Friday, April 15, 2005

Be Excellent To Each Other

I saw Sonic Youth, Cat Power, and Dred Foole last night in Northampton, MA. It was a benefit for the Greenfield Center School, which seems like a place I'd want to send my non-existent kids. They basically teach you to be a good person as well as a good student. According to Thurston from Sonic, whose daughter attends the school, they teach peace as a viable alternative to violence.

Sonic Youth ruled as usual, plenty of noisy energy, with guitars feeding back all over the place. I love how they can take a song to the point of near chaos, and then bring it back down to a calm groove that's still rooted in punk rock, as opposed to a hippie groove. And just when you get comfortable with that, they take you back to the edge again. Last night they also had weird slow motion images of mundane things projected on a screen behind them.

And the coolest thing about that band is how they're such regular people, just members of their community. (Kim and Thurston live in Northampton.) When Pat & I saw Thurston on Lansdowne Street last summer, before a Sox game and a Sonic show at Avalon, we just went right up to him and chatted about Connectiut (he's originally from a town right near the one we're from) and his nephew, who lives down here. He's just a totally normal dude. And an amazing musician.

That night, we told him we'd try to get to his show if there was time after the game. He said he'd try to get the game in on the radio and play it through his amp. Nice.

I'd heard that Cat Power, who is made up of one woman, was really pretty crazy. As in mentally disturbed. Like, she'll just run off stage mid-show or whatever. She came out and played her terribly sad songs on piano and guitar, and everything seemed normal. But you could see she was a little weird. At one point she made a motion toward her piano that indicated she wanted to strangle it. After one song, she raised a "thumbs down" up in the air, as if to say, "I fucked that up." Really good songs, either way.

And Dred Foole is a local older dude, who I'd seen before, who plays purposely (I think) out of tune songs and makes ridiculous noises with his throat. He gets my respect.

Now a quick note hyping up my own comedy stylings. The show was at the Academy of Music, an old timey-looking theater. Pat and I were discussing the Lincoln assassination since the place had balconies near the stage. Pat said that some witnesses claimed that Booth said something other than "Sic semper tyrannus," after he killed the president. I thought it would have been funny if someone in the back of the theater had perceived Booth's words as "San Dimas high school football rules!" I am so funny.

So I got a Sonic Youth T-shirt. It's a skull and crossbones, only instead of a skull, there's an audio cassette.

Which brings me to my stance on that. I love tapes. I came of age in the ain't-ies, which is the name I've (just) given to the ten year span from '85-'94. And let me tell you, tapes rule. Audio, video, everything was on tape.

There are some people who swear by vinyl. I like it, but records aren't exactly portable, and they're more fun to look at than play, for me anyway.

And the kids today love their CDs. But they're just so delicate. I can throw a tape into the back of my car without worry about smudges or scratches that will render the music unlistenable. You have to hold a CD like it's an egg on a spoon on field day in elementary school. Tapes are rugged.

You might be saying, "But A Red Sox Fan In Pinstripe Territory, with a CD, I can skip right to my favorite song."

Well, in my day, if we wanted to hear a song that was five songs away from he point the tape was at, we hit fast forward and we waited! "And we liked it!" to quote grumpy old man. Modern technology is great, but not having it builds character. Kids today won't know what it's like to anticipate anything, because whatever they want, they can get instantly.

Back then, we'd just rewind and fast-forward til the cows came home, not wanting it any other way, and wearing out tapes like a good pair of jeans.

And by the way, you know how I get that "worn-out" look from my jeans? From WEARING THEM. My so-called whiskers are made of actual creases and actual dirt. Next thing you know, they'll be selling jeans that already have a "willy mark," as Tracey Ullman once called it on Dave Letterman's show.

And then there are MP3's and iPods and whatnot, but I really don't know what those are.


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Location: Rhode Island, United States