While washing my crotch in the shower this afternoon, it occurred to me that it's been 15 years since The Electric Grandmother was conceived. What started off as a solo home recording project has turned into a world famous husband-wife musical duo. It was December 1999 when I made the first Electric Grandmother tape called "Groovin' on the Jack Move," named after a phrased muttered by the late great Wesley Willis.
Since we started Electric Grandmother as a live act in 2004, I can honestly say that the best part of it all has been all the awesome friends we've made over the years. We're some of the luckiest damn people in the world. That's all that really matters, it's far greater than the American Music Awards we've received.
One of the most important things I've learned over the years is how important it is to treat other people kindly. The underground music scene is not the socialist-utopia I presumed it was in my early 20's, it's a lot like high school: People grappling for position, wanting to be more important than others, trying to fill a void in themselves by putting people down. I tell you this my friends - the cynics will always lose, because like the rest of us, they won't be here one day. We haven't got time to be opportunistic at the expense of others, because we don't live forever. That's another important thing I've learned.
Be excellent to each other.
It occurred to me recently that I've pretty much mastered the art of dealing with collection agencies. To be fair, I'm not referring to overdue credit card balances, or anything else that potentially would harm you long term. I'm talking about instances where you haven't been actually charged by your bank and had a credit deposit, I'm talking about instances where you basically owe money in theory. To use an old example, the now defunct Columbia House Record Club and their "12 CDs for a penny" deal. You signed an agreement to buy CDs later at full price, but you hadn't actually been charged anything.
So here now are Pete's tips for beating a collection agency:
Tip #1: You don't owe the Collection Agency fucking shit
Collection agencies are hired by the company you owe money to. Those inflated bills that they mail you/call you about includes their fee they've added in, because that's the amount they are charging the company for their services, and so it follows that the company that hired them wants you to foot the bill. If you choose to pay the company anything, pay them directly and ignore the collection agency notices. Once that happens, the notices will stop coming, because you personally don't owe the collection agencies fucking shit.
Tip #2: You can wait out the calls, and they'll eventually stop
It used to be that a collection agency could call you at home 15 times a day to collect, which would result in more bills being paid to avoid nervous breakdowns. Nowadays with cell phones being the norm, you can see who's calling you and choose to not pick up the phone. Oh, they'll still call you 15 times a day, and on top of it they'll call using different phone numbers. I found a relatively simple solution: Label all the unknown numbers you get, so they're easier to ignore. I had a list of "Jerks #1-#7" on my phone, many of which who have been trying to collect for several years now. Instead of furrowing my brow at an unrecognized number, I got the satisfaction of seeing the word "Jerks" show up on my caller ID every time one of those jerks called. So hang tight on that $400 bill from 2004 that you owe the Ohio State Medical Center, they'll eventually wear themselves out and stop calling.
Tip #3: Read this article I found, which sums some things up nicely: http://www.debt.org/credit/collection-agencies/secrets/
Tip #4: Check this Love in An Escalator outtake, from 2010. (The song eventually became what is known as "Reagan's Got the Bomb."
I won’t pay, kiss my ass
I’ll just sit at home and laugh
You’ll just have to take a bath
On what you say I owe
I won’t pay a bit
For this made up shit
Get your records straight
And get the fuck off of my phone
Tip #5: Fuck the collection agencies, they're a bunch of wimps, stay strong, you can do it
This teacher I had in middle school used to call me "Fogsville," because I always looked spaced out. What an awful person she was.
This is the story of how Madonna went from being a dishwasher in Brooklyn to arguably the biggest star in the world. It all started with a dream, a dream that was realized when her manager saw her perform at a talent show. The message is to never give up, because Madonna was once just like you.
Your dreams won't chase themselves.
Here's a demo of a new song called "The Bodyguard." It's from the perspective of the woman, who is trying to come to terms with letting the Bodyguard go. She knows that they are not good for each other, and that the Bodyguard has acted far too selflessly towards her, and that the Bodyguard needs to put himself first for once. Also, she notes that "I won't run to you anyway," indicating that any effort on his part would be in vain.
As many of you know, I was raised in a Baptist family. From the time I was born until I was about 16, I went to church with my family every Sunday. We went to three different churches during that time; A church in Cleveland, a second church in Twinsburg, and a third church in my hometown of Aurora, Ohio. During this time, I saw and heard some crazy things. Electric Grandmother Inc., in cooperation with Sitcom-Core Co., is proud to present TALES FROM CHURCH.
This is obviously the foggiest era with the least amount of available detail.
- Believe it or not, one of my most vivid memories of going to church in Cleveland was looking into the church nursery and seeing this little boy sticking his poop covered butt in the air while some woman wiped it. His name was Alex, and the poop smelled horribly. It was probably the most revolting thing I had ever seen up to that point. Later that day, I saw the boy running around while his dad chased and called out to him, "Alex...Alex..." It looked like he still had poop in his pants.
- Once we were at the church for a night gathering, and this teenage boy was whirling around this paper cut-out of a bee attached to a string. It made a bee-buzzing sound while he whirled it, and it was outstanding. I asked him to keep doing it over and over, and he kept saying "Mmm-K!"
- My favorite hymn was "Holy, Holy, Holy," because I thought it was really loud and intense.
If I ever again see a bigger kid bullying a smaller kid, I'm going to intervene and convince the bully that I'm the little kid from the future, and that I came back to kick the crap out of him.
I haven't seen a kid being bullied as of late, it was just a thought I had.
Girl Meets World made it's debut last night on the Disney Channel, and it sucked. First of all, I don't know who the heck those two little girls were. I hated them. Cory and Topanga weren't on the show enough, and there weren't enough jokes. Everything moved really fast, because that's how kids today think. I wanted to kill them.
There was a boy who was supposed to be Minkus. I hated his guts. There was a hunky boy that was supposed to be Shaun, and I even hated him. You can't go home again, Martha. I wish they were dead.
I don't know why they didn't try harder. Does it hurt to try? I don't know, maybe it does. Maybe this was their best try, and this was the best they could do. I don't why there is so much hate in the world. I'm not certain why there are wars, disease, and famine, it's just a part of life we have to accept. I don't know why some people seemingly have to suffer their whole lives, while others are tremendously fortunate. I think those of us who are fortunate should really appreciate what we have, because others aren't so lucky. We should also make a point to reach out to those who are suffering, and offer gentle compassion. Only when we offer compassion to others will we begin to offer compassion to ourselves, and therein my friends, lies the key.
So the other night, Mary Alice and I were watching the world famous special from 2003 called Living With Michael Jackson, starring Martin Bashir as the interviewer, and Jacko as the interviewee. It was even more strange than we remembered, and if you've never seen it, I pity you. This interview was infamous for implying that Michael Jackson was a dangerous pedo, which although was somewhat of a retread of 1993, refreshed the idea in everyone's mind. For the record, my purely speculative guess is that the guy probably didn't do it, which is totally and completely based on a hunch, and not at all based on any scientific research. Mary Alice and I were laughing at Michael Jackson's pain throughout the evening, and we specifically recalled the 1993 video statement from Neverland Valley (see above photo), and we were trying to approximate what he said in the video, and one of us (I think it was her?) offered "They photographed my penis," in a mocking, high-pitched Michael Jackson voice. The rest, of course, is history.
Before you go off to college, you'd better learn how to do laundry.
When you get home from church, don't just throw your dress clothes in a heap on the goddamn floor. Hang them up nicely so you can wear them next Sunday.
What sucked about faking being sick to leave school early is that you had to keep the ruse up throughout the entire process.
For example, you had to fake being sick to get out of class. Then, you had to put on a show for the nurse. Then, you had to sound sick when you called home. Then, you had to act sick while waiting to get picked up. Then, you had to act sick on the way home, and then for the rest of night. Hardly seems worth it in retrospect, unless part of your plan was to stay home the next day, too.
I see a lot of posts about our school system from both teachers and parents on my feed. A lot of finger pointing, one side blaming the other about shit getting fucked. As neither a parent nor teacher, here’s what I think:
Neither side is really to blame, it’s mostly institutional. The idea that we ask 14-year old children to act in a manner that determines the course of the rest of their lives is astounding to me. Remember what you were like at 14? You’re a couple years removed from playing with toys, and now it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’re going to be weeded out, whether or not you’re going to choose to be an opportunist, to capitalize. At 14, I was more concerned about just surviving the suburban nightmare that was my hometown. I can’t imagine what it must be like for an impoverished child.
So then, if the 14-year old child is unable to decide whether or not to capitalize, they’re given mind-altering drugs. Children. Children in classrooms of 300, in front of a 35-year old with two kids at home, and they’re drugged out of their minds. And they’re expected not only to survive, but to capitalize. Everyone should be ashamed of themselves, except for me.
Now that I’ve solved that problem, let me move on to the fact that we allow 16-year old children to operate 2,000 pound weapons of mass destruction. Do you know how young 16 is? It’s young. That’s why teenagers get involved in the highest accident rate per capita, because they’re stupid and their minds are mushy and drugged up. Granted my opinion is biased, because I did not know how to operate a motor vehicle, and almost died as a result. But the numbers don’t lie. That’s why I propose that we push the driving license age up to 18, and have a taxi service for children under 18 called “KIDZ CAB,” with a ‘Z’ instead of an ‘S’, so it appeals more to today’s youth. Wanna go on a date with a foxy mama, but don’t want your mom to drive you? Call KIDZ CAB. The end, cased closed. But those communist-fascists would never go for it, because car accidents are too important to the economy because they drive up insurance rates. There is blood on your hands, Progressive. And we could paint KIDZ CAB funky colors, too. Let them know that we understand.
The one and only Dan Pantzig has just covered what is probably our best known song, "Miami is Nice." Dan is a true unsung talent, and an American hero who fought in the Korean War. He never fails to impress, check it out.
Here is yet ANOTHER collaboration between The Electric Grandmother and the great Dan Pantzig, a chiptune cover a song by Screeching Weasel called Supermarket Fantasy.
Dan is the genius behind the chiptune tune, I just added some vocal icing there.
Have I ever mentioned before that I was a scrawny, nerdy looking kid? Well, I was. Even after entering my teens, it didn't occur to me that I could do anything to improve my appearance. I'm the same way as an adult in my mid-30s, I'm completely oblivious to the idea that I can change anything in my life for the better. I'll go months, sometimes years before realizing that I could have been doing something different to improve a situation, and it's often times glaringly obvious what it was. But anyhoo...
I was never "that boy," the boy to be considered a romantic interest. I was always too small and weird, I never even considered it a possibility. Once I had a friend ask me how many "pretend girlfriends" I had growing up. I told him that I had zero. He restated his question, specifying that he meant, "For one day, you ask a girl out, she says yes, you're boyfriend and girlfriend, and the next day it means nothing." I told him that I knew exactly what he meant the first time, and that I had never had any. He seemed genuinely surprised and sympathetic. I supposed having one or two of them would have been nice. But anyhoo...
Around the time I was 14, aided by the help of peers telling me that I should have more respect for myself and my appearance, I began to think of myself as a regular human being. I had begun growing a little bit, ditched my glasses for contact lenses, and got a better haircut. The dividends of my efforts finally paid off one day when I was walking by myself in the dearly departed Randall Park Mall. A dad was walking with his daughter and son, and he nudged his daughter while motioning towards me, as in "Hey, there's a boy for ya," and she proceeded to give her dad a playful "shut up" slap on his leg. The girl looked a couple years younger than me, but I didn't care. I'd never been "that boy" before. For them, that memory is no doubt forgotten in time, but it meant a lot to me, damn it. You never know what you might do to make someone feel good about themselves.
Here is a song that I made for Joe Moore to use as a theme to his comedy night - it got rejected. Joe has advised me that he would prefer the song be more about the show, and not as much about him, because "I would feel a little weird having it as the theme for the show, because it would be like gratuitously complimenting myself." He also advised me that there is someone named Roger is the "star of the show," so the song makes very little sense. I plan on making another theme song that does not just heap praise upon Joe. Joe did say that he liked the song, and that it should be shared. So here it is.
Here it is, albeit one day late, the demo of the brand new song Michael Jordan. It's timely, because we're going to our first Washington Wizards basketball game on Wednesday night, and they're playing the Charlotte Bobcats. And who is the primary owner of the Bobcats? That's right, it's one Mr. Michael Jordan. We did this on purpose. We assume he's going to be in the owner's box, cheering us on.
Pump this shit loud: Michael Jordan
I was a very nervous and anxious child. Like, really bad. Sometimes adulthood can be a real challenge.
When I was maybe 10 years old or so, this beer commercial (see below) featuring Elvira came on while I was watching TV with my dad. At one point during the commercial (:14), Elvira says "It's like Deja Vu," and then there's a quick screen wipe, and she repeats herself. For some reason this threw me into a panic, and I turned to my dad and asked frantically "WHAT MONSTER DID THAT?!?" My dad, confused and annoyed, said something like "I don't know, it's just silliness!" (How my dad talks)
Couple of things here - I didn't understand what "deja vu" meant, and I presumed what had happened to Elvira was something supernatural, which I already had an illogical fear of. Second, in my frenzied panic I didn't know how to express my question, so I asked my dad what "monster" could have done that. For the record, my dad would have no idea about the monster.
Flight is about the story of a man who drank and flew an airplane upside down. He did it so they wouldn't crash. But then the people who were trying to help him got mad, because he was drunk while he did it. They had breakfast together to talk about the airplane, and they got more mad. Then the man started drinking again. He went to his cabin, and he got rid of all his drugs. There was a woman from before, and they drank and had sex in his chair. That woman was from the hospital with the man in the stairwell.
Later, the woman decided she didn't want to go with him, so she left him a note and left. Then the man kept getting drunk, and tried to decide what to do. They had a funeral for the girl he was sleeping with at the beginning. At the funeral, he tried to tell the other woman what to do, and she got mad. The man wanted to fly his small plane, but he couldn't. They kept talking about how no one else could've flown the plane upside down. The man was mad, because he said the plane had never worked.
Later, the man got really drunk by accident, and the people who were trying to help him called another man to bring drugs. The man did the drugs, and he was fine. He went to talk, and decided he didn't want to lie anymore, and he decided to go jail. In conclusion, at the end of the movie the man told the other people about how he had lied, and his son came to visit.
I'm going to open my own music venue here in DC, here are my instructions for booking shows, please follow them accordingly:
* Please secure 4 local bands that are guaranteed to draw 75-500 people each. Please understand that we are a business, and we need to pay the bills just like you.
* We receive approximately 25,000 booking inquiries per hour, we can only answer 2 of them per day. Please be patient with us.
* Before you even think of booking a show, you must come down to my venue and pretend to like me for approximately 6 hours per week over the course of 8 weeks. (The weeks don't have to be consecutive) If I don't get to know you, I can't trust you to play my club that holds between 30-50 people.
* We don't have a functional website, so it's up to you to advertise your show.
* Browse our website to see what kind of music we host. If you can't guess what we're looking for or fit into our club's philosophy, your inquiry will be ignored.
* We host ALL genres, except Punk, Hardcore, Metal, Indie, Emo, Hip-Hop, Screamo, Thrash, Country, Folk, Reggae, and EDM.
* We're really close to an Elementary School, so your set needs to be done by 10:30 PM.
* You'll get paid 20% of the door, minus the fee for the sound guy, doorman, bartender, and use of our PA.
* When emailing, put in the subject Line: "ATTN: Booking guy, I love you, please help, 1+95%6." If you do not use the language/code provided, your inquiry will be ignored.
* Please do not play any shows within a 100 mile radius to our club three months prior to your show.
* We generally book nine months in advance.
* No calls or emails, you must fax a band photo/press kit/musical samples by mail. Please allow six months for your music to be reviewed.
* If you email me a .zip file, I will crack your skull. Streaming samples only, please.
We'll see ya soon!
This is one I've actually been sitting on for many months now, and it seems appropriate to share it now due to the arrival of our new computer.
It's called "The Computer," appropriately enough. The idea came about when I recalled a time when I called a friend's house, and (I'm about 80% sure) his dad left a voice greeting where he said, "THIS IS THE COMPUTER, WE ARE NOT AT HOME" (or something) in a nasally, 80's computer-like voice, reminiscent of V.I.C.K.I. So essentially, the song is about an 80's computer taking over your body and soul. Make sense? Mary Alice thinks the song is possibly a bit too close to The Internet, but I don't give a hell. I like it, and it's all vocoder, so that's cool.