Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Tuneage
Funkadelic - “Funky Dollar Bill”

A certain circle of friends of mine sometimes call me “Dolla Bill.” (Because I’m an accountant, get it? Ha ha.) This is as whiteboy a nickname as “TPaw”, but in my own defense I am not a bore like Tim Pawlenty is, plus I support and genuinely like the Metro Transit bus drivers, while TPaw’s constituency is middle-aged white guys who are pissed that a Metro Transit bus is in HIS way on HIS road and HIS car can’t pass it! TPaw also Tpanders to evangelical voters (also always white, but not always middle-aged or male) who live in far-flung suburbs and exburbs where they don’t always have great bus service, or don’t have busses altogether, and in many cases don’t even have sidewalks. So that’s TFraud’s base: metro road-ragers and suburban holy rollers. Don’t bike near these people, even if you’re wearing a helmet.

Anyway - in my case, “Dollar Bill” would work better than "Dolla Bill", it doesn’t have that faux hip-hop flavor (I like hip-hop just fine, but I’m a middle-aged white guy and can’t pull off hip-hop) and is the name featured in Chank Diesel’s portrait of me that hangs in my living room (thanks Steve.) Also don’t forget that Dollar Bill was a minor character in Watchmen.

But to this week’s song ... “Funky Dollar Bill” is Exhibit A of what Jimi Hendrix, an artist every bit as inventive and daring as the Beatles, The Roling Stones, and Bob Dylan were in the sixties, wrought. Brilliant guitar in both the rhythm and effects area, a beat that’s just off-and-on enough to kinda reflect America’s War With Itself in that era, plus grade-A vocals (lead and harmony), and an odd keyboard that seems to prophesize Sly’s breakdown a few short year hence. Funkadelic at its prime was hard-hitting, chilling, and weird weird weird.

Oh, and the album that’s it’s on? The song before it references my birthday in the song title. As the Russian kid said to Curtis Jackson in the Russians-are-coming episode of The White Shadow: "Funk-a-what?"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tuneage
The Shys - "Never Gonna Die"

A glorious ode to debauchery. This isn’t Merle Haggard’s “Swinging Doors” or the Replacements’ “Here Comes A Regular,” this is akin to Ray Charles “Let’s Go Get Stoned” or Van Halen’s “Bottoms Up!” ... a tribute to ending up face first on the futon after a night of drinking.

Something in the lyrics makes me think it’s about a small-town kids who have realized they’re never getting out of that place, but what the hell it’s Friday night so pass the bottle around and get another twelver, don’t have to be anywhere until Monday morning at seven. Years down the road, they’ll be the ones listening to “Swinging Doors” on the jukebox after work and won’t use words like “wasted” or “never gonna die,” instead it will be words like “a taste” and “decent buzz” and “these heaters are gonna kill me.” And they will laugh with each other at the bar about when they were young and indestructible and stole drinks and cruised around the county like they owned it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Index Cards

A couple of years ago I bought a laptop and it changed the way I go about the process of writing. I used to do all my writing - the jotting of notes, rough drafts, ramblings - in a Mead Five Star notebook. But once I got the laptop, I switched to doing most of my writing - practice, ramblings, drafts - on it. Around this same time, I took to the habit of always keeping a small stack of index cards with me, next to my writing desk, in my Mead notebook, in my bookbag. The intent with these cards was to have a handy place to write down the short notes that zapped into my brain from time-to-time. I used to write these in the Mead notebook, but now with laptop writing that is usually out of reach. Another inspiration for the use of index cards was reading the late Rick Johnson a few years back. He was hilarious, and I remembered in Jim DeRogatis's Lester Bang biography, Let It Blurt, he wrote that Johnson: "walked around with a stack of index cards, jotting down weird phrases and quips whenever he heard them, then shuffling through the deck while writing his reviews until he found the appropriate one-liners." (Johnson wrote this blog post's featured photo above.)

Last week I went through the stacks of used index cards that were on my writing desk in order to sort them and help me figure out where my writing mind is (and was.) Some of them were notes on a novel I'm writing, some were ideas for my Tuesday Tuneage series, and some were just weird, random things I had written down. For instance:

"How many mainland Americans live above Grand Forks latitude-wise?"

"And then I'll get out of what's left of your hair." - I think Dark Star said this on Channel 23's Sunday night Sports Show, probably to Sid Hartman, though Sid still has lots of hair up top so maybe Dark targeted somebody else.

"Fake Bud Grant" - a never-created Twitter account whose intent was to make fun of the Vikings and their choking-dog ways. Would have been fun in last years 6-10 season.

"The manageable, pleasant winters are the reward for the humid, brutal months of summer with oppressive sunlight for hours on end" - Written in response to the get-outside dorks who think Minneapolis winters are tough and that summer is paradise. I hate the heat of summer, don't think Minneapolis winters are that tough, and love the gray skies, cool temps, and early darkness of fall and winter here.

"He'll be right back after a word from his sponsor."
"Shakes for breakfast."

- Alcoholism is a disease, Tuomala! Geez! (I am not proud.)

"Family is permanent, friends I hang with, former coworkers are meant to fade." - I was invited to join former coworkers last month, I stayed home and paid my estimated taxes.

"Henry Paulson" - This led to writing a prose poem where I imagined Paulson heeding his true calling as a college basketball coach.

"Make him a hero because he's the best failure we've got." - Paul Nelson on Rod Stewart. Pretty confident this is from the Stewart biography Nelson wrote with Lester Bangs.

"There aren't many Special Export drinkers left." - Overheard a bartender say this.

So if you're a writer who is plagued/blessed with random mind intrusions and don't know how to quite handle them, consider the Index Card Gambit. I even put up a bulletin board in my writing office to tack some of my used index cards to. Almost makes the so-called system official in some way.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tuneage
Run Westy Run - "David's Drum"

In which Minneapolis heroes combine funk rhythm, wah-wah guitar, vocals spoken more than sung, and a righteously anthemic chorus into a heady mix of rock 'n' roll. When scrappy little hometown heroes pull off something this glorious, release it on a three-song EP, and get a little local airplay to boot ... it's just another reason so many of us rave about the Minneapolis music scene.

And needless to say, but I'll say it anyway: Their live show was great also.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tuesday Tuneage
Kings Of The Sun - "Drop The Gun"

Don't fall in like with Kings Of The Sun, this song is a hard rock gem, but the rest of the album it comes from is sub-that-era-Aerosmith and I seem to recall a lot of creepy lyrics about stalking women on it. First heard this one on Q98 late summer 1991 while my buddy talked to an apartment building caretaker about a potenial lease in Fergus Falls, the other memory from that sweaty afternoon (no AC in the car) was a six pack of Special Export Light on ice in a little cooler to enjoy on that Highway 59 roadtrip through Otter Tail County. Don't know how the hell I ever tracked down this band in my pre-Internet days, but I was known as a resourceful lad even before I was the Silver Surfer.

So enjoy this, Australian guitar rock served up fine: Kinda interesting outlaw story, biting guitars, singalong chorus ... what more could you ask for? Drop the gun, boy.