Thursday, August 31, 2006

As you can see from the growing pile of bags at the bottom of the picture, someone is moving out. My roommate is moving in with his girlfriend this coming weekend so I’ll be alone for the time being, though the possibilities always exist that another person will come along in need of a living room (fron-troom in chicagospeak) to inhabit indefinitely. Its not fancy but its right downtown and the price is cheap. The point of this post is the wonderful print hanging on the wall – Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” to be exact. Ty framed it like a champ and Scott and Clare drove it north –thanks is given all around. I wanted a print that I enjoy, but one that will yield new insights as the years go on when it becomes harder to “see” each day. I think this threads the needle nicely, though the probability for nightmares is certainly higher than average. The rightmost panel is the prime candidate for REM gremlins. To the left of this, above the tv, hangs 3 great photos of the Uptown Theatre (in Chicago) sent to me by Melissa in Portland. In an attempt to be a bit more of an adult I’m trying to surround myself with some art, yet the fa├žade will surely crack immediately when the bikes and comics are seen to be littering the apartment. It’s a start in the right direction though.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The woman in the Seney train depot told her dog to stop barking just before giving me a 10 second run down of what the little museum had to offer. There was a fair amount of old photos and artifacts from the pre-1900 Seney lumber town that had a substantially larger size than today. That wild west atmosphere had burned out by 1919 when Hemingway visited and though it wasn’t literally filled with burned out stumps at the time of his visit, the impression of a ghost town was accurate. The Hemingway exhibit in the train station had an interesting display case filled with 1919 era fishing and camping equipment – the same type described in the equipment list Hemingway had written at the time. While it isn’t known exactly where Hemingway and his 2 friends camped in 1919, it is known that they camped among some late summer blueberry pickers, and those pickers camped along the east branch of the Fox River near its intersection with the highway (top picture). Hemingway fished the main branch of the Fox as well (primarily it seems) and so did I (second picture). Both are very deep and cold rivers, even by north woods, trout standards. I caught nothing in either but used a Hemingway fly (yes, they make an Adams fly with that specification/title). I suspect this elevates my geekiness above the previous Star Wars/comic book/Warhammer nexus it had previously inhabited. Fair enough. The river and country were just as beautiful as the Wisconsin north woods I know so well, only with an added dash of history I enjoyed. I doubt I will be back to Seney anytime soon, but there is something (with ALL hipness certainly aside) to be said for having fished the same water and stood in the same woods as Papa himself.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ernest Hemingway

The train went on up the track out of sight, around one of the hills of burnt timber. Nick sat down on the bundle of canvas and bedding the baggage man had pitched out of the door of the baggage car. There was no town, nothing but the rails and the burned-over country. The thirteen saloons that had lined the one street of Seney had not left a trace. The foundations of the Mansion House hotel stuck up above the ground. The stone was chipped and split by the fire. It was all that was left of the town of Seney. Even the surface had been burned off the ground.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I don’t attend nearly as many hardcore shows as I used to, largely out of my taste not keeping up with the times, economics (more so a reason when I was still in school), and a general lack of time. Life is busy and it can be tough to find the time to stand around in a small space listening to a bill of small acts trying to get it together for the first time. It can be an amazing, enlightening, and unexpected experience (ie. the way I first was exposed to The Murder City Devils), but most of the time it is a bust. I know the journey is what counts. I buy a handful of comic books each week and only a few are truly memorable, but you’ll never find those diamonds if you don’t keep showing up every week for new book day. Not having been to a show in a good while, I expected a mixed bag at Gorilla Biscuits Saturday night. I was mildly excited to see the gig, my excitement only tempered by the possibility it would mostly be a sluggish cash in by tattooed men in their late 30’s. Joyously, I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Murphy’s Law was everything it was supposed to be, along with Jimmy Gestapo’s birthday cake being thrown into the crowd. GB was tight, in a great mood, and played almost every track they had in their canon (I honestly can’t think of a song they missed). 50 minutes, nothing but smiles from the band and crowd, and aside from some brutish bouncer behavior, a perfect show. Nothing more could be said. A+.

On the drive home I was able to tune in to one of my favorite late night radio shows, The Nick Digilio Show. I listen in Madison over the internet at times, but its enough of small project to make it so that it doesn’t happen often enough. They were chatting about strange, anachronistic phrases people use and I called up and chatted with Nick on the air, offering the phrase “take a cure.” Being on the radio isn’t the coolest thing to claim, but it was a fun cap to an already great night.

Friday, August 04, 2006

If you don't hear from me within 7 days, you now know where to start the search.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stay off my lawn!

I just really like this cover.

Who gets to say that they were at the nascent stage of a given movement? I mean really at that first moment before the thing became watered down, which is probably when more than a handful of people heard/saw it. In this case I’m thinking specifically about hardcore, or punk if you want to describe that particular branch of rock music another, slightly broader, way. In American Hardcore, the period of 1980 – 86 is considered not so much the first era of hardcore (which it certainly is), but the only real era of it, before things drifted towards metal, emo, etc. I would disagree that the later eras are invalid (at least in being labeled “hardcore”). In fact, I might even attempt to argue that they are closer to a better definition of hardcore, sort of like an extra polishing or refinement. For me the sound of the late 80’s into the early 90’s remains fairly close to that of the early era (Black Flag and Bad Brains being some of the better examples of the standard sound, if that can even be quantified), even with the creeping in of metal. NYC and Boston produced a pure sound, but with a tighter message. In my experience the largest difference was in the turning away from the excesses of punk, and in the direction of straight edge. Bands didn’t need to be straight edge – the idea that it was a strong element in the scene had a subtle effect on what would be tolerated and what was considered foolish. As an example, it seemed like heroin raced through the scene in the early 80’s but was not a strong thread later in the decade, according to American Hardcore. I yield to no one in my love for the Misfits, but SOIA and Slapshot always seemed more direct and focused, even when they weren’t screaming about sxe or the like (I know SOIA was never straight edge). I can’t say anything bad about the book though. Reading interviews with all the heavyweights is inherently interesting, even if it makes some of them look like fools. Perhaps the simple reality is that I was young and into hardcore for the first time in the late 80’s and the author was first exposed in 1980. The kids today seem to think that their records are “amazing,” though they seem weak and should be in the cut-out bin, and by cut-out bin I mean garbage can. I suspect the author of American Hardcore laughs at the way I hold “Step on It” and “We’re Not in this Alone” close to my heart. He can wait to take me on with his “ROIR” cassette until I tend to the kids running around with their American Nightmare and Fall Out Boy records. I think there is some truth in all the perspectives flying back and forth across the generations, but the fact that music nerds can be so foolishly passionate at times makes books like this endlessly fascinating in their attempt to describe and document something so wonderful, pure, and beyond description. As more books are released I expect I will read them all and argue incessantly with each of them.

I am such and old man.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I hate those Leeward Islands so much. For years they have silently mocked me. Never again.


If you are ever in the mood to see something completely unique, yet akin to walking in a living kaleidoscope, see the House on the Rock. Its about 40 miles west of Madison and is well worth the admission. The Infinity Room was very unnerving as it swayed ever so slightly as I walked out towards the viewing station near the end of it. Very unnerving.


Sometimes when cycling in the country you will run into Bears. Literally.