Happy Christmas, y’all. It’s nearly been a year on this “new” blog and it’s been fun. Many of my faithful readers from misery past have stayed with me as I attempt to build coalitions through beer and Pavement. And along the way, I’ve gained several new converts. Overall, it’s been a good year.
There are no big announcements this year. I’ll attempt to post once a week as usual. The posts will continue to be long and meandering with many self-gratifying footnotes, but I do that you for you, my faithful readers.
1I apologize if I did not link to your blog. I sort of got lost in coming up with links and forgot who’s been linked and who hasn’t. The oversight is just that and not a slight in the least. Of course, if you commented more and linked back to my blog more, I might not have made such an error.
2I fully recognize that I go weeks without posting, but I do have somewhere around 60 posts. That’s more than the 52 required to be a weekly thing.
3Did you really think I’d dump the footnotes?
We had to travel in order to visit some family this past weekend1. So, I took advantage of the time to listen to new records2 throughout our travels.
I first heard Let’s Wrestle’s “I Won’t Lie to You” on a compilation3 a while back. From the get-go, I was hooked. Then I found out they were signed to Merge. What else did I need to know?
The band’s material is all over the map. There’s the punk charm of Billy Bragg, sans the politic. I hear a ton of Dinosaur Jr’s rawkward geekiness, without the guitar heroics. Plus, the presence of the youthful exuberance of a young Noise Addict4, with British accents instead of Aussie. The sound is still raw and emulates their heroes more so than creating their own niche, but that’s to be expected from such a youthful bunch of hooligans.
As a whole, In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s is as danceable and fun debut as one might want. It won’t shatter anyone’s expectations of rock ‘n roll, but it will remind you why you go to rock shows and buy more albums than you need5. There are even instances where I can tell this band won’t do punk records forever and my expand their repertoire to make albums of more substance in the future. However, for now, I want them to flaunt their youth and remind me that a piece of me is still young6. That’s why this record will be in heavy rotation for the spring and summer months, possibly beyond.
I’m lame. I have a minor crush on Zooey Deschanel. It’s nothing serious7, nor creepy. I just think she’s cute and her quirkiness gets me every time. There are no posters on my wall. The screen saver on my computer is not a series of Zooey Deschanel images. I just have a lame-ass guy crush on a Hollywood/Indie “it” girl8.
This does not cloud my view of her music. Sure, I loved Volume 1 she did with M Ward as the combo She and Him, but I was not alone in proclaiming the album’s greatness. Volume 2, on the other hand it is taking me some time to get.
The second She and Him album is bigger and brighter than the first. Deschanel still sings about relationships she’s had, not those for which she longs9. M Ward is still a master of producing 50-year-old hits. While all this sounds good, it doesn’t quite fit into the neat package that Volume 1 did, pulling me in from the first listen. Volume 2 is a good companion/sequel, but I don’t think I would give it as much time as I have had it not been for the band’s first effort. Eventually, it will grow on me and earn a regular spot in the rotation, but I doubt it ever overtakes Volume 1‘s place in the all-time list.
1We hit Pittsburgh before heading up to Huntingdon (near State College). I love older cities and towns like these. There’s so much character in eastern states. I miss it.
2Obviously, I did not listen to records on the road. The first album reviewed here is only out on CD. So, I lowered myself to purchasing said CD and played it on the ride to the airport. The second album came with the now-expected Mp3 download.
3The comp was created by my sister for my daughter Lucia after videos of Lu surfaced of her dancing in our living room naked. Lu’s aunt thought that she needed a mix in order to encourage more dancing. On the compilation are songs by Prince, The Clash, Unicorns, Michael and Janet Jackson, as well as Sponge Bob Squarepants.
4Early nineties teen band from Australia which was a pre-Claire Danes Ben Lee, released records on Thurston Moore’s and the Beastie Boys’ labels, respectively.
5It’s fun, exciting, makes you feel like you’re part of a community, etc.
6Despite the pains in my back that seem to shoot down my leg every morning.
7Then, I would be writing about my upcoming divorce. No worries.
8As far as indie it girls, there’s been Julianna Hatfield, Liz Phair, the Deal sisters before they became bloated on drugs, Neko Case, Feist, etc. Those crushes all fade eventually.
9This is a key difference between her and most indie musicians. Normally, they are way more awkward and unsure of themselves or they put on such a persona that their shyness doesn’t seem apparent at first. Zooey is a different creature all together.
10Look. It’s a very sensible size for a footnote section. I bet you’re proud of me…or hoping that the footnotes go away. For now, they stay.
“Boys Only” is not the most accurate title for this post. I mostly wanted to address the idea that certain things are for only the manliest of men. It’s the idea that rock ‘n roll and beer (among many other things) can only be properly appreciated by the most testosterone-riddled individuals is what I want to refute.
I remember seeing Pavement in the spring of 1995 as they supported Wowee Zowee. My sister and I were able to almost reach the stage for Pavement’s set. Directly in front of us were these bros and their little girlfriends1. Besides their drunken slurring and spitting, these “fellow” Pavement revelers were shirtless and ready to kick some ass. Already sweaty from openers Fuck and Dirty Three, my sister and knew that we were in for a long show.
Pavement came out and the ruckus began2. The bros moshed like there was no tomorrow, high-fiving at the start and stop of every song. God3 only knows what they were screaming throughout the set. I don’t think they were making any requests as I’m pretty sure they barely knew who Pavement was.
Why were these two mooks even at this show and why did they feel the need to not let anyone else enjoy the music? I see these same guys4 at every show, particularly outdoors. For whatever reason, someone5 has played for them a Pavement, Sonic Youth, or Dinosaur Jr song that they thought rawked. This emboldens them to not only attend indie rock shows but to then “show these indie fags how we throw down at an ICP show, bitches!” Really? Do we need this element at indie rock shows, too? They already took over grunge6 and emo7; now they want slow-core, shoegaze, and math rock to complete their dominance of the summer music festival circuit. Why does rock music have to be so masculine? I don’t care what a guitar represents. This is why moshing didn’t last. No one wants that shit at their Iron and Wine shows!
While I think indie rock’s separation from a testosterone-fueled mindset is pretty straightforward8, beer is another story. Beer, whether it’s swill9 or good craft beer, has been claimed by the manliest of men. For Bud Light drinkers, it’s the quantity of beer you down in a sitting. You’re only a man if you finish this case on your own. With beer geeks, it’s about quality. “Don’t bring that silly New Belgium Fat Tire10 to my party. We drinking nothing but the Stone Vertical series in order! Boo-ya!”
Well, maybe it isn’t that bad, but I am let down time and time again at beer tastings. The beer arms race is out of control. It used to be about discovering a brew you’d never had before at the grocery or beer shop, but now it’s all about getting every beer from out-of-market locales. 12% ABV, fermented in bourbon barrels, Brettanomyces, 100 IBU’s, blends, collaborations, etc. The escalation to try every beer or at least have one in your cellar is intense.11
I sometimes complain to my beer geek friends that I have more beer than I know what to do with between searching local stores daily, having my mom bring me out-of-market brews12, and brewing my own. They all look at me like there’s fish coming out of my forehead. “You can never have too much beer!” they exclaim. Silly me. My liver and self-respect be damned. No drink up.
Of course, the overtly masculine male takes over everything. Football. Darts. Sheep herding. Gardening. Cross-stitching. Everything. It’s in their nature. There’s no room for vulnerability or a feminine sensibility. Join in or be the fag they knock to the floor.
I don’t love things like music and craft beer because I am male. I love them because they make me happy. There is no reason why these things have to be bastardized by tired gender stereotypes.
As much as anyone, I like to let off a ton of steam dancing at a rock show or playing air drums whenever possible. This is a expression of pure emotion. It isn’t an opportunity to assert my masculinity.
I don’t have to down a bottle of beer in one long gulp or hunt down every rare beer just to prove myself a worthy beer geek. Beer should be about enjoying a quality beverage, pairing it with good food, and sharing it over good conversation.
I submit that not only are these pastimes (as well as many others) not for boys only, but they don’t have to be hyper-masculine hobbies either.
As a programming note, I want to apologize for the excessive footnoting. I was influenced by the author John Sellers and blogger doublewordscore13. It will happen again. It’s like old-school hyperlinks, but I have those too.14
So, have a beer for me and drop the needle on your favorite record. I’ll see you next time.
1What I mean by “little” is that they were rather short and petite. This in no way was meant as a demeaning comment toward the young ladies. Rather, it addresses these bros’ preference for petite girlfriends. It also addresses their unrealistic expectations for the female (as well as male) body to stay tiny and fit throughout life. I’m sure these same bros had a rough time once they knocked up their girlfriends (possibly on that very night) and watched their flat bellies turn round. I feel sorry for their spouses, children, and mistresses.
2My most vivid memory of this moment also involved a shirt as Spiral Stairs/Scott Kannberg came out in this homemade t-shirt which read something like “I ♥ PAVEMENT” in red letters on a white shirt with red 3/4 sleeves. That part was pretty sweet.
4Not actually the same, exact bros. That’s an exaggeration to demonstrate how similar every concert situation I have includes dudes with backwards hats and too much to drink. Mooks. Douches. Frat boys. Whatever.
5This would be their roommate from freshman year, that smart girl they think is cool but would never admit it to their bros, or the VJ on 120 Minutes they happen to catch after passing out from a night of binge-drinking and date-raping.
7pre-New Found Glory
8I haven’t even mentioned the constant one-upsmanship of indie geeks and record store clerks who have everything The White Stripes ever did on vinyl for Sympathy for the Record Industry or were at the last North American Pavement show and the final Afghan Whigs gig. This issue is addressed more in the beer section of my argument.
9Why do people drink yellow fizzy beer? It’s more rice than anything and you have to drink a shit-ton to get even a little tipsy. Why not have three good beers and enjoy the buzz and the flavor?
10Of course, I call it “Flat Tire” which isn’t OK. New Belgium is maybe the greenest brewery in the world. That and they do make some good beers. I love me some La Folie.
11I fall for all these things. My cellar is overflowing as I write this. I think I have a problem.
12That’s Ohio. Best recognize!
13Whom I once got fired, but he is as loyal a friend as there can be. I am indebted to him forever. You should totally click through to his blog so that his stats are completely skewed towards my site. He’ll begin to think that all of his readers have come from me.
14Now, I’m just getting lazy with these things. Maybe next time I will utilize the footnotes more efficiently/effectively. And if you’re reading this, you have to be reconsidering adding me to your RSS reader.