Friday, October 13, 2006

Car-Pay Dee-Umm

Sometimes I get the feeling that I’m wasting my life away doing whatever it is that I do nowadays. But then I second-guess that feeling: do I really feel like that, or do I just feel like that because somebody’s telling me to feel like that? I can never tell. Let me explain.

Last night I happened to catch a spot for the movie (one that I happen to be looking forward to with great expectations) American Hardcore. In a nutshell, it’s a documentary on the origins of the hardcore punk scene in the 1980’s, and basically a catalogue of the mindset of the movement.

In any case, I’m watching this little teaser during one of those “movie news” segments in between flicks on one of the movie channels I get here, and at towards the end of the segment one of the creators of the film sort of sums up one of the messages he wants to come out of the movie. Addressing today’s generation of teenagers, one of the directors says (and I’m paraphrasing): “[the message we’re trying to get out there is that] it’s time to turn off the iPod [as he mimes himself removing invisible earbuds], log off Myspace, and get out there and do something meaningful.”

At first really I admired his message of the film. I took the message as sagely wisdom, and hoped deep down that I was following that same philosophy in my own life. And then I got scared. Was he describing me? I mean, I own an iPod, I use Myspace, does that mean that I'm wasting my life? Am I letting my potential go to waste?

I hear those kinds of statements about making the most of your youth or whatever a lot; but what do they even mean when they talk about that? Usually when I hear someone say, “seize the day” I imagine myself jumping up off my couch, exploding from the front door of my house, and running, full speed towards the mental camera of my imagination. I am then captured, via freeze frame, in mid-leap, my face emblazoned by wild ambition.

But I never know what happens after that. The fantasy literally goes nowhere from that point. How exactly do you seize a day, anyway? Am I doing that now? Well, no; but am I at least on my way to doing that now?

That’s what annoys me about the way we talk in our society: we use metaphors way, waaay too much. I think that as a culture we’ve been brought up to look at life like a movie, with constant action and a steady foray of relevant plot points. If my life were a movie, I’d find something I wanted to pursue, go out and reach all the necessary goals to get where I wanted to go (naturally via montage) and that would be that. If I wanted to start a punk band, for example, I’d go buy a guitar, lock myself in my room to learn to play (by listening to old punk records, of course), put out a flyer looking for band members, get a group together, and voila: punk band. The course of action would occur just like that, with no breaks in between. That is, if life were a movie.

But life isn’t a movie. Real life doesn’t work like that. And I don’t want to start a punk band, anyway.

So what now, American Hardcore guys? What if I want to make comic books, or what if I want to be a standup comedian? What if I just want to get a girlfriend or start small like that? What then?

It’s not like I’m mad at some guys who made a movie, I just think that we put so much stress sometimes on “not wasting your life” that we end up just wasting our lives worrying that we’re wasting our lives. It’s a vicious circle, really…

I’d like to think that I’m trying to make the most out of my time on earth. Sure, at the moment I’m taking some downtime, but I don’t plan to do that forever. There are tons of things I’d like to try and do with this time in my life; it’s really the last years that I have to really experiment before cold, hard adulthood sets in. But I’m working towards that. Sure, it’s not an action-packed thrill ride of excitement, but real life rarely is; and when it is, it’s unfortunately short-lived.

So I think I’m fine with my iPod, and I’m fine with myspace, because there’s nothing really wrong with that. In moderation. And I don’t think that a lot of people would disagree with that statement. I think what the filmmakers were talking about with that movie I was talking about paragraphs ago wasn’t really as drastic a “seize the day or you’re a myspace-using bum” message that it first sounded like, but just the overuse of metaphors for life gets a bit annoying after a while, seeing as how metaphors can be pretty shitty guideposts for real life when practical advice would be a lot more helpful.

I’m not really sure that you got anything out of reading this, but I was able to work through my own thoughts on the issue during the process or writing it. And I guess that counts for something... but it probably doesn’t.

Later!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Those who can't do...

I hate writing anything definitive about my life aspirations, because normally I end up changing my mind the very next day. Sometimes even the moment after I write it. Pushing that aside for the moment, these are my current life aspirations.

Today I applied to become a substitute teacher in my old public school system. The idea to pursue this particular career path took me by quite a surprise this evening, but I’ve been excited and optimistic about it nevertheless (assuming it isn't anything like that movie they made about it.)

Anyway, I’ve applied to become a substitute for both middle and high school, which seems like a pretty good fit for me. I can still remember what it was like to be there, and the kids I’d be working with would be old enough to know better (I would hope) than to just bounce off the walls all day.

I will say, however, that I do not have many fond memories from high school. But something about going back in some sort of authoritarian role piques my interest. So we’ll see how that turns out, pending a hopefully quick response from my references and the county’s receipt of my college transcript.

While currently there are no intentions to pursue teaching full time (as a, you know, real teacher) this would definitely give me some good money for a while, and some interesting stories to boot (for some reason getting interesting stories out of a job has always really appealed to me).

In other news, I’ve decided (which doesn’t mean much, if you remember my little introduction to this post) to stay in Atlanta for a while: hopefully soon in (gasp) a place of my own. I’d long been debating moving somewhere else, but I think that I’d like to give Atlanta a second chance to be a “cool city” in my book. There’s undoubtedly a difference between growing up in the suburbs of a city as a child and actually living in said city as an adult. And I’d like to know how that difference feels. I’m optimistic (assuming its just like that other movie they made about it).

So that’s the big news from the front down here. Take it easy, everyone.

Random recommendations:

Every now and then I’m going to plug some of the stuff I’ve been reading or listening to. It doesn’t merit its own post, but rather a little blurb at the end of another one.

Reading: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. I just finished this book last night, and it’s definitely a great read I would recommend to anyone with an interest in pop culture (which pretty much describes anyone in my age demographic). Klosterman covers a wide range of topics from cover bands, to The Real World, to the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics during the 80’s, and breaks down each subject with great wit and profound depth. It’s a very funny read, and it really analyzes a lot of the assumptions about pop culture.

Listening to: I was just recently referred to the indie pop/rock band Luigi, a project involving a couple members of my latest favorite band, Ultrababyfat. Luigi is a band along similar lines to ubf, but with a softer, less pop-py sound. That probably doesn’t make any sense, but give them a listen. They’re on myspace (which I know you have), so you can hear them there and download a couple of their songs, too.

Friday, October 06, 2006

SPORTS!!

We’re getting close to the worst part of the year for me. Okay, it’s not that dramatic. In certain contexts it’s the worst part of the year.

That context? Namely, sports (Hence, the title).

We aren’t there just yet. October isn’t bad. It’s actually pretty exciting. But it’s the last month of sports that I’ll really enjoy for quite a while. Baseball is still in its final wrap-up for the season, and eight teams are on one last chase for the world championship title.

But I think it’s the finality of the season that makes it depressing. It’s almost like missing summer already during the first week of August just because you know you have to go back to school in just a few weeks.

This October, especially, is pretty disappointing. Both of my teams, the Atlanta Braves and the Boston Red Sox, have been out of the playoff running for weeks (about a month now for the Braves), so all I can do at this point is stand on the outside looking in, watching eight other teams play for that big trophy with all the little gold flags on it. But worst of all, I’m stuck rooting against the Yankees. I hate being stuck rooting against the Yankees. I hate the Yankees.

Speaking of the Yankees, I heard some correspondent on ESPN this afternoon before game 2 of the ALDS series between New York and Detroit, after mentioning that she’d be at the stadium today wearing her Tigers cap, say that “there are a lot of nice New York fans here.”

I almost choked, and let out a loud, sarcastic “Ha!” in response to this. Yeah, try walking into Yankee Stadium wearing a Red Sox hat like I did a month ago and tell me they’re nice.

But moving on from baseball, moving on from October, it’s officially the time of year when I barely give a shit about sports. I guess basketball’s starting up soon. Pro basketball is usually ok to watch, assuming nothing else is on or it’s a good match up, and College isn’t fun to watch until March*.

The same pretty much goes for football. I can’t really get into football, on the professional or college level. My lack of interest can be based on two factors. I live in Atlanta, and have lived here my entire life. In my 22 years in this city, Atlanta has had only two good seasons. The other 20 have been either so-so or flat-out terrible. It’s hard to get behind a team that has been one of the worst teams in the sport for 90% of your life**.

The other factor is that I didn’t graduate from a school with a football team. So I don’t have a “team of my own” to watch.

Plus, college football just feels annoying to me. It just reeks of old, rich, white-haired southerners piling into their Lincoln SUVS to drive down to the old alma mater to watch a bunch of rednecks play football against other rednecks***.

College football is wealthy white assholes with season tickets every year who still give a shit about some stupid rivalry between the stupid schools they graduated from decades ago and some other stupid schools somewhere else. College football is frat boys. College football is watching the jocks from high school glorified on a national stage. How on earth could I get behind that?

But it’s cool. Now I can pretend to be a snob around all my friends who watch the sports I don’t really care about. I can look down my nose and scoff at them “Pfah! College football. How bourgeois! While you’ve been watching this neanderthal ‘game,’ I’ve been building my indie cred like you wouldn’t believe. Have you ever heard of the band Architecture in Helsinki? I have****.”

So that should be fun. I think I’ll go spend a few hours at Pitchfork Media now. Later, guys, enjoy October while it lasts! Boo, Yankees!


* - I know, this means I’m not a “true fan” of the sport. But who cares, I’m just being honest.

** - Yet I’m still a Red Sox fan, another team that has had a lot of bad seasons for the majority of my life. Sure, it’s probably not 90% of it, but I’m sure it’s up there. But I’ve only been a fan for a few years, so what are you going to do?

*** - I guess I’m looking at this from an SEC perspective. Maybe things are different where you’re from. Maybe the PAC 10 isn’t full of rednecks. Just substitute what I said with a generalization for the players in the conference you’re closest to.

**** - This isn’t a shot at Architecture in Helsinki, or their fans. Personally, I’ve never heard them before (and yes, they’re a real band); I just thought the name fit well into the joke.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My random-ass music tastes

I have weird taste in music. Not to be pompous, but I’d say that I have pretty broad tastes when it comes to what I listen to: punk rock, hip hop, hard core, 80’s new wave, independent rock, dependent rock, co-dependent rock, folk, alternative, ska, and some other random stuff here and there (ALRIGHT, Coldplay and U2; happy?).

The problem with this is that I jump from genre to genre in my music collection, completely into one genre and altogether disinterested in the others. So I’ll be really into one particular set of bands in my iTunes playlist and won’t be able to stand the other 90% of the music I have--which can get to be pretty inconvenient. I also have a couple Talib Kweli CDs on my iTunes, which I can pretty much never stand, so that’s always inconvenient.

So for this post, in as random a fashion as my musical tastes, here are some of my random opinions about music.

1.) Ultrababyfat became my new favorite band yesterday afternoon. I had first heard of them when I was watching David Cross: Let America Laugh a couple weeks ago. David Cross did a standup tour (upon which Let America Laugh is based) with the band, so that was pretty much all I knew about them, other than the fact that they’re from Atlanta, like Cross (and myself).

So I was at Criminal Records, one of the only cool record stores in Atlanta, yesterday, and happened to notice one of Ultrababyfat’s CDs in one of the bins when I was walking in. On a whim I bought it, even though I had never heard anything by them before. I was just in the mood to spend some money, and I was already there to buy some other stuff, too, so I just tossed it in with the rest.

In any case, I bought all my stuff, got in my car to leave, unwrapped the CD, said to myself out loud, “I hope this CD’s good,” and lo and behold IT WAS. It’s kinda hard to peg them, I guess you could say they’re indie pop/rock, but moreso rock than pop. Also the lead singer’s a girl. And it’s really, really good. From the first second of the CD I knew I made a good decision buying it. So I’d recommend it to you, too, assuming you like that kind of music.

2.) I’m getting tired of buying hardcore music. Listening to it’s fine, and I don’t have a problem downloading it, but the act of purchasing it, giving someone my hard-earned money for it, I don’t think I can handle that anymore. And the problem is this: I’m paying full price for a “full length” album that may very well end up being only 20 minutes long total.

Now I can usually justify to myself paying average 12 or 13 dollars for a CD on the argument “hey, it’s like paying a dollar per track” but with a CD by a hardcore band its sometimes almost like paying a dollar per MINUTE OF AUDIO ON THE ENTIRE CD. And I don’t have that kind of music to drop 10 bucks for 15 minutes of music (which I unfortunately did the other day when I bought a Righteous Jams album).

Sorry hardcore bands, but from now on I think I’m going to just stick to illegally downloading your music. I know, record sales will suffer, but you could either sell it for cheaper or record some more fucking songs for the album. If I see you live or something there’s a good chance I’d drop $10 for your record, but that’s pretty much going to be the only time I’ll pay for your recordings. Again, my apologies.

3.) If white people don’t learn how to act right, I’m going to force myself to stop listening to hip hop altogether.

Look, I enjoy hip-hop. Some of it, at least--the good kind. But there’s something very annoying about other white people that listen to rap. I’ll explain with an example.

I went to a college composing primarily of white people. Actually, 99% white people to be exact. This led to a lot of white people co-opting black culture freely, out in the open, unafraid of, say, a real black person being offended or kicking said white people’s asses.

This shameless “culture theft” happens with rap music as the unfortunate, innocent victim to white suburbanites desperately attempting to be cool by looking “street,” assuming that looking “street” causes you to look cool (hint: it doesn’t).

I will admit, however, that in my past I have been guilty of doing this.

But after stepping back and really looking at how ridiculous it looks when stupid white assholes with no discerning taste in hip hop music play Yung Joc (god, I feel retarded just typing that name) at high volume on repeat through their residence halls, screaming “aww, yeah!” it’s stressful enough for me to just make myself stop liking hip hop music altogether, just so there’s one less white person out there running the risk of insulting the true origins of the music and making it that much more commercialized and stereotypical.

Or I guess I could just listen to it and not act like a douche. Wu Tang would be pretty hard to give up.


That's all for now. Later, Paul!


Top 5 Artists of the Week (or at least Wednesday)

1. Ultrababyfat
2. The Shins
3. Elliott Smith
4. Arcade Fire
5. Wu Tang Clan (just to shake things up, and so I don't look like a snobby douchebag)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Champion

Most Memorable Shows:

1. Gorilla Biscuits (w/Comeback Kid, Righteous Jams, Overdose and Depression) - at The Loft, Atlanta, GA - August 29, 2006
2. BANE (w/ Comeback Kid, With Honor and Silent Drive) - at Swayze's, Atlanta, GA - March 12, 2005
3. BANE (w/ Evergreen Terrace, Cursed, and Verse) - at El Torreon, Kansas City, MO - June 1, 2005
4. Radiohead (w/ Supergrass) - at HiFi Buys Ampitheater, Atlanta, GA - October 6, 2004
5. Mental (w/ Justice, Few and the Proud, Double Crossed, and Give It Up) - at El Torreon, Kansas City, MO - July (?) 2005

Seriously, though, such a good show tonight. GB much made it, though, the only other band I knew well was Comeback Kid but I just wasn't feeling them tonight. But Gorilla Biscuits, oh man, I just flipped through their albums, and they played every song off both of them, every single one of them. Amazing. I've never been so sweaty, I've never had so many people dive on top of me at a show than I did tonight. Amazing.

Okay that's all for me tonight. I gotta go let my ears heal.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Off to a good start

So today was my first full day of actual work on my comic book project. I did a lot of writing and some editing, and the ten or twelve hours spent already has put me almost 20 days ahead of schedule. Turns out I way overestimated how long it was going to take to nail down an outline and write up a first draft.

It's good to know that the process I've estimated to take about six months is already off to a really good start. Maybe I'll finish it way early, who knows? In any case, this gives me a lot more time to spend on the art (which will be the much harder step in terms of my ability). Breathing room is nice, so I'll take it where I can get it.

So far the book is looking like a pretty good story. On a technical level it has all the right parts: a beginning, middle and end, characters (foils!), a plot, a climax, conflict, resolution, exposition, the whole bit. But its also funny (at least I find it humorous at points) and says something, too, which is all I really want to accomplish with this book. I'm feeling really comfortable with what I have so far so that makes me very optimistic about where this book is going.

And that's only day one! Hopefully day two will be just as productive. Wish me luck.

Later

Friday, August 25, 2006

FINALLY

Finally a movie like this has been made:




It's a flick coming out late September about the hardcore music scene in the 1980's, featuring bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag, SSD, Adolescents, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, and many, many more.

I just saw the trailer for this last night, and I'm incredibly excited to see it when it comes out next month.

And while I'm on the subject, I'm also really looking forward to seeing the original lineup of GORILLA BISCUITS, one of the greatest hardcore punk bands to come out of the 80's, play this monday in Atlanta with Comeback Kid and Righteous Jams. It should definitely be a show to remember.