Heyyy, looks like I've got a column to fill! Normally an assignment like this would have me running around my house with the running shits. I'd be pale, emaciated, red-eyed and yelling to my wife to bring me another doobie for a quick burst of inspiration. Luckily, this time around, I have so much... Life to catch you up on I'm fairly certain this deal-y-yo will write itself (not that I didn't push deadline)...
But where the ‘F'-plus am I going to start? How can I keep this thing from getting all personal, too close for comfort? I suppose the best course of action, for starters, is to catch you up on the many happenings that made 2007 The Year of The Yeast for me. Not sure what that means? We'll I'm not sure either; I guess I'm trying to say that it was a good and bad year for me that tested my sanity and pinched my ear like a flamboyant uncle. In fact, the double-D-sized Drama started no later than January 1, 2007, with the ‘07 timeline allowing me scarcely enough moments to catch my breath (until I lost my jobbie, at least). Allow me to menstruate (since my wife hasn't in awhile):
January 1, 2007 – I'm getting ready to leave Portland, Oregon, after a New Year's Eve weekend full of drinking and bro-love (and -hate) that had my woman wondering who the fuck I was. We had just taken in a Grails/Joggers/Quasi show the night before and were feeling pretty good, and a daytime Melvins-off with my drunken-clown guitarist friend Joel finally gave me the chance to abuse my drumset. If only I knew how close the storm was... for 10 minutes after we hit the road, headed back to Washington, my wife suddenly got sick. Not hangover-sick, not carsick-sick, not I-just-finally-got-a-good-look-at-your-ugly-face-and-threw-up-in-my-mouth-a-bit sick; this was a mystery illness that could only be explained by one thing. Once I realized we actually hadn't been listening to a Coldplay song, I was vexed. Why the puke-y puke? Then it hit me like a rubber cock slapping my cheek: My girlfriend is pregnant. My... my... My Girlfriend Is Pregnant, my... OH FUCK, MY GIRLFRIEND IS PREGNANT WITH MY LUVCHILD!!! As Joel ran into his house for Tums – despite the fact I continually told him we already had half a bottle RIGHT THERE; dumbass – I went through about a dozen stages of denial, justifying her sudden stomach revolt any way I could, no matter how far-fetched. But we both knew we'd soon have a third member in our band, one that could very well fight for creative control someday.
January 14, 2007 – Okay, so you're probably not going to believe this, but my wife and I HAD planned to get married anyway, B4 we found out she was pregnant. [“HA, YEAH RIGHT YOU FUCKIN' ASSHOLE”] In fact, it was my wild idea to swoop down to Vegas, dirty Vegas on New Year's Weekend, take in a Van Morrison show before hitting up one of those all-night steak-‘n'-bake eateries and, to tie it all into a nice bundle, get married by Elvis himself. Then her parents were all like, “No, don't do that, we'll never forgive you,” so we didn't. Wonderful; now everyone thinks we're getting married strictly because of the pregnancy. Oh well. Anyhoo, for what it's worth this was the day we decided to set a wedding date in stone.
January 16, 2007 – A smug prick at the college radio station I worked at utters a line only a smug indie-rock prick would ever utter (along with “Who are you here with?” and “They're too _____”) when you tell him/her you just found out your girlfriend's pregnant: “I'd say ‘congratulations' but I'm not sure if that's the right word.”
February 15, 2007 – At this point I begin a process that many would construe as baby-tampering. However, I think it's the best blessing anyone could give to a developing fetus: the gift of music. I start putting headphones on my wife's belly – turned down way low so there's no risk of shocking the poor little gal – and playing important songs for my baby-to-be. Animal Collective's "Winters Love," Beatles tunes, George Harrison's "Apple Scruffs" and, most of all, the less-chaotic Panda Bear songs are piped into my baby's womb environment like muzak into an elevator. [What really freaks me the-fuck out is that now, when I play the "Winters Love" chords and hum the melodies, my kid instantly snaps out of her infant daze and pays rapt attention to my fingers, even curling up her little hands into a semi-guitar-playing stance. A future Marnie Stern, this one ...]
March 24, 2007 – Remember when I said we set a date for the wedding? This was it. I ended up with a black eye and more money than I'd ever held in my own hands before. Cha-ching!
April 14, 2007 –My wife and I embark on our honeymoon. She couldn't drink, but we still had a great time, taking a cruise to some dilapidated city in Mexico and eating ourselves silly. Funny moment: I go to breakfast, drink a guy's milk, then after he tells me it's His Milk, he stands up, turns to the left a litte, and THROWS UP EVERYWHERE. And he didn't puke politely; he made HUGE WRETCHING NOISES and GURGLED, GARGLED and GAGGED on his puke like an anything-goes Webcam girl.
June 15, 2007 – This was the day that any goodwill I had built up with my wife's parents went Kaput. Why? Well, it's funny: I'm sitting in my OFFICE (yeah, that's right bitch) when my boss comes in and slaps a 5-page print-out onto my desk. “What do you have to say about that?” he asks. I run through my typical sheepish guy-in-the-wrong routine. “Um, well, I... I wrote that one day during my lunch break. It's no big deal really,” I say, expecting a talking-to but little else. “Well,” he says, flapping his moustache'd walrus lips, “You're fired.”
Over a random blog on MySpace that I typed on “company time,” no less. Oh, and for the record, the paper I worked for, despite the fact I had a baby on the way, fought tooth and nail to ensure I didn't get any unemployment benefits. Why? Straight from the boss' mouth: “Then we'd have to put more money in the, er, that fund.” Thanks a lot, you fat, over-the-hill fuckwad; I hope you die in Idaho. (And you will.)
July 1, 2007 – Waiting for a reply from one of the companies I applied at, I busy myself writing, jamming and movie-watching.
August 1, 2007 – Still waiting... Creative juices strangely leaving me the longer I stagnate.
August 30, 2007 – My baby daughter, Penelope Jane Purdum, is born after nine agonizing months of build-up. Believe the hype; what an incredible feeling, though job tensions were running at record highs.
September 1, 2007 – A paper editor near Seattle inexplicably likes my Tool concert review on DrownedInSound, but passes. And so the wait continues, as does my creative drought despite unheard-of free time. Oh, and I'm not sure we were paying many bills at this point.
October 1, 2007 – HALLE-FUCKING-LUJAH, I finally get a few responses! One from a paper in Hollister, California, one from a paper in Glens Falls, New York, and one from an AP outpost in Spokane, Washington.
October 5-or-so, 2007 – I fly to Hollister and stay in a sweet hotel room flanked by a golf course. The next morning I wake up naked, get up and walk around, and notice that a couple of golfers are staring at my nuts. Cool beans.
October 10-or-so, 2007 – I fly to Glens Falls and decide, like Brigham Young in Utah hundreds of years earlier, that ‘This Is The Place.'
October 15-or-so, 2007 – My wife and I pack our shit – including thousands of records and CDs, which account for half the weight – into a 6” 12' trailer and embark on a 3,000-mile trip across the country with our two-month-old in tow. Most people thought we were crazy, and they were right; it sucked popcorn balls.
October 22, 2007 – My brand-new [used] Nissan Xterra gets keyed in Nebraska somewhere. I wish to god I could've caught him doin' it; it would've been worth him doin' it if I just coulda just caught him doin' it.
October 23, 2007-present – Things finally calm the Fuck down, leaving me in the state I'm in today: Content, but still sort of envying my friends working at The Washington Post and Spin.com.
WHEW, what a year! Now that we're caught up I feel completely comfortable launching nose-first into a giant pile of randomness that may or may not have to do with wrapping up the 2-to-the-007 like James Bond. The following nuggets are the result of my mind wandering during loads of free time. At the same time they seem unavoidable to me; it had to come out one way or another, so why not here? Exactly.
FUN WITH THE SNORKS
As I sat and stewed in my own ripe, frothy, apparently unemployable juices for months on end I got the chance to catch up on a lot of TV watching I simply couldn't do when a 9-to-5 was part of my daily routine. This meant a) lots of indie listening (we'll get to that later), b) lots of porn, and c) lots of cartoons. One cartoon in particular grabbed my attention like a bar bouncer strangling a withered alcoholic's chicken-neck: The Snorks. This show is FUCKED UP. I only caught two episodes all the way through, but both were full of grown-up themes. First, I saw an episode where the patrons of Snorkville – or whatever it's called; stay with me captain – got ahold of some berries that made them laugh at inappropriate times and squint their eyes (hmmmm). The name of the episode? “Reefberry Madness.”
THEN, I saw the ultimate Snorks rock ‘n' roll episode and forgot all about the lame reefberry episode where everyone learned how dangerous having innocent kicks can be. The episode, entitled “Tooter Loves Tadah,” centers around a new snork in town named Tubah. He's a picture-perfect jock character: he's tough, he's rough, he bullies the weak and he doesn't have any friends. He does, however, have one thing to his credit: A smokin'-hot snork-fuck of a girlfriend (Tadah). Naturally, the developmentally challenged deafmute snork, Tooter (easily the biggest coozehound among the snorks), becomes obsessed with the jock's main squeeze, going to great lengths to get her attention. When he does finally get her to bat and eyelash, Tubah intervenes and refuses to let the woman leave him (it sounds sexist and anti-women's rights, but this is how cartoons were back in the day).
But then Tubah joins the snorks' band and things change completely. All of a sudden Tubah is fine with Tooter hangin' with his woman. As Tubah uses his super-strength to bolster the band's sound, Tooter dances and makes nice with his woman. The message? Once you join a group, you're obligated to let your girlfriend fuck other band members. I'll bet that, backstage, Tooter's snork was so deep in Tadah's snork-ass you'd have to pry him out with the jaws of life. Yes, I know what you're thinking: I'm developing a Klosterman complex, delving far too deep into ordinary pop-culture artifacts in search of something new to write about (not to mention obsessed with anal). I'd tend to agree with you, if not for Tubah's final line in the episode: “Hey everyone, it's time for a HOEDOWN!” With that I realized that every episode of every cartoon ever was written by drugged-out pervs looking to sneek in as many prurient/drug/etc. references as possible. And to that, I say AWESOME.
A MYSTERY WRAPPED IN DECADE OF DECADENCE SLEEVE ART
I just realized recently that I have next-to-no evidence left of my past as a young, idealistic metal listener. The oldest remnant of those days is a State of Euphoria CD, scratched beyond recognition... but I used to have a shit-kickin' cassette-tape collection that included the important Metallica, Crue, Jovi, Faith No More and-whatever-else recordings. WHAT HAPPENED? And while we're at it, what happened to my Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes GI Joes? Those things are worth a lot in the eBay age...
To try and sort through my feelings of guilt and abandonment concerning my lost soldiers, I will now posit a few theories:
- They got lost in between moves
- They were destroyed by my religious mom, whom liked G'nR's Lies but only because she didn't ever give the lyrics a clear listen
- I burned them in effigy when I was drunk and on a Shins kick after Oh, Inverted World came out, then promptly forgot
- Unbeknownst to me, I'm cursed with the affliction Guy Pearce weathers in Memento, forgetting everything that happened the day before (this would explain a lot actually)
- I have two personalities, Passionate Gumshoe and Too-Cool-for-School Gumshoe, and the latter trashed my hokey hair-metal shit when the former was out taking a drizzle
- Marv sent secret agents to my house to destroy any evidence of my love for Forced Entry in case the Indie Feds start rooting around...
- Two words: Global Warming
- Two words (er, an initial and a half-word): K Fed
- Two words: Frank Stallone
SEVERAL PLAYED-OUT RHYME COMINATIONS, COMIN' UP!
I've been meaning to sound-off on this life-chafing topic for so long it's making my balls rub against my inner thigh: Can we please, PLEASE place a cease-and-desist order on lyricists that rhyme the same words OVER and OVER? I realize the young Beatles would have never reached the plane they did had they not tinkered endlessly with rhyming the same words, but I think we should all move past this practice in the here-and-now. I'm not going to go as far as to say rhyming should be disallowed altogether (though Racebannon may have suggested it when they said “Fuck Yr Obvious Wrds”), but the following word-combinations have been done to death, to the point that when I hear them I, in fact, want to die:
- Rhyming ‘change' and ‘rearrange'
- ‘eyes' with ‘cries' ('cried' is also unacceptable, though ‘cryin' mysteriously pass lyric customs just fine)
- ‘be' with ‘me' and ‘see' and ‘free'
- ‘you' with ‘do' and ‘through' and ‘too' and ‘to' and, hell, ‘tu'
- ‘wife' and ‘life'
- ‘time' with ‘mine' and ‘sign'
- ‘fear' with ‘near' with ‘clear' with ‘dear' with ‘here' with ‘hear' with ‘appear' (sorry coffee-shop douche, it's all been done to death)
- ‘by' with ‘guy' with ‘fly' with ‘cry'
- ‘resolve them' with ‘solve them' (does that even technically equate to a rhyme? Apparently it does... )
- ‘it' with... ‘it' [ditto]
- ‘frutti' with ‘lutt-... ahh, you get the pizoint (speaking of which, next time we'll get down to eliminating annoying catchphrases and slang)
For the record, this also goes for poetry.
ONE PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER, COMIN' UP
Ever since I found Mamas & Papas founder John Phillips' debut solo album, Wolfking of L.A., for $2 at a Spokane record store I've been completely obsessed with this man whom, from what I can gather, didn't produce a single worthwhile record after 1969. Wolfking is one of the best Kalifornia Kuntry albums I've ever heard, and its lyrics all directly tie in to his life at the time with few examples of smoke-and-mirror devices. For example, one line mentions a woman acquaintance's “jingle-jagged faggot friend,” who just happens to be Gene Clarke of The Byrds (a revelation of a Kalifornia Kuntry solo artist in his own right; check out his With the Gosdin Brothers record), one of the many dudes that banged Phillips' ex-wife Michelle before he divorced her. Oh, and speaking of banging, Phillips also indirectly refers to Michelle sleeping with Dennis Hopper (“And she let an Easy Rider share her bed”). Then he drops one of the most prophetic, achingly beautiful lyrics I've ever had the pleasure of being moved by: “From a second-story window caught a glimpse of someone's life, and it was mine / and my face was dark and dirty, and I'd been crying.” Allow yourself a few moments to weep if you must, knowing that Phillips descended into drug-addled squalor for the next decade-and-a-half that's sadder than all the single moms of the world (I know I did).
Then I got Phillips' book, Papa John. In addition to sporting the WORST ‘80s-style cover besides George Harrison's Cloud Nine album, Papa John details debauchery only Motley Crue members and maybe Ozzy (we'll get to him later) could relate to as he relates the experience of becoming hooked on heroin, befriending Keith Richards – never a good move – and then becoming cross-addicted to cocaine (with the help of a Freudian psychotherapist) and later barbituates, the latter of which can kill you if you don't come down slowly. He supported his habits by trading prescription drugs – which he obtained with fake scrips – for the highest-grade cocaine and H imaginable. His trevails only intensified my strange feeling of bonding with Phillips, as did the fact that he wrote Papa John holed up in Lake George, New York, a small summer community nestled about 10 minutes from where I currently live (Glens Falls, NY).
My wife read the book too and suggested I try to interview Phillips to find out what he's up to these days. I told her he's dead. It subsequently occurred to me that many of the icons of the ‘60s are slowly leaving us, taking their stories with them. I'd love to find a way to salvage what is left of the Love Generation, but would Donovan or Dick Taylor grant me an interview? Stay tuned; if they do TMT gets the exclusive...
BRAIN-FLOSSING WITH OZZY
At some point during my three-month Lost Weekend I became obsessed with an Ozzy Osbourne song, “The Road to Nowhere,” and ever since I've been trying to figure out why. Then I read The Dirt, a Motley Crue warts-'n'-all doc, and focused on the passage where Ozzy pisses on a patio and laps it up on his hands and knees, his ass flapping in the breeze because he happened to be wearing a dress at the time. Then he dares Nikki Sixx to follow suit. Sixx pisses, and before he can get on his knees Ozzy beats him to the punch and starts licking the piss as casually as you and I might shoot the shit outside a goddamn Starbucks. How could a man so hellbent on committing disgusting, deplorable acts write such innocent, dare I say feel-good lyrics?
And I think I've come up with something here: Ozzy writes warm-fuzzy lyrics for a lot of reasons (one of them being his purported sobriety after years of piss-lapping), but tantamount is his need to gloss over the bloated, ridiculous, out-of-control assmaster he turned out to be in the 1970s and ‘80s. Sure, he says “through all the happiness and sorrow / I guess I'd do it all again” within the flabby folds of “Road to Nowhere,” but this lyric proves just how insecure he is about his past; he's done so many gross things all he can do is shrug and sheepishly say he wouldn't change a thing (unless Sharon's around). The real truth comes out in other passages, where he mentions the past keeps “haunting me / it just won't leave me alone.”
Then I got to thinking about the way I view my own life and the way I gloss over certain parts to keep my self-image above gutter-levels and realized most of us are exactly like Ozzy. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've uttered the tried-true “I'd do it all again” line myself with a confident smirk, despite the fact that I've committed more brain-cripplingly ridiculous acts than anyone I've ever known and more than any non-rock-stars I've read about. In fact, I sorta hate myself, so much so that I'm going to attempt to make up for it by apologizing for a few things in hopes that I can bring in Oh-Eight with a clean slate:
- I'm sorry I purposely showed up late to a Nameless Numbers show (my band a few years ago) to prove a point about an EP I didn't think we should have put out
- I'm sorry I taped a “I suck dick” sign on a kid's back, then kicked the kid hard from behind (seriously, I think I toe-punched his cornhole) while droves of middle-school jackals laughed at what a dick I was (don't worry, in high school I received my comeuppance ten-fold)
- I'm sorry I didn't get in JB's face more in the weeks leading up to his marriage to a total crackhead
- I'm sorry I threw that drink in Shayna's face after that show my band played
- I'm sorry I referenced AH (along with many others) in one of my TMT news stories without consulting him first
- I'm sorry I can't yet bring myself to call anyone back home
- I'm sorry I ruined my mom's chance at a “religious” Christmas year-in and year-out
- I'm sorry I encouraged my wife to get a job at Starbucks, which pays her minimum wage and makes our family officially a part of the problem (and have brainwashed her in to thinking its prices actually make total sense; no shit)
- I'm sorry I couldn't make it to Joel Baxter's (a different JB than the one mentioned above) wedding, when he married the love of his life
- I'm sorry I made fun of my loveable gym teacher, Mr. Weaver, in high school with all the other mean-spirited punks by making fun of a speech impediment he couldn't help
- I'm sorry I'm too cowardly to actually call these people up and offer something more sacred than a written apology they'll likely never read
- I'm sorry I lost all of SB's CDs, then waffled on paying him back until he gave up on me as a friend
- I'm sorry I consistently refused to give JP a ride back when he didn't have a license, forcing him to drive anyway and accrue thousands of dollars in tickets
- I'm sorry I keep forgetting to format my TMT stories for Web publishing
- I'm sorry I can't turn a review in to Marv that doesn't contain either the word ‘fuck' or the phrase ‘sucks my dirty shit-hole'
- I'm sorry I drove AVD crazy
- And, most of all, I'm sorry I had to leave all my precious West Coast friends behind (I love you all)
Wow, that felt good. And you know what? I think I can finally admit that I'd do things differently if I had the chance, though, like all of us, I'm still probably on a Road to Nowhere.
Happy holidays TMT readers! Thanks so much for bothering to make it to the end of this laborious column and, for that matter, giving me a reason to keep chasing the music-journalism dragon with your occasional e-mails and comments. E-mail me if you got this far and I'll send you a pressed X-mas ham [promise will not be honored].
[Illustrations: Carolina Purdum]
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