Goddamned restless tonight. I feel like I’m falling down and I can’t stop falling. I feel like there’s some kind of cruel order to things, not that the order in any way implies an intellegence. I hate not understanding why things are the way they are. I hate that there might not be a satisfactory answer anyway.
-Cover “Pet Sounds” in it’s entirty.
-Write a concept album about the failure of ambition; a grand, sinister design; growing up in halting, stuttering intervals; a teenage symphony to God.
-Write all the songs in the world, so I’ll never need to covet someone else’s good idea.
-learn more ukulele chords.
-Buy a slide.
Let the call sound throughout the valley, from the highest mountains, across the land...
I have way too much time on my hands these days, so I’m turning my garage into a sorta impromptu studio. With that in mind, if anyone wants me to record them, I will be happy to do so free of charge, for my practice. Figure there’s no better way to learn than by doing.
I have a simple set up, a few SM57s/58s, Tascam USB/MIDI interface, Behringer 6-Channel mixers. I also have a killer Peavey Classic 30 amp, a few neat pedals. Good for doing acoustic demos, stuff like that.
If you’re interested, let me know. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Open Letter to Superintendent Teresa McNeece and Principal Trae Wiygul
I am writing today to register my anger, my disgust, and, most importantly, my deep, deep sadness at your actions, first in barring Constance Mcmillen from bringing her date to prom and then canceling the prom, attributing it to the disruption caused by miss McMillen’s efforts to be allowed to participate in an event that so many students consider an essential, indispensable part of growing up. I am struck with a profound sadness and anger that, when faced with prospect of a gay student attending her prom with her chosen partner, you would first outright bar her and then (realizing that while your community standards may approve of discrimination but the US Government does not) takes steps to see that NO ONE is able to attend prom rather than have it sullied by the attendance of a gay couple. This to me is madness, a type of madness that I am shocked and utterly baffled exists in this day and age. You would literally rather see hundreds of students not attend prom than one gay couple? I am simple stunned. I can only assume you think the attendance of miss McMillen and her date will in some way make the event immoral or licentious. Having attended several proms, I can assure that prom has always been and will continue to be an affair rife with immorality and licentiousness, even by the most conventionally moral standards, and the addition or subtraction of miss McMillen and her date will make the event no more tawdry than it has always been and always will be. You may seek to use this rationale to justify your decision to cancel the prom, but we know very well that your decision, whatever you may attribute it to, is little more than an effort to divert the attention and responsibility away from you and on to a 19 year old girl simply trying to go to prom with her chosen date. THIS, more than anything, is what saddens me most. You are educators, and your charges are students, children. Your duty is to educate, to enlighten. And yet you act gleefully in the service of ignorance. You acting as an instrument of bigotry and hatred. You are blaming a 19 year old girl for your own discomfort and inviting, even instigating scorn from her peers, something that runs rampant in high school even without your callousness and childishness. It is sickening, absolutely sickening to see people in charge of the intellectual and moral development of children act so wantonly cruel and childish when faced with their own limitations and discomfort. You set an example to your students that rather than try and comprehend and live harmoniously with their peers who they might not understand, that their peers should be punished, scorned. Baring that, you teach that it is better that everyone suffer rather than share/ I must warn you: to be in the service of ignorance like you are now is a heavy burden, heavier than being on the righteous path, which I can only assume you think you are on. Every day you persist in teaching ignorance, you are harming yourself and those around you. A part of your soul dies when you embrace bigotry over love and acceptance. You are killing your soul and souls of your students in your actions. You are turning from the light, the love of God, and you forge the chains your soul will wear in eternity. I wish to be clear: what you are doing is monstrous, ignorant, and as unchristian as you can possibly be. You are utterly negligent as to your duty to your students: your duty to them is to not stop at your own moral limitations, but to be better, to teach them to be better. I truly hope that this is something you can recognize and realize your role in and not allow your pride or your ignorance to continue to pollute your student’s minds. I have faith that there is hope for you, that you can be saved. It would sadden me for you to reject the opportunity to make things right. God be with you, Gray
file this under the “HOLY FUCKING SHIT, LABELS ONLY CARE ABOUT $$???” category.
Seriously, I feel like this is the millionth time I’ve heard this same goddamned, boring as shit story from a band “speaking out” against how they were treated by a prominent (if not actually major) label. There are pretty much two flavors: there’s the “we signed up with Label X because they said they were like a big family/loved our music/supported the scene, but as soon as we didn’t make any money, THEY STOPPED PAYING ATTENTION TO US!!!” or the “they didn’t even act interested until our album went gold! Whaaaaaaa…”
Now, of course I’m sympathetic to the wants of an artist, but honestly, this story is getting really fucking old and the naiveté is grating on me. There are two things that irritate the LIVING FUCK out of me about these bands bitching about this: ONE, that the people “speaking out” most prominently are the ones who, frankly, have a sense of entitlement. I’m not saying that Thursday has no cause to be bitter about being jerked around, but the simple facts remains that they ARE signed to Island now, that they DID tour and pack VFW halls and go on major tours with Saves the Day. Regardless of how big they THINK they could have been if only they’d been paid the attention due by their label, they did OK for themselves and aren’t taking into account the fact that the resources thrown their way by their label (publishing, booking, promotional whoopie cushions) are things that thousands upon thousands of unsigned bands aren’t afforded and have to do for themselves. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck, but the idea is that once you’ve bought into this label system that you have some sort of bill of rights… well, you do. It’s called a contract, signed by the band and the label upon deciding to go with a label. If there was anything the label outright violated, they can be sued by the band, the contract dissolved, and the band compensated for damages. Whoopie cushion or not, I don’t think there is an “indignity clause” built into these contracts.
And TWO, the most irritating aspect, is the dunderhead assumption that labels are in ANY WAY not a business venture. Now, this may seem callous and inconsiderate to the fact that there are labels out there staffed by visionaries and nice-guys who just want to support great art, but FUNDAMENTALLY, they are a commercial enterprise and comercial enterprises have a finite number of resources they can commit to the promotion of a single band. Furthermore, these resources need to see a return, need to be in some way replenished or else the label SIMPLY CANNOT EXIST.
This means when Tony from Victory didn’t exactly ejaculate all over himself every time Thursday tried to get him on the phone when they weren’t making him bank/complaining about the promotional items they made without their consultation, it seems relatively reasonable. It also means when their album starts climbing the charts and all the sudden he wants to spend more time with them, make sure they know he’s being attentive to their needs… well, that seems reasonable as well. Why? Because, no matter what he says about loving music and wanting to support artists, his bottom line is about the money. To form a label like the one he did, his bottom line NEEDS to be about the money, and the very first day he set up shop, that’s what it became.
Now, I ain’t saying this is a pleasant revelation or particular conscionable, but it’s pretty much the same as needing to kill a cow to eat a burger. It’s an inevitability… UNLESS you don’t eat the burger.
The simple, indisputable truth is that the ONLY way to avoid these pratfalls is to avoid the system that allows for them entirely. If you are particular about the way you are marketed, if you wants a very hands on relationship with your label, if you want final say on everything that relates to your career, you have only a few options, all of which have their respective drawbacks: stay unsigned (all resources must come from you), sign with a label small enough to have your band be a real focus for them (limited resources + may be a Victory records in disguise), start your own label (again, limited resources + in a few years you might BE Victory Records). There is of course the option of getting that perfect contract; the one that grants you all the creative control, no-veto power by the label, all the coke and hookers you can handle, etc etc. But of course, this contract doesn’t really exist and if you’re in a position to be offered one, you probably don’t need no stinkin’ label anyway.
The simple fact is that WHAT A LABEL IS lends itself to this type of abuse. A label is a trade of control for resources. Some trades are smaller than others, and in general, a good rule of thumb is the smaller the label, the smaller the trade. You trade off your share in having a hand in the unsavory, nitty-gritty every day shit that promotes you, the way you’re marketed, for the resources the label can offer you. And the label essentially BUYS a part of you. Once they’ve bought you, no matter what they said over penne ala vodka the night before, THEY ARE NO LONGER YOUR FRIEND. You are a commodity, you have been paid for and are being paid for every second that the label commits a part of their deeply finite resources to keeping your crappy band on the road. And they’re interested in seeing a return, and frankly, they aren’t going to be terribly interested in hearing you bitch about how they owe you more time/attention/emotional support/ass-kissing because they’re paying for you, they own your ass, and they’re not terribly interested spending more time/energy/resources they might not get returned.
Now, this makes everything sound rather dire and nasty and ultimately pretty anti-label, but it is possible for a label and a band to have a satisfying, non-abusive relationship. General rule of thumb seems to be keep it small: indie bands + indie label = low-overhead, smaller infrastructure, higher levels of control and intercommunication. Not to mention that the entire system which created the labels has been radically changed by the internet anyway, thus eliminating/making obsolete many of the old rationales. Instant world-wide distribution virtually for free is within the hands of the artist, promotion and booking almost equally simple. I bet I could google whoopie cushion stenciling right now.
There will always be a need for labels, if only because 95% of artists don’t have the resources/knowhow/time/inclination to sit in front of a computer and promote themselves to their maximum potential. As a dude contemplating paying some guy in Florida to book my band, I am certainly within the 95%. It’s a shortcut, going to Burger King for a quick, cheap bite instead of making yourself a nice home-cooked meal.
Of course, this is about as tired a sentiment as the whole “WHHAAAAA WE GOT SCREWED” drivel I’m bitching about. Not to mention, Steve Albini said it far better here and that’s like 20 years ago at this point (and I didn’t even talk about any trenches of shit). I guess I just feel a need to reiterate because Albini was talking about indie bands signing to a major and a label like Victory (and the innumerable indies and mini-majors like it) might have been seen in a different light 15 years ago. Possibility it still is, which puts the sense of indignation and shock that these bands/fans are feeling into a bit of context.
Can it be conceivable that fans and bands THINK that Victory EVER had integrity, perhaps likening it to a Sub Pop, Twin Tone, or J Records? Maybe there’s another rant here, a wheezing old-timer complaining how things have changed, how even the indies are looking to make it rich?
Maybe since I was never a huge fan of the artists on Victory I can see it more clearly, but honestly, this is the least fucking surprising shit in the world to me. All these minilabels that popped up around the late 90s pop-punk/ska/emo/post-hardcore bands, they all had the same feel, the old eyes leering through young faces. I admit I fell for it on several occasions, but it still felt there was something off-putting about the whole thing. I’m always pretty skeptical about labels that seem to be squarely courting… I mean catering to kids. It just seems to be populated by over-excited kids who aren’t terribly concerned about making good music and ripe for abuse by greedy fuckheads who are just as unconcerned about musical quality. Labels like Drive Thru, Victory, Epitaph are like catholic priests: or course not all of them want to diddle kids, but when they happen to, for some reason everyone acts fucking shocked.
Hmmmm, to pay some dude 150 bucks to book a 2 week tour: it is a little more than 10 bucks and change per show. Plus, God almighty, do I hate sending out emails all day.
Drawbacks: Booking myself costs $0 and has been going reasonably well. Lose massive DIY-points, indie cred takes a hit, no longer punk as fuck (question as to whether or not I was in the first place remains). Probably get stuck on a bill with dudes who play Breaking Benjamin covers. Worse, I might get booked at Hot Topic again. Shudder.
So Blog@Newsarama is reporting that Geoff Johns, the mastermind behind GL, Superman, Blackest Night and basically everything they wont let James Robinson do at DC (he’s pretty much DC’s Bendis when it comes to writing 30 million books a month) is going to be writing a “Flash: Secret Origin" a la the supposedly incredibly well-selling according to Johns "Green Lantern: Secret Origin" and the pretty forgettable "Superman: Secret Origin" (did this wrap up? I lost track because I couldn’t be paid to give a shit.)
First let me establish: I like Geoff Johns probably 75-80% of the time. He’s the kind of writer I dig: really embraces big, goofy as shit premises (aliens with magic rings in all the colors of the rainbow fight each other, then team up to fight zombies) as sincerely as one can, writes decent humor (not exactly LOL, but I chuckle at Larfleeze being a goof), and is a damn fine clean-up batter when it comes to making sense of continuity. His JSA run was pretty great, Infinite Crisis worked well for a clunky company-wide “event,” I enjoyed his work on Superman (an immense feat given I really, really hate the character of Superman), and pretty much anything GL related is solid gold (another feat considering how phenomenally gay GL is as a premise: dude gets magic ring from dying alien, uses ring to make giant green cartoon boxing gloves and anvils, ring occasionally doesn’t work on yellow, Sinestro’s mustache, etc.).
Yes, he’s got his limitations. His dialogue ain’t always great and he’s overly reliant on dopey splash pages (letsbefriendsagain.com gets it pitch perfect here). He’s got a preference for violently dispatching obscure characters no one cares about to show what a fucking badass the villain in the story is (to his credit, this is pretty standard practice for most superhero writers and he’s not nearly the worst offender. Jeph Loeb is). He also likes to have characters talk about how important things/people are, in case you might not have picked up on this. Also, Superboy Prime.
That said, I rather enjoy the things Geoff Johns does because they’re big and goofy and fun. But this whole “Flash: Secret Origin”… I dunno.
I suppose what I mean to say is that, while it’ll probably be a good amount of fun, the concept seems somewhat like a crass marketing grab. I understand the logic of trying to give Barry Allen context to new readers or just trying to do a proper (re)introduction. After all, I’m one of those readers who, y’know, wasn’t born until after he died in Crisis and thus has only known Wally West as the Flash, but have been hearing since fucking FOREVER how big a deal Barry Allen’s death was. It’s not too bad to do a little brush up on his origin, maybe reestablish his core Rogues and in general recontextualize so as to convince younger readers why replacing the Flash they’ve known for the last 3 decades with this assclown who wears stupid bowties is somehow more iconically fulfilling.
My only concern is… wasn’t that pretty much what he did in Flash: Rebirth? Like, I suppose that wasn’t a completely origin-based story, but it functioned EXACTLY the same way as GL: Secret Origin did: it told the story of Barry Allen becoming the Flash (albeit quickly), gave context to his “dark family life,” and somewhat needlessly interjected a modern character’s motivations into the story to to give that character gravitas for the storyline in the present.
As Johns says,
I think sometimes people forget that there is a new generation coming in and this stuff has to be for a new generation. To a lot of people Hal Jordan is the new Green Lantern, and Barry Allen will be the new Flash.
With that I mind, these “Secret Origin” books Johns are doing are somewhat of a misnomer. Usually, they seem to be a distillation of various already published origin stories (Emerald Dawn, Superboy, etc) carefully cherry-picked to form a cohesive continuity that acts less as characterization or context than as seed for upcoming storylines where Johns needs that intense connection.
Think about the presence of Atrocious or Black Hand in GL: SO. 10 to 1 Atrocious is gonna quietly fade into the background after Blackest Night, and for good reason. His motivation? ARGGGG SO ANGRY!!!11!
His presence in GL: SO isn’t about reestablishing the iconography of familiar characters, its about lending gravitas to NEW characters and storylines, creating that “GASP! I REMEMBER YOU!” moment for characters without having to build the character/drama over time.
I don’t usually complain about this kind of shenanigans from Johns because frankly he is the master of making those ridiculous, high concept ideas based on the faint suggestion from a silver age hack work, but this just seems sorta needless.
Not to mention the fact that, well, frankly, I can’t tell the difference between Wally West and Barry Allen. I know this is nerd blasphemy. Blame it on me being at heart a Marvel-ite, but what makes them so different? Seriously, someone explain this to me, and when you’re doing this, keep in mind I am more than the casual observer. Try and pitch replacing one really really fast guy in a red suit with another really really fast guy in a virtually identical red suit and explain why its so important that this one guy be the main guy.
I know this is a bigger issue than Johns just pilfering the tombs of older storylines. I’m also being harsh and kinda belligerent towards one of the classic tropes in superhero comics, but I hope the point is clear: if the idea is that there is some sort of quantifiable reason for all this to occur, it needs to be idiot proof. IT NEEDS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT, especially to outside observers (re: non-geeks).
With Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan, the differences are notable to the outside observer, sometimes even cartoonishly so. Yes, they both have magic rings that they use to make things and beat up bad guys. But Hal was one of an entire corp, and Kyle was the last of his kind. Hal was an army brat, Kyle was a fucking cartoonist (with a six-pack, wishful thinking). Kyle was younger than Hal, kinda a punk kid. Very important (to the casual observer) the costumes are different, dramatically so.
Distinguishing the two and their relationship is pretty straight forward, making it simpler to justify why Hal’s return as the definitive GL is a big deal: even taking out of the picture the fanboy prostate massage that is returning the “classic” character to prominence, you can sum it up with the simple phrase “THIS NEW ONE IS DIFFERENT FROM THE OLD ONE BECAUSE OF X Y AND Z” with “X, Y, and Z” being easily observed yet profound differences, something (I’m sad to say) that can lead to interesting plot points but can be summed up in a splash page or on a cover.
All decent legacy characters function the same way. Same with Cap/Bucky-Cap.
There, X = “Uses a Gun,” Y = “Was Bucky” and Z = “Has Robot Arm.” It’s not exactly dramatic, but it’ll do, pig. It’ll do.
The trouble is, I cannot for the life of me figure out what the major differences between Wally and Barry are, and thus why I (or any of the Flash uninitiated) should care whether or not one replaces the other. Even after Rebirth, I’m scratching my head to be able to take a look at a splash page of Flashes (say that 5 times fast) and pick out which one is Wally and which is Barry. Wally’s suit is darker red and shiny looking?
Furthermore, given the fact Johns has worked with Wally as the Flash so extensively, let’s face it, the Flash mythology isn’t going to be nearly as dramatically different between Wally and Barry as it was between Kyle (or Guy or John) and Hal. Already Johns is starting in with his favorites: The Rogues, Professor Zoom (who is somehow different from Reverse Flash for reasons I can’t quite figure out either).
Now, I’m not saying it can’t work. I’m not even saying it won’t work or that it shouldn’t work. I don’t have anything against Barry Allen as the Flash. The problem is I have nothing for him being the Flash either: nothing about who he is vs who Wally is/was is a hook for me or any new reader. Also notable is that (ding ding ding) I DON’T GIVE A FUCK WHO IS THE FLASH. I DON’T REALLY LIKE THE FLASH, and no amount of hearing Superman/Batman/Captain Cold/Gorilla Grodd tell me how important the flash is to the DCU will make me believe it. So, unless this whole “Secret Origin” thing really turns up the juice and sets Barry apart from Wally, y’know, the DUDE WHO WAS THE FLASH FOR THE LAST 25 YEARS, I’m gonna be skeptical as to it’s merit as an “introduction” for a “new generation.”
I feel goddamned awful tonight. Can’t account for it, but woke up feeling garbagesque and can’t shake the sensation. Perhaps it’s the fact I’ve had Jeremy Irons read me Lolita for the past month and the neurotic mix of cold manipulation and impassioned epithets.
Playing the Gulu Gulu open mic in Salem tonight. Come by if you’re free. Cheer me up.
Carlotta Valdes: Saw these gents last night with Weatherbox. Pretty awesome. Sorta like if Sabbath and Sonic Youth hung out and listened to pop punk. Very noisy, but also hyper melodic. Keep an eye out for em.