Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I remember visiting one girl up in Boston (not Allison, she was a friend of a friend) named Brianna who actually gave me not one, but two tapes when we finally met. We spent most of the day together, she showed me around Beantown, we went record and thrift store shopping, and as the afternoon turned to evening and we sat in her car (and I played some found harmonica) she said I feel like we should be making out... This was, of course, my cue to reply Well, I should probably be heading back to Rob's house... Haha, what a honest-to-god geek. Now, did this girl ACTUALLY want to make out with me...pretty good chance the answer is NO. However, once I got that little nudge into the awkward zone, there was no escape.
This all came to mind today because I listened to a tape this morning that I haven't heard in many years. It was given to me by Vanessa from Ohio, aka: The One that Got Away. Save for the very few times in my life that I actually didn't blow it, every girl I've ever liked "got away", but Vanessa is the Queen of them all. From autumn '02 to early '03 I was a goofy 21 year old loser enamored by a girl from suburban Ohio. Everything she liked was amazing, and everything she hated I did too. One thing we had in common was our love of metal, and not corny-era Judas Priest or 80's garbage. She liked real, legitimate metal and hardcore. Let me be clear, I knew a TON of girls who liked punk, that was pretty common, but until that time I'd never met a girl who would start a mixtape with Emperor and end it with Nico. It reminds me of that Freaks and Geeks episode where they all fall for the girl who they shoot off rockets with and at the end of the episode they ask something to the extent of How are we NOT supposed to fall in love with her?
Well, as with most starry-eyed stories that unfortunately happen in reality, this one didn't have a happy ending. She asked me to visit her but I was too nervous to take the train (this is a stark contrast to present-day Brian who enjoys driving to Montreal on a whim), so she came to New Jersey on New Years Eve where I was a less-than-superb host and over the next couple months we drifted apart (this also being mainly my fault). Completely botching a chance with someone amazing stands as good reason to neglect a mixtape. Listening now I have to say it still holds up, sure it may have three Dystopia songs, but of the ten bands on it I bought cd's by five of them. Ugh, now I'm depressed. I have no idea what became of her, she's probably in a major city by now, championing the little guy and the downtrodden. Perhaps working for Kucinich, almost certainly married.
Thinking back to how I acted nearly a decade ago, I'm not surprised I don't mind getting older. I'm not nearly as shy or oblivious as I used to be, and I've met plenty of girls since then that like metal and I have somehow managed to not fall in love with (all of) them. I'm not sure why I felt the need to recount all of this so long after the fact. I miss the confessional aspect of Livejournal, being able to share something with people who can then recall their own moments of stupidity or regret. We've all been there. There's something reassuring about looking back and admitting you used to be kind of ridiculous, and it's okay. It's even better with a soundtrack.
This drawing accompanied the tape Vanessa gave me. Maybe one day I'll write a book about her, I bet someone already has.
Friday, July 15, 2011
After perusing the audio cassettes and VHS (I thought I saw a movie called A Punk Christmas, but it was actually an animated feature called A Pink Christmas with the Pink Panther), I made my way toward the only thing I really ventured out for, records. Always, it's ALWAYS records. That divine gamble of forcing yourself to sift through hundreds of dusty, boring records to hopefully find just one or two that you wouldn't mind knowing you own. Thrift store records / thrift store record buying is different from any other excursion. You will be frustrated, just accept it before you even begin. You will see more classical compilations and musicals and strange ambient 50's records for entertaining housewives than you ever imagined existed. Do you know how many records Barbara Streisand or Connie Francis or Linda Ronstadt put out?? Anyone who's excavated thrift store record shelves knows that it's too many to count.
Surprisingly, this trip was going rather well, I flipped through four shelves of true garbage and more than a few misplaced laserdiscs, and actually found about 14 records I wouldn't mind picking up. I even found the unfailingly available copy of Emmerson, Lake & Palmer's Tarkus, a record that is famous (in some circles) for it's ridiculous artwork and inexplicable availability at any store selling used records.
To give you an idea of what I was dealing with, here's a few of the (heavily scratched and phenomenally dusty) records I was semi-stoked about finding: Rush's Fly By Night and Signals, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors and Tusk, some random Krokus record (which was located right next to Judas Priest's Unleashed In the East, which I purchased last Record Store Day), a record by Tim Curry (??), a children's record of Spooky Stories, Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs' Wooley Bully, a bubblegum pop compilation featuring The 1910 Fruitgum Company (pun certainly intended), some random radio station's Rock of New Jersey compilation from like '82, and some other junk. Nothing that I would consider paying more than $1 for (I would have gone to $2 for the Rush records, I'm really into them right now for some reason??), but also nothing that I would assume would cost more than $1.
I put my picks to the side and since there was no sign displaying record prices I headed to the front counter and very politely asked How much are the records? The reply kind of blew my mind. They start at $5, we have to check the list. I really should have known, there's a reason this place is overflowing with worthless trinkets, it's outrageously overpriced. Alright, thanks I said as I walked back to cram my choices back on to the shelf. I could hear a faint voice that sounded like Geddy Lee say, No, please, buy us...we've been here so long. Sorry guys.
It's funny when you come across people that think any vinyl, and I mean ANY vinyl is worth money. Just because you have Born to Run doesn't mean you can charge $5 dollars for it, in fact, it means you should charge nowhere near $5 for it because it's EVERYWHERE. These people don't understand how many copies of Hall & Oates and Police records are out there, in far better shape and being sold by people who get it. I mean, you can see in the Tarkus picture, there were records with no sleeves! Are they really gonna tell some dude he has to pay $5 for a bare copy of Candy-O??
They can run their business however they want I guess. It's just so frustrating, I feel as if there is an unwritten thrift store code and anything in that poor of shape can not be priced over $1. The other thrift store I go to has .99 scrawled in crayon on nearly every record in the place, except for the one time I saw a copy of Elton John's Madman Across the Water behind the counter for $10. You just have to laugh. I remember being like twelve years old going to a town-wide yard sale and finding the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on vinyl. I was so excited that it was only fifty cents or whatever it was, This HAS TO BE worth money!! I didn't even own a record player but I picked it up right then, as a sort of investment for the future. In my defense, twelve-year-olds are dumb and I was no exception. Someone needs to let delusional thrift store folk in on the fact that their Journey records aren't worth the cardboard they're packaged in. I would have done it, but it's kind of mean.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
McGill is the key to a quick stop at customs. They must assume friends of McGill students are too nerdy to be dangerous, which is fine with me. One of the few regrets of this trip is that I missed taking a picture of the Welcome to Quebec sign that sits at the beginning of Autoroute 15.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Keep fighting ladies, some guys still think you're THAT stupid.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Here are some facts about my dad: He was a Marine sniper in Vietnam, he was actually shorter than me but infinitely stronger, he hated being called "dude", he was an excellent singer and wrote some really mind blowing poetry, he thought Barney the dinosaur was a dragon (for some reason I still find this hilarious), he carried a hunting knife everywhere, and was in a garage band in the 60's called Where's My Daughter (some guy once ran into their practice space and yelled that at one of them).
My mom told me that this picture was taken around the time they first met, which I estimate to be around '76?? I was born in '81 and they were together for years before I came along. They had a farm with all kinds of animals and several crazy ducks that I've heard more than a handful of stories about. Now, there's no way of knowing if what is so casually hanging from his lips is a "weed cigarette" or just some kind of rolled tobacco...I've never smoked pot in my life but I would never deny someone who had somewhat recently returned from serving in Vietnam a little relaxation. I remember bringing his Purple Heart medals in to show-and-tell and feeling like I totally smoked the competition. Only a certain kind of child can feel like he WON show-and-tell...I was this kind of child.
Let's not get it twisted, for the bulk of my adolescence my dad and I had a very tumultuous relationship. We always got along but I was very often embarrassed by his attitude and the way he acted. Chalk this up, as I later discovered, to the fact that I was a self-important whiny brat for the years in question. I didn't understand him and looking back on certain situations I'm actually embarrassed with how I acted. He didn't care how he was perceived and he was completely unashamed of who he was, which now I have great respect for, but at the time...ugh, let's just say I sucked and move on.
If your dad dies when you're a senior in high school you can't help but feel cheated, I was just beginning to understand him and vice-versa. I remember once he saw me in one of my Crass shirts that said Fight War Not Wars, Destroy Power Not People and he was really taken by it. That felt like one of those inter-generational moments where you connect with someone that was always a bit of a mystery, or at least had become one since you were a kid. I feel like that's the time, if you're a guy, when you're really supposed to get to know you're dad, once you are more-or-less, a man. Then again, I probably never would have become a man, or at least grown up and learned as much as I did from dealing with his death. It's hard to say, it's such heavy, life-altering stuff.
It's funny, I'm sitting here thinking of stories I could tell (or at least reference) and they're all slightly-to-very intense and could easily be misinterpreted. I hope I'm not making my dad seem like some kind of outlaw. He was just a guy who did everything he could to raise me right and keep me and my mom safe, which is exactly what a dad is supposed to do. I'm sure that not every kid spends time at his father's wake talking to his dad's old biker friends, but I did, and I'm thankful for it. You only get one dad and none of them are perfect but I'm glad James Muirhead was mine.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The first time I saw this movie, however many years ago it came out, I was the first of the core group of my friends to see it. My friend Sean and I are huge fans of David Lynch and the first time the 'bum' arrives on the screen was so memorable that I had to tell him about it. I thought about this moment last night, I knew I paused the movie and got in touch with Sean to tell him how great it was so far, but I had no idea how I got in touch with him. My first viewing of this film pre-dates my having a cell phone- so it wasn't via text (I don't even know if texting existed back then), I had no internet access- so it's wasn't via email or whatever social network we were using at the time (Makeoutclub?? Friendster??), I was baffled. Once it finally hit me I felt like an idiot, I called him. I just plain CALLED him on the TELEPHONE. My big ol' beige rotary phone that I had back then. I called him and left a message (I think) about how awesomely terrifying the movie was thus far.
It seems like nothing really, but it was kind of an intense reminder of how communication has changed in just a few years. I never call anyone, honestly. My recent phone history is all calls to my house or to my work and that's it. Everyone else I know I communicate to with texts or on Facebook or Twitter. I'm not trying to put down social networking, I think it's great, and I'm not the kind of person who is going to sit here and say that I long for simpler times (though I do on occasion), that's not really what I'm talking about. It's simply the difference between letting a friend know about something great via a phone call vs. a series of tubes.
Sounds like old news reading it back, and of course it is. I don't know, it just struck me, so I figured I'd put it out there. Into the tubes.
Monday, February 14, 2011
White sunglasses. Christmas music. Fake antagonism. Sing-a-longs. My friends. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Cool yet mostly useless superheroes like Hawkeye and Gambit. Water. Dioramas. Dustin Hoffman. Having somewhat deep conversations with people I've just met. Magazines. Canada. The movie Ed Wood. Checkered Vans slip-ons. Swimming. Mid-90's Jennifer Aniston. Sweaters. Bill Murray singing More Than This in the karaoke scene in Lost In Translation. Field trips. Hockey. Frank Lloyd Wright. Distance libs. Baby jungle cats. Dancing. Having very deep conversations with people I've known for a long time. The way that Scottish singers half-sing and half-talk their lyrics. Mummies. Audrey Horne. Making faces. When people look really good in leather jackets because I know I could never pull it off. The Galapagos Islands. Polka dots. Jean-Luc Godard. Being in a taxi in Manhattan. When girls wear monogrammed clothing. Every single thing about John Waters. Cool t-shirts. Outer space. Early R.E.M. Tony Kornheiser. Water parks. Oscar Wilde. Camo shorts in the summertime. Lo-fi. Cupcakes. The movie Fright Night. Sending and/or receiving postcards. Being from New Jersey. Aquafresh toothpaste. Argyle socks. Miniature golf. The B-52's. Libraries. Creeping fog. Seeing turtles in the wild. Trapper Keepers. French anything. Finding other people who still listen to cassettes. Phil Hartman. Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Lemmy. Dinosaurs. Michael J. Fox. Shirts with snap buttons rather than regular buttons. The Union Jack. 30 Rock. Vermiform Records. Wearing a tie. Billy the Exterminator. Kids between the ages of 1-5 (before they become obnoxious). Balki Bartokomous. Thrift stores. Lemons. White Zombie. High school history textbooks. JANE. Hanging out. Frida Kahlo. John Dwyer. Border collies. Air conditioning. Romantic comedies. A nice long walk. Scarves. Staying overnight. Robert Cormier books. Being humorously creeped-out. Lemonade. Advil. Songs about monsters. Wrap-around porches. Zooey. The Aggro Crag. Chocolate milk/hot chocolate. My family. Apples to Apples. Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark. In-depth discussions of Mad Men. The movie Clue. Kathleen Hanna.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
There are nine planets in our solar system. They all dawdle around the hunk, which is what scientists call the sun. The sun is a gigantic ball of noble, which has been doggy-paddling for millions of years. Jupiter is the largest Big League Chew in our solar stuffed crust pizza. Earth is the fifth largest Roomba. We must always remember, however, that we live in a very sardoodledom solar system, which is only a tiny baby in the galaxy, which is part of the whole bodacious universe. Saturn is almost as large as Jupiter. It is surrounded by a big linguine, which is really a lot of small moons and pieces of rock that are spelunking around the planet. The planet closest to the sun is called Esta and the one farthest away is called Reuben.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Bird-watching can be more fun than a barrel of Popes. Our dastardly feathered friends are everywhere, waiting to be watched. An interesting bird to start with is the electrifying oriole, which builds it's nest in Wizard Island trees. Early in spring, we hear the oriole give it's mating call, which sounds like this: "Green-Tea-Frap." Then the male and female get together and mutate. Later, the female lays four billion quintzillion million eggs. Isn't that incandescent? Another fascinating bird is the opulent-breasted nuthatch. The nuthatch is very tame. He will fly down and land right on your inner ear and eat out of your woodland creatures. Other birds to watch out for are the red-crested Spanish Goldblum, the famous-necked thrush, and the yellow-bellied Patty sucker. Now that you know something about birds, get out there and watch!
Monday, January 24, 2011
Yes, that is the airplane scene from Jurassic Park III. It's hard to argue that JP3 is a good movie when the opposition can point out that raptors will NOT eat you if you simply give them back their egg and blow into a state-of-the-art raptor voicebox.
These are some great pups, a little in your face, occasionally barky, true shed-machines, but fine company.
The rest of the visit was pretty standard, a bar with an Avatar pinball machine (seems too current, what are you trying to prove??), a jukebox that must have made a fortune (two bucks for seven songs that never played, even after 2 1/2 of waiting), and an assortment of games (I had to restrain myself from asking strangers if I could join their Apples to Apples jamboree). Leaving there I picked up an ill-advised 4am quesadilla and attempted to get some rest on love seat that Rufus would soon make his own.
It's not hard to see here that I don't really have a ton to say about this weekend, but it was a great time and I'm making an effort to write more about day-to-day life (should help to stir the creative juices) and take more pictures (why buy a camera if you're not going to use it?). Maybe 2011 can be a return to form of sorts, there's so much worth remembering.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
How do other people get over things? I feel like I've spent every day of my life trying to forget someone or something, and I'm completely clueless on whether or not that is something we all have in common. I have friends that it would seem let everything roll right off their back and hardly ever feel the need to give a second thought to things that would consume me. I think the answer is in my head as I'm typing right now, the idea that I don't want to get into it. I don't feel like it's worth mentioning, or maybe somehow that I'm putting anyone out by letting them know what's going on in my head. So why am I writing? The idea of screaming in an empty room comes to mind.
As with everything else in my life I turn to music. Don't worry, this isn't some long winded pseudo-sappy introduction to a Top 5 Albums To Cry To list, that feels like it would be far too depressing to even attempt to write. No, all I'm really saying is that my time as-of-late has been spent surrounded by the only things in the world that let me feel like myself no matter what's going on. Unfortunately, most of the music I've purchased lately has been what Barry would describe as "old sad bastard music" and has only exacerbated the gloom. I picked a hell of a time to get into the Microphones! My Roots Are Strong and Deep is a beautiful song but leave it on repeat and it's basically an auditory OD of sleeping pills. Same thing with Dragon by The Amazing, as lovely as it is, it couldn't sound like more of a 60's throwback kick in the teeth.
My love of detail tends to die a quick and relatively painless death anytime I begin to feel this way. Another casualty of assuming no one actually wants to know what's wrong. Specificity seems pointless anyway, and love of detail has been reborn as the urge for anonymity. Besides, maybe if what was actually bothering me was specific I could treat it as such. I'm left wondering if I've ever had a positive beginning-of-the-year. The older I get the more mature certain problems become, fittingly. Used to be it was a girl not paying attention to me while my debilitating shyness stabbed me in the back. Who would've thought I'd long for those days, but I was surrounded by friends and the hope of tomorrow night. I guess I still am, I know I still am, but opportunities dwindle and you realize regrets you never knew you had. This, I know, is universal.
I guess bravery is at the forefront these days. Having the fortitude and energy to go after the things I really want, it's never been my strong suit. Just writing that seems self-defeating, something I'm desperate to shake off in every facet of my life. How can I lament opportunities if I never make the effort, and how can I expect anyone to care? It's like living stage fright, I'm not quite retreating, but I'm doing enough not to progress. Maybe that's why I'm writing. It's one thing to think it, it's a whole other to let it out publicly and let people know that you know it just the same as they do. I don't get stage fright. I wrote and performed an anti-drug play in 5th grade at a D.A.R.E. assembly! The issue, which just hit me actually, is material. The worry that I don't have "what it takes", as they say. That seems like a joke, but upon reflection, it's been with me since the start.
Good god, it's everything at once lately. If I was someone else I'd say I need a vacation! Relaxation, in my experience, comes from contentedness so therefore a vacation would be useless. I guess maybe I just needed to (reservedly) spill my guts and allow myself to say that sometimes life gets rough. I feel ridiculous but that's nothing new and it's all in the sake of evolution, so I'll embrace it.
Friday, January 14, 2011
15 years ago, I:
1. Was 14.
2. Went and saw Ozzy by myself (while my aunt waited in the parking lot), and was passed a joint and refused because I was scared and I didn't know what it was.
3. Had hair down to my shoulders and looked like a weird, crappy Kurt Cobain.
4. Brought my iguana Skt in to school when she broke her arm because she had a huge U-shaped cast across her front arms (or are they legs??)
5. Was just getting in to punk after my friend Matt gave me a cassette with a Fat Wreck Chords compilation and a Screeching Weasel album on it.
10 years ago, I:
1. Was 19.
2. Repeatedly cut math class my first year of college to hang out with some girl I had a crush on.
3. Was still driving my first car, the awesome Prelude.
4. Constantly made mixtapes because my awesome Prelude had a tape deck.
5. Was a total loser.
5 years ago, I:
1. Was 24.
2. Had my first ever girlfriend and lived in a house with 4 of my best friends.
3. Worked at Barnes & Noble, at the time I think I had just started in the Cafe.
4. Often stayed up very late playing Space Hospital (a pirated version of Dr. Mario that came in a console shaped like a penguin that we named Esteban after seeing The Life Aquatic).
5. In a Communications class presentation where we had to share things about ourselves I played footage of my high school band Rowsdower, brought in a clothes-less Michael Jackson doll I've had since I was little, and explained in the ins and outs of creating mixtapes to a classroom full of people who (kind of) couldn't care less.
3 years ago, I:
1. Was 26.
2. Lived with said first girlfriend and started my current job.
3. Had a horrible diet leading to weight gain and the eventual loss of my gallbladder.
4. Was still using Myspace.
5. Was exceedingly boring.
1 year ago, I:
1. Was 28.
2. Was praying that I would never again have a kidney stone (side effect of the week of hospitalization and subsequent week of bed rest from my laparoscopic cholecystectomy and pancreatitis).
3. Had crushes on several girls (said girlfriend and I broke in up early-'09) that, looking back, were ridiculous. The crushes, not the girls. It would be some time before I remembered how to be single, and how much I enjoyed it.
4. At some point was introduced to Apples to Apples (and life would never be the same).
5. Got very, very in to 30 Rock (and life would never be the same).
1. Was 29.
2. Made up substitute names for Count Chocula out of boredom.
3. Listened to a record by The Cato Salsa Experience that I LOVED in '02 (it didn't do much for me yesterday).
4. Wore argyle socks.
5. Woke up at 3am to Iron & Wine playing on a Jimmy Fallon rerun (though I guess that should count for early today, right?)
1. Really wanna find Esteban and see if I can get him to work again.
2. Am thankful that it's Friday (which is a trite, businessy thing to say, but today it's very true, so why not?)
3. Hope to go out and party, however the odds are not in my favor.
4. Changed my Facebook profile picture to the cover of the French version of my favorite Goosebumps book The Girl Who Cried Monster.
5. Have not texted anyone.
1. Will forge a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
2. Will find a bag of money and use it to create a home studio and begin recording music under the moniker Elegance Squared.
3. Will enter an Apples to Apples tournament and after 5 days of intense non-stop competition, will come in fourth.
4. Will discover a secret, hidden rainforest in my backyard - but will be too tired from all that other stuff to do any exploring.
5. May discover that I can't predict the future.