Thursday, October 28, 2004


Rites of Spring my tuchus! I’ve heard that album before and it sounds nothing like emo. That crunk is straight-punk and you know it.

Case in point: upon playing Cap’n Jazz (another “seminal emo band”) for some random teenager, he turned sour-faced and asked, “What is this s*** (by the way, kids in the mall will listen to anything you tell them to)?” Where are the hooks, teen-boy wondered aloud. “And why isn’t the lead singer talking about simple stuff like girls?”

Well, I have heard the cries of the “kids” and unfortunately their irreverence knows no bounds--they think that bands like Jawbreaker suck like…err, a jawbreaker.
All they want is to dress up in hoodies, wear wristbands and cry like little brats. Therefore, I’ve trimmed the pretentious fat and have graciously provided to you my list of emo albums that actually matter today.

And honestly, if we hear I more person call Joan of Arc “emo,” I will give them something to cry about. And then I’ll break their fingers so they can’t write a song about it, either.

Weezer/Pinkerton [Geffen, 1996]: On the second song, “Getchoo,” Rivers Cuomo sneers “this is beginning to hurt…” and instantly launches a million LiveJournals. It took people almost five years after its release to see how brilliant and personal Pinkerton is.

Sunny Day Real Estate/Diary [Sub Pop, 1994]: Dear Diary indeed! If I had a nickel for every time an emo band cited this dramatic masterpiece as an influence, I would finally be able to buy that Jeremy Enigk used towel I saw on eBay.

The Get Up Kids/Something To Write Home About [Vagrant, 2001]: They’ve toured with Superchunk (who opened for the Kids). They’ve recorded covers of the Cure, New Order, the Pixies and the Replacements. They rock a furious live show. Get over it; these Kids are all right.

Jawbox/Jawbox [Atlantic, 1996]: J. Robbins could have steered clear from getting stamped with the “e” label had he not ended this album with a furious cover of Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl.” Simultaneously, Amos obsessives everywhere traded in their curly red locks for a punk-like buzz cut.

The Promise Ring/Nothing Feels Good [Jade Tree, 1997]: Davey Von Bohlen, lead singer of the Promise Ring, reportedly had a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit. This album proves that his heart was even larger.

Blink 182/Take Off Your Pants and Jacket [Geffen, 2001]: Oh, you’re such a freakin' snob. You know that if these guys were around in the 70’s, they would have toured with the Buzzcocks--which for the lesser informed, is a good thing.

Alkaline Trio/Maybe I’ll Catch Fire [Asian Man, 2000]: Not since Rush recorded 2112 has a threesome captured the essence of alienation so effectively. Better yet, Matt Skibba’s voice will not annoy the bejesus out of you.

Rival Schools/United By Fate [Island, 2001]: Walter Schreifels has enough punk rock pedigree behind him (Quicksand and Gorilla Biscuits) to qualify as an elder statesman but with Rival Schools, he reinvented himself as an emo contender. This just in: People named “Walter” can actually be sex symbols (and so can Aryes).

Brand New/Deja Entendu [Razor & Tie, 2003]: With lyrics along the lines of, “if looks could kill/then my profession would be staring,” Jesse Lacey proves to have the sharpest wit of his emotive colleagues. The music itself, while not brand new, is not entirely déjà vu either.

Dashboard Confessional/The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most [Vagrant, 2001]: Whether you want to admit it or not, this one man whine-factory is not going away anytime soon. Yes, songwriter Chris Carrabba may be the bane of your existence but for millions of teens, he is the reason to exist.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


I remember my life changed one day while I was in the 10th grade. I was sitting innocently on the brown pimply couch in my den (which is now in my apartment begging for mercy from the regular abuse of my roommates) and my mom said that I had a phone call. So like an apathetic high school student, I lazily got up, taking my sweet time to pick up the phone in the kitchen. It was Michael Weinreb. A most unexpected call. Mike was a year older than me and also, one of the two people in my life who introduced me to great music and more importantly, the alternative bands that now hold so much nostalgic joy for me. Before Mike tried to teach me a thing or two, I had been exclusively investing my time in heavy metal and Billy Joel, a combination that made a most uncommon mix tape (“Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter” by Iron Maiden followed by “Allentown”). But nevertheless, Mike never gave up on me and lent me cassettes—yes, tapes—of School of Fish, Mother Love Bone, the Pixies and everything more or less considered alternative. But then he was on the phone insisting that I turn on the radio to our local college station. The nicest thing about Kean College radio is that you could request a song and hear it moments later. Mike told me that he had just requested something for me to hear that was “like nothing [I] had ever heard before.” After searching for the decimal point that was our local station, I heard irreverent bass. And an unrepentant voice so tired. A voice so full of exhaustion that it seemed the words were rolling out of the side of his mouth, much like drool. “It’s getting hard, so hard to find/oh well, whatever, nevermind” was the only line I could make out, so, at the time the song had little lyrical impact on me. But musically, it boiled my blood. When the chorus kicked in, my ears found themselves confused. How could something so loud and obnoxious, simultaneously be so sweet and poppy? How did they pull this off? Better yet, how could they pull this off? Moreover, how could they do this to Whitney Houston? But Mike was right—this was like nothing I had ever heard before. In fact, I went out to buy the album the next day at a small record store in between my school and house. Nothing was ever the same again. Not the way I dressed. Not the way I talked. And most certainly, not the music I listened to.

A few years later, while living in Israel, I received news of Kurt Cobain’s untimely demise. While I was shocked and surprised, I was also disappointed. A man so brave as to change the face of music, opted out and folded under pressure just when the house upped the ante. And while his suicide is glorified with the prophetic diary entry of an altered Who line—“I hope I die before I become Pete Townsend”—and the infamous suicide note that borrows from Neil Young—“it’s better to burn out than fade away,” Cobain had truly disappointed me.

It may be harsh to speak of the deceased in this manner, to shatter a golden image and make it into the tarnished reality that is a tortured human being. And some may resent the finger pointing at someone who can no longer say “stop pointing at me because it’s rude” but this is how I feel. I think he wimped out. Yes, Cobain was a brilliant and troubled man that many may not understand regardless of how many biographies come out and even when we (wrongfully) print his private journals. Much like a lost loved one, the more we hold onto him, the harder it will be to move on. You see, his death had only further made things complicated. How romantic was his life, all the kids say. How Shakespearean was his existence? I wonder if he had been alive today, would we still embrace him as our hero? As our musical Messiah? Or would the A.D.D. generation have thrown him aside, causing DGC to eventually dump them, returning the band to the indie label, Sub Pop? I truly wonder.
But the combination of his death and his music has made it too late. We cannot turn back. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana have ruined music for everyone.

We are merciless. Unforgiving. We demand more but we forget that this is ONLY rock and roll--nothing more, nothing less. Yes, we want our musicians to try harder and take more hallucinatory drugs but then again, we want them to be real. Because when you’re real, and not an image like wearing red and white all the time, do you produce art? And nobody knew this more than three young men who innocently destroyed the music industry for the rest of us. Three “slacker dudes” that stumbled on a truly alternative formula (see Pixies; also see A Lot of Bass with Chorus Guitar Freakout) and stole it for themselves. They brought it to the masses and made it difficult for any band thereafter to be taken seriously. Even eleven years later.
Yes, Nirvana recorded an album. A brilliant sincere album that DGC released in 1991 and then proceeded to distribute Nevermind to commercial radio stations, Walmarts and, God help us, MTV. Then it was all downhill from there.
One would be foolish in saying Nevermind did not change the world. It opened the door for Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and basically everything you’ve heard until now. It has a sociological relevance that no other album has had in the past 20 years. In fact, you would probably still be swearing by Chicago and Rush if it had not been for Cobain and crew. You, one of 11 million others, own this album and made it the phenomena that it was and is. But unknowingly, you also made it hard for any band since then to develop properly.

Indeed, in today’s musical digestive system, bands are –excuse the analogy – thrown up right after they're chewed on. It’s like that unfortunate high school girl with her bulimia. Oh, how excited we get. How you can see the glee and joy on our face - this band is the next Nirvana. It has to be. How many times have you heard someone say that? Ben Greenman of the New Yorker, a reputable publication that usually makes sense, called the Hives as exciting as the Seattle legends with their song “Main Offender” as blisteringly catchy as “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It smells more like Ben’s smoking some serious drugs.
Where is the next Nirvana, everyone asks. Where will it come from? When will an “alternative” band break out from the college crowd and reach mass consumption, saving us from the blah radio format? Will it rise from the annoyingly pretentious Brooklyn scene? Will it be the undiscovered potential, Sweden? Where o’ where is the next Nevermind? Both Rolling Stone and Spin had Cobain on their cover a few months ago. We are obsessed with reading about Courtney (hey, baby, who wrote your music?) and her fighting with Krist Noveselic and Dave Grohl. We are obsessing over 6 or 7 songs that were never intended to be released to the public and, for all we know, may be throwaways (Is “You Know You’re Right” really that great? Does that sound like true Nirvana?). Now we’re talking about the boxed set. How as a nation do we forget everything so quickly, so apathetically but when it comes to this, we are like elephants that have taken their ginseng?
And here is what we suggest; don’t buy the upcoming boxed set. Yes, forget Nirvana.

People cry and cry about the current state of rock n’roll and yes, I’ve heard them. In fact, I sometimes cry too. And to be honest, it’s not really as bad as we think. BUT if you still disagree and think it is, then I’ll play devil’s advocate and tell you not to believe the hype. Yes, Franz Ferdinand received nearly two million dollars and yes, we have heard it all before but remember that Nevermind was Nirvana’s second album which was recorded innocently with no expectations and no bidding wars. In truth, current bands focus more on relieving their anxiety and handling instant fame than writing good music. That’s why one band can tell its Radiohead from its Radiotush. They told the world to step off. They said, this is what we do. This is us. Buy it or don’t. And we bought it. Not all of us, mind you, but the ones who were ok with “difficult.” Because they raged against the hype machine and created an ongoing epiphany over a span of three CD’s.

I find it interesting that no one ever refers to bands as the next Beatles or the next Rolling Stones (heck, the Rolling Stones aren’t even the Rolling Stones). That is because we understand that no musician, no band could reach that level of artistry realistically. We have lowered our expectations because we cannot expect that much. It would be unfair and better yet, everyone would laugh at you when you said it (imagine starting a conversation at a part y like this: wow, Dashboard Confessional is so the next Beatles). But interestingly enough, the label “next Nirvana” is thrown around with reckless abandon. And this, my friends, is why we are so disapponted. When we realize that we should be careful with this term and when we stop weighing a record up against, yet again, a sociological phenomenon, we will then find the next Nirvana. But until then, I don’t plan on buying the brand new Nirvana boxed set.
I’m too busy reading Kurt Cobain's diary.

Monday, October 25, 2004


In the classic film, Crimes & Misdemeanors, Woody Allen tells us that the formula for comedy is time plus tragedy. At the time of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, no one could joke about it. But hundreds of years later, Lincoln’s death is free reign for a good laugh.

In the brilliant and consistently hilarious satire, America, the Book; A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, comedian Jon Stewart and the writers of his hit television show The Daily Show, have no such limitations. In fact, they even mock democracy in the future where, naturally, Arnold Schwarzenegger is President of the United States.

The book, which is already a massive hit in American bookstores, is a no holds-barred take of the difference between the Democratic ideal and the Democratic reality, of which Stewart makes abundantly clear, is still a pretty massive differential. Using an unrepentant and biting critical tongue in chapters like “The Media: Democracy’s Valiant Vulgarians” and “Congress: Quagmire of Freedom,” America is an equal-opportunity commentator of the significant-yet-ignored issues that our country faces. Moreover, the faux-textbook even takes on an extra potency in an election year that itself borders on satire, even without the helpful jabbing of comedians.

America, the Book has no allegiance to any politician or political party which is why the book is so refreshing. Its lesson is to be skeptical and prevent history from repeating itself. In this particular moment in electoral confusion, Stewart reminds us that we no longer have the time to wait for hindsight. The time to make fun is now

Friday, October 22, 2004


The Race
If You Can
(Flame Shovel Records)

Is it a blessing or is it a curse to have a voice that sounds exactly like Thom Yorke’s? Well, for Yorke, it’s a blessing because it’s both made Radiohead a zillion of dollars and also intellectualism supremely hot again. But for England’s Muse and Chicago’s The Race, it’s probably a comparison they would rather stop hearing. Like a younger brother just entering high school, both frustrated bands try to establish their own respective identity but then find themselves becoming the shadow of another. And that’s a shame because these two albums are truly wonderful once you get over the Radiohump.

Apparently huge in the UK, Muse has been headlining festivals and churning out consistent hit singles for already a few years. Their latest apocalyptical-themed album, Absolution, is a frenzied, pissed-off punch to the apathetic face. Singer, Matt Bellamy delivers his message as if every day is like Doomsday. On songs like “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” Bellamy screams, albeit gracefully and soaringly, that you should “change everything you are…your hard times are ahead!” while on “Time Is Running Out,” he warns, appropriately enough, that “our time is running out.” All the while, the unrepentant drums and the volcanic guitars both compete for the title of Most Thunderous. Needless to say, this album is not a feel-good Sunday morning brunch soundtrack. It’s an unsettling work about the end of the world. And it sounds like it.

The Race, on the other hand, doesn’t want to rock you into a panic. They want to cradle you into a feeling of ease. While many have complained that Radiohead abandoned its song structures when it went electronica, The Race exists in an alternate universe where OK Computer came installed with a large heartdrive (listen to “Can Get Home” if you’re feeling “Lucky”). Vocalist and guitarist, Craig Klein’s delivery is the lulling comfort to Matt Bellamy’s alarming jolt. Despite If You Can’s brevity (thirty minutes), the Chicago collective’s third release is an indie effort that never feels rushed. It’s a sublime, glitchy-pop half hour that succinctly alleviates any concerns of the impending Judgment Day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


[Premise: The year is 2133. After years and years of societal dictation that all men must act like "jerks" and "think with their members," all men on the Planet Earth have actually become callous and bereft of any chivalry. Women, as a result, have learned to adapt and accept the harsh reality.
During this sad age in the human race, a man wakes from an 872-year deep freeze. His name is Ed and Ed is still a nice guy. In fact, unbeknownst to him, he is the last nice guy on Earth. These are samples from his diary]

October 20th

Today I held a door open for a seemingly-nice woman in her thirties. This is something that my parents taught me to do. But oddly enough, the woman slapped me in the face. I couldn't believe it. I asked her what I had done wrong?
What did you do wrong, she asked in disbelief.
So naturally I said, yeah.
She gave me this look of horror and called me "a pig." She told me to never do anything like that in public ever again.
I kept my cool and told her to have a good day.
She turned around and told me to "go f*** myself."
So much has changed in this world. I'm still getting used to the swallowable cars.

October 22nd
I went to a bar near my apartment. A nice little place. People sure drink a lot in the future. Oh, and they don't make Bud Light anymore. What's a guy from Jersey supposed to drink?
I spotted this cute girl sitting by herself. It's so rare when that happens so I knew it was my chance to make a move. You know, start some conversation.
I walked over to her and said, hey. Do you mind if I sit here?
Do I mind, she asked? Like it makes a difference if I mind. You'll sit here regardless of what I want.
At this point I'm thinking, gosh, the second angry woman I've met since I woke from my coma. What are the chances?
I sat down and asked her how her day was?
And she said, what do you want from me? Do you just want to use me and dump me days later? If you do, well, let's just get this over with. My place or yours?
At this point I'm thinking what is going on here? I said, no, I just want to make some conversation.
Conversation, she says, like I had just asked her to kill someone for me. I don't make conversation, buddy. You're a pervert and if you don't leave me alone, I'm going to ask the bouncer to escort you out.
Yikes. I got up and sat down elsewhere and drank alone. I watched some TV. They have this weird reality show about a house of aliens all living together in a house on Mars. My personal favorite is the gay Uranus alien. He seems so damn likable.

Ocotber 27th

So, I was hanging out with my new friends, Dawg and Scumbag (both nicknames...although, I'm can't be sure) and they're trying to set me up with some ladies. And I'm super appreciative. Dawg told me about a girl in particular that would be good for a "wild ride." I told Dawg that I have my own car so I won't need to date a girl with one. I asked if they knew anyone who was into good music and was also well-read. Scumbag laughed at me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps he thought that I shouldn't restrict myself like that considering I have been asleep for 872 years. Maybe he's right.
I asked them if they had girlfriends.
Dawg told me that I was the funniest guy he knew. And I should try to be serious once in awhile.
We then went out for pizza which is so much yummier in the future.
I was feeling bold since I paid for the pizza, so I asked Scumbag what he looked for in a woman..since that seemed to be our topic of conversation tonight. Come to think of it, we always talked about women. Weird.
Scumbag told me he likes them easy.
Easy on the eyes, eh, I said as I winked.
He laughed at me again.
I think I hate the future.

[Stay tuned for more adventures of The Last Nice Guy On Earth]

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


We don't forget quickly enough.
In an age of immediate gratification, our minds don’t work nearly as fast as the rest of our body does. When we're in a rush, we run. When we're hungry, we eat. When we ache, we take an aspirin. But yet when we truly ache, in a metaphorical sense, there is no quick fix. There is no solution that allows us to speed up a process of regeneration. Granted, we could spend our mornings listening to ELO but there's only so much Jeff Lynne can do. Yes, even Jeff Lynne is sometimes helpless.
Sometimes I wonder if I would really want to forget these aches. If I could erase things in my mind so they couldn't influence my day-to-day, would I?

There's a reason why Michael Gondry's glorious Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind resonates so deeply with the people of my age bracket. It's a movie that has tremendous cultural significance. Dismissing it merely as "hipster fare" would be an incredible mistake—it’s a masterpiece. In fact, its unresolved ending has haunted me since the day I saw it (last year, in mid-March). The two main characters, Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) have a relationship that borders on being a definite extreme--not many people I know have such a volatile and unhealthy dating experience but the degree of dysfunctionality is not the idea to harp on. The point is that most couples do have conflicts and obstacles. Unlike the musicals we grew up on, we don't break out into spontaneous song and dance. Life's a bitch and then we let it out in the backyard to run around and get the angst out of its system. Then we let it back in and cuddle with it on the couch. Philosopher Erich Fromm tells us that love is never a passive and immediate activity. It is a "stepping in" rather than a "falling in." The active, not the passive. Gondry shows us, albeit the extreme, that love, specifically their love, is not necessarily "healthy" but still very passionate and very emotional. That there’s room for growth and resolution just as long as the two characters step out of themselves. That despite Clementine's and Joel's wish to run away from one another, their feelings are too strong to deny. I commend Gondry for being so romantic in an unconventional way. I admire the movie for re-establishing the concept of fate and love for the cynical, disenchanted crowd.

Another movie I find people talking about a great deal nowadays is Garden State. Yes, it's a wonderful debut for director/writer/actor Zach Braff. A romantic tale of resolving the unresolved. I even enjoyed it (I can relate with losing a parent suddenly) but I would almost dare to dismiss it as being trite. Braff's vision is unrealistic and perhaps the complete opposite of Gondry's incredible and difficult-to-stomach reality. Braff, or "Large" in the movie, falls hopelessly in love with Natalie Portman in a span of four days and forms a connection unlike any other, a connection he is able to create after not accessing his emotions for twenty-some odd years. I’m not saying that the set-up is impossible but it does falsely create potentially unfulfilled expectations for the viewer. I remember discussing the movie with someone after having seen it and my inability to truly accept the premise. I guess I fall into the camp that believes we work towards something substantial and “real” and the other times, we dismiss the beautiful challenges in our life too soon (yes, challenges can be beautiful). But what I did learn from the Garden State is that on occasion, we find ourselves in situations that we couldn't possibly have counted on-- the keyword there is “counted.” You may think something wonderful won’t happen to you but the beauty of your life is that it just could…any second now.
Granted, it rarely occurs as quickly as it did for Braff’s Large, especially in a surrounding like Newark, New Jersey, but who knows? New Jersey is a weird and magical place.

In Eternal Sunshine, Joel and Clementine have the portion of their respective minds that contain their mutual and shared history erased. As I wondered above, would I do something like that?
I would like to think I wouldn't.
Love takes time and experience. I know this now.

Monday, October 18, 2004


I am not yet inspired. I will write something for BBS when I am "feeling it."

By Ilana

Thursday, October 14, 2004


I know that I promised to write about Jimmy Eat World...and I will but the writing exercises on this site have always been very instinctual and very reactive to the world around me. There is very little editing (occasional spell-check) and very little censoring. My only objective is to protect the anonymity of the people I know.

I received an email from a friend just the other day and she sounds pained. I feel awfully helpless. While I can control the way I feel, I cannot convince her to feel any better. Now, I truly believe in the potency of pop music. I have always been an advocate for listening to lyrics, no matter how trite they are and try to gain some understanding of ourselves from them. As a child, I was told that who is wise? He who learns from everyone.

While I was in the supermarket, Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter" played over the speakers. Don Henley, who coincidentally was my first concert, was never one of my favorites even at a time when I stood at the altar of Billy Joel and Elton John. Henley's voice was too raspy, too unrefined. Besides, I hated the Eagles--they flat-out irritated me. If I heard "Hotel California" one more, I would never check in even if it were the last hotel on earth. Although, if they had a nice spa...

I digress. "Heart of the Matter" with backing vocals by Bonnie Raitt (yes, it gets worse) is an important song because of the lesson it teaches us. It's encapsulates a very healthy perspective on heartbreak and the process of moving on. While looking through the fruit and vegetables aisle, I took notice of the words:

"I got the call today
That I didn't wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old, true friend of ours was talkin' on the phone
She said you'd found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
and the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you"

Henley acknowledges man's or woman's worst fear; the ex moving on. It will happen and we are kidding ourselves into thinking it won't. In fact, it's better for our emotional health if we count on it. Moreover, we see that while the song's characters' relationship was not ideal, nevertheless, Henley believes that there is no such thing as something unworkable.

"I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again
I've been tryin' to get down
to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about...forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore"

With words like this, "Heart..." could even be an emo song. It's ok to move on in your life and still miss someone. This is a natural and normal reaction. In every aspect of our lives and in many capacities, we lose someone, whether it is a boyfriend, girlfriend, father, relative, etc. Missing someone is not a weakness, it's a strength. Henley comforts the listener by saying accessing your emotions is healthy. Denying them is not. The more he or she knows about the "other" or the more he or she tries to find out, the less easier it will be to embark on a new stage of his or her life. The words of this song that I admire most are the part when the Californian songwriter speaks of forgiveness. Yes, you were wronged. You are hurting but sometimes the high road will make you feel better. You are entitled to your anger but sometimes, you have to see that this has nothing to do with you or who you are. Forgiveness, my friend, is essential. It's a quality of yours that makes you a better person. I don't believe in forgiving and forgetting--remembering for the future and learning from the experience is why we take chances in life.

The ending verses are my favorite. Henley warns us about the world of cruel emotional detachment where many of the people we encounter build up walls and seek temporary comfort in the fleeting pleasures of physical intimacy. Moreover, these people also play games. I cannot even recall how many times friends have suggested that I stop being so expressive and communicative. In the past, I believed them and followed their advice but all that does is make you regret the things you never said. They say restrain yourself from revealing too much. While it's not in my nature to do so, I do see the perverse success of these games and thier emotionally-stunting strategies. I, for one, stand against this ever-popular trend. Henley tells us that the person you love one day will love you back unconditionally. There will be no time for games. See below for the hard-hitting line: "Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms."

"Ah...these times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined
and people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
Ah...the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
They're the very things - we kill I guess...
Ohh pride and competition
cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us
you know it doesn't keep me warm
I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby"


"Even if, even if, you don't love me anymore
There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down, you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby; cause' life goes on
If you keep carryin' that anger, it'll eat you up inside, baby
I've been trying to get down
to the heart of the matter"

And finally, Henley tells us to let go of the anger. It doesn't do you any good. In fact, "it'll [just] eat you up inside"' and the person you are angry with will never know about that feeling. The now-defunct Eagles drummer knows that you shouldn't allow anyone to affect you this way. Just get down to the heart of the matter. Specifically, your heart. Because ultimately its yours and its important to upkeep it. You will use it again in the future. I assure you. The heart of the matter is that you are amazing. And despite the way you feel right now, everything will be better.
I swear.

[Dedicated to those people I care about]

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

[It's been a while since I wrote about my dear father.
Maybe it's because I didn't realize how much I miss his guidance, his love, his support. Rather I should say his unwavering support.
It seems that we invest a great deal of ourselves into other people to only be eventually disappointed in some capacity. My father never disappointed. He was always available for me.
It's been nearly two years since he's gone. Frankly, it’s uncomfortable for me to say this, but I can't remember him too well. And that exacerbates the pain. I wish I could see his smile. I wish I could hear his thick Boston accent telling me everything would be okay. Because he believed it would and while he was around, his family did, too.
There's something so special about the comfort a father brings when he is in this world. As I sit here flipping through an album I put together of pictures--some of me and him, some by himself, etc--I wonder if he is watching me and feeling helpless. I wonder if he is watching me in my current condition and pleading to intervene.
The days are getting darker earlier. The temperature is cooling down.
I speak to my sister on the phone. She tells me she misses him too.
She is moving into a new house now and wishes he was here to see it. Take great satisfaction in the largeness of it.
I tell her that maybe we never lose the pain. Just sometimes every day events keep us too busy to notice them.
She says, it's possible. Maybe that's how life works. It's a series of experiences and feeling piled up on one another. You are what has happened to you. Nothing more or nothing less.
I tell her I miss him so much still.
I understand, she says. We all do.]


I have too many CDs.
I have stacks and stacks and stacks of them
They keep piling up into skyscrapers of music, like a city skyline of plastic jewel cases.
I listen to most of them. In fact, I listen to as many of them as I can on regular rotation.
And people do ask, could you have possibly listened to all this music and my answer is simply, yes. I do, I have, and I will. I listen to certain albums depending on my mood and the time or the season. They're like outfits. White in the summer, darks in the winter, earth tones in the fall. Gentle in the morning, blasting at night. Then gentle again when I lie down to go to bed.
It's kinda organic. Like that restaurant you like in the East Village.

Nowadays, though, I find myself gravitating to two particular artists: Ben Folds, a gifted and rare talent, a pianist with a heart and a sense of humor, and Jimmy Eat World, a power-pop band that puts a great deal of effort into their blistering and most earnest compositions. Coincidentally, both do not get the credit or respect they deserve. Most often, snobs will simply blow them off for being too simple but that is not a fault. In fact, that's why they both mean so much to me. Listen to songs like "Not The Same" or "Gone" off of Ben Folds solo debut, Rockin' The Suburbs--they are both supremely poignant and bittersweet. "Gone" tells the story of a man who has moved on from a broken heart but still wonders, years later, how the perpetrator is. This is a weakness that most would look down upon. In this world of emotional detachment, we see expressive people who are able to embrace their emotions and upkeep them like a plant that needs watering as a weakness. "Magic" and "Mess" off of Ben Folds Five's final album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, are both underappreciated classics. With lyrics like "there are rooms in this house that I don't open anymore/dusty books of pictures on the floor/that she will never see...she'll never see that part of me," "Mess" is the sort of brutal honesty and delivery that we wish we could encounter on a daily basis. The twinkling harpsichord and the congo-like drumming along with a couplet like "things got complicated/my innocence has all but faded/oh, this mess I have made" speaks of an acceptance; that perhaps we have brought the drama onto ourselves. At the end of the song, the narrator speaks of the relationship and his desire to not make the same mistakes: "I want to be for her/what I could never be for you." The violins sweeping the background add to the chill-factor.

Incidentally, the song following "Mess" is "Magic." Perhaps this is intentional. "You're the magic that holds the sky up from the ground/you're the breath that blows these cool winds 'round/trading places with an angel row" are just some of the things the narrator of "Mess" wish he would have said to the woman in question. Folds is a classic songwriter, channeling the human condition in an unprecedented way (what other artist is doing today what he is doing) and telling us, the listener, that it is okay to be sappy, funny, sweet and expressive. Wounded and introspective. Life has its cries and laughs. In perhaps one of his sweetest and adoring songs, "The Luckiest," Folds sings "now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls brought me here...and I know that I am the luckiest." If you can't respect a sentiment like that and if you're rolling your eyes...well then, it must be pretty cold where you are. Wear a jacket.


Monday, October 11, 2004


It's Never Too Late:
I've just started a band. Be on the look-out for The Power Chords. [name subject to change]
The idea for the band is to write and perform anthems, fist-pumpers, and all soaring choruses. This band will make you scream, cry, jump, and want to be the mother of my child. Featuring the incredibly talented Jordon Schranz.

Stop. Hammer Time:
Mark November 22nd down on your calendar. I am back and performing stand-up comedy at New York City's Caroline's. I assure you that I will avoid all what's-the-deal-with routines. But honestly...while we're on the subject, what's the deal with ketchup?

So if you've been following along, by the end of this year, I will be a novelist, a comedian, a musician, and the father of countless children. Sounds right.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Pain - Jimmy Eat World
Cemetery Drive - My Chemical Romance
Black Curses - Communiqué
Not The Same - Ben Folds
Somewhere Only We Know - Keane
Celebrity Sanctum - Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Y Control - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols
Even Tho - Joseph Arthur
Fortress - Pinback
A Praise Chorus - Jimmy Eat World
Blow It Out - The Features
The Kids Just Wanna Have Fun - Legends
I'm Not Okay (I Promise) - My Chemical Romance
You And I Misbehaving - Tilly And The Wall
Rebellion (Lies) - Arcade Fire
Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
Eye in the Sky - The Alan Parsons Project
Common People - William Shatner

I can make a copy for you, if you'd like. Particularly if you are a starving child in Africa.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


"Walk On Water" By Eddie Money

Laugh all you want. This is quite possibly one of the most hair-raising power songs from the 80's that will never lose its potency. I truly commend Eddie for his accesible and unabashedly honest lyrics. As I mentioned in the past, music can be so much more enjoyable when its sentiments and ideas are understandable and this one, my friends, is on the Money.
Thank you. I'll be here all week.