Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ty Segall blows the roof off the Echoplex

I had the pleasure of seeing Ty Segall at the Echoplex- I was in the photography pit and the PA speakers are a bit out front so it is difficult to hear the vocals or the overall mix but it was still awesome. After the show I met Ty and his girlfriend, Denee, who plays bass. They were both very cool. Check them out if you get the chance. I will post up more videos a bit later.  Also you can read my full LA Record review of the night here:
 TIJUANA PANTHERS + TY SEGALL + DEVIN THERRIAULT + MONOTONIX @ THE ECHOPLEX




Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Austin meets Amsterdam.... daaamn that's good!

I am a sucker for acoustic performances when they are done right and Ryan Sambol and Greg Enlow from Strange Boys do it so good. I guess it is to be expected having formed their punk meets southern rock meets the blues meets garage rock hybrid music in good ole' Dallas, Texas, (now based out of Austin).
- Adler Bloom

HOPE Benefit: Show @ Perhspace featuring Watercolor Paintings, The Dining Dead, Pangea, and Old Lumps -AP Review

 The wonderful Charlyne Yi- actress, comic, musician and more who is best known for "Knocked Up", "Paper Hearts" and countless appearances on late night television (along with Jessica Cowley, Dave Horwitz, Reese Jensen, Marina Sakimoto and Dan Dan Chavez Crook), put on a great benefit show at Perhspace in Echo Park. It is all part of her "Caring is Cool" organization. As some of you may know, this is not Charlyne's first foray into "giving back" as she has also been involved with Oxfam America.  

Besides Charlyne's band Old Lumps- the night featured Watercolor Paintings who performed sitting on the floor. The entire audience followed suit and it was like a big love in folksy sort of performance that made you want to drink green tea and chill out. I like them a lot. While totally original, I thought of  Joanna Newsom as I watched the sidewalk chalk drawings that Watercolor Paintings drew in my mind.


The Dining Dead engaged the audience with songs that ebbed and flowed from pretty melodies to dramatic, powerful downbeats as well as a Mexican radio station. Yeah, you heard that right. In the middle of their set, some Mexican radio station found it's way into Perhspace broadcasting through the guitarist amp. For a second I had a "Wall of Vodoo" flash back and thought it actually may be part of the song BUT sadly it was not. The culprit turned out to be a foot pedal that seemed to think it was a radio transmitter. Dining Dead handled the situation well. It was the first time I had seen them and it was a nice introduction. I liked what I heard and want to hear more. I am sure you will be able to check them out in the near future at their local haunt The Smell.


Pangea, damn - where do I begin. Just know this, if you go see them prepare to mosh your ass off or at least dance, pogo, flail, spazz your ass off. There music inhabits a Happy Days world gone askew were Richy Cunningham is a bad ass and Mrs. C is the town slut, (or maybe that's just my fantasy).  Their songs do have that 60's beach blanket bingo jangly guitar thing happening soaked in a punk vibe. I dunno it was like The Black Lips, Dick Dale and the Deltones, Violent Femmes, and ??? were all mashed up into one sweaty fun time. You can get a free download of "I wrote a Bible" here.


Final bad to finish out this wonderful love fest is Old Lumps. It was a three piece Old Lumps this evening pushing out sweet tunes with a hard indie edge. Charlyne shared the singing duties with Jessica Cowley while Dave Horwitz banged on the drum kit which, by the way, had the smallest kick drum I have ever seen. The music was stripped down and raw which I like especially since the melodies were in there essence quite lovely. The juxtaposition of rough edges around Charlyne's sweet lovelorn sounding vocals was endearing.


A GOOD time had by all-
Adler Bloom-





Sunday, January 23, 2011

Screaming Females, La Sera, Audacity, The Lovely Bad Things @ The Echoplex - Jan. 17- FYF show - AP Review

Jan 17th, MLK day 2011 was a good day. Not only did the holiday create smooth sailing on the LA freeways, it was a true pleasure to hear the "I have a Dream" speech in it's entirety while I piloted my old Honda in and out of traffic. Topping the day off with a heavy dose of good music would soon put the icing on the cake. Put on by usual suspects at FYF, this show pulled favorites from previous FYF events, namely Screaming Females, La Sera, Audacity and The Lovely Bad Things.

The Lovely Bad Things started off the festivities with a shifty pile driving tune that sounded at once new and retro- think of the Bride taking on the Crazy 88 gang in "Kill Bill".  I saw heads in the ever growing crowd bopping instantly. After the opening song, Lauren Holland moved from the drums while Brayden Ward passed the bass to her like it was a baton in the 440 relay and moved behind "his" drum kit. In a flash, she started the bass line for "Kevin" - a progressive post punk song bolstered by Cameron Ward's biting vocals and Tim Hatch's guitar work. TLBT's do not have one lead singer and switch up musical sounds as often as their instruments- creating cohesive surf pop / post punk songs that stick to your ribs and make you want to do something (?) whether it be dance, head bop, mosh or punch someone in the face, (you had to be there). They performed many of the songs from "Shark Week" as well as brand new tunes.

Audacity, those boys from Fullerton, California - took the stage next. Kyle Gibson, (guitarist, lead vocals), asked someone to get drummer Thomas Alvarez a beer and then the party started. Most of Audacity's members have jammed together since 6th grade learning their instruments in the process and while they hold firmly to their punk garage rock roots, you can hear grunge, blues and pop influences sprinkled in the guitar and vocal melodies. Bassist Cameron Crowe and guitarist Matt Schmalfeld beef up the sound as they kept the set lively with a cover here and there and favorites like "Teenage Town".  I am loving Gibson's gritty vocals more every time I hear them live and I hope his voice and their overall sound never loses that teenage wail.

La Sera who is currently on a US / European tour to promote her new 7 inch release hit the stage next. Katy Goodman cheerfully announced that she had gotten the flannel shirt she was wearing from Audacity so as to be in keeping with the general style that night. It was a cute moment and set the feel for the rest of La Sera's set which was free and easy, full of pretty, intimate melodies and bright dancy guitar leads. La Sera has gone through some changes in recent weeks so Devin Williams lent his talent that night along with drummer Matzah, formerly from Woah Hunx. I had missed La Sera at the last Xmas FYF show so this particular show was a nice introduction to Katy and the guys.

The first time I had seen Screaming Females was at the FYF fest. They were like a heavy dose of aspirin for the FYF headache caused by the sweltering heat, the long lines and the nasty ass porta potties. Hearing and seeing them in the glare of the LA sun was a divine experience indeed. Pint sized Marissa Paternoster shredding her guitar and belting out her strong vocals counter posed by big- big King Mike on bass was both awe inspiring and a little amusing. Not amusing as I was laughing at the spectacle but amusing because they inspired so much fun. I got home that night and immersed myself in all things that are the amazing Screaming Females. I was thoroughly impressed in drummer Jarrett Dougherty's DIY attitude toward promoting SF's as well as all of their work ethic. They are the real deal. I was really looking forward to seeing them at the Echoplex when I was actually hydrated.

They DID NOT disappoint. From the first bass line to the last power chord their set showed off the tightness and inspired rock of a band that has honed their sharp skills for over 5 years- From all I have read, they bring it to every performance whether they are playing in a leaky cold basement in New Brunswick to a hand full of die hard rock fans to several thousands of fans at a rock festival. While Marissa is the focal point of Screaming Females because of her guitar prowess and blistering vocals- SF's is a band that creates truly original songs and behind the tsunami that is Marissa's vocals there is also a nice vulnerability and warmth in the undertow.  Be sure and see Screaming Females next time they are in your area.

BEHIND THE REVIEW:  Before the show it was a blast to see Lauren Holland, Brayden Ward, Katy Goodman, and Marissa Paternoster all behind or around the merch tables selling T-shirts, CD's and more. 
I had a chance to speak with all of them and they were all more than cool.
----  Adler Bloom



Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bruno Mars is unforgettable covering Kat Perry's "California Gurls"

Katy Perry's "California Gurls" with it's 80's style production makes me think of "Lets hear it for the Boy" by Deniece Williams. Yes, that one from "Footloose".  In both cases, both songs I just think "dumb ass pop song" and then throw up in my mouth a little bit. Courtesy of BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, Bruno Mars does a sweet rendition of "California Gurls". He absolutely kills it, in a good way. He actually imbues the song with a kind of summer soul and brings out the pretty melody that was always there but hard to hear in Katy's version.

You will probably never see me plunking down ten bucks for a Bruno Mars CD as his pop music tends to be too sweet for my taste but I cannot deny his amazing talent. Not only does he have just the right combination of smoothness and grit to his voice, he approaches melodies in a sincere way making sure never to over sing or apply vocal gymnastics to melodies that do not require them. You cannot escape hearing him on the radio but live performances like this one or him and Travie McCoy doing "Billionare" at the beach acoustically put a smile on my face. In these casual performances you also get a sense that Mars is just a sweet guy who is fun to be around. Apart from his amazing talent as a singer, songwriter- this likability is one of his best assets.

-- Adler Bloom



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Acrobatics Everyday

Ok, I do do acrobatics everyday and I am pretty, pretty good, if I do say so myself but the "acrobatics everyday" I am referring to is the promotional group out at UCI founded by Sam Ali Farzin. If you ever venture out to see an alternative rock band at UCI you undoubtedly have seen Sam. He is the tall, dark and bearded affable fellow who is orchestrating the whole affair. Setting up the PA, directing traffic, helping to get the tables up where up and coming bands can sell their t-shirts and cd's and tapes. He is ever present, lurking happily and keeping every thing flowing. I have never met Sam but I like him. He has taken the alternative music bull by the horns and put on shows at a time when there are less and less venues out there for bands.

Now back to Acrobatics Everyday. As I eluded to earlier, it is the name of a "UCI club that doubles as a campus-specific booking agency/show promoter" according to the OC Weekly. Read more about Sam and his endeavors here- it is an old article but it is always good to start at the beginning. I promise myself that at the next UCI show, I will walk up to Sam and thank him for all he has done for local music.

A couple of days before this post I  shot this black and white video at an Acrobatics Everyday show that featured Dagha Bloom, Airborne Age, Dash Jacket, The Lovely Bad Things, Moon Pearl, Tan Dollar, Ugly Girls, and Coastlines-- enjoy!



Past shows put on by Sam and Acrobatic Everyday include:
60-Watt Kid, Abe Vigoda, Adam Balbo, Adventure, Airborne Age, Alak, Alaskas, All Leather, A.M., Anna Oxygen, Astronautilus, Au, Audrie Olguin, Audacity, Avi Buffalo, Avocado Happy Hour, Axemen, Babel Fish, Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, Back To The Future The Ride, BARR, Bathrobespierre, Battlehooch, Big Whup, Bird Names, BlackBlack, Blank Dogs, Blevin Blectum, Blessure Grave, Bleubird, Blue Sabbath Black Fiji, Blues Control, Bobby Birdman, Boo And Boo Too, Boom!, Boyz IV Men, Box Elders, Bri White, Br'er, Brown and Blue, By Sunlight, Calvin Johnson, Canyons, Capillary Action, Captain Ahab, Caucus, Chen Santa Maria, Children of the Kai, Chirgilchin, Christmas, Christmas Island, Clark 8, Cole Moldy Milner, Cosmonauts, Crash Normal, Crazy Band, Crocodiles, Da Bears, Dan Deacon, Dan Friel, Dash Jacket, David Jaberi, David Liebe Hart & Adam Papagan, Death By Panda, Deathday Party, Death Sentence: Panda!, Desolation Wilderness, Destroy Tokyo, Devon Williams, Diskettes, Doctor Bird, Drew Danburry, Dustin Wong, Dutchess & The Duke, Earn, Ear Pwr, Endless Bummer, Elis Im, Ellie Fortune, Emperor X, Eric Copeland, Eternal Tapestry, Extra Life, Ezra Buchla, Fabulous Diamonds, Faraday Trippers, Filkoe, Fixins', Foot Foot, Foot Ox, Foot Village, Former Ghosts, French Quarter, Friendship Hurricane, Fuzzy Knuckles, Generifus, Geronimo, Gestapo Khazi, Ghost To Falco, Glasser, Gobble Gobble, Golden Ghost, Gowns, Great White Jenkins, Greg Ashley, Greys, Growing, Guy Fantastico, Happy Hollows, Haunted Horses, Hawnay Troof, Henry Clay People, Hermit Thrushes, High Places, Hippocampus, Holy Ghost Party, Horse Head, Ian MacKaye, I Heart Lung, Imagine the Band, Indian Jewelry, Infinite Body, Italic Indian, Japanther, Jeans Wilder, Jeffrey Lewis, Jehovas Fitness, Jerkagram, J. Irvin Dally, John Thill, Joyce Manor, Judgement Day, Jules Verne, Julianna Barwick, Karl Blau, Kevin Greenspon, K.I.T., Kites Sail High, Light Rays, Little Desert, Littlest Viking, Lloyd & Michael, L'Orchideé d'Hawaï, Lovely Bad Things, Lucky Dragons, Luna Is Honey, Made In Mexico, Mae Shi, Mahjongg, Magick Orchids, Mandarin Dynasty, Married In Berdichev, Martîn and Joey, Mason Lindahl, Melted Toys, Miami Nights, Mincemeat or Tenspeed, Meho Plaza, Mermels, Mi Ami, Moon Pearl, Morgan's Orange, Mount Righteous, Mountshout, Mt Eerie / Microphones, Muddy Flowers, Muslims / The Soft Pack, Naked On The Vague, Naomi Elizabeth, NASA Space Universe, Nero's Day At Disneyland, Nicole Kidman, NGUZUNGUZU, Nobunny, Noveau, No Kids, No Paws (No Lions), OKIE DOKIE, OORUTAICHI, Palms, Pandora's Boxing Ring, Parenthetical Girls, Party Fowl, Persona La Ave, Peter Walker, Pharmacy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Physical Forms, Pigeons, Piles, Pillars & Tongues, Pit Er Pat, Pizza!, Pink Reason, Pocahaunted, Ponytail, Pregnant, Problems?, Professor Calculus, PROTECT ME, Psychic Ills, Pure Ecstasy, PWRFL POWER, Railcars, Rafter, Rad Racket, Randy Randall, Rapid Youth, Rare Grooves, Red Pony Clock, Religious Girls, Ric Leichtung, Robedoor, Roman Candles, Ryland Bouchard, Sandwitches, Sasqrotch, Secret Fun Club, Sean McCann, Sex Worker, Shaky Hands, Silk Flowers, Silver Pines, Skeletonbreath, Some Days, So So Glos, Sprawl Out, Splintercake, Shark Toys, SLEEP∞OVER, Speculator, Soft Circle, Stag Hare, Starfucker, Stephen Steinbrink, Strange Birds, Talibam!, Tan Dollar, Tara Jane O'Neal, Tara Tavi, Talkdemonic, Tearist, Teen Daze, Tempo No Tempo, Tera Melos, Thao With The Get Down Stay Down, Thee Oh Sees, Times New Viking, Tommy Santee Klaws, Tomorrows Tulips, TRMRS, Trudgers, Twin Crystals, Tyvek, Universal Studios Florida, USAISAMONSTER, Viking Moses, Vivian Girls, Voice On Tape, Watercolor Paintings, Weed Diamond, White Leopards, White Mice, Whitman, Wild Thing, Wonder Wheel, W-H-I-T-E, Woman Year, Woodsman, Wounded Lion, Wummin, XBXRX, Yatagarasu, Yoshitake Expe, Young Prisms, Zodiac Killer, Zookeepers, Zoology, Zs.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"... it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds,"

President Obama spoke so eloquently at the Tucson Memorial Service to honor the fallen victims of the horrific shootings that occurred this past Saturday leaving 6 dead, 13 wounded and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recuperating from a point blank gunshot to the head. It has been reported that President Obama and his speech writers honed the inspiring words on Air Force one and prepared the tribute even moments before the President took to the podium.  The words delivered masterfully did pull the cynicism from my bones and brought tears to my eyes.

Transcript:


To the families of those we've lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona:  I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.

There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts.  But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight.  We mourn with you for the fallen.  We join you in your grief.  And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.

As Scripture tells us:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech.  They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders - representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation's capital.  Gabby called it "Congress on Your Corner" - just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.

That is the quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman's bullets.  And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday - they too represented what is best in America.

Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years.  A graduate of this university and its law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain twenty years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and rose to become Arizona's chief federal judge.  His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit.  He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his Representative.  John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons, and his five grandchildren.

George and Dorothy Morris - "Dot" to her friends - were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters.  They did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon.  Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their Congresswoman had to say.  When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife.  Both were shot.  Dot passed away.

A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 2 year-old great-granddaughter.  A gifted quilter, she'd often work under her favorite tree, or sometimes sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered.  A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together - about seventy years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy's daughters put it, "be boyfriend and girlfriend again." When they weren't out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ.  A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with their dog, Tux.  His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.

Everything Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion - but his true passion was people.  As Gabby's outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits they had earned, that veterans got the medals and care they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks.  He died doing what he loved - talking with people and seeing how he could help.  Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.

And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green.  Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast, and a swimmer.  She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her.  She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, "We are so blessed.  We have the best life."  And she'd pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing.  Our hearts are broken - and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.

Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday.  I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak.  And I can tell you this - she knows we're here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.

And our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others.  We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby's office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss, tending to her wounds to keep her alive.  We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload.  We are grateful for a petite 61 year-old, Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer's ammunition, undoubtedly saving some lives.  And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who'd been hurt.

These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle.  They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength.  Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned - as it was on Saturday morning.

Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us.  It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward.  How can we honor the fallen?  How can we be true to their memory?


You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations - to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless.  Already we've seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems.  Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.


But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized - at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do - it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.


Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding.  In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness."  Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.


For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack.  None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.


So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy.  We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.


But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another.  As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility.  Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.


After all, that's what most of us do when we lose someone in our family - especially if the loss is unexpected.  We're shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward.  We reflect on the past.   Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder.  Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us?  Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?


So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.  We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives.  Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order.  We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.


That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions - that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.  For those who were harmed, those who were killed - they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong.  We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them.  In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners.  Phyllis - she's our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son.  In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America's fidelity to the law.  In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.


And in Christina we see all of our children.  So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.


So deserving of our love.


And so deserving of our good example.  If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost.  Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.


The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives - to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents.  And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.  It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.


I believe we can be better.  Those who died here, those who saved lives here - they help me believe.  We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.  I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.


That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.  Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future.  She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful.  She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model.  She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.


I want us to live up to her expectations.  I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.  All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.


Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope."  On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life.  "I hope you help those in need," read one.  "I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart.  I hope you jump in rain puddles."


If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.  And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.


May God bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace.  May He love and watch over the survivors.  And may He bless the United States of America. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Federico Fellini probably would and David Lynch probably does love this video for "Bombay" by El Guincho

Spanish musician Pablo Diaz Reixa AKA El Guincho creates what is describes as "space age exotica." The video is directed by Nicholas Mendez and according to IFC it is actually a trailer for a "larger film." Apart from the beat and steel drum sound that is contagious, the strange imagery includes hooded robbers seemingly stealing a bunny, painted and unpainted breasts, toe sucking, a surreal roller blader, fighting with fluorescent bulbs, balancing towels on one's shoulder while smoking a cigarette and more. It is all good provocative stuff that Federico Fellini would most assuredly give a nice nod and wink to.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dan, I hardly recognized you.

I was stoked to find out that The Black Keys were going to perform on SNL but I didn't even recognize vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach as he showed up all clean shaven. In fact, they looked all spruced up including the beautiful black and white guitar Dan was playing. It looks like it might be aAirline Map which is an interpretation, (re-issue) of the 1962 National Newport. If it is an actual 62 Newport then I am very jealous of Mr. Dan who should grow his beard back. He just doesn't look right! Also, poke around on line if you are interested in some very cool looking guitars, some re-issues and some vintage. Here are a couple of cool sites to check out: Offset Guitars and Your Valco Guitars.





Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ugly Ass Shoes that Compel me to Buy Them.

I have had a penchant for unusual footwear for many years although I have not succumbed to the compulsion to purchase any for a very long time. Chalk it up to growing up and having kids or blame it on my reserved nature that makes we like to blend into the woodwork. It was different years ago when I was in a rock band. It was easy to wear this uniform of ab normalcy. I remember when I picked up my girlfriend at the time, (who is now my wife), and her dad commenting on my "fruit boots."  They were beautiful to me. Custom made leather Beatle boots colored red on one side and black on the other. Well, recently I stumbled upon a pair of boots that at once look both cool and hideous. A zipper snakes across the side like the Great Wall of China as a dividing line between black distressed leather and a gabardine looking gray fabric. To me, they cast a nice profile but the fabric throws them off kilter. I love and despise them at the same time.

They are manufactured by Robert Wayne, are called Republics and are advertised on ShoePad.com for $144. I did end up purchasing these rather strange looking shoes after all. Despite my reservations, the fact that they were marked down repeatedly until they bottomed out at $19 sealed the deal. They sat on the bottom shelf of a disheveled shoe department at Burlington Coat Factory and called out to me.



Floating in the Blogosphere with out a Life Vest

Why have I decided to start a Blog? I suppose the reasons are as many and scattered as there are blogs themselves. My intentions was to start a music oriented website that focused on embedded music videos of bands that I find interesting, especially local bands that deserve to have a spotlight shone upon them, (as if my upstart website would be a spotlight that anyone would even see), as well as a soap box for my random opinions on the music culture, politics, and life in general. I began setting up an evaluation site on Squarespace, in fact multiple trial runs and lo and behold, I never was able to even provide weekly content to finish out the trials. So as the trial American Pancake sites sat and decayed like road kill in the California desert I abandoned the thought of getting a site up at all. In these tough economic times I certainly was not going to pay for a site that I did not have the time or desire to build up. My daughter suggested I use Wordpress or Blogger to see if I even have the "sticktuitiveness", (my word not hers), to even keep a site going. So here I am. So far it has been a challenge but my task is at hand. I have modest goals. Simply write or post one thing at least every other day. It should be simple, right? We'll see.