Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Once Again, My Life Stinks!

Let’s just cut to the chase this morning – I’m kicking myself out of town. Yes, you’ve all heard me whine week after week about how awful my life is. Well, let me tell you about the past seven days.
The nightmare began last Wednesday evening. Needing some gas and a wash, I took a different route than normal for my journey home. I was heading east on 26th Street when the light turned red on Cleveland Avenue. Glancing out my back window, I noticed a car not adequately slowing down. Seconds later, he slammed into the back of Jenna the Jeep.
Luckily (for me, at least), the spare tire absorbed the majority of the hit, leaving the silly little high school kid’s Grand Am with the majority of the damage. The spare was punctured, and the back bumper was scraped. Of course, I could not find my proof of insurance when the police arrived, but a quick call to my son resulted in enough proof for the kind officer to tear up my ticket.
Skip ahead to Saturday. My son went to his mother’s house for the weekend, and I had a relaxing day and evening planned. I packed up my computer bad chock full of electronic toys – besides my computer I had one of my Ipods, a dozen or so new releases that needed to be loaded, and my webcam. The plan was to spend the day at Black Sheep, followed by a few drinks at a local bar where my friend Theresa was starting a new job that night.
The plan deteriorated within minutes. Scoping out the electric outlet situation, I concluded that I needed to move a table over to the other side of the room. While making that move, I heard some noise. Turning around, I discovered that my computer bag had tipped over. Because the bag was padded, I thought little of the problem.
I should have known that nothing could go easy for me. Pulling the computer out of the bag, I immediately noticed a piece of the casing out of place. I snapped it into place, and proceeded to fire it up. Bad idea. The bag obviously fell at just the precise angle to completely screw up the computer. The connection between the base and screen was screwed up, and while it would power up nothing would come on the screen. Thank you, God.
I loaded everything back up and headed to a certain giant retailer. Of course, I didn’t own the right warranty for the situation. Sending the computer just to check the problem would take at least three weeks. Geek-boy Hudson without a computer for three weeks? Uh, no. The nice kid did say that in his opinion this would be a labor-intensive fix, and wouldn’t surprise him if it cost at least five hundred bucks.
Obviously, the decision was immediately made to purchase a new computer. The only problem was that the entire store was empty of any worthwhile laptops. The “Back to School” promotion was a month old, yet nobody had bothered to do any restocking. The kid helping me out did say a shipment was coming in on Monday, so I made plans to come back on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday also did not start off well. As I was heading off to work, I felt something wet on my feet right before I put on my shoes. My mother-effing dog had peed. Shuffling back to my room for clean socks, I discovered that he had actually peed twice. Pissed off, I attempted to give the mutt a swift kick…and pulled a hamstring. I’m still limping.
But some good news was coming. I made it back to the retailer, and my laptop had arrived. And what a beauty it is. Two gigs of memory, a 160 gig hard-drive. Simply put, a great machine. I brought in my broke-down piece of garbage to have as much stuff as possible copied over, and I was to come back later in the day to pick it up.
Yet my bad luck was not finished. My old computer had almost a hundred gigs of bootleg concerts and movies, along with tons of photos I had taken at concerts and other events. None of these were transferred. I lost almost all of my supposedly transferable files, including every article I’d written for Etc, Prime, and this silly little radio segment. The only things that were transferred were my desktop items, and a handful of internet links.
As you can see, this past week was the week from hell. And this entire narrative doesn’t even include my everyday headaches – my lack of sleep, my issues at work, my boredom at home, not to mention the fact that I’m short, fat, and have a face made for radio. I stink.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Get Out of Town, Darrel Viereck!

A few days ago, I was chatting with a friend who works at one of the local television stations that is not KELO. We were chatting about various news stories and local controversies when he launched into a story about a certain local real estate tycoon.
A day or two before our chat, this developer had done something considered a little unusual for a non-politician. He had called a news conference, and after a little debate the station decided to go check it out. They assumed that he had called the media to discuss the compromise he had helped broker in the future southern expansion of Kiwanis Avenue.
My contact told me that when the reporter returned to the station, he sort of shook his head when asked if anything newsworthy had come out of this press conference. “You won’t believe what happened,” he sighed.
It was Darrel Viereck who had called this meeting, and it wasn’t about Kiwanis Avenue. Viereck had a piece of land he wanted to donate to the school system, but there was a catch. He basically wants control of the Washington High School basketball program.
I can’t believe the balls of this man. First of all, he claims that this piece of land, which surrounds the southern half of Lincoln High School, is worth over $200,000. No frickin’ way. It’s junk land that has absolutely zero potential of being developed. It’s way too narrow for any sort of retail or residential development, even if it’s zoned for this use (which I doubt). There are also potential problems with run-off from melting snow and/or heavy rains. The only possible use would be to slightly expand the Lincoln High parking lots, or maybe enlarge the practice fields in the back.
More troubling, however, is that he truly believes that the school board would even consider undergoing an investigation just to acquire this piece of property. Maybe in his world he can make these sorts of deals, but how can anybody believe that it’s ethical to involve individuals and their future employment in the process of exchanging property? I’m shocked that even a sleazy real estate guy would even consider such an arrangement.
Not that there aren’t problems with the Washington boy’s basketball program. I’ve talked to some students at the school, and many people are not happy with head coach James Trett. Nobody would go into specifics beyond a bad attitude, but there are reportedly a number of exceptional players that have dropped out of the program.
That’s not the point, however. If there are legitimate concerns about the future of the basketball program, those with concerns must go through the proper channels. Viereck claims that he has made unsuccessful attempts to discuss the situation with the school, but I have a feeling that his problem is that he’s just not getting his way as rapidly as a big shot like him expects. Poor baby.
This isn’t the first time that Viereck’s name has been involved in controversy. Earlier this year, he was one of seemingly 10,000 people who put their name in the Mayor’s race. Yet without warning he withdrew from candidate forums and wouldn’t even allow himself to be interviewed by the daily paper or local TV stations. How the hell did he expect to win? (I was told, however, that he was involved in a lawsuit that was supposed to be resolved before the election. If that’s the case, though, he should have just withdrawn from the race.)
His name also came up a couple of years ago when it was discovered that former Governor Bill Janklow had pardoned an high number of people in his final days in office. Viereck had been involved in an embarrassing scandal in the early 80’s that involved a number of local big-wigs who were accused of using cocaine. Eight high-profile residents were subjects of a grand-jury investigation, and Viereck was arrested and charged with eight counts of felony cocaine distribution and one count of keeping a place where drugs were present. Viereck ultimately pleaded guilty to the lesser charge in exchange for the dismissal of the distribution charges. He served 76 days in the pen, and 36 days on the prison farm.
Viereck reportedly immediately began pleading for clemency, often sending Janklow humorous cards with “pardon me” in the greeting. At the time, Janklow told him that he would not give pardons to those still on probation. When Janklow returned to office almost a decade later, Viereck resumed his pardon requests…this time successfully.
Obviously, Viereck has had an extremely successful career since this embarrassing period of his life. He’s one of a handful of city big shots who somehow ends up being a part of every big deal that goes on in this city. It seems to me that his arrogance has grown in a direct parallel to his bank balance. I’m just happy that somebody has finally had the nerve to tell Mr. Viereck a word he probably hasn’t heard in quite some time – “get lost”.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I Stink, and I Don't LIke Me

Holy crap, I’ve been sitting here in front of my computer for over two hours attempting to come up with something to entertain the dozens of friends and enemies who claim to eagerly await my weekly rant.
Sorry, folks, but I’ve got nothing! I’ve started and stopped writing more times than Julie Chen says “but first” on that awful Big Brother show. It’s not that I don’t have plenty of targets. I could whine about the idiots who run our city’s government, but it’s been done. The daily paper is always an easy target, but the only person that really comes to mind is actually a pretty nice guy…and appears on the station that I recite these diatribes.
I’ve thought about a lengthy bitchfest regarding the Canaries, but the season’s been over for a couple of weeks. My complaints will probably still be relevant next season.
The fallback is always the local television stations, but is there anybody left for me to attack? Name one newscaster who doesn’t have fantastic legs that I haven’t kicked to the curb. Ok, maybe there’s a couple at KDLT, but so few people watch them that nobody would know who I’m talking about.
It’s now a couple of hours later and I’m now relying on outside sources to assist me…namely Lord Calvert. If I wasn’t such an outstanding, law-abiding citizen I would have possibly utilized some herbs and powders…but I wouldn’t know how to acquire those items even if I was willing to risk arrest.
Again, I have nothing but the handful of Lord-Cokes may have helped me realize the problem behind this week’s rant. It’s been a bit of a manic-depressive week. Last Friday I actually made it out into public to join a few thousand friends (or 20,000, if the Jazzfest crowd was doing the counting) at the Bob Dylan show at the awfully-titled Birdcage.
Despite what you may have read, Dylan was really on this past Friday. This show ranked among the best of the dozen or so times I’ve seen the Old Bard…which was also the opinion of everybody that I talked to that attended the performance. He was in as fine of voice as I’ve ever seen, and his choice of material and arrangement was as straightforward as he’s been in many years. Even my son and his friends were raving as we finally found my Jeep six blocks away. It was also very cool that for one of the only times that I can recall we had the reigning number one biggest selling artist appear in our fine city.
This euphoric glow was tempered the rest of the weekend by two events that loomed large on the horizon. Monday was not only my birthday but the fifth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centers. Like everybody else, I woke up that day expecting it to be like any other day. The only real excitement was the fact that Dylan was releasing Love and Theft on my birthday. But the world changed as I made my way down Minnesota Avenue to my office.
Five years later, the focus again was on the events of that day whether we wanted them or not. CNN reran their broadcast from that day, as did, believe it or not, Howard Stern. Every channel had their own hanky-worthy slow motion tributes and recaps. ABC even showed a fictionalized people-in-crisis docudrama lying about the events leading up to the attack.
It was not a day for celebrating the meaningless life of a loser dweeb such as me. So here I am tonight with nothing but a half-gallon of Canadian whiskey and a channel remote that can’t believe the networks have nothing better than Dancing With the Stars and Rockstar Supernova. God, my life sucks.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dylan's Modern Times Debuts at #1!!!

I had a little arguement with my good friend, and fellow Dylan-fanatic, Dave on the release date of Bob Dylan's latest album, Modern Times. I predicted that with the great reviews, along with Dylan's interesting interviews in Rolling Stone and USA Today, his album would debut at the top of the charts.
"No way", was Dave's response. "Jessica Simpson easily will beat Bob."
Despite the overwrought coverage on all of the entertainment news shows and magazines, along with her many appearances on the talk show circuit, Simpson only made it to number 5. This proves what I've always said - Jessica Simpson is famous for being famous. She's never sold any meaningful numbers of albums, and never will.
Here's the news story about this week's Billboard album charts:

From Yahoo News:

By Katie Hasty
Wed Sep 6, 2:18 PM ET

NEW YORK (Billboard) - For the first time in 30 years, Bob Dylan topped the U.S. album charts Wednesday with "Modern Times," his third consecutive top-10 studio set.

The Columbia Records release sold 192,000 copies in the week ended September 3, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.

Not only is it the legendary songwriter's first album to reach the throne since "Desire" in 1976, it's also his highest debuting album and his best sales week since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991.

Dylan's previous album, 2001's "Love & Theft" opened at No. 5 with 133,760 copies. Before that, he peaked at No. 10 with 1997's "Time Out of Mind," which opened with 101,600 units. Aside from "Desire" and "Modern Times," only two other Dylan albums assumed the plateau on the chart: 1974's "Planet Waves" and 1975's "Blood on the Tracks."

After crowning The Billboard 200 last week, MTV girl-band Danity Kane slipped to No. 2 with 117,000 copies, a sales hit of 50 percent.

Young Dro's major label debut, "Best Thang Smokin'," bowed at No. 3 with 104,000 copies. With help from his smash hit "Shoulder Lean" (featuring T.I.), the Grand Hustle/Atlantic release also overtook OutKast's soundtrack to "Idlewild" (LaFace) at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

Christina Aguilera's former chart-topper "Back to Basics" (RCA) fell one to No. 4 on the Billboard 200, with 101,000 copies. Jessica Simpson's "A Public Affair" (Epic) entered the chart at No. 5, selling only a couple hundred albums fewer than "Back to Basics" with 101,000. Her last album, 2003's "In This Skin," originally peaked at No. 10 but hit No. 2 after a 2004 re-release.

The Disney soundtrack to "The Cheetah Girls 2" fell one to9 No. 6 with 80,000, while "Idlewild" tumbled five to No. 7 with 78,000.

Rapper Method Man scored his fifth consecutive top 10 debut, as "4:21 ... The Day After" (Def Jam) landed at No. 8 with 62,000 units. Another Def Jam effort followed at No. 9 in the form of the Roots' "Game Theory," which moved 61,000.

In its 48th week on the chart, Canadian rock band Nickelback's "All the Right Reasons" (Roadrunner) moved up two to No. 10.

Other big debuts this week include Too Short's Jive release "Blow the Whistle" (No. 14, 40,000), Ray Lamontagne's sophomore RCA set, "Till the Sun Turns Black" (No. 28, 28,000), Crossfade's sophomore Columbia effort, "Falling Away" (No. 30, 28,000) and Hatebreed's first Roadrunner album, "Supremacy" (No. 31, 27,000).

The Toby Keith-led "Broken Bridges" soundtrack, released on his Show Dog label, opened at No. 36, followed by the Atlantic debut of reggaeton star Tego Calderon, "The Underdog/El Subestimado," at No. 43. Singer/songwriter Pete Yorn bowed at a disappointing No. 50 with the Columbia album "Nightcrawler"; its predecessor, 2003's "Day I Forgot," debuted at No. 18.

Indie veteran M. Ward made his Billboard 200 debut with the Merge album "Post-War" at No. 146.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"All I Need is the Truth/Just Gimme Some Truth"

As most people might expect, it’s been quite some time since I set foot in church. Yeah, there have been a couple of weddings, although I try my hardest to skip those depressing events. Unfortunately, there has also been a couple of funerals, but otherwise I’ ashamed to say that I haven’t been to a real church service since my nephew was baptized.
Because of this tawdry fact, I had to actually pull out some religious literature to make sure that I wouldn’t make a mistake in today’s presentation. It didn’t take too long to find what I was looking for – Commandment #9, thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. In other words, do not lie.
I’m used to liars. Politicians, used car salesmen, talk show hosts, rock stars, friends, lovers, neighbors, relatives – they all lie. On rare occasions, I even tell a little fib.
But I don’t expect self-proclaimed “saved” people to spread false stories. Ok, that’s a little harsh. Maybe what I’m whining about here is not so much a lie as an exaggeration.
Yes, I’m talking about the Lifelight Festival, and let me make it clear here that I have nothing against the three-day festival that concluded earlier this week. I think it’s great that a “wish and a prayer” has led to a nationally-recognized weekend of fun and music in our fine little city.
But let’s be real here. 50,000 people on the rain-soaked first night? 93,000 people the following day? And 120,000 outstanding citizens to conclude the festivities on Sunday? C’mon, let’s be real.
Again, I have nothing but respect for the fine people that put on this event. Some are even friends of mine. But I’m tired of the exaggerated figures that we see for everything that goes on in this town. 400 people at a Canaries game suddenly become 2000 fans witnessing another loss. Downtown car shows supposedly include seemingly every person that lives in the eastern half of the state. Jazzfest seems to count beers consumed instead of actual people.
I realize that many of you are shaking your heads and asking just what exactly the big deal is. The problem I have is these fictional “estimates” become is used by our lazy-assed local media as facts. Last year’s supposed count of 275,000 was stated in not only our daily paper but all three television stations. Same with the daily estimates – certain TV reporters almost jumped out of the screen with the excitement of these record-setting “statistics”. (Oh yeah, and there was also that horrific clichéd story of how much tax revenue these people pumped into the economy. Please, retire that story. You use that for every gathering of ten or more out-of-towners.)
For me, it’s all about honesty. As I said before, I’m not against Lifelight…or Jazzfest or the Downtown Arts Festival. I would just like some accurate information; I’d like our local media to accurately report what happens, good or bad, at these events instead of press release feel-good stories. Since I know very little about Christian rock, I’d like to know which bands were great, good, or just okay. What did the speakers have to say, and what was the crowd’s reaction to their messages? That is the kind of stuff that was the real story of the weekend; not just the miraculous cleanup job that allowed the show to proceed on Saturday.

Westerberg Open to Replacements Reunion

From billboard.com

September 05, 2006, 10:30 AM ET

Gary Graff, Detroit
Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson got a taste of what working together again meant when they recently overheard a Sony Pictures executive's telephone conversation.

"She took a phone call and said 'I can't talk to you now. I'm in the studio with the Replacements,'" Westerberg recalls. "Tommy and I looked at each other like, 'Oh my God...' That name brings heavy memories for both of us which we'll never escape but that we've grown out of at the same time."

Part of that growth has allowed Westerberg and Stinson to come back together for a couple of projects for the first time since the legendary 'Mats broke up in 1991. As previously reported, Westerberg recruited Stinson to help him with some of the harder rocking tracks he wrote for the soundtrack to "Open Season," an animated family feature that opens Sept. 29, with the companion album coming out three days earlier via Lost Highway.

In the midst of that, Westerberg and Stinson, who's now part of Guns 'N Roses, also reunited with 'Mats mate Chris Mars to record a pair of new songs for the compilation "Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? The Best of the Replacements."

"We re-acquainted ourselves via the movie, and then got to the point where we were comfortable to do some [Replacements] stuff in Minneapolis," Westerberg says. "When we parted, he said 'Let's GO,' giving the accent on the word 'go.' I know what that means; it means 'Let's make a record. Let's go do it.' So we'll see."

Westerberg says fans may well see him and Stinson playing on a TV program to promote the "Open Season" soundtrack, which contains eight new Westerberg songs and a remake of "Good Day" from his 1996 solo album "Eventually." He even goes so far as to say with a laugh that "people might get to see the Replacements. There we are at the Academy Awards, supposed to play 'I Belong,' and we do 'Bastards of Young' instead."

Westerberg says more movie music is probably in his future but also that there's more than enough material for another solo album, whenever that opportunity presents itself.

"I'm always writing," he says. "I was writing when they asked me to do this film, and I kept writing songs through it, some that didn't fit in the film. I could put together a new solo album tomorrow if I had to."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

My New Hero!

Banksy targets Paris Hilton
'Guerrilla artist' replaces heiress's CDs in shops with doctored versions

By Claire Truscott and Martin Hodgson
Published: 03 September 2006
He has smuggled fake artwork into Tate Britain, and sprayed a vision of paradise on the Palestinian side of Israel's "security wall".

Now, the "guerrilla graffiti" artist Banksy has taken aim at the cult of empty celebrity and its current poster child, Paris Hilton.

The secretive artist has smuggled 500 doctored copies of Paris Hilton's debut album into music stores throughout the UK, where they have sold without the shops' knowledge.

In place of Ms Hilton's bubble-gum pop songs, the CDs feature Banksy's own rudimentary compositions. On the cover of the doctored CD, Ms Hilton's dress has been digitally repositioned to reveal her bare breasts; on an inside photo, her head has been replaced with that of her dog.

On the back cover, the original song titles have been replaced with a list of questions: "Why am I famous?", "What have I done?" and "What am I for?"

Inside the accompanying booklet, a picture of the heiress emerging from a luxury car has been retouched to include a group of homeless people.

In another shot, Ms Hilton's head has been superimposed on a shop window mannequin beneath a banner reading: "Thou Shalt Not Worship False Icons."

nstead of Ms Hilton's own compositions, the replacement CD features 40 minutes of a basic rhythm track over which Banksy has dubbed Ms Hilton's catchphrase "That's hot!" and other extracts from her reality TV programme The Simple Life.

The record credits have been re-edited to include thanks to the artist for his "wonderful work".

The bogus CD is not the first time he has branched out beyond the stencil graffiti that made his name. In 2003, Banksy glued one of his paintings on to a wall in Tate Britain, where it went unnoticed by staff for hours. The following year he smuggled a display case with a stuffed rat wearing sunglasses and a backpack into the Natural History Museum. At New York's Museum of Modern Art, he placed an Andy Warhol-style print depicting a tin of Tesco Value soup. Last year, he sprayed paintings on the Israeli security wall around the West Bank.