Today I learned about insurance and retirement plans and grown-up stuff like that. And practiced. Tomorrow I start the new job in earnest, and play a show (with Kylesa, at Roboto). Thursday night, more practice. Friday/Saturday/Sunday are the trinity of Andyfest shows, so I'll basically be freakin' out a lot. I need to figure out what kind of food to make all weekend, because I like to feed me some bands.

On a related note, do go to the show at MoFo Saturday night (flyer right hurr). It's a release for a zine that Alicia and Jessie are putting together, the proceeds of which go here, and it's good bands and good folks and that's that. I have another show later in the evening, but I plan on checking out as much as I can, and you should too.


days of trash talk, nights of delirious silliosity

Yesterday, last Pirate's Cove show. Scene stalwarts and p0sers like myself who had never been there (we TRIED to get a show there on tour, it just didn't happen! And we know people there! Come on GET OFF MY BACK!) converged upon the little House By the Wawa to give it one last shower of punk smell and loud, abrasive music stuff. The drive was a good five hours or so each way, and in the end the day lasted from about 10 am to about 2 am, which then became 1 am again, because of the powers that be and their Daylight Savings delusions. But Sequoia ruled the roost with their set (including the bagel song), the new Tom Attack/ex-Sound of Failure band, which apparently does not have a name, or does not have a name people know or can pronounce, was really good (despite my reservations about the drummer's snare drum, which looks to be a rack tom with a snare somehow affixed to the resonant head), and . . . Belegost.

Belegost was amazing as per usual, despite some equipment troubles (pedals cutting out? I've never heard of such a thing!). Poor Charlie was a wreck about the house coming to an end, and sobbed through the first couple minutes of the Deer God, then ripped it out, and halfway through, something in Allen's pedal setup cut out, so after a short period of trying to figure it out, he ripped out his cable, shoved it straight into the input on his amp, and continued accordingly. Also, I guess to their credit, none of them kicked the dude, whose identity/affiliation I could not quite determine, who was snapping photos all papparazzi style, gettin' up in their space while they were playing. I probably would not have been as kind.

Had to check out early, and thus missed Hypatia and Robot Attack and Carpenter And and any other ridiculousness that may have occurred thereafter. But that got us home at 2:00 aka 1:00, which was nice. And now I'm a little sick and my gland is swollen and I have to go draft up a pamphlet for tonight's Media Swap at the Mattress Factory, which I will likely attend, unless I am feeling very unwell, which is a possibility.


owed to punk planet

So. Word hit the street earlier this week that the old rag Punk Planet is among a number of independent publications whose not-for-profit distributor is having financial woes. It was suggested that those who are concerned should purchase or renew a subscription, or take any number of other steps to help out and keep PP and its distributor afloat. To which those who are truly punk, of course, responded with phrases like: "EMO PLANET!" and "MRR!!!!!!" and "I HOPE THEY GO UNDER." All of which was expected.

Listen the fuck up.

So Punk Planet isn't what it was ten years ago. So some of the bands that are interviewed aren't that amazing. So it's printed in color and uses some modern elements of design.

I don't love every word of it. Sometimes the capsule reviews aren't amazing, but then again neither are HeartattaCk's, nor MRR's. Sometimes the interviews aren't that prying. Sorry. BUT, the first time I bought a Punk Planet (and in scene years, this was not that long ago, folks), it did a number of things for me.

First of all, that particular issue's focus was the Independent Media Center. There were articles about what was going on in media activism and about the basic technical aspects of DIY media. I was familiar with what Indymedia was at the time, but I had no clue how to go about any of this stuff. I ruminated on it, read those articles countless times for a number of months, then went on to be part of the group that founded the IMC in my city. Perhaps -- probably, in fact -- I would never have gotten to the point where I felt comfortable doing that if not for that Punk Planet.

Beyond that, though: at the time, I was in high school, in the suburbs, and I was listening to "punk rock," which to me essentially meant Epitaph bands and The Clash. (Not that there's anything wrong with The Clash, at all. Just bare with me.) I picked up Punk Planet because there were elements of that stuff, but then it introduced me to more. I started listening to bands that weren't completely formulaic. I started to understand that punk ideals could exist outside of straight-up political 1977 stuff.

And besides music, it introduced me to people whose ideas would challenge and change the way I think, and would become a big part of my life (Al Burian Jessica Hopper Mimi Nguyen for god's sake).

I wasn't going to pick up MRR at that point -- it didn't look like anything I was used to or comfortable with. As a high school kid with some ideas and no idea where to take them, I found Punk Planet to be an eye opener. I'm not saying everyone who picks up PP because they want to read about At the Drive-In (or whatever. I'm out of touch) is going to go out and make a huge dent in the world because of some heretofore unrelated anarchafeminist rambling they run into elsewhere in the issue. But if it had a profound effect on me, I bet it could have a profound effect on someone else too, and already has.

So, in conclusion, quit fucking with Punk Planet. If you prefer MRR, or Slug & Lettuce, or Anything As Long As It's Newsprint, good. Read it. Subscribe to it. Let Punk Planet do its thing.


speaking of my old school . . .

I picked up The Dan's Countdown to Ecstasy yesterday, finally, and it's an amazing album. I'm working slowly at establishing my collection. It's always kind of difficult to do with older bands who aren't really releasing anything anymore, because the collection is all there, and I don't know where to start. Especially with Steely Dan, since I know a fair amount of their stuff, and thus like a song or two on every album, and the rest is a crap shoot (Pretzel Logic? Okay, but not great. Aja? Awesome.)

But seriously. The vibes. The synth. The cheezy jazz guitar solos. The "Skunk." What more could I ask for? I shall be driving my roommates slightly edgy for weeks, I suspect.


new news

So, in the exciting-new-things category, I have a job now. Starting Monday I will no longer be sitting around the house all day, feeling like I should get something done but not doing so. I will be playing with books all day. And dealing with academics. And deciding how to deal with wanting to tell work stories on here but not thinking that's a good idea.

In other exciting new things, Q's new tape comp, Revolved Back to Failure, is being released with shows tonight and tomorrow night, and while we're not on it, we're playing the show tonight, so come see us and buy the tape. There are some major gems involved. Also, Q and Eric are releasing a long-overdue new issue of Here Be Dragons, which is about punk old people, of which I am not one, but I'm interested anyway. Their stuff is always good, so throw a Sacagawea dollar or two their way and pick it up.

Also, do check up on my old teachers and their contract dispute. No one likes a teachers' strike, especially the teachers.


seasonal perceptive distorter

There's this particular phenomenon that occurs only in the cold weather time. It happens when you've been outside, waiting for the bus, or hoofin' it because you aren't expecting it to come anytime soon, and then the bus comes, and you hop on. And you've got your headphones on, so you can't hear what's going on around you. And your glasses have suddenly fogged up from the change in temperature, so you can't see who else is on the bus. And your brain becomes a little fuzzy because you suddenly are very warm. And since you don't know who's around you or what they're saying, you lose that slightly on-edge feeling you normally have on the bus, or anywhere else there might be a moderately sized group of people who may or may not judge you. And you feel a little bit like you're on some sort of drug, and you feel a little bit like you've always wanted to: not caring what anyone else thinks about you at all, consumed in whatever music is being pumped into your ears at close range.

This phenomenon reared its beautiful head in my life for the first time this year the other day. Thank the heavens for the turn toward colder weather.

(To be fair, I do prefer cold weather to hot, but more than anything it's the seasonal transition that puts me into a good mental space. It keeps things from stagnating the way they otherwise might. Have I written about this before? You can dock me blog points on that weird fantasy blog stock exchange thing if I did.)


today's score

Before tonight's show, I spent a long time being cold and bored at Roboto waiting for the meter reader, then spent a lot of time on buses getting home, and had a quick crisis regarding my planned mixtape contribution, which I then scrapped in favor of a quickly and shoddily cobbled together 60-minute tape of which I couldn't even be proud enough to inscribe with my secret identity contact information. Then I made a transportation disaster getting there and became quite irate with myself, nearly decided just not to go, and sucked it up and went through with it. Then, a stunning but all-too-short period of Pure Mountain Goats Bliss, followed by but superceding another period of being unable to convince myself that I am not quite the failure in many respects.

But that's not the point. The point is, good job, John Darnielle. You amaze. For most of the set I was quite pleased by your guitar-and-bass arrangements (although "Color in Your Cheeks" could stand to lose the overwhelming walking bass line . . .)

Apologies for any typos. The sleepiness has overtaken me. More later.


who's got a thick, snow-white, poofy long coat of hair?

The Mountain Goats show at the Warhol is tomorrow night. If you don't have a ticket already, you're screwed. If you do have a ticket, make a goll-dern mixtape for the mixtape swap! The construction of mine has been interesting. I still haven't come up with packaging, though. And time is running out. And I have to babysit Roboto tomorrow afternoon, so time may be tighter than I even realize. What am I doing sitting here typing on my computer?

andyfest flyers

For all to see (small versions):


o b s e s s i o n

From today's Post-Gazette (boldface mine):

What's with all this street cleaning?

Outrageous and embarrassing are two words that come to mind when I think about Pittsburgh's street-cleaning obsession.

I have lived abroad, as well as in Atlanta, Denver, Washington, D.C., Toronto and Calgary, Canada. In none of these places do they clean the streets so often. Two to four times a year is the average frequency. In contrast, not only does the city of Pittsburgh dedicate personnel to this useless activity, but they also dedicate enforcement people to ticket offenders.

The inconvenience and hassle this causes to those who would park on Pittsburgh streets is doubly infuriating, when you consider the total wastefulness of the enterprise.

People of Pittsburgh, we shouldn't have to continue this legacy of foolishness. Let's give the cleaners and enforcers meaningful work.

Squirrel Hill

Now. I'm not saying that I don't understand people feeling inconvenienced by having to move their cars for street sweeping. Sure it's a bother. I don't have a car right now, and even if I did, our street is sorely neglected by the apparently gung-ho street department so maybe I can't fully identify. But can't this fellow save the intense rhetoric for something like war, or famine, or racial discrimination or something? "Legacy of foolishness"?! You show me someone from another town who refers to Pittsburgh disapprovingly as "The Street Cleaning City" and I'll concede the point, dude.

band in the USA

Here are some music-related tidbits to keep you and me happy for a short while:

- Last night our LIVE STUDIO X SESSION aired on The X. It was a strange situation to be in -- just to be asked to do that in the first place, and then to deal with it when you're three dudes with a not-so-sunny view of Clear Channel. Our ultimate call was that we had more to gain from the appearance than they did, and that it was worth it. Vinnie, who hosts the show we were featured on, is a super good dude who likes good music and manages to have a show where he actually plays some good music. And the mix on the radio sounded really good. And a couple people have already ordered copies of the EP after having heard us on there. And hopefully maybe it'll cause someone new to come to Roboto one of these days right soon.

- Tomorrow evening (Tuesday the 18th) we're playing at AIR with Cerebrus Shoal, Air Guitar Magazine (they're releasing a CD!) and Micah Blue Smaldone. We play first, so far as I know.

- We're also going to be playing on the 26th of October at Roboto, the 1st of November at Roboto, the 6th of November at Roboto, and the 13th of November at the Blue Violet Cafe in Rochester (PA).


"have a nice day!"

Okay, I hate to admit that Charles Krauthammer sometimes makes me think (and is even a pretty good writer . . .), but I'll do it. His most recent column, which ran in the P-G today, is about the recreation of the 1918 Spanish Flu and its possible repercussions, the idea of which plugs in to a lot I've been thinking about lately, especially in the context of the aesthetic and ideological trajectory of the band I'm in. About the advancement of science and the decisions that have to be made in short order to keep up with the quickening pace of new technology. While I'm not so much into his alarmist take on the matter and his concentration on "the bad guys" (what else could we expect?), the questions he raises are pretty fair.

The whole thing reeks of Frankensteinian what-have-we-wroughtness (which, after Dolly and the rest, we're pretty de-sensitized to), but at the same time the prospects of being able to use the newly-recreated virus to help fight similar epidemics in the future are enticing. Sometimes you have to kill it to keep it alive, sometimes you have to bring it back to life in order to kill it. Contradictions and ambivalence abound. "Have a nice day," if you will.


thursday the 13th!

There was a hostile vibe throughout the fair city of Pittsburgh today, which made me feel as if staying inside all day, instead of just for the first several hours of the day, would have been ideal.

- I witnessed at least two shouting matches in Oakland.
- The friend I met for lunch regaled me with the tale of a fight (an argument, not fisticuffs) with a roomate which occured earlier in the morning.
- I was nearly run over (SERIOUSLY MACKED) by a bus whose driver was apparently "fresh out of give-a-fucks" and ran a red light, which I didn't realize he was doing until I was just past the lane and his vehicle was directly behind me, going about as fast as logistically possible, given that he had been stopped completely when the light turned yellow.
- On the 54C headed to the South Side, we were pelted with small rocks by some middle school or high school-aged kids on the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue.
- Waiting (50 minutes) for the 54C back from the South Side, I heard what sounded to be the beginnings of yet another shouting match, apparently brought about by someone sitting or standing on an angry man's car.

Let this be your warning. I hereby command you to CHILL OUT before tomorrow begins.

andyfest 2k5 update

So, by way of an update -- here are the current facts regarding ANDYFEST 2005!

Friday, Nov. 4 @ Roboto:

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
+ 1 more tba (soon!)


Saturday, Nov. 5 @ Gooski's (This show is no longer at Quiet Storm!)

The Close
Life in Bed
We're Wolves


Sunday, Nov. 6 @ ModernFormations

Bibis Ellison
the sea, like lead


As mentioned elsewhere I believe, if you're interested in attending all three shows, we can work out some sort of package deal.


in further spidey developments . . .

I was talking to a friend tonight and she mentioned having to have blood tests this morning, and noted that she didn't even really know why they needed to be taken. Which of course reminded me immediately of the current plight of Peter Parker, who in today's strip (which I would post, but my digital photo downloading and posting abilities are limited right now) is being subjected to yet ANOTHER blood sample, and still worrying about his SECRET IDENTITY.

Flash back to September 1st:

Yes. It's been six weeks since he entered that doctor's office for that physical. In six weeks, we have learned precisely this: that Peter Parker's blood is somehow mystical, and that the (evil?) doctor wants to use it as a miracle drug and make money from it, and Peter is afraid of being outed as Spider-Man. The entirety of September and half of October have been spent in the Doctor's office and the hospital, all watching Peter writhe about his spider DNA. This is the equivalent of a psychological thriller movie that lasts eight hours.

My best guess is that perhaps Stan Lee has gotten himself into the ultimate cartoonist's predicament: he's created a dilemma for his character WITHOUT PLANNING HOW HE WOULD PULL THROUGH IT. And now he's stalling, trying to figure out how Peter can get past this (especially since in the newspaper comic he's not even a scientist! What's a photographer to do when faced with an evil doctor?)

Good luck, Stan Lee and/or his band of underlings. Good luck.

anxious mo-fos

Are you familiar with the Minutemen? Not the Minutemen, the Minutemen. There was a story in the Trib on Sunday (DON'T ASK!) about a local couple who are going to "vacation" at the Arizona border, using their binoculars to watch for Mexicans instead of birds or dolphins or whatever retirees are supposed to look at in binoculars on vacation. And, in case you were worried about them, fear not. They'll "both be packing pistols just in case." Sounds like an excellent vacation to me.

Also, in case you were worried about them being RACIST XENOPHOBIC CRAZY PEOPLE, you can rest assured that this is NOT about immigration. It's about ILLEGAL immigration. Their concern is not that there are different-looking and acting and speaking people coming into the country, it's that they're doing it against the law. And, to be fair, these two sit outside banks in the South Hills with their pistols and binoculars during the rest of the year, so they can call the police iff'n they see a robbery take place, and go to dark alleys on the North Side with their night vision goggles so they can alert the authorities to suspected drug deals.


today's thing that made my day:

Today I hung out with my mom and nephew some, and we had dinner at Eat'n'Park at the Waterfront, and then they had to run in Giant Eagle to get a few groceries, and I was staying in the car. Thirty seconds after they left, they returned, and my mom stuck her head in the window, looked at me and said: "I just wanted to let you know that Jim Ecker and his wife are loading groceries into their big black car."

It was, of course, a Cadillac, and I wish I had seen what his vanity plate said, but I couldn't quite make it out. I'm content to only imagine it ("NT GLTY," perhaps).


something of note

If you, like I, were arrested three years ago(!) at Pershing Park in D.C. on the 27th of September while assembled and trying to avoid being arrested, go here and fill out the form to keep in contact with the Partnership for Civil Justice, who are litigating the class action. I've been pretty confused about the whole process, and I know I was in contact with Covington and Burling about the suit they were bringing with the ACLU, but apparently that's not the "real" suit, and that one isn't around anymore. This is the one, and these are the people you'll need to be in contact with in order to be part of the class if we're ruled in favor of. And I don't see how we could possibly not be. Unless the courts are all screwed up royal-like. Oh wait.


i hope they're paying royalties to the Clamor folks

Continuing with our theme of interactive and alternative media, I was surprised and pleased to see this AP article about citizen reporting in the Post-Gazette this morning. It's another sign that the type of media activism we're doing and the philosophy of communication we're pushing is making an impression on people and making a difference in "the real world" beyond Crazy Lefty Land.

As an aside, one thing that struck me when I was looking for a link to the article was the difference in headlines assigned to the story by different papers. The Raleigh/Durham/C-Hill "News & Observer," to which I link, titles the story, Traditional media experiment with citizens as news producers, making the move sound quite tentative and even radical. This was presumably a headline suggested by the AP, because Canoe.ca uses a similar, if more ambiguous and frightening, hed -- Traditional media experiment with citizens. The Freepers posted the story with that headline, and added (Media adopts blogging), because blogging as a news medium (I think) still has a built-in elitism, and that's more their speed than admitting that we're talking about a wholesale change toward the democratization of communication. The Post-Gazette's headline? You, too, can be the media!

Did I mention to you that I love Pittsburgh?

(PS I think I'm going "camping" (sort of) with Emma at her folks' farm tonight. It'll be the first time I've done such a thing in two years or so, as the parents sold the cottage last year. It should be good for me.)



So, I discovered this thing the other day. Wikinews. I guess it's new. It's like Wikipedia and Wiktionary, but with news. In another interpretation: it's like Indymedia, but without the inherent political slant that's hard to get around (believe me, we talk about it all the time).

My first reaction was territorial -- "There's ALREADY an open-source news page. It's called Indymedia. GET INTO IT." Then I thought a little more about it. There are definitely shortcomings to Indymedia that I worry can't be overcome (e.g., the impression that the site is "just for activists/protestors/anarchists"). So, perhaps having this as an alternative is good. Perhaps this is even . . . BETTER THAN INDYMEDIA?!

But then I looked closer and realized that most of what's being posted on Wikinews (at least at this point in the game) is not so much independent, original reporting as it is synthesis, combinations of other news sources (mostly mainstream) into more concise articles written by non-professional reporters. It's not that helpful in getting alternative views aired, and it's not structured in QUITE the non-hierarchical way that the IMC is (although it's much better than the corporate media structure, to be sure). It's cool, it's useful, but it's still not the holy grail of alternative media that we're looking for.

Somewhere in BETWEEN, I think, lies the ideal type of reporting and communication -- something decentralized, with independent, original writing/media, produced by people from all different backgrounds, read with a discerning eye for bias, and no overall political agenda.

Is that too much to ask?

Perhaps right now it is, but trust me, it's evolving.

something beautiful happened in the courthouse

The above graphic, clearly the product of many hours' work in the CNN graphic design offices, ran last night with a story on CNN.com about hints toward Harriet Miers' views on gay rights. The story told me that in the '80s she said she supported "civil rights for gays" but not a repeal of the Texas sodomy laws. The graphic told me that, if Miers is installed, homosexuality will rain down on the Supreme Court like manna from heaven.


it was darker than english moss

So I came out here to my parents' house Sunday afternoon with the intention of helping do some yardwork. I was aware that the job description included planting a tree. I'm cool with that. I like trees, and I could get some pictures taken for my press kit, with my hands all dirty, shoving a blue spruce into the soil. What I didn't realize was that my mother, apparently having watched too much in the way of History Channel espionage specials, would find it appropriate for us to conduct this tree-planting raid (in our own yard, mind you) under cover of darkness.

I guess it started out innocently enough. We ate dinner a little bit late, and the sun goes down a little bit earlier now than it used to. So it was already starting to threaten twilight when we got out to start the job. We set out with a pitchfork, a couple different shovels, and some compost, in hopes of getting a big enough hole dug before the sun disappeared.

Of course the ground is incedibly dry because we haven't had that much rain lately, and the soil underneath our feet out here is essentially 100 percent clay, so it was hard work. That's okay, I can take hard work, especially when I can get some photos for my press kit out of it. But in addition to being hard, it was, as you might imagine, rather time-consuming. And there wasn't much time left to be had. Soon we were hurling rock-hard soil chunks at dusk.

Night continued to creep up and I presumed we would be postoponing the planting until the following day, but my mother apparently had some vision of us getting the thing in there and blowing the neighbors' minds ("Jackie, I swear that tree wasn't there yesterday before the sun went down! What happened? They've got the magic yard!"). So, we continued working, no longer able to see what exactly we were digging up and where we were flinging it. The gnats were there to accompany us, as is evidenced by my pink, bumpy neck and arms.

So there we were. My mother grabbed a battery-powered flourescent lantern which didn't shed much light but did add to the impression that we were completely mad and possibly lost on our way to Dr. Frankenstein's place. I stabbed at the earth with my pitchfork. We continued to dig until the hole was deep enough.

We carried the tree up, managed to get it out of its container and lowered it into the hole, all without aid of the sun. We filled in the hole around it with some mixture of compost and the earth we had just displaced, lacking any natural light to assist.

And in the morning, there it was. And no one knew how it got there but us.

High five, Mom.