Friday, July 5, 2019

CARELESS WITH A DELICATE MAN


It's sort of insane to me how many people think that Fiona Apple hasn't done anything other than the "Criminal" music video (which is still incredible). That song came out in 1996, and it's still just as good today as it was 23 years ago.

But also? Fiona Apple is just really, really talented.

None of her other stuff has been as massively well received as "Criminal" (which was actually the third single off her first album), but she's been making great songs ever since. She's eccentric, massively private, and doesn't  really seem to care that she's as famous as she is.

"Criminal" was such a commercial success, that everyone who heard that song first, just assumed that all of her stuff sounded like that. Then when they heard the weird Jon Brion orchestral arrangements behind her whispery vocals on her follow-up album When the Pawn..., they mostly checked out. Extraordinary Machine wasn't any more accessible, and the masses just kind of forgot about her.

Apple doesn't tour regularly, she doesn't perform very often, and she's mostly out of the spotlight. Every once in a while she pops up with something, but mostly she just keeps to herself. She has no social media of her own, and the only one she even acknowledges is a Tumblr site called Fiona Apple Rocks. While she doesn't use it herself, she regularly emails the person behind the site with pictures, and notes to post. She may be the last person regularly using Tumblr in 2019, which is a feat in and of itself.

A lot of her stuff can seem depressing, but there are even more songs that are bright and fun. This playlist is a mix of both, probably leaning more towards the latter. If you have a favorite that I left out, leave a comment (does anyone still leave blog comments?), so I can give it a closer listen.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

THEY DON'T LOVE YOU LIKE I LOVE YOU


I was late getting into Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The whole New York rock revival started right as I was getting into hardcore, and anything that wasn't on Trustkill, Ferret, Equal Vision, or HydraHead wasn't worth my time. I wanted breakdowns and screaming, not grimy garage rock played by a bunch of art school kids.

I paid almost no attention to Fever to Tell, but I knew about it. I had MTV at that point, but it was mostly to watch VIVA LA BAM, PUNK'D, and THE REAL WORLD (I still remember things about Tonya from the Chicago season, and Trishelle from Las Vegas). The videos for "Maps" and "Y Control" were on a lot, but just didn't do anything for me. When Show Your Bones came out a few years later, I started to come around. All the girls I knew worshipped Karen O, and listened to them all the time. Every time I went into visit one of them at work—whether it was at a coffee shop, second hand clothing store, or salon—the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were playing. I still didn't own any of their albums, but I knew their songs, and started to appreciate what they were doing. When they played at the outdoor spring festival (whatever it was called) at the University of Utah in April of 2006, I started regretting never seeing them in a smaller venue. Their performance was awesome, and I could only imagine how fun they would be in a small club like DV8.

It's Blitz! came out in 2009 (it's the only album of theirs that I ever bought), and Karen O did the soundtrack to WHERE THE WILS THINGS ARE (a movie that I loved but will never watch again so as to keep it that way) for Spike Jonze that same year, and I was fully on board. A few years later, she teamed up with Nine Inch Nails to do "The Immigrant Song" and I thought my heart was going to explode. I finally embraced what everyone else saw in 2003.

The few years after that were a weird time for music. CD's were dying, streaming was just getting started, digital downloads with vinyl represses were the main selling point, and download blogs powered by MediaFire was mostly where everyone stole music from (half my hard drive is filled with pirated music from download blogs that I didn't actually want, but wanted to have). I lost track of a lot of bands during that time, and I mostly forgot about Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Then, last winter, Karen O teamed up with Danger Mouse for Lux Prima, which is a fine record, but it just made me want to listen to "Maps" and "Cheated Hearts" again. To make it easy on all of us, I made a playlist for them and the rest of my favorites ("Gold Lion" still annoys me, so it's not there). It's a good way to spend an hour.

I still don't care about most grimy garage rock played by art school kids, but I'd much rather listen to that than breakdowns and screaming.

Monday, March 11, 2019

JESUS CHRIST LOOKS LIKE ME


I don't think there's a middle ground when it comes to Type O Negative—you're either all in, or you're out.

I am 100% in.

Their dark, gothic, vampire metal just fills me with so much joy that I will listen to them for days on end, and not regret in the least.

Type O Negative was formed and fronted by a man named Peter Steele, in Brooklyn, New York in the late 1980's. Steele was 6' 8" tall, with long black hair, and looked like an actual vampire. He was very sarcastic, and had a strange sense of humor, which led to some great lyrics, but also got him in a lot of trouble with people who didn't quite understand what the hell he was doing. One of my favorite stories about him (aside from being a cat guy, and writing the song "Bloody Kisses" about his family cat that died after 17 years) is that didn't think the band was ever going to really go anywhere, so when they did eventually sign a record contract, he was reluctant to quit his day job as a garbageman for the New York City Parks Department.

Hot tip: Don't search Peter Steele if your safe search is off. He posed for Playgirl once, and once you've seen those photos, you'll never be able to unsee them.

I put together a playlist of my favorite Type O Negative tracks. So turn the lights down low, light some candles, and let the darkness wash over you.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

THE ANGST IS REAL



Does everyone go through phases of what they watch? I do, but I also make a real effort to switch things up as I go along. Everyone binge watches things now, we just don't talk about it because we're all terrified that someone else is ahead of us and could potentially spoil it for us.

The trick to that is to lay low for a few weeks (which isn't hard for me, because I'm home a lot), watch every single episode of something, then casually bring it up in conversation to see if anyone else is caught up, and wants to talk about it (me with BROOKLYN 99). Other times, we find a show that's so dumb, but so entertaining that we almost don't dare admit that we spent so many hours with it (also me, with BANSHEE and BELOW DECK).

When I binge TV shows, I have to switch it up between seasons. I like to think about what I just watched, what it means, and where things might go. To do that, I need something totally different. In between each season of BROOKLYN 99, I watched all the JASON BOURNE movies. During SUPERSTORE, I got really into stand-up comedy again, and finally got around to watching all three John Mulaney specials that are on Netflix. A little while after, while those jokes were still fresh in my head, I came across a Twitter thread called "Pop Punk Bands of the 2000's as John Mulaney Quotes."

It was a very niche thing, and right up my alley. I laughed at it for days. The girl who started it kept adding to it, and other people kept replying with their own suggestions. Some of the choices were spot on (Fall Out Boy still makes me laugh), and some of the replies just made me roll my eyes (get out of here with your Black Veil Brides and 21 Pilots bullshit—those bands aren't pop punk), which sums up Twitter pretty accurately.

But it made me think a lot about the bands included, some of whom I still listen to, and some that never appealed to me even back then. So I took cues from that thread and built a playlist. The first half of it is songs and bands that I actually like, and then it kind of drops off from there. Taking Back Sunday, Sum 41, Good Charlotte, and Panic! At the Disco all deserve to be on this playlist, but if I'm being honest, I'll skip those songs every time. Paramore was a band that I never got into, but they've been getting stuck in my head a lot lately, and this video has a lot to do with it. And I couldn't even bring myself to add Yellowcard or All Time Low. I tried, but it just wasn't happening.

Did I leave out anything that should be on here?


OH HELLO.

I'm at a loss with this thing.

Every time I think about writing something here, I change my mind. I have no idea if anyone still reads blogs, but my suspicions say that they do not. Everything is on Instagram or Pinterest, and both of those sites are pretty boring (in my opinion) now. I still look at IG every day, don't get me wrong, but it's not as much fun as it used to be. There's no rhyme or reason to any of the post orders, story viewers (the most fun part of that god damn function!) disappear after 24 hours, and no one really knows how to use it anymore. I barely even post on Twitter or Facebook anymore. I'm just bored with all of it.

Anyway.

I've still been writing, but it's mostly stuff that I doubt anyone will ever see. Maybe that will change one day, but most likely they'll just live in my Google Drive or on my desktop forever. Sorry you'll never see any of it, but that's okay.

One thing that I have been having a lot of fun with lately is Spotify. Making playlists is still really fun for me, and I've been doing a lot of that. My new plan is to use this blog to share those playlists and write a little about each of them. Sometimes the playlists are themed, and sometimes they're just random collections of what I listened to that month. Rather than spill my guts through words that no one wants to read, you can get a sense of my state of mind through music, which everyone loves!

It's also going to help me flex a muscle that I haven't used in a long time. Writing about music was a HUGE part of my life for a while, but then it just stopped. I wrote about local bands for the U of U newspaper, did touring band interviews and show previews for City Weekly, and waxed intellectual about hardcore and punk music for SLUG. I also ran a little SLCHC blog called Grudge City Activities (RIP, because we forgot to renew the domain and now they want $5,000 for it, but archived at http://gcactivities.blogspot.com) with my friend Dan Fletcher for a few years. Listening to songs and writing about them is fun, and I want to do more of it. So I'm going to.

You can find me on Spotify (trevorxhale) and listen to all of the playlists, or you can just check back here every once in a while and see what I've been up to.

Let's see how long this lasts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION (REDUX)

Has it been a thousand years since Donald Trump became President? Sure feels like it has. So much has happened (and continues to happen at a fairly rapid pace—especially over the past two weeks) since November of 2016 that it's hard to keep up with everything, but I've still been trying. I'm sure (some of, if not most of) you have, too.

And guess what? It's time to do it all over again!

But first, listen up. If you're already in the bag for Trump and/or fully support what the GOP is doing, just leave now. We already strongly disagree, and there's no point in you reading any further. Head back to your safe space in the Fox News comment section, and we'll all be happier.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move on. I know you're tired of hearing about politics, but this shit is real. There is so much at stake these days that it's really important to vote—especially in your local elections. These mid-terms have enormous consequences for literally everyone.

I understand why you think voting in a presidential election in Utah is a waste of time. I don't disagree with you, given the make-up of Utah's population, but I would still never miss a chance to vote for someone or something that inspires me (or against someone that I find truly reprehensible). I would encourage you approach it the same way, even if the outcome seems like a foregone conclusion.

The mid-terms are different though. They're largely about what happens in your neighborhood, in your life, and specifically how things will go in Utah over the next few years. That's why this is almost more important on a slightly smaller scale.

On a larger scale, sure if Republicans lose control of either (or both!) the House or the Senate, DJT might actually be held accountable for some of his garbage decisions, and someone will be able to take power away from genuinely terrible people like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan (who's retiring, but will just be replaced in the House by a different cowardly—and possibly worse—white guy who only cares about cutting taxes for the rich—which doesn't help me—and taking away healthcare for millions of people—which does affect me).

So let's get to it!

Last time, I went through all the local elections and did my best to present each candidate without bias. It did not work. I will always lean—scratch that, I will always stand firmly on the Democratic side of the bill. After the last two years of watching every elected Republican official just shrug and go along with, or firmly embrace groups like the Proud Boys, or treat women and minorities like second-class citizens, I will never be able to support any of them in good conscience.

So rather than try to pretend that I have an impartial opinion on some of these candidates, I'll just tell you what I think quickly, then we'll move on to the Judges and Ballot Measures.

First of all, check Vote.org to make sure that you're registered and find your polling place if you don't have time for a mail-in ballot.  Second of all, make a plan. Polling locations in Utah are open from 7am to 8pm on November 6. As long as you are in line by 8pm you can vote.

October 30 is the last day to register online, but you CAN register to vote at the polls on election day. All you have to bring is a valid ID and proof of residence (i.e. a utility bill), and you'll be able to register and then vote. It will take a little time to do, so be patient, but if you missed your chance to register online, this is the way to go.

There are a couple of great resources out there for you to look through and make decisions, and they're the ones I've used a lot over the past few weeks.

Also, in Utah you're totally allowed to take selfies with your ballot, which means you're able to use your phone the whole time you're voting. If you don't have a mail-in ballot (which needs to be postmarked by November 5! As an added bonus, you don't even need a stamp! If you miss that, you can drop it off at the County Clerk's Office), a polling location, or a ballot drop box) and end up at a polling location, you can check all of these things while you're there. Take your time and do it right.

Utah Voter Information - This is put together by the state of Utah, and the Lieutenant Governor's office.

Vote Save America - Created by the Crooked Media team (Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor, Dan Pfeiffer, and a few others), it's a step-by-step guide for what's going on in your local election. It's a great resource, though I'm sure a lot of people dismiss it outright because it was created by a bunch of former Obama staffers. Look past that, because it's really well done.

Ballotpedia - A digital encyclopedia committed to neutrality. I got a lot of information about the ballot initiatives from this site.

Here we go...

U.S. Senate
I'm voting for Jenny Wilson because Mitt Romney has become a walking punchline who will be no different than Orrin Hatch. He stood in front of television cameras and called Trump a con man and a fake, then tried to get a job in his administration. That meeting resulted in this picture. The only way I can describe that photo is like in GAME OF THRONES when Theon Greyjoy finally succumbs, and starts calling himself "Reek" much to the delight of Ramsay Bolton. Romney says he'll stand up to Trump, but until that actually happens (spoiler: it won't), I have no faith in this guy whatsoever. Also, I would vote for an inanimate carbon rod before Romney. His spinelessness and "47 percent" comments alone cemented my opinion of him long ago.

U.S. House of Representatives
I'm with Shireen Ghorbani all the way because I like what she's about, what she stands for, and because Chris Stewart is her opponent. Chris Stewart is awful, and used to sneak under the radar because he was outshined by much bigger local idiots like Jason Chaffetz. Now that Chaffetz is safely in his Fox News bubble and out of local politics (for a minute, anyway. He's probably running for Governor in 2020, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it), Stewart is getting a bit more attention. The site Politics that Work summarizes Stewart's voting record this way: Representative Stewart opposes taxing businesses, consumer protection, funding education, environmental protection, financial sector regulation, gun control, public health, humane immigration policy, labor rights and wages, lgbt rights, avoiding default, poverty amelioration, racial equality, increasing revenues, taxing the wealthy, countering Russian interference, a robust safety net, women's rights. He supports big business, hawkish foreign policy, taxing the middle class, military spending, domestic surveillance.
The italics are my own emphasis, by the way. If you need more persuasion, here's the Salt Lake Tribune listing more of Stewart's political history. Again, he's just awful.

District Attorney
I don't have a great case for or against either Sim Gill (D), who is seeking a third term, or Nathan Evershed (R). This is one where you're going to have to do a little research and come to your own conclusions (which you should be doing anyway, I'm just here to nudge you towards that).

There are other localized races, but I'm not really going to go through all of them because depending on what part of SLC you live in, they'll all be different. Do your research and, go from there.

Judges
You're kind of on your own here. There are a lot of judges and a lot of research to do. I have a friend who votes against every judge all the time because he feels like they get too comfortable and need to be changed as often as possible. I don't subscribe to that completely, but I can't say I disagree with it outright. Luckily, there is a resource for you to use. Again, it's totally okay to check these judges from the voting booth if you can't remember all of it.

https://judges.utah.gov/

Constandino Himonas
Mark Kate A. Toomey
Heather Brereton
Laura S. Scott
Richard D. McKelvie
L. Douglas Hogan
Royal I. Hanson
James D. Gardner
William K. Kendall
Kara L. Pettit
Elizabeth A. Lindsley
Tupakk AG Renteria
Elizabeth M. Knight

Now the big ones—ballot measures.

You can find good info on all of them at Ballotpedia. Read through them and make sure you understand what you're voting for or against.

Nonbinding Opinion Question #1 - I'm for it. Ten cents is annoying, but whatever.

Constitutional Amendment A - Yes - If someone is going to volunteer to join the military and be away from their family for 200 days a year, give them a break. It's fine.

Constitutional Amendment B - Nah - The theory here is that landlords will give other people a break if they get one. If you believe that's true, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I'd like to sell you.

Constitutional Amendment C - NOPE! - Right now, the Governor is only one who can call a special session and determine what's on the docket. This amendment would give a bunch of politicians that power, which they could use to pass laws before anyone actually finds out what they're doing or what any of it means. No thank you.

Proposition 2 - YES! - Marijuana is fine. It's not a gateway drug, and it helps a lot of people. Don't let idiots like these, who have no comprehension beyond "ALL DRUGS ARE EVIL" sway you. Medical marijuana will be fine. You'll be fine.

Proposition 3 - YES! - A 0.15 percent sales tax increase to help more people with expenses and spare everyone from feeling bad about scrolling past all those GoFundMe links for medical bills? Let's do it.

Proposition 4 - YES! - Utah's electoral is gerrymandering at its worst. Literally anything that can be done to change that is a good thing. This is a good thing.

There you go! I hope you had fun, and we'll do this again in 2020. Probably.

Go vote. Please.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

FOR CONOR


When Tommy moved to California, one of the last things he said to me was "Keep an eye on my little brother for me."

Tommy and I had been friends since we were 15, and he's the one who taught me about veganism and straight edge. He introduced me to Coalesce and Earth Crisis. He invited me to join Cherem even though all I had was a knock-off Stratocaster and had never played anything heavier than Blink 182 covers. I felt like owed it to him. It also felt like a pretty simple task.

It was not.

Conor didn't do anything unless he could fully commit to it. He was always up for anything—whether it was a great idea or a terrible one. And he had a lot of terrible ideas.

At one point in the mid-2000's, almost all of my friends lived in an apartment building downtown with a vegan coffee shop and a tattoo shop on the bottom floor, and music venue just down the street. It was across from the Gateway Mall, and right next to the homeless shelter. We called it "The Block" and hung out there all the time. If you were ever bored, you just showed up at The Block, and you'd find someone to have lunch with, a game of 31 to kill time with, or a game of Cee-lo to lose real money on. Every week, we did Sunday movie night at the theater across the street, and everyone went. As long as there was something playing, we saw a movie.

One Sunday night, Conor and I walked over to the mall to check what movies were playing, and what time they started (pre-smart phones was a weird time). There was something playing that he really wanted to see, lobbied hard for it, and convinced me. We checked the time, and started walking back to round up everyone else. I don't remember what we chose, but that wasn't the important part. As we crossed the street, a guy walked past us going the opposite direction. He made eye contact with Conor, said "Nice jacket, man." and kept walking.

I looked over, and Conor had this look like someone had just spit right in his face. We got to the other side of the street, and he stopped walking, looked at me, and pointed back across the street to the guy we'd passed. He was a ways away from us by then, cutting through the vacant lot, on his way to wherever he was going.

"What did that guy say?" asked Conor. I was a few steps ahead, and Conor was standing on the corner, staring back at him. He was at least 500 feet away, still walking, not looking back, and just continuing on with his life. I was so confused.

"The guy we passed crossing the street?" I asked.
"Yeah," said Conor. "He said something."
"He liked your jacket," I said. "I think 'Nice jacket, man' were his exact words. Even I heard that."
"Yeah, but what did he mean?" he asked.
"Probably meant that he likes the jacket you're wearing," I said. "It's a nice jacket."
There was a long pause.
"I think he was talking shit," said Conor.
"He absolutely was not," I replied.
"No he was," said Conor. "I don't like the way he said it, dude."
"Conor, he just said he liked your jacket. That's it. That's all it was."
"He was talking shit."
"I promise you that he was not."
There was another long, silent pause, like we were in the dumbest standoff of all time. Suddenly, Conor took his hands out of his (what truly was a nice jacket) pockets, pulled up his pants, threw his hood up over his head, and started to cross the street.
"Fuck that," he said. "He was talking shit."
I grabbed his arm and pulled him back. Even then he was taller and bigger than I was. If he really wanted to, he could have kept going, but he turned back around.
"Nope!" I said. "We're not doing this."
"Oh I'm doing it!"
"Conor, I'm not going to let you fight a guy for telling you he likes your jacket."
"He was—"
"No. He wasn't. He just wasn't. Let's go inside."

Conor took a few deep breaths, and stormed off towards the back door of The Block that was always broken. We walked inside, and headed up the stairs. I opened the door to the second floor, where most of our friend's apartments were, but Conor kept going. "I'm going up to Sias's," he said. He started skipping steps to get up to the fourth floor. I yelled the movie time after him, so he wouldn't forget. He didn't respond, and I went to find everyone else.

An hour later, we were in the lobby of the movie theater, and Sias walked in. Alone. Conor wasn't with him, so I asked where he was.

"Oh he went home," said Sias.
"Went home?" I said. "He chose the movie."
"Said he didn't feel like seeing it anymore and left."
"Was he still mad that I wouldn't let him fight that guy?"
Sias chuckled a little bit, "He mentioned something about that. He said the guy was talking shit."
I opened my mouth to say something, but just took a deep breath and went into the theater, Sias laughing behind me.

I didn't see Conor for almost a week. When I finally ran into him later that weekend, he walked straight up to me, with his huge goofy smile that you could always see from across the room. He shook my hand and led off with his signature, "Oh hey."
"You missed the movie," I said.
"Yeah..." he said. "Hey, I'm really glad you didn't let me fight that guy."
"Just trying to keep you out of trouble," I said, sort of laughing.
"I was so mad at you though. For like three days. I didn't even go to The Block. I was just at home being like, 'man, fuck Trevor.' I was so mad."
"I know."
"Then someone else said they liked my jacket. And I was like 'wait maybe that guy really did just like my jacket!' And then I felt way bad."
"God damn it, Conor."
Then we both started laughing.

That wasn't an isolated incident. It happened more times than I can count, and I don't think it was an experience unique to me (everyone was really good at getting into trouble back then) because everyone else treated him like a little brother, too. Every one of us was almost more invested in Conor's well being than our own, so we all tried to keep him close.

Conor was always passionate about anything and everything. He made up his mind in a split second, and there was almost no way to get him to change it. Sometimes it got him into trouble, but other times—especially when he got older—it turned into a story that made everyone laugh because of how ridiculous it was. That was one of the things I loved about him. If he wanted to, he could turn any situation into a positive one, and he often did. It was one of his best qualities, and one that made everyone become his best friend in an instant.

-------------

The last few years, I never saw you on purpose, but I always saw you. I never knew where you were or what you were doing, but I always knew I might see you at any given moment. It was kind of a running joke that if we just started talking about you, your ears would start burning, and you'd show up. It was always about fifteen minutes after everything had ended and we were all trying to go home, but you would always just show up, two-stepping across the street trying to make us laugh, and extend the party for a little bit longer.

Every single time I saw you it made me happy. Even if it had been six months, we picked up right where we left off. Sometimes you'd just appear, crouched next to me on the side of the stage at a show, waiting for the perfect opportunity for a stage dive, promising me that you wouldn't hit any pedals, but always hitting at least one of them. Other times, I'd see you at a random restaurant, or walking through the streets on a summer night. You were always traveling, always saving money for the next thing. I was always a little jealous of your adventures, but I loved hearing about them, and always told you that I was coming along on the next one. I knew I was always in for a good story whenever we crossed paths, and I looked forward to seeing you every time.

I still look forward to seeing you again. Rest in power, Conor. Every adventure I go on from here on out is in your honor, and I promise to go on a lot of them. Just for you.

Bangarang.




Saturday, May 20, 2017

POTENTIAL

My friends and I started a new band. It's called Potential, and we recorded some songs last month. It's not a full-time band, or even a part-time band, really. It only existed in group text until we met up at the studio, and finished almost everything in a single session that day. No practices beforehand or anything. The five of us literally showed up at the studio around noon, played through the songs a few times, then hit record.

It was really easy and super fun. We also thought it would be cool to do something different for a release, so we ordered 23 lathe cut records. Of course, you can listen to it online if you want, too. The records are for anyone that still wants a physical copy of something, which is increasingly rare.

Anyway, here's a video that Dan shot while we were recording, and go to the band website if you want to hear the other 3 minutes of music we have.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

APRIL 1, 2004 - SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Before the internet ruined it—as it does with most great things—I used to love April Fool's Day. When I was in bands, I tried to do a prank every year, but I never wanted to do the "we're breaking up" thing, because while people fell for it, every band did it. Having a band MySpace account was the perfect outlet for jokes, and I abused it more than I should have.

One year I posted a bulletin that no one in the band was straight edge anymore, and that veganism was far more important so we were definitely continuing as a band. That got a lot of angry messages.

Another year, after MySpace started allowing music players to be embedded in personal profiles, I got in and changed the band names and all the song titles. I changed our band name to "The Dick Holsters" and made an awful pink and purple logo, that made a lot of people very upset.

The best, worst prank I ever used Cherem for though was one I wrote about for the Until My Heart Stops blog I used to do. I've been going back to that a lot lately (which is the writing I was doing while I was on fun-employment last winter, instead of blogging on here) and ran across it earlier tonight. It's so dumb that I felt like I had to share it.

APRIL 1, 2004 - KILBY COURT


If I had to guess, I’d say that Cherem played somewhere between 75-100 shows in Salt Lake City alone. After a while they all start to blend together, and the more time passes, the harder it is to distinguish between any of them. This one sticks out and is still memorable only because of how much planning we did and how badly we failed at its execution.

Someone named Danny—a guy that none of us had ever met—sent Clint an email and invited Cherem to play a benefit show for a local animal rights group. He was setting it up at Kilby Court, which intrigued us. Kilby Court was a small venue mostly reserved for indie/punk bands. They had done hardcore shows in the past, but there were too many fights and they stopped allowing them. We hadn’t played a local show in a while, and saw it as an opportunity to bridge the gap and get back in the good graces of Kilby. Salt Lake was always in need of a venue, and we felt that we could use this show as a platform to prove that things had kind of turned around and fights at shows were a thing of the past.

The show was also on April 1st, which meant that we also had to come up with a really good prank to go along with our diplomacy.

I came up with an idea, pitched it to the rest of the guys, and we put the plan in motion.

On our website I wrote a post about how we were going through tough times as a band. Bill had recently been contacted by the police and was under investigation as a terrorist threat. The police had claimed that he was the mastermind behind a string of animal liberation-related crimes around the state of Utah, the events were being investigated and a case was being built against him. While Bill hadn’t been arrested yet, his lawyer had advised him to lay low, and avoid any and all contact with people that may be associated with that kind of thing, and thus, would be taking a little break from singing for Cherem.

Since we didn’t want to cancel the show and we still felt strongly about the subject, we’d still be playing the benefit on April 1st, only our good friend and surrogate band member, Brook, would be filling in on vocals. We thanked everyone for sticking with us and asked that everyone come to the show for additional support.

It worked way better than any of us had anticipated. I didn’t really think anyone ever looked at the Cherem site, but I was very wrong. Someone had seen it and reposted it as a MySpace bulletin and things spread like wildfire. We started getting emails and messages every day, and people were calling Bill to make sure he was okay.

Keeping half a dozen people committed to a two-week long joke is a lot to ask, and for the most part it worked. There were a few people that called bullshit as soon as they saw the April 1 day of the show, but we all kept up a pretty unified front, and just avoided the question whenever we could with lines like, “I don’t know. Bill’s lawyer doesn’t want us to really say anything.”

The lineup for the show was a little awkward and we had no idea where we’d fall in the order. There were two indie bands, a gutter punk band and us, but things kept changing all the way until the last minute. Clint, Nick, Chris and I all showed up and loaded our gear in through the back and Brook arrived not too much later. Bill showed up with his girlfriend, Misty, as soon as I found out when we were playing, but hung around outside by his car while we set up.

The way it was supposed to work was that we’d get everything set up, sneak Bill in through the back door and have him hide behind all the extra equipment that was off to the side of the stage. We’d start playing, Brook would be at the front of the stage jumping around and pretending to sing into a microphone that wasn’t turned on, while Bill actually sang from the side. It would look like a terrible lip-sync, and everyone in the crowd would be confused. After the first song, Bill would come up on stage, say “April Fools!” and we’d all laugh before finishing the set.

But getting that many people on board for a joke was a lot harder than it should have been. The main problem was the sound guy at Kilby Court. He had absolutely no idea why I wanted two microphones, but only wanted one of them to be turned on. I tried my best to explain it to him without ruining the joke, but he still didn’t get it. I explained to him what was going to happen, but he didn’t know why, and the more I told him the less he understood. He eventually gave us two microphones, shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

When we were all set up and ready, he asked for a soundcheck. He did all the instruments, and got ready to start. I was facing Clint and he was gearing up to count us off, when we heard the sound guy’s voice come through the speakers.

“Okay, uh, microphone one. The one on the stage, I guess.” he said.

Clint just started smiling and broke into a giant laugh. I turned around, looked at Nick and said, “Are you fucking kidding me?” He and Chris were both laughing. I just shook my head.

Brook shrugged, started laughing and spoke into the microphone. After he had finished, we waited for him to check the second mic, the one that no one could see and further ruin the surprise, but he didn’t. After Brook checked his, the sound guy’s voice came through the speakers again.

“You’re good to go,” he said.

I looked off to the side of the stage, and Bill was tapping the microphone with his fingers. No sound was coming out. He shook his head, and Clint counted off. We started playing the first song, and Brook tried to lip sync, but there were no vocals. Every few seconds Brook would make a noise and it could be heard over the PA. He stuck with it for about a minute until Bill walked up on stage, took the mic from him and we finished the set.

A few people appreciated what we tried to do, a few people were angry that we’d joke about that kind of situation, and a couple were just relieved that Bill was okay.

Bill, Clint and I spent the rest of the year explaining to people in every city that we drove through that we’d made the whole thing up, and that’s why we weren’t accepting donations towards Bill’s legal troubles.

I learned two things from that whole ordeal. One is that it takes a lot of hard work to get good practical joke to land, and two, a lot of animal rights activists have a terrible sense of humor.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

YES, YOUR VOTE COUNTS

We're going to dip our toes back into politics here for a quick minute, because I want to say something.

If you—or someone you know—ever says that their vote doesn't matter, and asks why they even bother, point them in the direction of this years Utah House of Representatives race.

LaVar Christensen won by five votes. Five.

You definitely know five people who spout that "My vote doesn't even matter!" bullshit, so do the rest of us a favor, look them straight in the eye and say "Yes it fucking does."

Listen, I get being disenchanted by the political system, but important races are being determined by as few as five votes. You can affect change—especially in your local races—but you have to vote, you have to vote on time, and you have to take it seriously.

LeVar Christensen was the sponsor of the bill banning same-sex marriage and he's one of the most conservative voices in Utah politics. And, guess what? He will be for the considerable future. If you want to complain about politics, that fine. If you want to bitch about policies that you don't like or don't agree with, I'm all for that. But to yell and scream about all of that while refusing to take an hour or two out of your day to vote? That drives me absolutely nuts.

Your voice does matter. You just have to actually use it properly.


RECOUNT CONFIRMS CHRISTENSEN'S WIN, STRETCHES MARGIN FROM THREE VOTES TO FIVE

A recount of election results in the hotly contested House District 32 race has not changed the outcome, as Republican Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, increased his margin of victory over Democrat Suzanne Harrison from three votes to five votes.

Attorneys for both candidates hovered over the count, monitoring the process closely as elections officials spent Monday re-tabulating more than 17,000 votes, feeding ballots through counting machines and scrutinizing dozens of ballots that had been disqualified or damaged.

Continue Reading....

Monday, December 5, 2016

THE COMEDOWN

What did I make it? Three days? Four?

Four days before I fell off. It wasn't intentional, but I just kind of forgot.

Saturday night, I went to see my friends band play at Urban Lounge, which isn't the best place for a small show. Bar shows are weird in general, because most people are there for the bar first and the band second, and that's not a concept that I ever dealt with in all my years of playing shows.

It made me (kind of) miss playing shows on a regular basis, but not enough to deal with all the other stuff that goes into being in a band full time. And by that I mean, finding a place to practice, coming to a compromise on what kind of stuff to play, figuring out and working around the schedules of three to four other people in their 30's with wives, families, full time jobs, etc.

Probably the biggest thing though is that I never really got as much out of being in a band compared to how much effort I put into them. The music should have just been enough, but there was so much other stuff that went with it, that I kind of soured on the whole thing. Maybe that will change.

I watched Dan, Matt, Chase and Drew play the other night and had a little urge to come out of retirement, but not a lot. Especially not to play at 10:30 at not even half-full bar. And the size of the crowd wasn't because of them. They've only played one other show, and it just seems that not as many people are interested in hardcore/punk anymore. All the kids are into EDM and DJ's and stuff like that. Probably because they're all on drugs.

But aside from that, Run Into The Sun is really good and you should listen to them. I'll make it easy for you.

With that, I'll hopefully be back tomorrow with more things to ramble about.

Friday, December 2, 2016

IT'S FRIDAY, IT'S 11:30, IT'S TIME TO PARTY...

I waited until the last possible minute to write this one. I've had a cold for the past few days, and this was the first day I felt like getting out of the house, so I ran some errands and then just drove around aimlessly listening to podcasts.

My next door neighbor/friend Danny is out of town for the month, and I've thought about pulling a George Costanza just to be out of my own apartment.


Luckily, Casey had a night off (which is what he calls a night when his wife doesn't have plans for the two of them), and the two of us went to see BAD SANTA 2.

Before I go any further, I'd just like to say that if there was anyone in this world that resembles (in life choices and behavior) George Costanza more than Casey, I don't know who it is. The resemblance to life situations is truly insane.

Anyway, BAD SANTA 2 is terrible. We both knew it would be, but weren't in the mood for something heavy/dramatic. We figured we'd get a couple of cheap laughs and call it a night. We each laughed exactly one time.  It's just boring, and mean-spirited. The first one was mean-spirited, but it had charm to go along with it. Not this time.

Before I left though, I spent two full hours playing Dr. Mario on the little NES Classic that just came out. I got it about a month ago, and have been getting pretty good at it (there's also 29 other games built in, but I honestly don't care about any of them). For some reason though, it took me until today to realize that I could turn off the music on the game and just listen to Spotify instead. It was much better. I also found a playlist that I made back when I was writing boring web content at Clearlink, so most of the songs remind me of HVAC systems and asphalt paving companies, but they're still good.

That's about it. Like I said, my life is boring as shit, but I'm forcing myself to write every single day, so this will have to do. Thanks for sticking with me. Here's a treat for you. Hopefully they remind you of something other than a cubicle and plumbing companies that start with the letter "A" because the phone book was super important at one point in time.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

HALF-ASSED REVIEWS

The only upside (for me, at least) about winter is that I finally get caught up on a ton of movies that I missed earlier in the year.

As I've written about before, I used to go to movies at least once a week—sometimes even more. But slowly, as my friends got married and had children, the Sunday movie group got smaller and smaller until it didn't exist at all. Now everyone sees movies when they can get a babysitter, when it comes on iTunes, or shows up on HBO. Granted, that's how I catch most movies these days, too. A few times a month, I'll catch a matinee or late show on my own though.

Side note here: If anyone ever tells you it's weird to go to movies alone, don't listen to them. It's awesome. I have a friend who thinks this and I just ignore him, but seriously, don't let anyone shame you for doing this. It's awesome. You don't have to share popcorn or anything.

I've got a shelf full of Criterion DVD's that I plan to work through this winter, but we'll get to those later.

This week alone I've caught three movies. Two of them I've wanted to see for a while and one just came out.

HELL OR HIGH WATER - I love a good bank robber movie and this was the best one I've seen in a long time. Jeff Bridges is in it as the near-retirement sheriff of a small West Texas town, and the two main bank robbing characters are my Hollywood doppelgänger Ben Foster*, and a guy I wish was my Hollywood doppelgänger Chris Pine. This is a lean, really well made movie and I loved every minute of it. Foster, Pine, and Bridges are all great in it and it's just the kind of movie I've been missing lately. It's one story, told really well, end to end. There's no need for a sequel, there's no reason to try and wring a prequel out of it, and it has no business as a full season TV show. It's in and out in 110 minutes. It's great.

*I went to a Halloween Party at a bar this year, but didn't have a costume put together, so I just wore my normal clothes and two people asked if I was dressed as Ben Foster from ALPHA DOG. TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE!)

COP CAR - I tried to catch this at Sundance a few years ago but couldn't get in, then kind of forgot about it. Then it was announced that the director, Jon Watts, would be helming the new Marvel version of SPIDER-MAN and remembered I wanted to see it. Then I forgot about it until I was browsing HBO and saw it on there. This is another example of a tight little thriller that had just as much story as time they told it in. Two kids find an abandoned cop car in the woods as they're running away from home, find the keys and take it for a joyride. Only problem is that it belongs to the corrupt sheriff who desperately wants it back. This movie, much like HELL OR HIGH WATER, has a somewhat ambiguous ending. I liked HELL OR HIGH WATER's ending more. This one could have benefitted from being a few minutes longer, but it was still really fun, and Shea Wigham should be in more things. Hell, put him in all the things. I won't complain.

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN - I knew nothing about this movie until is was released last week, then I watched a trailer and decided to see it ASAP. I've always loved awkward high school stories—like most John Hughes movies, ELECTION, EASY A, etc.—so this looked right up my alley. It stars Hailee Steinfeld, who was in the Coen Brother's TRUE GRIT (and a bunch of other movies I haven't seen, and is apparently also a pop star), as a girl whose only friend starts dating her older brother, and the terrible choices she makes while dealing with that. Woody Harrelson, who is always great, is also in it as her favorite teacher at school. It's not an amazing movie by any means, but it was damn entertaining.

I suggest you see all of these if you have time. Good stuff.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT

It's hard being vegan.

Okay, that's actually a blatant lie. It's not hard. At all.

Especially now. It was hard way back in 1998 when I started being vegan, when Long Life Veggie House and Evergreen were the only two vegan restaurants, no one knew anything about healthy eating, and there was no Whole Foods (or even a Wild Oats, for that matter) in Salt Lake. THEN it was hard to be vegan.

Now? Not so much.

The only hard part about it is finding good vegan shoes. That's a pain in the ass. Sure there are places online that sell 100% vegan shoes, but I hate ordering online because all shoes are different, and I might be anywhere between a 9 and a 10.5. It's frustrating. I know you can exchange online purchases, but I really hate doing that. I'd much rather just get it right at a store and be done with it. Unfortunatley, that's not really an option most of the time.

However, yesterday I overcame my fear of ordering shoes online because I found this really awesome pair that Adam Horovitz (Ad Rock) helped design. They're totally vegan, supposedly warm (which, in snow-covered Salt Lake from November through March, I desperately need), and best of all, for a good cause.

Keep x Ad Rock
Ever since the election, I've been trying to help out where I can, and somewhere that's going to need a lot of help over the next little while is Planned Parenthood. Horovitz and Keep (the company that's producing the shoe) are donating the proceeds from the sale to Planned Parenthood, and I'm all about it.

The downside here is that these are pre-orders, and they're expected to ship in "late February" which we all know probably means March or April, which probably means I'll be waiting until winter of 2017 to see if they actually keep my feet warm and dry during the winter.

Mostly I'm just happy that Horovitz is doing something productive and beneficial right now. I liked the Beastie Boys, but never loved them. I can't say I miss them, either. I think it's hard to be a rapper or a punk rocker when you get older, because I know you're full of shit if you talk about struggling.

Rap is especially hard in that area. The up-and-coming rappers are always the best because they're trying to make it. Once you know they've made it, none of it feels authentic anymore. That's why rock music sustains. It's easier to be authentic, but it's boring and safe authenticity. Rap, punk, hardcore—they're all different. You need that chip on your shoulder, and need to be struggling against the current. When what you're doing becomes the current, it's over.

The best rappers get rich and famous much quicker now, punk bands are the new dad-rock bands, and hardcore died when Jamie Jasta brought back Headbanger's Ball and MTV saw a revenue stream in it.

The Beastie Boys were a small part of all of those things. Plus, as time went on, they just became rich white guys. It's hard to rail against a system that was set up specifically to benefit them.

That's why I'm glad that Horovitz is using what he has and putting his might behind these shoes.

I just hope they keep my feet warm next winter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

THE NEW STYLE...

Hi.

First off, I just want to thank anyone that checked out the voting guide I published earlier this month (or maybe it was late October), or shared it, or commented on it, or used it while filling out your ballot. I really appreciate it, and hope that it gave you a little better understanding of who was running for office.

Unfortunately, the good guys didn't have much luck in this past election. If you're as disheartened as I am with the way things turned out on November 8th (locally and to a much larger extent, nationally), I really hope you see how learning about politics is a good thing, and voting is an even better thing.

The most important thing though, is to never give up. Things are going to be rough for the next little while, which is why it's important to help out where you can, and when you can. There are a lot of people in far worse situations than you might be, and they may need your support. Keep your eyes open, and pitch it when and where you can.

Second, I don't have a job anymore.

Don't be alarmed. I didn't get laid off, or fired, so don't worry. I went back to serving earlier this year, after the cafe I managed closed down, but I hit a wall and needed a break. So now that I'm on sabbatical (or FUN-employment, as I like to say), I've got a few things I'm trying to accomplish—goals, if you will.

My main goal is to get back in the habit of writing, and that's where this comes in. I want to try and write a little bit every day, and the easiest way to do that is to use this. If you thought this blog was at all interesting before, you still might. If you never did and thought it was a waste of time, you definitely still will.

The way this is going to work is that I'll pick one thing and write about it. It could literally be anything that caught my attention that morning, the day before, whatever. Maybe it'll be a movie or a TV show I watched and I'll just rant/rave about it for a minute. Maybe it'll be a news story that I have a few comments on. Maybe it'll be a video I found doing research for another project, and I just need a place to gather some thoughts on it. They won't be very long, they may not be very funny or all that informative, but it will be content that you can use to pass the time.

Basically, this is a roundabout way of warning you that you're reading a blog. It's like a stay-at-home-parent blog without complaining about diapers or whatever gets written about on those.

If you never visit again, I won't be mad. If you do stick around, let me know, leave comments, whatever you want. Let's have some fun.