Monday, September 3, 2018

Breakfast


I woke up on my side with a nightstand covered in beer bottles facing me. I blinked a few times and realized that it wasn’t my nightstand, although my head was telling me it was probably my bottles of beer. I looked over the sea of destruction of another late-night partying in this bedroom: clothes scattered, a record on a turntable spinning for what had probably been hours without someone picking up the needle, a traffic cone, the usual stuff for what was a…Thursday? No, it was a Tuesday night. I turned over in the bed and now remembered I was at that girl’s apartment. Good for me. I’m sure I’d piece the night together.

I did my best stealthy James Bond impression to get out of the bed without making a sound. I grabbed my very worn-out Chuck Taylors, got my black jeans off the floor and found my jacket before sneaking into the bathroom. I noted to myself that I looked like ass before splashing water in my face. It hit me that since it was apparently Wednesday morning, I had to go meet up for breakfast. I hate breakfast. I checked my phone and realized that I had to be there in 10 minutes, so I had to go now and hope that I was only 10 minutes away.

I went back to stealth mode as I made my way through the living room towards what I hoped was the front door. Years of waking up on various couches, floors and, if I were lucky, beds in various apartments that weren’t my own helped give me the skill to make a silent exit. I was thinking that very thing when my plan went to shit and I knocked over some stupid plant that was in the hallway. All that practice yet I couldn’t stifle the “oh shit” that was muttered out of my mouth. I listened closely without moving, but didn’t hear anything, so I opened up the door and turned to find another girl who was about to walk into the very apartment I was leaving.

            “One of Erica’s friends?” she asked, with a cup of coffee in her hand. I hated breakfast but could certainly go for some of that right now.

            “I’m the new maid. See you next Thursday!” I told her cheerfully.

            “It’s Wednesday.”

            “Terrific.”

            “I think you stepped on my cat last night,” she said.

            “Guess I’m fired then!” I told her as I finally got away.

I was thanking God that this building had an elevator. I checked my missed texts and realized that my 12% battery wasn’t ideal. That probably meant no Spotify on the post-breakfast subway. If Satan really wanted to punish us, Hell would be a never ending subway ride without music. I ignored the various texts asking what I was up to, when my next story could be expected, and the one calling me an asshole, but I did text back a “see you soon” to the girl I was meeting for breakfast, despite her reaching out to confirm about 14 hours earlier. She knows me well enough to know that I would never cancel on her. We all should have at least one person in our lives that we should never, ever cancel on.

The sun was so bright it basically punched me in the face as I made my way out of the lobby. It was a small miracle that I was somewhat close to our meeting spot at The Mug n’ Muffin. The hangover was starting to settle in, but that didn’t take away from my excitement from seeing Amanda. I hustled the final two blocks so that I would only be 3 minutes late to breakfast. I saw her sitting down at one of the tables outside. It was impossible to miss her. She’d make a terrible Where’s Waldo. I hopped over the short gate next to her table and sat down across from her.

            “Only three minutes late! That’s a new record for you,” She said with mock enthusiasm.

            “Thank you, thank you,” I said while waving to my fake cheering section. “How the hell are ya?”
            “Fantastic as always. You look like ass,” she said. She was right. Then again, she was always right.
            “I feel like ass,” I said. I guess I was still looking as banged up as I felt.

            “I see you haven’t changed from last night’s clothes. Just wake up?” she asked.

           “Well now how did you know that? Maybe I just own multiple Talking Heads tshirts. Ever think about that?”

            “Your Instagram story gave it away.” Dammit.

            “Okay fine, yes, it was another dive bar turned into after party turned into a rough morning. But I’m here now with you so things are going swimmingly. And you are lucky enough to not be hungover, looking sharp as always in that snappy pantsuit AND you even get to hang with me, so I will admit that you are the one thriving the most at this table,” I said.

The waiter came over with a pot of coffee, and a coupe of plates. He set the first one down in front of Amanda which had scrambled eggs, a piece of rye toast and 3 strips of turkey bacon. I didn’t even have to look at it to tell you what she had ordered. He then put down a plate in front of me that had 5 strips of bacon (the real stuff) and two Advil, with a Bloody Mary with extra green olives to wash it down.
            “I figured I’d order your usual. Wasn’t expecting you just being three minutes late. So where are you coming from?”

            “My apartment,” I said as I choked down the Advil.

            “It’s not nice to lie, Owen,” she said as she blew on her coffee. “If you were coming from your apartment wouldn’t you have approached from the other side of the street?”

            “Busted. Some girl’s apartment…” I tried to think of what her roommate said. “Erica. Erica’s apartment.”

            “Poor Erica,” she said. “Now the real question is how are you doing? Have you been writing?” And with this started the usual Owen Morrison welfare check.

            “You betcha. Working on a lot right now.” I have no idea why I bothered lying. I think it was more to feel good about myself.

            “You haven’t blogged in 3 months. What about that screenplay you’ve been working on for the last 2 years yet no one has seen a single line of?”

I was starting to not feel so well. I don’t think it was the hangover talking.
            “Eh, I mean it’s going. Just doing a lot of research still.”

            “Oh Owen come on. You’ve been claiming to be writing so much but you haven’t done shit in years! You’re better than this,” It was nice to hear someone actually think that about me for a change. “Seriously, what is holding you back?”

            “I dunno. Just stuck I guess. I just feel like being a writer isn’t quite as simple as I thought it would be. Am I still your favorite writer at least?”

            “That’s pretty funny,” Amanda said, as she checked the fancy shmancy watch she had recently bought herself. “Last I checked, you had to actually write something to be called a writer.”

            “Yikes,” I said. That one stung, but she was absolutely right. It had been sort of a while.

            “I think you’ve been living like a writer. I think you’ve been drinking like a writer and running around this city like a poor man’s Bukowski, but no, I don’t think you’re actually living up to your job title right now.”

            “Well, fine I’m a writer that doesn’t write. But you can’t take away that one time I got something published. You were even there for the party. The records will forever show you were at You’re Not Punk Zine’s launch party for their first issue.”

            “You’re right. What was that…2 years ago? I remember a lot of leather jackets, PBR’s and that band that broke up on stage while playing their second song. By the way, when should we be expecting the second issue of You’re Not Punk?”

            “Hey, that was a great time. And it’s not my fault Greg got hit by a bus.”

            “Did he really?”

            “No, but he had to move to like, West Virginia or something. I think he would’ve preferred getting hit by a bus.”

The bacon wasn’t too bad and Amanda, bless her, ordered my Bloody Mary extra spicy. We ate in silence for a little bit. She really was the most beautiful girl in the world. It made breakfast somewhat enjoyable. Despite the chewing out, the hangover and the fact that it was still early in the morning, this was bliss for me.

            “So, what’s the plan for you today? Gonna do any writing?” She asked me. She had a tone in her voice that was either curiosity or concern. I couldn’t tell, which scared the shit out of me.

            “Yeah, I mean, going to try to. Probably take a nap, you know? Then I dunno, walk around, find a coffee shop, fill out a couple pages in the ol’ legal pad…” I could tell she didn’t believe me at all. And that was even before she said anything.

            “Owen, you’re wasting this. I’ve known you since the 3rd grade. Even back then you had this unreal talent to tell stories and make up all these great characters. You have this ability to see things in everyday life and you can write about it when no one else can. You have an imagination unlike anyone I know. You are so infuriating it makes me want to smack you.”

Shit.
            “Every day I wonder how you’re doing. Aren’t you sick of hardly working and just spending all your nights drinking and doing your ‘research by experiencing life’? That’s all fine but you at least have to do the whole writing part. The last thing I want is for you to wake up one morning, hungover again after a night of partying, and you not being able to write down a clever line. You always have a response or a witty answer to everything but it would help a lot more if you wrote them down instead of just telling people you’re working on a bunch of projects that won’t see the light of day.”

I hadn’t seen Amanda this peeved since Carl dumped her the week of prom. This was like the verbal equivalent of being taken to the tool shed.

            “Well, I mean I have some things up my sleeve…” I don’t even know why I bothered saying that. I was digging my own hole of disappointment deeper and deeper.

            “You always have something up your sleeve. You always did! You need to grow the fuck up though and actually do the work. I know we have different outlooks on life but you’ve always supported me and I’ve always supported you, but it’s getting a lot harder to do that when there isn’t too much to support.”

I didn’t notice my hangover anymore. This was much worse.

            “I mean, I never felt cut out for a typical job…”

            “Oh trust me, I know. You’d be a disaster, and it would be a waste of your talent too. You should absolutely be doing what you’re doing, but just don’t fucking waste it. You don’t belong in an office. Me, I’m fine with the finance world, but I don’t have the same talent as you. I wish I were able to do what you do. I know you’ve had some success with it in the past, but that’s been a long time now. You need to just stop being a lazy piece of shit and write.”

The waiter came back with another Bloody Mary.

            “Oh I didn’t order a sec…”

            “I asked for him to have a second one ready before you got here,” she said. She really did know me better than anyone else on this planet. I hadn’t been so ashamed in my life.

I looked at the Bloody Mary. No sense in wasting it, so I took a sip. I had not felt so ashamed in my life. Letting people down isn’t the best feeling in the world, but letting down the most important person in your world, whether she realizes it or not, is just absolutely dreadful.  

            “Are you okay?” she asked.

            “Yeah. I think I needed this.” I said meekly. I never say things meekly.

            “Well good, cause I'm not done. Your self-pity isn’t going to save you here. Are you gonna be a little emo baby about this or are you actually going to listen?”

            “I’ll listen,” I said. As if I actually had another option.

            “Good boy. I just wanted to tell you that for being someone so outspoken about posers, you’ve been the biggest poser I’ve known the past 2 years.”

I fucking hate getting breakfast.

            “Ooooh look at me, I’m Owen and I’m the writer who doesn’t write. Let’s party and live life and go to punk shows and meet all these coooool characters and party some more and then wake up and not write about the crazy experiences I’ve had oooooohhhh,” She was having way too much fun doing this now. “I’m gonna meet girls then never settle down with any because life is too short and that would take away my experiences that I don’t write about anyways! Mer Mer Mer. Did you hear about this cool band no one else has ever heard of? I’m cooler than you because I blog about them twice a year mer mer mer. Let’s go to a dive bar Ooooohhhhhhh.”

            “I think I got it.”

            “You better have, Dummy.”

Had any other person in the world be giving me this speech, I probably would have left the table ten minutes ago by muttering a fuck you and knocked over the glass of water on the table just to be a dick. But with her, I couldn’t do that. She knew I would listen to her. As much as I hated, no, loathed everything coming out of her mouth, I couldn’t say shit because I knew she was absolutely 100% right. I just sat there looking at her with my mouth shut (which was rare), with my arms folded and a million thoughts going on in my head.

She took her designer wallet out of her designer purse to pay for the check. I grabbed my beat up wallet but she brushed that away instantly. She was right, we were extremely different. She was driven, hard working, dedicated at what she did and has always had a plan of attack for each stage of her life. We were so different yet we had always been the best of friends. We’ve had these breakfasts before where the usual welfare check would happen, but this was the first time she gave me a reality check. Holy hell did I need that.

She stood up, dusted some toast crumbs off the pants portion of her fancy pantsuit and came over to my side of the table.

            “I love you, but quit being such a little bitch and write me something,” she said as she gave me her usual kiss on the cheek.

            “Okay”, I said. The ‘writer’ was at a loss for words once again. She started to walk away but stopped.

            “Owen, you’re gonna be okay.”

            “I know.”

And for the first time in a long time, I knew that I would be okay. She put her sunglasses on and started to turn.

            “Amanda!” I shouted, running to catch up just before she had turned the corner on the sidewalk.

            “Yeah?”

            “Thanks.”

            “For the wakeup call?”

            “Yeah. And breakfast too, I guess.”

            “Yeah right,” she said. “You hate breakfast.”

She was never wrong. She gave me a smile and fixed the collar on my jacket before turning down the street. She’d go to her big corporate office, have a normal day where she kicked ass doing whatever finance stuff she did, and go home to her boyfriend and dog, and that would be that. Maybe she realized it then, or maybe not, but in my opinion, she had already done the most important thing she’d do that day.

Because I went home and wrote this.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Who is Riot Fest's Secret Performer?


I am a big fan of Riot Fest. I’ve been impressed by their lineups enough to fly out to Chicago with friends twice in the past (one instance even resulted in a Toy Story related tattoo for someone, but that's for another time), and I wish I could have gone in the years I couldn’t make it. Riot Fest stands out because they keep their festival lineup to the punk/rock/alternative genre with some hip hop mixed in, so there are more similar bands out there for the rock diehards still sticking around in 2018 (bless you all!). Back in simpler times, you would have to choose which lineup between Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Firefly, etc you liked best. These days, it seems that all festivals have the same exact lineup, with just a few minor changes in the bands that hit are playing around lunchtime. Riot Fest does not fall into that awful trend, but instead thrives on having a jaw-droppingly good lineup each and every year. One added caveat (SAT word right there!) is that they have amazed people by getting bands to reunite when it seemed impossible.

Posting this just to make myself laugh
My first year at Riot Fest, 2013, I saw the Replacements play their first show since 1991. Since then, they got the Misfits to reunite with their original lineup for the first time in 33 years, and then, they pulled off the impossible last year by reuniting your favorite bands’ favorite band: Jawbreaker. To sum it up quick without fangirling too hard, Jawbreaker basically made it as close as possible without hitting it big, and eventually broke up amidst turmoil and the members hating each other, only for a cult like following to grow since their demise back in ‘96. I swear when the lineup was released last year, I thought it was a joke poster when Jawbreaker’s name was up there with Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age for headliners. I hadn’t bought a plane ticket so fast in my life, and it was worth every penny and lower back pain from standing in a giant park for three days.


In addition to reunions, they get legends like Iggy Pop, Pixies, Taking Back Sunday, The Cure, System of a Down, Motorhead, No Doubt, New Order and even Snoop Dogg to perform. Basically, they’ve never had a bad lineup, despite Riot Fest constantly saying themselves that ‘Riot Fest Sucks’. So here we are in 2018, with an almost full lineup announced, with some actual question marks listed for surprise acts. The lineup already includes Blink-182, Elvis Costello, Interpol, Blondie, Sum 41, Twin Peaks, The Jesus Lizard, and of course, Andrew W.K. So who the hell is going to be the surprise this year? I have a feeling, albeit a pure gut feeling, but a feeling none the less that it can only be one band worthy of a shockingly good surprise headliner: but I’m going paint you a picture with words so you can envision it, or something like that.


If I’m Riot Fest, I’m keeping those ????’s up on the lineup and just wait for everyone to show up at the end of Sunday night to see who is going to close. Everyone will be waiting in suspense without having any idea who the hell it’s going to be. Maybe they can leave early, maybe they’ll want to stay for a third encore, who knows? They sure don’t. The crowds show up, with nothing but a black curtain with a white ‘?’ on it. The tension in the air is thick enough to hack with a machete. Punks, skinheads, dweebs, wastoids, riot grrrls, dad’s accompanying their 14-year-old obsessed with All Time Low, everyone is on edge waiting to see who this mystery headliner is.

Picture yourself there, there is a goth girl wearing a Cure shirt to your right with a stick n poke spider tattoo. On your left? A guy with a long beard, an Operation Ivy tee and a look that he only drinks craft beers and nothing else. People are ready to boo, complain or faint from happiness. Even the mysteriously banned CM Punk, who has snuck in under the name of Phil something or other, is ready to see who it is. 

The clock strikes 9:30 and a single spotlight hits the question mark on the curtain. It’s mostly silence, with a couple drunken woo’s that inevitably would happen anywhere. ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE CURTAIN DROPS. A bald guy with a guitar stands alone on the stage in front of a curtain with a banner hanging on it. It’s fucking Daughtry. Daughtry is the surprise headliner. You are at a Daughtry show. A chorus of jeers erupts in the crowd. You’re dumbstruck. You hear people cry out “BOOO!” “HISS!” and of course, “NOT A FAN OF YOU!”. The poser with the Joy Division shirt he bought at Urban Outfitters a couple feet in front of you is going wild, so pumped for Daughtry. Finally, an act that he not only knows, but likes! Somewhere out there, maybe by a merch stand, maybe watching backstage, maybe a thousand miles outside of Chicago, the Riot Fest Twitter Guy laughs to him/herself. It’s the greatest troll job he/she has ever done. It has almost made up for every single time someone on Twitter asks when the lineup is coming out, despite it coming out at the same time each year. He/she can take a minute to enjoy this, because they have earned it for the dumbness of people on social media.
This guy!

As Riot Fest is about to turn into an actual riot because of Daughtry, the banner comes down, revealing the word “SIKE!” on the curtain. It goes pitch black once again, and everyone is holding their breath. People who were walking for the exits stop in their tracks, the mob getting ready to tip over the porta potties freeze, and the bored girl with a shitload of eye liner and the septum piercing that kept sighing in front of you look up, with hope. All of a sudden, a single piano note plays. Hey, you know that note from somewhere, don’t you? Where do you know that song? The crowd starts erupting as the second and third piano notes hit, and everything starts picking up steam. The crowd starts singing along in the what is the most unified thing this country has seen since 2016 when they all scream out ‘WHEN I WAS. A YOUNG BOY. MY FATHER. TOOK ME INTO THE CITY.’

You’re damn skippy, you’re being welcomed (back) to the black parade. My Chemical Romance is back and you’re ready to get your goddamn emo on.

honestly, simpler times.
I mean, this is just pure guesswork here, but let me give me thoughts why: the band is on friendly terms despite the hiatus, which is extremely rare. They’ve been spotted hanging out in the past at Frank Iero shows, so it doesn’t appear to be a huge feud or anything. They’ve had time to do their own solo stuff and take breaks and whatever. I mean they’ve been out of action since 2013, so they are due for a comeback. MCR fits the bill for Riot Fest, obviously. Who wouldn’t be happy with that reunion? The Riot Fest audience is filled with the beaten and the damned, who want to say so long and goodnight and promising that they’re not okay. This is a slam dunk of a headliner, will add to the lore of Riot Fest booking amazing surprises, and add the perfect band to go with Blink 182, Beck, Interpol, Sum 41, Twin Peaks, The Wonder Years and such.

I may be way completely wrong here, but hey, I’m trying.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I Was VIP At A Music Festival And You Were Not


This past weekend I was briefly in the lap of luxury while attending the Boston Calling music festival, and it was sweet. This was all made possible by friend and Medford’s finest, Trace who got his paws on a pair of VIP tickets for Saturday, and I took full advantage of this golden opportunity to do learn about the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, as Good Charlotte always claimed to know about. How did Trace get the VIP tickets? I wouldn’t worry too much about that. It’s a long story involving Drew Carey, a dead moose and a Swiss army knife and you wouldn’t want to hear it so we’ll just skip ahead.

I’ve been to my fair share of music festivals: Gov Ball (once), Riotfest (twice (Hi Andrew!)) and Boston Calling (thrice) but this was my first time ever gaining access beyond the barriers, where the beers were a little colder, the bathrooms a little cleaner, and the crowds a little less…crowded. Last year I swore off ever going to Boston Calling after the mud filled disaster with me ruining a pair of perfectly nice Vans, and the fact that Mumford and Sons were a headliner. Seriously, I hadn’t had a pair of shoes ruined like that since my friend Wade’s bachelor party and SOMEONE WHO WILL REMAIN NAMELESS puked in my Sperry’s as I was in the shower. It was a hell of a bachelor party, and I know what you’re thinking: Jim in Sperry’s? I know, right? They were comfy though and I can’t knock Sperry’s for doing their thing. Anyways, the mud and lackluster lineup, along with the absolutely bonkers amount of lines and piss-poor cell signal led to more stress than I had hoped for on a relaxing weekend. Also I finally realized I was old and my body can’t handle drinking copious amounts of Miller Lite and my lower back not being able to handle standing on uneven ground for such a long period of time. I believe I even told my friends who I were with that they only way I would go back is if ABBA reunited, I got free tickets, or if they were VIP. Amazingly, all three things happened, it’s just a shame I didn’t specify ABBA reuniting for the actual Boston Calling event, but what’re you gonna do?
Queens of the Stone Age didn't kick anyone

I got the text Friday about possibly wanting to tag along, and I said oh hell yeah why not? Free and VIP are both things that sound nice, and I kept my unfortunate Boston Calling memories repressed for the time being. Things got off to a questionable start immediately as we were able to go through the VIP express entrance way. While this was great, there was also no one else in the general admission lines to get in, so this was kind of a moot point. It really saved us zero time being VIP, and I was starting to have my doubts about how great VIP was. This soon changed.

The actual VIP area was basically off to the side of the stage, so the wealthy and lovely could get up super close to see bands that they love or act like they know. Within the VIP area were bathrooms that were furnished bathroom trailers (brailers? Bathlers? Need to work on this) instead of the usual porta-potties. This was a fantastic perk of the VIP. Probably my favorite, as I did not have to wait in line for the men’s room whatsoever, and we had full sinks and decorative wallpaper. The part that I was most disappointed in was the VIP bars, because for some reason there was still like 30 volunteers (bless them) working the bar, and it became excruciatingly awkward as Trace and I made our walk over to them to order our $8 miller lite tall boys. There were so many of them working and so few customers to have that they were all staring at us hoping that we would choose them to buy our beers and tip a buck to. I felt guilty each time I went up there. I can honestly say I’ve never felt more awkward buying beers at any point in my life. I felt terrible for the other 19 bartenders I wasn’t buying from that it just became depressing for me. Thank god The Cure wasn’t playing or anything. In addition, there was a VIP Customer Support desk. 

As you can see from the picture, it was very reminiscent of Lucy’s “Psychiatric Help 5 cents” booth from Peanuts. Basically you could get some suntan lotion, wet-naps, and hopefully moral support at this booth. 

While I did not see a single fellow VIP-er take advantage of this perk, I am still kicking myself that I didn’t send Trace over there after a lot of beers to ask for one single wet-nap, or a fortune to be told. Oh, to have a time machine, you guys.

After checking out a band with two (2!) drummers, Thee Oh Sees, we decided to do some exploring with the other general admission peasants and see what other perks were out there so Trace and I could laugh at the people that couldn’t get in where we could. I was finally getting revenge for….I don’t know I’m sure there was some party or something I was mad about not getting invited to at some point. Anyways, we stumbled into some bizarre lounge area sponsored by IKEA, which was just as Swedish and weird as you would imagine something hosted by IKEA would be. Our brief time there was spent with our jaws on the ground in confusion as we watched people peddling $4 veggie dogs, and watching people hang on a bunch of hammocks that looked like they were suspended in the middle of a Jenga game that was half-way done. I haven’t seen A Clockwork Orange but this IKEA lounge seemed like it could be someone’s living room in that movie, with the awful DJ included.
this was the most normal area, assembly required.
After surviving that, we stumbled on in, sorry, gracefully were allowed in after flashing our VIP bracelets to some other lounge that had an arcade, chairs, and complimentary coffee. That’s right, complimentary coffee. For a second there I couldn’t tell if this was just the name of a tricky coffee roaster, but it turns out it actually was free coffee, so that was great.
kind of confusing

What was not great was losing a best of 3 series of Fooseball in heartbreaking fashion, and that fucking whack-a-mole wasn’t working. Boston Calling lost points as a whole for whack-a-mole not working. Maybe it just wasn’t plugged in, but I was VIP, I wasn’t going to stoop down and check for that.
bullshit

The bands were perfectly fine. In the early portion, we saw Royal Blood who was very good. Highlights included one of the better drum solos I’ve ever seen, and more importantly, the very same drummer put a huge dent via chugging into the bottle of Patron he had, which just the sight of made want to run to one of the trailer bathrooms. This was one of the few times that it sucked being VIP, as a group of teenybopper frat and sorority gals who were pretending it was East Coast Coachella (the worst!) started annoying us. I kept wishing on them to be tossed into a mosh pit at some point, but the lineup wasn’t in my favor in that regard. We saw Manchester Orchestra sing their angsty hearts out, Mount Kimbie play their weird keyboard solos and spacey folk rock (full disclaimer, I had no idea who they were either. We just wanted to check out the Blue stage), and St. Vincent give a performance that was exactly what I imagined at St. Vincent performance to be like, maybe with more robots than expected. Oh also we saw like 10 minutes of Brockhampton, who I had never heard of, and was extremely confused when this boyband of like 10 people ran out on stage in bullet proof vests. If I weren’t in VIP I would’ve been worried that we were getting raided or something. That was weird and now Brockhampton is in some trouble so they can go screw.

This was all a prelude to the double whammy of Queens of the Stone Age dripping their coolness over those nerdy fields of Harvard, and Jack White showing that he’s still very, very good at guitar to close things out. Both were great, however I was a bit dismayed when a fellow VIP brat was screaming the lyrics to The White Stripes’ ‘The Hardest Button to Button’, which is my personal favorite song. I don’t want to knock the poor gal for being pumped up like she got a prom date at the last second, but I could’ve done without singing the wrong verses at the wrong time. Get it together. This is VIP. In between QOTSA and Jack White, I came across a gentleman who had on the single greatest shirt of the festival. I was feeling spiffy in my own right, as I dusted off my cheetah print button up and Sonic Youth shirt, but I soon learned that I was playing second fiddle to this dude in the Celine Dion shirt that would make Iron Maiden jealous. 

maybe my favorite photo of all time

That’s right, a death metal-like tribute to Celine Dion, Canada’s greatest export, and her iceberg smash of a hit ‘My Heart Will Go On’. As a proud band tshirt aficionado, this man is my hero for wearing it, and I have made it my life goal to make it to his age and keep youngsters on notice with my tshirt game at music festivals. I don’t know your name, so let’s go with Bart, but way to go Bart. Way to go.

As the evening came to an end, I found myself ordering festival ramen which sucked, listening to Seven Nation Army, and pondering how there are so many Bill Murray Toon Squad jerseys from Space Jam and how it’s a shame I have yet to see a Monstars jersey at a festival, when it hit me just how truly blessed I was. 
here's Trace patiently waiting for me as I patiently wait for my crappy ramen

I had broken the barrier and invaded VIP at a music festival, surrounded by mostly older people there to see Jack White and had established bank accounts to spend the extra, like 60 bucks it took to do so. This is the kind of life I want to strive for. While it was nice to hobnob with the first class of the Boston Music Festival Scene, I really left it as a changed man spiritually. Now that I know how VIP’s live, I want to become a VIP everywhere I go, therefore I solemnly swear to become a VIP, or to somehow rely on Trace to get his hands on more VIP passes to things. Maybe this blog will be a stepping stone into the VIP life, but I’m guessing it will just be easier having friends in high places.

VIP, man. I can get used to it.

Except for fucking whack-a-mole being broken.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A PSA for B@J's

To quote the great Usher, this is my confession. Well, it's not really a confession, more like an explanation? Eh. A general understanding? Alright, alright now I'm getting further from whatever it is I'm trying to do here. For some time now I've been at a loss of what to blog about. It's not so much a time thing, or a question of if I still have my writing fastball, but its really more of what the hell can I blog about these days?

I started this blog back in 2009 because I couldn't fall asleep at night. Pecking away at a keyboard was like one of those rainmakers that help make you fall asleep at night. For clarification, I'm not talking about the Pacman Jones at a strip club type of rainmaker.

 Maybe it was being in college then versus being 27 now, but life was just simpler back then. In a way there was more quality material to work with, and fewer people watering things down. Jersey Shore was a fucking goldmine of blog material back when it came out. I can still remember people staying in to watch Jersey Shore on MTV (those bastards) before going to bars on Thursday nights (dollar drink night!) my sophomore year. We survived without opening Instagram and a hundred different meme accounts making the same joke with the same picture of Snooki making the boardwalk of shame, with each meme account taking credit for it. Get what I'm saying? There's a bit of overexposure that kind of takes away the creative juices to blog.
A gift to us all.

I've never really treated this thing too seriously. In fact, I'd even say most of it was plain stoopid, but it always made me pleased as punch when someone would tell me they enjoyed a post, got pissed over a post, or most importantly, laughed at a post. My senior year some junior who I had never met bought me a Bud light at a now defunct college hole-in-the-wall bar because he had stumbled across this thing and said it was funny. At that point, it was my greatest accomplishment from this thing. I had approximately 0 goals for this thing, and I had received a $3 Bud light out of it, so it was a real win for me. Fast forward a few years and it's kind of in a no man's land in the blogosphere. The motivation just hasn't really been there.

I did some spring cleaning today and stumbled across my big print debut for DOJO zine. I was on cloud nine when this dude Dylan generously agreed to my email request about wanting to write a music piece for him, and when I saw it up on a website and later in a magazine that you could physically hold (even with Kirwan misspelled) it really sank in that this might be something to chase after. After that, I toiled away writing for free for some British music site that seemed to be a rudderless ship. After a number of broken promises, despite me always living up to my end various bargains, I finally said it wasn't worth it and stopped writing for them. I know this is going to really make me sound like a total badass (I'm joking, because in today's day and age, someone will take that line seriously), but it fucking sucked being edited and getting my work turned into plain, ordinary, bland stuff. Who the hell likes bland? I fought the good fight for myself and told them that what I had written was good (it was, I swear) and that I have faith in my style, while they wanted it to be more 'professional', which really sucked the fun out of the whole thing. You compare one song favorably with an ADHD joke and suddenly you're being scolded. Jesus. It wasn't like I was getting paid for it. Personally, I believe in my writing style. I think it's kinda unique. I don't want to be the AP or using some cookie cutter format for how I write an album review. How incredibly boring. I liked my writing to be like how I enjoy my margaritas: with a hint of spice. That sounded much better in my head.

Many of my heroes have been able to take the boring and turn it into exciting. My Grandpa Kenny had the unique capability to somehow turn any situation into a fun time. I swear he never had a bad day or a boring moment in his 91 years, he was just one of those guys. It mystifies me to this very day how he could make things like long, hot car trips to southern Rhode Island  (insert joke here) exciting and funny. I'm saying this not only by going back in my childhood, but even still in my 20's. Things were always interesting when he was around. One of my favorite writers is Charles Bukowski. I love his writing because he's able to paint a picture without any flowery language. He just called it like he saw it, didn't bullshit anything, and it worked out for him beautifully. He could take a bar scene in a story and get 15 pages without using a single SAT word, and it would be interesting. Was he a dirty old man that drank waaaay too much? Absolutely! Was he an interesting character? You butter believe it. I hope to be able to take the boring and try to get a rise out of things.

These days, between everyone being pissed off at everything and everyone else in general, it feels like you have to walk on eggshells wherever you go. No one can say anything, no one can assume anything, no one is ever on the same page. I blame social media for this, but that's just the world we live in. Twitter was fantastic when it first took off. Tweet about a show, crack a joke about Madonna, tell a hockey player he sucks and he might just reply back saying that you suck. Now I open up Twitter and I'll see some recycled joke followed by a retweet of a report about something shitty that Trump did, then fake rumor about Tom Brady and these will be sandwiched between a tweet calling the Kardashians #goals and a tweet from someone thinking that Lil Uzi Vert is actually good. It sucks the life out of us mere mortals. Are we allowed to be funny anymore? It hit me about an hour ago that this is sort of a challenge. Why the hell not try to find things to make fun of still, like the glory days (?) of this blog. Coachella sucks these days, why not make fun of that? I think I can have some fun making fun of those flower crown wearing assholes who go to a desert to watch the Weeknd lipsynch in hopes of getting their likes on Instagram in the triple digits. Shit, I should write the rest of this rant in a new tab. Twitter may be a lost cause but I can still have fun on here, right?! RIGHT!?
seriously, what happened to Coachella?

Over the years on this blog I've covered head-scratching one hit wonders from Asher Roth's 'I Love College' to Rebecca Black's 'Friday' (still my personal favorite blog). I have done Pop Culture March Madness brackets, I gave out a Man of the Year award once (Bruce Jenner in 2010, by the way. Little did we know!), had a 3 blog installment on why Catholic School Girls Rock, wrote about my love for Carly Rae Jepsen when 'Call Me Maybe' swept the nation, tried finding my buddy Tyler a Valentine, somehow got 172,421 views on a parody interview about wigs, and shared with you all my pure, utter hatred for the Christmas Shoes song which resulted in an argument with my grandmother during Christmas one year. I've had some fun with this thing.

I admit, these days I've been focusing on a bunch of short stories and a screenplay (ambitious!), so the blogging has taken a backseat, but I oddly have a new ambition to make fun of things in pop culture again. Maybe it is due to the jinx removal Voodoo doll I just bought in New Orleans, or maybe it was the aforementioned spring cleaning that inspired me, but I'm going to really try to get this thing rolling again. There have been hits and misses over the years, and there certainly will be more of both to come, but why not give it another whirl? Maybe I'll even get another Bud light out of it.
He really pulls the room together.

All I know is, I'm gonna write what I want, how I want and just hope it works. With Voodoo on my side, how can I fail?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Non-Emo Valentine's Day Blog

February 13th. The eve of one of the more dreaded days of the calendar year. For people who are spoken for, they are preparing to woo their loved one with a fancy, overpriced dinner, with overpriced flowers that will die, and boxes of chocolate that will be half eaten because really only the caramel-filled and milk chocolate pieces matter. Valentine's Day is the time for those lucky enough to have someone to show just how much they care, and for greeting card companies to make enough money to give out bonuses for ski homes. While some are looking forward to this...holiday, some (most?) are dreading it. This being said, I'm here to tell you that things will be okay!

I haven't had a Valentine's Day worth celebrating in years, and while I used to get bummed out, I have developed ways to get distracted by it, thus not being bothered by it. Some have worked out okay and some have led to embarrassment, but if you can't laugh at yourself then you can't laugh at anything, or something like that. All that matters is you try.

Today (13th) is the day you are guaranteed to see two things on social media, and see them multiple times because people aren't creative anymore. First is this screenshot and/or gif of Ryan Howard from The Office. Not sure if Ryan Howard the former Philadelphia Phillie made this same mistake, but we can all hope not for his sake:

Then, of course, you will see some mention of Leslie Knope discussing Galentine's Day. Everyone thinks their sooooo unique posting the same stuff.

To help cope with the Valentine's Day blues, one recommendation is to take a shot for every time you see one of those two gifs show up on various forms of social media. You will get so drunk that you will probably not remember today or Valentine's Day at all, so therefore it never really happened, and you can't have a bad Valentine's Day if it never existed. It's science. While these gifs and memes don't really help matters, I would like to offer a more uplifting piece of advice from a Parks and Rec character: Ron Swason discussing love, despite being divorced 3 times.

I think this is very uplifting, honestly. Never give up! There is no point in giving up. The right side of my phone has a dent on the right side from all the swiping I've been doing over the years, but I'm not giving up! While my batting average is absolutely abysmal, it only takes one correct swipe to make life wonderful. Still hoping this comes from real life and not Bumble but hey it's 2018. I'm still not used to this whole new positive outlook on life that I'm trying out. Writing this makes me feel weird, like when you leave your phone at home and you're at work or something.

Last year, I decided that I wasn't gonna mope around the apartment drinking Budweiser and watching a meaningless Bruins game like the year before. I decided to take myself to get some Ramen noodles in Providence, because that's one of my happy places in life. Since this place is popular and small, I showed up early before it opened, signed up on the wait list outside and waited to be called. 10 minutes later when the hostess came out she started calling for the other parties signed up.

"John, party of two. Abigail, party of two. Big Sid, party of two. Yolanda, party of two," she called, which suddenly made me realize something. I wasn't a party of two.  Another few names and she came to my chicken scratch handwriting on the sheet.

"JIM PARTY OF ONE!" she said. I'm sure she didn't yell it any louder than the other names, but it felt like it. I made my way through the group of people that had swelled up to like, 40, all in pairs, trying to shhhh her to keep it down that I was by myself. Of course, she continued "PARTY OF ONE! JIM! Aw Jim! Aw! I'll be your Valentine!"
made this myself.

This, of course, was very mortifying. I was very touched that this girl offered to be my Valentine but I think it may have been her way of saving the tip she had probably thought she had lost by embarrassing me. I had never slurped down a bowl of ramen so quickly. I tipped, by the way.

Why did I share this humiliating story with you? To prove to you that no matter what you do to treat yourself this Valentine's Day, it probably can't get much worse than that. I survived! I mean, sure I had to go to a bar afterwards to decompress from sheer embarrassment, but that was one of the better Valentine's Days I've had. Point is, you can survive this just fine.

I think if you're single you should try to go on out there, take the bull by the horns and try having some damn fun. It is perfectly fine to please yourself on Valentine's Day. Self love is the key to happiness. This phrasing is starting to turn a bit more risque then I had intended. How can you love someone else if you don't love yourself, you guys? If you want to go to sewing circle, go to sewing circle. Wanna find a friend and throw bottles at stop signs? Go for it! Feel like drinking at a bar to try to pick someone up while playing Vanessa Carlton songs on a jukebox? Hell yeah, that's what I'll probably be doing! Well, the playing Vanessa Carlton songs on the jukebox part, at least.

I say cheer up gang. Things always get better. Always next year, right? The Chicago Cubs said that about winning the World Series and it only took them 108 years...okay not the best example. Maybe your mom will get you chocolate? Just keep the faith

Also, I'm single. Tell your friends.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Smells Like Autotune Spirit

There I was, hanging out on my couch sippin’ on a whisky watching some soap operas trying to warm the hell up. I had just finished shoveling the giant mound of snow and ice that the city plow had left in front of my driveway, which was conveniently placed there a mere 20 minutes after already shoveling said driveway. While I may have been bitter and checking Amazon for voodoo dolls to exact revenge on the stupid ass plow driver (plow man? I dunno), I soon became intrigued by a tweet that was retweeted onto my Twittersphere. It was from @TheBrandonMorse, including a video link and it read ‘Someone auto-tuned “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to a major chord, and now life is confusing.’ For full on credit, this was posted on Vimeo by Sleep Good under "Nirvirna - Teen Sprite". Gotta give this evil genius credit. I gave it a listen. You should too.

Holy hell.

Yes, this is Charles Barkley w/ Nirvana at Saturday Night Live
The ‘now life is confusing’ line of that tweet is an understatement. I fully understand that changing up the chords and what not can make any song different, but suddenly this 90’s anthem of teen angst, which was the dagger in the heart of hair bands (sorry Brett Michaels, Rock of Love was a wildly entertaining show though!) had turned into…a happy-go-lucky, cheery, go-get-em type of song? The first time I listened, I immediately wanted to go buy a pack of bubblegum and go for a nice stroll. This is music’s bizzaro world.


optimism!
I’ve been asking people what it sounds like to them, and everyone seems to be right. It sounds like the beginning of Nicki Minaj’s 'Starships', it sounds like B*Witched’s b*loved smash hit single ‘C'est la Vie’. There is a bit of Hanson’s ‘MMMBop’ tossed in there. The guitar solo, which inspired many a grunge kid to buy a guitar to try and nail suddenly sounds like Big Country’s song ‘In A Big Country’.

This version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit; could be the theme song for a ‘Friends’ ripoff sitcom circa 1998. It could feature in one of those classic Coca-Cola ads where everyone is suddenly happy. This could play during the closing montage that tells the audience what every character ends up doing in the future of one of those teen movies with starring a young Jennifer Love Hewitt and Seann William Scott (total aside, I had no idea he spelled Seann with two n’s, did anyone else notice this?). I imagine this playing at the house party when the couple that should be together finally gets together, while the goon in the film is tending to a nosebleed, and the dorky kid, probably played by Seth Green, finally becomes cool. I now want to watch “Can’t Hardly Wait” or anything starring the great Alicia Silverstone. My friend, and past contributor to this blog, Julie Strano said that listening to that made her feel like she should be in a convertible wearing a crop top, probably in southern California. I tend to doubt anyone has said that about the normal version of the song. You could even substitute this for Wham!’s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ in Zoolander when the gang is riding in the Jeep before having a gasoline fight, which ends in disaster when one of the male models sparks up a cig. 




I think that part that is so shocking about this version of the song is just how catchy and amazing it still is, despite how different it is. I have listened to this song on repeat quite a few times over the past few days, and it just doesn’t make any sense. Nirvana has never really been known for cheer. ‘Come As You Are’ can make a beautiful June afternoon in Punta Cana turn gray and depressing. ‘Polly’, at first listen, seems to be a nice song about a parrot, but listen to the lyrics and it is quite darker than that. Maybe ‘In Bloom’ could count as cheery? Maybe guitar-wise it is, but I just remembered the opening line of that is ‘sell the kids for food’, so Nevermind (see what I did there!). My personal favorite Nirvana song is ‘About A Girl’ but I still wouldn’t listen to that when I’m all pumped up and ready to seize the day. 


This really makes you think. Would Kurt have been around still had all his songs sounded like this? Would Foo Fighters still be as big as they are had ‘Everlong’ or ‘Monkey Wrench’ been autotuned in a major chord? Would Nirvana’s picture with Charles Barkley been less awkward if this version of the song was out there in 1991? Would bands like Everclear, Gin Blossoms and, bless them, Sugar Ray have just thrown in the towel and given up knowing they could never right a pop-rock song like this? We may never know, but for once, Twitter actually provided us with something delightful. That may be the real shocker here.

Monday, January 1, 2018

I Am Looking Forward To 2018



Much like how the title of this post tells you, I am looking forward to 2018. Boom. It’s out there. I think it’s safe to say 2017 was like the drunk college freshman who just won’t leave the party the seniors are throwing and eventually pukes in one of the said senior’s beds. This once happened to me. Anyways, 2017 was no bueno, but why look back with a scowl when we can look forward with….I don’t know, a smirk? To put it in terms of characters from Parks and Rec (this is becoming more of a useful and widely accepted tool of comparison, I am learning), I am trying to be more Chris Traeger and less April Ludgate. Actually, let’s clarify. I would like to be optimistic like Chris, and I guess it wouldn’t hurt to age so damn gracefully either. I still think we should all strive to be weird like April. Maybe just less pessimistic?

Optimism!

I tend to be accused of being pessimistic when I just think I’m being realistic. For instance, if you were to come meet me at a restaurant with 33 pancakes as a tribute to former New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing and asked, with a hint of hope, if I thought that you could eat all those pancakes in 5 minutes, I would tell you no. Not because I WANT to doubt you, it’s just that, realistically, I do doubt you and you probably won’t eat all those pancakes. That’s a lot of pancakes. But anywho, I guess this was a long way of saying that I will be trying to be more ~cheerful~. Doesn’t hurt to give it a whirl and maybe tell you that, maybe, you can eat all those pancakes. I mean, it can’t hurt, right? Things are looking up! I got a new laptop for Christmas, so blogging has once again become easy and enjoyable, as opposed to having my old piece of crap Macbook freeze up on me halfway through writing a power ranking of Michael Scott’s most cringeworthy moments. The writing will be at an all time high this year, and with more shenanigans than ever before! I know you were all looking forward to that statement, so good for you, your 2018 is off to a smashing success. And, you know what, good for me as well! Maybe I’ll even get those Breakfast at Jimothy’s t-shirts made, too.

This blog had potential, I promise.

Anyways, here are some things that I would like to discuss, and hope happens to yours truly in 2018. As I write this we are 16 hours into the new year and I already had to cancel my credit card because someone spent $452 at Victoria’s Secret and didn’t even have the class to send me a bathrobe, while this was a real bummer, I am keeping my head up and thinking, hey I’ll probably have a day real soon where I won’t get my credit card stolen. Baby steps, people, baby steps. 

One of my first goals is to travel somewhere, maybe by myself or by tricking someone whose company I enjoy to join me. I think I am personally due for a voyage somewhere, and most likely centered around music, tacos and a *scene* that doesn’t suck. Basically I’m saying that I want to finally go to Austin so I can eat tacos, check out a ton of bands and drink spicy margaritas at dive bars. I am also taking suggestions and recommendations for places to check out, things to do, people to meet and also stay away from (this includes self-proclaimed Sorcerers and the French. I trust neither). There are times where I get bored in lil ol’ Providence, Rhode Island, and maybe seeking some form of adventure would be just downright swell. I was fortunate enough to see one of my favorite bands, Jawbreaker, play one of their first shows in 21 years in Chicago (probably my high point of 2017), and it hit me that I enjoyed that and, you know, maybe I should do that again some time. It’s almost like traveling to a major city to see something that I like while drinking beers with a friend is a good thing.



Another goal of mine is to develop the perfect spicy queso dip. I was discussing the importance of a good queso dip recently and the notion was arrived that every situation gets at least a little better when chips and good queso enter into the equation. Hockey games, funerals, barnstorming’s, one person riots outside of Starbucks, your niece’s dance recital, all of these and more can be made much, much better with queso. Much like my wardrobe, the spicier the better, so I’ll be looking to kick some serious ass in the queso making game in 2018. That sounded a lot better in my head.

I also believe I will nail down a modeling contract this year. 

Look at this photograph (I hope you read that in your head in the same tone as Chad Kroeger from Nickelback sings it). I thought I looked rather nice so I had my friend Sam take it. Stunning! It doesn’t matter at all that most of the comments on Instagram are making note of how awkwardly large the straw in that gin and tonic is, I’m reaching for the moon here. This may or may not have just been an elaborate ruse to get a song stuck in your head.



I would definitely like to learn more guitar, mostly because I know next to nothing except the opening to Weezer’s Sweater Song, the opening to ‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads, and Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ (to be fair that is my Dad’s favorite band and I think he taught me that when I was still sleeping in a crib every night). I’m not saying I am going to start trying to woo ladies around Providence by standing outside their windows playing something by Something Corporate (it’s freezing outside!) but if I want to become a true renaissance man and elevate my game at swanky dinner parties, I figure learning guitar could come in handy. I think if I had a quick top 5 without thinking in depth (aka I’m leaving a lot of songs out that I’ll be kicking myself for in about 15 minutes) of songs that I’d like to learn, it would have to be Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team) by Taking Back Sunday, Where is My Mind? by Pixies, Someday by The Strokes, Boxcar by Jawbreaker, and probably some cover of Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen. I know it’s a new year but you really can’t expect me to not give some love to the crown jewel of Canada’s music scene. I will undoubtedly learn 0 of these songs in 2018, but I will still be an admirable addition to any dinner party any of you want to throw. 


Iconic

2018 will also be the year I finally work at listening to friend’s suggestions for TV shows and movies. I am awful at this. The newest show I watched was Ozark, which was absolutely bonkers and I loved it. The next newest show? I guess Parks and Rec, which I loved immediately and keep re-watching over and over, along with The Office, instead of checking new things out. I like most of my friends, so I do need to get better and listening to them, but I’m not giving into Game of Thrones. If I can gripe for a second, I’m sick of people telling me I’ll like Game of Thrones. I won’t. I say this and mention the fact that I don’t go for that whole middle earth bullshit, and everyone gets all offended, and most people will say “but Jim you sly devil, don’t you like Lord of the Rings?” thinking I’ll suddenly say yes and automatically love Game of Thrones. What ends up really happening is that I tell them no, I hated Lord of the Rings and only saw the first two for various birthday parties I had to attend. This usually results in that person giving up, and me going to the fridge to get another beer. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally watch movies like Shawshank Redemption, Goodfellas and Forrest Gump in 2018. We’ll see. 
No shit. It's January.

Lastly, while it seems like no one got along with anyone in 2017, it appears that, somehow, Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis have buried their hatchet. If these two could finish out 2017 by no longer feuding, then we can all try to get along, somehow. Honestly, it’s all nice but I always liked Blur more than Oasis, so the feud just kind of amused me while also serving a purpose of not having to worry about them releasing a new album. Now, I have to worry about this, and it hit me that an Oasis reunion will most likely headline Coachella, Lollapalooza or, (since 8o% of festivals are all the same lineup these days) both in 2018. I tweeted this prediction out on 12/20/17 at 10:57 and I want to be acknowledged as a Swami if this becomes true. While it’s sad that this feud is over, we still have some amazing feuds that will carry over into 2018, most notably, Drake and Josh, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, Martha Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow, and of course, my sister Allison and our family’s dentist. Still don’t know how that one happened but it is very bitter and I love that it’s a thing.
It'll last.

Look at that, first blog post out of the way in 2018. I can honestly say that I feel a bit, rejuvenated(?) and I honestly do hope that I’ll be blogging a whole hell of a lot more. It’s always nice to make fun of things and rant and rave about nonsense, so I hope you all enjoy what is to come. I wish you all a very happy new year, for Vanessa Carlton to make a resurgence in 2018, and for that queso dip to work out.

God protects idiots, you guys.