Great Things Happen To Ordinary People

for work, when I go to college fairs and make good contacts, I mark their inquiry card with “HOTT” so I know to call them later about applying.
In the back of my mind, I had a feeling that the choice of “HOTT” was a double entendre and I partially hoped someone would think something awry was going on. As it turns out, one of the student workers kept noticing that I would write “HOTT” on some of the cards (particularly, the ones filled out by high school girls.)
Not until later, and not until after she asked why I chose to be so creepy, did a few male cards show up, and all the pieces came together. This, indeed, is the misdirection I was hoping for all along.
hahahahahaha
you are hilarious
And it’s a “pouring one out for my homie” tribute to Randy who first wrote “Randy is Hott!!!” on something of mine

High Fidelity Notes

Notes on High Fidelity

“Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to pop music.”
“If you really wanted to mess me up, you should’ve gotten to me earlier.”
“and then they were there, and they had grown breasts, and we wanted them.”
“Our relationship lasted 6 hours, two hours after school after the rockford files, for three afternoon, but on the fourth afternoon, Kevin Bannister.”
“It was like trying to borrow a dollar, and asking for 50 grand instead.”
“I get by because people make a special effort to shop here. Mostly young men… I’d feel bad taking their money if I wasn’t kind of one of them.”
“I don’t want to hear old, sad bastard music, I just want something I can ignore.”

Charlie “She was the kind of girl I wanted to meet, ever since I wanted to meet girls. I mean she was different, she was dramatic, she was exotic, and she said remarkably interesting things about books, and film, and music, and she talked a lot, and she liked me…”
“Why would a girl… no, a woman, want to go out with me? I felt like a fraud, like one of those kids that shaved their heads and said they’d always been punks.”
“I became convinced that she was going to leave me [for the dreaded Marco.]’
“Charlie, you fucking bitch, let’s work it out.” Shouting, in the rain, then tripping over the curb. Then I lost it. Lost it all; faith, dignity, about 15 pounds.’
“I guess I never really got over Charlie. She out of my class, too pretty, too smart, too witty.”

“You’ll pay big.”
Into the back room crying. He invites the introspective, awkward, “in-touch with their emotions” kind of people.
“Do you want to talk about it?” “No, thank you though, Dick. Thank you.”
Smelling clothing. “I used to dream of days like these, to be surrounded by women’s underwear. Now I know they save their best pairs till the night they know they were gonna sleep with someone.”
“It’s just so painful, and draining, I’m just going to be by myself for a while.” “Me too.” Then we started making out.
“Only people of a certain disposition are frightened of being alone at the age of 26.”
“I’m alright if that’s what’s upsetting you. Laura didn’t want to get married, she’s not that kind of girl, that’s not what happens now.”
“John Dillinger was shot dead behind that theatre by the FBI in a hail of gunfire. You know who tipped them off? His fucking girlfriend. He just wanted to see a movie.”

Even their argument is a song.
do you still love me?
its not the issue
what else is there
i hope we’re not in love
it would give me a better opinion of love
did i beat you, tell you you’re a bad person
what could i have done to make you happy?
nothing, make yourself happy
why am i unhappy?
because you’re the same person you used to be
and im not
and all ive done is change jobs
[you’ve changed] clothes, and hairstyles
attitudes, and friends
i can’t go to work with my hair dyed pink
you haven’t so much changed socks as long as ive known you
come on laura, now you’re being stupid
at least you used to talk about the future
now you don’t even do that
look, im alright, you’re the one who hates their job
see, you don’t have a clue
i like my job
all im saying is
you have to allow for things to happen to people
most of all to yourself
and you don’t, rob
so what’s the use?

and she goes in her red jacket
rob stares into space with sun glasses

“how can someone who has no interest in music own a record store?”
“you’re totally elitist, you feel like the under appreciated scholars so you shit on the people you feel are beneath you. which is everybody”
“WHAT FUCKING IAN GUY?”

Juxtapose Maria De Sal
“You might be sick of it, I could turn it off.”
“You should turn it up.”
“His horrible clothes, hair, his music, latin, bulgarian, whatever world music was popular then. Such awful smells, I didn’t like him then but I fucking hate him now.”
“No woman in the world is having better sex than the sex you’re having with Ian in my head.”
“Jackie Alden. Congratulations Laura. Number 5, with a bullet. Welcome.”

Such a timeless shot of Rob sitting behind the counter with one arm crossed over the other Hands in fists, one holding a lit cigarette that is being smoked by no one. Staring intently straight ahead at nothing, no one, expect maybe himself and that person is also no one. Rob’s eyebrows are furrowed, not unlike Jack Nicholas in the Shining, his absolute anger, his absolute despair is expressed in this shot alone as Rob has hit bottom. Sappy 60s R&B is playing and it sounds like such a joke. There’s no way in heaven or earth one person could actually sustain happiness and love for another like this song suggests and Rob here is the evidence of that. You can almost feel the heat from Rob’s body as he raises the temperature of the room. You can almost feel his gaze burning a hole right through himself and yourself as you stare back. Then a customer comes up to the counter and says “Hey, do you have soul.”
Rob responds “That all depends.” And after the phone rings he says “Back row right next to the blues.”
“Do you have soul?” is such a funny question to be asked because we think she asks “do you have A soul?” Which Rob himself isn’t sure he does. Moments later Rob and Laura’s friend Liz (played wonderfully by John’s real life sister Joan Cusak) walks in the room and confirms that Rob does not, actually, have a soul. “Hey Rob, you fucking asshole” she shouts and walks back out the same as she came. We expect a defense, but Rob knows it’s true, and we know it’s true.

“I want to see all of them on the big top 5.” “They feel good maybe, but you feel better.”
“With no real explanation, I launch into. … wanted to have sex with … and not me. Why am I doomed to be left, doomed to be rejected?”
“When you broke up with me, because I was, to use your charming expression, too tight….”
When faced with the heart ache he caused, he doesn’t give a fuck. He in fact feels good that he broke her heart, and not she his.

And what better way to exercise rejections demons then to screw the one who rejected you. But you wouldn’t be sleeping with a person, you’d be sleeping with whole, sad, single-person culture. It’d be like sleeping with Talia Shire in Rocky if you weren’t Rocky and I feel bad enough as it is.

He asks “are you coming home?”

The chance for survival. Is the sex better? I feel so good I go out and sleep with Marie DeSalle. All that charming stuff is just bullshit, but it seems to work. But it turns out she was using him for the same thing.

Again in despair, we see him running in the rain.

“Then it dawns on me. Charlie’s awful. She doesn’t listen to anyone, she apparently has no sense of humor, and she talks shit constantly.”
“Oh come on Charlie, you can say anything you want, why’d want to dump me for Marco.”
“Marco seemed a little more sure of himself. Less hard work. A little sunnier, sparkier.”

It’s a mystery of human chemistry that some people just feel like home.
It’s just your garden variety, women, schitso stuff.

Again in the rain.

Like most relationships, they seem great at first. The person is the most perfect person in the world. Everything you like about them is intoxicating, and you can’t get enough of them. This is infatuation, we all experience it. Especially when coped with the physical aspect of relations, its easy to see how such over-emotional pop songs can come out of Chris’ mouth. At the same time, once things get bad and we have the power of retrospection, we can see how terrible things really were. How wrong for us the person was. This is also shown in Chris’s songs.

Goals for this week

I’ve decided (and my wife has confirmed this) that I have very little motivation to do what I want. To combat this, yesterday I did some work on an article I’ve been talking about writing for over a month. Also, I had the thought that maybe I should make a few goals from week to week which will help me get stuff done.

Here’s this weeks goals:
– Finish reading “It Still Moves: The Search for the Next American Music”
– Remix one Pilots/When Sorrow Fails song (or, I’d accept re-tracking guitar/bass)
– Write the first section of my Dashboard article (or make notes of High Fidelity portion)*check*

So, whomever’s reading, keep me accountable.

Latest notes (rough)

Radio interview, promoting “Stolen”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR2_DwZi14U

Chris seems a little timid in the radio studio with probably 10 people watching. He performs the song “Stolen,” which on the recorded version he belts the chorus “you have stolen my heart.” He performs the song with his eyes closed the entire time, which is generally how he performs live regardless of where. The high note in the middle of the bridge is also sung rather timidly in falsetto. It’s a lot more difficult to really give it the gusto in a small room accompanied only by the sound of an acoustic guitar and the breathing of everyone watching you. I don’t blame Chris at all for pushing the high notes into his head voice because it’s awkward. Which, unsurprisingly, is the attitude the music champions.

Chris is witty, eloquent, explains himself very well, and answers questions with a self-deprecating humor that doesn’t come off as forced. He isn’t an actor playing a character. He is not Michael Cera in any of the roles he has played being the awkward kid in the corner who’ll get the girl in the end because he’s so pathetic. He’s legit, and authentic in who he is.

Chris Carrabba mostly reminds of a friend of mine whose name is also Chris. Chris Henningfeld played bass in my hardcore band Pilots (or The Pilot, or Pilot before that, and When Sorrow Fails before that even.) He wasn’t really a bass player, though he was a pretty good performer and a really cool dude. When coming up with ideas for this article, and trying to piece together with this Carrabba fella could be and not be a character it hit me

Radio interview on 93.7 WSTW
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoVXO4iQfnQ&feature=related

Camera is behind the radio personality, his face unseen, and he’s standing in front of three computers and a mixing board. He’s the DJ, the engineer, and the producer. Standing opposite him is Chris, also standing with his guitar on hand. The DJ says “You’re one of my favorite poets.” Chris laughs, then responds “That’s my favorite complement to hear, because I think it’s my main focus. I think it keeps me off the radio more than it keeps me on to be honest.” Chris is surrounded by 8 other people with Styrofoam cups as percussion, to perform “Stolen.” In this performance, Chris is moving around, dancing, really getting into it. His mic isn’t quite as hot, so he’s able to sing a little bit louder without feeling so awkward. Also, with the crowd of people watching his from behind, I imagine he felt a little more comfortable and could get a little lost in the song. Over the DJ’s shoulder we can see on one of the computers Cubase, or Sonar, or maybe another free digital recording software putting to disk this performance and I can’t help but wonder if he asked permission beforehand. Once the bridge kicks in the Styrofoam percussion kicks in on eights notes, sounds like paper clips, he later confesses it’s skittles.
The DJ asks a few questions that he found on the internet about Chris and Dashboard. Chris makes a few jokes about how Bigfoot and Lochness Monster doesn’t exist, and talks about Myth Busters and the whole room laughs. Chris was also never a mascot at his high school. Chris captivates a room, with his candor, and sharp wit.
He also performs “Vindicated” and while getting ready to play the DJ pulls up a new session to steal, I mean, capture the moment. Again Chris is comfortable, but still stuck in his head voice. After hitting the high notes in falsetto he drops back into his chest voice with a strain, as though not as used to holding back. The group backing him claps to the last chorus. “Vindicated” was written like the day after seeing Spiderman 2. He requests “Mr. Jones” by the Counting Crows to end.

NME Video: Profile of Chris
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFVFqoNKl68&feature=related

Mom was a musician. Always listening and playing music as a kid. At 15, Uncle found a guitar in his basement and gave it to Chris.
“I had no idea you had to learn other peoples songs. I learned by sounding out the chords on the guitar.”
“I found it pretty easy putting it all together.”
“First song I wrote was a country song, a comedic song, always trying to make my step-brother laugh.”
“I was amazed that I created a song.”
“The inspiration of songwriting is always fresh to me.”
“Songwriting has always supplanted whatever it is I had planned at the moment.”
“Music is some kind of crazy elixir that heals all, and unites all people.”
“I’m foolishly arrogant, I always know that I’m right. This music I make is not designed for mass-consumption.”
“I’m glad people connect to this music, and have been able to connect to each other through it. But I cannot take credit for it. It’s just a vessel, I’m lucky if I get a song.”
“[Every day I pick up a guitar], and hope to get something out of it.”

NME Video: Dashboard Confessional – Show
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz2u7OoUPCE&NR=1

“I’m glad to be playing KCLSU to play by myself in front of people, kind of naked and kind of scared. Which that kind of performance breeds, and I don’t see any point in waiting around. Why not come back and have fun again. I’m kind of a glutton I guess.”
“It’s a funny thing, the crowd participation at our shows. It’s kind of deafening. Even when I don’t play with the band, it almost feels like I’m playing with other musicians in the crowd. This sort of freedom that we’re all in this together as opposed to some kind of separation between ‘us’ and ‘them'”
“You’d can’t be rigid to your setlist. You better know how to play the songs they call out”
“My favorite songs are the ones I have memories about writing them, or the life-experience that went into them. The crowds energy peaks my interest in the song.”
“Winding down after a show is kind of impossible, my energy is so peaked at the end of the show, and holding onto that high.”

Dashboard Radio
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Slf_ccbw6E

First question is “when did you know to quit school to try to make it big?” Chris responded by explaining that he never planned on making it big, he just wanted to play music. He compares himself to the way Dave Matthews got big. He saw Dave Matthews, then the next time brought a friend. A slow growth to the top. Makes a joke about not actually knowing how to play the guitar, that he brings it just to look cool. Plays vindicated then Stolen, his guitar is out of tune. DJ says Chris has “sold out Madison Square Garden” multiple times.
“You know you right a song and you think ‘it rules,’ but the record company says ‘what were you thinking? you blew it.’ i like all of them. if it don’t think it’s good enough, then it doesn’t go on the record.”
“All the hot sales girls are here.”
“‘Stolen’ is a story of love and beats.” DJ: “Is there a girlfriend out there in South Florida?” “There’s probably a few.”

The answer seems simple. He’s an attractive, charismatic, funny guy who seems to fall pretty head over heals for the girl, and then is completely heartbroken when the seemingly innocent, flirty, casual relationship ends. That seems to characterize most of the break-up songs. He’s Michael Cera in the back room of the bar, Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott when he falls in love, John Cusak’s Robert Gordon when jilted, but more than anything else he’s just like Chris Henningfeld.

Berry Live at McPeak’s Barn 10/27/08

I just arrived home from seeing my very first live concert at Greenville College Professor Rick McPeak’s barn just outside of Greenville. I’ve been out to the barn a couple times. Once at the end of last semester for some St. Paul’s get together, once for helping Thomas Johnson want the garden he planted there. Every time I went there it was warm, tonight was not at all warm. It was downright cold, indeed. 41 degrees. The concert was in benefit to Travis Hall’s “Pumpkin Patch of Peace.” Travis started the patch to help a village he met in the middle east with building a well. He plants the seeds in the summer, and waits a few weeks for harvest. This year, in spite of some tricky weather, was a plentiful harvest.
In celebration of the plentiful patch of peaceful pumpkins, the GC community was invited to the McPeak barn for food, fellowship and some rock and roll. After several rounds of piping hot chili and soup, washed down with a variety of breads and brownies, Rachel Bowden played a set. While having seen Rachel play a few times before, I was not there for her set though I heard it was enjoyable. I missed her set because I ran home to pick up my guitar for Joey Lemon.
While eating my delicious chili and brownies, Joey asked if I still had the Rickenbacker guitar I bought about 4 years ago now. About a year after I first purchased the Rick unbeknownst to Joey he bought the same guitar that I had. Obviously great minds think alike. It’s a beautiful instruments, that feels and sounds great. He wanted to know if I still had it because, while on one of their “Amtrack” or “Bus” tours between Sacramento and Las Vegas someone stole his. I extended the obvious condolences and he jokingly asked if he could play mine, assuming I had it on me. I of course didn’t have it in the car, but offered to go get it since I lived pretty close. Joey didn’t want to inconvenience me, but I went and got it anyway. That was why I missed Rachel’s set. Oh, I also had to restring the guitar because the strings were hella old.
I arrived back at the barn with my freshly strung Rick just in time for the beginning of Berry’s set. They had just finished setting all their stuff up when along came a blast from the past. Paul Goodenough nearly swore when he was my Rickenbacker (since he didn’t see me bring it in.) Matt Aufrecht and Joey were both elated and they were ready to start.
You’ll notice I only mentioned three names. Berry is now a three piece. Joey Lemon on vocals and guitar, Paul Goodenough on drums and vocals, Matt Aufrecht on piano and vocals. No bass guitar (formally filled by Sam Campbell, Kit Hamon, and many others.) No second guitar (formally filled by Zach Heyveld though about 3 years ago). No secondary keys (formally Chris Kav, Tim Mon, Liz Goodenough who also played flute.) Three piece.
Also, because they’ve been touring on buses and trains and stuff, they’ve really simplified and shrunk the size of their gear. Paul has always played a simple kit, but his kick drum was 16′ x 12′. I have NEVER seen a kick drum SO SMALL in my life. Oh, his lone tom had to have been 8 x 10, maybe, and he was playing a piccalo snare. Teeny tiny drum kit, Paul.
Needless to say, by the looks of their gear (and every rock and roll gearaphile snob will critique a band by their gear while they’re setting up always before they play their first note because that’s what you have to do to be a gearaphile snob because we ALL know that an LTD through Mesa Dual Rect stack WILL sound like shit before a chord is even thought to be strummed) I wasn’t sure what to expect. Berry opened with (I think) Running from Place to Place which is a song from the Floundering EP and I was amazed by how tight and full they sounded. Matt covers the low end (although on Empathy, he played a lot of lower keys throughout, really bassing up the mix). Berry has always been pretty good at dynamics, but they were GREAT tonight.
Their set was comprised of new stuff and old stuff, though they didn’t do Fifty-eight, they did do Tick Tock, Courtney Luv, Middle Man, There Are Several (which, no matter how many times I hear it, I’m always surprised when Joey screams doing the first noisey section) I think they played about 11 songs and it was wonderful.
Seeing Berry play made me think of two things: 1) it’s amazing how huge they sound this three guys and no bass guitar. 2) how can this “less is more” principle be applied to the two styles of music I love to play most: hardcore and post-rock.
While hardcore is rooted in the “play as hard and as fast as possible” mentality, there is plenty of room for dynamic shifts, tempo and meter changes, breakdowns, rock stops, builds and feedback for the music to be more than a non-stop onslaught of brazen loudness. My hardcore implemented these ideas some, but could’ve stretched this idea much further assuming everyone in the band in on board with the idea. Which made me think about how difficult it is to find several people who are: 1) very creative, and also 2) share the same vision for the music your group is trying to make. All the bands I have been in have had no more than 5 people in them. Even five is borderline too many people. Because its very hard to find 5 people who are 1) very creative and 2) of the same vision. While all five guys don’t have to be monotone in the musical ideas they have as that may lead to very sterile, uncreative music, they do need to know where they’re taking this music and it cannot be in several directions.
More often than not, you’ll have a band of four or five people and they will be lead by one, MAYBE two creative geniuses who will push the other members forward either dictating what they will play, or giving them a very neat outline where they can choose what crayons they’d like to use as long as they color within those lines. I think this is particularly true of groups that follow more of a pop-song format, though many, take Radiohead or Wilco for example, all contribute creatively to the formation of a song even though the bar bones structure was written by Yorke or Tweedy respectively.
A band like Berry, this probably also the case. Joey writes the songs, then the band destroys it a little, or completely, and then bring it back into a usable form that is similar, and disimilar to what it was in the beginning and is now also a creation of the whole band’s rather than just Joey’s. While in my case in Pilots, I came with a pretty well crafted song, the band learned it, maybe adjusted a part here and there, or threw in a different back beat, and the song’s done. VERY seldom could I bring a melodic idea to the group and something great would come of it (with one exception, the song “His Hands” began as a simple riff, and through several jams did Matt and I come up with a structure that eventually gave way to a song.) But even this exception is much different to most of our songs. It’s over 6 minutes long, has three very dynamic sections from very quiet to loud, and has an extended intro and outro. Not at all like a few of the songs I wrote that were V-CH-V-CH-BR.
In another way, how can I apply these dynamic ideas to post-rock? Is it possible to create the same kind of melodic weight and transcendence of an Explosions 6 minute song in 2 and half using dynamic ideas that Berry does? Instead of slowing building a giant crescendo use more subtly choices for notes that build to chords and use scissors to cut and paste the low end giving certain “heavier” sections bottom end and weight while leaving “lighter” sections trebly and airy? Maybe? Perhaps the one of the beauties of post-rock is repetition and the way it weaves a melody like a theme throughout 3, 4 and 5 movements of a piece. This is undoubtedly true, but is it possible to do both?
I don’t know. I’d like to try. This makes me wish I’ll run into a few more people who I’ll be able to create music with again and that we’ll be “of one mind.” Perhaps JB will live close soon and we’ll find a drummer and a bass player who will make post-rock music with us. Or Pilots will reunite in January like we’re taking about. Who knows. Until then I’ll just have the next time Berry makes it down, or see the Color Revolt or something like that.

The need for music

I am in desperate for a musical outlet, yet seem rather impotent in terms of writing. I cannot seem to create music for myself, as well as accompaniment for others. Yet I also have an overwhelming desire to do so. What is this need to create? Are there other ways in which this manifests itself in my life? I think of last month with the sudden urge to create a website, and with “tricking out” my computer with applications, and social networking type of things. I think of building instruments, some from scratch. I can think of this desire to write great articles and to maybe teach someday. This need to create new things, and put them out for all to see. Do we all have a need for significance? Or is it just me?

Emo

Dashboard is to punk like what Michael Bolton is to metal. No balls whatsoever. Heck, compared Dashboard to even original Emo, and I mean Fugazi and Rites of Spring and all that ’85 post-hardcore, slower, “emotional” music those DC kids were making and it’s like gumming your food. Absolutely without teeth.

Dashboard #1

Outline of Dashboard article:

1. Introduction
a. Maybe unrelated
b. Maybe about Further Seems Forever

2. Body
a. What makes him legitimate?
b. John Cusak as Rob Gordon in High Fidelity
c. Steve Carrell as Michael Scott in the Office
d. Chris Henningfeld as himself

3. Conclusion/Application
a. What does this say about culture?
b. About teenagers
c. @JB: compared to other great break-up albums?

I found myself watching Dashboard Confessional’s 2002 MTV Unplugged DVD with several friends. While feeling immersed in nostalgia as all of the songs performed were from either two albums or two EPs I owned and frequently spun while a junior in high school, I couldn’t help but smirk at how overly adolescent they are (and were then.) Each and every song could be illustrated in a public high school framework with lyrics about an immeasurable amount of flowing hair…

Lars and the Real Girl

The film Lars and the Real Girl is one of the strongest proponents of the need for community I have seen in quite a while. For those who have yet to see it, Lars suffers from the delusion that his mail order, custom assembled, plastic doll is his girlfriend whom he’s in love with. Through the course of the movie you learn of “Bianca’s” past, which is startlingly like Lars’ because she actually “is” Lars. The part about the film that touched me the most was how Lars’ community: his brother and his brother’s wife, his coworkers and their spouses and friends and his church immediately respond with respect, kindness, tactfulness and love to Lars and his girlfriend, Bianca. This has deep application to our own lives, especially related to those in our community who are “strange” or have serious problems.
The need for community that goes above and beyond what is “normal” for it’s members is what the body of Christ should be. In the middle of the film, Lars brother Gus and his wife Karin, go to a meeting with a few of the members of their church to explain their and Lars’ situation. Nearly every one at the meeting has something to say about how Lars is acting ridiculous, crazy, or as something else all together. Interrupting one of the members tirades, the pastor says something like “I only have one thing to say, and I say it all the time: What would Jesus do?”

While seeming trite and rather comical at the moment, the pastor encapsulated the meaning of community as well as making it clear how each member should respond to Lars. Through the love that each member shares throughout the film, Lars begins to understand that he is loved, and the delusion fades.

What is it about love that is so hard for many of us to practice in community? How are we responding to those at the fringes (Lars and his church or coworkers), and those who are close (Lars and his brother.) What can we do to create a loving atmosphere for those who truly having something wrong with them? And how can we love ourselves to prevent things like that happening to us on small and large scales?