Category Archives: Articles

Hillary Clinton is Not the Lesser of Two Evils: She is GOOD

I consider myself a connoisseur of reality television. I realize that many smart people dismiss the genre in favor of make-believe stories, and I get it. There is a lot of really terrible reality tv. Of course, there is also a lot terrible scripted tv. Sturgeon’s revelation, yo. At its best, reality tv features all the hallmarks of any good narrative: interesting character development, unexpected plot twists, a reflection of a societal value.

The Apprentice was never great television. But it was entertaining for a while. I watched most of the first twelve seasons of The Apprentice/Celebrity Apprentice. I enjoyed the premise of contestants working together on teams to complete a mission each week with one person from the losing team being eliminated. Celebrity Apprentice often exposed a different side of famous people than what is typically showcased in official publicity campaigns. You could find out who was actually smart (Joan Rivers, Arsenio Hall, Bret Michaels), and who was as dumb as you’d thought they would be (Gene Simmons, Rod Blagojevich).

The host, Donald Trump, fell into the latter class. On the show, he came across as a self-important buffoon. In the “boardroom” at the end of each episode where Trump decides who gets fired, he would ask the contestants and his advisors for their opinions on who should be “fired” and why. Revealing the attention span of a toddler, Trump would frequently cut short these discussions and make a brash decision based on something stupid that had nothing directly to do with the challenge. One week somebody would get fired for not defending themselves strongly enough in the boardroom; the next week another person would get fired for being too argumentative and abrasive. It was arbitrary. After the contestants left the boardroom, Trump inevitably would say to his advisors, “That was the right decision, don’t you agree?”

It was hilarious. His insecurity was so obvious. He’s so blatantly the “tough guy” with no real backbone. He’s Francis from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. This was all completely clear when you watched the show. And it was funny.

But it’s not funny anymore.

Because now instead of his ill-informed decisions sending Khloé Kardashian packing her bags, his decisions could determine who is sitting on the Supreme Court, and whether or not the United States will honor its treaties with NATO.

Even before he called Mexicans rapists, incited political violence, encouraged racism and religious discrimination, he proved himself unfit for the presidency by just being such a clown.

Continue reading Hillary Clinton is Not the Lesser of Two Evils: She is GOOD

Riot Fest 2016: I Remember Halloween

I was never a punk. In high school I was a trendy little femme who liked the Smiths and sixties music. Duckie was my fashion icon. The only punk rock I listened to was the Dead Milkmen.

The king of the punks at my school was a senior named Alex who came to class one morning with perfectly spiked hair. Multiple four-inch spikes of Ziggy-red hair held up with egg whites or Elmer’s or some other gravity defying concoction. While he was walking down the hall some big dumb jock took a donut and placed it on one of those epic spikes.

Alex left the donut on his head for the rest of the day.

To me, that epitomizes punk rock. You make a personal statement that goes against the grain, you get hassled for it, but ultimately you subvert that mockery by reclaiming it and making it your own.

I didn’t see any donuts at Riot Fest this year but there was no shortage of that same punk rock attitude.

Continue reading Riot Fest 2016: I Remember Halloween

Three Hundred Things People Are Saying About #TrumpDoc


A lot of people are saying things about this photo. Not us, but a lot of people. Some very smart people; the best people.

I updated my Facebook picture with his smirking mug and added a couple comments. That got people talking…a lot of them.

Here are 300+ things people are saying about #TrumpDoc (of the 570, and counting).

  1. Can’t stop telling you about the time he met Donald Fagan at a boat show.
  2. Ends every question during a physical with, “If you know what I mean…”
  3. Signs your high school physical form on sight, asks if your mom’s dating.
  4. Asks if you’ve ever ridden in a convertible, casually dangles Sebring keys.
  5. Won’t stop asking if you’ve signed up for his band’s mailing list.
  6. Has a secret stash of Zima on his boat, Breakin’ Wind.
  7. Says Michael McDonald is “the voice of my generation!”
  8. Thinks AOL is the Internet. Concurrently somehow still has a NetZero account.
  9. Invites you over to see his margarita glass signed by Jimmy Buffett after he “saved his f*ckin’ life from a ‘gator the size of a goddamn Buick” in a parking lot in the Keys
  10. His favorite coffee mug is a badly stained, circa 1985 plastic one with a barely legible racist joke on it. It leaks, so he wraps it in a bandanna. Continue reading Three Hundred Things People Are Saying About #TrumpDoc

Chris Staples – Golden Age

Chris Staples_HeadshotI maintain a playlist called Golden that pulls together a bunch of songs that give me fall shivers and nostalgic heartstring tugs. There’s loads of Beck’s Sea Change, Kurt Vile’s Walking on a Pretty Day, Steve Gunn’s Sundowner, Elliott Smith, Damien Jurado, Lord Huron, and now…Chris Staples.

Staples’ new album, Golden Age, shares more in common with those songs and that feeling than its title. There’s a type of sadness, without being maudlin. And maybe that’s to be expected. After a rough patch where Staples was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes that resulted in pancreas failure, a bike accident that required surgery, and the dissolution of a long-term relationship, Chris Staples is afforded some sad bastard time.

But that’s what’s great about this record: it’s not sad bastard music. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some of that. But Staples’ album maintains a bit of pop bounce with lovely melodies and simple production. It’s been described as a “subtle” record, which I guess is as good anything I would come up to describe the production. Because subtlety implies hidden complexity, and this record has that in spades.

Give a listen to lead off track “Relatively Permanent” and tell me you aren’t ready to sit down with Chris, have a beer, and talk about where you grew up.

Tour dates after the jump…

Continue reading Chris Staples – Golden Age

Live: Graham Nash in Portland

If I am being honest, I am just as guilty as anyone—maybe more so. I see “legacy” acts touring and think, “Why bother? They can’t be as good as in their prime.” Sometimes I’ve been proven right when a band that hasn’t spoken in 20 years gets together for a tour only to realize they stopped speaking for a reason and should leave us all out if it. But sometimes I am proven wrong; gloriously wrong.

Graham Nash has always been the secret ingredient. His harmonies are unmatched, and that’s evident in the work he’s done from The Hollies, to CSN(Y), and anything else he’s lent that magical voice to. It’s a high harmony, which is a big responsibility to hold in a singing group because those are the notes everyone really hears. Guys like David Crosby and Chris Hillman have a special gift for the harder to find middle parts, but they can also hide a little easier. With Nash, it’s right out there hovering over the entire song. That means his voice needs to be in top form, lest we all walk away just a little disappointed.

Continue reading Live: Graham Nash in Portland

Lollapalooza 2016: Has it really been 25 years?

It’s been 25 years since Perry Farrell kicked off the annual freak show of Lollapalooza. The definition of “freak” has changed a lot since then. Back in 1991 it was still strange to have blue hair and a bunch of tattoos. All of the imagery that made Jane’s Addiction so outlandish back in the day has gone mainstream. Sorority girls watch porn. Bachelorettes get lap dances at strip clubs. Housewives openly read 50 Shades of Grey at the country club swimming pool. Nothing’s shocking.

It takes a lot to freak us out these days. And we certainly don’t expect to see anything genuinely disturbing at a summer music festival.

This year Lolla expanded to four days with 175 artists. The slogan of Lollapalooza in its original touring incarnation was “Take the whole day off,” but now they’re expecting grownups to take off both Thursday and Friday? That’s ridiculous. Then again, passes sold out immediately just like they always do, so what do I know?

Well, one thing I know is that with 175 artists there ought to always be something great happening on at least one of the seven stages. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. More is not always more.

Continue reading Lollapalooza 2016: Has it really been 25 years?

Watch This Bro Get His Funk On

It’s the summer festival season, which is my favorite time of year. For someone who has an arbitrary limit of both ticket price and venue capacity, I have an enduring love of festivals. Mostly because an outdoor festival is devoid of most of the shit I hate at music shows: I can avoid the crowds if I want to by skirting the edges and sitting in the trees, I get lots of variety in the acts for the price, I fucking LOVE falafel and cheap beer, and there’s the fresh air.

One thing I don’t like about festivals is the preening and pretense you sometimes encounter, just like at an indoor show. You know the dudes who walk around shirtless and waxed and the gals wearing high-waisted cutoffs cut so high you can see their ears? Yeah…that.

And so I was genuinely delighted to stumble across this clip of a bro getting down to some Uptown Funk. It’s a display of pure, uninhibited joy. And he doesn’t even seem wasted!

Seeing this kid get down in the middle of T in the Park lets me know everything is going to be just fine. And I hope to see some of this unbridled funk at Wildwood Music Festival this weekend.

Related: Wildwood Music Fest 2015 Recap

Goose Lake International Music Festival Documentary

We grew up hearing snippets of the stories: first joints, flying tents, incorrect memories of the acts who played, and even a fabled master recording from the sound board secreted away in a friend’s basement (recently rediscovered). The event was more legend than an established piece of Michigan history, but staged almost exactly one year after Woodstock, the Goose Lake International Music Festival did indeed happen and it was glorious.

Annoying music bed and even more annoying local commercials aside, this 30 minute documentary has an oral history from organizers and attendees with fantastic archival footage of Michigan’s entrant into the 60s and 70s music festival culture.

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When was Blonde on Blonde released? Nobody knows.

Fifty years is not ancient history. And yet mysteries are still possible.

Earlier this week everybody celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the release of two groundbreaking albums: the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Both of them are masterpieces but only one of them was released on May 16, 1966.

Why is there confusion around the release date of Blonde on Blonde? Aren’t these things documented? Especially for an artist with the stature and scrutiny of Bob Dylan! Of course they are, but sometimes we don’t have immediate access to everything.

But we do have enough information to definitively rule out the idea that Blonde on Blonde came out on the same day as Pet Sounds.

On Monday morning when I checked my twitter and started seeing people celebrating this milestone, I wondered how many people were fans of both albums at the time. Can you imagine going into the record store and seeing those two albums side by side on the new release shelf? But in 1966, were the Beach Boys loved by the same people who loved Bob Dylan? It’s a fascinating question but there weren’t many publications at the time that took rock and roll very seriously, so it’s hard to find any contemporary comparisons. Rolling Stone wouldn’t publish its first issue for another year and a half (November 1967).

I busted out my trusty edition of Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Albums to see how the two albums sold and was surprised that while Pet Sounds debuted on Billboard’s Top LPs chart on May 28, Blonde on Blonde didn’t bow on the chart until July 23. That seemed odd since Dylan was coming off a hit single with “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” His new album couldn’t have been that much of a sleeper, could it?

Continue reading When was Blonde on Blonde released? Nobody knows.

Thank you for a funky time, Prince

The first time I remember seeing or hearing Prince was the “Little Red Corvette” video. I was at a sleepover at a friend’s house. I was 11 years old and I was pretty sure I knew everything about everything. I was, of course, wrong.

We laughed about his fruity look and completely missed most of the dirty references (“a pocket full of horses, Trojans, and some of them used”). Who was this guy? None of my pals were into Prince…yet.

When seventh grade started in September there was a new kid in school. Rich was a Latino kid who moved from New York, and he knew how to do the wave. I sat by him in Mr. Bergin’s homeroom and he regaled me with stories about breakdancing competitions back home. Our school district was extremely white, and we must have made Rich feel like an exotic alien. He was a badass. By the end of the year a bunch of classmates — led by Rich — had their own breaking crew who blew away everyone else in the talent show.

That summer, my friends and I would go to the Plainfield Dance every Saturday night. It was held in a roller skating rink and attracted kids from all over the area, including the inner city. You follow where I’m going with this? It was my first opportunity as a kid to be around black people. My friends and I were too self-conscious to dance, but we’d walk around the rink looking at girls and listening to music.

Plainfield Skating Center

The music was different from what was being played on the radio, including strange electro grooves that would end up triggering us to make a big circle around the breakdancers as they impressed everybody with their latest moves. They’d challenge each other and battle on the floor. The coolest thing I ever saw was when Rich — after a dizzying assortment of helicopter spins — concluded by coming to an abrupt halt and simultaneously grabbing his nuts with one hand and pointing at a rival with the other. The place exploded.

Continue reading Thank you for a funky time, Prince