Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back


Damn. Europe was rockin'. There's no real way to recount four months of crazy cultural experiences and unbridled fun in a single post, plus I'd just feel like I was bragging. Along the way I saw some of the most beautiful places in the world, met some of the coolest people I could ever hope to meet (many of whom I hope to remain close with for the rest of my life), partied my ass off, traveled to incredible foreign cities nearly every weekend, and spent about a life's worth of savings.

For the love of God, if you ever have the chance, study abroad.

So I'm left here in America with a study abroad hangover (more so figurative, but literal to an extent as well). I'm definitely by no means depressed like I thought I'd be, heck I was even getting burned out from traveling. I'm going to miss the hell out of the friends I made and the novelty of being able to travel and spend money without thinking. I'm going to miss the raw energy of the clubs, being able to actually get beers at pubs, and walking by the Colosseum on a weekly basis. Already, all my memories of massive nights across Europe are developing that sort of hazy, epic aura that typify memories of the best days of your life.

I'm an optimist and I can't wait for what life has in store around the corner, but the past four months, without a doubt, have been highlights of my life. Specific highlights would have to include clubbing in Madrid, hiking through Cinque Terre, Oktoberfest(!), biking through Amsterdam, pub golf through Rome, and having only three days of "class". To say that my experiences changed me and my outlook on life would be an understatement.

So now it begins: Life after Europe. It will take some adjusting (I've pretty much put a permanent indent in my couch during the past three days), but I'm ready to tackle it with the words of a wise man in mind: "Try to remember always just to have a good time".



Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Goodbye

Today was my last day of work in Boston and tonight is my second to last night in Westford, my home you could call it. I could write this tomorrow night but I feel as though I will be too busy packing away. It's funny to think that I am now upon the second half of my college career and have lived 20 summers here in Westford. Will I be here next summer? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. That's partially why I am writing this.

I think Colin and I started this blog to document our lives in this small town. Not necessarily the town itself but what we as kids who had grown up here are doing now, what interests us, what makes us laugh, what pisses us the fuck off. The blog itself is aptly titled "Small Town Outside of Boston," the title of a song by the now defunct local band, Piebald, a past favorite of Colin and mine who are ironically not from Westford but from the small town of Andover, just east of here.

Now, 9 years after having met Colin on the tetherball courts when we knew nothing more than Westford, we write in this blog currently 4,000 miles apart from one another taking on the rest of the world.

This town isn't anything out of the ordinary. It's just a suburb. Yet, for me, it has sentimental value. I grew up here. I have met some interesting people, done exciting things, and have been bored as shit. But after having left to go to college, meet new people, travel to new places, I find myself at peace here, at ease. It now acts a place for me to collect my thoughts, serving a purpose as a place of comfort. I get a sense of nostalgia. But it's bittersweet. Do I want to come back here? No, not really. But I can never forget it. Coming back, I see the way things have changed, but in the end, I see the ways I have changed, the ways I have grown old being in Westford, have gotten wiser (I'd like to think so.) But I'll always be young at heart and there will always be elements of Westford that will never change, they too will always remain young.

Come Sunday, I have to get going. Do I want to? Yeah. This town can't offer me what it used to, though it's not its fault. Maybe it's just me. I'll never know. Yet, in some peculiar, inexplicable way, Westford, you will always remain a beautiful place to me.


photo by Frank Winters

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Italian Job


I've been in Italy a week and it's been good. I've only found the time to write this as it is 3 AM and, having just gotten back from a 6th straight night at the bars, I have found it is the only spare time to recount one of the funnier stories of this past week.

After a sleepless 13-hour journey to Rome and a shuttle ride to my university, I was left with a John Cabot University rep to take me to my apartment and get helped get myself acclimated to the Roman lifestyle. Unfortunately, after taking me to the 8th floor of my apartment building, the chick had no idea how to open my door. To call the key to my apartment medieval is to call Leslie Neilson the future of Hollywood. The picture above reallly doesn't do justice to its 6-inch length. The door would not open. After about twenty minutes of futile twisting, we went back to the shuttle van. The driver, realizing that we couldn't open the apartment door, insisted that he give it a go. He opened the fucker within 20 seconds. After brief translingual lesson, explaining how I need to more or less jimmy my apartment door with my own fucking key, I was left alone with an empty apartment and no idea what I was going to do for the rest of the day.

Fortunately, that question answered itself rather quickly. Having scoped out all the rooms and deciding on the nicest single room (the one upstairs with the desk and closet), I lugged my bags upstairs and got ready too unpack. Before unpacking anything, however, I needed to take my first look out of my apartment window to the beautiful city streets of Rome. I set down my suitcase, shuffled to the nearby window, and lowered my head to the pane in a brisk, overexhausted motion. CRASH. Before I noticed that the sheet of glass from my window jutted out I had already shattered the damn thing. Glass exploded on and around my face. Fuckinghell.

Fortunately for me, I had been given John Cabot's emergency maintenance number in a packet less than an hour ago. Unfortunately for me, I began to notice a steady flow of blood dripping from face to hand. I looked in the mirror of my bathroom for the first time. Blood streamed down from my nose, through my fingers, into the sink. I called the maintenance number, explaining my ridiculous situation. They called a taxi for me to take from the apartment to the hospital, suggesting that I not look overly conspicuous and have a "big smile for the cab driver". As I dribble blood into a stained maroon t-shirt with a gash the size of a small canal. Sound advice.

I get into the cab and fumble through my own shit Italian to let the driver know that I basically need to get somewhere before his seats turn crimson. He looks pissed but understands and drives me to the hospital. After excessively tipping him for having to transport someone bleeding steadily into a rag, I exit the taxi and enter the hospital. Before reaching the front desk I check my pockets. Motheroftits. I left my phone in the cab. I earn myself an English-speaking doctor by confusing the women at the front desk. She washes off my face, periodically accidentally spilling unknown chemicals in my eyes and nervously asking her assistant for confirmation that these aren't damaging chemicals. She appplies gauze to the suture and bandages my nose like something out of Revenge of the Geeks.

After getting a ride back to my university and having them call the cab, whose number I miraculously remembered, things began to look up. Since then I've only washed my phone in the laundry and had to spend $40 on a replacement. But besides having a stupidly memorable introductory story to tell people I've met here and and hefty early repairs tab (both reparational and medical), it's been one hell of a first week and I'll have more stories to come as more time to reflect represents itself. Seacrest out.

It's Showtime!

"Two sexy young black men from New York City." I ride the T (Boston's subway system) three days out of the week. It is slow, cramped, never on time, and boring as hell. The T sucks. A couple days ago I get on the red line coming home from work and these two kids get on and put a boombox in the middle of the aisle. One kid, sporting a New Era Yankees cap and an I "Heart" Boston t-shirt says, "It's showtime people! Two sexy young black men from New York City." The same kid proceeds to do a backflip in the aisle, lands flawlessly, then grabs onto the railings and does a front flip into the worm, again flawlessly, never hitting or bumping into anyone. The other kid steps up to do a one-handed handstand followed by some other crazy shit.

This sort of thing went on for about 20 minutes at which point the two kids stopped and asked for donations and I was surprisingly almost home in what felt like no time. Yeah, I made a donation. This was the coolest T ride I have ever been on. If the subway was smart, they would start hiring these kids. I had never seen a whole T car full of smiling faces until that day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

You're Not Dying Yet, Bitch


There was a sense of foreboding leaving work yesterday, even though I knew I was headed to BC to drink with my friends from school for one last time before I leave for a semester in Italy next Friday. Well that's a pretty gay way to start a story, let me re-phrase that: I was mentally committed to grab a sub from Quizno's in Newton on the way to BC (I'm trying to eat at all my favorite American staples before my 4-month hiatus) but I forgot to print out Google Map directions on how to get there from work. I knew the it was on, however, and didn't want to look like a douche and go back into my office after leaving for the day, so on I went to my car.

I got off the highway at the Newton exit and onto the rotary and then drove into this kind of crazy part of Newton I'd never been to. One of those semi-urban neighborhoods with a lot of traffic, shops, and clutter. I frantically looked around for the Quizno's but after going through 3 sets of lights I realized that I'd missed it. At the next light, I banged a U-turn and started to head back towards the rotary.

My iPod shut off after I made the U-turn. I tried to turn it back on a made sure it was plugged in but I noticed the radio had turned off and wouldn't turn back on. The car was eerily quite. All of a sudden, the radio turned back on and my iPod started played again. I rolled to the next intersect and was the first in line at the red light. The radio turned off again. This time, I realized that the engine had turned off too. Removing the key and trying to start the car again, the engine choked with a grinding hiss-like noise. After freaking out for a few seconds while cars behind me honked angrily while they missed their green light chance, I got out of the car.

Conveniently, there guys on the median next to me holding signs to promote a local political candidate, so I got them to push my dead, shitty ass '99 Ford Windstar while it was in neutral. They gave me a good thirty-yard boost and started to walk back. I waved and thanked them and turned to pull into a Staples parking lot, the only lot I'd be able to reach with my car's quickly fading kinetic energy. Unfortunately for me, getting into this parking lot required going up a slight hill. My pathetic van lost all its momentum about ten feet up this small incline and started to drift backwards. Fuck.

With my van parked at an angle to completely block the entrance/exit to this parking lot, I asked a Staples copy kid who was taking a smoke break if he could help push my van into the lot. He got a couple other copy kid who generously obliged, but seemed to be in a tremendous amount of pain pushing me about 50 feet to a parking spot. After thanking them I called my dad, who works in the area, and AAA. They both said they'd be there in 45 minutes, so I hung out for a bit until AAA won the race.

Some weirdly-accented guy with a tow truck from a nearby auto joint suggested trying to jumpstart the battery. He attached a power source to my battery and told me to turn the ignition. The car turned on and stayed on as he immediately removed his power source. He told me that my battery would be fine to drive on, even as far as 45 miles back to Westford, as long as I didn't stop my car. I questioned him, saying that my car had stopped in the middle of a road with the engine running. He said he didn't know why it would do that (oh that's just super) but that he was confident that I'd be alright. I called and told my dad, who was almost at the Staples, about this, after which tow guy asked if he could leave. I thanked him and said that he could. Thirty seconds after he left the parking lot, the engine cut out and the battery died.

I should mention that this van has got about 145,000 miles on it and has been on the verge of death for roughly 2 years. I was amazed it didn't die on me earlier, having put about 4,500 miles on it this summer, but for it to go on my second-to-last is just being a prissy bitch.

Once my dad showed up, we went a bought a new battery and some wrenches. After about twenty minutes of tedious loosening due to the fact that one of the bolts needed a ratchet wrench to loosen it easily, some Staples guy came out with a toolbox for us to use. We got the new battery in and my dad and I went separate ways. Three hours had passed since my breakdown.

Heading back to the rotary, I saw the Quizno's. I pulled into the parking lot, ordered a large Chicken Carbonara combo, and got the fuck out of Newton.


The Malibu Knight

The Malibu Knight (in order to protect his identity), a good friend of mine and Colin's and a good man, posted an entry in his livejournal today. This may seem very insignificant. However, I will have you know that Malibu was known to have one of the most entertaining/witty/funny/offensive Livejournals of the Livejournal era/area here in our small town outside of Boston. This is probably his first post in three years. Why I know this and why I still check my Livejournal friends page from time to time, I do not know. But today, it paid off just to see that. Nostalgia rules.

A link to The Malibu Knight's Livejournal: Apples, Guitars, and Monsters From Mars

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beach Bummin'


I've been in New Jersey two of the past three weekends. The combined powers of Jesus, Mother Teresa, and Morgan Freeman wouldn't be able to save my soul from this fact.

The first of these two trips was to Wildwood Beach in South Jersey for a beach frisbee tournament. Me and a few of my buddies from school rode down that night stopping in Atlantic City at 1 AM to gamble. Well, two of the guys played 21 while me and another looked on. All of the the people in the casino looked like the kind of people who buy Teenies for their pre-schoolers lunch boxes instead of 100% fruit juice. I understand that many of the people who work at these casinos are Native American, but they all looked like awkwardly-shaped, inbred Asians. This sounds extremely offensive (in fact, it is) but I can think of no better way to describe it. The whole thing depressed me.

At this point I was getting tired and bored (blackjack is probably the most boring game ever invented besides NFL Quarterback Club '98) so I went to the parking garage to sleep. The car being about 90 degrees, I rolled down the windows and got maybe half an hour of ungratifying sleep while drunken thugs and trisomy-inflicted pseudo-Asians howled through the halls of late-night garage. Not my life's brightest moment.


After getting in the motel (this is Jersey, people) at about 4:30 that morning, I crashed on the floor and pass out quick for a refreshing and deserved rest. It was also short-lived because just hours later I was woken up to a rousing rendition of "B-Double E-Double R-U-N" by a few fellow BC chums who had arrived earlier that night. The two had woken up ready to start drinking. I covered my ears and tried to get back to sleep, only to have my nutsack trampled in a loutish attempt to reach the kitchen by the main culprit, who I will refer to as Jay. This is the one who had been blackout drunk, offending every women in his site the night before, and was passed out beyond revival by the time we rolled in earlier that morning. A typical night for Jay.

I should mention that Jay is a great, genuinely good guy and a legend on my frisbee team for the standard he set on the team in terms of drinking and throwing parties. But that weekend, he wasn't just off the wagon. He fell off the wagon, got hit by Kia Sedona and knocked onto some train tracks where the 6:50 to Newark hit him and derailed killing a family of woodland critters.

Jay, though still drunk from the night before, started drinking by the time we got to the beach at 10 that morning and by 2 PM was chugging vodka from a bottle. He was seen shotgunning at random times throughout that afternoon, which he still did impressively (he is a world-class shotgunner). By the time we left the fields at 5, he was so far gone, you couldn't find him with a Hubble telescope. He was passed out in a chair, not moving hardly breathing. I've seen a lot of passed out, belligerent kids in my life, but never had I seen anyone with such blatant disregard for his own body through such a prodigious amount of drinking.

Being a big dude, no one could move him, so a few good men stayed with him to wait it out. At one point, a police officer approach the group. Noticing that the kid passed out was hopelessly obliterated, the officer asked if he wanted medical help. After being woken up by one of his friends, Jay saw the cop and immediately called the man in blue a faggot. Ignoring the insult, the officer offered Jay a ride to the hospital, which he angrily refused and even signed a medical release waiving the officer's liability in the case of serious harm done by the drinking. Telling them that they needed to get off the beach, the cop helped drive the group back to the motel.

I've witnessed and heard of some terrible things related to drinking, but never had I seen anyone as drunk as this sad fellow.
At one point he started peeing his pants and needed the help of a friend to bring him to a toilet and undo his pants. He crashed hard in one of the rooms and slept for the next 14 hours. He slept on the floor during all of this because whenever he tried to get on the bed, he kept rolling off and onto the floor. The manager of the motel kept a vigil on the room, coming in hourly to make sure that his surly tenant was alive. I think Jay had a headache that morning.



Two other quick things:

1. Seeing Radiohead and Animal Collective play at the All Points West Festival last weekend may have been the single best live musical experience of my life. I came into the concert thinking that Radiohead was the best band in the world, and left in awe of the fact that they sound better live than on their records. Animal Collective's new songs sound incredible, their next record is gonna be huge.

2. I posted my own Muxtape. If you haven't heard of Muxtape, you can set up an account to post a playlist of mp3's from your computer to this website. The playlist is open for streaming to the public. I'll probably update it periodically.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Direction...Perhaps

I enjoy a good story more than I enjoy people telling me what music to listen to, so here's a good one from earlier this summer:

Me and some of my friends from back home have been having this summer series called the Man Games on Saturday afternoons where there's some sort of ridiculous challenge. This past week was the Gallon Challenge. Terrible idea. One quiet dude (who I think was in my class but I hadn't talked to since middle school) showed up randomly and did the whole damn gallon without ralphing. He couldn't have weighed more than 225...he didn't even puke afterwards and drank half a 30 that night. Fucking impressive. I digress.


Anyways, there was this one shifty kid in this challenge, who I'll call Chuck to protect his identity, who did not fair so well. Dude puked at like the 45 minute mark, he's a little tyke so he didn't really have a chance. Anyways, he's driving home afterwards on the phone with his buddy who was away in California. As he's driving through the middle of town, he knows he needs to hit the can in the worst way. He pulls over into the library parking lot and just starts booking it. In the words of Glenn Frye, the H is O and he needs to find porcelain fast. Still on the phone, the business starts pouring out his anus and down his leg. He swears into the phone and tells Mikey, the kid on the other line, that he just shot Cosbys to his calves. Mikey loses his shit laughing and calls everyone in the tri-county area. I find out, chuckle, and continue to live life.

I mean, this dude was like 21 years old, too. He's had a long time to figure out how his ass works. I guess all is well though, he made it to a shower and everyone who knows him now has enough material to make fun of him with for a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ice on Mars

First, big ups to The Hold Steady for their 88 score on review-compiler MetaCritic. They've been my favorite rock 'n' roll band since last summer, so it's nice to see them getting the respect they deserve with this unanimous critical acclaim.

In crazier news, this story broke about a month ago, but I just found out about it today and thought it was really cool: Scientists Find Water on Mars

Scientists have found ice beneath the surface of Mars, beneath the planet's dusty surface. They have expected to find ice there for years, but this confirmation is nonetheless a major discovery. They also have yet to find out what other sort of chemicals or components might be in the water. It doesn't sound like the sort of stuff I'd want to melt down and drink out of a Welch's jelly glass.

It's pretty crazy though to think that Mars could be a potential second home to the human race if we blow it here on Earth. Scientists have found that Mars has an alkaline soil, which could potentially also sustain the growth of many plants (many places on Earth have alkaline soil).

I guess what I'm getting at is, do NOT watch this movie. It sucks.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Punk Rock Changed Our Lives


Lately, I've been reading a book called Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad. The book chronicles the stories of a range of bands from the emergence of the indie scene in the 80's, including Black Flag, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, and several others.

I've particularly been fascinated with the story and music of the Minutemen, a three-man punk band from San Pedro, California. A self-distributed, self-promoted band on Greg Ginn's (the guitarist of Black Flag) SST label, the Minutemen weren't afraid to mix funk and jazz elements into their sound. Their mantra of "jamming econo" and DIY ethics really set the bar for thousands of bands that woould follow them.

I think what I really love about the Minutemen, besides their great music and brilliant lyrics, is their overwhelming sense of optimism, something that isn't always on the forefront in a counter-cultural movement like punk rock. These guys just fucking loved being in a band and when frontman D. Boon said "our band could be your life", he really meant it. He and Mike Watt openly stated that they thought every neighborhood, even every house, should have a band. I really couldn't agree more with him. Music has such a powerful way of bringing people together that such a society would be undoubtedly be a happier and friendlier one.

In another passage in the book, Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye talks about his early days in punk, when he and his bandmates would shave their heads and wear chains and tacks to intimidate people:

In our shows and within our community, we were totally goofy guys. We were painfully honest--we didn't shoplift, we didn't vandalize, we didn't spray-paint. We were just good kids. That was our whole joke. We don't do anything--everybody hates us just because of the way we look...If you do something so dumb as spray-paint your hair, then the next thing you know you have grits from southern Maryland chasing you down the fuckin' street just because you chose to do something a little different. You realize just how fucked up our society is.

Besides being an excellent commentary on the deficient judgmental tendencies of the human race, I think that this passage further highlights the benefits that having bands in every neighborhood would have. I doubt that those "grits" would have treated MacKaye and his friends so poorly if their kind, courteous teenage next-door neighbor started a punk band our of his garage (beside their probable frustration with having their peace and quiet disrupted). Art is culture and culture humanizes us; I'm all for more of it.

Gettiing back to the Minutemen, D. Boon died in a car crash in 1985, effectively breaking up the band. What amazes me about the Minutemen however is that there isn't the same sense of tragedy around their existence as there are with other bands associated with death like Nirvana and the Exploding Hearts. The message of D. Boon and his band was so positive that people cannot help but celebrate his inspirational story and life, rather than dwell on his terribly premature demise.

This video is an acoustic version of their legendary biographical anthem "History Lesson Part II", taken from their 2005 documentary "We Jam Econo".

Monday, June 30, 2008

To Beat a Dead Horse Pt. 2

I won't continue on the first rant on Pitchfork's antics. I think the nail was hit on the head with that one. However, after reading Colin's post and thinking about how cool of an idea this is, I have decided to compile my own list of albums that have more or less changed the way I think about music. I'm sure that I have left some out, but here are five that initially came to mind:

1. Michael Jackson - Dangerous
Date Acquired: Sometime in 1993

I don't know if this album changed the way I thought about music but it was the first piece of music I could call my own. I didn't actually have the album, it was on a tape that was recorded from my dad's vinyl version. I remember having written the title of the album on a paper insert myself then wearing the black gloves to my kindergarten classes one day. I feel like I listened to this thing every day for a year. I probably did since I didn't know much back then. Rather than changing the way I listened to music, I'd say this album marked my beginning into music. From this point on, I knew that I loved music. And yeah, I got Thriller, just after this one.


2. Green Day - Dookie
Date Acquired: Sometime in 1995

I remember being at this kid's birthday party at Roller Kingdom a few weeks into the 2nd grade. (Those kinds of places were big in the '90s.) I didn't roller skate nor blade because, let's put it this way, I wasn't a balls to the wall kind of kid. So I sat on the side by myself for awhile and skated back and forth on the rug like a loser. Then blasting out of the speakers came "Basket Case." I listened for awhile then got this urge to go out on the rink and try skating a bit, so I did. I fell and that sucked because I didn't like getting hurt so I went back to the rug again. After that, I don't think I gave a shit though because I had just heard Green Day for the first time. I didn't understand early adulthood problems of anxiety but the song stuck and marked my beginning into alternative music.


3. Saves the Day - Through Being Cool
Date Acquired: Fall 2000

I think more than anything, my phase in pop-punk/ska was my most important phase in music. It was my attempt to express who I was to others through music, dress, a
nd social attitude. However, it is because of this that no single band really stood out to change my attitude. It wasn't until the summer before 7th grade that I went to a small local show in which I heard a kid say, "Yeah there's everything, punk, ska, and emo," referring to the music to be heard that night. The next day, I asked an older more knowledgeable friend, "What is emo?" She said it stood for "emotional", as in emotional rock and sent me the song "Shoulder to the Wheel" off of Through Being Cool. It wasn't until a few months later that I purchased this album and begin to leave behind my pop-punk/ska roots. From this point on I was taken to other acts such as The Get Up Kids, The Annivesary, and the Midwest scene. It was at this point that I began to appreciate going to shows more. I felt as if I had become a true member of the crowd.


4. Orchid - Dance Tonight! Revolution Tomorrow!
Date Acquired: Spring 2002

While I wish that some things w
ould never change, I have to admit that I tend to look for changes. Early on in high school I was introduced to hardcore, more or less the now defunct '90s scene of "screamo." Early acts included Saetia, The Kodan Armada, and Amherst, MA's Orchid. Although an inaccessible style of music, the raw sound of it struck me and I was intrigued by it. I enjoyed following smaller shows and loved the energy behind the music and the intimacy between the band and the small crowd. This would forever influence my continued interest in the DIY/punk culture, from which I expanded my taste from not only the '90s but from the the late '70s until now.


5. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
Date Acquired: Winter 2004

With age comes a certain sense of maturity, I think. With time I have found myself to have an ever-expanding open mind about like, stuff. One day a few years back, a friend of mine told me about the album You Forgot It In People by Broken Social Scene. He said, "I think you'd really like them." What I don't think he thought is that they would become one of my favorite bands of all time, or maybe he did. I think more than anything, while remaining one of my all time favorite albums, You Forgot It In People represented a yearn for new sound. It was at this time that I was beginning to discover post-rock and alternative country/folk, two genres I enjoy to this day and both incorporated into BSS's style. I didn't so much as follow one scene anymore as I was simply trying to discover what other scenes were out there. What hadn't I heard of yet that could change my life? Broken Social Scene was just that.

Friday, June 27, 2008

RIP Flash (1/4/98-6/27/08)

This morning, one of my buddies who I've lived with for more than half my life passed on. His name was Flash, he was my dog, but all-in-all, he was one of the friendly and happiest creatures I've ever met. I'm gonna miss the guy a lot, but it sure helps to think of all the hilarious, joy-bringing things he did in his life. Like bringing back a dead snake once to scare the hell out of my mom. Or when he was a puppy and had never been to a pond before, dunking his head in the water and being freaked out when he pulled his head out because he had never been in the water before. He lived a great life and I think pretty much everyone who knew him can attest to that.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

ChaCha

Last week I first heard about the ChaCha text search service where you can text any question to the number 242242 and receive an answer within three minutes. The service is completely FREE and is great for clearing up arguments when you don't have a computer at hand.

My friend Scott mentioned that he was working for the site as a guide. They pay 20 cents per answer you take and can work whenever you feel like it by logging on. Payment are made by direct deposit through checking accounts. I decided it might be a fun, lucrative way to spend time at home (and when I'm bored at work).

Three days in, I have to say it's pretty entertaining, although definitely not an ideal stand-alone summer job. On average, it's probable that you'll get 20-25 searches assigned to you per hour, so that figures to $4-5 an hour. It's not too bad though because the searches can be really fun and you can just use the internet normally until something comes up.

Best question I've been asked so far? "wat do u think about wen u masterbait?" I got that question while at work and laughed out loud until I had to go to the bathroom to regain my composure. And then proceeded to think about Kathryn Bates in "About Schmidt" and heat up some kids.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Disney World Culture



I was talking to my friend Jimmy last week about the time he spent studying abroad in China. One question I asked him was: why was it that you wanted to study abroad there out of all places? He said that he had always wanted to go there since he was a little kid and saw that crazy panoramic IMAX of a trip down a Chinese river in the China area of Epcot. I kind of laughed when I heard it, then thought for a second and vividly remembered myself being six years-old in Epcot, seeing that same video and being absolutely blown away by this foreign environment and culture that I had never seen before, with exotic instruments playing music in the background.

I never really thought about it until just now, but I find it pretty amazing that six year-olds can have moments like that when the world just seems kind of infinite.


Speaking of being blown away by new experiences, I haven't been completely floored by a new album in about four months (by Olivia Tremor Control), until today when I listened to this little 1990 gem by British band Ride.


The closest I can come to describing it is My Bloody Valentine meets The Stone Roses, but I honestly don't think that anyone who likes 90's alternative rock would be disappointed.Unbelievable stuff.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To Beat a Dead Horse

Lately I've been thinking about how questionable the whole music blog/Pitchfork hipster scene is. While I'd be a hypocrite to say I didn't read Pitchfork daily for music news, updates, and reviews, I'm starting to think that the site is basically mind control for a whole scene of young people. I mean, mind control may be a bit strong, but it is pretty ridiculous what sort of hype-creating power that site has. They generally are pretty conservative with what they give the "Best New Music" title, but when they do give it, it's basically a coronation and an instant catalyst to overnight indie stardom.

From a personal standpoint, I generally do enjoy the albums that Pitchfork gives good reviews, but I guess I just question how serious kids take the site. T
his sort of attitude seems to be the failing of the whole music blogosphere in general. I mean I really love hearing new, interesting music but it just seems like people these days are just posting new music and mp3s like they are trying to keep up with the Joneses. When it seems like the music is a chore over a pleasure, that's a bad sign. I mean don't get me wrong, there's some really damn good sites out there like Gorilla vs. Bear, but 90% of these blogs are just shit...(this one too maybe?)
Anyways, I was listening to the Stone Roses' first album at work today, spaced out, thinking about all this and I started thinking about albums that actually changed the way I listened to music. Here's five I could think of, in chronological order of date bought:


1. Michael Jackson -Thriller
Date Acquired: Sometime in 1994

My first memory of being in a record store was me and my mother in the "J" section. I don't remember why I wanted a Michael Jackson album, but it probably had something to do with a first-grade friend digging his stuff (my mom must have hated that her 6-year old son wanted music by a recently-accused pedophile). I remembered being enthralled by the cover art of the 1991 album Dangerous, but my mom, being a responsible parent, told me that I should get Thriller. My first glorious exposure to pop music at it's finest. I would later get Dangerous and eat that shit up for breakfast and love it. Still do. But Thriller is Thriller.


2. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Date Acquired:
Sometime in 1996

In first grade, one of my best friends used to talk about the Beatles seriously all fucking day. He said he had all of their albums. His name
was Shawn and he was Indian. I got a Beatles' Greatest Hits cassette for Christmas in first grade and dug it. Upon the advent of the CD, I got this for either my birthday or Christmas in third grade and ever since then, it's been my favorite Beatles album. And in one of the more obvious statements ever, I would probably have to credit the Beatles as much as any band for making me love rock and roll.


3. Saves the Day - Through Being Cool
Date Acquired:
Spring 2001

In late 7th grade, I got hit by the pop-punk bug, which probably changed the way I thought about music more than anything in my
life. No longer sufficient was the shitty metal and mainstream rap that I heard on the radio. It was now all about the raw pubescent emotion of these "punk rockers" like Saves the Day and New Found Glory. This Saves the Day album in particular blew away 12-year old Colin, and I still can listen to it at any hour seven years later and love it. In the words of D. Boon, punk rock changed my life.


4. Radiohead - OK Computer
Date Acquired: Christmas 2003


Well I am a hypocrite. Before I knew what the hell Pitchfork was, I remembered stumbling onto its "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s" and seeing this at #1. I didn't know any of these so-called "best" albums of the decade that I grew up in. Having heard decent things about this "Radiohead" band and not having much to ask Santa for, I threw this on my Christmas list. I ended up on December 25th with OK Computer, Slanted and Enchanted, and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea...if I had only known that days like that are one in a million.


5. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Date Acquired:
Winter 2004

I really don't remember why I ended up downloading Wu-Tang's debut album. was I trying to give hip-hip a chance? All I know is that before it, I really had limited respect for rap music beyond its catchy dance floor hits. Before I heard this flow, intricate rhyme schemes, bangers...it meant nothing to me. I think it took RZA's grimy, challenging production and some of the rawest lyricism to ever grace hip-hop to scare the living white kid out of me and into loving the genre.



So yeah...that's how I'm me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What Makes Me Happy

http://youtube.com/watch?v=yv-kbt_VXSk

I find this video funny. I would have embedded it but embedding has been disabled by the user's request. I watch videos a lot at work.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"Rock and Roll is Very Simple"

Check out this Asian dude laying down the Truth on some keyboard drums. The dude spits knowledge and then proceeds to take it to funky town. Domo arigato.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yo yo yo

I'm at work right now and all I call think of is how funny a word "stakeholder" is.

In other news, fat kids falling:










And best of all, fat kids thinking they are going to fall and being terrified of it:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Clark and Michael


I may be the last person on the planet to find this, but Clark and Michael, a ten-episode webisode series starring Michael Cera and his friend Clark Duke (who made the first episode as his senior thesis). The show is about the two friends trying to pitch their TV show to network executives and failing miserably.

Michael Cera really is one of the funniest things in comedy right now and this series doesn't disappoint. Plus each episode is roughly ten minutes long, so you can plow through all ten in the time it take to watch a feature-length film. The highlight to me is episode six, when Clark treats Michael to a day at the minigolf course. Just watch the damn thing.

Alien Ant Farm Would Be Proud


I've had a subscription to NetFlix for the past two years, and I have to say that I love it. They have a super fast mailing service, unbelievable scale in terms of movie choices, and a convenient unlimited online viewing service.

One of NetFlix's other great features is its movie recommendation feature, which personalizes your account to make recommendations based on the ratings you give. This feature has helped me find some absolute gems that I otherwise never would have gotten to see.

One of such movies is Cinema Paradiso, a 1988 Italian film (Best Foreign Film Oscar winner that year) about an Italian filmmaker who reflects on his childhood when he fell in love with cinema. It is a comedy, drama, and romance film all at once and has to me the most powerful ending sequence of any movie I've ever seen. Any who loves film really cannot go without seeing this.

Another incredible movie that I found with NetFlix is Das Boot. This one is a bit more famous, especially after Beerfest referencing it, and is a 1981 German film about the adventures of a single WWII U-Boat crew. The acting is unbelievable, there is plenty of action, and the captain is one of the great badasses in film history. Like Cinema Paradiso, it is of epic length, but a must-see.

So watch 'em.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pharmaceutical Phun, Pt. 1


My summer internship thus far involves me basically going through the websites of several thousand companies and evaluating whether they are a "target candidate" for buying our product (aka salespeople call the target companies up and pester them to buy). Having made it through over 700 pharmaceutical/biotech company websites in the past two days, here are two of my favorites:

AllerPharma
: While at first glance, an innocent enough allergy research organization, clicking on the "About Us" section of their website, shows their true colors: extremist Canadian nationalism. Selfish Canucks that they are, their entire mission is to prevent Canadians from the sneezes and sniffles, while leaving the rest of the world at the mercy of its own genetiic unfitness. And for awhile I thought Canada was cool just because Michael Cera, and Ellen Page, and Broken Social Scene are from there...

AnalTech: Alright, the name sort of says it all. I cannot look at the people on this page without laughing, knowing that their lives' work is spent on the cause of anal advancement.

And because I'm all about chords and beats, here's one from the post-rock-and-rollers-turned-Paw-Tracks-poseurs, Sigur Ros. Plus, a video with naked chicks and dicks. Alright.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

This weekend I realized a few things: I can perpetually watch Arrested Development and not get tired of it. I can also eat lots of fried food and feel great. Mint chip ice cream is okay when it's free.

This is wacky.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Portraits of Past - A Reunion

Legendary San Francisco hardcore punk band, Portraits of Past, will be playing a reunion show in their home town this August, their first show in over 14 years. Following this will be a gig at 924 Gilman St. in Berkeley, CA with supporting acts: Comadre, Phoenix Bodies, and La Quiete. TBA dates to be held in New York and elsewhere. Shows not to miss.

Portraits of Past circa 1995

La Quiete in 2006 with Westford's own Ryan Greaves
(I was also at this show.)

First day of work tomorrow. (Wish me luck.)

Portraits of Past (San Francisco)
La Quiete (Bologna, Italy)

Sequestered in Westford

Just finished watching Juno...a pretty solid flick, hard not to fall in love with Ellen Page watching it. Movies like that always leave me not fully impressed by the end, but put me in a state for awhile afterwards. Hard to describe, but I'm kind of jazzed out right now.

Then I get back to my computer and what do I find, but a new track by the Hold Steady. And boy howdy, it's the good ol' boys at it again. There's something about the Hold Steady that always gets me, just great lyrics about getting kicks and the sadness of life mixed with heavy riffage...it's like Kerouac fronting a lunch-pail rock band. Anywho, here's the tune.

The Hold Steady-Sequestered in Memphis

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Well That Was Boring


I spent five and a half hours today at the Suffolk Superior Courthouse in Government Center doing my civic duty of sitting around being really fucking bored while the State meticulously chose juries for its cases. When I finally got called along with over 100 other people to be screened for the selection of a jury of 14 for a criminal case, I liked my odds.

The case was basically about a middle-aged Latino man from Jamaica Plains (who had an interpreter...he didn't seem to speak English) who alleged raped his girlfriend's 14 year-old daughter in their house. I really didn't want to be chosen and have to sit and listen to the graphic details of such a sensitive case, especially since it was estimated to last about 4 days.

But I didn't get chosen and I'm finally settling in for the summer. Let's hope it's a good one.

Derrick Morgan-Tougher Than Tough (Rudie in Court)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Go Eagles

Went to BC to visit Colin then saw Cut Copy with Black Kids at the Paradise. Not what I expected but still a decent show. Had one of these:


(Seagram's Green Machine) Yep.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. I love you mom. In other news:

Don Caballero (Damon Che: drums, Jason Jouver: bass, and Gene Doyle: guitar) is set to enter the studio this week to record their new full-length album, titled Punkgasm.

Don Caballero will return to Rust Belt Studios in Michigan with producer / engineer Al Sutton to record Punkgasm. Working song titles include: “Slaughbaughs Ought Not Own Dog Data," "Aw Man, That`s Jive Skip," and "Bulkeye."

Founding member Che comments on the new material; “I know this sounds like an obligatory and potentially phony statement but, I at least, firmly believe this will be the 'best Caballero yet'. All clich├ęs be detonated.”

Punkgasm is expected to see a late Summer ’08 release via Relapse. Further album details will be made available shortly.

Cool.


Tapping at the speed of sound.

Formed a Blog

In order to compete with the hippest and most literate minds of our generation, I have signed on to participate in this internet blogging experience. I have some pretty important things to say, so this should be a great privilege for all. While I haven't talked it over with Ben, I think the vibe we are going for on this thing is Perez Hilton meets Gorilla vs. Bear meets To Catch a Predator. All in all, this should be a very enlightening and exciting adventure in art and culture.

As the formation of this blog is only Stage One of our conquest of the scene, Stage Two will involve us rapidly ascending the charts of the Hype Machine and Elbo.ws as an mp3 blog of unparalleled eclecticism and timeliness. During Stage Three we will emerge as one of the most reliable remix/mashup duos to ever grace the realm of blog house. Stage Four will be marked by incessant touring and festival-headlining for our LPs that will redefine the way that people think of music in the context of their lives.

Until then, stay tuned.

Art Brut-Formed a Band

Turnarounds

Yesterday I went to visit Alison at Wellesley with Ali. We played a long game of catch up in the car and visited Providence on the way. Incidentally, Providence is not on the way to Wellesley.