mentioned, that was it. I was never the same player after that. It wasn't so much that I was scared of the ball hitting me, I was just scared. It's hard to explain, it's just the kind of thing that happens to an already-sort-of messed up and very small 10-year old. Before our first exhibition game, the coach announced that I was going to lead off, which if you know anything about baseball, is kind of a big deal. (I guess that first practice still lingered in is mind). I was tentative, but also ready to go for it. I was also ready to go in general - the coach advised us that we only needed to show up in street clothes, but I chose to show up in full uniform. I was the only one who did so. I got up to bat, and I walked on 5 pitches. The bat never left my shoulder. I remember thinking about how easy it was, and how I didn't have to do anything but stand there. Thus began a trend that would last my entire baseball career.
As that first season wore on, the coaches would get increasingly frustrated with me being content to stand there holding the bat as the pitches whizzed by, strike or no strike. (The lead off position did not last very long, suffice it to say). I would just get up to bat, stand there like an idiot, on hope to get on base by a Walk. What's funny is that I was generally ok in the field - I was a Catcher for a good part of the season, and I did all right. It was just a mental block when it came to batting. In the backyard, I was still the same as I ever was. But when on display in front of a crowd, I just plain crumbled. My first season is easily the season I remember best. I actually remember having a pretty good time overall, and I probably should have just left well enough alone. But I kept coming back.
My second season, I know I played for 1st Nationwide Bank of Aurora (pictured above), and I remember sucking even worse than my first season. Puberty was starting to set in pretty hard with the other boys, and they would often act pretty shitty towards me. I remember my mom embarrassing me by walking into the dugout to talk to the players (that's trauma for another time), and I think I played right field and batted last the entire season. I think I might have foul-tipped one pitch that year, which drew applause from the dugout. I felt extremely short and bespectacled.
It's kind of strange to me that I can't remember much from playing in 6th and 7th grade. I think I might have had the same coach for my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year, but I can't remember. I don't remember the names of our sponsors, I do think I played for another red-uniformed team. I guess it really doesn't matter, as it was all kind of a blur anyway. I played some decent second base, actually might have gotten a base hit here and there, but that's about all I got in the ol' archives. I know I still wasn't growing very much.
8th grade would mercifully be my final year on the diamond. You had to "make" the team come high school, and I knew that wasn't happening. I felt strangely optimistic going into the season, as my best friend at the time was on the team, and his dad coached. I blew smoke up their ass about how I was a good player, but I think my friend's dad would have picked me to be on the team anyway. I think he thought I was a funny little kid, and I think he probably looked at me as a lovable underdog. As usual, I played decent in the field that year, mostly at second base. During one game, I was put at the third base to replace a kid who didn't show up to play, and I played spectacularly. When the guy showed up for the next game, he was infuriated to find out that his old position was now mine. He intimidated me so much with his anger that I made four errors that day. The next game, he was back at this old position, and I believe he continued to taunt me even after the fact. I was still pretty short.
That season from the plate was the usual mix of waiting for the walk, swinging when I felt like it, and squeezing out a hit or two when lucky. We made the playoffs (hell, I think every team made the playoffs), and we traveled to Twinsburg, Ohio to play our first postseason game. Somehow, the other guys convinced me to crouch down to my knees while batting during one plate appearance - ya know, so there'd be no strike zone and I'd automatically get a Walk? The umpire admonished me when I did it, and called me out on strikes (guess that's why everybody doesn't do that). And lo and behold, just like a stupid coming-of-age-I-was-a-loser book for Young Adults, I ended up coming to bat in the final inning of the game, down by one run, with two outs.
I knew I was going to strike out. Everybody knew. The bench was more or less silent as I picked up my aluminum bat and headed toward home plate. The coach, my friend's dad, stopped me and put his arm around me. "No matter what happens," he said to me quietly, "I still love you." Tears began to well up in my eyes, and I got in the batter's box to face certain doom. "Hey, it's the sitter," one of the boys on the other team said. "We can get him." The pitcher was a pretty good hurler, and I unceremoniously let two strikes go past. I stepped out of the batter's box, and thought "Well, I have to do something." I got back in there, and just like Mighty Casey before me, swung and missed for the third strike, thus ending my baseball career.
I guess there's no moral to the story, except for "You shouldn't live in fear." But you can't tell that to a kid middle school. Just think of it as part of the ingredients that got mixed to create the me as you know it today. I often wish I could have had another chance to do the baseball thing again the right way, knowing what I know now about not being afraid.
Eh, what can ya do? Enjoy the game, everyone!
The first time I booked the Treehouse for EG was in late-2004, and it was so easy. I called the bar, and described the act to a guy named Quinn Fallon, and he said "Sounds interesting! How about December 4th?" The rest, as they say, was the rest. Thus began a torrid 7-year love affair with the bar, which included 45 EG performances, countless drunken nights, and many, many friendships made.
It didn't take long for the us to establish a presence at the bar, both personally and musically. After seeing us perform a couple times, Quinn said that we could play there any time we wanted. He kept his word, too - any time I asked about an open date, he would scan the calendar and say "It's yours!" Perhaps my favorite memory of Quinn is when he called me after a local publication gave Pee Sells a bad review, and said, "First of all, fuck (them)! Second, do you want to play this Saturday?"
After performing at the Treehouse on April 1, 2005, Joe Peppercorn made a post on a local music message board that arguably put us in the Columbus music scene consciousness. We became fast friends with Joe, and we would often would go to the Open-Mic he hosted Wednesdays at the Treehouse, where I would sing EG songs while he played piano/guitar as "Child Abuse at Wal-Mart." By late 2007, Mary Alice and I both had full time jobs, and we weren't able to continue going to the open-mic nights at the same rate. It's something that still makes me a little sad to this day.
We also forged a friendship with Kyle Sowash in 2005, and he would often keep us in mind wherever he would book shows, especially at the Treehouse. He was always a very kind and vocal proponent of EG, and we were in turn for his band(s), in whatever form they took. After Quinn and Andy sold the bar in 2008, I was somewhat worried about the future of EG performances, despite it generally being "kept in the Treehouse family" with new owner/bar regular Phil Palma. Kyle announced shortly after that he would be taking over the booking, and it put us at ease. (That's what Kyle does for people, makes 'em comfy and happy).
Of course, prior to 2008 The Treehouse was "Andyman's Treehouse," as it was co-owned along with Quinn by the late great John Andrew "Andyman" Davis. We actually performed at the Treehouse the day Andy died, on July 17, 2010. It was easily one of the saddest moments that we experienced while living in Columbus. We didn't know Andy as closely as many of the Treehouse employees or patrons, or those at the local radio station CD 101 where he was a beloved DJ, but I consider myself lucky to have conversed with him on many occasion at the bar or elsewhere in Columbus. I can still see and hear him bellowing "Waddup EG!" at the bar, shaking my hand while balancing a beer in his. R.I.P. Andyman.
There were certainly some rough patches during our relationship with the bar. In November 2005 (before Mary Alice was an active stage member), I drove myself to exhaustion by performing a weekly "residency" at the bar. In 2006, we played a disastrous show the night before my college graduation, where we had to drive home right before our performance because I forgot some important cords. After arriving back at the bar, I proceeded to perform in a toga (never do this), and I had to beg our friend Shaun Duff (the first EG superfan) to retrieve my T-shirt from the green room due to my overheating. Then came the "coup de grace" in September 2010, where I was unable to perform because I drank too much and kept falling over. Hilarious? Yes. Still regretful? Absolutely.
But fuck that, the times were mostly splendid! We set the attendance record for the bar on January 12, 2007, at Mary Alice's birthday show. (Yeah, The Lab Rats also played, ya think that might of had something to do with it?) We played a triumphant final show before we moved to DC with one of our musical idols, Kepi Ghoulie. We played a ton of fantastic shows with bands/friends like Fat Girls By the Snack Table, Your Favorite Assassin, and Take No Damage. Our friend Derek Stewart made many awesome show fliers for us, some of which are no doubt still hanging in the now abandoned back room. In fact, the splendid times are too many to count. As Mary Alice said to me recently, "That place was my 20s," and the same obviously goes for me.
Though we here at Electric Grandmother are deeply saddened by the closing of the bar, it had indeed been on a steady decline since it was sold by Quinn and Andy. I'm definitely not going to point any fingers or place any blame publicly as to the "Why," because perhaps it was just it's time to go. Maybe it will reopen again one day, or maybe it won't. But one thing is for certain: There's a damn TREE growing in the middle of the place, and it's covered in Christmas lights, or some shit. What the-
The last EG show at The Treehouse - 05/30/2011 - Photo by Nicole(?)
*Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while (to anyone that cares). This DC place is a tough customer, but we're getting there, paps!
Here's a song that ended up being an outtake from The Stenographer sessions, even though I think I recorded it after the album was finished. It's called Ghost Dad, and it's about the movie Ghost Dad starring Bill Cosby and a girl from Head of the Class. I was inspired to post it after I was told of another "Ghost Dad" song by my friends Otto Von Walmart. I originally wrote it because a couple of good Columbus pals asked me to do so; I don't think either of them have ever heard it. Also, this is technically the 2nd version of this song, the 1st appeared on a Halloween compilation that Jon Dowling made.
If you've never seen Ghost Dad, the song will probably still make sense. Click here.
In honor of this hot summer, may I present one of the hottest tracks from the 2003 Dickalis album, 96 Summers. It's a song about how I spent my Summer of '96, spending time with the gang (my friend Brian McConville is lyrically referenced under his old nickname "dieselyo"), and the first Warped Tour that we all went to together. It features much keyboard-saxophone sound. My friend Mike told me that upon hearing this song for the first time he got a lump in his throat, so I score that as a victory.
Greetings from Washington DC, the birthplace of George Washington! We sure miss you Columbus, but we are excited for our new adventure here. Hope everything is ok on your end. I haven't been able to work on any new recordings yet, because we don't have a table for me to put my musical stuff on. I can't very well record on our bed, can I? I've only tried to book one gig so far by email, but I don't think they're going to write me back.
Mary Alice has a job, and I am still unemployed after two long weeks. Who'd of thought it? Not sure if this is the same America we once knew. It is hot as a mother here in our nation's capital. I find myself changing my shirt pretty often, as I was already a pretty sweaty guy before we moved here. Our building is pretty nice, except it has too many fucking doors. You have to put your groceries down several times to open the doors before you reach the apartment. There's a Burger King right next door for my Egg & Cheese biscuit needs, which is so dangerous, am I right ladies?
So from here, I will resume blogging and posting new and old songs as if nothing ever happened. I think that will best serve us in this time of transition. Hope everything is prosperous, and we'll no doubt see everyone before too long.
We just wanted to say thank you to all the parties that impacted the EG party in Columbus lo' these past 7 years! Attached to all these are most importantly, "Thanks for the friendship." May these friendships continue on and on, to the breaka dawn. Here they are, (mostly) in order of appearance:
Infinite Number of Sounds, for their awesomeness and guidance. Thanks to Matt for being our first point of contact and helping us to meet people, Dave and Brent for all their administrative help, including the release of the EG back catalog and the creation of this very website. Thanks to WCSB for all the help in getting this shit off the ground. Thanks to the late great Experimental Behavior message board. Thanks to all the folks in the Lakewood/Recycled Rainbow posse. Thanks to Eric Alleman for the words. Thanks to Jonathan Read for inspiration and encouragement. Thanks to Jill Harrison and November Loop, and to Jeremy Pifer and the Squares for playing those early shows with us. Thanks to Johnny La Rock and the LRI crew for the never ending support and invaluable partnership. Thanks to Scotty Boombox and J Rhodes for all the good times and drunken debauchery. Thanks Quinn Fallon for having the balls to first put us on at the Treehouse and never looking back. Thanks to Joe Peppercorn for hyping us up so much way back when, and being my partner in Child Abuse at Wal-Mart. Thanks to Kyle Sowash for always believing in us, and for his incredible amount of support over the years. Thanks to Jason Gonzales for the slammin' 4-track production work and general audio assistance. Thanks to Shaun Duff, the very first EG super fan and longtime supporter. Thanks to Zachery Allen Starkey for being really cool to us and putting us on some sweet shows. Thanks to Marvin the Robot for being himself. Thanks to Gretchen Tepper and Sara Cole for being our longtime partners in crime, and making us feel invincible when we did shows together. Thanks to Oxymoronatron for their robotic hi jinks. Thanks to Derek Stewart for his great flyer artwork and unsung behind-the-scenes assistance with EG. Thanks to DJ Empirical for having our back in the Nasty 'Nati. Thanks to Paul Abbott for his technical assistance and big-bro guidance. Thanks to Ben Hamilton for putting us on the big marquee. Thanks to Tom Butler and CD 101 for being so cool to us and playing our jams. Thanks to Ryan Jones and Mark Fisher for putting us on Comfest to have fun while mortifying a bunch of old hippies. Thanks to the ElectoCult Circus for all their supportive shenanigans. Thanks to Your Favorite Assassin for all the ass-kicking times we had together, and for allowing me to punk out on vocals with them. Thanks to The Lab Rats for being dope straight out the pharmacy. Thanks to Danger Media for their hype and killer videos. Thanks to Weird Paul and his rock band of merrymen for all of the zany adventures. Thanks to Take No Damage and the Tallmadge crew for the great times, touring, and theme parties. Thanks to Regis Duffy/Tony Clark/All Hail Records for shelling out for The Stenographer, it would have never come to fruition without your help. Thanks to John Garrett, Josie Rubio, Nicole Denman, JR Fisher, Nerd Table, Team Smile & Nod, Wesley Cray, Elle Crash, The Spitwads, The Faux Paus, Brandt & Janet, Danielle & Todd, for being helpful and fucking awesome to us.
Tanks as always to the major players at the EG home base, Mike Markowski, Gary Schad, Brian McConville/Broken Headphones, Stephane "4-track" Lavertu, Kevin Funnell$, Eric "That's Why We Brought It" Ext. Last but not least, R.I.P. Andyman, it was a pleasure and honor to be a branch in your Treehouse.
And for Christ's sake, thanks to all of our great friends who have stuck by us for all these years, thanks to all the clubs/venues that have been cool to us, and thanks to anyone and everyone who ever came to/watched one of our shows. It was a pleasure to serve you. If we forgot to list you here, don't take it personal, we're just stupid. Thanks!
DC HERE WE COME!
Unlike the highly successful Teen Poetry series, the following poem I am about to submit below is an actual poem I wrote when I was 18. I wrote a few doozies around that time. Ya know, mad at the world, but a little confused. I promised I'd show you, so here it is:
GUNS ON THE CORNER
What a convenient location
Intentionally planted by the city council
Gun shop on the corner
So we can kill each other
I'm sure it's for "hunting" purposes
Especially in an urban area
What do they think will happen?
Ship in the new poor population after the killing stops?
Do you think the President cares about a street in Cleveland?
The government brought in the drugs
Another killing machine
The government supplies the guns to everyone
Who's the REAL street thugs?
Attack the source!
Who supplies the guns?
Who supplies the drugs?
Attack the government!
The source of the killing
And we thank you...
I also wanted to mention that I'm working on a list of thank you's to all you swell Columbus folks that have helped Electric Grandmother over the years. It's long, like a long ding-dong.
Earlier today, I discussed on Facebook about how I want to see the great 80s sitcom Head of the Class released on DVD or DivX. Pictured above is Arvid Engen, who knows what he's doing. Pictured below is Eric Mardian, who also knows what he's doing.
Long story short, I think it's motherfucking bullshit that "they" haven't released this series to home video. It's not like The Wonder Years where they need to get Bob Seger's approval, this is fucking Howard Hesseman we're talking about. Mr. Moore rules, see below (pictured lying back):
There's really no point to this entry, I just wanted to post a bunch of pictures from Head of the Class Show Spectacular. That, and I hadn't written a blog entry in a while, so I thought I'd do some pandering. Pretty cheap, eh? So fuck you, and sign my "Bring back Head of the Class" petition by clicking this link.
Over this past weekend here in Columbus, there was a music industry conference called Musicians Inc. held at Ohio State University. In addition to paying $30 a pop to hear expert advice from musicians, engineers, and industry panelists, there was also a major label A & R representative available for consultations. That's right kids, for the low low price of $300, you will get a whole half an hour to talk to this sleazy motherfucker about furthering your music career. I'm going to violate DMCA law by reposting the site text here, but what the hell:
There are 8 private consultations with Jeff Blue available. For $300, artists will be able to have Jeff's undivided attention for 30 minutes. During that time, Artists may play demo tapes for Jeff and receive feedback or ask Jeff any questions that they may have. Additionally, all artists who sign up for private consultations will perform a 2 song showcase at (local club) for Jeff and other presenters after the conference. Showcasing artists will also receive a complimentary music law consultation from Crumpton Law LLC.
I had a friend call this "predatory," which I think describes it perfectly. Kids, if you see this type of thing roll into your town,
don't do it. This plane is going down in flames, and they know it. Do you think they would have done this type of nonsense 10 years ago? This is a last ditch, hail mary move. We
are so close to seeing the major labels disappear. Keep doing what you're doing, but don't do this. I'm not trying to tell you what to do, I'm just trying to tell
you what to do.
***3 hours and a nice dinner later***
It's funny (and ridiculous), because thinking about this and writing about this has really bothered me. It's stupid to take these things so seriously, I know. I get unnecessarily angered by these creeps. Do whatever you want, you have my permission. I hope everyone finds what they need to make them happy. Peace, hippies punkers.
Back when I went to Community College in the late 90's, I took a theater studies class with a tall and skinny theater guy as my teacher. He didn't like me from day one, because he took the whole 80's approach of looking at my punker garb and automatically assumed I was a no good rabble-rouser. He hassled me every chance he got, and would do things like scold me for talking during class when I answered a classmate's question about our homework. It eventually got to the point where I couldn't stand the guy giving me shit anymore, and I decided to drop the class midway through the semester. I asked him if I could get a 'W' or 'Incomplete' or something of the like in lieu of an 'F.' He gave me some kind of a "Hmmmmm, let me think about it," answer, and/or "The shoe's on the other foot now, ISN'T it my fine friend?," as if he was living out a real life theater fantasy. I usually appreciate this kind of condescending TV sitcom stuff in most situations, but I really did nothing to deserve it. He even had the nerve to say, "You don't like school very much, DO you?" This guy really enjoyed having me as an enemy.
A few days after our initial meeting I decided that he could kiss my fucking ass, and I went and asked for an 'F' grade for the class. It was then that I got roped into having a heart to heart with him about life, and other heavy stuff. It was really ridiculous and frustrating to be standing there telling this dope about my hopes and fears, and all that garbage. I didn't want to give the guy another opportunity to live out his theater fantasy, but he was determined to listen to what I had to say, no matter how ultimately unimportant it was. I actually got pissed off when I saw the 'F' grade on the report card, because I was secretly hoping he'd reward me for my honesty, or whatever.
After spending 4 years at a 2-year school, I was finally set to graduate. In true rebel-on-TV form, I wore old beat up combat boots with my graduation gown. While walking to accept my diploma, I locked eyes with the theater teacher in the alumni section, who smiled at me and whispered "Congratulations." I couldn't believe that this fucker was trying to share a tender storybook-ending moment with me. To this day, it may stand as the corniest thing that's ever happened to me in my life. It all came full circle: The no-good rebellious kid causes trouble for the teacher who struggles to reach him. Eventually, the teacher is able to relate to the rebel, and has a hand in turning his life around. On the day that the once headstrong youth finally reaches the mountain top, he non-verbally acknowledges his mentor who had the strength to see him through despite seemingly insurmountable odds. No words are necessary, because words will only fail the two of them.
Well, someone did fail, and it wasn't with words.
Amidst all the chaos and microphones not working last Saturday at the Treehouse, we did actually debut a song called Mac Tonight. It's a song about McDonald's, people seemed to enjoy it. It's sort of like the Mac and Me song, except it's a song about McDonald's as opposed to a song about a movie about McDonald's. So here's the demo, hope you lick it.
If you've reading any online music publications as of late, then you're no doubt aware of the relatively new Electric Grandmother PornTube channel. Both members of the band have been integral in it's launch and subsequent success. Mary Alice's work can be seen in the moving picture videos, while my work can be seen in the non-nonsensical still frame videos. So next time your co-worker says to you, "Say Chet, who was that great Norwegian Black Metal band we saw last weekend at the Treehouse?," you can direct them to the PornTube channel, because your co-workers like porn.
If you've been following the Facebook status updates this week from Mary Alice and I, you know that we were profoundly affected by Ben Weasel's actions last weekend at the SXSW festival. If you live on Punk Rock Mars or aren't into this scene, here's what happened:
The legendary pop-punk rock band Screeching Weasel had been invited to play a slot at this year's SXSW festival. Ben Weasel was reluctant to do so, and is apparent by his Twitter account leading up to the performance. During the performance, he went on a relentless tirade against the festival's culture and what he felt was a general exploitation of performers by the festival organizers. Near the end of the performance, the crowd had become agitated and began to lash out at Ben. A man in the audience threw an ice cube that hit him in the head, and woman spit beer in his face. Then this happened:
As one article put it, there is no "alleged" involved in this incident. Ben Weasel punched two women, and was escorted from the venue.
A 25 year anniversary festival dubbed "Weaselfest" had been scheduled in Chicago for Memorial Day weekend. At this festival, Screeching Weasel were to headline two nights, while successful Weasel side project The Riverdales were to headline one night. Joining them on stage were to be fellow pop-punk luminaries The Queers, Kepi Ghoulie, Chixdiggit, and Teenage Bottlerocket among others. The latter three of those bands have since canceled their appearances at the festival, along with two other lesser known groups. Easily the most damning to the festival has been the subsequent resignation of Ben Weasel's bandmates from Screeching Weasel. All scheduled Screeching Weasel shows have been officially canceled with the exception of the Weaselfest weekend, but it appears to be only a matter of time before the plug is pulled. Mary Alice and I had already purchased tickets to the festival, as well as non-refundable hotel reservations. We're out a lot of money as a result of this man and his volatile temper.
We did find it somewhat unusual that so many bands had quickly canceled based on what is seemingly an isolated, albeit very serious incident. Additional research shows that some of the bands did not cancel simply based on this incident, but due to what they feel is the last straw from years of personal conflict with Ben Weasel. Anyone who has followed Ben Weasel's career knows that he is a notorious grump and cynical bastard. Many people, even people who have never met him, have felt wronged by hm in some manner. This incident has seemingly been the last straw for many people. After all, it's indeed all fun and games until you clearly see a man punch two women. The fact that he punched any woman is something that many haven't been able to get past, which is certainly their right. I have not seen a single normal, rational human being online say that what happened is excusable. It was wrong and stupid for him to retaliate like that, and the seriousness of the matter should not be understated. However, seeing as how Ben does not have a history of this type of violent behavior, I feel that this incident is eventually forgivable. The punches were thrown during a fracas on a concert while he was being spit on and grabbed at, and it does not compare to real incidents of domestic violence. As a proud Male Feminist, I feel that it's ignorant and patronizing to compare this incident (which some have done) to Chris Brown beating the shit out of Rhianna in a parked car. Just my take on the matter.
The whole thing is particularly heartbreaking for us, to see someone who we have held in high regard for so many years fall so hard. Mary Alice nearly fell over recently when I told her that I looked at Ben as a "Model of Stability." Aside from alienating fans, friends, and fellow bands in the past with his antics, he also has a history of panic/anxiety attacks, and during a period in the late 90's he seldom left his apartment for nearly two years due to severe agoraphobia. The reason why I looked up to him in this regard, is because he had always seemingly overcome, or at least addressed his problems and came out better and stronger for it. This model ended on that fateful night at SXSW. I was able to look past his semi-conservative politics and recent conversion to Catholicism, neither of which are my bag. But in addition to who he punched that night, I was greatly disturbed by the fact that he just fucking lost it. This 42-year old husband and father of two who has written some of the most amazing songs I've ever heard could not keep it together when it mattered. Maybe he momentarily forgot that he wasn't in some dive circa 20 years ago, where this type of thing was maybe more commonplace and inherent to a "I'll punch you, you punch me, we all have a laugh" punk rock culture. He was in fact in a place where the whole world would be watching, in the year 2011, where we are thankfully less tolerant of violence at shows. At any rate, it was a reminder that one has little control over the actions of others, and that we ultimately need to pull our own stability and strength from within. (Pretty heavy stuff, eh?)
A couple days following this incident, Ben released an apology on his website that didn't quite make it for everybody. He stated that he regretted his actions and that he was sorry, but also implied that the crowd's unruly behavior drove him to it. When you fuck up on that large of a scale, I think it's important to apologize and exonerate anyone else who was involved. It also didn't help his cause when it came out that he fired his manager and publicist after that night. It sort of advanced things from, "Ben Weasel, that lovable asshole," to "Wow, maybe this guy is a creep." As fans, we don't know the full story behind all that happened, but knowing what we do know sure makes it more difficult to defend the guy. We'll leave that to his friend and ours, the great and surly Joe Queer.
There's nothing else we can do about what happened at this point, what's done is done. Ol' Ben blew it, and we'll be left wondering merely what Weaselfest could have been. Plus, he cost us a lot of money. Mary Alice and I will always have a place in our hearts for Ben, and we both hope that he finds peace one day. He's brought us a lot of happiness, and we could never repay him for it. No matter what the future brings, we'll always hold dearly the music and memories.
You're a complete moron, Ben!
Ah, so nice of you to drop by! My name is Grace, and I am here to tell you about a new song.
It's a song about the movie Mac and Me. It's called "Mac and Me." It's in demo mode. It's an experimental type deely, maybe not something that would be performed live. The crux of the song revolves around the fact that Mac and Me came first, and the makers of E.T. The so-called "Extra-Terrestrial"...
...totally ripped it off. If you haven't seen the movie, you should. See below to find out why!:
My old friend Mikey and I used to talk all the time about feeling bored and restless, and always wishing we were doing something "better." I put the word "better" in quotes, because I don't think either of us knew exactly what that "something" was.
Picture it: Aurora, Ohio, 1993. My friend Brandon and I were staying overnight at Mikey's house, when we hatched an absurd plan to walk to a local mall at around 1AM. This mall was approximately 5 miles away, and definitely closed for the day - it was the thirst for adventure that motivated our thoughts and subsequent actions. After about a few seconds of debate and discussion, we decided that it was obviously a great idea.
It was a warm night when we embarked on our Stand By Me-style journey, my friends. But instead of searching for a dead body, our quest was to locate a mysterious closed mall, which we knew how to get to. We walked, and talked, and walked some more, while Brandon regaled us with the latest story he wrote about a kid named "Lard Ass," who enacted his revenge on the town by barfing on them at a pie-eating contest. But seriously folks, we did go on this treacherous trek, and it was filled with memories, a few of which I can sort of remember.
I remember us talking about how we wanted to drink beer and smoke cigarettes, and shortly into our journey Brandon astonishingly found an unopened can of beer on the side of the road, which he drank without offering any to me or Mikey. We veered off of our main path to walk through some suburban developments - if you've never seen a quiet suburbia at 3 AM, it's something to behold. I remember us sitting in the middle of a road, and Brandon saying that "(I) was most boring person in the world." I looked at him confused, and he quickly corrected himself by stating, "Oh, I swear to God I meant to say (our acquaintance) Doug." I believed him, because, c'mon... I don't think this "Doug" sings songs about TV shows or writes witty blog posts.
So after who knows how long, we made it to where we could see the mall. We perched ourselves behind some bushes, and watched what seemed like 20 cop cars drive back and forth in front of the main mall entrance. I was all ready to continue, but my boys wussed out big time, with Brandon saying, "I just wanted to see if we could do it."
So then a bunch of stuff happened, blah blah blah, we went back to Mikey's house. The whole trip alarmingly only took 3-4 hours, but it seemed liked we were out all night. Point is, the cast of Stand By Me had a reunion, so suck on that.
While in the supermarket this evening, I happened upon a young man pushing shopping cart with a young woman seated inside. As I passed them, the woman glanced at me knowingly, as if to ask "Are you wondering what I am doing sitting inside this shopping cart?" I didn't think that question exactly, but more of a statement. "Shopping carts are for groceries, not for people" I though to myself. "They must have made a mistake while shopping."
Moments later, it dawned on me that maybe I was the one who was mistaken. "Must shopping carts necessarily be for groceries only?" I pondered. I looked back at them both laughing and smiling, and wondered if I had perhaps inadvertently boxed myself in with this way of thinking. They appeared to be enjoying their actions without regard to what others may think. "If only I were able to know such freedom," I spoke aloud, and wondered if there would ever come a day where I/my significant other would feel comfortable enough to push a shopping cart while the other was seated inside. Alas, today would not be the day for such an endeavor, but true happiness is rooted in the ability to dream, dream for another day.
The final in a trilogy of 2009 celebrity interviews.
Charlottesville, VA, May 6, 2009
Electric Grandmother: Hello Man!
Dave Matthews: Hi man.
EG: Hello honey.
EG: What has been new lately?
DM: Not a whole lot. The usual, writing songs and performing with my band.
EG: To what do you owe your success?
DM: Hard work and persistence, and just trying to create the best possible songs.
EG: How long have you been this way?
DM: A while.
EG: What was it like when you were young?
DM: Pretty good.
EG: Who are your main influences?
DM: A lot of folk rock/blues stuff like the Grateful Dead, I also like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.
EG: I never would have guessed!
DM: (laughs) Yeah, I guess it's no secret.
EG: What was the name of your first band?
DM: We were called Tribe of Heaven.
EG: Why did the Dave Matthews tour bus empty their poop off that bridge?
DM: You have to understand, man. We didn't mean to hit anyone with the poop. It was an accident. We apologized to that guy and bought him dinner.
EG: Where did you get dinner?
DM: Bob Evans.
EG: Sounds good. What are your immediate plans for the future?
DM: Take it easy, somewhat. We've been going at this for a while now. Sometimes we get really tired, and it's good to take a break.
EG: How are you feeling now?
DM: Pretty good. I love you.
EG: Do you have any idea when the new album is coming out?
EG: Okay, I gotta go, any words to leave us with?
DM: Treat each other well, and don't forget to have a good time. Thank you for being here.
Most people when they look at me wouldn't immediately think "sports fan," due to my sitcom-punker exterior. I've been a fan of (specifically Cleveland) sports since I was young, though in my adult years I've resided myself to mostly following the Cleveland Browns, and just sort of keeping a half-eye the other teams. Football and the Browns were always my biggest love when it came to sports, and I still jump around like a kid with ADHD when I watch the Browns play. As a lifelong Browns/Cleveland sports fan, I've experienced great heartache. Above is a photo of The Fumble, which is my most vivid painful memory from my football-watching childhood. (To learn more about Cleveland sports misery, see this list. They even left a couple of things out).
On this eve of Super Bowl 45, I happened to have a dream last night where my beloved Cleveland Browns defeated my hated arch-rivals Pittsburgh Steelers by the absurd score of 100-75 in the AFC Championship game to advance to the Super Bowl. It was weird (well, obviously), because I was out at a sports bar watching this important game, and I would never do that. (It was also one of those dreams where some Steelers players were at the bar at the same time they were playing the game, but that's a non-issue). The most telling part of the dream was when a Browns player fumbled on the 1-yard line, but unlike the real life "Fumble" of January '88, a Browns player scooped up the ball and advanced it into the end zone. The funny part of it was that I wasn't watching when it happened, I only saw it on replay. It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots with the fumble on the 1-yard line, and I interpret missing the play in real-time to a fear that I will never see the Browns play in a Super Bowl. I know it sounds insane to be still feeling the pain of game from 24 years ago (not to mention the lingering pain of The Drive from the previous year), but every other Browns fan understands what I'm talking about. (The Browns' opponent was the Denver Broncos in both instances, the Pittsburgh Steelers just happened to be the team in my dream's revenge fantasy).
So there you have it, the Browns beat the Steelers by a score of 100-75 to advance to the big game. You heard it on Grandma's Haywire Sports Bonanza first. Below is a YouTube clip shot by our friend Bill Clifford of Fuck Yeah, Ohio of our performing a song called "Touchdown Browns" at a show in December. I'm singing it too loud of kind of shittily, but you get the idea.
Here we go Brownies, here we go! WOOF WOOF!!!
On February 4, 2011, it was reported that the Lindsay Lohan Mural was cruelly vandalized. The following is an interview that I conducted with Lindsay's ex, DJ Samantha Ronson, in May of 2009.
Los Angeles, May 4, 2009
Electric Grandmother: Hello man!
Samantha Ronson: Hi man.
EG: How are you feeling?
SR: Pretty good. My break up with Lindsay Lohan was hard, but I'm hanging in there.
EG: Who are your musical influences?
SR: I like a lot of the old school stuff, like Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, etc. I'm also influenced by modern techno artists, like Prodigy, Daft Punk, Orbital, The Chemical Brothers, and what not.
EG: That's pretty cool!
SR: I like to think so.
EG: Where were you born?
EG: Is it cold there?
SR: (laughs) Definitely! It's also very gray.
EG: What's your favorite part of London?
SR: The Tower of London.
EG: How tall is it?
SR: About 100 feet tall.
EG: What are other jobs have you had besides DJ?
SR: I washed dishes in a local pub here in Los Angeles.
SR: (laughs) Sorry, I forgot where I was. A local bar.
EG: (laughs) That's ok. Have you ever sold prescription drugs in Idaho?
SR: Many times. But after a while, that sort of lifestyle catches up with you. I'm really glad that I became a DJ.
EG: Do you miss Lindsay?
SR: Sort of. But we had our time together, and I do treasure those moments.
EG: What's next for you?
SR: I'm working on my new album, it should be ready in late 2009.
EG: Not too late, I hope?
SR: Not if I can help it.
EG: Well, that's great! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
SR: My pleasure, thank you.
I moved to Hawaii in 1997 when I was only 19 years old to be near my girlfriend. I had a plan to attend a local community college and some money my grandmother gave me, but that was about it. My aforementioned lady-friend had the unfortunate job of scrambling to find me a place to live within my price range. She happened upon a man who was renting out a little cottage behind his house. That man was Mr. Koki.
Mr. Koki seemed warm and welcoming upon our first meeting. As old men went, he seemed pretty standard fare. He seemed more than happy to want to help me get settled in, and was anxious to take on the new challenge that was me. He gave me a mini-refrigerator to use that was located outside behind his house, and offered that I could use his BIG outside refrigerator in a pinch. There was a bathroom, shower, and a bed, all located inside, under a roof. There was a even a desk for me to eat my cereal. Life wasn't bad at all.
Within approximately a month, the man had already had it with me. He didn't like that I listened to music loudly, he didn't like that I smoked, and he didn't much care for the sound of me and my girlfriend doing it right behind his house. You could tell that his patience was already wearing thin, but he was holding on because of that goddamn 6-month lease we signed. There were times at the beginning of our relationship where he would try to act nice, but he just couldn't sustain it. He would scream at me angrily about my taking up too much space in the BIG refrigerator ("Mike, what are you doing?!"), ask me where the rent was ("Mike, where is the rental [sic]?!"), and complain about the mess I made in his cottage ("Mike, you made a mess!!"). I never did figure out why he thought my name was Mike, but I thought it was funny, so I let it ride. He also called me "Paul" once, and for some reason that struck me as even more funny than Mike.
Mr. Koki's general anger and "Mike" name-calling was all fun and games, but then things started to get weird. One night/early morning at about 2 AM I was taking a shower, when I heard a commotion outside. Suddenly the door swung open, and there was Mr. Koki fuming with rage. "MIKE!" he yelled. "WHY ARE YOU TAKING A SHOWER?!" I probably stammered something, but I don't remember what. "WHO TAKES A SHOWER AT 2 IN THE MORNING?!" he screamed. I stood and stared in disbelief at this old man angrily looking my naked body up and down. He slammed the shower door, and stormed out of the cottage. The next day, he didn't so much apologize to me as try to rationalize his behavior. "You see Mike," he said, "Many years ago, there was a man staying in the cottage. He had a heart attack and died while inside, and I didn't find him for two days. I just wanted to make sure that didn't happen to you." I suppose it was nice that he was concerned about me having a heart attack at 19, but that was fucking weird. I didn't know enough then to know what he did was illegal, and I may have made a bigger deal of it had I known. But hey, what's a little nudity between landlord and tenant?
So the months went on, and Mr. Koki became increasingly frustrated with my wild punk rockness (by comparison to anything else he had ever seen in his life). The last straw came when one night a friend was over playing acoustic guitar, and Mr. Koki and his wife completely lost their shit. They said the noise was disturbing the neighborhood, and that one of the neighbors was about to kick the shit out of us. My friend stupidly tried to reason with him, and that just made things worse. Mr. Koki said that he even called the police, but they wouldn't come out to the house to bust us because we had stopped making noise when they asked us to. There was an acoustic guitar being played at 10 PM, and the cops got called. Again, I was only 19. I just assumed that I was wrong.
Eventually 6 months came and went, and Mr. Koki couldn't wait to get me the fuck off his property. He swore at me a few last times, I told him that he was wrong to do so, and that was that. I stayed in Hawaii for 3 and a half more years, and I think I saw one more time during that time span. He approached me in a mall laughing and tried to grab my goatee. On one subsequent visit back to the island, we saw him in a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant eating breakfast. He looked much older, and I couldn't help but think I had something to do with it. It had been too long and I looked too different enough for him to recognize me, and I wasn't about to approach him to wax nostalgic about shower-gate.
This past Christmas, the wife and I were wondering if Mr. Koki was still alive after all this time. Just today I google'd his name, and sure enough there he was in the obituaries. He died this past September at 89 years of age. I couldn't help but feel a little sad. He was a symbol of an important transition in my life. He was also my first landlord, ya know? That's something. I wondered if he thought of me at all during his final years. Probably not much, but maybe just a little, wondering whatever happened to me.
Well Mr. Koki, I'm a grown man now, and I'm choosing to immortalize you on my website.
Rest in Peace, ol' Pal.
This is going to be a real neat-o show! This cool flyer was made by our art-y partner in crime, Derek Stewart.
There was this man who liked to go into his dreams, because he felt bad when his wife jumped out of the window. It made him sad, because she wasn't there. Him and his friend met a man who told him that he could make him go home. He liked that, so he did what the man told him to do. Them and the man and a girl they knew all went into their dreams to make another man be happy again with his father when he died. They had to go into about four or five dreams to make the man think it was real. It almost didn't work, because people kept shooting each other.
First they put a bag over the rich man's head, and then the other man pretended to be his uncle, and that was in the first dream with the van. For the second dream, they went into the hotel and floated around for a while. In the third dream, the people in it called Red Dawn and went into their movie. The fourth dream was on the beach, and he went with the girl to his old house. She was really sad, because he said he couldn't be there anymore.
At the end of the movie, it was the beginning again, and the guy who killed the guy from the beginning was really old. He thought he came to kill him, but he just ate food and was dirty. They decided to go back to the airplane together, and they were young again. At the end, the man went to the United States, but it might have been a dream.
I saw the movie Harry and the Hendersons for the first time the other night, and I didn't like it. I thought I would like it, but I didn't. Based on the cover of the DVD box, I thought it would be a kooky family movie. Instead, it turned out to be this twisted science-fiction movie. If you don't want to know what happens in the movie, reading this probably won't make a difference.
I was on board with the family when they hit the Bigfoot (Harry) with their car. They started to lose me when they holed up with Harry in their house in order to protect him from...the outside? The daughter in the movie seemed nonplussed by Harry and his antics. He stole her strawberry yogurt, or used her hairspray. The little boy reminded me of myself as a kid, because he looked like I did and acted like a spazz throughout. The scenes were just extremely long. It just kept going. I'm having trouble remembering details because I kept falling asleep. I was having some Diet Cherry 7-Up and vodka while watching.
I do remember that John Lithgow punched Harry in the face in the end, as if he were a person. Mary Alice and I both laughed at these shenanigans. This movie made my muscles hurt. I argued with others on Facebook about the quality of this movie, and I won each argument.