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Archive for March, 2016

How many Oaklanders does it take to change a light bulb? Hella.

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Yesterday, Nicole and I finished the Oakland half-Marathon it’s one of the best of these events we do and we’ve done quite a few. I mean everyone has their merits, but only one has Lake Merritt.

It started with a little pain because the night before we went to see the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at the SF Jazz. They were amazing but I was dancing on the same feet that were gonna run 13.1 the next day so I started the day with a creaky ankle. On an interesting side note- the date that was three dates behind SF Jazz was of all places “Bethany College” – props to you Alma Mater- you’re cooler now when I was there and we slogged through Beatles tribute bands and The Georgia Satellites.

Our experience with the SF Marathon vs The Oakland Running Festival is not night and day but it’s a little bit of a dichotomy. The SF expects the course & scenery to shine and the Oakland wants the people & the event to shine. To put that another way SF is like “F^@k you, here’s a bridge” and Oakland is more “Hey, how’s everything going. Would you like some more bananas? How about some snacks? You seem nice. Wanna hang out?”.

Oakland gives away not one but two beers, there were three places on the course giving away orange slices and one place giving away power muffins & orange slices (much love to Brown Sugar Kitchen– which we hear from new friend Britta is also an awesome place to eat)

Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, who kicked off the race, announced “I bet you’re going to run into hella people who love Oakland. So have fun!” Which makes me love Oakland even more when you put her against Ed Lee who seems even stuffier (and possibly slightly more corrupt) when pitted against that.

Along the course we saw tons of people with signs, a couple bands and 1 super awesome Asian drum team. There a number of churches emptying out as we ran, we were greeted by a number of Pastors, a few congregations and woman who was wearing her church best on a corner dancing and shouting encouragement.

This race’s hands down winner from the sign category was “If Brittney Spears can make it through 2007 you can make it through this race” barely beating out last years favorite “Run like you stole something because let’s face it- this is Oakland so you probably did”. Signs repeat lots, for example we see “Worst Parade Ever” lots but that doesn’t make it less funny, but there’s always one or two that are new and clever.

This year during the race we heard from another runner about the Santa Rosa half which comes with a bottle of wine- which is pretty good swag unless you drink it immediately following the race (freight train to sh!tfaced town!). Also folks that join the Deloach wine club get free entry. I don’t know the first thing about that winery or we might think about it.

And now to the conceit- I thought about trying to dig up some “running” songs but that seemed forced so here you go- one from the stove and one from the vault:

Old Song: Mr Greeves by the Pixies. This came out in 1989 (The number. Sound of the funky drummer- but more on that later). It got a ton of play when I was in college (see above) but it still sounds like a good song despite it’s age. I’m not saying I want to listen to it all the time but it stands up and doesn’t sound like you’re on a memory trip.

New Song : Corrine by Black Honey. These guys are a punk, psych rock sixties sounding something else. I’d love to think that they might get some kind of larger fame but I fear that they are such a niche sound that they just won’t have enough to break bigger. I bet, though, that based on everything I’ve heard of their recorded stuff that they probably kill it in concert and I’ll be keeping an eye out for tour dates that aren’t in UK or France.

The Elvis Year that never included the King

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Recently, my brother-in-law announced that no good music has been made in 15 years. This is a concept some people call your “Elvis-year” -meaning the moment when you felt like you had the whole life-thing wired and then you look back on it forever. You just sit in the warm bath of the music that was the sound track of the time you felt like you ruled the world and you watch those movies and you stay in touch with those friends…etc.So if you “Elvis-yeared” in 1984 you might never want to listen to anything but Van Halen, Cindi Lauper and Prince while watching Ghostbusters or Footloose. I’m pretty certain I’ve had a couple and I don’t know if that’s allowed (but I’m writing so I’m making the rules). There’s a couple times when I had a new lease on life – most recently when Nicole and I started dating 5 years ago.

There’s another concept around this idea I’ve also heard discussed called the “reminiscence bump” or looking back on a time when your parents were in their 20’s- which explains why these nostalgia booms seem to reflect a time just before the people leading it were born- 30 years previous e.g. in the 70’s shows like Happy Days looked back on the 50’s in the 80’s shows like The Wonder Years & China Beach looked back on the 60’s and now we’re treated to The Goldbergs to look back on the 80’s.

My Dad’s Elvis-year was probably 1959 or so. He would tell me that no good music had been made since then, but the same time  I was probably 12 or 13, just discovering music like The Clash, David Bowie and The Ramones. Which meant as my Dad was saying it I felt like I was *actively* proving him wrong. As this declaration was made, he was rejecting everything from Michael Jackson to The Velvet Underground in favor of Chuck Berry and The Four Freshman. Sure there were a few bands that sneaked through Dad’s standard wall… Billy Joel was okay (he was from Long Island) …Bruce Springsteen was okay (He was singing about something we wouldn’t have a word for until 2 years ago…’Murica) but those were few and far between.

Now even though I have some things that I still discuss with my therapist about Dad doesn’t mean that’s it’s wrong that as he made this declaration I saw that he was glaringly wrong. This fact cemented in my mind there was never going to be a need to make such a declaration. I was going to keep my mind and my ears open for whatever was next. It’s been good for my musical enlightenment but maybe bad for my wallet (this means you have to buy new stuff all the time). I am now about the age that my Dad was when he declared that music was dead and I can tell you that music is far from dead and there’s cool new stuff happening all the time.

So long story short… for as long as people are still around there will be great music being made all the time and the key is opening your mind to it. It’s going to be different than the music that was made when you were 22 and all fresh faced, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.

As I move through life I find that there’s things I keep but there’s a lot I lose.The Clash sounds as good today as they did in 1982 but even though I loved Depeche mode when I was 19, now they sound dated. Husker Du sounds fresh, The Doors sound tired. Etc.

The list goes on.

This gave me an idea. When I first started this blog it was an email and the email was framed around a song that was stuck in my head. I would prattle on about something that was going on- and then I would share the song of the day. I think this whole new/old thing might have legs and more importantly it gives me something to frame my ideas around and force me to write a bit more.

So…in addition to prattling on, I’m going to include one song from the past that still sounds good and one song from now that is an excellent addition.

That said. Here they are:

Old Thing: Echo & The Bunnymen: Bring on the Dancing Horses. Recently this song came on Pandora and I was surprised how undated it sounded. It’s just a good rock song. There’s no weird trendy things going on, they’re just playing something. I’d say the way to tell if something is on the trend line is listen to it a bunch of times, for example, that now terrible Mumford and Sons song. Remember the first time you heard it? Didn’t suck. Then suddenly it sucked (and REALLY sucked). I don’t know how it went from not suck to suck but it did about two listens in and the moment it happened that song became unlistenable. So I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Bring on the Dancing Horses but….well alot…. it still doesn’t suck. Even …jesus…30 years later

New Thing: Thao & Get Down Stay Down: Nobody Dies. I’d be remiss if I didn’t drop her on the debut version of this new idiom.  For several reasons, (1) When Jason said “No good music has been made…etc” I had just gotten her record in the mail. It came out, like, yesterday (I preordered it) she was the first thing I thought of because- she’s awesome and also her record had quite literally just come out.- making the record younger than his kid. (2) She’s local (we already knew this but)- this video is filmed either in Marin or the east bay. I know I’ve been there but I can’t quite place it. (3) She’s one of my favorite new artists in the past couple years and also one hell of a show – so go see her live you will not regret it.

So there you go. Now I have a thing and that means that maybe I’ll get fingers on keys a bit more…maybe weekly?

Idiocracy… only real

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

My complete lack of recent contributions to the blog no one reads (mostly because I haven’t posted something since 2014) has motivated me to try and throw myself back into the fray.

I had initially thought about reviewing Fuller House (unwatchable) but then McCovey Chonicles* did it so well I don’t figure I have anything else to add. I thought about rambling on about spring, but…yawn. Something about El Nino? Done.

So I’m stuck with trying to figure out what the s#!t is going on in the presidential race.

What’s weird is that it’s a slightly less than a full year til the election and I’m late to the game, people have been going on about this election since the last time I added something to the Blog. I would contend, however, that I’m getting here just as the world of political theater has entered somewhere between dadaist and absurd.

Here’s what we know:

  • Bizarrely, Donald Trump** is leading despite there being only one person I know***, or have met, or have any connection to that is voicing anything other than shock and fear about this guy. It’s odd because even in the insular California liberal world I have created for myself I remember at least a few folks who were supporters of Mittens (other than my mom) during the last rodeo.  How is this guy leading? Who is voting for him? No one is a supporter-he’s been parodied effectively: here. here.  even here. also here. I’ve not heard anyone who was not a man on the street with a limited knowledge of world geography, let alone politics say he was “their guy”.
  • Hilary, despite being every liberal’s second choice, is acting like she’s gonna pull this off
  • Bernie, despite being so outside the lines he’s not even coloring anymore, made a really good run

My theory about the Bernie/Hilary thing is a direct relation to the Trump thing, but let’s start with where Trump came from.

Republicans can blame themselves for Trump. They wrote his script. They have been moving the party towards jingoism and middle aged, non-college educated, middle income white dudes who gain nothing from the party of rich folks since Reagan. Look at George W. Bush. They spent his entire presidency convincing us that we didn’t want some fancy pants college smart “east coast liberal”**** in the office, we wanted some down-homey regular Joe who we could have a beer with. They kept denying they were the party of rich folks and selling the “you want low taxes for rich people in case you accidentally get rich” thing. So they acquired lots of racist hillbillies and now those racist hillbillies have found their Trumpy-messiah, incidentally that messiah is not interested in their *actual Messiah*. So now the Republicans have to eat the medicine that the Tea Partiers cooked up, here’s a reality TV star that says all the stupid stuff that they told them to like and the people that they told to like it…LOVE IT.

Further, Trump is suddenly REALLY winning and that changes lots of things on both sides. The Republicans have to start dancing as fast as they can so as not to get their party hijacked. This means pouring a ton of money into Florida for Rubio, or whomever they think might be a more reasonable candidate*****.

Lots of people I know back Bernie. I like Bernie. He’s saying really interesting stuff. He’s saying all the stuff we *want* a politician to say. He wants to do all the stuff we thought wasn’t possible. It’s still not possible- (see Droopy Dog/ Mitch McConnell long term obstructionist plan)- but …man, single payer healthcare? Making the rich pay for the amount of screwing they do? College for free? Giving some rules to the banks? It sounds awesome. And it seems like Bernie would get into office and be just idealistic enough to stick to his values and not compromise. He said something the other day that is emblematic of this “If you start out asking for half a loaf, you end up with crumbs… ask for a full damn loaf, you may actually get something.”

So Bernie has the lefties I hang out with, but the people in the middle, who were ready to throw in behind Bernie have to deal with this new world. “Holy Crap! There’s even an outside chance that a guy who says all this crazy s#!t could be nominated? We’d better go with the establishment, middle of the road, highly electable candidate.” and who would have guessed even 4 years ago that the candidate that best fits that description is Hilary. But it is (Even some Republicans think so).

I think it will bring out the vote for sure.  The people who don’t normally vote for anyone would love to vote for the guy who wants to keep out the Muslims, build walls and is openly misogynistic and racist. Everyone on the left will certainly vote for “anyone but” that guy. It’s bizarre recently I saw that the folks that brought us Idiocracy said it was coming true. I hate that they’re right.

I also wonder if this isn’t some really really long con for Trump? Maybe he’s smarter than we all thought and he’s been cooking this shit up since the late 80’s. The fact that he’s been all over the map politically in his past is one of the things people use to prove that fact.  I think he’s an opportunist. I honestly don”t think he cares what comes out of his mouth as long as he keeps winning. Trump on Losers

Did you see that after Trump started winning the words “move to Canada” spiked on Google and the Canadian Immigration website actually crashed? It’s gonna get weirder before it de-weirds, so strap in.

*Strangely, an SF Giants baseball website

**I hope that you did yourself a solid and have downloaded the Drumpf extension on Chrome so this doesn’t actually say Trump

***Facebook acquaintance

**** Between you and me I want a president so smart I have to look up words to understand ttheir speeches

*****How bats#!t crazy do you have to be for Karl Rove to think you’re unreasonable?