July 31, 2009


The library sent me over the comment cards from the workshop yesterday. I want to know which one of the girls already has a publicist, she is on it. Here are some highlights:


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My story about David Bazan's post-Pedro the Lion life, his break up with God, drinking, agnostic redemption and his return to Cornerstone is on the cover of this weeks Chicago Reader. I am fortunate and grateful that Dave trusted me with his story and fortunate and grateful that the Reader took it. It's such a gratifying thing to be able to report and write a story that is meaningful to you, and be given the space and freedom to unpack it.

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July 28, 2009


Tyvek and a couple rad slunky garage-rage bands playing for free tonight at Cobra Lounge (the bar for off duty bouncers and last call women who love them) as a kick off for Pizzafest. You can do a lot worse than a free Tyvek show, for sure.

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July 27, 2009



1. I am on Chicago Tonight tomorrow, Tuesday. I GET TO TALK WITH PHIL PONCE. FOR SIX MINUTES. Totally unreal. If you have PBS and a Tv and remember to get a receptor box, see you then. Channel 11.I think it's on at like 7? I just painted my nails reggae for the occasion.

2. Thursday @ 1:30 pm at Harold Washington Library downtown Chi-Boogie town in the YouMedia state of the art digital media youths area, I will read and discuss my book, and then! immediately after there will be a HOW TO USE GARAGEBAND TO RECORD YOUR MUSIC HOW TO TUTORIAL AND WORKSHOP FOR KIDS.

3. If you work at or shop at an independent record store, indie shops can order the book through CIMS/Coalition of Independent Music Stores starting next week.

4. If you live in Chicago and do not want to shop at the hateful B&N Jr. sections that shelves my book with potty books, the book is now available for purchase at Reckless in Wicker Park and at Quimbys, so you can pick it up when you go in for the new issue of Butt.

5. Next tour is 100% locked down and confirmed if you are in Oak Park library, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn (FEMINIST BLOW OUT PARTY WHAT!), Baltimore, DC, Chapel Hill, Nashville, Bloomington IN, Champaign-Urbana and ending in Chicago with young girl and campers bands getting added to the bill. AUGUST! RULING! SECONDARY MARKETS #1 IN MY HEART.

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Gossip covering "Psycho Killer" in Seattle this past weekend.

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July 26, 2009


" I look at this picture Dash took, and I guess it is easy to see disrespect in it, and nothing heroic about it, but I like the cockiness of it. I love it, in fact. I look at it as a scrappy little "Fuck You" from New York kids to whomever thought they could squash them. Simple as that. Maybe that, to people today is as naive, earnest and treacly as I might regard a '60s folk song, but that's what I see in the picture.

If you see something else in it, tough shit for you."
--Jeff Johnson on Dash Snow's work/life/context in one photo.

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July 25, 2009


"“We thought it was a joke but we went for a look and there was actually a sea lion blocking traffic. So we opened the door and he climbed right in. So we put him in the back of the car as our new prisoner.”

How bad do you wish you could take a happy baby sea lion "prisoner" for a ride in your car? That is like #3 on my list of animal adventures I wish could come true. #1 is that my cats can talk #2 is to have a midget pony that I solve mysteries with. #3 is seal prisoner road trip.

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July 24, 2009


Beige sectional out. Auntie Mame/Liberace pink C-shaped couch in. First co-purchase as an engaged couple.

Providence was a bust. I did not read. Up against a slew of events and mis-billing confusion, and for some reason none of the posters or flyers made it up and then it rained and Lightning Bolt was playing and some popular girls art opening was happening at the same time and it was just a lot of fail. Down 90 people from last time I read there, two people came. One of them was about 65 and he came to give me a lot of unsolicited advice about my career and then asked me "Why is it that Burt Bacharach's entire catalog isn't available on CD?!" and I said "I bet the boxset from a few years ago holds most people fine." I did not say what I was really thinking. The other came an hour late, but she bought a book. I am not terribly sad P-town didn't work out, but I wished I had known. I would have done Austin instead.

Night off in NY, I had the mammothest sushi at the macro place with the so-boss Mary Manning, We were in a hurry to get to the Agnes Varda autobiography movie, Beaches of Agnes or Agnes on the Beach or something. I TAKE BACK EVERYTHING BAD I SAID ABOUT HER EVER OR HER MOVIES. I GET IT NOW AND I WANT TO BE HER WHEN I GROW UP. But, anyhow, in my hurry, I just ate the middles of the sushi, leaving the gluteny tires of rice and s'weed making a sad DOOD face.

Mary gripping the Peace Ball. Everyone needs to see the Agnes movie. The close up of a dying Jacques Demy's grey hair and arms I just sobbed sobbed sobbed. Partners, muses, aging, the grip of death--it was heavy as hell.

It's nice to be home, and be presented with the futures new meanings.

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July 23, 2009


Oh man.
Not sure how today and yesterday or tonight can be topped.
EPICS IN MINUTES, except the minutes were days.
New York was major. I cried after I read, while at the podium in a room full of people whose work I admire, cohorts, relatives, my mom and sister, a step cousin, a dude whose grunge cover band I admired in high school, the people who work on my book at Workman, high school friends, transplanted bffs, people i did publicity for, people I work with on the radio show, the man who sold me his car, Girls Rock Camp staffers, the coolest girl a lame ex ever introduced me to, sister-authors, two young girls who called into the radio show today including the girl who wanted to know how do you know if you are talented, moms, chaperones, my oldest friend, feminist pen pals, zine people from the olden days, people I had not seen since 1995. It is just staggering to look up from reading behind this too tall podium and see a room full of people from every nook and cranny of your life. It felt so kind. I don't think I will ever get over it.

My other favorite part ever, in a flash flood of favorites--a very young girl in the audience asked a technical question about a problem she was having in GarageBand and Jane answered it--but like 3 other lady hands all went up to offer solutions. What if that 10 year old girl right now is the Bjork of Brooklyn's future? What if by seeing hands of adult women fly up to help her, she grows up knowing full well that women are totally technically savvy audio engineers/etc. and it never occurs to her that that's not the case because she saw it happen. Do you know? Seeding a paradigm shift, right in the little moment--I saw it happen.

And J. Lo was across the street filming something in Gray's Papaya and she missed the whole thing.

ALSO: I am reading in Providence at As220, today July 23rd at 7. pm. Please come, would love to see your sweet face.

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July 22, 2009


If you are coming here via WNYC/Soundcheck--the blog you are looking for is http://www.girlsguidetorocking.com/wordpress/. This is a different blog about different stuff.

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July 21, 2009


Women of Los Angeles and surrounding area. I have heard from an LA based music teacher/musician who is looking to round up some interested parties to get an LA girls rock camp going. If you are interested in passing on your skill to the eager 10 year old girls of your area, or perhaps have an organizing/instructing talent, or perhaps have some sort of job or life that puts you in contact with women musicians or young women, please email the msjessicahopper AAATTTt gmail addy to the lower right side here, and I will pass you on. Please everyone everyone, forward this on to your LA-lady friends, as it takes a critical mass to raise this sort of effort.

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I know I have wished long and hard for high speed rail to come to Chicago, and I have ridden it in Europe and also I think in Japan (that tour was a blur of fish balls and naps) and today I went on an especially fast no stops one from Philly to NYC and I got to the verge of puking. Be careful what you wish for, it just might make you barf.

The outskirts of Newark NJ look like my idea of heaven. Decrepit and overgrown.

I went to the Central Park and met with my mom and sister. I went to the wrong side and confusion ensued. There is like ah solitary map with a YOU ARE HERE in THE ENTIRE PLACE. I think maybe that is to facilitate people using pedicabs? I thought I had never been there, but I did once go there approximately 12 years ago to see Femi Kuti. My friends friend stood next to me and for the entire 2 or 3 hour Femi set held forth on the Detroit punk scene and the scene at large. I called my sister 12 times before I found where she was in the park today. Apparently saying stuff like "I'm by all those rocks, where am I?" or "I am by the boathouse with a green pointy roof" is futile because there are at least 8 of each.

I walked 80 more blocks today than I usually walk at home. Fifth Avenue is not tremendously exciting as a route, but it is simpler than the wiggly roads of the park, and so I am into it, the capitalist worlds Via Appia that it is.

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July 19, 2009


The other night we were walking home after playing poker in a bar and laughing really hard for like four hours, when a huge, sleek, jacked-up, scary/fancy redneck truck rumbled slowly past us and a man yelled out the window in a voice dripping with hate: "YOU HAVE STDs!" My old man looked at him, and the guy yelled "DON'T LOOK AT ME. YOU HAVE STDs."

This seems like a weird thing to yell at someone, even if you were mad at them for some reason. Plus, it's funny that the term "STD" has entered the common parlance. Like if he had yelled "your subject position offends me." Also the "don't look at me" part was really weird. The old man goes, "That's not how STDs work."

I remembered the time in West Hollywood when those kids drove by and threw a full coke at us. That seems more reasonable, I guess. You always feel weird when you get heckled by white rednecks and you're a straight white person. Because, what more do these terrible people want from me? Maybe my hair is too short, or my man doesn't have big enough muscles. Also I think the fact that the old man carries a woman's rainbow-colored purse instead of a man's bag sometimes draws fire from society's more low-rent elements. And the fact that he's taken to wearing extremely short, pink, hot-pants.

It makes me very sad that these things can be pointed to as "the reason we get heckled sometimes." God, they're just pants. Deal with it. What is wrong with people? Let people live their lives in peace! I just want to yell: "ISN'T LIFE HARD ENOUGH, YOU ASSHOLE?""

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Not to state the obvious, but I think in 5-7 years, when all these pre-teen singing drummers and 15 yr old Pixies-obsessives hit able-to-tour age, and are 20 yr olds who have been playing for half their lives, there will be no doubt that Girls Rock Camps are the greatest thing to happen to rock this side of Zeppelin. There are eight year old girls who are seeking to OWN rock n' roll/punk/the world and what they are going to go on to do will make riot girls seem as duh/quaint as suffragettes. I cannot wait. I really cannot wait til these cool-as-hell 13 yr olds displace the Animal Collectives/etc. of the world with their own high concept epic amazingness.

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Longtime Hit it or Quit it readers will remember fondly, the work of Matt Kessler, who is now back in action, doing a little here or there for Vice, including this thing which I had the honor-YES HONOR- of seeing when he finished it. I laughed til I cried:
A live review of T4: "Sublimated homosexual man vs. sublimated homosexual machine duking it out on the grandest scale possible with no stupid females to get in the way."

I am in Philly. I am secretly hoping my suburban Barnes & Noble gig somehow gets canceled last minute because I want to go to the Gallery mall and get an airbrushed dress length t-shirt with the book's cover on it. I am doing morning TV tomorrow and think maybe that and a belt? I am thinking yes. After seeing that Andrew WK on FOx News thing, I feel like I need to up my weirdness quotient for these things.

Also also: I am going to get married to Matt. I am fianceed now. To such a nice handsome dream of a man who is so good with puns. It was a real surprise. For a split second, I got scared, when he said sit down I have something I need to tell you and I asked "Are you breaking up with me?" and then the little ring box came out and I just grabbed it and put it on. It looks like a tiny white turtle is on my hand. I think it's pretty funny I am going be a wife. Like straight up LOLZ funny. Big week around here, kids. Getting engaged and doing Martha Stewarts radio show. I don't get to meet MS, mind you, it's like a Gayle King/Oprah sitch. I do hope I can parley it into a spread in LIving where we put ric-rac on amp heads and stuff. I hope no one thinks I am jumping the shark. I will try and keep it real, go back to complaining about hardcore bands soon.

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July 18, 2009



Girls Rock Philly have been so cool in helping me put together a radical Philly event (tomorrow, Sunday, at T&P Gallery 1143 s. 9th st. 6:30 pm) including providing a BAND AND SNACKS AND GETTING THE WORD OUT TO THE COOL PHILLY ROCK GIRLS--I wish I could bring all my equipment with me on the plane today and hand it over to them.

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July 17, 2009


I feel like every girl friend I have ever had has moved to Portland. Not pictured: Ellen, my high-school long bandmate in Seaquest.
Remember that baby Max that was always on the blog in a diaper? He is a big boy now, and has a drum kit and is talking.
View from my room in Seattle was not so bad.
Sean Nelson came out in Seattle. He wrote the best 33 1/3rd book, about Joni Mitchell's Court & Spark, which is I think the great feminist work in the entire book series.
And after the reading, there's the houseshow party. Cryptacize were great. Nedelle, during the last song, ran her hand dramatically down the length of the keyboard to punctuate the chorus, and the third time she did it, she accidentally made it fling from it's stand. Being the professional, she just kept going like it was just a enthusiastic flourish.
The ONLY good thing about 5 and 6 am flights is watching the sun come up.
Oh man! Look it's my brother from another mother, David Scheid! A live review of the book event said there was even a hesher-bro looking dude there, identifying him the sort of dude that's the enemy of my book and young girl bands everywhere. Which is funny, as David actually helped me with the entire book, he was like my #3 most talked-to source. He is friend to all women in bands, unless they are habitually late for bus call. Then he hates you.
The bookseller guy at the event looked familiar. "I was in a Minneapolis band, Scooby Don't."--a.k.a the first local punk band demo cassette I ever owned. FULL CIRCLE, MAN! 9TH GRADE (SLIGHT RETURN)!
Mika Miko playing on the steps of Santa Monica Public library.
Jenna Thornhill DeWitt, in her ultra-visor turned papal hat. Kind of golfing meets Popemobile-wear.
Each one of these people and their music and bands and the way they conduct band business influenced the book. The playing shows anywhere and inclusiveness/reject the bar-shows model sections I read are essentially the No Age/ Lucky Dragons template spelled out in a how-to. It was totally amazing and also made me nervous.
Everyone was dancing for Mika Miko. EVERYONE.
Patty and wife Christina. They came down to the LA reading early to talk to me about the documentary that is being made about Patty's life. Hole fans and old riot girls of the world rejoice, Schemel is getting her rightful due.
Christian brought his whole fam. I think Gabe was a little annoyed that his dad bought him a GIRLS book, though I explained he could just put tape over part of the cover and add some letters and it's Gabe's Guide to Rocking. Christian and I jammed together for most of 1995 and he spent the whole time trying to make me "get" Captain Beefheart.
Jenna and Cali made me sign their book to their future children and their poodle, Caramel Bobby. Here's to Tutenkahman, Beatrix, Penrose and Queenie DeWitt's family band with their dog.
Spiritual forefather with my actual father.
612 reunion. Sean and I pledged to get our Seaquest tapes digitized, there is no reason we shouldn't have a Myspace page 17 years after the fact.
Jimmy Jams Jojo Shabadoo Jr. picked up a copy for his wife. Gotta respect a man who is using his rap-ensemble to start a reading club.
Down in the airport tunnel at midnight. Ooh way-oo-oo!
Laurie Lindeen introduced my Mnpls reading and I had to fight the tears. She is one of the reasons I wanted to start a band. Her book is like Girls Guide to Rocking college girls edition.
The first reading/event so far where the crowd was predominantly girls. It was so amazing to look up and make eye contact with the intent gazes of eleven year olds, I thought I was going to cry. I waited til everyone left before I did though.
This exact moment I will remember forever. My heart exploded with joy. "My name is Dani. D-A-N-I. I am eight. I play guitar. I can almost play an entire Jonas Brothers song."

Remember this girl next time you mock the Jonas Brothers or their fanbase, ok? Next time you make fun of a band saying all their fans are (screaming teenage) little girls, this is who you are laughing at.

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Dear Ms. Music Critic Rocker Hopper,
We would like to introduce ourselves. We are television critics. We are conductors of the TV fame train. In Portland, we thought you were going to break into uncontrollable laughter because you had that look on your face that read 'IDIOTS!'
Also, we enjoyed the time you looked into the camera and made goo goo eyes.

In Minneapolis, your voice dropped an octave but your thought process was much more developed & you sounded like a pro. We feel you have a definite future on the small screen, particularly on local cable access morning variety shows. We will be contacting you soon to give you your big break. Hold your breath.

Truly yours,
Lolo Jones & Gigi Martin, TV consultants extraordinaire
(yr sis & yr mom)

Dictated from Gigi's loft.

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July 16, 2009


Got a hideous sunburn from outdoor reading, now appear qualified to guide Santa's sleigh. Did live TV on 2 hours of shitty plane sleep and managed to not make it sound pornographic this time. Fortunately, I invested in so hag spackle from MAC pre-tour, which plastered over my hot-pink burn. Tonight is Minneapolis, Magers & Quinn, 7:30 and then straight home to Chicago for a whoooole day. Philly is on Sunday with a RADICAL RADICAL set-up: girls rock philly threw together a whole event for me--T&P gallery--details on the book's site. I get choked up and fawning every time I meet a aspiring girl-rocker at the book events and I dunno what I am gonna do with a whole crew of camper girls. I might explode on sight/site.
also, Jeff from Passion of the Weiss blog compiled/posted a downloadable mix of some of my recent fave songs by ladeez: cop it here: POW/HOPZ MIX

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July 14, 2009


Portland was totally sweet until the part where I discovered I am insanely allergic to horchata and barfed intermitten-ly for 2 hours. Every good girlfriend I have ever had now lives and loves in PDX and I felt like I was in a hive of love. I met some young girl drummers and guitarists, a 12 year old boy showed up, asked a question and even bought a book, which he had me sign to him. I wondered later if he bought the book or stole it. Or do 12 yr olds roll up to book readings cash in hand? Also in attendance, my friend of the olden time, Ellen, who was the guitarist in Seaquest, our high school fun band with a still-in-braces Sean Tillmann drummed. I think we fancied ourselves a midwestern Huggybear, but that might have been the 40 oz.-ers talking.

Now I am in Seattle. They don't allow a 7:12 am check in, so I was put in the business conference center which had an entrancing water-wall/waterfall and a tea buffet that I straight pilfered. My purse is now stuffed with Swiss Miss packets like a grandma. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU MIGHT NEED 11 ROCK HARD TEENY TINY FREEZDRIED MARSHMELLOWS TO SNACK ON.

I did phone interviews with wacky morning show dudes who, every 30 seconds yelled things like "WE'RE TALKIN TAYLOR SWIFT AND GIRL POWER THIS MORNING HERE ON 96.1 THE BEE!". It's not even 8 in the morning and I am avec waterfall and "talkin' girlpower" to the Santa Barbara drive time: this book tour is truly the weirdest thing to ever happen to me.

I am at Vera tonight @ 7:30, and LA rager is on Weds.

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July 13, 2009


So, this morning, I did live TV, a local morning chatshow, and was sandwiched between Timothy Hutton and a yoga-ball instructional. It's going fine save for that I am a bit wooden at times, until the end, where I describe the book as being "a big..thick... book for little ladies". The host blushed through her pancake make up and as soon as we were off the air everyone in the studio cracked the fuck up. Shayla suggested I should have added that it was in "throbbing hardcover" while I was at it.

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Thus spake the JL:

For the record, no member of the Jesus Lizard has ever claimed we were the best live band at the festival or in any other context. I'm sorry the editors fiddled with your piece, but isn't the vitriol a little over the top?

I've never seen Fucked Up, but I hear good things, so I'll be checking them out. I'm perfectly ready and willing to believe they might be the best live band at the festival. Then again, I always thought that best-this and best-that kind of hyperbole was kind of dumb, so I probably will just enjoy them, or not, and leave it at that.

Best regards,
David Wm. Sims

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Stayed up late with Shayla in her palatial art studio digs, she made a real meal with beets she'd grown herself and I could taste the love. I social smoked too much (any is always too much) and tried on her little yarn-village-huts as hats. Woke up at 5 a.m. sounding like a bullfrog. I am now bleaching this weeks coffee stains off my pearly whites and waiting for my book tour shepherd* to come fetch me and take me to appear on the TV program "AM Northwest". My totally shitty 4 hours of sleep were plagued with every imaginable anxiety dream one could have about being on live TV--accidentally naked, speechless, being yelled at by hosts, made to appear with animals ala Joan Embry--it all happened.

{*I keep referring to the per-city tour managers as docents, though maybe docent is just particular to museums, I just like how that sounds, but that might be be fealty left over from me and Matt's movie idea "Indocent Proposal"--which is about a millionaire who pays an older woman a million dollars to show him around a museum for a night. Please don't steal my idea, I think it could make me rich.}

Portland kids and loved ones: See you at Powells on Hawthorne tonight. It's gonna be fun, I promiz.

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July 12, 2009



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July 10, 2009


Not to give the plot away, but in the Reader's Pitchfork guide, I said Fucked Up is the best live band at the festival. My editor thought I meant best band that day of the festival because it's such a commonly held idea/blf that The Jesus Lizard--undead, reunited, etc.--is the best live band at the fest, surely I am not saying Fucked Up are better than the Jesus Lizard. I am. I saw the Jesus Lizard at least five times between the ages of 15-20, and my opinion (previously chronicled in Hit it or Quit it issues #3 and #4) still stands: a killer rhythm section and Yow furiously tugging on his own penis do not make for the best show I have ever seen. Not even top 50. I remember enjoying Rollins Band shows more than JL. The last time I saw JL, Tanner opened and were better. So, no, their reunion is not the highlight of my summer. I think Pitchfork, for a truly don't-look-back moment should of had them play Shot in it's entirety, so the entire audience would be forced to face the reality that Jesus Lizard made some perfectly terrible albums before they hung it up. I am starting to think that 90's indie rock nostalgia is way more boring/offensive than the epicly chronicled, documentary-ized, coffee-table booked OLD HARDCORE DUDES "WE STARTED IT ALL" memory lane that is actually a dead end culural cul-de-sac.

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July 08, 2009


I got asked to do a little guest-blogging for the Powells book blog. I think I was supposed to write about the book, or writing, or something that lent itself to promotionability. Instead, I repurposed this essay/review I wrote about the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Micachu records, glamour and the purpose of pop in the Obama era for The American Prospect that never ran. I just took out all the parts about those records, and so it's about as close to an Op-Ed as I will ever get. You can read it here. Not sure it's gonna help me draw 13 yr old readers in PDX, but alas. The Micachu part is in the Reader this week, and you will just have to guess the shape of my pity for the YYY's DOA capitalist badtime.

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July 06, 2009


FYI, to the overseas readership: My book, The Girls' Guide to Rocking, will be released/published in the UK September 1st.

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July 05, 2009


It's such a particular kind of let down, when you hit the cineplex for that sweet daze that only some blockbuster trash can deliver and you wind up feeling like you've been lobotmized with a rusty rake. Transformers Uno, I remembered liking, it was kind of totally ridiculous, but the sounds and the robot fights! This one, I turned to Matt and asked him "how much more we had to go" and his answer of "about an hour and a half still" felt truly distressing. Transformers Dos is a very special tribute to the most Patriotic Meme: American Firepower. All the robots had the same voice this time it seemed, like Optimus chopped and screwed. So much yelling RUN and then the splosions, the CGI spinning robot parts spinning so hard, a flurrious tumble of magic done so often the magic becomes a drag, same for Megan Fox, who we last spied being the meat in the car/boy sandwich, who is now much too much of everything, the immoderateness of her tan, her gloss pout and her slow mo jiggle through the desert and her landing ass up in the sand everytime anything detonates (every 3 seconds)--they have dialed her into their sort of porny hideousness reserved for women on strip club billboards. The PATRIOTISM FOR ALL OF EARTH storyline is like something John Ashcroft came up with in the shower: a hearts-n-minds fantasy about a warmongering America's pact with this ancient alien race (whose ancestral home is a blownout north African nation which is also the seat of culture) so loves their human partners and their trustworthy, militarized principles, their bond so BROS4LIFE, that these robots we saved and showed our kindness, now they will rise defend us against the evil doers of their own race. I am surprised the credits didn't open with Saddam's hanging, and it really should of ended with someone whipping a shoe at Michael Bay. Or whipping him with one. And I don't know if I can even broach the Heckel & Jeckel illiterate jive-talkin' sidekick cars of Bumblebees. If they could have found a reason for those cars to be eating a watermelon and doing a little soft shoe, I am sure they would have.

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July 02, 2009


Curtains of Night, Heart Shaped Hate and Trophy Wife house show tonight. Three heavy as hell all-lady bands house show that I am missing because I am covering Cornerstone. Everyone, please go in my stead. And I do mean everyone.

Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 8:00pm

Mount Happy
2300 W. Cermak

Chicago, IL

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July 01, 2009


I have read more truly great music writing in the last week than I have this year, fwiw, the loss of a towering and troubling pop figure has brought phenomenal work out of many. To wit: Greg Tate's eulogy for Michael Jackson is pure fire: I lost my breath mid-way through the second graph and was wowing at page breaks.
"The real question of the hour is, How many other Black American men born in Gary in 1958 lived to see their 24th birthday in 1982, the year Thriller broke the world open louder than a cobalt bomb and remade Black American success in Michael's before-and-after image? Where Black modernity is concerned, Michael is the real missing link: the "bridge of sighs" between the Way We Were and What We've Become in what Nelson George has astutely dubbed the "Post-Soul Era"—the only race-coded "post" neologism grounded in actual history and not puffery. Michael's post-Motown life and career are a testament to all the cultural greatness that Motown and the chitlin circuit wrought, but also all the acute identity crises those entities helped set in motion in the same funky breath."


"Real Soul Men eat self-destruction, chased by catastrophic forces from birth and then set upon by the hounds of hell the moment someone pays them cash-money for using the voice of God to sing about secular adult passion. If you can find a more freakish litany of figures who have suffered more freakishly disastrous demises and career denouements than the Black American Soul Man, I'll pay you cash-money. Go down the line: Robert Johnson, Louis Jordan, Johnny Ace, Little Willie John, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cooke, James Carr, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield. You name it, they have been smacked down by it: guns, planes, cars, drugs, grits, lighting rigs, shoe polish, asphyxiation by vomit, electrocution, enervation, incarceration, their own death-dealing preacher-daddy. A few, like Isaac Hayes, get to slowly rust before they grow old. A select few, like Sly, prove too slick and elusive for the tide of the River Styx, despite giddy years mocking death with self-sabotage and self-abuse."

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The thing I wrote about listening to Led Zep and writing the book is up on Largehearted Boy's Book Notes.

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