Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Black Sabbath - "N.I.B."
1970

+ COULDN’T GET Z-ROCK IN MY OFFICE

1. Downs

They just tell you that you're on your own
Fill your head all full of lies

     Sabbath's weirdo/cryptic Catholic song
     described your final days
     in Corporate America,
     salaried

2. Ups

Dude
They sent you to Rochester
to ask one question
           one specific question
           about rebar
tunes blasting all down/back Highway 52
window open

You expensed the mileage
 - 29 cents per mile -
made a tidy profit

Dropped off the rebar answer at District
slapped on a surfer hoodie
hit Down in the Valley Richfield/Penn Avenue
scored We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'n' Roll
the clerk was drinking a Molson

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Love - "Alone Again Or"
1967

OFFICEMAX CREDIT

true the dress code is awesome
jeans, tee shirt, sneakers
(okay the landlord keeps the heat on high)
actually: shorts, tee shirt, sneakers
and yes I'm in bliss with no coworkers
- nosy, talkative specimens
             who I never automatically
             embrace as friends
             geez give a guy
             some space
sleeping in is nice
working evenings/weekends
with no email distractions
music cranked
Premium on the coaster
can sometimes approach fun
but truly at times I'm convinced when I finger
3M Post-It Notes, Pilot pens, Bic highlighters,
Avery Glue Stics, Office Max binder clips,
Ampad graph paper, All-Matic clipboard
the main reason I stay self-employed is:

I love buying my own office supplies.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Extreme - "Hole Hearted"
1991

saying you will
stop with the cheap beer,
listening to Extreme's love songs
1992 was lost
               by late '91
               if not sooner
but you've got your new losses
                 now
so still the beer's the same
and those songs call you back
                                   back
                                   back

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
ZZ Top - "TV Dinners"
1983

Dear Netflix:

No more recommendations on kitchens, a chef, multiple chefs, cakes, or anything else involving food. I don't know who James Beard was, don't care. When the Star Tribune has their annual top ten local restaurants, I take it as the Top Ten Places I Have Never Eaten (and probably never will.) Usually I'm at home with meats on my George Foreman Grill or a Stouffer's Spaghetti With Meatballs. (Had to switch it up a while back from their also-hardy Lasagna With Meat And Sauce.) If it's a Friday, maybe a Heggie's. If I can work up the energy and hunger to place an order: pizza and wings or tacos-and-nachos or Chinese delivery. I used to get Jimmy John's but they turned from freaky-fast-to-taking-freaking-forever. If I venture out (BIG IF) it's the neighborhood counter diner or the local bar with the BLT that adds a fried egg. Oh and that place I bike to that has chicken tenders, sandwiches, gyros, fries, and is take-out only. That's it. No dining experience, no Grass Fed Beef!™, no dessert menu, nobody sitting across from me, nowhere to go afterwards. You should know by know I like crime thrillers, spy movies, maybe the occasional bawdy comedy or historical drama. Keep the foodie nonsense away from me. Unless it's Soylent Green.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Stabbing Westward - "What Do I Have To Do?"
1996

They were opening for Killing Joke
                                   First Avenue

Tom:
        "they're mad as hell and
         aren't going to take it anymore"

Later that month
in your car
heard them, thought:
hey they sound like Def Leppard

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Veruca Salt - "Volcano Girls"
1997

Pretty sure you compared this to Def Leppard
upon release, think you did that for any tune
you could
       Unless you compared a tune to Mott the Hoople
       (You compared Def Leppard to Mott the Hoople)

it was a gambit you tried with Stabbing Westward
or so you think

       memories are tricky things
       when you tend to write
                        and rewrite
       the same thing
       twenty years later
       it all becomes one long repetitive essay
   
Mott the Hoople sounded like
"Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl"
by The Barbarians
whose drummer had one arm
Def Leppard sounded like Mott the Hoople
Def Leppard's drummer had one arm

(why do bands like The Grateful Dead have two drummers - four arms -
 is such flashy indulgence welcome at the commune?)
     
Others compared Veruca Salt to The Breeders, accused them of theft,
but you stuck with your sweet gentle Def Lep comparison - actions that
encourage Pyromania on headphones are always solid

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Saga - "On the Loose"
1981

She was carrying on about her boyfriend. She cried about him
every month. Check that. She cried about him every other month,
when they broke up. Then the next month they would make up,
then the next month back to a break up. She was addicted to
drama, drew my roommate into it. Phone calls where he would use
the word maintain. He was there for her. But that one Saturday
night, I don't know what the hell happened. If I wasn't with
my usual running buddies, then I should have been
somewhere quiet reading a book. But we were together
having a nightcap, Stroh's, gathered near the window,
open in winter as the heat blasted that small room.
The radio on the desk played Saga, then Moving Pictures.
Not the Rush album, the band. She started crying, saying
the song was so specific. I wished I was listening to Aerosmith.
At that point I would have settled for The Goddamn Hooters.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Big Star - "Back of a Car"
1974

On 35-W
realized you were
someone who takes
cabs
           to
    from
literary events

       fifty-one years old

better than being twenty-nine
  with a Ford
  and a general ledger
     eh?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Rush - "New World Man"
1982

Canadian smart-not-clever prog-metal power trio set out for
something different, ended up sounding kinda like ... The Police.
Geddy Lee - ...who sounds like a cross between Donald Duck and
Robert Plant. - Alan Niester, The Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1979
- doesn't sound manic, no not AT ALL. Subdued Geddy ultimately
makes this tune weird, not fun ...  unless you're into nostalgia and
this came out when you were in high school when the Rushies ran
amok, then it's likely oddly fun(ny). And hey the bass sounds cool.
Any bets on when these guys start their Second Farewell Tour?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Zebra - "Who's Behind The Door?"
1983

Unlike Kingdom Come, who five years hence with "Get It On" would
shrewdly-and-astoundingly make every Hard Zep move possible, 
this one starts out as Mellow Zep, acoustic niceties off of Zep III
slowly morph into a synth/guitar/bombs-dropping blowout. The tune
is like a trip from 1970 Zep to Possible Future Zep. Synth drums
mean business sometime dammit, BadCo's "Rock 'N Roll Fantasy"
showed us this. By the last half of the tune, the vocalist suddenly
starts out hype-Planting the master: Geddy Lee. And all those
chumps in my high school hallways who insisted that Rush was
superior to all other hard rock competition because "they're so
technological" - Rush had synths, you see, and they played them
WITH THEIR FEET in concert, no sidemen needed - probably dug
these guys. You know what? Now I do too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
Michael Jackson - "Rockin' Robin"
1972

Twitter is almost as fun as cinnamon toast and is the only social network that matters. Unlike LinkedIn, it doesn't promote an ultimately-futile way of networking your way through the business world (which just results in getting "would you like to connect" notifications from high school classmates) or FaceBook (a home for baby photos and casual racism, I am told), Twitter mostly exists to make wry comments and take cheap shots regarding current events, politics, sports, entertainment, pop culture, and whatever else tweeters deem shot-worthy. Fellow tweeters here in the Twin Cities likely follow a lot of the same folks that I do, so here is My Five Fave Non-Minnesotan, Non-Minneapolitan, Not-Manned-By-Friends-Or-Acquaintances Twitter Accounts, as of January 10th, 2017:

@REALpunknews - What started out as a punk rock The Onion has started to expand its scope and has been killing it for months now. No hyperbole here, just some sample headlines:

"Skinhead Band Not Racist But Also Not Good"
"Henry Rollins Driving App Tells You How Hard It Would Have Been to Get There in the ’80s"
"Ted Nugent Begrudgingly Inducted Into Straight Edge Hall of Fame"
"Christian Metal Flyer Not Intelligently Designed"

@RevoltoftheApes - Calmly hypes stoner rock (and more up my alley) old-school heroes UFO, Blue Oyster Cult, and The Yardbirds. Plus throws in Buddhist wisdom and essential coffee reviews as well, dude.

@DadBoner - Our guy Karl Welzein isn't as hilariously productive as he was in the tweets leading up to 2013'3 Power Moves: Livin' The American Dream USA Style book - an essential tome - but he is again employed and for everyone who's in need of an antihero to rail (or at least shirk) against Corporate America, Karl is the sleeping-on-the-office-restroom-floor guy we need.

@TheRealCarlG - What is it about Midwestern German-American functioning alcoholics and tweeting? Green Bay Packers super fan Carl Gerbschmidt on Twitter does great duty as he does on the air for a respected segment on KFAN late Friday afternoons: He gleefully mocks the Minnesota Vikings Viqueens and their misguided fans. Easy targets, yes, but they deserve every ounce of ridicule. Plus Carl is a warrior and is almost always correct in his mockery. Again: how many Super Bowls have the Viqueens won?

@BangsQuotes - Whoever runs this account is my new hero. He/she (they?) tweets gems from my favorite writer ever, the smart/hilarious/poignant Lester Bangs. I can spot a few quotes from Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung and Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste but obviously the kind soul behind this account is reaching deeper into the Bangs canon. "Elvis was into marketing boredom when Andy Warhol was still doing shoe ads." Amen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
Faux Joni Mitchell - "Febreze Jingle"
2016









I thought to myself while waiting for the commuter rail to Minneapolis, apparently inadvertently summing up my life from North Dakota to Minneapolis, ending up a Joni Mitchell admirer in middle age after a long beginning as a hard rock partisan. KNOX-AM, I am yours.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
Clarence Carter - "Back Door Santa"
1968

"Back Door Santa" is my favorite Christmas song*. This holiday season, I've been blasting it more frequently and louder than any other year, because I have always imagined the narrator of the song to be black. Recently there was a black Santa Claus at a suburban Twin Cities shopping mall** and to nobody's surprise white racists were miffed that a universal symbol of kindness and gift-giving wasn't Caucasian. They swamped the comments sections of websites that featured stories on Black Santa, then undoubtably assured their spouses and children that they "once worked with a black guy, and he didn't mind my jokes at all." The Star Tribune went so far as to shut the comments on their article off, I'm guessing some of the white power rubes fired off emails about their First Amendment rights being denied.

Before I get sidetracked and tell you how bored I am with white peoples and/or this Surly Bender totally kicks in ... THE CASE FOR BLACK SANTA:

- Every photo of Clarence Carter ever features him wearing sunglasses. Is this a man who would embrace nothing BUT a Black Santa? Being that he recorded an all-time Yuletide classic, give the man his due.

- Black Santa is quintessentially American, whereas White Santa's origins are in Greece, England, Germany, and the Netherlands. White Santa's only true American roots come from the Coca-Cola Company. Like James Cagney in One, Two, Three, I kinda wish Whitey ends up with a Pepsi.

- I bring you back to a cover of Esquire from 1963, where we have Sonny Liston as a Black Santa. This is iconic, unlike the generic this-white-guy-again who appears at your local shopping mall. I propose that every dumm** white racist who opposes Black Santa go a few rounds with the ghost of Sonny.

- On "Christmas in Hollis", Run-DMC samples "Back Door Santa" and its video features a Black Santa. When Run-DMC were at their best, the Beatles/Stones/Yardbirds of hip-hop were damn funny. We all need a little levity right now. To put it another way: Lighten up, Francis.

- If you choose to be un-American and don't like Black Santa, think about the Finns believing that a Yule Goat brings presents to children:

The celebration of the goat is connected to worship of the Norse god Thor, who rode the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats.

Who would you rather have creeping around your living room at Christmas Eve midnight: A cool black guy or a freakin' goat? If you choose "goat"? Well, I'm going to campaign for a Black Thor, dummies.

- All true Americans and fans of the Christmas holiday should love Black Santa because he angers white racists. Anything that pisses off those gomers is worthy and should be widespread. Let us vow to totally embrace Black Santa next year in December 2017 and all other years going forward. And ... who wants the honor of telling the white racists that baby Jesus was Jewish?

*Narrowly beating out - this year, at least - The Drifters' version of "White Christmas".

**Gratuitous Sideswipe: Of course, anything that involves the Maul of Amerika is bound to turn ugly. Nothing of much cultural worth has ever come from that place - aside from protests that shut the temple of commerce down - and any time I think of it an image of a Moonie mass marriage comes to mind, even though a quick Google search indicates that has never happened at the Maul.

***As a high school classmate once said in algebra class: "You're dumb. And not just d-u-m-b dumb, but d-u-m-m dumb.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
The Alan Parsons Project - "(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether" 
1976

I didn't realize how soul-draining an accounting day job could be until the accounting mentality started to take over more and more aspects of my life. I need order to get my accounting tasks done: assemble the paperwork in a certain way, reply and/or print off emails, check websites and Google Drive for needed information, etc. This Order Of Things unfortunately tends to take over the rest of my life ... you must clean the apartment on this day, you read the newspaper at this time of day, you do not take the bus to the art museum on this day because it is a Tuesday and you write and read on Tuesdays, etc. My bookkeeping business pays the bills and buys the whiskey and I certainly would not give it up or diss my beloved clients, but still. Doing tasks over and over that need and crave order while the other half of my mind is daydreaming and scheming and thinking about that book or movie or TV show or gal at the coffee shop is gonna result in a breakdown or at least an anxiety attack and no matter how much I walk (ankle injury keeping me off the elliptical) or do breathing exercises or dose up on hydroxyzine, I still have phases where I'm short of breath and pacing around and wonder if I should go see the doctor or just walk to a bar and numb out.

But, but. There's always music. I can got lost in it and there's no better feeling when it's playing beautifully in my living room or on headphones especially when the walls are closing in. And to further take the edge off of the hassles of accounting/debits/credits/Quickbooks' refusal to handle customer credit memos responsibly? Make a mix tape to yourself, dummy. Apple Music works beautifully for this: I create a playlist and it carries over to all my devices. I choose the songs, then assign a title to the playlist. Many times the title is an inside joke only I understand. My recent steady rotation of playlists is:

High School Hits - this one's name is as bland as the playlist (Top 40 in 1980-83 was horribly bland, you know this when the highlight of the playlist is After The Fire.) (Forgetting to put Def Leppard, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Van Halen on this list was kinda stupid, dude.)

Q98, Y'know - AOR smashes from the late seventies and early eighties.

Q98 Again - Ditto.

2014 We're Comin' We're Comin'!! - grab bag of solid songs.

Summer 2014 Bound For Rebound - funk, soul, hip-hop, hard rock all apparently intent on helping me find a dare-to-be-great situation.

My most recent playlist was quickly assembled as I was digging Type O Negative so much recently that a doomy, gloomy mix seemed to be the one thing that might make my mind feel right. (And this was before the election, go figure.) It's a mix of Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, UFO, Funkadelic, Deep Purple, Fear Factory, and others who dabble in the artsy darks. (Today's track is courtesy of the The Alan Parsons Project, whose debut album was an homage to the great Edgar Allan Poe.) The title is "The Doom That Came To", as H.P. Lovecraft had a short story titled "The Doom That Came To Sarnath", that I read in seventh grade after being fired up to read his work and finding an anthology of his in the school library. The story scared me bad, I put the book aside immediately, and returned it the next day. So I was trying to come up with my playlist title, but couldn't find the final words. These were considered:

"The Doom That Came To Harriet Avenue" YAWN
"The Doom That Came To South Minneapolis" BIGGER YAWN
"The Doom That Came To Tuomala" might have worked, but sheesh it seemed a little too ominous, like when there was that Twitter meme #AddAWordRuinAMovie and I tweeted "Kill Bill Tuomala". Yikes.

One last thing. My playlists tend to have thirteen songs and I assemble them in mostly-random order. There are thirteen cards in a suit of cards, thirteen songs in my playlists. Over time, the songs have always come to be numbered at thirteen so I don't have to omit any cards in a suit. What I do is shuffle the cards and then pick them one by one, the card number decides a song's place on the playlist. This act of randomness - a fitting act of rebellion against my Accounting Mind - is almost as much fun as picking out the songs themselves. The cards dictate the order of the songs, though sometimes the leadoff track is inserted as mandatory. Various tweaks - switches or re-jumbling of a few tracks - are usually made. (Can't have two slower songs in a row, can't have too much awesomeness clumped at the beginning or end, etc.) The cards are generally shuffled again and used to determine the tweaks. Or maybe a coin flip or two. Then the playlist is hammered out, finalized, and I crank it on my iPhone. I head out the door for a walk, daydream, write a little in my head, and maybe even relax.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Tuesday Tuneage
Type O Negative - "Cinnamon Girl"
1996

(The) Fall is here, meaning rain and gray skies and leaves falling and that murder of crows that flies around my block at dusk, visible outside my living room windows in their full glory, cawing and communicating and being beautifully dark and ominous. For me, being alone-and-digging-it in the fall of 2016 means sitting at home on Friday nights embracing DOOM METAL, not listening to the sunshine pop or cutesy songs or whatever the gotta-be-happy folks delve into. (What was the name of that show with Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser? Gotta Be Happy? Happy Together? Better Than You? Thirtysomething?? I just remember gals in my office back in the early nineties, when I asked whether they saw The Simpsons the previous night always said: "I had to watch Happy Together. I want to be in that couple." I never wanted to be in THAT couple. Lord, why? Go through life not being funny maybe? The only character on TV I ever wanted to be was Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street. Heck, even though I have had (actual, while sleeping) dreams about being part of The White Shadow team, those guys lived in poverty and tough circumstances.) (Of course a genius moment in Seinfeld was when George Costanza tricked himself into getting engaged and by the end of the episode was missing the Yankees game because his fiancé had to watch Happy Together*)

So anyway ... DOOM METAL. I don't know how I came to be so late to Type O Negative, I should have been digging these guys for at least twenty years now. Heard them a while back on the Sirius XM classic hard rock/heavy metal station doing Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" and immediately thought: Next time I go for a walk in prototypical fall weather, I'm going to listen to nothing but these guys for the whole hour. Then later that same day I did, and halfway through my walk I was sitting on a bench in Martin Luther King Jr. park trying to suppress a grin. Many times in the summer, I listened to comedy albums while on my walk; on this day I was cracking up at the audacious darkness of Type O Negative. Classic crunching metal riffs, haunting background vocals, and the lead vocalist has a subtle touch that works wonders in the mayhem. Some of the tracks have garage rock keyboards - meaning something is up aside from the gloom - plus they can be damn funny. "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)" is about some goth girl, references Lily Munster, then throws in hells-yeah catchy finger snapping and a riff from The Addams Family theme song to make sure you're paying attention. And check out some of their track titles: "Love You to Death", "I Don't Wanna Be Me", "Life Is Killing Me", "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend". And this was just an anthology I've been tracking, just think how many more tunes I can score for my annual Valentine's Day alone-again-naturally blowout soundtrack!

While the cover of Deep Purple's magnificent "Highway Star" does not improve on the original, the band is smart enough to cop the middle guitar and keyboard solos note-for-note, sound-for-sound. But that cover of "Cinnamon Girl" is brilliant and devastating. I have yet to find out whether my embrace of doom metal results in behavior like painting my fingernails black and becoming dour. But if it results in shutting off the lights, drinking sludgy stout beer, and listening to some music that makes some fucking sense on paper as well as in my brain, well COOL.

*After forcing myself to go to imdb.com, I recalled that this tortured show was titled Mad About You.